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.

Monday, 5 November 2012

'Time To Hibernate?'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

29th October to 4th November 2012

Strong winds and squally showers made birding hard work for much of the week...
A typical view from Helen Hide this week across The Swannery embayment.

But at least it was nice weather for ducks, with still around four hundred Teal and up to fifty each of Wigeon, Pintail and Shoveler commuting between The Fleet and the water meadow, whilst the six hundred strong Pochard and Tufted Duck flock in the embayment also still contained up to nine Scaup, the Common Scoter, the male Goldeneye, a single Red-breasted Merganser and for a couple of days a 'Redhead' Goosander.

The 'Redhead' (imm. male/female) Goosander (or Common Merganser if you prefer...which I don't!). This pic was taken by workmate Charlie Wheeler on my day off on Tuesday but it did linger until Wednesday so I did get to see it.

My prediction of a wild grey goose almost came true with a brief Pink-footed Goose at the other end of The Fleet at Ferrybridge. Hopes that it would show up at The Swannery however were unfulfilled. The only wild geese were Brent with Charlie having two single 'Dark-bellieds' fly east on Tuesday and I had another that settled briefly on Thursday...
The Dark-bellied Brent Goose (or Brant if you prefer) with one of the Canada Goose flock and Common Pochards
Eighty Lapwing, a single Curlew, two or three Redshank and a few Snipe were the only waders of the week, whilst the only raptor of note was again the male Marsh Harrier.

Hopes that the stormy conditions would bring in a few seabirds came to nothing save for a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls (a second and a third winter) that were discovered in the gull flock sheltering in the lee of the Chesil Bank, whilst Mediterranean Gulls are so regular now that, save for large numbers, I have almost stopped noting them.

There is very little to report as regards to passerines and 'near-passerines' due mostly to the poor viewing conditions and an almost total lack of visible migration. The only summer migrants still lingering were House Martins with a peak of fifteen today and Swallows with a peak of twenty today (thanks Steve), although Chiffchaffs are still much in evidence, whilst the only 'true' winter visitors were only heard... a few nocturnal seeps from overhead Redwings and a nasal te-ehp from a Brambling I heard through the open door while writing this!
Today marks the closure of The Swannery to visitors until the spring and it's now time for us to go into winter mode... but that does not quite mean going into a torpid state, no far from it, we now have to catch up on all those maintenance jobs and prepare The Swannery for yet another coming year and I should also have a bit of time to get some excellent winter birding in too of course!
A Hazel Dormouse discovered by a local licensed expert in one of our Dormouse tubes this week.
She is a little underweight for hibernation but hopefully she will be able to put a bit more on before the cold really sets in. (Pic courtesy of Charlie Wheeler)

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