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 July 2012

'Petrel Bunkering'

Weekly highlights 9th to 15th July.

The rare tern I craved did appear on Monday but it was rare in plumage only... a first summer Arctic Tern. Adults are not uncommon spring migrants at The Swannery and in the autumn juvs. are regular... First summers of this long distance migrant however, tend to stay in the species winter quarters in their second calender year, i.e. the South Atlantic, and only a few ever head north, so the odds were probably higher of me seeing a White-winged Black Tern this week than a first summer Arctic but such is birding! To rub salt into the wound the first summer Arctic then appeared at nearby Lodmoor RSPB the same evening that the White-winged Black there flew off. Did they swap places? Did they 'eck as like!

The first summer Arctic Tern. Note the short black legs and shortish bill.

At the same time as the Arctic Tern arrived so did a small influx of Common Terns, with forty around the tern island, some of these new arrivals were actually mating and nest scraping! A third wave of nesters? This late? Of the earlier nesters at least one fledgling was in evidence, with some of the slightly later second wave still apparently sitting despite the continual abysmal weather. Unfortunately the flourishing Sea Beet on the island is preventing me getting a good view of what is exactly going on but at least they haven't been washed out as they have been at Lodmoor. A few Sandwich Terns are still in evidence too.

The Oystercatchers that had their eggs swamped last week are still sitting but many waders (possibly failed breeders) are already heading south... there were four plus Common Sandpipers on Monday; a Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin through (and another Common Sand') on Tuesday and six Whimbrel between Wednesday and Friday; a single Lapwing throughout and another five Oystercatcher in addition to the nesting pair.

There has not been much more evidence of dispersing passerines but a male Bullfinch and a juv. Nuthatch are still regular visitors to my feeders at the adjacent Grove.

Over-summering wildfowl still include the Goldeneye, Pintail and Greylag Goose but no new arrivals.

A Hobby flew over on Tuesday and after a couple of weeks absence the male Marsh Harrier is again being seen daily.

If it hadn't been for the first summer Arctic Tern the best bird of the week award would have probably gone to Fulmar.  I usually only see about one a year at The Swannery if I'm lucky (bearing in mind I don't include the seaward side of the beach as my patch) so the one that flew round and round the summit of adjacent Chesters Hill presumably prospecting for a future nest site, was a good record, though the only potential nest site there would be the WW2 pillbox perched on top!

Another shot of the first summer Arctic Tern.

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