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, 1 December 2013

Dull, Dank & Dreary (With A Few Bright Spells)

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week...

Monday 25th November to Sunday 1st December 2013...

Well this week's title pretty much sums up not just the weather but the birding as well. Trying to find anything of note amongst fairly unimpressive numbers of the commoner species went generally unrewarded. The 'bright spells' however included another very good candidate for a Siberian Chiffchaff on Wednesday - an un-ringed individual (so a different bird to the one trapped a couple of weeks back), the plumage looked good but unfortunately it didn't call, although what was probably it or another was heard from deep within the reed-beds later in the week.

A flock of ten plus Goosanders that flew west, right over my head, on Monday, was another brighter spell. At least one was an adult drake but as I was deep within the reed-bed at the time they were therefore quickly lost to view. Later in the day, what were probably last week's two 'Redheads' appeared briefly in the embayment again.

One of the 'Redhead' Goosanders from last week.

A group of six Red-breasted Mergansers brought this autumn/winter's tally up to a mere eight so they have been unusually outnumbered so far by their normally freshwater loving cousin. At this rate Goosanders at The Swannery will begin to merit their now 'official' international English name of Common Merganser! (I only jest, I honestly can't see this Americanised name ever catching on over here...unless the American form is split of course!).

The as yet still relatively small Pochard/Tufted Duck flock still held the four Scaup for much of the week, along with the female Scaup x Tufty (but there was no sign of the other two aythya hybrids).

The two drake Scaup with female Pochards.

The two (first winter) female Scaup with female Pochards

'Dabblers' were also down in number with only around three hundred Teal and a hundred plus Shoveler, whilst Shelduck, Wigeon, Pintail and Gadwall only made single figures.

Drake Teal in the water-meadow this week.

Shovelers at the 'Fleet Pipe' this week.

Most of the Mute Swans have now moved off down The Fleet (and there has still not even been a hint of any 'yellow-billed' swans), while the very few Canada Geese were the only geese, although there was a bit of confusion regarding a report (with a photo) of last week's  Barnacle flock still apparently being present on Monday of this week. I have reason to believe however that this may in fact have referred to an earlier date (apologies to the observer if I'm wrong).

There were no waders of any note just the usual few Redshank, Dunlin and Snipe but the Lapwing flock doubled on Friday with the arrival of two hundred seen flying in from the north, they are however spending much of their time toward Rodden at the moment.

There were no gulls of any real note either, although there were often relatively good numbers including the first real influx of Common Gulls, that sometimes even outnumbered 'Meds' - how times have changed!

The usual male Marsh Harrier was the only raptor of note seen but there were fresh Barn Owl pellets in the Reed Barn and Meadow Hide and the 'Tawnies' are particularly vocal at the moment in the withy-beds and nearby coppices.

The same tit flock that held the putative tristis also contained a good number of Goldcrests (but no Firecrests) and several Common Chiffchaffs. The latter were also ranging well out into the reed-beds where good numbers of Cetti's Warblers were in evidence as was an unprecedented  roost of over fifty Reed Buntings joining the more expected Pied Wagtails but there have been no more sign of any Bearded Tits as yet.

As expected overhead passage has now fizzled out but a few Meadow Pipits and the odd Rock Pipit and Grey Wagtail were moving from field to meadow or shoreline to saltmarsh or stream to pool depending on their bent. Among the commoner finches only a single Siskin was of any real note, while 'winter thrushes' were still only represented by a few Redwings as I still await the first Fieldfare of the season. A few checks of 'The Fisherman's Trial', the permissive path along the back of the beach between the tank traps and 'Seaway Lane', produced only a couple of Stonechats and not the hoped for Snow Bunting (I think a Shore Lark may have been a bit too much to wish for!).

The view from 'Reeds End' this week looking down The Fleet to Portland.

Hmm... In retrospect maybe not so dull, dank and dreary after all!


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