Red-necked Phalarope – records

Phalaropus lobatusLlydandroed GyddfgochVagrant

The Red–necked Phalarope breeds above the middle latitudes across the Holarctic, the nearest to Pembrokeshire normally in the far north of Scotland. Western Palearctic birds winter in the Arabian Sea and largely migrate overland.

A juvenile shot on a farm pond at St Twynells in c.1900 was housed in the collection of F. Roberts. Bertram Lloyd examined the specimen on the 20th May 1928 and verified the identification was correct. Lockley et al (1949) quotes “Recorded by a writer in the Field, 18th March 1899” but gives no detail, not even a locality. Barrett, 1959, noted singles off St Ann’s Head (not St Govan’s as quoted by Donovan and Rees, 1994) on the 19th September 1950 and at the Gann on the 16th September 1957. Subsequently there was a juvenile on a farm slurry pond at Haroldston West on the 4th and 5th October 1983.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)


Recent records

2015: Skokholm, 9 June photo above

2017: A single on Skomer on 28th Sept (PR)

2019: Male photographed on the Teifi Marshes 8 June (T.Evans)

Extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

More about the Red-necked Phalarope in Pembrokeshire

Collared Dove – 2007-12 winter

Streptopelia decaocto – TURTUR DORCHOG – Breeding resident

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 Winter Atlas of 1981 – 84 concluded that winter distribution was essentially similar to that of the breeding season. Having colonised the county the Collared Dove had become largely sedentary. The winter distribution for 2007-12 is also similar to that of the breeding atlas 2003-07.

The Migration Atlas (2002) indicated that ringing results showed a greater movement during the colonisation years of 1965 – 79 than in later years, a further indication that a large degree of population stability had been achieved.

Flocks of up to 130 Collared Doves were not uncommon in wintertime Pembrokeshire up to the 1970’s, with a gathering of 200 at Porthlysgi the largest recorded. Such flocking died out with grain harvests and storage becoming less wasteful during the 1980’s. There was a later resurgence in winter flocking, with 38 at Saundersfoot in 1990, 30 at both Trefasser and Lleithyr in 1995, 60 at Roch Gate in 1997, 87 at Llanrhian in 2001, 40 at Letterston and 50 at Johnston in 2003, 57 at Mathry in 2004 and 28 at Treleidr in 2008, though what attracted these groupings seems not to have been put on record.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

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

More about the Collared Dove in Pembrokeshire

Little Egret – 2012

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

Migration

Notable visible movements recorded were of one flying to the south, towards Devon, at Penally on the 1st May 1997, three flying eastwards towards the mainland at Skomer on the 4th September 2003, four flying north west towards Ireland at Strumble Head on the 24th August 2004, a single bird doing likewise there on the 27th August 2006, also two heading north east towards Ceredigion on the 9th August 2005, nine heading north west out to sea at St David’s Head on the 9th July 2009.

Breeding

In March 1995 five Little Egrets were noted displaying at a heronry and in 1996 two birds were seen sitting on nests, as was one in 2003. It is not known whether these breeding attempts were successful. Also in 2003 what was probably a fledgling was seen near another heronry, where two adults had been seen previously. A group of nine at Quoits Marsh on the 1st August 2008 were thought to be two family parties. A juvenile being fed by an adult at the Eastern Cleddau in June 2009 may have indicated breeding had taken place in the vicinity. Two or three occupied nests with young were noted at one Cleddau site in 2010.

Winter

The main locality where Little Egrets were seen during the expansion period was the Cleddau Estuary, which has many scattered inlets. The systematic monthly WeBS counts, running from September to March, became the foundation for monitoring numerical presence and population trends (Haycock, 2006). Cover for the months April to August were assessed from general observations reported, augmented by information gathered as a side product of the PCNPA’s annual Shelduckling surveys (Hodges, 1991-2006)

The possible alternative of counting birds attending roosts turned out to be less useful, as those located, such as at Brunt Wood and Carew Mill Pond, were not consistently occupied over time. 

The majority (64%) of Little Egrets recorded at the Cleddau Estuary up to 1988 were in the spring, predominantly in May. Thereafter, up to 2002, most arrived during the winter months and from 2003 peak numbers occurred in September.

Musgrove (2002) established a pattern had emerged in Britain of peak arrival in September with a smaller peak again in March. A small March peak seems to have also occurred on the Cleddau Estuary since 2003. These developments have taken place during the period when Little Egrets were progressively colonising southern England as a breeding bird.

The smaller estuaries of the Nevern and the Teifi have also proved attractive to Little Egrets, in numbers appropriate to their size. Two to four birds has been the normal presence at the Nevern Estuary from 1993, but up to five were noted in 2001 and 2005 and none were seen in 1998 and 1999. There was an average presence of four at the Teifi Estuary over the same period, with five in 2006, six in 2003 and 2005 and 12 for a brief part of November 2001.

The Little Egret has displayed a degree of restlessness and exploration during its range expansion into Pembrokeshire. It expanded its feeding range to areas adjacent to the estuaries where cattle and cattle feeders were present and was seen picking over freshly ploughed land.

 It has also been encountered at many rocky localities around the coast, such as Martin’s Haven, Trefin and Cwm yr Eglwys, visiting the offshore islands of Skokholm, Skomer, Ramsey and even Grassholm, sheltered areas like Fishguard Harbour and Solva, streams and ponds like Newgale Marsh, Afon Alun, Trefeiddan, Bosherston , Heathfield, Withybush, Manorteifi and further inland at Ffynone and Llys y fran Reservoir.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

HAYCOCK. A. 2008. A review of the status of wetland birds in the Milford Haven Waterway and Daugleddau Estuary, A report to the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group. Unpublished.

HODGES. J. E, Reports for 1991 – 2006. Daugleddau and Milford Haven Waterway, Surveillance of summer Shelduck populations, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. Unpublished.

MUSGROVE. A. J. 2002. The non-breeding status of the Little Egret in Britain, British Birds, Vol. 95, 62 – 80.

More about the Little Egret in Pembrokeshire

Leach’s Petrel – 2012

Oceanodroma leucorhoaPedryn-Drycin Gynffon FforchogProbably a regular visitor in variable numbers. Not recorded in January, March, April or August.

Breeds around the North Atlantic and North Pacific, migrating south to winter in regions of tropical convergences.

Summer

Leach’s Petrels have been noted visiting Storm Petrel breeding colonies at Skokholm, occasionally singing, as follows: 15th July 1966, 22nd – 23rd June 1976, 1st June 1978, 21st May, 9th and 12th June 1980, 22 June 1989 and two birds were seen and heard regularly between the 1st June and 2nd July 1977.

Autumn

“Not very rare as a visitor in stormy weather” wrote Mathew (1894), this based on his visiting various collections of stuffed birds and noting down information imparted by numerous sporting friends and taxidermists. This method evidently worked but with the demise of collecting specimens Lockley et al (1949) had no such network available to them, noting only one occurrence “in the last fifty years”, picked up at Pembroke Dock on the 12th November 1931.

A large scale “wreck” of Leach’s Petrels took place on the western seaboard of Britain and Ireland between the 21st October and the 8th November 1952. It was thought to have been caused by widespread gales and persistent strong winds over the North Atlantic during October. It is probable that the whole North Atlantic population of Leach’s Petrels was affected, not just the European component. Hence Canadian birds might well have been among the 88 dead and five alive found along a quarter of a mile stretch of Newgale beach on the 27th October, two dead at Dale before the 2nd November, three dead at Marloes before the 2nd November and “several” others there before the 4th November. (Boyd,1954).

Just six birds were recorded over the following 30 years, namely: one picked up in an exhausted condition at Broad Haven (N) on the 1st November 1954, which recovered and flew off; one at the Gann on the 19th October 1959; three seen from the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry on the 15th September 1966; one off Strumble Head on the 22nd September 1974.

There was an upsurge in the number of active observers from the early 1980’s. There was also a growing interest in seawatching and an improvement in the quality of optical equipment, which resulted in a better understanding of the status of the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire.

The main observer effort was made at Strumble Head, which proved to be well placed for witnessing autumn seabird movements. Leach’s Petrels were recorded in variable numbers in most autumns from 1983 onwards, the majority passing in September and October but also a few in August, one as early as the 3rd, and into November up to the 20th. Peak numbers were recorded when there were strong winds from the north-west or north. None were seen when there were winds with an easterly component. 

Day maxima counts were: 79 on the 13th September 1997, 85 on the 7th September 1990, 109 on the 13th September 1988, 81 on the 15th September 2001 followed by 122 the following day, and 120 on the 16th September 2010. 

Few have been recorded in autumn away from Strumble Head, they were singles at the Smalls on the 24th September 1983 and 20th September 2005, Fishguard Harbour on the 19th November 1990, from the Fishguard to Rosslare ferry on the 30th August 1995, Newport Bay on the 17th October 1998 and 23rd September 2004, Ramsey 11th September 1997 and Grassholm on the 18th September 2005, with three off St David’s Head on the 16th September 2001.

Winter

BWP notes that stragglers remain in the North Atlantic during winter which may explain December sightings of singles at Strumble Head on the 26th 1997, Newgale on the 24th 1989, Wiseman’s Bridge on the 24th and 25th 1989 and six in Angle Bay during December 1989. Additionally, in December 2006 a total of at least 240 were reported from Strumble Head, Newgale, Druidston and Freshwater West, 150 of them at the latter locality, and singles were found stranded in car parks at Cwm yr Eglwys and Haverfordwest.

There have been no January sightings but one was at Fowborough (Daugleddau) on the 6th February 1983, 14 at Goultrop Roads on the 3rd February 2002 and six at Strumble Head on the 6th February 2002, the 2002 records part of a larger incursion when 314 were noted off Aberaeron, in neighbouring Ceredigion on the 6th February. None have been recorded in March but three were seen off St Govan’s Head on the 4th April 1998.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

BOYD. H. 1954. The “wreck” of Leach’s Petrels in the autumn of 1952, British Birds, Vol 47 : 137-163.

CRAMP. S. (Editor), 1977 – 1994. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa : the birds of the Western Palearctic, Oxford University Press, 9 Vols.

LOCKLEY. R. M, INGRAM. C. S. and SALMON. H. M.1949. The birds of Pembrokeshire, West Wales Field Society.

MATHEW. M. 1894. The birds of Pembrokeshire and its islands, R. H. Porter.

More about the Leach’s Petrel in Pembrokeshire

Dotterel – 2012

Charadrius morinellus – HUTAN Y MYNYDDScarce visitor. Not recorded from November to March or in June and July

The Dotterel breeds on extensive open flat uplands, mountain ridges and plateaux, with sparse vegetation of moss, short grass or lichens and bare patches of rock, in tundra and alpine zones across the northern Palearctic, as far south as the highest mountains in Scotland. Winter quarters are in the semi-arid belt of the Middle East and North Africa, with a few in Spain.

Mathew (1894) recorded one Dotterel, Lockley et al (1949) none and Donovan and Rees (1994) noted occurrences on seven occasions in spring and on 21 in autumn.

In Pembrokeshire, Dotterels have been found in open treeless areas with bare ground interspersed with short heavily grazed or saline vegetation, or heathland, or on fallow or newly ploughed agricultural land. Localities were on the islands of Skokholm, Skomer and Ramsey, in coastal areas at St Govan’s Head, Castle Martin ranges, Dale, St Ann’s Head, Kete, Dale airfield and St David’s airfield and inland at Plumstone Mountain, “Preseli Top” (Foel Eryr), Foel Cwmcerwyn and Dinas Mountain (Bedd Morris).  

Autumn Passage

Dotterels were recorded between the 19th August and the 27th October on 47 occasions from 1984 to 2012. The majority were seen in September.

Most records involved single birds but two together were seen on seven occasions, three were at Ramsey on the 21st August 1981 and 21st – 23rd September 1993, with four at the Castlemartin ranges on the 23rd September 1999. The majority were specified by the observers as being juvenile birds.

A very late Dotterel was seen associating with Golden Plovers at the Castlemartin ranges on the 13th December 1998.

Spring Passage

Spring records span from the 18th April and the 4th June. Apart from the Dotterel shot at Castlemartin in the spring of 1888 recorded by Mathew (1894), single birds were noted in a further six years up until 2012. However “trips” of four were recorded at Foel Eryr (Preseli Top) on the 8th May 1981, five at Skokholm on the 7th May 1960, seven at St Ann’s Head on the 7th May 1995 (two remaining until the 8th), seven at St Davids airfield on the 7th May 2000, 11 at Skomer on the 15th May 1991 and 15 at Dinas Mountain (Bedd Morris) on the 16th May 1991 (four remaining until the 20th). At least two of these “trips” occurred during periods of low cloud and poor visibility.   

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Dotterel in Pembrokeshire

Little Stint – 2012

Calidris minuta – PIBYDD BACH – Scarce passage migrant and rare winter visitor. Not recorded in March and June

Little Stints breed on the tundra from northern Scandinavia to eastern Siberia. Those in the western sector migrate on a broad front to winter in southern Europe and Africa and it is birds from this population which occur on passage in the UK. The number involved varies. In summers when the Lemming population on the tundra is high wader productivity tends to be high as predators like Arctic Foxes concentrate on the easily obtained rodents, to the benefit of the birds. However weather with predominantly easterly winds that drifts migrant Little Stints west of their normal course is required to displace them as far as the UK in any number. The infrequency of the combination of these factors occurring at the appropriate time results in high totals being erratically recorded in Pembrokeshire.

Both Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) described the Little Stint as an occasional autumn visitor to Pembrokeshire. Donovan and Rees (1994) assessed it as principally a scarce autumn visitor the majority seen in September but also as infrequently recorded in the spring and rare in winter.

A total of 40 birds were recorded in Pembrokeshire between 1911 and 1982 being noted in 16 of those years. This was likely to have been an under representation due to the paucity of observers over that period. This is perhaps emphasized by only 5 being recorded in 1960 when at least 3,000 were noted in the UK, over 300 of them in Wales. However, observer cover was sufficiently widespread in the county to present representative autumn returns for the years 1983 – 2012:

Mostly autumn totals lay between one and 14 but there were notable influxes in 1993 when 220 were recorded in Wales, 36 of them in Pembrokeshire, and in 1996 at least 172 were noted in the county, over 600 being accounted for in Wales as a whole. They have been noted in autumn from the 14th July to the 21st November but the bulk of occurrences have been in September, when juveniles have predominated.

Small numbers of Little Stints over winter in southern Britain as may have singles at Milford on the 20th January 1963, at the Gann from the 11th November to the 13th December 1969 and Lawrenny on the 30th January 1993, 2 at the Gann on the 6th February 1977 and 10 at Fishguard Harbour on the 14th January 1929.

Single Little Stints have been recorded in spring in nine years, between the 27th April and the 27th May, with two together at the Nevern Estuary on the 5th June 2005.

Little Stints have been seen in most coastal districts including the main offshore islands, with just one inland record at Llys y fran Reservoir on the 20th August 1996. The largest concentrations have been on the estuaries of the Teifi, Nevern and Cleddau, the maximum at one site being 34 at Angle Bay on the 22nd September 1996. They have also been seen on pools on the islands, by puddles at Dale airfield and on beaches at Newgale, Broad Haven (N) and Broad Haven (S).

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Little Stint in Pembrokeshire

Chaffinch – 2012 Winter

Fringilla coelebs – JI-BINC Breeding resident and passage migrant.

The chaffinch is widespread across Pembrokeshire in winter, the only gaps being on the Preseli tops and Castlemartin Range – both open exposed areas.

Chaffinch numbers have been boosted during the winter months when the sedentary breeding population has been joined by immigrant continental birds. Bertram Lloyd (1939) considered the small groups he found around farm rickyards and dungyards to be local birds but the larger flocks in the more open countryside were continental birds.

Since then the farmyard groups have largely disappeared in the absence of spilled grain and dung heaps, which have largely given way to slurry pits. Groups in the wider countryside have varied in size and distribution dependent on the nature of changing agricultural practices. Those areas proving attractive to Chaffinches have been barley stubbles, seeded turnips, unharvested linseed and crops like sunflowers planted for the benefit of Pheasants. Beech mast has also been exploited but the quantity available is cyclical and the trees are local and sparsely distributed in the county.

The size of most winter flocks has been between 50 to 300 birds, with some larger gatherings on record. 500 were at Longhouse on the 6th February 2004 and Castle Martin on the 15th January 2007, 600 at St Florence on 31st December 2005, 750 at Angle on the 23rd December 2008, 900 at Marloes on the 25th January 1993, 2,000 at St Florence on 29th January 2006 and 3,000 at Hubberston on the 5th January 2006. 

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

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

References: LLOYD. B. 1929-1939 Diaries, National Museum of Wales.

More about the Chaffinch in Pembrokeshire

Little Grebe – 2011

Tachybaptus ruficollis – GWYACH FACH – Breeding resident and winter visitor

Breeding

The Little Grebe breeds throughout the temperate and tropical Old World and is resident, dispersive and migratory.

In Pembrokeshire it inhabits still fresh waters in the breeding season so is absent from the fast flowing rivers and streams. It requires waters to be vegetated around the fringes and beneath the surface. It is secretive and inconspicuous around the breeding area and can easily be overlooked, its far carrying, distinctive, whinnying call often being the first indication of its presence.

The breeding status of this species in the county in the past is difficult to evaluate. To Mathew (1894) it was a breeding species but by 1949 Lockley et al stated “apparently does not breed”.

Saunders (1976) commented “Strangely it does not remain to breed, for at least to human eyes, there are several suitable waters.”

However, Bertram Lloyd’s diaries contain records of breeding at Llambed in 1936 and suspected breeding at Slebech in 1937 and Sharrock (1976) indicated possible breeding between 1968 and 1972 in the south west of the county.

Donovan and Rees (1994) quoted breeding at Thornton Reservoir (now defunct) in 1965, at Pembroke Mill Pond in 1975 and at Trefloyne in 1981, with suspected breeding at Bosherston during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The lack of breeding during the review periods of Lockley et al and Saunders might well have been the result of severe winters in 1939-40, 1947-48 and 1962-63 eliminating a small population which was previously present.

Comparison of the results of the two breeding bird surveys of 1984-88 and 2003-07 indicates an almost fourfold increase in the number of occupied tetrads during the elapsed period. Most birds were on well vegetated farm ponds used for irrigation. Many of the ponds used in 2003–07 had only recently been constructed in the 1980s and only subsequently became vegetated and thus suitable for Little Grebes.

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

Migration

The Migration Atlas (2002) suggests that most Little Grebes disperse from their breeding area to winter elsewhere. It also states that there are still many unknowns about their migration, citing very few examples of immigration based on ring recoveries. BWP considered autumn and spring records on or near the British east coasts, especially at lighthouses, indicated immigration from the Continent.

There are no records of Little Grebes visibly migrating in Pembrokeshire, possibly meaning they pass at night but there have been none noted at local lighthouses. Diurnal records of birds on the sea at Strumble Head and Skomer and visiting ponds on Skokholm, Ramsey and most frequently Skomer, indicate dispersal at least and possibly longer distance migration as well.

Winter

Outside of the breeding season Little Grebes have been recorded on all of the estuaries and main freshwaters, as well as on many small ponds.

The Little Grebe was originally classified as a winter visitor by Lockley et al (1949) and Saunders (1976) when there were no known breeding birds in the county and they noted them on small ponds, lakes, reservoirs and estuarine arms. Only Saunders put any numbers to these occurrences, citing up to 20 on the Gann lagoon and 32 in Hook Reach.

Largest concentrations recorded between 1983 and 2005 were: Cleddau Estuary 69, Nevern Estuary 9, Teifi Estuary 8, Freshwaters 97.

Donovan and Rees (1994) estimated the average county winter population to be about 150 birds. Within the cover achieved by the Wetland Birds Survey team over 100 are on record for most recent winters, the maximum being 162 in the winter of 1996/97. However the survey could not cover all the small waters on which Little Grebes have been seen but seldom reported, so the 150 estimate on average is probably realistic or possibly a slight under estimate.

Haycock (2008) noted a decline in Cleddau Estuary numbers from about the 1990’s and suggested this could be due to Westfield Pill becoming less suitable for this species. She also pointed out that the mid- winter population for the whole county was reasonably steady overall.

Normally they have started to appear on the estuaries in August and September and reached peak numbers by November to January, thereafter numbers diminished with most having departed by April.

Sea Empress Oil Spill 1996

When the oil – spill caused by the grounding of the Sea Empress occurred, 15th – 21st February 1996, the Milford Haven waterway was badly contaminated, most heavily as far upstream as the Cleddau Bridge. Little Grebes quickly left this area, moving to safer places, notably to Westfield Pill where their presence rose from 39 to 52 birds. None were recorded dead or visibly oiled, so their rapid evasive action was evidently effective.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

DONOVAN. J and REES. G. 1994. Birds of Pembrokeshire, Dyfed Wildlife Trust.

HAYCOCK. A. 2008. A review of the status of wetland birds in the Milford Haven Waterway and Daugleddau Estuary, A report to the Milford Haven Waterway Environmental Surveillance Group. Unpublished.

LLOYD. B. 1929-1939 Diaries, National Museum of Wales.

LOCKLEY. R. M, INGRAM. C. S. and SALMON. H. M.1949. The birds of Pembrokeshire, West Wales Field Society.

MATHEW. M. 1894. The birds of Pembrokeshire and its islands, R. H. Porter.

SAUNDERS. D. R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire, Five Arches Press.

SHARROCK. J.T. R. 1976. The atlas of breeding birds in Britain and Ireland, Berkhamsted, T. & A. D. Poyser.

More about the Little Grebe in Pembrokeshire

Little Egret – 2011 expansion

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

Little Egrets have a widespread breeding range encompassing southern and central Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. They began extending their wintering range in western France from 1974/75, reaching the northern coast during the course of 25 years, where nesting followed from 1988 and it is likely that dispersing birds from this population resulted in a flow into southern Britain.

The first recorded in Pembrokeshire was at Goodwick Moor as long ago as November 1909, when the species was a vagrant to Britain. The first for Britain was in Yorkshire in 1826 and very few were noted in the country during the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Singles at Dale in May 1938 and May 1949 were among those few.

The modern ingress to Britain showed an understandable concentration on the south coast of England nearest area to France between Sussex and Cornwall. Commencing with a few birds in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it slowly gathered numerical momentum through the 1970’s and 1980’s.

In Pembrokeshire during this period, singles were seen at Goodwick in April 1955, at Little Milford in June 1962 and at the Gann in August 1962. One which commuted between the Gann and Sandy Haven Pill from October 1969 until April 1971 was joined by another on the 9th November 1969 which disappeared in mid December, believed to have been shot. It was thought that this was the same bird as seen at Fishguard in mid October 1969 and at Solva on the 29th and 30th October 1969.

Two others were at the Gann on the 15th May 1970, one was at Martin’s Haven from the 20th November 1972 to the 14th January 1973, one at Skokholm on the 18th May 1983, one at the Teifi Estuary from the 30th April 1984 which was presumed to have moved to the Nevern Estuary on the 2nd and 3rd June 1984 and one was at Sandy Haven Pill on the 19th and 20th May 1987.

There was a marked arrival in Britain in 1989, with peaks in May, August and December, probably totalling 120 birds. Pembrokeshire’s share was two at the Nevern Estuary on the 10th December, one remaining until the 19th.

From that year onwards the species occurred annually in the county in increasing numbers. These were exciting times for local observers, for the Little Egret was classified as a national rarity until the BBRC removed it from their list after 1990. Nonetheless this attractive and usually conspicuous bird continued to capture observers’ attention and up to about 1996 was well reported locally. Thereafter people became more blasé about seeing them and did not register their sightings so assiduously.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Little Egret in Pembrokeshire

Spoonbill – 2011

Platalea leucorodia – LLWYBIG – Near annual visitor in small numbers.

The Spoonbill has a wide breeding range in the Palearctic, those from northern Europe tending to winter in the west of Africa.

George Owen (1603) noted that the Spoonbill bred in Pembrokeshire during the Elizabethan era, but by Mathew’s (1894) time it was “an occasional visitor in the winter; not very rare, sometimes arriving in flocks”, of up to seven at a time. Lockley et al (1949) added four additional records of up to three birds. Donovan and Rees (1994) noted occurrences of one or two birds at a time in 12 years between 1949 and 1993.

Plotting the number of dated individuals present each month seems to indicate passage from March to June and from September to December, but some birds staying through the winter and to a lesser degree through the summer results in no sharp seasonal divisions.

Occurrences post Donovan and Rees (1994) have involved either single birds or two together, except in 2005, when a group of 11 juvenile birds were seen resting on the salt marsh at Uzmaston on the morning of the 18th September. They departed northwards half an hour later and presumably the same birds were involved when 12 settled in the Nevern Estuary that afternoon. This group included two which had been colour ringed as nestlings in Holland, were seen in Gwent prior to arrival in Pembrokeshire and by October had moved on to County Mayo in Ireland.

Spoonbill – habitat

The Spoonbill frequents wet areas such as flooded lands, marshes and water bodies. In Pembrokeshire this has included ponds at Skokholm, Skomer, Marloes Mere, Mullock Marsh and Dowrog,

In the winter it also occurs in sheltered coastal habitats, tidal creeks, estuaries and coastal lagoons, locally at Fishguard Harbour, the Teifi and Nevern estuaries and within the extensive Cleddau Estuary at the Gann, Sandy Haven, Angle Bay, Pembroke River, Castle Pill, Llanstadwell, Pembroke Dock, Carew/Cresswell, Uzmaston, Picton Ferry and Slebech.

Spoonbill – origins

A total of seven nestlings colour ringed in Holland were recorded in Pembrokeshire during their first autumn, between the years 1974 and 2007. A Dutch colour ringed bird in adult plumage was seen at Skomer on the 11th May 1992.

Over 2,000 pairs were breeding in Holland by 2011 and this population might well account for all modern Pembrokeshire records.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

More about the Spoonbill in Pembrokeshire