Friday, 29 December 2017

Withybush Wagtail roost

We happened to be having a coffee-break in a certain department store near Withybush Hospital at dusk when pied wagtails started to arrive to roost in a building - it looked like quite a warm location. An initial flock of c.50 appeared from somewhere over the A40, followed by smaller flocks from the north or east. We probably saw somewhere around 70 arrive, although from our initial north-facing view-point we would have missed others coming from other directions. Wagtails were still arriving well after sunset when it was getting quite dark. We suspect that roost numbers probably reached three figures.

We recall various mentions of other pied wag roosts on the sightings blog in recent years (e.g. at Teifi Marshes) and three figure counts there in Pembs Bird Reports. We were surprised though to find that the last specific pied wagtail roost count mentioned in Pembs Bird Reports was back in 2003. Other  roosts are known but seem to be under-reported to the county records!

Slebech Starling roost:
Noting Sash's comments about the Slebech Miscanthus starling roost, we have been observing the starlings on occasions this winter. It's our general impression that numbers (although still quite impressive) aren't quite as high as they were last winter. They started to roost at the reed-bed in the autumn (just as they did last winter) and numbers increased throughout November. By the end of the month they had switched roosts. They used to move over to Plumstone by the end of the year to join the plantation roosting birds there. This probably happened when the reed-bed was starting to look a bit flattened, probably due to the weight of increasing numbers of roosting birds. The slightly taller  Miscanthus crop currently seems to provide a more robust roost option - perhaps also more sheltered and safer from predators?