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, 26 May 2013

'A Wandering Willow?'

Swannery birding highlights of the week...

Monday 20th to Sunday 26th May 2013...


After the first full week of May saw a putative Pallid Harrier and the second a Black Kite, this week had a lot to live up to and basically it didn't! Birding wise, the first half was very hard going and even the second saw nothing to really get excited about.


A pair of Shoveler on the meadow pool today were the highlight (!) and six Gadwall remain (including two ducks) so maybe it's not too late for either or both to nest with us this year. A few drake Pochard remain with the Tufted Ducks, while Mallard and Shelducks are not surprisingly much in evidence.

A pair of Gadwall on meadow pool this week.

Canada Goose numbers are on the increase with the moult season looming and the 'feral' Bar-headed Goose is still present along with two Canada x Greylag Goose hybrids. The two 'feral' Black Swans remain and the Mute Swan hatching is now in full swing.

Little Egret on the meadow pool this week. There have been no rare/scarce herons so far this year.


There were reports of both Red Kite and Hobby but I saw neither, pity because the latter would have been a first of the year. I just had to console myself with regular Marsh Harrier sightings.


Apart from the breeding Oystercatchers the only larger wader seen was a single Whimbrel, that is unless the single Grey Plover also falls into this category. Calidris waders were still passing through though with small numbers of Dunlin most days and on Friday sixteen Sanderling were on the Fleet shoreline of the Chesil opposite and three Knot were on the tern island...

Friday's three Knot.

The three (first summer?) Knot, with a sitting Common Tern.

The Tern Island with the three Knot just visible (on the perimeter fence)
along with around twenty sitting Common Terns. Still no scarcer terns yet this year though!

Adult (or just possibly second summer) Black-headed Gull on meadow pool.
Anything other than first summer birds are a bit of a scarcity in May at The Swannery but there have been two recent breeding attempts (both of which failed).


Along with a late flourish of Swifts a few Swallows, House Martins and a single Sand Martin were still (barely) trickling through but there was no evidence of any other passage until today when there was a very vociferous Willow Warbler present, the first for a couple of weeks (as they ceased breeding at The Swannery back in the early 90's)...

The singing Willow Warbler in the withy bed today (although actually in an Ash).
It's song was slightly unusual...although classic generally, every few phrases were much more varied... Still Willow Warbler like but with a few extra notes thrown in! Now I've heard mixed Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler singers before (at The Swannery and Bothenhampton) but this one wasn't one of those and I've heard Iberian Chiffchaff before (on Portland) and this wasn't one of those either. So I listened to the Willow Warbler songs on the Xeno-canto site concentrating on Northern acredula and Eastern yakutensis but these two races didn't fit either (in fact I couldn't really tell them from nominate). The recording that fitted best was of a nominate trochilus bird from European Russia but  maybe this is just a coincidence and the odd variation can probably occurr anywhere across it's range.

Today's Willow Warbler. Despite it's slightly odd song, it's plumage doesn't appear unusual.

So as expected passerine passage is now apparently petering out but I'm still holding out for a 'Spring' Spotted Flycatcher...especially as I've already seen them a stone's throw away at the beach car park and the Sub-tropical Gardens! The only other passerines of any note were a Coal Tit singing away in the grounds (an unusual May record as they don't normally breed any closer than the aforementioned gardens) and the continued presence of the Nuthatches that now appear to be feeding young.

And Finally...

The only rarity news this week actually concerns last year's rarities... A couple of tweets from the British Birds Rarities Committee reveal that both my Black-winged Stilt records have been accepted...
:Ref No 3781.1 Accepted same-Black-winged Stilt 11-April-12 Radipole Lake RSPB then Abbotsbury, Dorset
:Ref No 4320 Accepted-Black-winged Stilt 24-May-12 Abbotsbury, Dorset

The immature Black-winged Stilt at Abbotsbury Swannery 24th to 27th May 2012. A third individual was at Lodmoor RSPB at the same time!

No comments:

Post a Comment