Curlew Sandpiper – 2018

Calidris ferruginea – PIBYDD CAMBIG – Scarce visitor

The Curlew Sandpiper breeds along most of the Arctic coast of Siberia, and winter mainly along the coasts of sub-Saharan Africa but also in India and as far south as Australia and New Zealand (HBW).  Individuals from the western Siberian population migrate via Scandinavia, stopping off at the Waddenzee off the north coast of the Netherlands and Germany.  A number of these find their way across the North Sea to Britain, with a few making it as far west as Pembrokeshire.

Males leave the breeding grounds in July, followed later by the females; thus birds seen here in August are mainly adults, with some still in full breeding plumage.  Larger numbers occur in September, and these are almost all juveniles.

Numbers are variable – one or two records in some years, dozens in others.  This depends partly on the weather conditions over Scandinavia at the time of autumn migration, and partly on the number of young fledged in that year.  The latter depends on the number of lemmings on the Curlew Sandpiper’s Arctic breeding grounds. When lemmings are numerous, predators such as the Arctic Fox prefer them. When lemmings are few, the predators turn to wader eggs and chicks (BTO Migration Atlas 2002).

Large influxes were recorded in 1969 and 1988 (see Curlew Sandpiper 1994); and in 1996 when 29 were recorded at the Nevern Estuary on 22 Sept, along with 11 at Hook on the Cleddau estuary the same day (high numbers were also recorded elsewhere in Wales). 

Spring migration only occasionally brings one or two birds to Pembrokeshire. Most of these are seen in late April and May, the earliest record being 16th March on Skokholm, 1959.

When can they be seen?

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. Conversely, not all records go into BirdTrack, and there is a lot of data missing from this graph. However, it does give a good indication of a few records in May (weeks 18-22), a few in July, but most from mid-August to late October (weeks 34 to 43).

Where can they be seen?

Records are scattered through the main coastal sites of the Teifi Estuary, Nevern Estuary and the Cleddau Estuary, on the latter mainly at the Gann and Angle Bay. Birds are also recorded passing Strumble Head.

Ringing

There have been few ringing recoveries involving Wales, and only one from Pembrokeshire. This individual was ringed at Angle Bay – one of the September 1996 influx – and was caught by a ringer in Spain nearly 15 years later in August 2011.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

References:

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 Curlew Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire

Curlew Sandpiper – 1994

Calidris ferruginea – PIBYDD CAMBIG – Scarce visitor. Not recorded in January, February, July and November

Mathew (1894) stated that the Curlew Sandpiper was an autumn visitor but Lockley et al. (1949) knew of only two occurrences, single birds at Pembroke Dock on 9 December 1919 and at Trefeiddan on 20 and 21 September 1930. It is now almost annual in occurrence with up to seven birds appearing at coastal localities between 26 August and 17 October.  An exceptional occurrence was of nine birds at the Gann from 11 to 15 September 1988, when at least 32 were accounted for across the county, part of a major influx into western Europe.

They are only occasional in the spring, usually between 24 April and 29 June, although two were at Skokholm on 16 March 1959.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

More about the Curlew Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire

Curlew Sandpiper – 1894

Tringa subarquata – An autumn visitor

To be seen in company with Dunlin on the sands, and to be easily distinguished from them by their longer legs and more upright carriage, and by the white upper tail coverts that become visible directly the birds take wing. We imagine that in spite of the distinctions we have pointed out, this species (that we always found to be common and sometimes abundant on the opposite coasts of North Devon) has been confounded with the Dunlin, as it does not appear in either Mr Tracy’s or Mr Dix’s lists, and is only included by Mr Mathias. The shape of the beak, which gives the birds its name, being slightly curved, like that of the Curlew, in another distinguishing mark by which it may be readily known.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Curlew Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire

Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris ferruginea – PIBYDD CAMBIG – Scarce visitor. Not recorded in January, February, July and November

Curlew Sandpiper – 2018

Calidris ferruginea – PIBYDD CAMBIG – Scarce visitor The Curlew Sandpiper breeds along most of the Arctic coast of Siberia, and winter mainly along the coasts of sub-Saharan Africa but also in India and as far south as Australia and New Zealand (HBW).  Individuals from the western Siberian population migrate via Scandinavia, stopping off at […]

Curlew Sandpiper – 1994

Calidris ferruginea – PIBYDD CAMBIG – Scarce visitor. Not recorded in January, February, July and November Mathew (1894) stated that the Curlew Sandpiper was an autumn visitor but Lockley et al. (1949) knew of only two occurrences, single birds at Pembroke Dock on 9 December 1919 and at Trefeiddan on 20 and 21 September 1930. It is […]

Curlew Sandpiper – 1949

Calidris testacea “Autumn visitor” according to Mathew.  Recent records: one shot, N Pembs, Sept 1894 (B.Birds XVIII 235); one shot, 5 Oct 1903 (J.Wynne); one Pembroke 9 Dec 1919 (Mills); one seen Trefeiddan 20-21 Sept 1930 (D.L.Lack) R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society More about the Curlew Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire

Curlew Sandpiper – 1894

Tringa subarquata – An autumn visitor To be seen in company with Dunlin on the sands, and to be easily distinguished from them by their longer legs and more upright carriage, and by the white upper tail coverts that become visible directly the birds take wing. We imagine that in spite of the distinctions we […]