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, 11 August 2013

'Holiday And Highwater'

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week...

Monday 5th to Sunday 11th August 2013.......

I was on leave all week but despite day trips out and long overdue chores I still managed to pop down to the patch most evenings. Inexplicably, in my absence,  the water-levels in the meadow steadily rose all week, something I will have to remedy on my return tomorrow. Even so, the sole patch of remaining mud in the meadow on Monday held a Little Ringed Plover but for the rest of the week the deep water meant that the only waders able to feed (up to their bellies at that) were Black-tailed Godwits, with three on Friday and a single yesterday and today (all Icelandic birds). There was however still a good selection of waders either on The Fleet shoreline or flying over, with single figures of Lapwing, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Greenshank, most days, with the latter reaching nine on Friday! There were also three Sanderling on Monday and at least four Green Sandpiper on Tuesday along with two Curlew, a Whimbrel and a Snipe.

One of this week's Common Sandpipers on Bum Point.

While the meadow pool's depth was not ideal for waders it did attract returning dabbling ducks, with Teal exceeding thirty and Shoveler up to ten. Gadwall however dropped to around five and as yet there have been no Wigeon, Pintail or Garganey but at least in the case of the first two (and hopefully the last) it should only be a matter of time!

All the usual gull species were present including the odd slightly unseasonal Common and several Mediterranean but I have yet to clinch the first Yellow-legged of the season. There were again good numbers of Common Terns with both fledged and even a few unfledged young still and the few Sandwich Terns included the first juvenile of the year...


Although The Chesil has historically held breeding Little, Common and even a few Arctic and Roseate Terns there has never been a confirmed record of nesting Sandwich Terns so this juvenile (above two photos) obviously fledged no nearer than Poole Harbour.

Migrant passerines included the first returning Willow Warblers, with a small fall on Tuesday (and a few later in the week) and the first Wheatears, with single figures most days. Also, despite the continued presence of breeding Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, and Whitethroats, there did seem to be a small influx of the latter two species at least. Swallow numbers increased too, overtaking those of Sand Martin for the first time this 'autumn', with around one hundred and twenty of the former and twenty of the latter in the roost on Tuesday (thanks Steve). Oddly though three Yellow Wagtails over this evening were the first of the week.

The only raptor of note was the regular male Marsh Harrier...

'Our' practically resident male Marsh Harrier looking more like a mature male with every sighting. What was probably 'our' female flew over my car at nearby Swyre in the week too.
The only other bird (arguably) of note was the male Lady Amherst's Pheasant that reappeared after a couple of weeks (perhaps having returned to the Subtropical Gardens in the meantime).

So it is back to work tomorrow which means, ironically, more time in the field, so with potentially more returning birds over the next few weeks.... watch this space!

An evening scene at The Swannery this week.

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