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

Shoveler – winter

Anas clypeata – HWYADEN LYDANBIG – Winter visitor and sparse breeder

The shoveler has a breeding range that extends through Eurasia and Western north America. In general, it migrates well to the south for the winter with a few areas, such as Britain, the Netherlands and the west coast of America seeing birds all year round.

Occasionally one or two pairs breed in Pembrokeshire, but really they are a winter species here. Generally they are found on freshwater sites and in sheltered estuaries.

Numbers are variable, but probably around 100 in most winters – double that in a good year. This reflects the situation in Wales as a whole, with the general increase since the early 1990s. The map shows they can be scattered well beyond the sites monitored for the Wetland Bird Survey. However, Marloes Mere and Castlemartin Corse are the most likely places to find them.

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.

Most recent ringing recoveries of birds shot in Wales show they are coming from (or moving through) the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia and Estonia. However, studies at Orielton Decoy in the 1930s showed that some of our birds came from breeding grounds such as the Volga and Pechora rivers on the western Siberian Plain.

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 Shoveler in Pembrokeshire

Glaucous Gull – winter

Larus hyperboreus – GWYLAN Y GOGLEDD – Irregular winter visitor.

The Glaucous Gull breeds along the north coasts of Canada and Eurasia, and their associated islands. Most move south in the winter, though often still spending the season in frozen areas.

They are now seen regularly in Pembrokeshire in winter, often staying well into the spring. Small numbers are involved, sometimes none. Large movements are thought to be associated with colder weather further north, or rough weather at sea. However, not all cold winters bring birds this far south – there were none in 2010, and the influx in 2014 was during a relatively mild winter.

Once here, many birds stay around for a while, sometimes a few months, visiting a number of sites and sometimes making it difficult to determine exactly how many are present.

In early 2017 a colour-ringed first-winter bird turned up at Holyhead in Anglesey. It has been ringed as a chick on Svalbard, off the north coast of Norway, the previous year. This is so far the only indication of the origins of birds coming to Wales, but it does not mean that others don’t come from Iceland or Greenland.

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.

Other sites have been used, eg Llanstadwell, Fishguard Harbour, Penberi Reservoir, while some birds have been recorded flying past St Govan’s Head and through Ramsey Sound.

More about the Glaucous Gull in Pembrokeshire

Hen Harrier – winter 2019

Circus aeruginosus – BOD Y GWERNI – Winter visitor.

The Hen Harrier is widely distributed across northern Eurasia. In Britain it breeds primarily over 450m on heather-covered uplands, including in north Wales. In most areas it is migratory, heading south for the winter, although in some areas (including the UK) the migrations may be short – eg from the Welsh uplands to lowland heaths and mires, and to coastal areas – depending on the food supply. 

More information in Hen Harrier 1994

When can they be seen?

Hen harriers are seen from the beginning of September (week 36) with the peak number of observations in October and November. It remains throughout the winter, with observations tailing off during April. Occasionally a straggler is seen during May.

Where can they be seen?

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 best areas for observing hen harriers are the St Davids Peninsula, Mynydd Preseli, Dudwell/Plumstone Mountains, the Marloes Peninsula, and the Castlemartin area.

More about the Hen Harrier in Pembrokeshire

Fieldfare – 2020

Turdus pilaris – SOCAN EIRA – Winter visitor and passage migrant.

The Fieldfare breeds across Iceland, much of northern and central Europe, and east to central Siberia and northwest China. Occasionally, it has bred in Scotland.

Some fieldfares arrive in Pembrokeshire in mid-September, but the main arrival is at the beginning of October (week 41).   The timing depends mainly on the food supply to the north – many Norwegian breeding birds stay in Norway if the weather is mild and berry crop is good. Thus the numbers seen in Pembrokeshire can vary considerably.

See Fieldfare 1994 for more detailed information.

Data from BirdTrack: this graph shows the numbers of records on the mainland only. As Skomer and Skokholm are not occupied in winter, including their records makes it look as though the species is primarily migrating through. Island records do, however, slightly extend the season, eg. with singles recorded on Skokholm on 10 and 13 June 1980, and then from mid-September in some years.

During the winter, fieldfares can be found across the county, often in small numbers, but occasionally in flocks of 50-100. The largest flock recorded in recent years was of 1,700 that passed over Skomer on 2 March 2018.

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.

Ringing recoveries

Several ringed as nestlings in Norway and Finland have been recovered in Wales, and one ringed in Wales was found in Sweden in the breeding season. The following birds were all recovered in Pembrokeshire:

RingedRecovered
Adult female, 14-11-1983. Noordeinde, Oldebroek: 52°31’N 5°52’E (Gelderland) The NetherlandsDead, 22-02-1986. Haverfordwest.
Nestling, 20-06-1953. Fana: 60°19’N 5°27’E (Hordaland) NorwayDead, 05-03-1956. Waterston, Milford Haven
Nestling, 06-06-1963. Madekoski, near Oulujoki: 64°57’N 25°37’E (Oulu) FinlandDead (storm) 02-11-1964 South Bishop Lighthouse  2,283km   WSW

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 Fieldfare in Pembrokeshire

Black Redstart – 2019

Phoenicurus ochruros – TINGOCH DU – Winter visitor and passage migrant

The Black Redstart is found over most of Europe and parts of Asia in sparsely vegetated rocky areas, often at high altitudes. It is resident in parts of its range and migratory in others (HBW). In Wales, it is mainly a passage migrant and winter visitor.

There are few ringing recoveries involving Wales.  However, the BTO Migration Atlas indicates that birds migrate through the UK between their wintering grounds around the Western Mediterranean, and breeding areas on mainland Europe, particularly the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and further east.  Some birds stay for the winter, though it is not clear if these are mainly birds that have bred in Britain, or are continental ones.

The majority of records are from coastal sites, though as the map shows, there is a scattering of sightings across the county even in mid-winter.

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.

Most records come from Skokholm and Skomer Islands, where data is gathered on a daily basis.  However, as the islands are not normally occupied during the winter, there are few over-wintering records from them.

Only a handful of mainland records have been entered into BirdTrack each year, although this has increased to 20-30 in the last three years.

Mainland records in dark green, Island records in lighter green

The graph shows the cumulative number of records (not the number of birds) entered into BirdTrack since 1980. Although BirdTrack did not exist in 1980, a lot of data, especially from the island bird logs, has been added retrospectively.

Migration peaks show clearly. It has usually started by the time the islands are re-occupied in early March (week 11) and continues until the end of May for spring migration. Autumn passage starts in mid-September (week 41), continuing at least until the end of November.

2009 was an exceptional year for black redstarts seen on the mainland, with up to a dozen recorded on several days during October, and up to twenty in a day noted on the sightings blog.

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 Black Redstart in Pembrokeshire

Bar-tailed Godwit – 2020

Limosa lapponica – RHOSTOG GYNFFONFRTH – Passage migrant and winter visitor

The Bar-tailed Godwit breeds in Arctic and sub-arctic habitats from northern Norway through Siberia to western Alaska. (European Atlas 1997). Ringing recovery data suggest that birds passing though, or wintering in, the UK have come from northern FennoScandia and western Siberia. Of these, three birds ringed in Norway have been seen in Wales, two of them in mid-winter. The third was a migrating adult, ringed in southern Norway in September 1950, and recovered in Pembrokeshire 21 days later.

Large numbers of breeding birds stop on either the Waddenzee coast or the large UK estuaries to moult in July-August. Juveniles follow in September. While many birds do stay in the UK for winter, a good proportion move on to the west coast of France, and some at least as far as the west African coast.

This species is generally less likely to be found inland than Black-tailed Godwit, but uses a wider range of coastal habitats including sandy shores, as well as muddy estuaries as far upstream as Boulston on the Cleddau.

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.

When can they be seen?

The winter atlas sightings on the map above were made between November and February. However, Bar-tailed Godwits are more often seen on migration. The following graph uses records from BirdTrack since 2008 to show a wider period of sightings. (Note that this is the number of sightings, NOT the number of birds, so it includes records of birds that are present but not counted).

There are few records between 8th June and 17th August (weeks 24-33), but sightings are much more frequent in April-May (spring migration) and September-October (autumn migration).

Highest counts were 158 at Kilpaison in February 2018, and 133 on Pembroke River in December 2017. Very few other counts have exceeded 50 individuals. See also Bar-tailed Godwit 1994.

Wetland Bird Survey

WeBS counts provide a monthly snapshot of water-birds across the country. This graph shows the maximum count in Pembrokeshire each winter since 1982. Numbers are generally erratic, both from month to month, and year to year. The high count for 1988-89 was in September, although numbers did stay relatively high through that winter. Counts elsewhere in Wales were also generally above average at that time.

The total maximum count is calculated by adding up the counts for all sites for each month that season. The maximum may fall in any month between September and March.

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 Bar-tailed Godwit in Pembrokeshire