Knot – 2020

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

The knot breeds on the high Arctic tundra of Canada, Greenland and Russia.  The majority of those wintering in the UK are of the Greenland and eastern Canada subspecies. 

2013-14 1 

Most of the UK wintering population is on the east side of Britain, although flocks of several thousand do occur on the Dee, Dyfi and Carmarthen Bay estuaries.  However, numbers in Pembrokeshire seem always to have been relatively small.  We just don’t have the vast open mudflats that this species prefers.

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 most likely places to see Knot in Pembrokeshire are the outer parts of the Cleddau (although they are occasionally seen further upstream), Teifi and Nevern Estuaries, and also on the large beaches of Freshwater West and Frainslake.


The only colour-ringed knot recorded in Pembrokeshire was T7 (above) on 10 March 2019.  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.

Annie Haycock (BBS & WeBS local organiser)


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

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