Knot – 2020

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. 

The knot breeds on the high Arctic tundra of Canada, Greenland and Russia.  The majority of those wintering in the UK are of the Greenland and eastern Canada subspecies. 

198243 
198445 
198647 
1990-91 
1993-94 
1995-96 
1997-98 
2001432 
2003434 
2005436 
2007438 
2009-10 
2011-12 
2013-14 1 
2015 
-16 
2017-18 
201E- 
20 
3 
3 
3

Most of the UK wintering population is on the east side of Britain, although flocks of several thousand do occur on the Dee, Dyfi and Carmarthen Bay estuaries.  However, numbers in Pembrokeshire seem always to have been relatively small.  We just don’t have the vast open mudflats that this species prefers.

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.

The most likely places to see Knot in Pembrokeshire are the outer parts of the Cleddau (although they are occasionally seen further upstream), Teifi and Nevern Estuaries, and also on the large beaches of Freshwater West and Frainslake.

Movements

The only colour-ringed knot recorded in Pembrokeshire was T7 (above) on 10 March 2019.  It was ringed as an adult on Merseyside in 2017, and spent that winter there.  This particular colour-ringing project has shown that there is interchange between Merseyside, Deeside and Ireland.  It is possible that T7 had spent at least part of the 2018-19 winter in Ireland and was now on its way east to join thousands of other knot on the Waddensee where they fatten up for the flight to their breeding grounds via staging posts in North Norway and Iceland.   It was last recorded back on Merseyside in July 2019.

As we see only small numbers of knot in Pembrokeshire, it is worth looking carefully for birds with colour-rings or flags.  Ideally get the number on the flag, but even a record of the colour and which leg it is on can provide useful information.

Thanks to Jim Wilson for the colour-ring information.

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 Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot – 2006

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in June

The Knot has a circumpolar Arctic breeding distribution and winters in temperate and tropical areas. International studies have established that most Knots occurring in Britain are of the race islandica, which breeds in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.

The nominate race canutus, breeding in the Old World Arctic, could conceivably occur occasionally in Pembrokeshire, perhaps in those years when there is a large influx of Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers which share a similar breeding range.

Mathew (1894) considered the Knot to bean autumn and winter visitor to Pembrokeshire, appearing on the flats and oozes at the end of August and beginning of September. He gave no indication of the numbers involved but noted it as being seen commonly every autumn near Pembroke, also on the sands at Goodwick.

Lockley et al (1949) also classified the species as an autumn and winter visitor, usually seen in small parties of less than 20 birds but occasionally in larger groups, noting 100 at Dale on the 6th November 1938.

Post 1949 the Knot has principally remained an autumn migrant but has overwintered and there has been a small and regular spring passage.

All records have been from coastal areas bar one inland at Wallis Moor on the 23rd April 2002. Most have been seen at the Cleddau Estuary, with smaller numbers at the Teifi and Nevern Estuaries and Fishguard Harbour. They have also been seen on many of the beaches and by coastal pools, including those on the offshore islands, and one frequented the runways of the old Dale airfield in September 1983.

Spring passage

A small volume spring passage has been detected between March and the 30th May. The majority of the records involved up to four birds at a time but seven were at the Gann on the 22nd April 1990, 12 at Angle Bay on the 2nd May 1994, 19 at Frainslake on the 13th April 1996 with 39 on the 19th March 2006, 12 on the 9th April 2006 and 23 at nearby Blucks Pool on the 2nd April 2006.

A single laggard passed Strumble Head on the 2nd June 1997 which remains the only record in the county for that month.

Autumn passage

Post 1949 the Knot has principally remained an autumn migrant, which has passed through from the 13th July to November, occasionally into December.  Records have mostly involved one to 20 birds per occasion but 36 were seen at Angle Bay on the 23rd September 1999, 40 there on the 24th October 1963 and 43 on the 11th September 2000, 22 at the Gann on the 6th September 1991 and 24 at Frainslake on the 4th August 1997.

Flocks have also been noted moving southwards offshore which in all probability did not alight in the county and possibly not until they had reached France or beyond. This movement has involved 25 passing Ramsey on the 30th September 2001, 67 passing Skokholm on the 29th September 1958, 30 doing the same on the 25th August 1979 and a total of 2,742 logged passing Strumble Head in the autumn between 1983 and 2006.

The Strumble Head passages have been annual but variable, the fewest in a year being 21 in 1986, the most 578 in 1999. Groups of up to 20 birds were mainly involved but larger flocks were seen on many occasions, the largest being 85 on the 20th August 1983 and 90 on the 26th September 1996.

Knots were also recorded during a lighthouse attraction at Strumble Head in the early hours of the 25th September 1985.

Winter

Knots have long visited Pembrokeshire in the winter months of December to February but have only infrequently remained throughout those months.

They were recorded in every winter from 1983 to 2006 with the exception of 1992. Only one was reported in the winter in 1989, two in 1985 and five in 1986. Groups which did not stay for long were:  55 at the Gann on the 7th February 1954, 60 there on the 13th January 1963, 30 Pen y Cwm on the 27th January 1963 and 36 Furzenips on the 27th January 1996.

Even at the most favoured parts of the Cleddau Estuary, Angle Bay and the Pembroke River, they have seldom endured for long. The largest county presence of 500 at the Pembroke River on the 22nd January 1972 was only recorded on that date. A further 185 there in December 1999 had decreased to just nine by January 2000. Similarly 65 at Angle Bay in January 1987 had reduced to two by the 15th February.

Full overwintering has been recorded twice to date (up to 2006). About 85 were present from December 1996 to February 1997 using both Angle Bay and the nearby Pembroke River, whereas 24 at Angle Bay in December 2005 had increased to 70 by January 2006 with 80 by February.

It is established that Knots move between different estuaries in the UK during the winter in response to variable food availability, so it is possible that those occurring in winter in Pembrokeshire could have come from parts of Carmarthen Bay or the Burry Inlet, moving on if the local food supply was limited. This is speculation for there is no evidence that this happens, appropriate ring recoveries could provide confirmation.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

LOCKLEY. R. M, INGRAM. C. S. and SALMON. H. M.1949. The birds of Pembrokeshire, West Wales Field Society.

MATHEW. M. 1894. The birds of Pembrokeshire and its islands, R. H. Porter.

More about the Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot – 1994

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in June

Mathew (1894) considered Knots to be autumn and winter visitors, appearing at the end of August and beginning of September. He quoted Goodwick Sands and Pembroke as localities for them. Lockley et al. (1949) agreed that they were autumn and winter visitors, usually in small parties of under 20, but occasionally in larger flocks, for example 100 at Dale on 6 November 1938.

The Knot is now erratic in its occurrence in Pembrokeshire. Small numbers, usually 20 or less, may winter on the Cleddau Estuary in some years, and sometimes larger groups of 50-100 appear, but seldom stay for long. A count of 500 was made on the Pembroke River on 22 January 1972. Small influxes have also been noted during cold spells.

They are more widespread, but not numerous, during passage times, when they can occur on any of the estuaries, beaches, and offshore islands, and sometimes in coastal fields. Very few pass through in the spring between March and May; usually single birds can be seen, but occasionally groups of up to six birds occur. Knots are more frequently seen in the autumn, when there is a small but marked passage off Strumble Head, with flocks of up to 85 passing between August and October. These are evidently birds that do not stop off in Pembrokeshire, for no comparable numbers are seen elsewhere at that time. Knots were attracted to the lighthouse at Strumble Head on 25 September 1985 during nocturnal passage.

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

More about the Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot – 1980s winter

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in June

The BTO winter atlas showed that Knots were present in some coastal and estuarine 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The colour, for each 10km square represents 1-32 birds.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 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 Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot – 1894

Tringa canutus – An autumn and winter visitor.

Flocks of Knots appear on the sand flats and oozes at the end of August and beginning of September from their breeding station in the far north. Mr. Tracy states that they were to be seen commonly every autumn near Pembroke. Also on the sands at Goodwick, &c. The flocks are foolishly tame when they first arrive.

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

More about the Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Knot – 2020

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant.  The knot breeds on the high Arctic tundra of Canada, Greenland and Russia.  The majority of those wintering in the UK are of the Greenland and eastern Canada subspecies.  Most of the UK wintering population is on the east side of Britain, although flocks of […]

Knot – 2006

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in June The Knot has a circumpolar Arctic breeding distribution and winters in temperate and tropical areas. International studies have established that most Knots occurring in Britain are of the race islandica, which breeds in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. The nominate race canutus, breeding in the Old […]

Knot – 1994

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in June Mathew (1894) considered Knots to be autumn and winter visitors, appearing at the end of August and beginning of September. He quoted Goodwick Sands and Pembroke as localities for them. Lockley et al. (1949) agreed that they were autumn and winter visitors, usually in […]

Knot – 1980s winter

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in June The BTO winter atlas showed that Knots were present in some coastal and estuarine 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The colour, for each 10km square represents 1-32 birds. More about the Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot – 1949

Calidris canutus canutus Autumn and winter visitor to the estuaries, usually in small parties of under 20, occasionally up to 100 (Dale 6 Nov 1938, R.M.L). Recorded Skokholm. R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society More about the Knot in Pembrokeshire

Knot – 1894

Tringa canutus – An autumn and winter visitor. Flocks of Knots appear on the sand flats and oozes at the end of August and beginning of September from their breeding station in the far north. Mr. Tracy states that they were to be seen commonly every autumn near Pembroke. Also on the sands at Goodwick, &c. The flocks are foolishly […]

Knot

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant.