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, 12 February 2012

''Ruff' Weather'

Although in my last post (last Sunday) I believed the cold snap was behind us... it came back with a vengeance, with night-time temperatures below freezing most nights this week and it only struggled a few degrees above most days. Despite this it brought in very little bird wise but presumably associated with the freeze were two Ruff in the meadow on Friday (with at least one still present today)...

Two Ruffs (with Starlings) in the meadow.
And another highlight were five Egyptian Geese...

The five Egyptian Geese in the meadow...

And flying down The Fleet.

This naturalised goose is still a scarcity in West Dorset, despite spreading west into central southern England from its' East Anglian stronghold in recent years. I've had a few at the swannery before but these have been very tame and may have been escapes rather than naturalised birds. This week's five though were extremely wary even for 'feral' birds.

What I believe to be a wild bird though, the wintering Barnacle Goose, eventually gave itself up for the camera. Like the Egyptians it is very wary and was presumably left behind when the now almost regular wintering flock of Barnacles left Rodden Hive a few weeks back.

Barnacle Goose (with Canada Geese).
Today was the February Wetland Bird Survey count and I left WeBS volunteer Ian to count the swannery proper while I set off counting the stretch of the Fleet east to Rodden Hive point. The results were as follows:
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Mute Swan – 380
Black Swan - 2
Canada Goose - 70
Barnacle Goose - 1
Shelduck - 30
Wigeon - 55
Gadwall - 24
Teal - 400
Mallard – 352
Mallard (Domestic) - 10
Pintail - 35
Shoveler - 60
Pochard - 270
Tufted Duck - 220
Scaup - 1
Goldeneye - 30
Red-breasted Merganser - 30
Cormorant - 1
Little Egret - 2
Grey Heron - 1
Little Grebe - 14
Water Rail - 2
Moorhen - 2
Coot - 195
Golden Plover - 6
Lapwing - 220
Dunlin - 48
Ruff - 1
Snipe - 1
Black-tailed Godwit - 2
Redshank - 2
Black-headed Gull - 49
Common Gull - 7
Herring Gull - 15
Great Black-backed Gull - 3

A good selection but very few gulls, as is the norm at the swannery during cold snaps. If the cold eventually does give way to some milder wetter weather then maybe I may get one of the numerous Iceland Gulls, part of a national influx, that are gracing the country at the moment! 

Not the hoped for Long-billed Dowitcher but a Black-tailed Godwit (with female Teal).

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