Anas querquedula – HWYADEN ASSFAIN – Passage migrant. Not recorded in November or December
The Garganey is a summer visitor to north and west Europe, which largely winters in southern Africa. Migration to winter quarters occurs late July to October, peaking through Europe in August and early September, with stragglers from November to February. Return movement begins in February, with the main passage through Europe from March to April. It is a scarse breeder in the UK.
Mathew (1894) described the Garganey as an annual summer visitor, while Lockley et al.(1949 ) provided four additional records of 10 birds.
Donovan and Rees (1994) stated the Garganey was almost annual in occurrence, usually occurring on fresh waters near the coast, such as Trefeiddan and Marloes Mere, between March and June, less regularly from July to October.
So far there has been no evidence of breeding in Pembrokeshire.
Spring passage has been recorded from the 8th March to the 11th June. One to four birds at a time have been noted but six together were at Newgale on the 16th March 1959. Eight birds in two years were recorded in spring during the 1950’s. Subsequent records are shown in graph form.
Single birds have been recorded in 17 years during autumn, up to 2011, between the 23rd July and the 26th September, plus one at Orielton on the 24th October 1939 and one at Skomer on the 28th November 2005.
In winter Mathew (1894) recorded three shot at Pen y cwm on the 28th February 1888, Lockley et al noted captures at the Orielton Decoy on the 14th February and 22nd February 1889 and four were seen from a boat in Dale Roads on the 10th January 1968.
Garganey – Habitat
Frequents shallow fresh water with extensive cover, using salt water areas temporarily while on passage.
Pembrokeshire records relate to occurrences at fresh water sites at Marloes Mere, Trefeiddan, Treleddyn, Dowrog, Newgale Marsh, Orielton, Bosherston, Skokholm, Skomer, Thornton Reservoir (now defunct), Pembroke Mill Pond, Teifi Marsh, Westfield Pill, “Esso” (Herbranston), Orielton, Goodwick Moor, Rosemoor, Nine Wells and Ivor’s Pond.
Birds in transit have been noted on or over saline and salt water at Hook Reach, Nevern Estuary, Dale Roads, Gann, off Skomer and at Strumble Head.
Garganey – Discussion
Several factors make it likely that the Garganey has probably been under recorded. It tends to keep within cover at its favoured fresh water sites, such unobtrusiveness suggesting it is easily overlooked.
Good views are necessary to separate females from the similarly plumaged Teal at all seasons, this also applying to juveniles in the autumn and even to males in moult that are not seen in flight.
Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007