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.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

'April Fools?'

A rare mid-week post but it's not the latest Swannery bird highlights...

You'll have to wait for those until Sunday evening as usual!

No this is to do with the 'April Fool' published on the Dorset Bird Club Daily Sightings Blog yesterday (or at least Sunday night). On Sunday's sightings they have a photo of The Swannery's regularly returning hybrid female (presumed) 'Tufty' x Scaup and have captioned it as a 'duck Scaup'...Oh you guys, what a wheeze... I wonder how many of you they fooled!

The hybrid female presumed 'Tufty' x Scaup (with a Coot). The same photo I used in a recent post, not the photo on the Dorset Bird Club Daily Sightings Blog, you'll have to log on to compare that one (see link below).

And the 'real McCoy' a female (Greater) Scaup at The Swannery yesterday.

I think you'll find the the bird featured on the Dorset Daily Sightings page is the hybrid bird in the top photo which has a very Tufted Duck feel about it... the angular head, the reduced white face patch, the general colouration and 'jizz'.

Click on the link below to view the photo. If the link doesn't work copy and paste it into your search engine...

On the subject of errors (?) you may have noticed that on my last post I omitted to mention the report of a Bittern at The Swannery on Saturday. This was basically because a) I forgot all about it when I was posting and b) because I believe the report was erroneous (which was why I forgot all about it).

I have only seen around five Bitterns at The Swannery during my near twenty-five year tenure. In fact I've seen more Cattle Egrets and more Great White Egrets than I have Bitterns. This is because our tidal and often brackish reedbeds are just not suitable for Bitterns. They hold no freshwater fish or amphibians both of which are important food items for the species. Of course this alone is no reason to doubt the report but I do have a more compelling reason...
I wasn't working on Saturday and didn't make it down to The Swannery to do any birding, though I did bird the fields between The Swannery and my cottage, well within hearing range of a booming Bittern! On returning home I logged onto the RBA website and rather perplexed I read the report of a Bittern at The Swannery. For some reason I didn't immediately race off down there, probably assuming that it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack (or should that be 'like looking for a Bittern in a reedbed'?). I did however pop down there the following day only to learn from my colleagues that the reported Bittern was only heard not seen and the 'observer' or rather 'listener' was a lady whose husband was a birder (which probably explains how it made it onto the rare bird info. sites). Now the last 'booming Bittern' that was reported at The Swannery a few years back (that even somehow made it into 'The Dorset Bird Report') turned out to be a 'booming' Black Swan on it's nest in the middle of a small reedbed. Apparently the very reedbed where Saturday's 'Bittern' was heard and the very reedbed where a pair of Black Swans are nest building this year, hmm. Now to the trained ear Bitterns and Black Swans don't sound alike but to the untrained ear they clearly do. Click the link below to hear a Black Swan 'booming' (it's not the greatest recording, but the best I could find). If the link doesn't work copy and paste it into your search engine...

Case closed?

The Swannery's (feral) Black Swans from a previous post.

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