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, 9 September 2012

'Wotacilla? (flava, flavissima, thunbergi?)'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

3rd to 9th September 2012

The Osprey first seen last Sunday lingered until Tuesday roosting in a dead elm in Cuckoo Coppice and was even buzzed by the resident male Marsh Harrier at one point.

The rather distant Osprey in adjacent Cuckoo Coppice.
The 'Fish Hawk' would probably merit the bird of the week award if it were not for a few intriguing 'Yellow' Wagtails caught by ringers Steve and Luke at the 500 - 600 strong wagtail roost. Most of their evening catches were composed of, not unexpectedly, 'British Yellow Wagtails' (subspecies  flavissima) but a few appeared to be probable continental 'Blue-headed Wagtails' (subspecies flava) or even possibly Scandinavian 'Grey-headed Wagtails' (subspecies thunbergi) but the jury is out. See Steve's and Luke's blogs for more information...
Among the  'British Pied Wagtails' (subspecies yarrellii) caught were a few continental 'White Wagtails (subspecies alba) one of which I also saw in a pre-roost gathering on the bund along with many Yellow and Pied Wagtails. While on the subject of the Motacillidae a Grey Wagtail flew over and the first few Meadow Pipits were on the move too.
Wildfowl numbers continued to build but apart from a few 'wild' Pintail (as opposed to the over-summering male of dubious origin) there was nothing new for the autumn not even any more Wigeon. The usual oddities remained though (the aforementioned Pintail, the Greylag Goose, the female Common Scoter and the male Goldeneye).
Despite a little mud now showing along the edge of The Fleet and the meadow pool, waders were less prominent. There was however a Little Ringed Plover on the bund with the three Lapwing on Wednesday and a Knot on one of the ramps on Thursday. A few Dunlin and a Ringed Plover also flew through and one or two Common Sandpipers were also still present.
There were no terns and the only gulls of note were a couple of Mediteraneans - a first and second winter. A Guillemot found by colleague Charlie off the bund today though is a rarer sighting on The Fleet at The Swannery than the Osprey. Despite popping down this evening (as I was not working this weekend) I dipped on what would have been a Swannery year tick.
The Common Guillemot or if you prefer Common Murre (Charlie Wheeler).
Back to passerines... Swallows and both House and Sand Martins have been numerous as have most of the commoner warblers. The 'new' (sub)family of Flycatcher Chats was well represented with my first Whinchats of the autumn flitting along the fence lines and dry stone walls among more numerous Wheatears and a few Stonechats. Whilst the hedgerows held a few Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers but the 'Middle Garden' held the best...a Pied Flycatcher. I was hoping this autumn to find my first Swannery Red-breasted Flycatcher but there's still plenty of time I hope!

And finally a couple of interesting insects that Charlie photographed at The Swannery this week...
A Scorpion Fly sp. (Charlie Wheeler).

One of several Hornet Hoverflies seen this week (Charlie Wheeler)...
 In a year when there has been no sightings at The Swannery of the genuine article!


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