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.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The 'Start' Of Winter

Wednesday to Friday (26th to 28th) were fairly quiet with only a little overhead passage mostly on the latter day and this only involved a few Siskins, a Lesser Redpoll, Sky Larks, Starlings and a few Swallows still. On Thursday however I did miss by minutes a Short-eared Owl in the water meadow. My colleague Charlie though was luckier...

Short-eared Owl (Charlie Wheeler)
I was off on Saturday 29th but managed to get down to the Swannery for a good look round. On the way down I just glimpsed a chat disappearing into the swannery meadow hedge but despite patiently waiting for it to reappear it never did so I dismissed it as a likely Robin and carried on. After checking the withy bed my next port of call was Helen Hide on Bum Point (real name honest) over looking the tern island and relatively close to the beach. A 'Ringtail' (female or 1st winter) Hen Harrier was flying away over the embayment and I lost it over by the water meadow. Hopefully it will be another good winter for this raptor as several were in the area last year. Their were also several large gulls on the beach opposite. They were mostly Great and Lesser Black-backs with a few Herring but also an adult Yellow-legged Gull. The first adult I've had here since the demise of the regular returning individual last summer. An adult Mediterranean Gull also flew down the lagoon. Despite the massive increase in this gull at the other end of The Fleet in recent years this has barely been reflected up this end. I ended my visit by checking the water meadow but there was no sign of the harrier unfortunately. There was however a good number of Teal, Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, two Redshank and a few Lapwing and Snipe. On my way out I had a quick chat with my colleagues (who'd drawn the short straw to work the last weekend of our open season). James informed me that he'd seen a female Redstart in Simon's Hide earlier. I told him it was more likely a Black Redstart due to the time of year and the fact it was in a building and indeed he did say it looked rather grey. We don't get many Black Redstarts at The Swannery despite their regular occurrence in the village in late autumn and early winter (especially around the monastic 'ruins') and two of the half dozen or so I have seen here were also in hides. Heading for home I retraced my steps and while passing the same hedge as earlier a 'vist tik tik' call alerted my presence to a chat lurking in the hedge. A female Black Redstart! Unfortunately it was still too furtive to get a picture but a good Swannery record all the same!

A slightly better shot of the 1st winter (Greater) Scaup with Tufted Duck.
Still the only one of the season so far and a bit sporadic as it comutes between here and Lodmoor RSPB.

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