Whinchat – 1994

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February

Breeding confirmed23
Breeding probable17
Breeding possible2
No of tetrads occupied42 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads8.8%

The Whinchat was regarded as a scarce summer resident by Lockley et al. (1949), and Saunders (1976) added that it was of rather patchy distribution; both indicated that breeding was confined to the north and east of the county. The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found about 50 breeding pairs (see map). Most were found in the boggy areas which encircle the Preseli Mountains but a few pairs were dotted across boggy places, extending westwards to the coast, where some were also found breeding in bracken-clad cliff-top areas including those at Cemaes Head and Treginnis.

Small numbers of Whinchats, normally no more than three at any locality, occur on the islands and coast between 13 April and mid-June, though they have been recorded from 5 April and there are three earlier records: singles at Skomer on 1 March 1946, at Newgale on 28 March 1959 and at Skomer on 28 March 1988. These coastal birds are seen at the same time as others are arriving at the local breeding grounds, so it seems likely that they ­are through migrants which breed elsewhere.

Whinchats are slightly more numerous in autumn than spring, up to six occurring at the islands and coastal areas from early July to mid-October, with stragglers until 9 November. Exceptionally there are larger falls such as 40 at Skokholm on 10 September 1968. Migrants have reached Grassholm, and have been recorded at the lantern of the Smalls lighthouse at night in August and September.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press.

More about the Whinchat in Pembrokeshire