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 March 2013

'Open For Business'

Abbotsbury Swannery birding highlights of the week...

Monday 11th to Sunday 17th March 2013

After weeks of preparation The Swannery re-opened to the public for the 'Summer Season' yesterday (Saturday 16th March) even though it still felt very much like winter through much of the week, with bitter winds, driving rain, sleet and snow-showers.

A bleak view looking northeast from the Swannery nest site to Linton Hill this week.
The unseasonal weather put a virtual stop to any more obvious early migrant passerine arrivals, with no more Sand Martins and only the odd Chiffchaff and Blackcap while, despite reports elsewhere along The Fleet, there have been no Wheatears seen here as yet. The below average temperatures though may have encouraged the three wintering Long-tailed Ducks and the nine Scaup to linger...

Six of the (Greater) Scaup with three (Common) Pochard this week in a sleet shower.
Wildfowl numbers in general though were rather low as were waders but at least the latter group did provide a little more variety than of late. Up to twenty Lapwing lingered as did six Redshank, four Oystercatcher, a few Snipe and a typically elusive Jack Snipe, whilst ten Golden Plover flew through as did a single Grey Plover and a few Dunlin and brief visitors included two or three Curlew and two Avocet...

A rather distant (Pied) Avocet shelters from the cold wind.
One of the two seen this week, presumably the same two individuals that were seen equally briefly last week.
There were a few more gulls around with a small but notable increase in Lesser Black-backs for instance but I couldn't find anything unusual in their ranks... although it is always nice to see a smattering of Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Common and Black-headed Gulls and this despite their marked increase on The Fleet in recent years (though they haven't reached double figures this far up the lagoon for a month or so now).

The male Marsh Harrier still lingers and even appears to be indulging in some display, even though it only has the local Buzzards to interact with at the moment. Lets hope it attracts a mate soon. The local Tawny Owls are presumably already paired up and even nesting, although they have still been rather vocal over the last few weeks, whilst a Barn Owl seen one night on roadside posts above The Swannery meadows was the first I've seen here for a year or two.

A wintry seen in The Swannery withybed this week...
Well another week of below average temperatures and wintry showers is forecast but hopefully it won't be too long now until some warm spring weather arrives and the withybeds are transformed with freshly emerging foliage, flowers, buzzing insects and a chorus of migrant bird song! Ooh I can hardly wait!


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