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Much larger than Merlin. Male: dark grey head and back with pronounced horizontal grey barring on underside and fluffy legs, yellow at ankle and feet. Nests on cliffs and likes to catch pigeons and waders on the wing. Females much bigger.

Size: 37-48cm Where: Sea coast, Inland, Island
Winter Visitor


Very thin tail as name implies. Smart bird with thin neck and long, slender body. Male: dark brown head with white of neck ‘leaking’ into it in a stripe. Grey wing feathers finely lined like a posh suit. Female dull brown or grey with light breast. Bill and legs grey.

Size: 53-59cm Where: Sea coast
Winter Visitor


Easy to spot. Wide, typical round head and flat bill. Head chestnut, chest and tail black with pale grey elsewhere. Female duller with russet chest; same divisions of colour bands as male. Night feeder so drifts around sleepily by day.

Size: 44-48cm Where: Sea coast, Fresh water
Summer Visitor


Pelagic. Skokholm and Skomer. None on Ramsey. They are around from March to end August but you won’t necessarily see them till they have laid eggs June to mid-July.

Size: 30cm Where: Sea coast, Island
Summer Visitor


Pelagic. Most on Skomer; also Skokholm, Ramsey Lots between Angle and Stackpole on South Pembs coast and Needle Rock by Dinas Head. Easy to spot: huge chunky bill with distinctive white stripe. Black and white. Rarely seen outside breeding season.

Size: 38-41cm Where: Sea coast, Island

Red-breasted Merganser

Look out for wispy crest which makes the male look as if he’s having a bad hair day. He has green/blue head, white collar and dark breast with white wing patches. Orange-red, thin bill with hint of uptilt. Eyes are orangey red. Female is brownish grey with rufous-brown head and pale throat.

Size: 58cm Where: Sea coast, Fresh water
Winter Visitor

Red-throated Diver

Shallow coastal sea. Elegant, swims low; head held up. Long, sharp bill. In flight: neck stretched and legs trail. Winter: Loses smooth blue-grey on head and red throat. Grey on top with small white spots. White underparts and sides of neck. Fine black/white stripes on back of neck and side neck base.

Size: 55-65cm Where: Sea coast


Dark tail, rich brown rump with dark streaks. White belly. Legs rich orange red or scarlet. Juveniles have paler legs. Bill has dark tip and red base. In flight it shows big white patch along back and broad white wedges on the back of each wing.

Size: 27cm Where: Sea coast
Summer Visitor


Mostly woodland – prefers oak, but during migration can be seen on coast. Males like to sit in top of tree to sing. Elusive, they flit about with wide blunt tail unmistakeably rusty red. Male has big black bib and grey upper with orange underside. Female browner all over but has same tail.

Size: 13cm Where: Sea coast, Inland

Ringed Plover

Much smaller than you expect. Dumpy and about thrush size. Has very distinctive banding marks on head and throat. White patch under brown cap, black around eye with white just above beak. White throat and collar, then lower black collar. Bright white underneath. Bright bill and legs. Has habit of running, stopping suddenly to dig for food and then running again etc.

Size: 18cm Where: Sea coast

Rock Pipit

Whilst not strictly a water bird, this one always hangs out near the coast, walking around the rocks. They often come close, so if you see a small, speckled brownish bird around cliffs and beaches, it’s going to be a rock pipit! Most numerous in spring.

Size: 16-17cm Where: Sea coast
Winter Visitor


Small. Paler plumage than similar waders. Dark rim along bottom of wing and tail. Bill: longish, straight, dark. Runs fast on thin legs. Forms small groups. Often roosts with dunlins at high tide. In flight: sharp wings, dark stripe down centre of rump and tail with white sides. Very white under and pearly above.

Size: 20cm Where: Sea coast

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