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, 27 May 2012

Hi Man, Top Us!

Two Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus in just over a month! (See what I did there!)


Swannery sightings Monday 21st to Sunday 27th May 2012

The week started with the first Hobby of the year that shot north on Monday and this was followed by another on Wednesday that briefly tried its' luck with the local hirundines but to no avail. Other raptor sightings included the regular male Marsh Harrier (also on Wednesday only and no sign this week of the female) whilst workmate Charlie had a Red Kite a couple of times on my day off on Friday. The more regular species (Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine) were all much in evidence this week too.

Wader passage seemed at first to have fizzled out with only four species noted all week... the two pairs of nesting Oystercatcher and singles of Dunlin and Whimbrel flying through but amazingly on Thursday the second Black-winged Stilt of the year dropped in! I'd heard that a stilt briefly reported at nearby Radipole RSPB had relocated to Lodmoor RSPB and so had been checking the meadow pool all day just in case but was still mighty surprised when I discovered what I assumed to be that bird, when I scoped the pool from the road on my way home from work. When I got home it soon became clear that this was a different individual from the Lodmoor bird, as that was still in situ and for that matter a different bird from the April one, as that had been an adult male and this was clearly a first year bird. I don't know, I wait 23 years on my patch for a stilt then get two within a few short weeks! Whats more, like the first bird, it is finding the flooded meadow to its' liking, as it was still present this evening for its fourth day.

Two shots of the immature Black-winged Stilt on The Meadow Pool.
Much browner on the mantle and wings than the earlier adult, with vestigal tail marking too.

Incubating Oystercatcher... two pairs are nesting this year
but no Ringed Plovers unfortunately.
There is not much to report on the wildfowl front with little change from last week and as last week there were still a few Sandwich and Common Terns around with now around five pairs of the latter beginning to settle on the island. Not exactly the fifty-plus pairs that were present in the mid-nineties but its better than nothing!

A trip out to the extreme west of my patch to look for orchids proved fruitless in that sense but I did discover that a singing Cetti's Warbler was still present and mate Alan found a second singing individual nearby a few days later too, so although we've lost them from the actual swannery grounds they are still present on the patch after all. Other less common passerines confirmed as holding territories this week have been Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat. The scarcest passerine in Abbotsbury this week though was again not at the Swannery but at the adjacent Sub-Tropical Gardens where Curator Steve Griffith had a singing male Golden Oriole on Wednesday... typically though, although following the 'wierd sound' all through the gardens he didn't manage to glimpse this accomplished foliage blender.

Slow Worm... my first reptile of the year but I have now seen several of these legless lizards this week. unfortunately though despite there still being one or two seen I haven't yet seen an Adder this year (or a Grass Snake for that matter).

Beautiful Demoiselle... my first damselfly of the year.

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