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, 15 April 2012

'A Tick On Sticks!'

What a week!
On Thursday the 12th  I discovered the first Abbotsbury Black-winged Stilt since 1956 on the meadow pool (although that's not including a multi-observer but un-submitted record of two in 1987). Not surprisingly it is the same bird that was at nearby Radipole RSPB, Weymouth on Wednesday and at Chew Valley Lake, Somerset on Tuesday but it has temporarily resisted it's wanderlust as it was still present at The Swannery today, four days after it's arrival. Showing really well from in the water meadow at times it did become a bit more mobile this afternoon (after being flushed by a very low helicopter), visiting 'The Fleet Pipe' at the east of the embayment and 'Reeds End' by the tank traps at the western end...

The Abbotsbury Black-winged Stilt. This species occurrs widely in southern Europe but does breed as far north as the Channel coast in France and has bred in Britain (in fact the unofficial Abbotsbury 1987 pair went on to do so in Norfolk!).
This bird becomes my 261st Swannery 'tick' and surprisingly only my second ('BB') official rare wader following the 1990 Collared Pratincole which also favoured (the then dry) water meadow. A claim of a Long-billed Dowitcher also in the meadow on Thursday (which would also have been a tick) seems to have been erroneous. Other waders in the meadow this week though have included a lingering Green Sandpiper, up to 14 Redshanks, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, a few Snipe (one of which - a rather rufous and potential faeroensis individual - may have accounted for the dowitcher claim), several Dunlin, 2 Lapwing (that unfortunately didn't linger) and the regular pair of Oystercatchers. A couple of Common Sandpipers have been on The Fleet shoreline and several Whimbrel have flown over.
Hot on the heels of the first Swallow last week, Monday (9th) saw the arrival of the first House Martin and several more Swallows and Sand Martins also passed through during the week. A couple more male Redstarts were seen (but still only the one Wheatear!). Single Sedge and Reed Warblers had also been logged by the end of a week that saw several small falls of Willow/Chiffs and two Siskin flying NW.
The first Common Tern of the year joined the throng of 50+ Sandwich Terns around the tern island as did briefly a pair of Mediterranean Gulls in pristine summer plumage but less expected was a fly by first year Kittiwake!
The first returning Common Tern (right) with Sandwich Tern.

The first year male Scaup was last noted yesterday but the hybrid female still lingers as do several Red-breasted Mergansers and a party of 20+ Brent Geese (not subspecifically identified) flew east.
In the reedbeds (along with the aforementioned Reed and Sedge Warblers) several Cetti's Warblers can still be heard as can a few Bearded Tits and a couple of Marsh Harriers are still much in evidence.

Water Vole... Swannery stream bank...
We lost these little critters back in the 90's due to Mink but now the returning Otters seem to be keeping the American invaders at bay the voles have returned, and long may they stay!

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