Pied Wagtail – roosts

Motacilla alba yarelli – SIGLEN FRAITH – Breeding resident and passage migrant

In general, the largest counts of Pied Wagtails are usually at winter roosts, which can be in natural areas such as reedbeds, and man-made urban sites that provide some degree of warmth. These can sometimes hold over 600 birds. There was a roost of 600-1,000 in gorse at Martletwy, Pembrokeshire, between January and March 1935, and in more recent times roosts at Teifi Marshes have regularly held over 100 birds, and several hundred have used Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest each winter.

Outside the winter months such gatherings are unusual, but may represent pre-migration staging posts and often include white wagtails along with the pieds. The largest gathering recorded in Pembrokeshire was 1,000 birds, were at the Gulf Refinery, Pembroke, on 18 May 1998.

The following tables show the counts for each site, compiled from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, Graham Rees’s Archive of records, and the Pembrokeshire Bird Sightings Blog.

Goodwick/Fishguard Harbour reedbed

YearMonthCount
1988Aug100
1988Dec50
1989Oct60
1992Aug30
2003Aug162

Teifi Marshes reedbed

YearMonthCount
1996Sep50
2009Mar100
2009Nov100
2012Mar20
2013Apr80
2014Aug50
2016Mar128
2016Jan60
2017Apr100
2019Jan120

Tenby Marshes reedbed

YearMonthCount
1930Aug100
1930Sep300
1984Dec107

Haverfordwest/Withybush buildings

YearMonthCount
1984Oct106
1986Oct200
2017Dec420
2018Dec780
2019Dec650
2021Jan550

Other roost sites

YearMonthCountPlaceHabitat
1935Jan-Mar600-1000MartletwyGorse
1984Sep350Texaco JettyIndustrial
1984Sep60StackpoleMaize field
1994Mar50Nevern BridgeReedbed?
1996Sep150Gann?
1996Sep53Tegryn?
1998May1000Gulf refineryIndustrial
1998Sep70St Davids SchoolSub-urban
1998Mar30StackpoleReedbed
1999Sep75Pembroke Millpond?
2000Sep150Llys-y-fran?
2020Aug50Picton Ferryon a boat!
2020Sep40WintertonReedbed

References:

BTO website

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

More about the Pied Wagtail in Pembrokeshire