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 April 2012

'Blackthorn Winter'

Well I asked for cloudier and damper weather this week and we got it! It was rather chillier too with a frost on a couple of mornings. This didn't put off the advance of spring however as I finally notched up my first Wheatear and Swallow of the year along with a stunning male Redstart, several small falls of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and several more Sand Martins.

There was a nice selection of waders passing through too including a Knot, two Black-tailed Godwits, at least one Green Sandpiper, twenty plus Redshank, several Snipe and a couple each of Avocet and Little Ringed Plover.
(Red) Knot at 'The Fleet Pipe' still in non-breeding plumage.

Green Sandpiper on the meadow pool.

(Pied) Avocets on the meadow pool.

Little Ringed Plovers by the meadow pool.
There was a fair selection of waterfowl too at the beginning of the week... although the variety became slightly more depleted as the week went on as the Wood Duck briefly reappeared on Monday only to disappear again and the last remaining Wigeon and Pintail had moved on by today's Wetland Bird Survey... the results for The Swannery and adjacent Abbotsbury stretch of The Fleet being...

Mute Swan - 474
Black Swan (escape) - 2
Canada Goose - 18
Shelduck - 41
Gadwall - 2
Teal - 35
Mallard - 121
Mallard (domestic) - 2
Shoveler - 2
Pochard - 16
Tufted Duck - 132
Scaup - 1
Red-breasted Merganser - 24
Little Grebe - 1
Great Crested Grebe - 32
Cormorant - 5
Little Egret - 15
Grey Heron - 1
Moorhen - 6
Coot - 60
Oystercatcher - 2
Snipe - 3
Green Sandpiper - 1
Redshank - 6
Common Gull - 22
Herring Gull - 41
Great Black-backed Gull - 12
Sandwich Tern - 58

Marsh Harriers seem to be as frequent as Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine here these days with at least three different individuals seen this week, but there were no more Red Kites.
(Western) Marsh Harrier on the adjacent Chesil Bank.
Not being that hot on my insects I have to thank my mate Paul for pointing out that the Bee-fly I photoed for my last post was not the 'common-or-garden' type I assumed it to be (which is generally the Large Bee-fly Bombylius major apparently), but a specimen of the rare Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor. I have to admit I was ignorant of the fact that there were more than one species! Or the fact that the larvae feed on bee and wasp larvae, Gruesome! There were actually several bee-flies at the same locality at the time (a nice sunny sheltered spot) so they may all have been 'Dotteds'!

Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower - common in the Swannery meadows.

A quick update on the swan nesting... we now have over fifty pairs with eggs and are expecting the first cygnets on the 30th April.

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