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, 24 February 2013

'Winter Returns!'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

Monday 18th to Sunday 24th February 2013

Although arguably spring already, it was hard to believe this week with the low temperatures and bitter north-easterlies... Not very good timing to have a weeks leave, or was it! 
As I was trying to have a bit of a break from my workplace and spend some quality time with Suz (despite the risk of missing something!) I only got a few hours birding in at The Swannery on Thursday (at lunchtime when all my colleagues were fast asleep!) and again (while I was on feeding duty) yesterday and today. Even so I managed to confirm the continued presence of most of the usual recent highlights...

The three Long-tailed Ducks were still present. The first year male (top) progressing nicely with it's moult.
But I could only find nine of the ten (Greater) Scaup (above), although typically it was the first time I had managed to photo them all together all winter.
Avoiding my camera though were the pair of Goosanders (far too distant), the male Marsh Harrier (distant and mobile) and a Jack Snipe (far too quick). And that was about it as I failed to find either the Black-necked or the Slavonian Grebe and bird numbers in general seemed to be dropping off with no gulls or passerines of note. My garden though which I count as part of my patch (being so close) held a Chiffchaff and unusually my feeding station continues to attract a pair of Nuthatches (always a bit hit and miss here) and up to three Jays (left-overs from the autumn influx no doubt). A few Redwings added to the wintery feel even if decreasing wildfowl and wader numbers didn't. The Lapwing flock for instance is now only about fifty strong, there were however around twenty Redshank, a few Common Snipe and a single Dunlin but very few dabbling duck.

The meadow only held a few (Eurasian) Wigeon, Gadwall, (Eurasian) Teal and (Northern) Shoveler including this first winter male (above). They always seem the last of the male dabblers to reach adult plumage...
Adult male (Northern) Shoveler.
Despite the cold weather the Mute Swans are now gathering in the embayment with thoughts of nesting. There seems no  immediate let up in the weather next week though despite relatively warm (migrant bearing?) southerlies being tantalisingly close just beyond the western approaches...

Oh if only!

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