Greenfinch – 2021 breeding – can you help?

Chloris chlorisLlinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

The 1984-88 map of greenfinches breeding in Pembrokeshire showed that greenfinches occupied 55% of tetrads in the county.  The 2003-07 map indicated an increase to 78% of tetrads.  Since then, the story is all downhill, as shown here by the results of the Breeding Bird Survey.

The increase between the two atlases may have been fuelled by the increase in feeding birds in gardens leading to better winter survival.  However, that same phenomenon may have led to the subsequent decrease as a parasite called Trichomonas gallinae transferred from pigeons, birds of prey, and domestic chickens and turkeys to smaller birds such as finches.   The resulting disease, Trichomonosis, spreads rapidly via food and water contaminated by infected individuals – so garden feeders, water for drinking and bathing, anywhere that birds congregate is a potential problem.

Greenfinches are still widespread in Pembrokeshire, but are thin on the ground.  Breeding records seem particularly scarce.  The map above shows where greenfinches have been recorded in April-July 2011-2020 according to records in BirdTrack.  The black squares indicate that the observer recorded definite evidence of breeding  – nests, birds carrying food, recently fledged youngsters (being fed), for example. 

The easiest way to do this, is for everyone to note where they see greenfinches in April, May, June and July, and add those records to BirdTrack.  In BirdTrack you can pinpoint a location on a map or aerial photo. Then when entering details, click on the ‘highest breeding evidence’ box and select the appropriate code. Many thanks to the observers who are already collecting this information.

Greenfinches usually produce a second brood, so there is plenty of ‘season’ left for finding them.  

If you really don’t want to use BirdTrack, then there is the WWBIC recording scheme either on-line or via their app (part of iRecord) where you’ll have to state in the comments field what you have seen. If all else fails, you can email me, but remember to include the site name, the site grid reference, and the breeding code.

The map will be updated in early July, though records not submitted through BirdTrack may take longer to incorporate so there will be another update later in the year.

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Purple Sandpiper – first and last dates

Calidris maritima – PIBYDD DU – Principally a winter visitor

Earlier records are summarised in Purple Sandpiper 1994

In some bird reports, a distinction is made between the dates of overwintering birds, and those passing through. See the individual reports for details.

19907 May18 JulyUp to  24 at Skomer in Nov
19919 May12 AugMax 7 Skomer in Oct and 7 Skokholm in Nov.
199228 April20 Julymax. 33 Skomer 10th Apr
19938 May6 Julymax 22 Skomer 19 Mar
199418 May29 JulyMax 23 Skomer on 23 Nov
19953 May10 AugMax 7 in Jan, Sept & Nov
19967 May27 JulyMax 24 Skomer in Nov
199722 Feb17 SeptMax 10 at the Smalls 26 Sept
199812 May10 AugBTO non-estuarine coastal survey,
Amroth to Cemaes Hd. 11 birds recorded
199912 May3 JulyMax 14 Skomer in March
200026 May8 AugMax 6 Skokholm in May
200119 May10 SeptMax 9 Strumble Head in September
200225 Feb2 AugMax 7 fishguard Harbour in December
20036 May11 SeptMax 10 Fishguard Harbour in January
20042 April14 SeptMax 5 Fishguard Harbour in February
20051 April30 JulyMax 10 Ramsey Oct – Dec
200611 MayAugustMax 18 Ramsey Oct – Nov
2007MayJulyMax 23 Ramsey in October.
Interesting record of 12 at sea, 5 miles south of St Ann’s Head on 24 October
200815 May29 AugMax 12 Ramsey in February
2009MayJulyMax 17 Ramsey in September
2010MayAugustMax 12 on Skomer in May
2011AprilJulyMax 12 Ramsey 26 March
20129 MayOctoberMax 21 Skomer in February
201330 May28 AugMax 7 Broadhaven in February
201413 May13 AugMax 9 Fishguard outer breakwater in February
201512 April9 AugMax 18 Skomer in March
201624 Feb Max 7 Fishguard outer breakwater in February
201713 May5 SeptMax 45 on the Smalls in April
20185 May21 AugMax 40 Skomer in April
2019MarchOctoberMax 7 Skokholm in October
2020March24 JulyMax 10 Monkstone in December

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Purple Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire

Snow Bunting – records

Plectrophenax nivalis – BRAS YR EIRA – Passage migrant and winter visitor

Previous records are summarised in Snow Bunting 2007.

2008 – Single at Fishguard outer breakwater from 5 Nov – 29 Dec, With two on 6 Nov and three on 23 Dec. Singles on Ramsey 12 Nov. and on Skomer 24 & 31 Oct.

2009 – On the outer breakwater at Fishguard Harbour, three on 1- 28 Jan with two here on 21 Feb. singles on 1 Mar and 17 Oct until the end of the year.  Singles at Strumble Head 11 Oct, on Skomer 9 Nov and Ramsey on 11 Nov and three on Foel Drygarn on 25 Dec.

2010 – In the early part of year single birds on Fishguard Outer Breakwater 2nd Jan, at St. David’s Head 13th Apr and on Ramsey 21st Apr – 3rd May. In autumn: up to four on Dale Airfield between 4th & 31st Oct. with three at St. David’s Head on 14th Oct, up to two birds on Fishguard Outer Breakwater from 6th Oct until the end of the year. Singles at Pen Anglas 9th to 30th Oct, and on St Davids Head 7th Nov. On Skomer single birds on 1st & 9th Oct then two on 12th & 21st Oct and finally one on 1st Nov

2011 – In the early part of the year two at Traeth Llyfyn on 22nd Jan. In autumn a single on Dale Airfield 29th Sept to 1st Oct then another on 24th Nov. Fishguard Outer Breakwater had up to three birds between 10th Oct to 11th Dec. Singles on St. David’s Head on 25th Oct, 10th Nov, 12th Dec with two on 9th Dec and one at St. Govan’s Head on 17th Oct. Ramsey Island singles on 20th & 27th Apr and four on 12th Dec. Photo below by C. Hurford.

2012 – In the early part of the year birds seen at St. David’s Head on from 8th to 13th Jan with a different individual on 25th Feb. Freshwater West had two on 16th Jan & one at Castle Martin on 19th Feb. Two on Fishguard Outer Breakwater in March, one of which was ringed by members of the Teifi Ringing Group on 11th, then two different birds on Fishguard Inner Breakwater on 22nd March & a single at Strumble Head on 1st April.

At the latter part of the year a single at St. David’s Head 22nd Oct, two at Strumble Head on 29th of same month & one at Castle Martin on same date. In November: singles at Broomhill Burrows on 6th, St.David’s Head on 8th, while on Fishguard Outer Breakwater various numbers recorded, max 5 on 20th.

2013 – All records were: seven seen on Foel Cwm Cerwyn on 12th Jan, in November, 12 on the Fishguard Outer Breakwater 15th, three at Whitesands on 7th, four at Newgale on 27th and singles at Freshwater West on 22nd & Broad Haven (S) on 28th. Another single was at St.David’s Head on 24th Oct.

2014 – All records were: single birds at Newgale 10th Jan, Strumble Head 20th to 21st Oct at least, Pencarnan 27th to 31st Oct, Marloes Mere 24th Nov (photo opposite by DJ Astins) and at Foel Feddau in the Preselis on 31st Dec, with six at the same site the day before. Skokholm had single birds on 6th Oct and 19th to 21st Oct, the second being trapped & ringed (race later confirmed as P.n.nivalis – Welsh rarities report 2020). The island then had two flyover records of single birds on 24th Oct & 3rd Nov.

2015 – A single birds on the Preseli’s at Foel Feddau on 17th Jan and another at St. David’s Head on 31st Oct were the only mainland records. On the islands, one on Ramsey on 10th Mar (photo right by L. Morgan) and one on Skomer on 7th Oct, a different bird was seen the following day.

2016 – All records were: a male Fishguard Harbour on outer breakwater 25th Oct-13th Nov, when feathers were found due to it being predated, a female also present 11th -13th Nov. On Skokholm a single on 11th Nov and on Skomer singles on 20th Oct & 7th Nov.

2017 – All records: 1 st w male on Skomer on 3rd Nov, three at St. David’s Head on 8th Nov and two on the Outer breakwater Fishguard Harbour on 16th Nov

2018 – Singles unless stated: at Porthgain on 7th Jan (photo below by B. Haycock), three at St. David’s Head 7th Mar, near Fishguard Fort on 31st Oct, male on Skomer 4th Nov and Outer Breakwater Fishguard Harbour on 8th Nov

2019 – Four on Dale Airfield 26 Oct, increasing to six 1 Nov with four there the following day, photo below by E. Davies. Five at Marloes Mere 27 Oct and singles at Gann 14 Oct, Skokholm 21 & 24 Oct and 4, 7-8, 10, 17 & 29 Nov and Skomer 3 & 11 Nov

2020 – All records were of singles: Fishguard Outer breakwater 30 Oct, Skokholm 4, 6 & 9 – 11 Nov, Strumble Head 24 Nov, Pwll Deri 27 Nov and at Llanrhian 6 Dec.66 Individuals of the race nivalis accepted by WBRC include: one trapped on the outer breakwater, Fishguard 11 Mar 2012 (per RD) and a female trapped and ringed on Skokholm 19 Oct 2014 (RB).

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

More about the Snow Bunting in Pembrokeshire

Jack Snipe – first and last dates

Lymnocryptes minimus – GIACH FACH – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from May to July

Previous records summarised in Jack Snipe 1994

YearLast sightingFirst sightingNotes
200018 March13 October 
200114 April20 September(1)
200217 April12 October 
20037 April2 October 
200410 April2 October 
200513 March7 October 
20064 March14 October 
200710 February17 September 
200817 March22 October 
200917 March18 October 
201024 April26 September 
20114 February14 October 
201231 January8 October 
20137 April6 October(2)
201424 March14 September 
20151 May5 October 
201621 March8 October 
20171 April12 October 
201813 April27 October(3)
201926 March2 October 
20208 March19 September 


(1) 2001 – 12 on Skomer 9 March – a record count

(2) 2013 – A cold weather influx was then evident in the period from 1 March to 7 April, with a single bird noted at Skokholm on 12th, 15th & 17th, at Coedcanlas on 16th March and site maxima of four birds at Castlemartin Corse on 1 March and at Teifi Marshes on 6 April.

(3) 2018 – Reported from at least 14 1km square locations

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Jack Snipe in Pembrokeshire

Woodcock – research

Scolopax rusticola – CYFFYLOG – Winter visitor and passage migrant.

Woodcock are probably one of the most common waders in the county during the winter, according to work done by Paddy Jenks with the Pembrokeshire and Teifi Ringing Groups.  However, they are rarely seen, let alone counted, because of their secretive and generally nocturnal habits.

Paddy and his team ringed a total of 1653 woodcock between November 2008 and March 2019. 107 of these individuals were recaptured or recovered.   The recaptures show that many individuals have a very high site fidelity.  The ringers often found birds within a hundred metres of where they had been caught either the same winter, or in previous winters.  

The recoveries outside of the UK show that many individuals wintering in Pembrokeshire originate in Russia.  In Europe, it is illegal to shoot during the breeding season, so most of the recoveries from closer to home are probably birds on autumn migration, though some could have bred in these areas.  

The ringing groups hope to continue with the project into the future with the aim of collecting as large a sample size as possible, so that any future changes can be discerned.

The full report can be seen here

Information provided by Mike & Theresa Sherman

More about Woodcock in Pembrokeshire

Yellow-legged Gull – records

Larus michahellisGwylan GoesfelenScarce winter visitor

2020 –

  • All individuals reported were: an adult in Fishguard Harbour 1 – 9 Jan, presumed same returning bird 8 Sept & 4 Dec.
  • Adults at the Gann 6 Jan, 15 Sept, 18 & 24 Oct and a 2CY 4 Dec.
  • Counts from Llys-y-fran Res gull roost: five adults and 3CY 4 Jan, two adults and 3CY on 17 Jan, five adults & 3CY on 2 Feb and four adults on 23 Feb. An adult on 15 Aug. Six adults 15 Nov, four adults & 1CY on 25 Nov, three adults & 3CY on 29 Nov, five adults & 3CY on 6 Dec.
  • An adult at Nevern Est 20 July, 1 & 23 Aug, 25 Sept & 31 Oct – quite probably the Fishguard individual. 1CY there on 1 Sept, had been ringed as a nestling in Switzerland.
  • Elsewhere an adult at Broad Haven (N) 20 Sept.

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

More about the Yellow-legged Gull in Pembrokeshire

Glaucous Gull – records

Larus hyperboreus – GWYLAN Y GOGLEDD – Irregular winter visitor.

Previous records are summarised in Glaucous Gull winter

2020 – All records were: 2CY Teifi Est 4 – 6 Jan, 1CY St. Davids Head 16 Nov, 1CY Skokholm 18 & 20 Nov, 1CY Llysy fran Res 29 Nov, 1CY Marloes Mere 13 Dec and a 1CY Monkstone Point, Tenby 14 Dec, quite possibly all those in Nov – Dec relate to the same wandering bird.

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the Glaucous Gull in Pembrokeshire

King Eider – first for Pembrokeshire

Somateria spectabilis – HWYADEN FWYTHBLU’R GOGLEDD – Vagrant.

First county record was of an immature male at Little Haven / Goultrop Roads 10 Nov onwards, moving around the coast, off Howney Stone, St. Brides until the end of the year (DO et al). Circulating BBRC. The only previous Welsh records have come from Caernarfonshire & Meirionnydd in 1989 – 1990 and Aberaeron, then Ynyslas, Ceredigion
2017 – 2019.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Goshawk – records

Accipiter gentilis – GWALCH MARTH – Status unclear

Photo of juvenile goshawk at Carew Cheriton by Richard Ellis

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports since 2000

YearBreedingOther records
2000Probably 2 breeding pairs in the north of the county around the Teifi and another in the east.Elsewhere singles (females unless stated) at Llys y fran 9 Jan and in Sept at Roch on 11th , Crundale 18th (male), Slebech & Blackpool Mill 24th and Steynton 28th .
20012 pairs bred and 2 others suspected of breeding in the south of the county, 3 pairs suspected to have bred in the north.Elsewhere individuals recorded at: Solva 13 Jan, Porth Clais 21 Jan, Llanychaer 1 Feb, St. David’s 5 Apr, Strumble 5 Aug and at Ramsey a juv. 18 Sept and a female 25 Sept.
2002No records received of individuals from the north east of the county but three pairs were noted elsewhere in suitable habitat in the spring / early summer and 3 other pairs bred.Elsewhere individuals recorded at: Goodwick 18 Jan, Sealyham 19 June and at Strumble Hd 5 & 12 Sept.
2003A pair was observed displaying at Gelli and at Ffynone. Breeding season records also came from Trecwn, Dowrog & Pantmaenog and a juv. was seen at Strumble Head from 14 Aug on an off until 11 Nov.Elsewhere individuals recorded in the St. Davids area 15-16 Oct, 11 Nov & 21 Nov, Square & Compass 7 Dec, Westfield Pill 17 Dec, Llanmill 27 Nov and Saundersfoot 30 Dec.
2004Recorded breeding 16 AprRedstone 16 Jan, Sealyham 25-26 Feb, female Vachelic 9 Apr, Strumble Hd 10 Apr, Ramsey 25 May, Cwm yr Eglwys 27 July, Llanmill 30 Aug, juv Maenclochog 3 Sept, Nine Wells 5 Sept and Teifi Marshes 30 Oct.
2005A total of 5 pairs possibly bred in the county: at Gelly, Canaston Woods, Frenni Fawr. Pengawse and Ffynone_Westfield Pill 8 Mar, Ramsey 22 June & 20 Nov. Wolfescastle 10 July and Llanmill 27 Aug
2006Displaying birds were observed at three sites Gelly, Picton and Llys y fran.Blackpool Mill 20 Feb, Dowrog 8 Feb, Westfield Pill 14 Mar, Maenllwyd 25 May, near Maenclochog in May, Carew 7 Nov, Llanddewi Velfrey 2 Nov, Llanmill (carrying a Jackdaw) 23 Nov, Waundwrgi 2 Dec and 2 at Slebech 3 Dec.
2007Pairs bred or were seen displaying at Gelly, Canaston, Minwear, Puncheston and West Williamston. Martletwy on 13 Jan , Ffynone on 18 Feb., Sandy Haven on 24 Feb., Cwm Cneifa on 23 Mar., Hundleton on 12 Apr, Felindre on 14 May, Crymych on 2 Aug. & 21 Dec.. Abercych on 9 Aug, , Stackpole on 1 Nov., Llangloffan Fen on 12 Nov.. Dale on 18 Nov.. Dowrog 23 Nov. — 9 Dec. and at Carew River on 16 Dec
2008Pairs bred or thought to have bred at ten sites across the countyindividuals reported at Castlemartin, Cilgerran. Croes Goch. Crymych, Dowrog, Goodwick. Heathfield. Llangloffan. Llandewi Velfrey, Llanmill. Midland, Mullock Bridge, Narberth. Picton Castle. Rickets Head. Stackpole, Waundwrgi, West Williamston and Westfield Pill.
2009 Reported from nine sites
2010During the breeding season records came from The Rhos, Plumstone and Ffynone and at Ty Rhyg.Up to two males and a female were seen on many dates at Plumstone Mountain January – February. Elsewhere at Minwear on 3 Jan, at Ffynone on 20 Feb, One on Skomer on 27 Apr was the first for the island. At Cresswell Quay 30 Nov and at Tegryn on 7 Dec.
2011Reported from eight sites during the breeding seasonSingles at Clyderwen 3 Jan, Whalecombe 13 Feb, Dudwell Mountain 17 Feb, Wolf’s Castle 19 Feb, Llawhaden 27 Feb and Port Clais 11 Sept & 28 Oct. One was found dead at Eglwyswrw on 22 Aug.
2012Reported from three sitesReported from 15 sites during the year
2013At least one breeding pair, which fledged two young and a pair at another site in the north.Singles reported at: Woodhouse 3 Feb, Rudbaxton 23 Feb, Houghton on 24 Feb, Llandilo on 16 May, Carew Cheriton 17 July, Picton Home Farm on 28 Aug, Merrion on 27 Oct, Eastern Cleddau on 24 Nov.
2014Present during the breeding season at five sitesSlebech on 13 Feb, Tedion Mountain on 21 Mar, Angle 10 Mar, Skomer on 8 Aug, at Pen Anglas 11 Sept and Llanychaer 25 Sept & 16 Nov.
2015Reported from three sites during the breeding seasonReported from eight sites across the county
2016Reported from four sites during the breeding seasonReported from eight sites across the county
2017Reported from three sites during the breeding seasonReported from a total of eleven locations across the county
2018Breeding reported at two sites, with records from seven other sites during the breeding season.Outside the breeding season reported from a further 13 sites, including one on Skomer 15 Aug – 8 Oct.
2019Reported from 13 locations during the breeding season.Reported from 22 locations in the county.  Including one on Skomer 28 Oct.
2020Reported from 10 locations during the breeding seasons. Pairs displaying were observed at two sites and juveniles were seen at two other sites in July.

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

More about the Goshawk in Pembrokeshire