Kingfisher – 2021 winter

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident

Kingfishers often drift towards the coast in winter, often spending the season on the estuaries before moving back upstream to breeding areas. This movement was more marked when winters were colder and ponds more likely to be frozen over, forcing birds to move in search of food.

Distribution

This map was produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre using data collected between November and February for the BTO Atlas 2007-11, with additional data collected in 2011-12 winter to fill gaps in coverage.

Best places to see kingfishers in winter:

  • Bosherston Lily Ponds
  • Nevern Estuary
  • Teifi Marshes Reserve
  • Pembroke Millponds

Wetland Bird Survey

The slightly higher numbers seen on WeBS sites in 1995-96, 2009-10 and 2010-2011 probably reflect the colder winters in those years.

Data for June and July are collected by Jane Hodges during the annual surveillance of summer shelduck populations on the Cleddau Estuary complex. There are no counts in August. The September to March data is collected from sites across Pembrokeshire (including the Teifi Estuary) for the BTO Wetland Bird Survey.

These graphs will be updated as more data comes in.


Pattern of occurrence

Cumulative number of records per week in Pembrokeshire since 2000, taken from BirdTrack. Birds are more widespread during the autumn dispersal period, and also in winter when there are fewer leaves on the trees.


Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

HODGES J E. (2010-2020) Daugleddau Estuary and Milford Haven Waterway: annual surveillance of summer shelduck populations. Reports to the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group.

More about the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher – 2003-07 breeding

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident

Comparison with previous tetrad atlas:

1984-882003-07
Confirmed breeding119
Probable breeding58
Possible breeding3115
Total tetrads occupied47 (of 478)32 (of 490)
% of tetrads occupied9.8%6.5%

The confirmed and probable breeding records total 16 for both the 1984 – 88 and the 2003-07 surveys. The estimated 50 breeding pairs during the former survey was based on these registrations, so there has probably been no change since. However there was almost a 50% reduction in the possible breeding category, that is to say birds seen in apparently suitable habitat during the nesting season. Why this is so has not been resolved. Kingfishers can suffer increased mortality during cold spells but no such weather occurred during the review period. Pollution incidents may affect fish stocks and therefore Kingfishers, but in general water quality has improved post the 1980’s and no such effect was experienced in the core breeding area. The most likely explanation seems to be under-recording, for bright and colourful as Kingfishers are, they can be elusive and easily overlooked.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

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

More about the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher – 1994

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre
1984-88
Confirmed breeding11
Probable breeding5
Possible breeding31
Total tetrads occupied47 (of 478)
% of tetrads occupied9.8%

There has probably been little change in the status of the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire since the time of Mathew (1894), who described it as a common resident, and Lockley et al. (1949), who simply stated that it was resident. The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found about 50 pairs along the streams and rivers and on the larger ponds (see map), but it is probable that some were missed in the east of the county; they used to breed on the river above Solva but have not been known to do so for the past seven years.

Kingfishers wander to the coast outside the breeding season, particularly to the estuaries, and are regularly seen at Newport and various parts of the Cleddau. They have occasionally reached the offshore islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm.

Freezing conditions can cause high winter mortality. Lockley et al. noted that many died in the winter of 1946/47, becoming very scarce afterwards, and the arctic winter of 1963 reduced the Welsh population by an estimated 85% (Smith 1969), with Pembrokeshire’s numbers being cut down to just a few surviving pairs. A succession of mild winters and productive summers enabled them to increase again and subsequent cold spells have not had the same drastic effect.

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

SMITH, M.E. 1969. Kingfishers in Wales: effects of severe weather. Nature in Wales 11: 109—115.

More about the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher – 1980s winter

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident

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

The BTO winter atlas showed that Kingfishers were present in about 40% of Pembrokeshire 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

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 Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher – 1894

Alcedo ispida

A common resident.

We used to note many of these beautiful birds by the banks of the Cleddy, and generally had one in our grounds, where its favourite perch would be on the branch of a larch that projected over a fish-pond. Here it would sit for hours together on the watch for any perch or tench fry that might venture into the shallows, and was a beautiful object when its brilliant plumage was lit up by the sunshine. Mr. Dix considered the Kingfisher rare in his district, but had been informed that it was common in the south of the county.

In very severe frosts we have occasionally come upon a frozen out Kingfisher, sitting disconsolately, with all its bright feathers ruffled, upon a twig by the side of a frozen pool; but, as we have never picked up a dead Kingfisher, we believe these birds do not succumb to the weather, but manage to pull through somehow or other.

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

More about the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident

Kingfisher – 2021 winter

Winter distribution map, and the latest figures from the Wetland Bird Survey in Pembrokeshire – totals from all count sites

Kingfisher – 2003-07 breeding

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident Comparison with previous tetrad atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Confirmed breeding 11 9 Probable breeding 5 8 Possible breeding 31 15 Total tetrads occupied 47 (of 478) 32 (of 490) % of tetrads occupied 9.8% 6.5% The confirmed and probable breeding records total 16 for both the 1984 […]

Kingfisher – 1994

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident 1984-88 Confirmed breeding 11 Probable breeding 5 Possible breeding 31 Total tetrads occupied 47 (of 478) % of tetrads occupied 9.8% There has probably been little change in the status of the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire since the time of Mathew (1894), who described it as a common […]

Kingfisher – 1980s winter

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 3 birds. The BTO winter atlas showed that Kingfishers were present in about 40% of Pembrokeshire 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. More about the […]

Kingfisher – 1968-72 breeding

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident Red = breeding confirmed Orange = breeding probable Yellow = breeding possible More about the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Kingfisher – 1894

Alcedo ispida A common resident. We used to note many of these beautiful birds by the banks of the Cleddy, and generally had one in our grounds, where its favourite perch would be on the branch of a larch that projected over a fish-pond. Here it would sit for hours together on the watch for any perch or tench […]