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, 22 July 2012

A 'Tern' For The Worst

Weekly highlights 16th to 22nd July

I was on leave from Monday to Friday this week and as I had lots of chores to catch up with in and around the home I had very little time for birding. I did pop down to The Swannery on Wednesday though and the first thing I noticed was a severe lack of terns! There had been forty plus around the island the previous week, so something had obviously gone drastically wrong. When I left work on the previous Friday there was at least one chick on the point of fledgling and possibly more from the first five pairs that settled, then there were another ten pairs that settled later that were all on eggs and then another even later five pairs that were just settling. It would appear that the poor weather just got too much for them, and their chicks and eggs presumably became chilled. When I returned to work this weekend though I was relieved to see around thirty Common Terns still present but they were plainly no longer nesting despite bringing in plenty of fish (which they were just hanging on to as if not sure what to do with them)! On the plus side though there were at least two juveniles present so I'm hoping they are 'our' birds as opposed to wanderers from Lodmoor. If that is the case then at least there has been some success here this year (as last year despite the slightly better weather, there were no chicks at all).

Common Tern with 'whitebait' and with nothing to feed it to!
There certainly doesn't appear to have been a shortage of food this year.
One of the Common Tern juvs.

A few Sandwich Terns are still around too, this one already moulting into non-breeding plumage.

The flooded out Oystercatcher pair are still sitting on their replacement clutch but I fear that these too have been chilled. A trickle of other waders are still passing through with single figures of Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Common Sandpiper and Redshank, plus the single over-summering Lapwing all seen this week.

The summering Greylag Goose and Goldeneye are still present and a few more Teal and Shoveler have appeared but the Pintail has disappeared again. Three large broods of Shelduck are now in evidence so it's been a good year for them. There is so far only the one Little Grebe back but there was an outstanding eighty-five plus Great Crested Grebes in The Swannery embayment today, no doubt washed out breeders.

Two of a brood of seven Tufted Ducklings on Meadow Pool.
Only about the fourth time young have been seen at The Swannery
Nuthatches and Coal Tits have returned to the grounds from nearby woods, while a pair of Goldcrests have been present throughout but no young have been seen yet.

Another victim of the weather, the now lone male Marsh Harrier is still lingering and hopefully will remain with us to next spring when if it attracts a mate may make another more successful breeding attempt.

I forgot to post last months Wetland Bird Survey results for The Swannery but have remembered this month's which was carried out today with the help of volunteers Alan & Ian...

Mute Swan - 595
Black Swan - 2
Greylag Goose - 1
Canada Goose - 500
Hybrid Goose - 3
Shelduck - 3
Teal - 4
Mallard - 133
Mallard (domestic) - 3
Shoveler - 5
Pochard - 3
Tufted Duck - 97
Great Crested Grebe - 87
Cormorant - 24
Little Egret - 7
Grey Heron - 4
Moorhen - 4
Coot - 112
Oystercatcher - 2
Lapwing - 1
Dunlin - 3
Whimbrel - 2
Curlew - 3
Common Sandpiper - 5
Black-headed Gull - 21
Herring Gull - 50
Great Black-backed Gull - 4
Common Tern - 23

A walk around The Swannery this evening with Suz was very pleasant in the much improved weather and with all the visitors gone for the day. To add to the pleasant stroll there was a small pre-roost gathering of adult Black-headed Gulls (fresh in from breeding colonies in east Dorset and beyond) which included a juv. Mediterranean Gull but bizarrely no juvs of there own, in fact there have been none here so far this year, which is not surprising considering the conditions... At least one pair of 'Meds' have been successful somewhere though!

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