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, 13 May 2012

A Mudless May!

Monday 7th May to Sunday 13th May

A fairly quiet week for early/mid May... wader passage continued but not impressively so, with a Little Ringed Plover flushed off 'The Site' on Monday and three (Common) Ringed Plovers through on Thursday. There appears to be none of the latter holding territory on the beach opposite this year unfortunately (although two pairs of Oystercatchers are around). A flock of fifty Dunlin accompanied the three plovers (on Thursday) and five were with a Sanderling (the first of the spring) on The Fleet shoreline on Sunday. There were single figures of Whimbrel every day (with a max of six in the meadow on Friday) and three Common Sandpipers were also in the meadow on Saturday. The variety and number of waders may have been more impressive if the water levels in the meadow were lower but despite the sluice diverting the stream being open and pushing the water away from the meadow it has had no effect due to all the run-off from the recent rain.

(Eurasian) Whimbrels in the meadow (and the unseasonably high water level!)
Remarkably the first winter male Scaup was still present all week (having first arrived in October of last year) but the only other 'winter' wildfowl still lingering were single figures of Teal, Gadwall (that do nest occasionally) and Pochard (which may well breed for the first time soon). Tufted Duck are now regular breeders joining Mallard and Shelduck.
At least one brood of (Common) Shelduck appeared this week, this family party being in the meadow.

Any hopes of the pair of Marsh Harriers re-nesting after presumably being washed out seems to have faded as the male has not been seen at all this week and the female was only seen on Monday and Tuesday. The Tawny Owls featured on an earlier post fared better as a downy youngster appeared briefly in the mouth of the nest box but had disappeared by the time I fetched my camera!

Like the waders passerine passage was unremarkable though I notched up my first Garden Warbler of the year (having missed out last week) and only my second and third Wheatear (which is just ridiculous as I would normally have seen dozens by now!). Another Redstart went into the log as did the first Spotted Flycatcher of the season. The surrounding hedgerows are now full of Whitethroats (but no more 'Lessers') and likewise the reedbeds full of Reed and Sedge Warblers but for the second year running our Cetti's Warblers have inexplicably moved on (although there may still be a singing bird out west at 'Knob End', I just haven't been out to check recently). The Bearded Tits also didn't linger with no recent sightings or 'pings'!

As well as being alive with warblers the reedbeds are also alive with King Cups
 (or Marsh Marigolds if you prefer) and potentially deadly with Hemlock Water-Dropwort!

The withybeds too support several singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs but no Willow Warblers in the last few days.
The withybeds are also supporting several Orange-tips and a few Green-viened Whites this being a male of the latter the gaudier male Orange-tips were more flighty!

Swallows, House Martins and Swifts continue to arrive and a few Sand Martins are still around too but I still haven't bagged me a Red-rumped Swallow in what appears to be another good spring for the species nationally. I have had one in the past along with a probable but that was when this Mediterranean species was still a 'BB Rarity' and a brief single observer fly-by record and an even briefer shared sighting would not cut the mustard so a further sighting now (a lingering one even better) would go down nicely.
A few Sandwich Terns still linger but Common Terns have been noticeable by their absence this week until the weekend that is when ten birds again began to show some interest in the tern island... fingers crossed... a summer without them is just not the same, not to mention their rare tern pulling potential! About time Abbotsbury had another Sooty Tern or two me thinks!
In my last few posts I forgot to mention the swans! Fancy a Swannery blog not mentioning swans!
Anyways the first cygnets hatched on the 27th April, rather early for us and here they are, slightly bigger than they were and now just one of nineteen broods at the time of writing but that will go up considerably in the next few weeks.

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