Smew – 2011

Mergellus albellusLleian WenScarce winter visitor. Not recorded from April to September

Scarce winter visitor.

The Smew breeds from Fenno–Scandia eastwards to central Siberia, a proportion of these wintering in the Baltic and North Sea countries, particularly Holland. The Smew has long been a regular winter visitor to southern England, with further influxes when winter conditions have frozen birds out of nearby mainland Europe.

It has occurred less regularly in Wales and in Pembrokeshire a total of 52 birds have been recorded in 25 years between 1904 and 2008. All records refer to single birds apart from two at Dale in 1904, two at Fernhill on the 23rd February 1985, two at Carew Mill Pond on the 1st January 1997, three at Dale on the 16th January 1963, up to four at Pembroke Mill Ponds between the 12th and 26th January 1997 and six at Orielton in January and February 1939, the latter referred to as eight in Donovan and Rees (1994) due to a typographical error.

The majority of Pembrokeshire records do not correlate with influxes to the UK caused by cold continental weather. Smews are restless and mobile birds and it is this characteristic which has probably resulted in most Pembrokeshire records. Such restlessness was demonstrated on a local scale in January to March of 1966, when one was frequently seen at both Bicton Reservoir and Marloes Mere but never at both localities during simultaneous observations.

Apart from the localities already mentioned, Smews were recorded at St Dogmael’s, the Teifi Marshes, near Newport, Fishguard Harbour/Goodwick, Heathfield Gravel Pit, near St David’s, Solva Harbour, Castle Pill, Landshipping, Llangwm, Hook, Little Milford, Bosherston, Llys y fran Reservoir and Rosebush Reservoir.

The earliest recorded in the county was near St David’s on the 10th October 1914, the latest at Llys y fran Reservoir on the 29th March 1992. 

Presence by month, 1904 – 2011.

Most records refer to one date only but Smews have stayed from up to ten days to three months. Only seven adult males were involved in the Pembrokeshire record.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Smew in Pembrokeshire