Tufted Duck – 2003-07 breeding

Aythya fuligula – HWYADEN GOPOGWinter visitor and passage migrant.

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed1
Breeding probable3
Breeding possible1
No of tetrads occupied05 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads1%

In the breeding season tufted ducks favour lowland fresh waters of moderate depths in the range two to five metres.

In Pembrokeshire, a wild bird bred with a captive one in 1988 but a fully wild pair hatched young at Marloes Mere in 1996 and again in 1997 and 1999. None were found breeding during the 1984-88 survey but in the 2003-07 period a pair produced a brood at Skomer in 2005 and again in 2006 and 2007. Probable breeding was also registered at Marloes Mere, Bosherston and Rosebush Reservoir with breeding season presence noted near St Davids.

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

More about the Tufted Duck in Pembrokeshire

Red-legged Partridge – 2003-07 breeding

Alectoris rufa – PETRISEN GOESGOCH – Artificially maintained

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed45
Breeding probable18
Breeding possible12
No of tetrads occupied5 (of 478)25 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads1.1%5.1%

The county population of red-legged partridge is sustained by annual releases for the purpose of shooting. Those birds which survive the shooting season are able to breed but it is doubtful that a self sustaining population would endure without further releases. Comparing the results of the two surveys indicates a fivefold increase but in the absence of information on the scale of releases, which appears to be unregulated, it is impossible to meaningfully interpret these findings.

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

More about the Red-legged Partridge in Pembrokeshire

Grey Partridge – 2003-07 breeding

Perdix perdixPetrisenArtificially maintained

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed62
Breeding probable1
Breeding possible13
No of tetrads occupied8 (of 478)5 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads1.7% 1%

Considered to be fairly common in Pembrokeshire at the end of the 19th century, the grey partridge was in decline by the middle of the 20th century. By the time of the 1984-88 survey it was barely hanging on, surviving only because of additional birds released for shooting. The position remained precarious at the time of the 2003-07 survey and it is doubtful that a self sustaining population existed. Most modern farming practices produce conditions which do not suit Grey Partridges.

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

More about the Grey Partridge in Pembrokeshire

Quail – 2003-07 breeding

Coturnix coturnixSofliarSummer visitor, erratic breeder.  Not recorded from January to March, or in November

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed1
Breeding probable711
Breeding possible1
No of tetrads occupied8 (of 478)12 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads1.7%2.5%

Small numbers of quail are detected in Pembrokeshire most summers. Usually they are located by call, only rarely are nests found and most probably do not attempt to breed. The number registered during the two five year surveys are typical of the normal level and pattern of occurrence in the county. Greater numbers are encountered during infrequent “invasion years”.  The last time this was experienced was in 1989 when at least 80 were recorded and both eggs and young were found.

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

More about the Quail in Pembrokeshire

Pheasant – 2003-07 breeding

Phasianus colchicus – FFESANT – Breeding resident

Map produced by the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed6329
Breeding probable103225
Breeding possible8854
No of tetrads occupied254 (of 478)308 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads53.1%62.9%

The Pheasant is an Oriental species which was introduced into Pembrokeshire about 1586, and has since naturalised. Considerable numbers are reared and released each year for shooting purposes and this has been the case for many years. Some have survived the shooting seasons to breed in a wild state and this is the population which the local surveys have attempted to assess.

The 2003-07 survey found there had been a 21% increase in distribution since 1984-88, suggesting there were about 1,630 nests by the end of 2007 compared to 1,350 in 1988, using the mean of the estimate ranges. This is expressed as nests rather than pairs as male Pheasants habitually have several mates. They were absent from the higher parts of the Preseli Hills during both surveys.

Introduced to the islands of Skomer and Caldey, they were found there during both surveys.  They possibly bred on Ramsey during the 1984- 88 period, having presumably reached it unaided, but were not recorded there in 2003-07.

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

More about the Pheasant in Pembrokeshire

Little Grebe – 2003-07 breeding

Tachybaptus ruficollis – GWYACH FACH – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed631
Breeding probable39
Breeding possible511
No of tetrads occupied14 (of 478)51 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads2.9%10.4%

The little grebe inhabits still fresh waters in the breeding season so is absent from the county’s fast flowing streams and rivers. It is secretive and inconspicuous around the breeding area and can easily be overlooked, however its distinctive far–carrying, whinnying call often betrays its presence. The nest is a floating platform of vegetation which is anchored to reeds and overhanging branches.

Comparison of the results of the two surveys indicates an almost four-fold increase in the number of occupied tetrads during the elapsed period. Most pairs were recorded on well-vegetated farm ponds used for irrigation, where there is an abundance of food in the form of small fish and invertebrates. Many of the ponds used in 2003-07 had only recently been constructed in the 1980’s but have subsequently matured, becoming vegetated and therefore suitable for Little Grebes.

Although most small waters are used by just one breeding pair, some tetrads encompass more than one such body of water and at Marloes Mere for instance, there have been four breeding pairs. Allowing for these variables, the county total was estimated to be about 70 pairs by 2007, compared to 12 pairs in 1988.

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

More about the Little Grebe in Pembrokeshire

Great Crested Grebe – 2003-07 breeding

Podiceps cristatus – GWYACH FAWR GOPOG – Sparse winter visitor

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed
Breeding probable2
Breeding possible1
No of tetrads occupied0 (of 478)3 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads%0.6%

Great crested grebes were first proved to have bred in Pembrokeshire when a pair incubated eggs at Llys-y-fran Reservoir in 1996, the nest later being predated. Although present there in following years, breeding was not proven again until 2004. A pair present with three juveniles in July 2002 was suggestive but at that date they could have come from elsewhere.

Single pairs occupied Rosebush Reservoir from 1995 onwards and were seen to have hatched a chick in 1997. They may well have attempted breeding there in each subsequent year, it being confirmed in 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Breeding was attempted at Heathfield Gravel Pit in 2005 but was unsuccessful.

More about the Great Crested Grebe in Pembrokeshire

Fulmar – 2003-07 breeding

Fulmarus glacialis – ADERYN-DRYCIN MAWR – Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed7161
Breeding probable46
Breeding possibleexcluded from totalexcluded from total
No of tetrads occupied75 (of 478)67 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads15.7%13.7%

Fulmars are now one of the commonest breeding seabirds around the coast of the UK but only a century ago were virtually unheard of as far south as Pembrokeshire. Their spectacular spread around the coast of the British Isles in the last century  and a half is one of the best documented of any bird species. The Seabird 2000 survey estimated that there were just under 538,000 apparently occupied sites in Britain and Ireland.

In Pembrokeshire Fulmars can now be found virtually everywhere around the coastline. They nest on sheer cliff faces on small ledges in small groups and sometimes as individual pairs.  Near Saundersfoot they nest behind the tangled roots of cliff edge trees, on the predator free islands sometimes on wide accessible ledges but always they try to find as much height as they can.  Only where the cliffs are comprised of low sloping sandstone or are exposed fully to the glare of the sun are they absent. They are fairly easy to count as they occupy their sites for many months each year, and are only totally absent in September and October when they are at sea moulting.

The number of occupied sites increased steadily in the county from the first known breeding site at Flimston in 1940, to what seems to be a discernable peak of near to 2,500 sites in the mid to late 1990’s.  Annual counts are very variable as many of the sites are occupied by non breeding or prospecting pairs.

Between the counts from 1985-88 and the Seabird 2000 counts, Fulmar numbers in the county jumped from 1,409 sites to almost exactly 2,500 sites. However these totals  mask the changes from 1996, when detailed annual counts on Ramsey, Skomer, Skokholm, Castlemartin, St Margaret’s and Caldey, suggest that the trend in subsequent years has been at best stability and more probably the population is showing a tendency to a steady decline. The distribution maps also show a decline in tetrad occupancy

Steve Sutcliffe

More about the Fulmar in Pembrokeshire

Manx Shearwater – 2003-07 breeding

Puffinus puffinus – ADERYN-DRYCIN MANAW – Numerous breeding summer visitor. Recorded in all months

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed33
Breeding probable
Breeding possible
No of tetrads occupied3 (of 478)3 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads0.6%0.6%

The Manx Shearwater colonies of the Pembrokeshire islands total around 50% of the world population, with around 120,000 pairs on Skomer, 45,000 pairs on Skokholm and 4,000 pairs on Ramsey. Because of the importance of this Shearwater (in European and indeed World terms) these island have been designated a Special Protection Area for them (under the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC)

They are very difficult to census accurately and methods have changed over the years, from simple estimates based on counts of birds seen at night, estimates of burrow densities through capture/recapture methods derived from known numbers of ringed birds, through to the present day estimates based on counts of burrows and the responses of adult birds to tape recordings of their calls. Each method has been refined and compared but throughout there has been strong evidence of a continuing slow increase in the populations in the last fifty years, perhaps with an indication of a reverse of this in the early 2000’s.

On Ramsey Island the small population (perhaps 1,500 – 2,000 pairs) has risen rapidly since the Brown Rats were removed in 2000. In 2008 the population was estimated as 4,000 pairs.

Steve Sutcliffe.

More about the Manx Shearwater in Pembrokeshire

Storm Petrel – 2003-07 breeding

Hydrobates pelagicus – PEDRYN DRYCIN – Breeding summer visitor. Not recorded in January and February.

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed33
Breeding probable
Breeding possible
No of tetrads occupied3 (of 478)3 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads<1%<1%

Storm Petrels breed only on the offshore islands, preferring rocky scree slopes and boulder areas where they can find small crevices and burrows to nest in. Sometimes you can smell their slightly fishy odour near their nest chamber but the best clue that they are present is their soft purring and clicky song. On Skokholm they nest in the herringbone style walls, in the boulder scree in the bays and especially in the “quarry” – a large boulder rockfall area on the north western corner of the island.

They are a very difficult species to census and a huge amount of effort has gone into establishing a reliable method of gaining consistent data. Nationally the use of a song playback system, listening for responses from the birds to taped calls played to the burrows, has now been adopted but there are still questions over interpretation of the results.  In consequence the historical data, (pre 1980’s) may not be directly comparable recent census results. Until a consistent methodology is applied, the information available is a “best guess” at a particular time.

In the first decade of the 2000’s,  the best information available suggests populations of up to 100 pairs on Ramsey and North Bishop, perhaps around 150 pairs on Skomer and 2,000 pairs on Skokholm. The estimates on Skomer suggest a recent increase although this may mainly relate to new sites being located.  On Skokholm the population has certainly declined as many known nest sites in the wall systems have been deserted. The latest census attempt in 2003 estimated the population to be only 1,011 apparently occupied sites on the whole island, compared with varying estimates of 5,000 to 7,000 in 1969, 3,000 to 4,000 in 1995 and in 2001 about 2,000 pairs.

There have been no recent studies of Storm Petrels on the Pembrokeshire islands to understand their survival rates or their breeding success, so the reasons for the declines are unknown.

Because of the importance of the Storm Petrel population on the Pembrokeshire Islands (in European and indeed World terms) these island have been designated a Special Protection Area for them (under the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC)

Steve Sutcliffe.

More about the Storm Petrel in Pembrokeshire