Red-breasted Merganser – 2020 winter

Mergus serrator – HWYADEN FRONGOCH – Winter visitor

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.

Best places to see Mergansers

The coast off Wiseman’s Bridge/Amroth – telescope required, but the largest numbers in recent winters have been found here.

Fishguard – Goodwick and Lower Town harbours – we have watched a bird swim between the two.

Wetland Bird Survey

No Red-breasted Mergansers were seen during the 2020-21 season.

Note from the BTO Waterbirds in the UK report for 2019-20

  • Species that migrate from the east, including Mergansers, were down compared with the previous winter, likely related to the exceptionally mild weather across Europe.  Red-breasted Merganser 10-year trend was -23%, their lowest index value since 1980s, as shown below.

Note from the BTO Waterbirds in the UK report for 2013-14

  • The decline in the UK’s wintering population of Red-breasted Mergansers, evident since the mid 1990s, has slowed slightly. However, following a spike in numbers in 2010-11 (perhaps associated with the coldest winter across northwest Europe for 35 years), the annual index has resumed its downward trajectory.
  • Given that numbers wintering to the east of the UK have increased steadily in the last 30-40 years, for example in The Netherlands, the observed trends are suggestive of a range shift perhaps induced by climate change – as has been demonstrated for other waterbirds. However, this hypothesis has not yet been tested for this species, and perhaps pertinently, large decreases have been reported from further east in the Baltic Sea.

Carmarthen Bay

The area of Carmarthen Bay viewable from the Amroth/Wiseman’s Bridge area is not part of the Wetland Bird Survey. Nor is it watched on a regular basis. However, virtually all the double-figure counts of red-breasted mergansers are from this site. The counts below are taken from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports since 1990.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

More about the Red-breasted Merganser in Pembrokeshire