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

Little Grebe – 2021 Winter

Tachybaptus ruficollis – GWYACH FACH – Breeding resident and winter visitor

See also Little Grebe 2016 WeBS

Little Grebes spend the winters at a variety of sites from small pools, such as irrigation reservoirs, to large sheltered estuarine embayments. The coastal sites are more important in cold winters when inland sites freeze over. The susceptibility of the species to cold winters is illustrated by the drop in numbers (on WeBS sites at least) after the 2009-2010 and 2010-11 winters.

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:

Pembroke Millponds – the fourth most-important site in Wales for little grebe

The Cleddau Estuary complex as a whole is the fifth most-important site in Wales, with the greatest concentration now being on the Pickleridge lagoon at the Gann Estuary.


Wetland Bird Survey

Note that Little Grebe were counted only on freshwater sites before 1994-95

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 Little Grebe in Pembrokeshire

Kingfisher – 2021 winter

Alcedo atthis – Glas y dorlan – breeding resident

Kingfishers often drift towards the coast in winter, often spending the season on the estuaries before moving back upstream to breeding areas. This movement was more marked when winters were colder and ponds more likely to be frozen over, forcing birds to move in search of food.

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.

Best places to see kingfishers in winter:

  • Bosherston Lily Ponds
  • Nevern Estuary
  • Teifi Marshes Reserve
  • Pembroke Millponds

Wetland Bird Survey

The slightly higher numbers seen on WeBS sites in 1995-96, 2009-10 and 2010-2011 probably reflect the colder winters in those years.

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.

These graphs will be updated as more data comes in.


Pattern of occurrence

Cumulative number of records per week in Pembrokeshire since 2000, taken from BirdTrack. Birds are more widespread during the autumn dispersal period, and also in winter when there are fewer leaves on the trees.


Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

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.

More about the Kingfisher in Pembrokeshire

Greylag Goose – 2021 Winter

Anser anser – GWYDD WYLLT

Greylag geese were rarely recorded in Pembrokeshire prior to 2000 but since 2011-12 they have been seen more regularly. Counts of 100+ birds are now not unusual on the upper parts of the Cleddau Estuary. They are thought to be descendants of a population introduced by wildfowlers to the Kidwelly area in Carmarthenshire.

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.

The main sites are:

The main flock of greylags spend their time commuting between the upper parts of the Cleddau Estuary, especially the Langwm-Hook-Eastern Cleddau area, and the surrounding fields where they feed. However, small numbers may be encountered on bodies of water of any size elsewhere.


Wetland Bird Survey

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.

These graphs will be updated as more data comes in.


Pattern of occurrence

Cumulative number of records per week in Pembrokeshire since 2000, taken from BirdTrack.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

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.

More about the Greylag Goose in Pembrokeshire

Grey Heron – Winter 2021

Ardea cinerea – CREYR GLAS – Breeding resident

Herons disperse widely in the autumn, and small parties of juveniles have been seen flying due west out to sea. Thus, the herons seen on the estuary system in winter may or may not be from local colonies. On WeBS sites, the total numbers drop from around 30-40 in autumn to around twenty in mid-winter.

The overall population trend seems to be for an increase in all parts of the UK for breeding herons, and a general increase in wintering herons except in Wales where there has been a slow decline since 2001-02. The results of WeBS in Pembrokeshire is consistent with this.

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.

The main sites are:

While herons can be found at almost any wetland (open water or marshy grassland) sites in winter, they are probably most easily observed on the estuaries and at Bosherston Lily Ponds.


Wetland Bird Survey

Herons were not regularly counted for WeBS until 1993.

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.

Maximum counts are usually in the autumn, coinciding with dispersal from nest sites. This graph will be updated as more counts come in.


Pattern of occurrence

Cumulative number of records per week in Pembrokeshire since 2000, taken from BirdTrack. As herons are considered to be a resident species, they can be seen at any time of year. However, sightings peak in September-October, coinciding with autumn dispersal.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

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.

More about the Grey Heron in Pembrokeshire

Greenshank – 2021 Winter

Tringa nebularia – PIBYDD COESWERDD – Winter visitor and passage migrant

Typically, peak numbers of greenshank in Britain are recorded in August as birds move from their northern European (including Scottish) breeding sites to winter in south-west Europe and north and west Africa. The pattern seen in Pembrokeshire largely follows this regime, with generally higher numbers (usually 30-40, but over 70 in 1995 and 2005) seen in the July-September period compared with the November-February mid-winter period. (Note there were no migration period counts in the early 1990s).

Most of the birds have moved on by the end of October, but those remaining tend to stay put for the rest of the winter.  This is generally around 20-30 birds  although 58 were present in January 2019.

The Cleddau Estuary is of National Importance for its greenshank population, and is the second-most important Welsh site (the Burry Inlet has higher counts) for the species.

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.

The main sites are:

  • Nevern Estuary
  • Almost anywhere on the Cleddau Estuary

Wetland Bird Survey

Maximum count may be usually in September-October, but in 2019-20 the highest numbers were in January and March.

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.

This graph will be updated as more counts come in

Pattern of occurrence

Cumulative number of records per week in Pembrokeshire since 2000, taken from BirdTrack. This gives an idea of when the species is most likely to be seen.

The June records are likely to be of failed breeders, returning south early. The main migration takes place from July to October. Birds arriving from October onwards are likely to stay the winter, moving on in March, back to (probably) their Scottish breeding grounds. Spring migration of birds that have wintered further south and will be breeding further north takes place in April-May.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

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.

More about the Greenshank in Pembrokeshire

Great Crested Grebe – 2021 Winter

Actitis hypoleucos – PIBYDD Y DORLAN – Passage migrant and winter visitor

See also Great Crested Grebe 2006 and Great Crested Grebe 2003 winter

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.

The main sites are:

  • Angle Bay – highest count – 26 in December 2020
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Llys-y-Fran Reservoir – 5-year average max count = 15
  • Rosebush reservoir
  • The coast at Amroth to Wiseman’s Bridge – highest count 32 in December 2020.

Wetland Bird Survey

This graph will be updated as more counts come in.


Pattern of occurrence

The numbers of records each week taken from BirdTrack. This gives an idea of when they are most likely to be seen in the county.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

More about the Great Crested Grebe in Pembrokeshire

Buzzard – 2007-12 winter

Buteo buteo – BWNCATH – Breeding resident

Adult Buzzards in Britain are highly sedentary and territorial, rarely moving out of their breeding territory once established. In contrast, some continental populations migrate well south for the winter. Thus the distribution of buzzards in Pembrokeshire in winter is pretty much the same as in the breeding season.

Young Buzzards, dispersing from natal sites, tend to wander the countryside in search of food and their own territories.  They often gather in autumn and winter wherever invertebrate and carrion food is plentiful. Groups of 20-30 birds in stubble or ploughed fields are not uncommon.

Impressive movements of these nomadic immature birds are occasionally noted, for example, 58 flying west over Treginnis, near St Davids, on 5 October 2005.

Ringing studies in the BTO Migration Atlas suggest that most first winter birds typically stay within 20km of their natal sites, but some do go further in their initial explorations.  An extreme example is a female nestling ringed near Lampeter (Ceredigion) in June 1977, and found in Northumberland in May 1990, while a bird tagged in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1994 turned up in Caernarfonshire a year later.  As most ringing recoveries are of dead birds, it may be worth checking any road casualties and other corpses for rings to further this knowledge locally.

The BTO Atlas 2007-11 shows no change in winter distribution across Pembrokeshire (or most of Wales) and their relative abundance here is similar to that across the rest of Wales (though it is lower in the mountains)and south-west England.

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 Buzzard in Pembrokeshire