Great Spotted Woodpecker – 2003-07 breeding

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed4575
Breeding probable49109
Breeding possible7870
No of tetrads occupied172 (of 478)254 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads36%51.8%

The number of tetrads in which Great Spotted Woodpeckers were found increased significantly between 1984-88 and 2003-07, from 172 to 254 – almost 48%. With the exception of a small decline in the number of tetrads registering possible breeding, the number of tetrads where confirmed and probable breeding was recorded increased by around 67% and 122% respectively. According to BBS information the population index for this species has risen by 196% between 1994 and 2007 in Wales overall.

Donovan and Rees (1994) remarked that although much harder winters of the early 1960s apparently had no effect, the cold snap in winter 1979 was thought to have reduced the population substantially, based partly on observations at Hylton Woods. Since about 1990, there has been a remarkable run of generally mild winters so Great Spotted Woodpeckers may have prospered as a result.

By the end of the 1984-88 survey period, Donovan and Rees estimated that there was an average density of three or four pairs per occupied tetrad, providing a Pembrokeshire population of about 500 – 700 pairs. But they concluded that the population was undoubtedly greater prior to 1979. This woodpecker species is certainly one that currently seems to have prospered recently, and over the last 20 years seems to have recovered quite well.  Using the 1980s population estimate, based on the number found in tetrads, there may now be at least 760 to 1,000 pairs breeding in Pembrokeshire. 

Bob Haycock (BTO rep & Chairman of the Pembs Bird Group)

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

More about the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Pembrokeshire

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1994

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre
1984-88
Breeding confirmed45
Breeding probable49
Breeding possible78
No of tetrads occupied172 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads36%

The Great Spotted Woodpecker was classified as a rare occasional visitor by Mathew (1894), who listed only six occurrences. The diaries of Lloyd for 1927-1934 document a fairly widespread but patchy distribution, and contain remarks such as “they must have spread strongly” since Mathew’s time. T.A.W. Davis noted that they first established themselves at St Ishmael’s in 1939. Lockley et al. (1949) considered that they were widely distributed in well-wooded country, with scattered pairs throughout the county. Saunders (1976) assessed the species as widespread in small numbers throughout Pembrokeshire’s woodlands.

Although the much harder winters of the early 1960s apparently had no effect, the cold snap of winter 1979 markedly reduced the population; for example, five pairs breeding in Hylton Woods in 1978 were reduced to a single unmated bird in the summer of 1979, and even by 1983 there had only been a recovery to two pairs. In consequence, the surveyors engaged in the Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found some woods contained old borings but no woodpeckers. At an average density of three to four pairs per occupied tetrad the county total was probably about 500-700 pairs at the end of the survey, but the total was undoubtedly greater prior to 1979.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers sometimes wander onto the cliffs of the outer coast in the autumn, as at Strumble Head in 1981, 1986 and 1990, and reached Skomer in 1962 and 1964.

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

More about the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Pembrokeshire

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1980s winter

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident

The BTO winter atlas showed that Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present in most 10km squares of their known breeding range during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 2-3 birds.

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Pembrokeshire

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1894

Dendrocopus major

A rare occasional visitor. In a county so sparsely timbered as Pembrokeshire the tree frequenting birds would be naturally rare.

We have never once seen the handsome Pied Woodpecker, but have been informed that it has been seen at Picton; also at Castle Martin; and Sir Hugh Owen has met with it at Landshipping, and knew of one killed many years ago at Williamston. One that had been killed close to the border of the county towards Carmarthenshire was brought to Jeffreys, the birdstuffer in Haverfordwest, about Easter, 1886.

Mr. Jefferys, of Tenby, informs us that he has received a fair number of Great Spotted Woodpeckers from Carmarthenshire, in which county, with its finer timber, Woodpeckers would be naturally more numerous than they are in such a bare county as Pembrokeshire. Mr. Tracy mentions an example of the Great Spotted Woodpecker that was shot at Lawrenny. Both species of the Spotted Woodpecker are fond of fruit, and in our county there is not much in the way of fruit to attract them.

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

More about the Great Spotted Woodpecker in Pembrokeshire

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 2003-07 breeding

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 45 75 Breeding probable 49 109 Breeding possible 78 70 No of tetrads occupied 172 (of 478) 254 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 36% 51.8% The number of tetrads in which Great Spotted Woodpeckers were found increased significantly […]

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1994

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 45 Breeding probable 49 Breeding possible 78 No of tetrads occupied 172 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 36% The Great Spotted Woodpecker was classified as a rare occasional visitor by Mathew (1894), who listed only six occurrences. The diaries of Lloyd for 1927-1934 […]

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1980s winter

Dendrocopus major – CNOCELL FRAITH FWYAF – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present in most 10km squares of their known breeding range during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 2-3 […]