Snipe – 2003-07 breeding

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed
Breeding probable3
Breeding possible65
No of tetrads occupied9 (of 478) (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads1.9 %1%

Within Pembrokeshire, Snipe were considered to be fairly widespread as a breeding species until about 50-60 years ago. During the 1984-88 atlas period they were recorded from nine tetrads, mainly in the Preseli Hills and in the catchment area of the Eastern Cleddau. Only a handful of pairs were recorded, and whilst breeding may have occurred in three separate tetrads, there was no certainty of this. It was thought that extensive land drainage and reduced grazing of the commons had caused the decline, with an increase in predators placing further pressure on the remaining population.

Some 20 years later, Snipe were recorded from 5 tetrads during 2003-07 but only three of these were inland within areas of potentially suitable breeding habitat. The other two locations being near the coast were almost certainly records of transient birds. Even at the inland locations, it is likely that Snipe recorded here were also migrants. No “classic” display flights were recorded and their former haunts currently seem unable to support a breeding population.

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 Snipe in Pembrokeshire

Snipe – 1994

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder

1984-88
Breeding confirmed
Breeding probable3
Breeding possible6
No of tetrads occupied9 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads1.9 %

The Snipe was a widespread breeding species in Pembrokeshire throughout the times of Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) but Saunders (1976) remarked that there were few modern breeding records. The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found only about ten pairs on the bogs of the Preseli Mountains, with possible breeding in the meadows around the confluence of the rivers Syfynwy and Eastern Cleddau. Extensive land reclamation, drainage and reduced grazing of commons has undoubtedly been the cause of the drastic decline in the Pembrokeshire breeding population, and an increase in foxes and corvids has probably placed further pressure on the remaining population.

The small numbers of Snipe that arrive between July and September may be birds that breed fairly locally, perhaps elsewhere in Wales or other parts of Britain. The main arrival is in October, with ringing recoveries showing that they come from at least as far away as Finland. Small groups are scattered widely across the county during the winter, having the ability to suddenly concentrate at places where ground conditions become temporarily favourable, in which case groups of 50-100 are not unusual. They move to soft areas, such as the foreshore and springs, when the ground becomes frozen. Numbers diminish steadily if hard weather is prolonged, many presumably leaving the county altogether.

The spring departure is mainly in March but stragglers, or possibly through migrants, are noted in April and May. Largely nocturnal migrants, they have been seen at Strumble Head, South Bishop and the Smalls at lighthouse attractions.

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

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press.

More about Snipe in Pembrokeshire

Snipe – 1980s winter

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder

The BTO winter atlas showed that Snipes 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 37 birds, up to 200 were recorded in some squares in the county.

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 Snipe in Pembrokeshire

Common Snipe – 1894

Gallinago calestis

Resident; numerous arrivals from the north in the autumn and winter.

The Common Snipe, like the Woodcock, is far less plentiful in the county than it used to be. We have heard old sportsmen speak of the great bags it was possible to make fifty or sixty years ago, not to be accomplished anywhere now. Our old friend, the late Mr. John Stokes, of Cuffern, once got between sixty and seventy couple in a day and a half on the moors in the neighbourhood of the Tufton Arms belonging to the Trecwn estate, besides Woodcocks and other game.

There are still a few remote and almost inaccessible spots adjoining the mountains where a good shot might secure from twenty to thirty couple a day, but on all easily reached grounds that in old days were alive with Snipe the bird is now but sparingly represented. However, sportsmen who are able to range over the wilder parts of the county still meet with a few Snipe to give an agreeable variety to the bag, and we used to get sixty couple or so in the course of the season around Stone Hall.

The Snipe still nests all over the county in suitable places, and on a summer evening’s walk its peculiar drumming is one of the country sounds certain to meet the ear. There were every season a few nests at no great distance from our residence, and the young birds generally “came down” (the local term for hatching off) successfully.

Varieties of the Snipe are not very common. Captain John Tucker Edwardes, of Sealyham, firing into a wisp that rose one frosty morning by the side of one of the small ponds at Stone Hall, shot a pure white Snipe, and curiously enough did not observe it when it was flushed among the other Snipe. We examined this specimen at Sealyham, and could not detect any darker feathers upon it, and it was evidently a perfect albino. Sir Hugh Owen shot a White Snipe at Llanstinan, in 1853, and another very light coloured one in 1855, that he presented to Mr. John Stokes, of Cuffern, by whom it was beautifully mounted. This bird we found to be nearly completely white, one or two of the scapular feathers only being a pale buff. One that fell to our own gun, was a very pretty mealy variety, being powdered over the head and shoulders with small specks of white.

We have, once or twice shot Snipe in the so-called Scolopax russata plumage, but these we looked upon as large male birds in a transitional stage of moult. We have seen Snipe in this red plumage in the middle of April.

The outline of the tail in the full, or Common Snipe depends entirely on the growth of the tail feathers; if the outer feathers are not fully grown one has the bird with pointed tail ; or, if the outer feathers have attained their full length while the central ones have not done so, then there is the wedge-tailed Snipe that we have often shot at the beginning of the autumn, specimens of which have once or twice been forwarded to us, and supposed to be a distinct variety.

We have never seen one of the dark plumaged Snipe, that used to be known as “Sabine’s Snipe,” in Pembrokeshire, but among the myriads of Snipe that were formerly obtained we doubt not it has occurred. The Welsh name of the Snipe, “giach,” is a good rendering of the cry of the bird.

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

More about the Snipe in Pembrokeshire

Snipe

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder

Snipe – 2020-21 WeBS

The latest totals from the Wetland Bird Survey in Pembrokeshire – and the average counts for the past ten seasons.

Snipe – 2003-07 breeding

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed Breeding probable 3 Breeding possible 6 5 No of tetrads occupied 9 (of 478) (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 1.9 % 1% Within Pembrokeshire, Snipe were considered to be fairly widespread as a breeding species until […]

Snipe – 1994

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder 1984-88 Breeding confirmed Breeding probable 3 Breeding possible 6 No of tetrads occupied 9 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 1.9 % The Snipe was a widespread breeding species in Pembrokeshire throughout the times of Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) but Saunders (1976) remarked that […]

Snipe – 1980s winter

Gallinago gallinago – GIACH GYFFREDIN – Winter visitor and scarce breeder The BTO winter atlas showed that Snipes 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 37 birds, up to 200 were […]

Snipe – 1968-72 breeding

Red = breeding confirmed Orange = breeding probable Yellow = breeding possible More about the Snipe in Pembrokeshire

Common Snipe – 1949

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

Common Snipe – 1894

Gallinago calestis Resident; numerous arrivals from the north in the autumn and winter. The Common Snipe, like the Woodcock, is far less plentiful in the county than it used to be. We have heard old sportsmen speak of the great bags it was possible to make fifty or sixty years ago, not to be accomplished anywhere now. Our old friend, […]