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, 5 February 2012

'February Freeze Dyke'

Just when it looked like spring was only around the corner and many birds were tuning up for their full vernal performances (even the over-wintering Chiffchaff!) this went and happened...

Shelducks on the frozen Fleet.
Wildfowl and waders at the mouth of  'The Fleet Pipe' one of the only two bits of open water available.

Temperatures plummeted and the swannery embayment froze completely apart from where the streams flow in by the feeding area and at the 'Fleet Pipe'. At the latter there were several hundred Mallard, Teal, Pochard and Lapwing along with smaller numbers of Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Shelduck, Dunlin, Redshank, Golden Plover and Snipe along with two Black-tailed Godwit and around twenty Knot but not the hoped for Long-billed Dowitcher that was later seen flying towards the swannery from nearby Rodden Hive. If it made it as far as the swannery I will never know as unfortunately I was at Dorchester Beer Ex at the time quaffing ales! Needless to say there was no sign of it the following day.

A Golden Plover at 'The Fleet Pipe'
Before the mini-freeze hit the earlier part of the week was fairly quiet. The female aythya duck that I believe to be a Scaup x Tufted Duck reappeared though and eventually gave itself up for the camera!

The female aythya with female Mallard top and female Pochards bottom.
No matter what its' posture it shows a peak at its rear crown... not as distinct as on Lesser Scaup but not as subtle as it should be on (Greater) Scaup (in fact in the latter species it should be rarely visible at all). It also shows a contrast with the dark back and paler flanks... in (Greater) Scaup this should be concolourous.
Its' bill pattern appears good for (Greater) Scaup but as it states in the Collin's Bird Guide some can be difficult to recognise as hybrids. It also never associates with the Scaup and regularly comes in for grain, something the Scaup never do.

The 1st winter male (Greater) Scaup now deserted by his two female companions but shunning
the company of the Scaup-like hybrid, here accompanying a female (Common) Pochard.
An immature male Marsh Harrier has been a near daily visitor but the female hasn't been seen for over a week now...

A distant shot of the imm. Marsh Harrier over adjacent Clayhanger Farm.
Other highlights of the past week have been several Mediterranean Gulls and the occasional flying visit from the Rodden Hive (presumed wild) Barnacle Goose with the Canada Goose flock.

Herring Gulls and Lapwing.

(Eurasian) Wigeon.
Now hopefully with the cold snap behind us we can look forward to some early spring migration as all those lost yanks from last autumn, that wintered further south, make their way north! Maybe there's hope for a Dowitcher yet!

Snow Drops in the Chapel Withybed.

No comments:

Post a Comment