Whinchat – first and last dates

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February

Earlier records are summarised in Whinchat 1994

YearFirst arrival Last date recorded
19934 April20 November
199418 April12 October
199511 March19 October
199627 March14 October
19978 April26 October
199815 April10 October
199927 March28 October
200021 April20 October
200119 April1 November
20027 April21 October
200324 April27 October
20041 May20 September
200510 April25 October
200622 April11 October
200712 April10 October
200818 March12 October
200918 April18 September
201029 April12 October
20111 May16 October
20121 May22 October
20132 April6 October
201429 April2 November
201522 April14 October
201620 April8 October
201730 April23 October
20185 April21 October
20197 May8 November
202023 April17 October

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

More about the Whinchat in Pembrokeshire

Whinchat – 2012 research

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February

The Whinchat Saxicola rubetra is a migrant breeding species favouring open country such as heathland, moorland, bogs, marshes and light scrub. The latest atlas of breeding birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07 (Rees et al 2009) found that their distribution had been reduced by 70% in comparison to the 1984-1988 atlas. And this range contraction is accompanied by a 50% population decline. The species is currently amber listed and a local priority species.The aims of this survey are to record in detail the current breeding status and distribution of whinchats in Pembrokeshire, and to relate this distribution to habitat. This will lead to a greater understanding of habitat requirements and enable practical land management advice to aid their conservation within the PCNP.

A set of sites where whinchats have bred in recent years within the PCNP were surveyed; St Davids Head, Dowrog, Fagwr Goch, Carn Ingli, Fronlas and Brynberian Moor. Several additional sites were visited on an ad hoc basis. These were; Pantmaenog, North Preseli east of Brynberian, Mynydd Crwn, Afon Wern.

An initial visit was made to each of these sites between 20th May and 10th June and follow up visits were made between 19th June and 5th July. 

No breeding Whinchats were found at either of the St Davids sites and neither did they appear at the two farms south of the Preseli ridge; Fronlas or Fagwr Goch.

A total of 29 pairs were found spread across all the remaining sites with 15 of these at Brynberian Moor.

14 nests were located and based on 11 successful nests for which brood size was known (across all sites) productivity was 4.5 young per nest.

All breeding pairs occupied a mosaic of bracken, low bushes of various species and a wet area such as a gully or flush.

The reasons for the decline in the local Whinchat population were considered. Productivity data are represented by a small sample but based on this surveys results it appears to be near the national average for first broods. There was unoccupied but apparently suitable breeding habitat, suggesting that recruitment is low, possibly caused by factors away from their breeding sites. There was no evidence that Stonechats displaced breeding Whinchats and predation was considered to be an insignificant factor. 

Practical habitat management to favour breeding Whinchats is discussed. The current grazing regime at Brynberian Moor is already well suited to maintaining good whinchat habitat, so it is not necessary to change current practise. Targeted burning of bracken near gullies and mature gorse is likely to be detrimental to the population. Creating small isolated pockets of Whinchat habitat at new sites will probably be ineffective as long as there remains unoccupied suitable habitat.

Whinchats are a very easy species to census, with a single visit made to their breeding sites any time between mid-May and the end of June producing identical and reliable results, and by ringing chicks during June and July a very valuable data set can be established over a few years.  

Read the full report here

Paddy Jenks, Tansy Knight & Jane Hodges

More about the Whinchat in Pembrokeshire

Whinchat – 2003-07 breeding

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed237
Breeding probable172
Breeding possible23
No of tetrads occupied42 (of 478)12 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads8.8%2.5%

Fifty pairs were found during the 1984-88 survey, most of them about the lower slopes of the Preseli Hills but a few others spread in suitable habitat across the north of the county as far as the coast. The 2003-07 survey found that their distribution had been reduced by 70%. Those which were still breeding were in the Preseli Hills, save for probable breeding on the St. David’s peninsula. The few Possible breeding registrations were thought to have involved birds on passage. It was estimated that a maximum of 25 pairs were nesting by the end of 2007. Reasons for the decline are thought to include adverse conditions on the wintering grounds and changes in agricultural practice. Over-grazing in localities formerly occupied by Whinchats may have encouraged colonisation by Stonechats in some areas.

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 Whinchat in Pembrokeshire

Whinchat – 1994

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February

1984-88
Breeding confirmed23
Breeding probable17
Breeding possible2
No of tetrads occupied42 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads8.8%

The Whinchat was regarded as a scarce summer resident by Lockley et al. (1949), and Saunders (1976) added that it was of rather patchy distribution; both indicated that breeding was confined to the north and east of the county. The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found about 50 breeding pairs (see map). Most were found in the boggy areas which encircle the Preseli Mountains but a few pairs were dotted across boggy places, extending westwards to the coast, where some were also found breeding in bracken-clad cliff-top areas including those at Cemaes Head and Treginnis.

Small numbers of Whinchats, normally no more than three at any locality, occur on the islands and coast between 13 April and mid-June, though they have been recorded from 5 April and there are three earlier records: singles at Skomer on 1 March 1946, at Newgale on 28 March 1959 and at Skomer on 28 March 1988. These coastal birds are seen at the same time as others are arriving at the local breeding grounds, so it seems likely that they ­are through migrants which breed elsewhere.

Whinchats are slightly more numerous in autumn than spring, up to six occurring at the islands and coastal areas from early July to mid-October, with stragglers until 9 November. Exceptionally there are larger falls such as 40 at Skokholm on 10 September 1968. Migrants have reached Grassholm, and have been recorded at the lantern of the Smalls lighthouse at night in August and September.

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 the Whinchat in Pembrokeshire

Whinchat – 1894

Pratincola rubetra – A summer visitor.

Although Mr. Dix wrote that the Whinchat was decidedly rare in his district, which was the north-eastern corner of the county immediately adjoining Cardiganshire, we have found that it is pretty generally distributed, and have seen it on the Precelly Hlils at Rosebush, on Cuffern Mountain, at St. David’s, at Stone Hall, where we have seen the nest, &c. &c.

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

More about the Whinchat in Pembrokeshire

Whinchat

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February

Whinchat – 2012 research

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February The Whinchat Saxicola rubetra is a migrant breeding species favouring open country such as heathland, moorland, bogs, marshes and light scrub. The latest atlas of breeding birds in Pembrokeshire 2003-07 (Rees et al 2009) found that their distribution had been […]

Whinchat – 2003-07 breeding

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 23 7 Breeding probable 17 2 Breeding possible 2 3 No of tetrads occupied 42 (of 478) 12 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 8.8% 2.5% Fifty pairs were found during […]

Whinchat – 1994

Saxicola rubetra – CREC YR EITHIN – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded from December to February 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 23 Breeding probable 17 Breeding possible 2 No of tetrads occupied 42 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 8.8% The Whinchat was regarded as a scarce summer resident by Lockley et al. (1949), and Saunders (1976) added that […]

Whinchat – 1949

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

Whinchat – 1894

Pratincola rubetra – A summer visitor. Although Mr. Dix wrote that the Whinchat was decidedly rare in his district, which was the north-eastern corner of the county immediately adjoining Cardiganshire, we have found that it is pretty generally distributed, and have seen it on the Precelly Hlils at Rosebush, on Cuffern Mountain, at St. David’s, at Stone Hall, where we have […]