Scientific: Falco columbarius

Cymraeg: Curyll Bach

A rare breeder on the much diminished areas of upland heath (and formerly on coastal dunes). Now principally a winter visitor to the coast.

1982
1 known pair did not nest 1, Pendine Burrows, 12 May. Winter sightings at Llangennech, Machynys, Morfa Cydweli, Llanboidy (2), Llansawel and Llangadog.

1983
Absent at one regular inland breeding locality. 1, Mynydd Du, 17 May. Otherwise scattering of winter sightings from coastal localities, with maximum, 3, Bynea, 22 January, with inland sightings in February at Capel Hendre and Llansawel.

1984
Single unmated female at a northern locality, 7 & 28 May, 19 August one record of 2 in May. 1, Witchett Pool, 9-17 June. Female, Pembrey Burrows January-February, male 24 March; 1 Llangain, 8 February. Late year (September-December) sightings, mainly singles at Witchett, Laugharne, Morfa Cydweli, Pembrey Burrows and Ffairfach. Female hunting together with male Hen Harrier, Pembrey 27 November.

1985
Pair reared 1 young at a northern site. Single male and female birds wintering (January-March) and (October-December) recorded on coastal strip, Penrhyngwyn – Ginst Point. 1, Crwbin 1 & 2 April.

1986
Pair nested and reared 2 young at a northern site. Early year (January-April), several sightings of single male and female on coastal strip, Machynys-Tywyn Point; near Llandovery. Late male at Banc y Lord, Morfa Cydweli, 25 April then several late year sightings of single male and female, Penrhyngwyn-Tywyn Point.; 1 flew against a window, Llansawel, 25 August and recovered; another killed when it flew against a caravan window Burry Port, early November.

1987
Pair nested on a Northern moor but failed probably due to death of one of the adults 1, Mynydd Du 16 May. At least 3 (1 male) irregularly on coastal strip, Llangennech/Gwendraeth estuary, early year; 2 possibly 3 females, Gwendraeth estuary, 15th, 2 on 18 April when last seen; 1, Llanwinio Common, 7 February; male, near Llandovery, 1-11 April female found c3 weeks dead there after hitting window, 12 April. Male, regular, Crugybar, September – late year; Penclacwydd, 16 September, then regularly there and Pembrey Saltings, November. Female, 16 November; male, near Llandovery, 24 November; 2 Mynydd Llanllwni, 20 November.

1988
Two pairs nested in North Carmarthenshire; another pair seen during the spring; 1, Llanwinio Common, 16 June. Several sightings of single birds early and late winter on the Penclacwydd/Pembrey/Morfa Cydweli coastal strip and several inland sites. A female preying on birds at a garden table near Llandovery for several weeks, flew into a window and broke its neck, 29 January, the second Merlin in successive years to be killed thus in that district.

1989
Two pairs nested in North Carmarthenshire; male mobbing Buzzard. 25 April on another moor. 1/2 wintered along coastal lowlands, Penclacwydd/Laugharne Burrows; 1 near Meidrim, 20 December.

1990
A pair reared 4 young and another pair present on northern moorlands. A single bird at another locality, 6 June and 14/15 July. Several sightings of wintering birds, Penclacwydd WWT, near Ffairfach, Gwendraeth and Tâf estuaryuaries, Llansadwrn and Llanwinio.

1991
1 pair nested in North of county. Several sightings on coastal strip both winter periods.

1992
In the first winter period singles were seen on 12th January at Pembrey Forest and Banc y Lord. Singles were also seen at Ginst Point in January/February, Sandy Water Park on 13th February ; Cydweli Quay on 4thMarch ; Salmon Scar on 3rd April and Tywyn Point on 20th April. At Penclacwydd 2 were seen through January and February with 1 remaining into March.

In the second winter period singles were seen at Ginst Point and Penclacwydd in November and December

1993
There were 19 records (11 in 1992). Seven singles were noted on thecoast during the first winter period: a female at Pembrey Salting’s on 2nd January; a male at Ginst Point on 25th January and 8th February; a female at Cydweli Quay on 6th February; a female at Cydweli Flats on 24th February ;Pembrey Salting’s on 8th March and at Penclacwydd in March.
A female was at Ffairfach on the 6th April, a male at Tair Carn Ridge on 24thApril and there were two records from another upland area in April and August.

In the autumn, a pair was at Commissioners’ Bridge on 18th October, and therewere singles at Pembrey Harbour on 10th October; Ginst Point on 24th October and15th November; Cefn Padrig on 31st October; Croesyceiliog on 21st November chasing Skylarks on a reseeded field; a female near Kymer’s CanalPond, Cydweli on 14th November; another female at Cydweli Quay on 30th Novemberand a single at Penclacwydd in December.

1994
Merlins were noted on 33 occasions, up from 19 in 1993.

Two males and a female at Cydweli Quay on 4th January was a notable number at one site. Of the twelve other records in January and February three were from inland sites; singles being at Pentre Parr on 23rd January, Ty’n Waun, Llandovery on 8th February and Ffairfach on 12th February.

There were two inland records in March and then birds were seen in suitable breeding habitat at three sites during the breeding season. At two of these sites there were repeated sightings and the third was an area where Merlin have been seen in previous summers.

Autumn passage birds were noted beside the Tirabad/Cynghordy road on 9th September and at Tair Carn Ridge on 8th October. Eight coastal records of singletons rounded off an excellent year for this species.

Estimated highest monthly totals were 7 in January, 4 in February and October and 5 in November.

1995
There were only 10 records (33 in 1994). Female s were at Llandovery on 29th Jan, Llandeilo on 8th February and Pembrey on 5th March. A male at Machynys also on 5th Mar was the last record until a female at Pembrey Salting’s on 6th August There were 4 October records, at Ginst Point on 1st, Banc y Capel on 8th, Llangadog on 16th and Pembrey on 20th. The last record was of a male at Ginst Point on 21st November.

There were no breeding season records.

1996
In the first winter period singles were at Llandeilo on 4th January and 18th February, Broad Oak on 21st February, Ginst Point (female) on 27th February. and Pumpsaint on 29th February. At Penclacwydd there were 2 in January, 1 in February and March and 2 in April.

In the second winter period, 1 at Penclacwydd on 5th October remained to the end of the year. In December there was 1 at Machynys on 8th December and female s at Penrhyngwyn on 20th and Pembrey Airfield on 21st – 22nd.

1997
A pair bred just outside the county, some of the territory being in Carmarthenshire . There were 11 early winter records, all coastal except a female at Tygwyn, Ffairfach on 7th February and males at Rhydcymerau on 6th January and 7th February .
Autumn movements were noted with singles at Rhydcymerau (a female ) on 3occasions in September, Mynydd Llanllwni on 22nd October and Foel Fraith, Mynydd Du on 18th September and a male at Mynydd Llanfihangel rhos-y-cornon 31st October.

There were then 8 coastal records towards the end of the year involving aminimum of five birds.

1998
No breeding records were received.

Away from Penclacwydd, the only records received were of females at Machynys Pond on 11th January and Mynydd Llanllwni on 24th February; a male seen pursuing a Chaffinch at Rhydcymerau on 31st March and a female at Llanelli Beach on 30th August.

Apart from one in August all sightings at Penclacwydd in the winter period with the highest count of 3 in January.

1999
A pair was seen in suitable habitat throughout the summer at one site and a male was observed on another hill on 19th August. There was a female at Penclacwydd from January to April and from October to December with a male also there in February and March. Away from Penclacwydd, a male at Cydweli Quay on 4th January and another at Commissioners’ Bridge on 27th February were the only early season records. There were two autumn inland records of single females at Garreg Lwyd on 14th October and at Taliaris on 7th November. Two males and a female were roosting at Machynys on 2nd November with a female at Penybedd Wood on 12th November. A single bird was at Pembrey Harbour on 14th November and a female was at Machynys on 27th December.

2000
Singles were noted at Penclacwydd in January, February, March, August, October, and November, with a male and female there in December. One was seen at Glan Ddu on 9th January and 13th February and there was a female at Ginst Point on 10th October and 12th November.

2001
There were no breeding season records.

Away from Penclacwydd, the three first winter period records were: 1 at Bynea on 10th January; a female at Ginst Point on 4th February and another at Machynys on 3rd March. This was followed by an early returner to the coast, at Ginst Point, on 18th August. An adult female showed up at Garreg Lwyd on 21st August. On September 28th there was 1 at the same place. A female was at Ginst Point on 12 December. Regular sightings of one or two birds monthly over winter at Penclacwydd.

2002
1 noticed in February at Salem on 21st. A female at Garreg Lwyd on 1st and 18th September. 1 at Pembrey Forest on 26th October and a pair nearby on Pembrey Saltings on 28th. Coedbach Marsh. Kidwelly, 1 one on 17th November. As last year, no breeding records received.

2003
Seen almost exclusively in the two winter periods, all records were: unsexed singles, over the A48 near Nantycaws on 4th January; at Usk Reservoir on 5th January and Kidwelly on 6th January. A male noted at Rhydcymerau on 10th January and 5th February and another at Capel-y-groes, Peniel on 10th February. An unsexed bird was at Kidwelly on 19th February. Another unsexed bird at Pembrey Saltings on 23rd. A female at Blaen-y-cylchau. Mynydd Du on 14th September: an unsexed bird at Kidwelly on 28th: an immature at Mynydd Llanybydder on 5th October: an unsexed bird at Llandilo-abercowin on 13th November: a female or immature at Mynydd Llanybydder on 2nd December and 15th December and single females at Kidwelly on 16th December and 19th December until the end of the year.

2004
Found at 8 locations including one chasing a Skylark at Garreg Lwyd September 24th.

2005
Found at only 8 localities but a female chasing pipits at Foel Fawr Quarries on May 5th May relate to a breeding record.

2006
Singles reported in the winter period from 5 localities.

2007
At Penclacwydd singles thoughout January, a pair during February and a single through to April 14th. In autumn a single from September 16th through to the end of the year. Elsewhere reported from eleven sites outside the breeding season. Interestingly a female hunting an upland area May 20th may have been a nesting bird.