Fieldfare – first and last dates

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

YearLast spring recordFirst autumn record
19818 April4 Oct
198218 April6 Oct
198318 March25 Sept
19846 May5 Oct
198530 March13 Oct
198623 April13 Sept
198727 April13 Sept
19889 April9 Oct
19894 May21 Oct
199025 April26 Sept
199116 April10 Oct
19928 April5 Oct
199319 April23 Sept
19943 May2 Oct
199513 March12 Oct
199617 April10 Oct
199710 April7 Oct
199828 April5 Oct
199928 March4 Oct
20007 May26 Oct
200113 April20 Sept
20027 April6 Oct
200317 April5 Oct
20041 May8 Oct
20055 April14 Oct
200628 March16 Oct
200721 May28 Sept
200830 March26 Sept
20099 March9 Oct
201020 April20 Oct
20117 April14 Oct
201213 April14 Oct
201330 April4 Oct
201428 May9 Oct
20153 April7 Oct
201611 April9 Oct
20178 May14 Oct
201820 April11 Oct
201917 April5 Oct
202018 April28 Sept

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

A few gaps in the records have been filled with records from the islands, or from Birdtrack

More about the Fieldfare in Pembrokeshire

Little Egret – 2021 winter

 Egretta garzetta – CREYR BACHWinter visitor and passage migrant which has bred.

See also Little Egret 2012

Little egret numbers increased rapidly between 1995 and 2005, then levelled out. The cold winter of 2010-2011, when at least eight little egrets were found dead in Pembrokeshire, reduced the numbers considerably – a shown in the counts for the subsequent winters. Numbers seem to have recovered a little since then, and they do not appear to have suffered (at least locally) from the effects of the cold ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018.

As the numbers have increased, the pattern of occurrence has changed slightly. Until 2001-02, the numbers built up slowly to a peak in December-January, then decreased slowly for the rest of the winter.

Since the 2002-03 winter, numbers have been noticeably higher in September-October. This may reflect dispersal of youngsters from local breeding populations. However, birds from further afield do reach the Cleddau, as evidenced by a colour-marked bird observed in November 2011, it had been ringed as a nestling in north Wales the previous spring.


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 little egrets

Small numbers of egrets are found almost anywhere in the Cleddau complex, with embayments such as the Gann, Sandy Haven, Carew-Cresswell, Western Cleddau, and Pembroke River usually supporting larger numbers.

Small numbers are also regularly seen on the Nevern and Teifi Estuaries, and in Fishguard Harbour.


Wetland Bird Survey

The effect of the cold winters of 2010-11 to 2012-13 is clearly shown on this graph. The effect of the ‘Beast from East’ (cold spring of 2018) may simply have been a set-back in the overall recovery from the previous cold winters.

Current monthly WeBS counts can be seen here


Pattern of occurrence

Cumulative number of records per week since 2000 in Pembrokeshire, taken from BirdTrack. The low numbers of sightings in May-July may reflect the birds staying local to their breeding sites, which may or may not be in Pembrokeshire.


Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

HAYCOCK A (2019). A review of the status of wetland birds in the Milford Haven Waterway and Daugleddau Estuary, 2019. A report to the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group.

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 Little Egret 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.

Current monthly WeBS data can be seen here


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)

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

Monthly WeBS totals can be seen here


Pattern of occurrence

The 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.

Monthly totals can be seen here. Maximum counts are usually in the autumn, coinciding with dispersal from nest sites.


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.

Monthly WeBS totals can be seen here

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

Monthly totals for the WeBs can be seen here


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

Gadwall – 2021 Winter

Mareca strepera – HWYADEN LWYD – Winter visitor, has bred

The gadwall has been increasing in numbers and distribution in winter since the 1960s.  However, there was a lack of birds in Pembrokeshire (and in Wales) during the early-mid 1990s, and again in 2007-08.  Recent winters have again shown a decline in numbers.  The reason for this is not clear, although as this is primarily a freshwater species, it is possible that its occurrence in this part of the country may depend on whether lakes further north are frozen over or otherwise unaccessible.

Gadwall are kleptoparasitic on species such as coot and swans that feed on submerged vegetation – bringing it to the surface where the gadwalls can reach it.  It is therefore possible that the recent decline in gadwall here is related to the decline in coot since 2010. 

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:

  • Bosherston Lakes (5-year maximum average = 11)
  • Marloes Mere (5-year maximum average = 16)
  • South Hook Pools (5-year maximum average = 23)

Wetland Bird Survey

Monthly counts for the current season can be found here

Pattern of occurrence

The number of records each week since 2000 from BirdTrack. This gives an idea of when they are most likely to be seen.  Most records do not include counts. May-June records generally refer to single birds, however up to six were present at Marloes Mere in June 2014, and a male was apparently keeping company with a female mallard and her chicks on Pembroke Millpond 2011.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

More about the Gadwall in Pembrokeshire

Greenfinch – 2021 breeding

Chloris chlorisLlinos WerddBreeding resident and passage migrant

The 1984-88 map of greenfinches breeding in Pembrokeshire showed that greenfinches occupied 55% of tetrads in the county.  The 2003-07 map indicated an increase to 78% of tetrads.  Since then, the story is all downhill, as shown here by the results of the Breeding Bird Survey.

The increase between the two atlases may have been fuelled by the increase in feeding birds in gardens leading to better winter survival.  However, that same phenomenon may have led to the subsequent decrease as a parasite called Trichomonas gallinae transferred from pigeons, birds of prey, and domestic chickens and turkeys to smaller birds such as finches.   The resulting disease, Trichomonosis, spreads rapidly via food and water contaminated by infected individuals – so garden feeders, water for drinking and bathing, anywhere that birds congregate is a potential problem.

Greenfinches are still widespread in Pembrokeshire, but are thin on the ground.  Breeding records seem particularly scarce.  The map above shows where greenfinches have been recorded in April-July 2011-2021 according to records in BirdTrack.  The red squares indicate that the observer recorded definite evidence of breeding  – nests, birds carrying food, recently fledged youngsters (being fed), for example. 

Please keep submitting records with breeding evidence. It’s the only way we can keep an eye on what is happening locally. The easiest way to do this, is for everyone to note where they see greenfinches in April, May, June and July, and add those records to BirdTrack.  In BirdTrack you can pinpoint a location on a map or aerial photo. Then when entering details, click on the ‘highest breeding evidence’ box and select the appropriate code. Many thanks to the observers who are already collecting this information.

Greenfinches usually produce a second brood, so there is plenty of ‘season’ for finding them.  

If you really don’t want to use BirdTrack, then there is the WWBIC recording scheme either on-line or via their app (part of iRecord) where you’ll have to state in the comments field what you have seen. If all else fails, you can email me, but remember to include the site name, the site grid reference, and the breeding code.

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire