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, 26 August 2012

'Egrets, I've Had A Few...'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

20th to 26th August 2012

Bird of the week was the Cattle Egret present on Friday afternoon. The eleventh record for The Swannery (the first was in 1998) it flew past me while I was doing the commentary for the 12 o'clock feed and then settled on Shipmoor Point opposite for the best part of an hour. I didn't see it again until the 4 o'clock feed when I picked it up flying toward a field of cattle on adjacent Linton Hill. It doubled back however and dropped down on the Chesil behind the Shrubby Seablight and I didn't see it again.

Rather distant Cattle Egret on Shipmoor Point.
Although not obvious in this poor shot it's short stubby bill was bright yellow
perhaps suggesting an adult in non-breeding plumage rather than a juvenile?
Lingering wildfowl included the Common Scoter (now confirmed as an adult female, due to its dark belly), the first summer male Goldeneye, the presumed escaped male Pintail, the feral Greylag Goose and the two escaped/feral Black Swans that were joined by a third at the end of the week. Incoming wintering duck included up to thirty Teal and a few Shoveler and Gadwall joining the commoner resident and over summering duck. Other waterbirds included six Little Grebes which were new in (all adults, suggesting a poor breeding season) and the first Water Rails of the autumn were heard.
Raptors included the now resident male Marsh Harrier which colleague Charlie witnessed locking talons with a second bird today, although it is unclear if this was its mate from the spring or just a passing migrant. A couple of Hobbies were also seen one of which caught a dragonfly over the meadow pool this afternoon.
Waders still trickled through with single figures of Lapwing, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and the first returning Snipe.
Land bird passage was underwhelming with only a couple of Yellow Wagtails, one Spotted Flycatcher and one Wheatear noted whilst warblers were a little more numerous with many Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Willow, Reed and Sedge Warblers seen and ringer Steve Hales extracted a Grasshopper Warbler from his net. A few Swifts were still passing over along with more numerous Swallows, House and Sand Martins.
At the time of posting the Cattle Egret has still not been reported again either in Abbotsbury or anywhere else so may well be lurking in a cattle field away from regular birding spots. Hopefully it will surface again next week...
Butterflies have been a bit more in evidence this week including this Painted Lady my first of the year
(although Judy from The Swannery shop says there has been several on the Buddlia there recently).

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