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.

Monday, 15 July 2013

'A Mysterious Lady'

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week...

Monday 8th to Sunday 14th July 2013.......

A New Swannery Bird!

It's nothing to get too excited about though... I can't even tick it!
I discovered it shortly after I got up to go to work around 7am on Saturday morning. Arriving downstairs not fully awake I swung open the front door to let in some fresh air and there on the garden path only metres away was a male Lady Amherst's Pheasant! That did the fully awake I grabbed my camera only in time to see it disappear into the hedge, a trick it repeated several times that day and today...

The moulting male Lady Amherst's Pheasant disappearing into the shrubbery.

Though I did manage to get one half decent record shot...
A slightly more revealing shot of the Lady Amherst's Pheasant trying to gain entry to my chicken coop and the grain within. An aviculture type ring on its leg being confirmation (not that any was needed) of its captive origin (despite its furtive nature).

Technically 'Lady Amherst's', just like Common and Golden Pheasants, are classed as British birds, as although all originally introduced from Asia, they are firmly on the official 'British List'. Unlike the latter two species however which are placed in 'Category C1' - Naturalised introduced species - species that have occurred only as a result of introduction, 'Lady A's' is on 'Category C6 - Former naturalised species - species formerly placed in C1 whose naturalised populations are either no longer self-sustaining or are considered extinct. All this is arbitrary however as this particular individual is highly likely to have originated from the nearby Sub-Tropical Gardens where they have a few 'free-range' ornamental pheasants. It is perhaps surprising, considering a few reports elsewhere in Abbotsbury over the years, that I've never seen one at The Swannery before . (I probably should point out that as my garden virtually backs onto the Swannery I count it as part of my patch too).

Dipping Terns...

Not withstanding the above pheasant's novelty value the best birds of the week had to be the three Black Terns that turned up on my day off on Thursday and were found by work colleague Charlie...

The three Black Terns in flight over Common Terns on the perimeter fence. © Charlie Wheeler.

And the three Black Terns in flight over Common Terns on one of the tern rails.
© Charlie Wheeler.
After a prompt phone call from Charlie I was down across the fields and into Helen Hide within ten minutes but to no avail... the terns had flown. I just had Charlie's photos to confirm the id and rule out (a potential Swannery tick) White-winged Black Tern, which thankfully none of them were!
The three Black Terns, from this shot it looks as though the middle bird may be a first summer.
© Charlie Wheeler.

However this is the same Black Tern as the middle bird above and on my knowledge I wouldn't like to rule out an adult in more advanced moult but some of you may know better?
© Charlie Wheeler.

One of the adult Black Terns just beginning to moult into winter plumage. © Charlie Wheeler.

The Rest Of The Highlights...


Again nothing new to report, with small numbers of all the usual species plus the occasional reappearance of last week's unseasonal Red-breasted Merganser.


One of the two pairs of nesting Oystercatchers have now fledged two of their three young but unfortunately the other pair eventually lost all three of theirs. It's been a few years now since Lapwing even attempted to nest with us but at least four returning individuals have been present in the water-meadow this week and they were joined on Tuesday and Wednesday by two Little Ringed Plovers...

Adult (left) and juvenile Little Ringed Plovers in the meadow this week.
A heavily cropped shot of the adult Little Ringed Plover.
On Friday a couple of Curlews circled over and there were two Black-tailed Godwits on Tuesday with a single yesterday and today...

The Black-tailed Godwit on meadow pool today.
Dunlin peaked at twenty on the Fleet shoreline of the beach today, whilst Common Sandpiper peaked at two on Friday the same day that a Green Sandpiper was also present. One or two Greenshanks lingered for much of the week and Redshank peaked at four today.
Little and large... one of the Greenshanks and the Green Sandpiper on meadow pool.

The Green Sandpiper.

And one of the Greenshanks with a Teal.

Gulls & Terns...

In addition to the three Black Terns a few Sandwich Terns were seen as usual and of course still plenty of breeding (and three first-summer) Common Terns... and with the first chicks beginning to fledge, myself and Charlie along with local based ringer Luke went over to the tern island Wednesday evening to ring as many chicks as we could. Luke ringed forty-eight in total (as I'm only licensed to ring wildfowl) and at least half-a-dozen had already fledged. Also we were surprised to discover that there were still around three clutches being incubated, maybe displaced birds from Lodmoor? Thankfully our brief visit on such a warm evening didn't appear to upset these late nesters as they were straight back on their eggs once we left. So hopefully a bumper year for the terns at Abbotsbury this year despite the failure at Lodmoor. 

Two Common Tern fledglings fight over a fish.

A Common Tern fledgling with what appears to be a young Mackerel!
A few Mediterranean Gulls continue to be seen among the returning Black-headed Gulls but the larger gulls held no surprises again, as yet.
A juvenile Black-headed Gull... there have been no juv. 'Med' Gulls yet though.


All the four regular species were seen in the week while 'our' male Marsh Harrier reappeared today for the first time since the 19th May (while it's mate hasn't been seen since the 30th April)! So unfortunately for the second year running their nesting attempt came to nothing.


The only long-distance migrants obviously on the move were Sand Martins again, with a peak of one hundred plus mid-week. Post breeding dispersal from closer to home was also in evidence with several Coal Tits fresh in (they don't nest at The Swannery but do so in the near vicinity) and a few Treecreepers, that do still occasionally breed with us but that surprisingly have not been seen here since January 2012!

Some other Swannery Wildlife...

Violet Ground Beetle.

Grey Mullet sp. © Charlie Wheeler.

Thanks again to Charlie for permission to use his photos and for suggesting this weeks post title! Check out his website by clicking the following link... wheeler-photography

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