Whitethroat – 1994

Sylvia communis – LLWYDFRON – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in November

1984-88
Breeding confirmed137
Breeding probable248
Breeding possible21
No of tetrads occupied406 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads84.9%

Whitethroats were classed as common summer residents by Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) and this was the situation until 1967. In 1968 only about 30% of the population returned to breed. This depletion was noted throughout Britain and has been attributed to poor survival on the Whitethroats’ drought- stricken wintering grounds of the Sahel (Sharrock 1976). Recovery has been gradual and the population at the time of the 1984-1988 Breeding Birds Survey, with an average density of 20 pairs per tetrad, was probably about 8,000 pairs.

They generally arrive in Pembrokeshire between the middle of April and early June, but in some years occur from the 5 April onwards, with one at Fishguard on 23 March 1956. Their passage is dramatic, with thousands passing in a series of waves, particularly noticeable on the islands and headlands. Some diurnal falls are spectacular, such as the estimate of about 500 at Skokholm on 22 May 1959. They have been noted at night at the lanterns of the South Bishop and Smalls lighthouses.

They pass through the islands and coastal areas again between late July and 31 October, but are less numerous than during the spring passage.

A male was a regular visitor to a Haverfordwest bird-table from 20 December 1990 to April 1991.

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

SHARROCK, J.T.R. 1976. The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland. Berkhamsted, T. & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Whitethroat in Pembrokeshire