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, 10 February 2013

'WeBS Footed'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

Monday 4th to Sunday 10th February 2013

Extremely low tides early in the week meant I had to feed the swans out on the mud rather than from the feeding ramps!

Above two photos © Dave Wheeler
The very low water in The Swannery embayment this week did not deter the Long-tailed Ducks despite the species having being recorded at the greatest depth (60 metres) of all the diving ducks. They would have struggled to get down to two feet let alone two hundred early this week but all three were present from Tuesday to today (but I only saw two on Monday). Likewise all ten Scaup were present on a couple of days at least but during today's Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) count only seven were seen. Both the Black-necked and the Slavonian Grebe were seen on Monday but the former was only seen again on Saturday and the latter not again until today. Dabbling duck numbers have been fairly low and the only goose of any note was a Dark-bellied Brent lingering on Friday. Gull numbers too were pretty poor with only the few 'Meds' seen worthy of a mention. Having dropped right off to around fifty the Lapwing flock doubled to around a hundred again yesterday but very few showed for the count today. Thirty plus Redshank were present on Wednesday, although only single figures were around the rest of the week, along with one or two Oystercatchers and a few Snipe. The regular (now third calender year) male Marsh Harrier was only seen on Thursday and there was no sign of any potential mates. The only new-in passerines were a few Siskins, the first since early December but a couple of Jackdaws amomg a flock of around a hundred showed a hint of a pale collar so may well have been of the Scandinavian form colloquially known as 'Nordic Jackdaw' although unfortunately I wasn't able to get close enough to photograph them.

The full results of today's Swannery WeBS were...

Mute Swan - 508
Black Swan - 2
Canada Goose - 13
Shelduck - 22
Wigeon - 57
Gadwall - 3
Teal - 39
Mallard - 230
Mallard (domestic) - 5
Pintail - 1
Shoveler - 68
Pochard - 510
Tufted Duck - 310
Scaup - 7
Long-tailed Duck - 3
Goldeneye - 20
Red-breasted Merganser - 55
Little Grebe - 3
Slavonian Grebe - 1
Great Crested Grebe - 10
Cormorant - 3
Little Egret - 5
Moorhen - 2
Coot - 323
Oystercatcher - 1
Lapwing - 3
Snipe - 3
Redshank - 4
Black-headed Gull - 22
Common Gull - 210
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 5
Herring Gull - 9
Great Black-backed Gull - 8

Thanks again to all the WeBS counters for turning out on a very wet and muddy morning. It's not always raining on count days of course...more times than not it's a brilliant morning spent birding in wonderful surroundings....err incidentally there is currently a vacancy for a volunteer counter on The Fleet, either for the Bridging Camp to Chickerell Hive section or possibly (if preferable) the Herbury to Rodden Hive section. If you are interested in doing a bit of counting during your birding on a Sunday morning once a month please either leave a comment on the blog or phone me at The Swannery on (01305) 871684. If it's in the evening then leave a message and I'll get back to you. Thank you in anticipation.
My camera didn't see the light of day this week so I'll leave you with a couple of shots of the 'Slav' Grebe that Charlie took last week...

The Slavonian Grebe with (Common) Pochard, Tufted Duck & (Greater) Scaup. © Charlie Wheeler

The Slavonian Grebe (or Horned Grebe if you prefer) with (Common) Pochard. © Charlie Wheeler

Thanks Charlie & Dave for the use of your pics. Hopefully I'll have a few of my own next week!




  1. Steve, I've seen your MH twice at Rodden Hive, including today, so it obviously goes walkabout. It was seen by JD at Radipole just after my previous sighting at RH. Mobile bird!

    1. Hi Paul, yes it does go missing from time to time, some times for several days. In the past I've seen it hunting over fields by Rodden Village and from the road above West Bexington and I believe Brett has had it over his house too.