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, 17 February 2013

'Spring Has Sprung!'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

Monday 11th to Sunday 17th February 2013

Snowdrops in The Chapel Withybed.

Now there are those that consider spring starts on the 1st March and there are those that believe spring starts with the vernal equinox, around the 21st March, but I maintain, as in the Celtic tradition, that the vernal equinox is mid-spring (as the summer and winter solstices are mid-summer and mid-winter respectively and the autumnal equinox is mid-autumn). Therefore spring actually starts sometime in early February...well that's my belief and if it was good enough for the ancient Britons then it's good enough for me!

If you needed further proof that spring has already arrived then a couple of early migrants dropped in on Tuesday... a pair of Red-crested Pochards...

The Red-crested Pochards on The Fleet at Abbotsbury.
Completely ignoring the morning feed, unlike the hundreds of wild Common Pochards and keeping a wary eye on things.

The drake Red-crested Pochard...

and the duck Red-crested Pochard.

Now you could be cynical and say that they are just escapes or wandering naturalised birds but early spring is a very good time for migrant ducks. Garganey are well known early migrants and of course The Swannery has previous with rare early spring migrant ducks, such as the March 2010 Bufflehead and the March 2004 Lesser Scaup (both of which passed muster with the British Birds Rarities Committee) not to mention last March's Wood Duck (which may or may not be a good example)!

The only other noteworthy ducks at The Swannery this week were the three Long-tailed Ducks and the ten Scaup still...

Five of the ten over-wintering (Greater) Scaup with Tufted Duck this week.
All far more approachable than their Red-crested cousins that dropped in on Tuesday.
The two single scarcer grebes - the Black-necked and the Slavonian were seen off and on all week, the former more frequent than the latter.
The male Marsh Harrier was present Tuesday to Thursday at least but as you may have noticed from the comment on last week's post it does get around a bit, being seen as far east as Radipole RSPB Reserve and as far west as West Bexington DWT Reserve.

The Lapwing flock reached three hundred again mid-week and held a single Golden Plover and half a dozen or so Redshanks. There were a few gulls around but I can't even remember seeing a 'Med' this week let alone anything of more note. Passerines too failed to gain an entry in the notebook, a single Chiffchaff probably being the highlight.

So the birds of the week award will have to go to the Red-crested Pochards, whatever their origin...

Having spent Tuesday morning out in The Swannery embayment the Red-crested Pochards retired to the meadow pool in the afternoon to rest after their long flight from Southern Europe! Or should that be The Cotswold Water Park, I'll let you decide! Either way they were long gone again by Wednesday.

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