Chaffinch – 2003-07 breeding

Fringilla coelebs – JI-BINC – Breeding resident and passage migrant.

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed209155
Breeding probable214278
Breeding possible2413
No of tetrads occupied447 (of 478)446 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads93.5%91%

The colourful male Chaffinch, with its distinctive reddish pink underparts, blue grey crown and bold white wing bars, is a familiar sight throughout the county. The short but emphatic and frequently uttered song is a characteristic sound in the summertime countryside. The female is a browner version of the male.

The Chaffinch nests in trees and bushes, being found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens, being absent in the county only from the tops of the Preseli Hills and most of the offshore islands. It has usually bred on the partly wooded Caldey Island and has nested on Ramsey Island, most recently in 2006.

Little change in distribution was detected between the two surveys. Chaffinches take up territory in late winter but do not normally lay eggs until early May. With such a long period of song it seems unlikely that many were overlooked, even in marginal tetrads. The population estimate accompanying the 1984-88 survey was based on census results from reserves which were mostly woodland plots. The resultant value of 120 pairs per tetrad was applied to the whole county. However, woodland in the county represents only about the equivalent of 11 tetrads, the remainder being mostly farmland which carries smaller densities of Chaffinches.

A reappraisal required an assessment which accommodates farmland. The 1988-91 National Atlas supplied an average density for the UK. If this is applied to the 1984-88 distribution, a revised estimate for Pembrokeshire at that time was about 38,000 pairs. The BBS noted a decrease of 13% in Wales between 1994 and 2007, which if applied to the earlier estimate, suggests a breeding population of 29,000 pairs in Pembrokeshire at the end of 2007.    

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

Rees G.H., Haycock R.J., Haycock A, Hodges J.E., Sutcliffe S.J., Jenks P, and Dobbins R. 2008, Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07. Pembrokeshire Bird Group.

More about the Chaffinch in Pembrokeshire