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, 8 January 2012

An Enigma Exposed!

The (Red) Knots on one of the feeding ramps.
I didn't get a chance to have much of a look round the patch this weekend... I popped down to feed today briefly without intending to do much birding but I did manage to flush a very wary Barnacle Goose from the Canada flock on the feeding ramp (which was presumably a wanderer from the flock that are still in residence in fields by the Fleet at nearby Rodden). During the week though I fared a little better... A Marsh Harrier quartered the western reedbeds on Friday before heading off towards Bexington and the fourteen Knot were still present at the beginning of the week but their number slowly dwindled to one by Thursday. Extremely low water produced an exceptional count for The Swannery of thirty Redshank and a record count of forty Mediterranean Gulls (still poor by East Fleet standards).

The Knots again...far more photogenic than last week!
To distinguish them from the Asian Great Knot their international English name is Red Knot in  reference to their summer plumage...however we tend to see them more frequently in their grey non-breeding plumage.
A Dark-bellied Brent Goose was seen briefly and dabbling duck were well represented with several hundred Teal, twenty plus each of Pintail, Shoveler and Shelduck and a few Wigeon and Gadwall. Due to the low water though the merganser flock completely decamped to deeper water. The Pochard/Tufted flock remained though along with the three Scaup but the Scaup x Tufted hybrid never reappeared. As for passerines a few Chiffchaffs were still around as were a few Redwings and a flock of fifty plus Greenfinches and fewer Linnets fed on the beach opposite. The strong winds at the beginning of the week blew in nothing more than a single Kittiwake (though did bring down a few small trees and a large bough!). I missed one of the best birds of the week as volunteer Dave Callaby found a Black-necked Grebe but unfortunately I failed to relocate it.

On Thursday we took advantage of the lack of water to go and have a look at the exposed 'Monks Wall' that stretches across the bed of The Fleet just to the east of the Swannery (I actually use it to denote the eastern edge of my patch). Nobody knows quite how old it is (probably from the time of the Abbotsbury monastery but some believe it maybe even Roman - sighting the name of adjacent 'Chester's Hill' as more than a coincidence) or what its' function was. Some say it was a causeway to the beach, others an attempt to drain the swannery embayment. Nobody knows!
'The Monk's Wall' not quite exposed all the way to the beach but we did manage to get right across with no more than wellies.
Either side of the 'wall' you'd sink up to your waist at least, as one of our party discovered!
Looking west from the land-shore end of The Monk's Wall' toward The Swannery.

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