Tringa ochropus – PIBYDD GWYRDD – Passage migrant and winter visitor
The Green Sandpiper breeds across the northern Palearctic from Scandinavia to Siberia, wintering south of this range as far south as Africa and Asia.
From the late 1800’s to the present, the Green Sandpiper has predominantly been an autumn visitor to Pembrokeshire. Throughout this period some have over wintered and a small erratic spring passage has been detected. They have been seen around many small pools, both on the mainland and offshore islands, in the upper reaches of estuaries around the zone where fresh water runs into salt water and overflying land including habitations.
Overall it is likely that this species has been under recorded, inasmuch as it can occur on quite small ponds and streams which are seldom visited by observers.
Departure of over wintering birds from the main localities have been recorded up to late April and early May. Assessing spring passage has therefore not included records of this nature. Away from these wintering sites spring passage has been noted in 21 years between 1952 and 2006, so it has not been an annual event. Records have come from Skokholm, Skomer, Pembroke Mill Ponds, St David’s airfield, Tretio, Pen Beri, Gann, Teifi Estuary, Treffgarne, Ritec and Fortune’s Frolic. They occurred between March and 22nd May and involved single birds, except for two at St David’s airfield on the 7th April 2003 and two at the Gann on the 29th April 2001.
Females tend to leave the breeding grounds early, about a third of the way through June, small chicks being left in the care of the males. Autumn passage in Pembrokeshire has commenced from the 20th June and continued to October, representing 65 % of the annual totals. Earlier birds were recorded at the Teifi Marshes on the 13th June 1990 and 2nd June 1996. One individual was reported as summering at the Teifi Marshes in 1994, being present from May to August.
Conceivably some November occurrences could have been late migrants but October has been used as a cut off point in this assessment.
Autumn passage totals 1990 – 2006.
These are minimum figures, for no means have been found for evaluating turnover of individuals at each site. Most records refer to one to four birds per occasion but up to five have been recorded at Skokholm, Eastern Cleddau and Heathfield Gravel Pit, six at Skomer, Teifi Marshes and the Gann, seven at Westfield Pill and nine at Pembroke Mill Ponds.
In 1894 Mathew wrote of the Green Sandpiper, “not infrequently it occurs throughout the winter months”. Subsequently this was established as a regular feature. This has mostly involved single birds at any one locality but up to five have been seen at favoured sites. The most favoured places have been Westfield Pill, the Blackpool Mill/Minwear region of the Eastern Cleddau, Millin Pill, Carew/Milton and Cresswell Quay. Birds centred on these areas possibly account for occurrences at Rosemarket, Clerkenhill, Llawhaden, Little Milford, Broadley/Southern Pitts and Cosheston. Less regular winter records have come from Pentwd, Nevern Estuary, Sealyham, Heathfield, St Davids airfield, Wallis Moor, Scolton, Bicton, Herbrandston, Gann / Mullock, Monkton, Ludchurch, Norchard and Lydstep.
Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007