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, 6 May 2012

'It Was My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To'

Monday 30th April to Sunday 6th May 2012...

It was my birthday in the week but I seemed to have missed out on the best birding gifts... Highlight of the week for me was a female type Pied Flycatcher in the 'Middle Garden' on Friday... a species which is no longer a guaranteed spring migrant on my patch these days (as it was high in the canopy I couldn't get a decent photo though). Other new-in spring migrants were a couple of Lesser Whitethroats - one singing and showing well in the 'Lower Withybed' and another heard-only in the scrub on adjacent 'Chesters Hill' - and at last several Common Whitethroats in the surrounding hedgerows. Mate Alan had a Garden Warbler on my day off on Wednesday and I flushed two Yellow Wagtails off the 'site' on Thursday. There were still Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers passing through, although some of the latter two species will be on territory now of course but gone are the days I could say that about the first species.

From Thursday to Saturday in the cool damp weather there was a mixed flock of fifteen hundred plus Swallows, House and Sand Martins and Swifts feeding over the lagoon... Mostly Swallows, there were on occasions several hundred Swifts and hundreds of martins present too...

(Barn) Swallows resting on and off on the tern rails. Both photo's courtesy of Charlie Wheeler.
Needless to say despite trying to check the swirling masses for a birthday week tick... Red-rumped Swallow... this scarce migrant still eluded me on my patch. Of the scarcer local breeding passerines a pair of Bullfinches are still around and a family party of Mistle Thrushes dropped in so had almost certainly bred locally.

A few waders were still trickling through with the first Greenshank of the year, a Knot and Common Sandpiper, single figures of Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit most days, two Black-tailed Godwits, thirty plus Ringed Plover and eighty plus Dunlin.

Tardy winter wildfowl still included single first year male Scaup, Goldeneye and Shoveler, several Teals and Gadwalls and the now expected over-summering Pochard and Tufted Duck.

A pair of Gadwall in the meadow.
A sporadic breeder at The Swannery, with three pairs still present... maybe this year?

 A first year Mediterranean Gull was with the few remaining Black-headed Gulls; Sandwich Tern numbers dwindled further but Common Terns were much in evidence around the island on at least a few days, so not settled just yet...

Common Terns on the tern island.
 Both the male and female Marsh Harriers were seen again but it still seems that any nest must have been destroyed by the recent flooding but there is still chance for another attempt of course. The only other raptor sightings of note were the second and third Osprey of the year and like the first they were both found by workmate Charlie and  again both missed by me...

Osprey with Grey Mullet (Charlie Wheeler) 
Also missed by me were the best two (or three) Abbotsbury birds of the week, both official scarce migrants, although by way of consolation neither were seen at The Swannery... a Hoopoe near New Barn Farm (Luke Phillips) and a Serin (or two) in a Castle Hill Cottage garden (Cliff Rogers) and over Clouds Hill Cottage garden (Luke Phillips)... 'You Would Cry Too If It Happened To You'...

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