Mallard – 2021 Winter

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Mallard can be seen at any time of year in Pembrokeshire, however, numbers in autumn and winter are augmented by arrivals from north-east Europe and Russia (based on ringing recoveries from Orielton and throughout Wales). Numbers are also increased by the release of birds for shooting, and it is possible the variability of this source accounts for much of the variability of the annual maxima recorded by the Wetland Bird Survey locally.

In the UK as a whole, numbers of (wild) mallard increased in the 1970s and 1980s, but have subsequently fallen. There is no clear reason for the decline, but there is a clear relationship with the ingestion of lead shot. Ringing recoveries have also shown that there is a reduction in the number of winter visitors from continental Europe (Birds of Wales)- probably due to a combination of less severe winters and a reduction in shooting pressure there.


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.

Main sites

Average maximum counts from the Wetland Bird Survey in the 2010s. There have also been occasional counts of over 100 at other sites, such as Millin Pill and Marloes Mere, but not often enough to include here.


Wetland Bird Survey

Data will be added to this graph as it becomes available.

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.


Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

References

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.

PRITCHARD R, HUGHES J, SPENCE I.M., HAYCOCK R.J. & BRENCHLEY A. (Editors) (2021) Birds of Wales. Liverpool University Press

More about the Mallard in Pembrokeshire

Mallard – 2003-07 breeding

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed98100
Breeding probable1957
Breeding possible6676
No of tetrads occupied183 (of 478)233 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads38.3%47.6%

Mallard nest largely around fresh water but have shown a capability to use sites well away from water. They have also readily adapted to artificial sites, perhaps epitomised here in Pembrokeshire, by sitting on eggs aboard a working lobster–fishing boat throughout its mobile working days.

An estimate of 400 nests was made during the 1984-88 survey, though at the time this was thought to be a little conservative. Interpolation from the findings of 1988-91 National Atlas provides a figure of 460 nests for Pembrokeshire. The BBS suggests there has been a 15% decrease in population in Wales over the period 1994–2007. However, the evidence from the 2003-07 county survey is of a 27% expansion in distribution, suggesting there could have been about 500 nests by 2007. The estimates are expressed as nests rather than pairs, as male Mallards normally take no part in incubation or tending young.

Graham Rees. Pembrokeshire County Bird Recorder 1981-2007

Rees, et al. 2008, Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07. Pembrokeshire Bird Group.

More about the Mallard in Pembrokeshire

Mallard – 1994

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

1984-88
Breeding confirmed98
Breeding probable19
Breeding possible66
No of tetrads occupied183 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads38.3%

This is the bird that Mathew (1894) knew as the Wild Duck, and it has probably not changed its status to any degree over the past 100 years or so. Lockley et al. (1949) described it as a common resident and winter visitor.

The Mallard breeds throughout Pembrokeshire, in a range of habitats including the islands. A breeding population of some 400 nests may well be an underestimate as the birds are inconspicuous until the broods are out and then not always seen. The total post-breeding population is augmented by reared birds released by wildfowlers, numbers of releases varying from year to year. The Mallard remains widespread outside the breeding season but groups of 100-500 concentrate at favoured localities, such as the Cleddau Estuary, Pembroke Mill Ponds, Bosherston Pools, Pentood Marshes, Marloes Mere, Nevern Estuary and less regularly at other spots. Shifts in distribution are frequent and often sudden, making this a difficult species to assess. Crossbreeds with domestic ducks are not infrequent and pure white birds seem to occur naturally among otherwise normal broods. Keeping track of some of these distinctively marked birds illustrates their mobility between localities. Up to 1,500 Mallards normally winter in the county with an exceptional gathering of about 1,500 on Skomer on 23 October 1981, which probably included passage migrants. Peak numbers occur between October and January.

There are fewer recoveries of Mallards ringed at Orielton than for Wigeon or Teal; those which there are mostly relate to passage periods but a breeding season return came from Korelia in north-west Russia. They pass on through the county to Ireland and France and do not necessarily return to Pembrokeshire in the years after ringing, when they occur in other parts of Wales and in England. There is little evidence of diurnal migration.

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

More about the Mallard in Pembrokeshire

Mallard – 1980s winter

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

The BTO winter atlas showed that Mallards were present in most 10km squares 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 239 birds both being squares containing estuaries.

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 Mallard in Pembrokeshire

Mallard – 1894

WILD DUCK, Anas boscas

Resident; common; breeds all over the county in suitable places, on wet moors, by the side of streams and ponds. We had several broods every season below Stone Hall, on the Cleddy, and by the side of tiny streams joining that river.

The Wild Duck must have been far more abundant fifty years ago. In a meadow below Stone Hall the remains of an ambush at a bend of the stream still exist. Concealed within it an old farmer, who lived close at hand, used to shoot the Ducks as the flocks flew up and down the stream just at daybreak, or at dusk, and is reported to have often picked up twenty or more before his breakfast. In snowy weather, accompanied by rough northerly winds, we have ourselves seen great numbers of Duck on the Cleddy, and have had good sport with them. The rougher the wind the greater used to be our success, as the wind both prevented the birds from hearing our approach, and impeded their flight.

We found a brood one summer close to the house, and the old Duck permitting herself to be caught, we carried them all to one of our ponds, but they did not stay there, quickly wandering off again to the river.

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

More about the Mallard in Pembrokeshire

Mallard

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Mallard – 2021 Winter

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

Mallard – 2003-07 breeding

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 98 100 Breeding probable 19 57 Breeding possible 66 76 No of tetrads occupied 183 (of 478) 233 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 38.3% 47.6% Mallard nest largely around fresh water but have shown a capability […]

Mallard – 1994

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 98 Breeding probable 19 Breeding possible 66 No of tetrads occupied 183 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 38.3% This is the bird that Mathew (1894) knew as the Wild Duck, and it has probably not changed its status to any degree […]

Mallard – 1980s winter

Anas platyrhynchos – HWYADEN WYLLT – Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor The BTO winter atlas showed that Mallards were present in most 10km squares 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 239 birds both being squares containing […]

Mallard – 1949

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

Mallard – 1894

Species account from the 1894 Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands by the Rev. Murray Mathew