Somateria mollissima – HWYADEN FWYTHBLU – Winter visitor and possible breeder
Varying small numbers over-wintered (December/January to February/March) in 89 % of the years 1952 to 2008, most frequently in St Bride’s Bay between Little Haven and Newgale, the most involved being 16 in 1998.
Winter presence in St Bride’s Bay: 1981-2005.
Others that have stayed throughout the winter were: two at Amroth in 1994, up to three in Angle Bay in 1998, singles in Newport Bay in 1999/2000 and in 2001, one to six in 2002, one to five at the Gann in 1987, two in 1963 and one in 1968/69.
Eiders which occurred in the winter but remained for shorter intervals were also recorded at Ceibwr, Fishguard Harbour, Jack Sound, West Angle, Sandy Haven, Newton Noyes, Llanstadwell, Neyland, Lawrenny/Roose Ferry, Landshipping, Frainslake, Manorbier, Giltar, Tenby, Saundersfoot and Caldey.
Eiders have also been recorded in transit in every month of the year, either flying past prominent headlands like Dinas Head and Strumble Head (1 to 19 at a time), past the islands of Ramsey, Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm (1 to 15 at a time), or settled temporarily on the sea.
The latter category has included 30 at the Green Bridge of Wales on 26th April 1984, 38 in Caldey Roads on 25th March 1998, 17 off Solva on 17th April 2001 and 40 off Porthgain on 29th December 2003.
The origin and destination of these birds is unknown but Pembrokeshire lies between the main Eider concentrations in Wales at Aberdysynni, Merrionydd, mean of 72 in 12 recent years, and the Bury Inlet, West Glamorgan, mean of 97 in the same period, so could conceivably involve interchange between these populations.
Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)