Please note that this is my own personal blog and therefore the views and opinions expressed, although in no way intended to be controversial, are not necessarily those shared by my employers Abbotsbury Tourism Ltd. and Ilchester Estates . All photos are © Steve Groves unless otherwise credited.



Thursday, 27 June 2019

Abbotsbury Swannery Bird Sightings - Winter 2018/2019...

1st November 2018 - 28th  February 2019.

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Feeding time, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

Highlights...
The best bird of the period was undoubtedly a Dusky Warbler but there were still good numbers of Cattle Egrets and Short-eared Owls following the autumn influx. Also of note were two Whooper Swans (joining the resident bird), a few ScaupYellow-browed Warblers and Firecrests along with singles of  Long-tailed Duck and Dipper.


Cattle Egrets (& Little Egret), Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Charlie Wheeler
Scaup (drake), Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2018 © Charlie Wheeler


The Winter's Bird News In Full...
More details of the above highlights and the rest of this month's sightings...



Brent Goose... 
'Dark-bellied Brent Goose'...  Ten were present on the 11th November but subsequently only one or two were seen sporadically to the end of February.

Dark-belled Brent Goose, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Steve Groves


Canada Goose... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 186 in November; 155 in December; 400 in January; 170 in February.

Greylag Goose... One was present from the 1st November to the 27th December.

Black Swan… Four were present for much of the winter but there were five through most of January. 

Mute Swan... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey counts were 606 in November; 400 in December; 580 in January; 580 in February.

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Mute Swans, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Kev Butler

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Mute Swans & other waterfowl, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler


Whooper Swan... The released rehabilitated individual was present throughout and was joined by two other individuals on the 28th December.

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Whooper Swan, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Kev Butler

Egyptian  Goose... In November there was a single on the 3rd and 13 on the 17th. In December nine flew west on the 14th and in January there was one on the 17th.

Egyptian GeeseAbbotsbury Swannery, December 2018 © Charlie Wheeler

(Common) Shelduck... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 20 in November; 29 in December; 60 in January; 57 in February. In addition the two Shelduck x Eider hybrids were present throughout.

Mandarin Duck... In November three were present on the 22nd, with one lingering on the 23rd.


Mandarin Ducks (& Mallards), Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Charlie Wheeler

Northern Shoveler… Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 50 in November; 110 in December; 200 in January; 120 in February.

Gadwall... Present throughout much of the winter. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 20 in November; 9 in December; 2 in January; 4 in February.

Gadwall, (drake showing hybrid features), Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2018 
© Steve Groves

(Eurasian) Wigeon... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 600 in November; 450 in December; 30 in January; 25 in February.

Wigeon (drake), Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Steve Groves


Mallard... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 440 in November; 370 in December; 316 in January; 187 in February.

(Northern) Pintail... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 200 in November; 50 in December; 40 in January; 50 in February.

Pintails, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Steve Groves


(Eurasian) Teal... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 600 in November; 500 in December; 600 in January; 250 in February.

(Common) Pochard... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 200 in November; 400 in December; 300 in January; 200 in February.

Tufted Duck... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 150 in November; 170 in December; 250 in January; 160 in February.

(Greater) Scaup... Present throughout much of the winter. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 7 in November; 7 in December; 3 in January; 3 in February.

Scaup (drake), Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2019 © Steve Groves

Long-tailed Duck... A first-winter female arrived on the 21st November and was then seen regularly to the 30th January. 

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Long-tailed Duck (1st winter female), Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019
 © Kev Butler

(Common) Goldeneye... A very poor winter with only two on the 19th December and three on the 20th and 21st January. 

Goosander... One on the 6th February.

Red-breasted Merganser... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 10 in November; 19 in December; 21 in January; 37 in February.


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Red-breasted Merganser (female), Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 
© Kev Butler


Red-legged Partridge... One or two were seen regularly.

(Common) Pheasant... Present throughout.

(Northern) Fulmar... One on the 29th January.

Little Grebe... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 20 in November; 15 in December; 8 in January; 8 in February.

Little Grebe, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Steve Groves


Great Crested Grebe... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 16 in November; 15 in December; 20 in January; 26 in February.

Great Crested Grebe, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2018 © Steve Groves

(Western) Cattle Egret... Following on from the unprecedented numbers in October 2018, a number roosted nightly throughout, with peak monthly counts of 43 in November; 41 in December; 40 in January; 30 in February.

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Cattle Egrets & Little Egret, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

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Cattle Egrets, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

Grey Heron... Present throughout much of the winter. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 1 in November; 1 in December; 2 in January; 2 in February.

Grey Heron, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Steve Groves

Little Egret... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 5 in November; 6 in December; 6 in January; 14 in February.

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Little Egret, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler

(Northern) Gannet... One (oiled) on the 28th November.
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Gannet (& Shelduck),  Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Steve Groves


(European) Shag... Two were present on the 12th November and one on the 19th December.

(Great) Cormorant... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 8 in November; 20 in December; 3 in January; 30 in February.

(Eurasian) Sparrowhawk... Singles were seen regularly but two were seen together on the 1st November.

Sparrowhawk, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Joe Stockwell

(Western) Marsh Harrier... Singles were seen regularly but at least two were present on a few dates..

Hen Harrier... In November a single 'Ringtail' was seen daily from the 22nd to the 24th and again on the 27th.

(Common) Buzzard... Present throughout.

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Buzzard, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler


Water Rail... Seen or at least heard regularly.

(Common) Moorhen... Present throughout. 

(Eurasian) Coot... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 500 in November; 1300 in December; 875 in January; 400 in February.

(Eurasian) Oystercatcher... There was a single in November on the 16th but there were no other sightings until three on the 14th January. There were then regular sightings though with a peak of ten on the 17th February.

(Northern) Lapwing... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 100 in November; 300 in December; 450 in January; 500 in February.

(European) Golden Plover... Singles were seen, or at least heard, on the 5th December and 8th January but there was a cold weather influx from the 1st to the 3rd February with at least 1,000 present.

(Eurasian) Curlew... Singles on the 19th November and 15th February.

Black-tailed Godwit... All records were from November with 20 on the 15th and three on the 19th.

Black-tailed GodwitsAbbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Charlie Wheeler

(Ruddy) Turnstone… Singles on the 17th December and on the 20th and 22nd January.

(Red) Knot… Singles on the 16th and 20th November and on the 4th and 5th December.

Dunlin... Seen regularly from the 12th November to the 14th December with a peak of 20 on the 21st November. The only other report was of a single on the 25th January.

(Eurasian) Woodcock... One on the 6th February.

(Common) Snipe... Seen regularly, with peaks of at least 15 on the 7th December and again on the 1st February.

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Snipe, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler

Green Sandpiper… One on the 21st November.

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Green Sandpiper, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler


(Common) Redshank... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 4 in November; 5 in December; 5 in January; 9 in February.

Redshank, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Steve Groves


(Black-legged) Kittiwake... One on the 12th November.

Black-headed Gull... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 30 in November; 200 in December; 40 in January; 610 in February.

Mediterranean Gull... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 80 in November; 400 in December; 30 in January; 270 in February.

Common Gull... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 200 in November; 1,200 in December; 550 in January; 2,000 in February.

Great Black-backed Gull... Present throughout with a peak of at least 150  on the 7th and 19th December.


Great Black-backed GullAbbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Charlie Wheeler

(European) Herring Gull... Present throughout. The Wetland Bird Survey/peak counts were 200 in November; 105 in December; 35 in January; 100 in February.

Yellow-legged Gull... One on the 12th November.

Lesser Black-backed Gull... 
'British Lesser Black-backed Gull'... 
Seen regularly, with a peak of at least 20 on the 8th February.
'Continental Lesser Black-backed Gull'... 
At least one was present on the 8th February.

Feral Pigeon... Present throughout.

Stock Dove... Seen regularly, with at least 10 on the 17th November.

(Common) Wood Pigeon... Present throughout.

(Eurasian) Collared Dove... Seen regularly.

(Western) Barn Owl... At least one was seen or at least heard regularly.

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Above two images Barn Owl, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler

Tawny Owl... Seen or at least heard regularly, with a peak of three on the 22nd November.

Short-eared Owl... Following the unprecedented influx at the end of October there were regular sightings with peak counts of 9 in November; 3 in December; 3 in January; 1 in February.  The last was seen on the 18th February.

Short-eared Owl, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2018 © Steve Groves

(Common) Kingfisher... Up to two were seen regularly.

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Kingfisher, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler

Great Spotted Woodpecker... Seen regularly, with a peak of five on the 6th January.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

(European) Green Woodpecker... Seen regularly.

(Common) Kestrel... Seen regularly.

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Kestrel, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler


Peregrine Falcon... Singles were seen regularly.

(Eurasian) Jay... Up to two were seen regularly.

(Eurasian) Magpie... Present throughout.

(Western) Jackdaw... Present throughout, with a peak of 50 on the 11th January.

Rook... Present throughout, with a peak of 200 on the 11th January.

Carrion Crow... Present throughout.

(Northern) Raven... Seen regularly.

Coal Tit... Present throughout.

(Eurasian) Blue Tit... Present throughout.

Great Tit... Present throughout.

(Eurasian) Skylark... Present throughout, with at least 50 seen on the 1st February.

(Barn) Swallow... At least five were seen on the 1st November.

Cetti's Warbler... At least three were present throughout.

Long-tailed Tit... Present throughout.

Yellow-browed Warbler... One was seen on the 1st November and one was  heard on the 10th/11th November.

Dusky Warbler... The third for the Swannery was present in November. First heard on the 22nd, it was subsequently seen briefly on the 26th and 30th.

(Common) Chiffchaff... At least ten were still present on the 1st November but as expected numbers declined through the winter with a peak of 5 in December; 2 in January and 1 in February.

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Chiffchaff, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler


(Eurasian) Blackcap... One on the 1st November and two on the 16th November.

(Common) Firecrest... Two were present on the 1st November, while one was seen on the 11th and 12th November.

Goldcrest... Present throughout.

(Eurasian) Wren... Present throughout.

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Wren, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Kev Butler

(Eurasian) Nuthatch... At least one, sometimes two, were seen regularly.

(Eurasian) Treecreeper... Present throughout.

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Treecreeper, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Kev Butler

(Common) Starling... A substantial roost was present for at least the first half of the period with a peak of over 3,000 in November and over 10,000 in December. Numbers dropped off considerably in January and February though with a peak of just 500 on the 5th February.

StarlingsAbbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Charlie Wheeler


(Common) Blackbird... Present throughout.

Fieldfare... Over 200 flew southeast on the 15th November; at least five were seen on the 10th January and over 500 were present from the 1st to the 3rd February.

Redwing... Seen regularly with monthly peaks of 5 in November; 30 in December; 1 in January; 1,000 in February.

Song Thrush... Present throughout.

Mistle Thrush... Seen regularly until the 10th January, with a peak of five on the 19th December.

(European) Robin... Present throughout.

(European) Stonechat... At least two were seen regularly.

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Stonechat (male), Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2019 © Kev Butler

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Stonechat (female), Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler


(White-throated) Dipper... The individual that arrived in September was seen regularly until the 11th February.


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Dipper, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

House Sparrow... Present throughout.

Dunnock... Present throughout.

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Dunnock, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

Grey Wagtail... Singles were seen regularly.

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Grey Wagtail, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

Pied Wagtail... Present throughout, with over 80 present in the roost on the 15th January.  

Meadow Pipit... A flock of around 20 were seen regularly.

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Meadow Pipits, Abbotsbury Swannery, November 2018 © Kev Butler

(Eurasian) Rock Pipit... One or two were seen regularly to the 1st February.

(Common) Chaffinch... Present throughout.

Brambling... One was present on the 1st/2nd November.

(Eurasian) Bullfinch... One or two at least were seen regularly.

(European) Greenfinch... One or two at least were seen regularly but still remarkably scarce compared to relatively recent winters.

(Common) Linnet... A flock of around 20 were seen regularly.

Lesser Redpoll... At least five flew over on the 2nd November.

(Red) Crossbill... One was heard on the 4th December.

(European) Goldfinch... Present throughout.

(Eurasian) Siskin... Single figures were seen regularly with a peak of over 10 on the 26th November.

Yellowhammer... In November singles flew over on the 2nd and 21st.

(Common) Reed Bunting... Present throughout.





... And that's it for this month except to say thanks to my work colleagues and volunteers for additional sightings and additional images, particularly Kev Butler, Joe Stockwell and Charlie Wheeler but also Alan Barrett, Phil Jenks, Nick Urch and Jonny White. Also a big thank you to any other birders that reported Swannery sightings. 

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Sunset, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2019 © Kev Butler


Spring 2019 sightings to follow shortly.