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, 18 May 2014

May WeBS

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week..


Monday 12th to Sunday 18th May 2014...  

Bird of the week was my first Hobby of the year that flew east over The Swannery meadow this morning as I arrived for the WeBS. Half an hour later myself and count 'vols' Alan and Mike were watching two Red Kites drift off west. Also of note today (and much of the week) was the continued unseasonal presence of the duck Scaup.

The Wildfowl totals on today's Wetland Bird Survey were...

Mute Swan - 490
Black Swan - 2
Canada Goose - 52
Shelduck - 50
Gadwall - 1 
Mallard - 69
Tufted Duck - 25
Scaup - 1

Earlier in the week there were a couple of escaped Bar-headed Geese (on Wednesday), three drake Shoveler (on Thursday) and a few Pochard off and on.

The two brief and distant Bar-headed Geese

Only one drake Gadwall was seen on the count today but there have been at least two around... This one (above) that is already moulting and another still in full breeding finery. They also both had mates a week or two back so I'm rather hoping that the ducks are both tucked away somewhere on eggs.

The Wader totals on today's Wetland Bird Survey were...

Oystercatcher - 2
Ringed Plover - 1
Bar-tailed Godwit - 3
Whimbrel - 4

The Oystercatchers noted above were the pair nesting in the grounds but the other pair are now nesting on the Tern Island so presumably the sitting bird was hidden among the Sea Beet and the other was off foraging. Another two Ringed Plover flew through on Tuesday with a flock of twenty Dunlin (the peak count this week of the latter), Common Sandpipers peaked at two on Wednesday, another Bar-tailed Godwit dallied on Thursday and a Turnstone lingered on Friday - the same day that a flock of seven Sanderling flew west. The only other Whimbrel for the week was a 'heard only' yesterday and to round off the week a Greenshank dropped in this (Sunday) evening.

One of the few settled Dunlin this week.
A bright schnzii or a dull alpina?

 Friday's Turnstone.

Thursday's Bar-tailed Godwit © Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

And just for confirmation! Bar-tailed Godwit © Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

The Gull and Tern totals on today's WeBS were...

Herring Gull - 4
Great Black-backed Gull - 4
Sandwich Tern - 2
Common Tern - 62

There had been larger numbers of gulls earlier in the week and as well as more of the above two species there were a few 'Lesser Black-backs' and 'Black-headeds'. The tern tally though was pretty representative of the week and so it's looking like we may have around thirty pairs of Common Tern attempting to nest on the island this year. Fingers crossed.

Caught in the act! A Great Black-backed Gull taking swan's eggs.
In this instance they were addled eggs placed in an already predated nest that had been staked out with our new camera trap.

The totals for other water birds on today's WeBS were...

Great Crested Grebe - 27
Cormorant - 4
Little Egret - 6
Grey Heron - 1
Moorhen - 2
Coot - 46

The miscellaneous water bird results are pretty representative for the week (but there are always a few more Moorhens tucked away in the reed beds) and no other species were seen.
Along with the Hobby and Red Kites a single Kestrel and three Buzzards were also recorded on today's WeBS and several of the latter two  species were also seen in the week.
To passerines (and 'near-passerines') now and with the regular breeding summer migrants now settled on territory (Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warbler, Swallow, House Martin and Swift) the only obvious passage birds seen were a single Wheatear on Tuesday, a single Redstart (my first of the year) on Wednesday and one or two Willow Warblers. Of the scarcer Swannery nesting species, the (still unmated?) Nuthatch is still frequenting the upper grounds, a Treecreeper has reappeared in the lower grounds so hopefully they are breeding (just being very surreptitious about it), Goldcrests are singing in both the upper and lower grounds, so presumably they are nesting too, as are several Cetti's Warblers. On a negative note though there has been no sign of the Starlings or the Bullfinches in the last couple of weeks and I still can't find any Meadow Pipits! A trip up Linton Hill on the extreme north east boundary of my recording area revealed the only pair of breeding Stonechats that I'm aware of on my patch this year and I heard Yellowhammer too so hopefully they are breeding as well. I was rather hoping to find Lesser Whitethroat on the scrubby hillside but I drew a blank here as I have in the other two occasional breeding locales so far this spring.

The Linton Hill Stonechats.
One of several male Reed Buntings holding territory this year.

Singing male Dunnock, one of several common breeding passerines that appear to be having a good breeding season.

I'll leave you with a pic of just a few of the many cygnets that have hatched so far this spring...


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