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, 14 April 2014

Playing Catch Up

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week..


Monday 7th to Sunday 13th April 2014...  

I was back at work this week (after a week off) and despite therefore spending more time at The Swannery it was, nonetheless, still rather quiet, albeit with a few firsts of the spring... These included my first Swannery Swallows of the year on Monday, with others trickling through all week (bizarrely though I still haven't seen any Sand Martins this year, let alone a House Martin); the first Reed and Sedge Warblers arrived too as did - at last - my first 2014 Wheatear; two Whimbrels circled the embayment on Sunday (following three the wrong side of The Chesil on Thursday) and the first few Common Terns joined the flock of up to ninety Sandwich Terns around the Tern Island.

This pair of Black-headed Gulls have also been hanging around the Tern Island.
There have been a couple of failed breeding attempts in recent years.
I wonder whether this pair will try?

Lingering 'winter' wildfowl consisted of a few Red-breasted Mergansers, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and a lone Wigeon, the latter the first for weeks, while there were still comparatively good numbers of Tufted Duck and Pochard. There were plenty of the four regular breeding species of course, namely Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck and Mallard. A couple of Black Swans are still present too.

Aside from the aforementioned Whimbrel and the two territorial pairs of Oystercatchers, waders seen were three Bar-tailed Godwits and few Redshank, Curlew and Snipe, whilst a flyover Ringed Plover was a 'heard only'.

The former regular male Marsh Harrier made a brief appearance but now seems to have settled at Radipole and no females were seen, so no nesting attempt here this year. The escaped Harris's Hawk is still being seen but there were no other raptors of note.

In addition to the passerine migrants already mentioned, there were still comparatively good numbers of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap, whilst still lingering scarcer breeders included several Cettis's Warblers and at least one pair each of Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. Unfortunately, however, the single male Nuthatch has, as yet, failed to attract a mate.

Several pairs of Goldfinch are now busy nest-building.
There had been no sign of any Bullfinches this spring until this male blundered into Steve Hales' mist nets! © Steve Hales. Thanks for the use of the pic Steve.

So now into mid-April things should really begin to liven up and as it is also the April WeBS next Sunday I should hopefully have a lot more to report next week!

Having lost them for many years, it is still feels a real novelty to have close views of a Water Vole!

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