For those who don’t know (and, asking around, that seems to include most people) a Sanderling is one of these little chappies on the left. I certainly hadn’t heard of them in the Aberystwyth area so I asked a friend who’s a member of the British Trust for Ornithology. She quoted her book about them:
“Breeds in high Arctic. Seen on passage and in Winter, sometimes in large flocks on sandy beaches, mudflats and pools. Rare inland.”
Apparently the nearest they come to Aberystwyth is the Dyfi Estuary, eight miles away, where they stick around for the Winter and then go again.
Alright, eight miles isn't all that far away, but a debate surfaced the other day on Twitter asking if a name with more local resonance could be found and one that is either Welsh or bilingual. In the Twitter dialogue, Ceredigion’s Assembly Member, Elin Jones, suggested Y Ddrudwen/The Starling would be appropriate since huge flocks of Starlings have become a real attraction on Aberystwyth Prom in the last few years, even being featured on TV and in the press (see picture left from the Mid Wales Birdlife site and many more by googling ‘Aberystwyth Starlings’). The serious-looking telescopes and cameras often lined up on the Prom at dusk show they’ve become a genuine tourist attraction that Marston’s might like to link into.
Other suggestions made of local birds have been Glas y Dorlan/Kingfisher (often seen in Plas Crug Avenue, 200 yards from the new Marston’s) and Yr Alarch/The Swan, many of which live on the Afon Rheidol across the road.
Marston’s seem to have a policy of using rural or nature themes in the naming of their pubs. The names of the current 22 Marston’s pubs in Wales are:
Talardy, Ffordd Dderwen, Running Hare, The Crown, Plas Coch, Nag’s Head, Poachers Pocket, Smithfield Bell, Willow Tree, Dragonfly, Otter, Bumble Bee, Pitcher & Piano, Copper Penny, Llangewydd Arms, Cherry Laurel, The Barn, Cherry Orchard, Sand Martin, Cayo Arms, Cwrt Rawlin and Ffynnon Wen.
I don’t know if they named them all or took some existing pubs over, but several of the names seem to indicate that they're not unaware of local or Welsh sensibilities.
I wonder if they could be persuaded to give their new pub a more locally-relevant name. Marston’s can be contacted via this link.
Sanderling image from: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/sanderling/index.aspx
Starling flock image from: http://www.midwalesbirdwatching.co.uk/birdlife.html
Response received from Marston's to an e-mail on the subject from one Aberystwyth resident:
"Thank you for your email regarding our new pub The Sanderling in Aberystwyth which is part of our national expansion that will see 25 pubs built this year. A good news story in what seems to be a string of doom and gloom stories about the economy at the moment.
"We have always found the naming of pubs to be potentially contentious and can often generate a huge amount of debate. We have tried over the years to include local residents in the naming of our pubs but this has, more often than not, led to even more discontent when one group's choice is taken over another's.
"Through our now vast experience at building new pubs over the last few years, we have opted to make the choice of name solely ours and to rely upon the great food, drink and service that the pub will offer to be the core of how we are judged.
"Our current naming policy is focused around animal names and nature, not necessarily local animals or nature, as these names are "neutral" as not to play to any one part of the community that we serve. These often help reflect the fact that a large part of our target customer group will be families who often disassociate food from more traditionally named pubs. We have found that opening pubs across the United Kingdom that this has worked well to date.
"We try to keep clear of historical figures or names that are linked to football clubs as that can often alienate a particular group of people - Something we are keen to avoid!
I, along with my team, look forward to welcoming you and the residents of Aberystwyth through the doors of The Sanderling in the near future when the pub is finally completed."
Five days after sending the above, Marston's have informed Elin Jones that they will re-name the pub 'The Starling Cloud'. Well done to them for that. No mention of anything in Welsh as yet though.