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, 28 October 2012

'Falling Into Place'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

22nd to 28th October 2012

Yes indeed things seemed to be coming together quite nicely this week...

First up my prediction in my last post of a scarce Siberian migrant dropping in - actually came to pass - albeit 'only' a Yellow-browed Warbler, rather than the hoped for Pallas's Leaf Warbler. I discovered it on my day off on Thursday, having popped down for a quick birding session early in the afternoon. It was feeding in sycamores with Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. Not revealing itself by calling it just happened to flit into my field of view and later it just happened to flit into ringer Steve Hales' mist net too...
The Yellow-browed Warbler found then later trapped, ringed and released at The Swannery.
Last week I also expressed my hope that the Scaup flock would continue to increase, which it did, from last weeks five to a peak of nine by the week's end - already twice as many as the whole of last winter! And as predicted the first two Red-breasted Mergansers and a fresh-in Goldeneye had also appeared by the end of the week.
The 1st winter Goldeneye - the first of the winter - apart from...
The 'resident' male Goldeneye (taken in poor light) with it's preferred company a Tufted Duck...
It totally ignored the new comer.
Last time I also posed the question 'where are all the Redshanks?' Well they're back... The first was actually a Spotted Redshank not the expected Common. I picked it up calling high overhead with Snipe and it may well have been flushed inadvertently by my colleagues during the morning feed but unfortunately it headed off inland. 'Spotshanks' are quite scarce at The Swannery and actually on The Fleet as a whole, despite being regular in nearby Poole Harbour. Later that same day (Friday) I  came across a Common Redshank too, the first for weeks and by Sunday eleven were present. A brief Avocet and small numbers of Lapwing and Snipe were the only other settled waders noted but like the 'Spotshank', three Green Sandpipers, four Curlews and a Golden Plover were all flyovers.
Seven of the eleven Common Redshanks present today.

Back to wildfowl and along with the aforementioned all the usual commoner species were well represented with the highlight being another Common Scoter - the third this year after a blank year in 2011. With a drop in the temperature this week and a northerly airflow there was the distinct possibility of some early wild grey geese but the only wild geese I managed were a party of eight Dark-bellied Brent flying east today. The feral flock is still comprised of the Greylag, up to around thirty Canadas and two hybrids while similarly no early Whoopers joined the dwindling Mute Swans (now dispersing down The Fleet), just the usual three feral Blacks.

Today's Common Scoter - presumably an immature although on the views obtained it just could be an adult female and therefore even might be the returning over-summering bird but it just felt 'new' to me.

Apart from the usual male Marsh Harrier the only raptor of any note was a rather late Hobby harassing the equal tardy Swallows and House Martins. Discounting Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps the only other lingering summer visitor was a single Reed Warbler. True winter arrivals however included several Redwings and a Brambling whilst dispersing birds from near or far included up to eight Bearded Tits, at least two Firecrests, a Crossbill, several Rock Pipits, Siskins and still plenty of Jays. Robins seemed to be everywhere earlier in the week and fresh in Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were almost as obvious. Overhead passage was not that impressive with small numbers of Skylarks, Starlings and Woodpigeons early in the week although on Saturday the latter two species were plentiful with around 10,000 of the latter and 5,000 of the former passing over.
(Eurasian) Teals, (Eurasian) Wigeons, (Northern) Pintails, Black-headed & Mediterranean Gulls
by The Fleet Pipe this week.
 Well to next week... I'm still holding out for a rare 'Sibe' but a wild grey goose or swan would still be good and after three Common Scoters so far this year how about my first Swannery Velvet Scoter... well a boy can hope can't he?

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