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, 3 November 2011

'A Goose Loose Above The Sluice!'

Despite putting in a good effort today I found little of note. A Green Sandpiper was in the meadow again which is unusual for The Swannery as they are mainly an early autumn (that is to say June/July) visitor here with very few winter records. The meadow also held good numbers of Teal, Pintail and Wigeon, no doubt due to the very high water on the west Fleet caused by the SE winds and low pressure, despite the fact that the new moon was a week ago! Amongst moderate numbers of Pochard and Tufted Duck the 1st winter Scaup was still present, as was the 'Ferruchard'. All I could find in the withies though were a few Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap (not the hoped for Pallas's Warbler!). There was still little overhead passage either but in the evening several Mediterranean Gulls were picked out in the gloom of the gull pre-roost gathering. Yesterday (Tuesday 1st November) I fared a little better with an immature male Marsh Harrier and almost as exciting a fine male Bullfinch. The former are far more regular here than they once were, while the latter are allways rather sporadic... a few records a year on average but a pair or two occasionally nest and when they don't here, they usually do somewhere else in Abbotsbury.
Male Wigeon with female Teal
Little Grebe... a common winter visitor to The Swannery.
 Monday (31st October) was the first day of our closed season...that is to say the first day of the autumn that we are closed to visitors. All the seasonal staff have now left (James, Charlotte and Charlie) leaving just me, Swanherd Dave and Suz plus a few contractors when required. One of the first jobs of 'winterization' is to lower all the water levels on the nest site and in the reedbeds. It was while I was extricating a rather stubborn 'hatch' (sluice) that I heard the shrill high pitched 'cackle' of a goose right over my head. I had been tipped off that the 1st winter Red-breasted Goose originally found at Stanpit (east Dorset) a couple of weeks ago, that then relocated to Ferrybridge (at the other end of The Fleet) on Sunday, had disappeared up the lagoon in the afternoon and therefore may well appear at The Swannery. Well it did, as looking up there was a first winter Red-breasted Goose. It dipped below some trees and appeared to land in the grounds but by the time I got out of the ditch and went to investigate there was no sign of it. I didn't see or hear which way it had gone and I never saw it again and at the time of blogging as far as I'm aware neither has anybody else. This is the third time I've had this attractive Russian breeding goose on my patch. The first was an obvious escape back in 2003 that not only summered but bore an avicultural type plastic ring. The second was in November 2006. This bird turned up at Ferrybridge with Russian Brent Geese but briefly visited The Swannery in the company of feral Mallards. Although this was accepted as a wild bird I'm afraid I'm always going to have my doubts having approached to within a few metres of it and due to the company it was keeping. Even the 2003 bird accompanied the Brent flock in late autumn and if it hadn't been for it's ring it too may have been claimed as wild. This lastest bird though could well be wild, as even though, like the 2006 bird, it left the company of it's Brent Goose cousins, unlike the last bird, more importantly it appeared to shun the company of our dodgy Mallards! 
The November 2006 adult Red-breasted Goose with Mallards (and Pochards behind).
I didn't work Sunday (30th October) or get a chance to have a look round. Colleague Charlie was working though (his last day of the season) and his highlights were a Curlew over and four Mediterranean Gulls in the meadow.
Mediterranean Gulls (3 1st winters right, adult left rear) with Black-headed Gulls and Wigeon (Charlie Wheeler)

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