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, 30 December 2012

'Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot...'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

24th to 30th December 2012

The last full week of 2012 and yet another one of wet and windy weather. I wasn't working this week but popped down to feed a few times and have a quick look round but in the unfavourable conditions birding was not easy. So once again I have little to report other than that the three Long-tailed Ducks were still present early in the week and at least one at the end but they can be elusive so I wouldn't be surprised if all three are still around. In fact all the duck are unusually behaving rather elusively, concentrating in the area under the lee of the beach off Shipmoor Point, making picking anything out among them, at such distance, tricky, so the maximum count of four Scaup should probably have been higher. The four Barnacle Geese that flew east yesterday with the feral Canada Geese were presumably the four seen earlier in the month and possibly truly wild arctic birds, whilst the single feral Greylag Goose that arrived in early July still lingers. Around thirty Mediterranean Gulls were present daily and new in today were up to thirty Redshank with the Lapwing but in the blustery conditions and limited time (due to other commitments) that was the best I could do.
As once again this week the camera didn't even come out of its bag I thought I'd leave you in my last post of 2012 with...

The main Swannery birding highlights of the year...

The drake Wood Duck that lingered from the 18th March to the 3rd April...
A really good time of year for a vagrant American duck to appear. However, despite being one of the commonest ducks stateside they are also one of the commonest ducks in captivity and as it wasn't exactly wary (if that is even relevant) it will unfortunately have to go down as a probable escape.

With the exclusion of the Wood Duck there were no official rare wildfowl in 2012 but of note were the five Egyptian Geese in February...feral and increasing but still unusual in West Dorset. Four Garganey together in March (two drakes, two ducks). Two Common Scoter (a female from late July to late September and a juvenile from late October to late November), common off the beach but scarce on the West Fleet. A male Ruddy Duck for a few days in July (one of the few that has survived the eradication programme - I kept quiet about that one!) and finally of course the Long-tailed Ducks.

The adult Black-winged Stilt 12th to the 18th April. My first at The Swannery and the first official record since 1956! Soon to be followed by...

An immature Black-winged Stilt 24th to 27th May,
with yet another at nearby Lodmoor at the same time!
The only other wader of note was the Wood Sandpiper from the 4th to the 17th August but other noteworthy Charadiiformes were my third ever Swannery Iceland Gull in February and a Glaucous Gull in April.

The juvenile Cattle Egret 24th to 27th August (photo courtesy of Charlie Wheeler).
The only 'rare' heron in 2012, annual in recent years.

 Yellow-browed Warbler 25th October. Despite there being at least ten previous Swannery records this was the first to be ringed. This was the best 'land-bird' of 2012 at The Swannery but there were several near misses...
In May there was a Golden Oriole just to the west at the Sub-tropical Gardens and a Hoopoe and a Red-rumped Swallow just to the east near New Barn. The latter area also played host to an 'Eastern' Chiffchaff in October and a Lapland Bunting in November.

So 2012 is nearly at an end... two official rarities and one tick (the stilts)... not the best birding year but still some great birds not to be forgot! What will 2013 have to offer?

A Happy New Year to all my readers!

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