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, 27 January 2013

'Another Week Of Two Halves... But Vice Versa'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

21st to 27th January 2013

In a week when the weather was almost a mirror image of the previous week (snow and ice at the beginning but mild, wet, windy and even occasionally sunny and spring-like at the end) the bird highlights were similar too. The four Barnacle Geese were around all week (and were also seen at West Bexington on Friday); there were up to ten Scaup again (although two visited Radipole Lake RSPB on Thursday); the three Long-tailed Ducks  were seen intermittently from Monday to Friday but only one was present Saturday (when two were in Portland Harbour) and none were seen today; the Black-necked Grebe was seen Monday and again on Saturday and the Marsh Harrier was present all week. New in were a pair of Goosanders on Wednesday and they were seen again on Saturday after also visiting the mere at West Bexington. There was no sign of the Firecrest though (which had looked like it was struggling in the low temperatures last week) and the only Chiffchaff was heard on Monday but like the preceding species and Cettis's Warbler none have been seen or heard since the thaw, while Goldcrests are thin on the ground too. They have either perished, moved on or are still keeping their heads down, one of the latter I hope.

The three Long-tailed Ducks, sailing off into the sunset this week. Maybe they will reappear next week?

Not a great shot of  the Black-necked Grebe (with Little Grebes) but the best I've managed so far.
The Golden Plovers and most of the thrushes had definitely moved on by the weekend. There was an impressive five thousand plus of the former on the surrounding farmland on Monday (at one point all taking to the air and almost blacking out the sky), with mixed flocks of up to around a thousand Redwings and Fieldfares along with dozens of Song Thrushes and a few Blackbirds and the odd Mistle Thrush too. By mid-week though there were only around fifty each of Golden Plover, Redwing and Fieldfare and far fewer of the other thrushes and by the weekend no Golden Plovers or Fieldfares at all. The Lapwing flock stayed stable all week at around three hundred and there were a few Redshanks and the odd Dunlin but unusually today over a hundred of the latter were present. The ten Snipe and single Woodcock I observed were probably just the tip of the iceberg of the numbers actually present.

Whilst diving duck numbers remained constant there were far fewer dabblers around this week and unusually (Eurasian) Wigeon were the most numerous with around four hundred in the meadow along with smaller numbers of (Eurasian) Teal. In addition there were only single figures of Gadwall, Pintail and Shoveler but still hundreds of Mallard of course. The Canada Goose flock often contained the four Barnacle Geese (although not in this shot, as they often go off on their own) but unfortunately didn't attract any other species and not even last week's single Brent was seen.
So in summary despite some still excellent sightings it was in all a bit of a disrupted week for me... and the birds.... I was away on Thursday and Friday and in my abscence there was some quite substantial disturbance too, which almost certainly explains the wanderings of the Scaup and probably the Barnacle Geese, Long-tailed Ducks and Goosanders too. Lets hope everything gets back to normal next week!


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