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, 30 March 2014

Meagre March Migrants

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week..


Monday 24th to Sunday 30th March 2014...  

Another rather quiet week with, curiously, still no Wheatears or Sand Martins to report yet, let alone an early Swallow. The chorus of new-in Chiffchaffs in the withy-beds and adjacent copses has, however, now at least been joined by several Blackcaps, along with all the expected resident songsters.

With most of the winterers already departed wildfowl too were thin on the ground (or should that be water) but a pair of Greylag Geese flew north on Monday, while a single lingered briefly the following day with the Canada Goose flock. The sole remaining Scaup, a fine drake, was last seen on Tuesday and it was re-joined by the regular hybrid female...

Apologies for yet another shot of the Scaup (I might as well change the name of my blog to Steve's Scaup Sightings!) but what a subtlety gorgeous bird he is!

And the drake Scaup again along side the presumed female Scaup x Tufted Duck
© Charlie Wheeler

There are still a few Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and the odd Pintail (not to mention the numerous Mallard and Shelduck of course) and as expected plenty of tardy Red-breasted Mergansers...

Female Red-breasted Merganser © Charlie Wheeler

As for the Mute Swans we now have over thirty nests with eggs and expect the first cygnets in early May.

The last few Little Grebes have now moved off inland but after a poor week last week Great Crested Grebe numbers are up again...

Just a few of the Great Crested Grebes in the Swannery embayment this week. Although they over-summer on the lagoon they never breed here.

Apart from a single Dunlin today (the first for weeks) the only waders were a few Redshank, Snipe and a pair of Oystercatcher. As for gulls there is nothing really to report but a few more Sandwich Terns  are beginning to appear now.

There have been no confirmed sightings of the regular male Marsh Harrier this week but a female was present on Friday with either it or the male seen briefly the previous day, though it seems likely that the male has now settled at nearby Lodmoor after failed nesting attempts here in the last two years. A Red Kite was reported on Tuesday but was again missed by me while the escaped Harris's Hawk continues to exact a toll on our Moorhen and Coot population.

So it's back to passerines and with a paucity of 'summer migrants' so far (bar Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps) the only  other at all noteworthy migrant record concerned a departing winter visitor... a Siskin that flew east today.

Meanwhile in the reed-beds there are several vocal Cettis's Warblers on territory and Reed Buntings too are beginning to make themselves heard...

A male Reed Bunting at the feeders today, a regular early spring occurrence.

... And so that's about it for this week, other than to say thanks to Charlie Wheeler for the use of a couple of this week's photos and I'll leave you with the first visitor this spring to our reptile refugia... 

Slow Worm

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