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, 21 October 2012

'A Gawp At The Scaup'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

15th to 21st October 2012

1st winter female  (Greater) Scaup on the Decoy Pond

The week began with the first Scaup of the season - two first winter females - and they were joined at the end of the week by three more - a first winter male, an adult male (still in moult) and an adult female. As five was the maximum count for the whole of last winter lets hope that the number continues to increase. Most British wintering Scaup originate from Iceland but a few no doubt hail from northern Scandinavia too. On The Fleet they appear to mostly feed on cockles which they swallow whole, their gizzards easily dealing with the shells which they pass out as grit through their digestive system. Scaup weren't the only duck to arrive this week with most of the more common duck now well represented and well settled so it was good to be able to check through them thoroughly for something more exciting but (apart from the Scaup) to no yet! Mergansers or Goldeneyes have not reached this end of the lagoon so far this autumn (apart from the over-summering bird of the latter species) but that should be rectified over the next couple of weeks but unfortunately gone are the days when I would expect a Long-tailed Duck by the end of October.

Above three more photos of the first two 1st winter (Greater) Scaups of the season (with Tufted Ducks),

If the first Scaups were the headline birds of the week then a third winter Yellow-legged Gull, that lingered for a few days, was close behind. The only other gulls of any note were Mediterraneans with singles seen most days but a flock of ten plus was seen mid-week. Waders were very poorly represented with just a few Lapwings and Snipes daily and brief single Oystercatcher and Turnstone. Where are all the Redshanks?

(Ruddy) Turnstone on The bund this morning courtest of Charlie Wheeler.

Immature (Great) Cormorant from Helen Hide today.
 It would appear from the shape of the bare skin on the gular patch that this is a bird of the continental race sinensis

Little Grebe from The Fleet Pipe hide today.
This species along with the ever present Great Crested Grebe are the only grebes seen so far this autumn.

After last week's good show of raptors it was left solely this week to the resident male Marsh Harrier to warrant an entry in the notebook. In fact land-bird passage was much less obvious this week than last with strong westerlies for much of the week suppressing any obvious movement. The Jay passage fizzled out but there are still many in the area searching for an alternative food source to acorns which have largely failed to materialise this year. The only real overhead passage noted were Swallows but even these had tailed right off by the week's end and the withy-beds and hedgerows held nothing more migrant wise than Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Goldcrests, while save for a few Meadow Pipits the meadows were empty. Three Rock Pipits on The Bund though were the most seen together so far this autumn.

Male (European) Stonechat by the Meadow Hide path today.
This species is now much in evidence having been scarce during the breeding season this year.
No (Northern) Wheatears or Whinchats were seen this week.
So here goes...having given it a miss last week I'll have another stab this week...
With easterly winds forecast for much of the coming week a traditional late autumn Siberian migrant might be on the cards. Without going too far out on a limb a Pallas's Leaf Warbler would be much appreciated... not only a Swannery tick but a first for The Fleet recording area no less! Fingers crossed!

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