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.

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.


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.

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

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

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO Atlas 2007-11 – plus an extra winter of fieldwork

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

This graph will be updated as the 2021-22 counts come in.

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 – can you help?

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 2011-2020 according to records in BirdTrack.  The black squares indicate that the observer recorded definite evidence of breeding  – nests, birds carrying food, recently fledged youngsters (being fed), for example. 

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’ left 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.

The map will be updated in early July, though records not submitted through BirdTrack may take longer to incorporate so there will be another update later in the year.

More about the Greenfinch in Pembrokeshire

Starling – 2021 breeding – can you help?

Sturnus vulgaris – DRUDWEN – Breeding resident, winter visitor and passage migrant

If you look at the previous starling accounts you’ll see that the 1984-88 atlas showed them to be breeding in 40% of the tetrads (2x2km squares) across the county.  By the 2003-07 atlas, that had declined to just under 12%.  But what is the situation now?

This map shows where starlings have been recorded in April-June 2011-2020 according to records in BirdTrack.  The black squares indicate that the observer recorded definite evidence of breeding in 2021 – nests, birds carrying food, recently fledged youngsters (being fed), for example. This has doubled the number of tetrads with breeding evidence compared with the previous ten years.

The Breeding Bird Survey results show a massive decline in the population of starlings breeding in Wales – the same decline is seen in all regions of the UK.

There is good evidence that changes in first-year overwinter survival rates best account for observed population change. Although the ecological drivers of starling decline are poorly understood, changes in the management of pastoral farmland are thought to be largely responsible. (BTO information)

More information on the BTO website

Many thanks to those of you who have already added their sightings to BirdTrack this year, especially those who have been able to add evidence of breeding. If you have entered starling records to the WWBIC system, they are not shown here, but will be added in later in the year. If you have been recording starlings for Garden Birdwatch during April-May, these will also be added later in the year. This delay is simply because these recording schemes use different databases.

There is still time to update this map. The easiest way to do this, is for everyone to note where they see starlings in April, May and June, 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.

Starlings may produce a second brood, so there is a chance of finding breeding birds in June. Flocks of starlings don’t count for this project (you should still record them, but don’t include a breeding code) – once independent, the fledged chicks quickly form flocks and move away from the nest sites, so could have come from anywhere.

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.

The map will be updated in early July, though records not submitted through BirdTrack may take longer to incorporate so there will be another update later in the year.

More about the Starling in Pembrokeshire

Sandwich Tern – first and last dates since 2000

Thalasseus\sandvicensis – MOR-WENNOL FWYAF – Passage migrant.

Other records are summarised in Sandwich Tern 1994 and Sandwich Tern 2007

YearFirstLastNotes
20004 April26 November
200118 March1 November
200218 March5 November
200316 March11 November
200429 March25 October
200513 March25 October
200624 March31 October
200721 April28 October
200819 March15 October
20093 April27 September(1)
201022 March19 September
20119 April7 October
20123 March4 October
201324 March5 November
201430 March19 December
201531 March22 November
20164 April4 October
201720 March17 October
201830 March25 September
201923 March15 December
202011 April14 October
Notes2009 Two winter records of a single, possibly the same bird, firstly in Fishguard harbour on 19 Jan and then off Broad Haven (N) on 2 Feb. The earliest migrants were 7 off Tenby on 3 April.

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

Pattern of occurrence

A distinction between spring and autumn migrants is usually taken as July 1st (week 26/27). However, movements are clouded by immature birds that are in no hurry to get to breeding colonies, and failed breeders that may start wandering southwards before the end of June.

Note – This graph uses records from BirdTrack for Pembrokeshire only, and includes records from the Skomer and Skokholm logs going back to the 1947. There will be additional records submitted only to the county bird recorder.

More about the Sandwich Tern in Pembrokeshire