Knot – Ringing

Calidris canutus – PIBYDD YR ABER – Winter visitor and passage migrant. 

Knot – Orange flag T7

This colour-ringed knot was recorded in Pembrokeshire on 10 March 2018.  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.

Knot – Z080116

During the flurry of Knot sightings in West Wales over the last few weeks, we have received data on the colour-ringed Knot on the 7th March at the Gann. It was first ringed in Waddenzee August 2014, resighted by the same ringer at Porsangerfjord Norway during spring migration and recaptured by Pemb’s Ringing Group 7th March 2018. A short but interesting life history for a bird that has an average weight of 137g. We still have a lot to learn about migrating Waders that choose to use the Gann as a stop-over. The continued resighting of colour ringed Waders by the users of the Pemb’s Bird blog is very much appreciated.

Mike & Theresa (posted on the Pembrokeshire Bird Ringing Blog)


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

Mediterranean Gull – colour rings

Colour-tinged Mediterranean Gulls have been turning up in Pembrokeshire for the past twenty years or so. Most were ringed at their natal colonies. This map shows the location of those colonies. In some cases, there have been several gulls from the same colony. And there are likely to be other birds for which we don’t have the records.

The histories of individual birds show that many of them have arrived here by a convoluted route, including via Morroco.

Any colour-tinged gulls should be reported to the European Colour-ringed Birding Website or to the British Trust for Ornithology, either of which will forward your sighting to the appropriate ringing scheme which will provide you with further details.

Red dots show the origins of birds with red rings, green for those with green rings, and blue for those with white rings (as white does not show up on this background).

More about the Mediterranean Gull in Pembrokeshire

Woodcock – research

Scolopax rusticola – CYFFYLOG – Winter visitor and passage migrant.

Woodcock are probably one of the most common waders in the county during the winter, according to work done by Paddy Jenks with the Pembrokeshire and Teifi Ringing Groups.  However, they are rarely seen, let alone counted, because of their secretive and generally nocturnal habits.

Paddy and his team ringed a total of 1653 woodcock between November 2008 and March 2019. 107 of these individuals were recaptured or recovered.   The recaptures show that many individuals have a very high site fidelity.  The ringers often found birds within a hundred metres of where they had been caught either the same winter, or in previous winters.  

The recoveries outside of the UK show that many individuals wintering in Pembrokeshire originate in Russia.  In Europe, it is illegal to shoot during the breeding season, so most of the recoveries from closer to home are probably birds on autumn migration, though some could have bred in these areas.  

The ringing groups hope to continue with the project into the future with the aim of collecting as large a sample size as possible, so that any future changes can be discerned.

The full report can be seen here

Information provided by Mike & Theresa Sherman

More about Woodcock in Pembrokeshire

Chiffchaff – ringing recoveries

Phylloscopus collybita – SIFF-SAFF/SIFF SIAFF – Breeding summer visitor, passage migrant and winter visitor

Since 2009,  2157 chiffchaffs have been ringed at various sites on the Pembrokeshire mainland.   Another 2000 or so were ringed on Skokholm in that period.

These days, ringing is primarily for monitoring bird populations – their survival, reproductive rates, and so on.  It is a very important tool in understanding how and when bird populations change. 

A good proportion of the chiffchaffs ringed on the mainland are part of Constant Effort Site ringing, which is designed for population monitoring.  Many of the birds ringed will be breeding, or will have hatched on that site.  They will often be retrapped on the same site, in the same or subsequent years. These birds are not included in the map.

Chiffchaffs ringed on Skokholm are on migration.  They may be heading north in spring, and south in winter, although occasionally a bird seems to be going in the wrong direction as it overshoots its destination.  An example is a bird that was ringed on Skokholm in spring, but subsequently settled to breed in Cornwall that summer.

This map shows where birds ringed in Pembrokeshire went to, or where birds ringed elsewhere came from.

Ringing has been undertaken on Skokholm and elsewhere in Pembrokeshire for many decades, but the earlier data isn’t currently easily available. 

The apparently low number of birds that have left mainland Pembrokeshire reflect the fact that a large proportion are ringed as fledgelings and  juveniles, which are very vulnerable to predation.  Birds that have made it as far as Skokholm before being ringed are a bit older, and so have a much better chance of survival.

Meanwhile, that chiffchaff from Keeston is the oldest, and the furthest-travelled, chiff-chaff from Pembrokeshire in the last decade at least.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)

Data from Mike and Theresa Sherman of the Pembrokeshire Ringing Group, from the Skokholm Island Annual Reports, and from the BTO website.

More about the Chiffchaff in Pembrokeshire

Common Gull – colour-ring sightings

Larus canus – GWYLAN Y GWEUNYDD – Winter visitor

The common gull has never been common in Pembrokeshire, and is usually seen only in winter. Breeding populations have declined in many areas, stimulating a need to find out more about the gulls and their movements. To this end, gulls have been ringed in several countries in Europe, using a combination of colours and letters that can be read through a telescope or camera lens without the need to recapture the birds.

If you come across a bird with colour rings, please report it to European Colour-ring Birding from where you will get information about ‘your’ bird, as well as adding to the database of useful information about the species.

Please don’t just assume that someone else has reported a sighting – your record could add information such as longevity, the amount of time a bird spends in a particular place, etc.

This map is based on observations made by Sam Baxter and others at the Nevern Estuary (red pin). Blue pins show where gulls were ringed.

Additional information about colour-ringing common gulls

More about the Common Gull in Pembrokeshire

Goldfinch – ringing & migration

Carduelis carduelis britannica – NICO – Breeding resident

We see goldfinches all year round in Pembrokeshire, so it is difficult to know if we are seeing the same ones all the time, or if the winter birds are different to the summer ones.


Studies in England suggest that some 80% of goldfinches may migrate, but the extent and direction of the migration seems to depend more on food supply and weather conditions than on the birds being hard-wired to a particular route or destination (BTO Migration Atlas 2002).

Spring migration is most noticeable on the offshore islands. Analysis of records from Bardsey and Skokholm bird observatories show a marked increase in the daily numbers of birds seen in between the last week of March and the middle of May.  But while numbers on Bardsey have exceeded 150 on several occasions, on Skokholm they are generally less than 20 apart from exceptional counts of 80 in April 2013 and 143 in April 2014.

Skokholm autumn counts are rather higher, though still usually less than 100 in a day. The highest count was 285 on 14th October 2013. However, 2018 was a record year overall with counts of 114 on 30 September, and 119 and 170 on 6 and 15 October respectively.

Flocks are also recorded moving along the coast, for example 150 near Fishguard on 3 May 2016, 100 at Castlemartin on 23 September 2017, and 120 over Rosebush on 18 October 2018.


The few birds ringed in Pembrokeshire and found elsewhere, or ringed elsewhere and found later in Pembrokeshire, are shown on the map above.  The bird ringed in Belgium was caught by a cat 3 years later near Narberth. The one that went to France was picked up dead a year after being ringed at Boncath.

For Wales as a whole, some 80 ringed goldfinches have been found across most parts of Britain, while a similar number ringed elsewhere have turned up in Wales. 

It is generally considered that Welsh birds migrate to Spain (the longest movement of a Welsh goldfinch was from Talybont-on-Usk to 180km south of Madrid), but the ringing data indicate there is also an interchange with Ireland.

More about the Goldfinch in Pembrokeshire

White-fronted Goose – colour-marked birds

Anser albifrons – GWYDD DALCEN-WEN – Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant

All records relate to birds of the Greenland race A.a. flavirostris: seven at Marloes Mere 26th Oct, presumably the same as at Dale Airfield 29th Oct, one of which was sporting a neck collar CDZ – put on at Wexford in March 2003. 14 at Trevine Common 26th Oct – 16th Nov.

The above records from the Pembrokeshire Bird Report 2018

Tony Fox (Greenland White-fronted Goose Study) confirmed the bird at Marloes Mere on 26 Oct, and again on Dale Airfield on 29 Oct was CDZ. Tony gave a bit more of his biography and sightings:

This was first autumn male we caught at a place called Hvanneyri in west Iceland on 23 September 2017.  This site is the home of the Agricultural University of Iceland where they maintain a large area of hayfields adjacent to natural wetlands which are a magnet for the White-fronted Geese in both spring and autumn when they pass through.  We are not entirely sure of his parents, as he associated with two other collared individuals V3Y and a bird fitted with a telemetry collar (both adult females when they were caught in the same catch), as well as a unmarked adult that obviously escaped capture on that occasion whilst in Iceland following capture.  You will see on the attached list of all resightings of marked Greenland White-fronted Geese away from Wexford (where the vast majority are marked and resighted) your bird wintered last year on Wexford Slobs (as do many of the geese that stage in Hvanneyri), where it was also seen with the same marked/unmarked associates.  Interestingly, CDZ was not seen at Hvanneyri this autumn, which is somewhat unusual, since as well as being incredibly site loyal to their winter quarters, these geese also tend to use the same spring and autumn staging areas in successive seasons. Andrew Simms, Pembs Bird Blog

N2A was reported by Brian Southern at Marloes on 26 October 2018. Tony Fox provided the following information: N2A was a female caught as a first-winter bird at Wexford Slobs Ireland in March 2003, with siblings N5A, J0Z and J8Z (also females) and adults N0A and N3A (females) and N7A (probably the Dad), with which she associated the rest of that winter.  It is not clear if N0A or N3A was the Mum, because offspring of previous years may associate with their parents for up to 13 years.  N3A had likely laid eggs in summer 2003, N0A possibly may have done, so that does not really solve the question, so N2A’s parentage is a little in doubt.  She associated with most of these individuals again the following year, but from 2004/5 she has been on her own, wintering most years as you will see at Wexford, but I have seen her a few times in Iceland as well in the intervening years. An Icelandic friend of Tony Fox adds that the “birds had a golden opportunity to use favourable tail-winds all the way to UK on Wednesday and Thursday (24th and 25th October). They all seem to have jumped on that train. Winter has arrived. We now have frost and the mountains have turned white. All ponds and lakes near Hvanneyri are frozen.” Brian Southern, Pembs Bird Blog

Three collared Geese X0C, X6D, X9K were amongst the 14 reported at Trevine between 26 October and 14 November 2018. Tony Fox provided this information: All three geese were caught at Wexford North Slob by Alyn Walsh of the National Park and Wildlife Service, part of a very long-running programme of research there on the population, started in 1982/83.  X0C and X6D were both marked as first winter females in March 2013, with X9K an adult female caught in the same catch.  In the winter of 2013/14, these three birds returned to Wexford.  They were not seen in the winter of 2014/15 (nor 2017/18), but in winter 2015/16 X0J, X6D and X9K were seen together at Wexford, and X6D in 2016/17. The only other record we have was of X0C seen in the southern lowlands of Iceland in October 2016 although X6D was seen very briefly at Hvanneyri in west Iceland this autumn.  Wendy James, Pembs Bird Blog

Skokholm 2014 – colour-marked bird – A vocal White-fronted Goose which headed west over the Farm on 10th November was the first record since 16 on 14th March and 12th April 2010 (RDB). Distant views of a departing goose would not usually lead to sub-specific identification, but close inspection of a distant photograph revealed an orange neck collar and white darvic ring. Although the inscriptions which would have identified the individual were illegible at such a range, the combination of collar and ring show this to be one of over 2600 birds ringed in Greenland (T. Fox pers. comm.). The two subspecies of White-fronted Goose to occur in Wales have both been recorded on Skokholm, although where sub-specific identification has been possible it is Greenland White-fronted Goose A. a. flavirostris which has proven commonest. Skokholm Bird Report 2014

More about the White-fronted Goose in Pembrokeshire

Teal – ringing

Anas crecca – CORHWYADEN – Common winter visitor, passage migrant and scarce breeder

Stories about birds carrying rings or other colour marks

Teal with nasal saddle 3Q3 seen at Landshipping Quay on 25 December 2017

(from David Rodrigues) the teal was marked in Portugal at São Jacinto DunesNature Reserve (40º41’N 08º44’W.) This reserve is about 1,300 km from Landshipping. It was ringed/marked as a young male on 20th January 2015 and has only been re-sighted locally there during the same day. “Unlike other teal it has never returned but was re-sighted in Holland (Haukesloot, 52º56’N 05º26’E, at about 1,730km from S. Jacinto), on 17th March 2016”. Other birds marked in Portugal have been recorded as far east as Russia.

More information about this project

More about the Teal in Pembrokeshire

Oystercatcher -Ringing

Haematopus ostralegus – PIODEN Y MOR – Breeding resident and passage migrant

In recent years, a number of waders have been ringed in Pembrokeshire, mainly around the Gann Estuary. Many have been resighted locally (in Pembrokeshire), but those oystercatchers that have been seen further afield are shown below. The number shown against each pin is the number on the ring.

Please report all sightings, including those in Pembrokeshire, so that we get a better picture of where the birds wintering here go to, how long they stay here, etc.

The furthest recorded Oystercatcher (number 55) was ringed 7th March 2018, it had not been resighted until it turned up on the 2nd April 2020 in Brynjudalsvogur, Hvalfjörður, Iceland (please use your own pronunciation!)

Pembs Ringing Group
From the Pembrokeshire Bird Blog 04/05/2020


Icelandic ringed individual (yellow-orange-white) at Amroth on 15 Feb, had been ringed as an adult near Selfoss, Iceland in May 2017, later that year, in August, it was seen in Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain. The following year it was back near Selfoss and in 2019. In February 2020 it was again seen in Pontevedra, then back in Selfoss.
Another Icelandic bird (niger over green left leg; pale grey UY right leg), that had been ringed in SW Iceland as a pullus on 2/6/2020, was at the Gann on 30 April and at Kilpaison, Angle Bay in May. It had previously been seen near Black Mixen (Carew/Cresswell) on 12 Dec 2020.

More about the Oystercatcher in Pembrokeshire