Black Redstart – 2019

Phoenicurus ochruros – TINGOCH DU – Winter visitor and passage migrant

The Black Redstart is found over most of Europe and parts of Asia in sparsely vegetated rocky areas, often at high altitudes. It is resident in parts of its range and migratory in others (HBW). In Wales, it is mainly a passage migrant and winter visitor.

There are few ringing recoveries involving Wales.  However, the BTO Migration Atlas indicates that birds migrate through the UK between their wintering grounds around the Western Mediterranean, and breeding areas on mainland Europe, particularly the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and further east.  Some birds stay for the winter, though it is not clear if these are mainly birds that have bred in Britain, or are continental ones.

The majority of records are from coastal sites, though as the map shows, there is a scattering of sightings across the county even in mid-winter.

This map was produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre using data collected between November and February for the BTO Atlas 2007-11, with additional data collected in 2011-12 winter to fill gaps in coverage.

Most records come from Skokholm and Skomer Islands, where data is gathered on a daily basis.  However, as the islands are not normally occupied during the winter, there are few over-wintering records from them.

Only a handful of mainland records have been entered into BirdTrack each year, although this has increased to 20-30 in the last three years.

Mainland records in dark green, Island records in lighter green

The graph shows the cumulative number of records (not the number of birds) entered into BirdTrack since 1980. Although BirdTrack did not exist in 1980, a lot of data, especially from the island bird logs, has been added retrospectively.

Migration peaks show clearly. It has usually started by the time the islands are re-occupied in early March (week 11) and continues until the end of May for spring migration. Autumn passage starts in mid-September (week 41), continuing at least until the end of November.

2009 was an exceptional year for black redstarts seen on the mainland, with up to a dozen recorded on several days during October, and up to twenty in a day noted on the sightings blog.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)


BALMER D, GILLINGS S, CAFFREY B, SWANN B, DOWNIE I, FULLER R. 2014. Bird Atlas 2007-11: The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland.  HarperCollins.  UK

HBW – Handbook of the Birds of the World

LACK P. 1986.  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland, T & A. D. Poyser, London

LOVEGROVE R, WILLIAMS G, WILLIAMS I. 1994.  Birds in Wales. T & A. D. Poyser, London

Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

WERNHAM. C, TOMS. M, MARCHANT. J, CLARK. J, SIRIWARDENA. G, BAILLIE. S. 2002. The Migration Atlas, Movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland, T & A. D. Poyser, London

More about the Black Redstart in Pembrokeshire