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, 21 April 2013

'A Long Way Home'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

Monday 15th to Sunday 21st April 2013...


Following the pair and then trio present last week, a pair of Garganey (re?) appeared on Friday and were still present today...

This week's drake and duck Garganey in the water meadow.
The nine Scaup were still present Monday to Friday but at the weekend they had dwindled to six (three drakes and three ducks). A 'Dark-bellied' Brent Goose flew east today (whilst eight 'Pale-bellied Brents' were reported flying west at Abbotsbury this morning but it's not clear if the latter actually flew over The Swannery or the sea).

Today's 'Dark-bellied' Brent Goose. The third singleton this month. © Charlie Wheeler
All the other wintering wildfowl (Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard and Tufted Duck excluded) are dwindling rapidly now with Wigeon and Pintail down to single figures and Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler and Pochard down to between ten and twenty each and unusually for April I can't recall seeing any Red-breasted Mergansers at least in the latter half of the week!

Little Egret at The Swannery this week.  © Charlie Wheeler.
These little herons far outnumber Grey Herons on The Fleet now but with no longer any regular heronry, breeding is only sporadic and has yet to be successful the few times it has been attempted at The Swannery.


Barring the two pairs of Oystercatcher holding territory (and the flock of twelve that flew through yesterday) the most conspicious waders were Whimbrel, with single figures daily and up to twenty today. Through the week there were also singletons of Lapwing, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Common Sandpiper and a few Redshank and Dunlin.

Common Tern on the tern rails today. Following last week's first of the year a few have been seen this week, along with several more Sandwich Terns, though nowhere near the numbers we usually see in April.


A Red Kite on Friday was the highlight but the regular male Marsh Harrier was also seen a couple of times.


Alright not really passerines just 'near-passerines'...arguably the best two spring migrants of the week were a very elusive Cuckoo on Wednesday (heard but not seen) and a very confiding Turtle Dove today...

(European) Turtle Dove by The Swannery Shop today...nice find Judy!
It was clearly exhuasted by its' long flight (it was even picked up at one point by a well meaning visitor) but helped by a scattering of seed it soon showed signs of recovery and had apparently moved on by the end of the day.
(European) Turtle Dove by The Swannery Shop.
A summer visitor that was once relatively common it has declined dramatically due to changes in farming practises and over-hunting during its' migration through southern Europe. At least this one made it back...just!
To real passerines now and to add to last weeks tally of firsts of the Spring 'new in' species this week were Reed Warblers from Tuesday, a Lesser Whitethroat on Friday and one or two fly-over Yellow Wagtails at the weekend.

Male (Eurasian) Blackcap at The Swannery today. © Charlie Wheeler
(Thanks Charlie for this and the Egret and Brent photos).
There were also still several Chiffchaffs. Willow, Sedge and Cettis' Warblers in the withy and reedbeds  this week but only one Wheatear in the meadows and only a few Swallows and House and Sand Martins over,
So into late April now... bring on the rares!

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