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, 20 April 2014

'One Good Turn Deserves Another Good Tern!'

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week..


Monday 14th to Sunday 20th April 2014...  

I missed what were probably the best two birds of the week... a fly-over Osprey and a 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler... both discovered by ringer Steve Hales first thing Monday morning. Each would have been a first of the year for me but at least I did find a few of my own later in the week, namely several Sand Martins (at last!), a House Martin and a Whinchat...

A record shot of Tuesday's Whinchat on The Swannery perimeter fence.
As for other migrant passerines there were still some Swallows trickling through, a few more Reed and Sedge Warblers were singing from the reed-beds and there were plenty of vociferous Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers in the withy-beds and copses... whilst in the surrounding meadows a couple more Wheatears brought this spring's tally to an unimpressive total of three...
A Wheatear in the rain today.

All the usual 'resident' land-birds are now busy nesting (or at least seriously thinking about it) and slightly 'less-than-annual' breeders' still on territory include Starling, Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Nuthatch (although the latter lone male still doesn't seem to have a mate). Also there appears to be the best ever numbers of Cetti's Warblers that I can remember here this spring.
With no sign of the Harris's Hawk this week, the only escape seen was a male Lady Amherst's Pheasant that lingered briefly in the upper grounds (and was presumably the Grove Lane bird that I last saw in my garden back in January).
Back to migration and there was clear evidence that wader passage was beginning to get underway with the first couple of Common Sandpipers of the year... 

The second of this spring's Common Sandpipers on 'Bum Point'

... and also new for the year... two fly-over Green Sandpipers (Monday), a Greenshank (today) and  (on Friday) two Black-tailed Godwits...
The two islandica Black-tailed Godwits (a female and a male) on 'Meadow Pool'
Completing the wader tally for the week were a few Whimbrel, Dunlin and Snipe, along with a single Curlew, a Bar-tailed Godwit and up to three pairs of Oystercatcher.

Wildfowl totals on today's Wetland Bird Survey were...
Mute Swan - 427
Canada Goose - 42
Shelduck - 39
Gadwall - 2 (a pair)
Teal- 1 (5 Wednesday)
Mallard - 84
Shoveler - 3
Pochard - 12
Tufted Duck - 73.
In addition in the week two Wigeon (a pair) were present on Tuesday and a few Red-breasted Mergansers were still present early in the week.
Other water-bird totals today were...
Great Crested Grebe - 34
Little Egret - 5
Coot - 45
Although not in evidence during the count today there are thankfully still a few Moorhens around (despite the attentions of the hopefully now departed Harris's Hawk) and the occasional Grey Heron was also seen.
There were no surprises on the gull front and even Sandwich Tern numbers seemed to have peaked with far fewer around this week. There are still only a few Common Terns around as yet too but at least that meant we could get on with the Tern Island restoration without any worries of disturbance... 

The severe storms in February caused considerable damage to the Tern Island with the raised floor collapsing in places along the 'back' wall and a substantial amount of the substrate washing away too.

It's surprising what you can do with a few old pallets, re-cycled plywood and a bit of left over geotextile though!

A few boat-loads of surplus path-gravel and job done! We also added a few patches of sand to the existing shingle... if it works for the Little Terns it might help the Commons too!
Above three photos © Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

One of this year's first returning Common Terns.

Hopefully the Common Terns will consolidate on last year's success and the colony will thrive again this year... maybe enough to draw in something like The Swannery's third Sooty Tern! The two here in 1935 were a bit before my time!

Happy holidays!

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