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, 22 June 2014

A 'Pec'uliar Sighting!

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week..


Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd June 2014...  

Way back in 1990 a Collared Pratincole flew past me and landed on the shore of The Swannery embayment as I was up a step-ladder re-constructing some reed-screens. This week, on Tuesday, twenty-four years and a month or two later, I was attending to some more reed-screens when another very interesting wader flew by. Clearly a calidris sandpiper but (although of similar size) most definitely not a Dunlin, my initial thoughts were either Pectoral Sandpiper or (perhaps wistfully) Sharp-tailed Sandpiper! In retrospect though on call and plumage it had to be a 'Pec'. After flying past me it circled back over the reed-bed and flew in the direction of the 'Round-up Site' where there are several marshy ditches and pools. Leaving my post I headed toward the said area carefully scrutinising the shoreline of The Fleet as I went. I obviously wasn't being as careful as I should have been however as suddenly the bird flew up in front of me and headed off across the lagoon and out over The Chesil! I was rather annoyed with myself to say the least as it was on a little muddy beach and it should have stood out like a (albeit cryptically coloured) sore thumb! Needless to say I didn't manage to get a photo of it but I did manage to get a photo of its impression...

Although I failed to get a photo of the Pectoral Sandpiper, I did get a photo of its footprint!

The seven previous Abbotsbury 'Pec' 'Sands' have all been in September/October and I don't believe there has been a June record in Dorset before, so a peculiar sighting indeed. As there was one at Swillington Ings near Leeds the previous day (almost due north) it is tempting to think it was the same bird that (having failed to find a mate this side of The Atlantic) is just continuing its journey south (its probably somewhere in France now!). 

Other waders seen this week were a peak of ten Oystercatchers (plus three unfledged youngsters), three Lapwings, two Redshanks, a Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit... 

This week's Black-tailed Godwit.

The wildfowl highlight was the continued presence of the female Scaup... 

The unseasonal female Scaup.

Other slightly less noteworthy ducks were a couple of returning Teal and Shovelers and a single Gadwall (my hopes of the latter breeding this year appear to have come to nothing). The 'Feral' Goose flock still contained the Barnacle Goose and up to three Bar-headed Geese.

Several Common Tern chicks have now hatched but the only other tern species around the island were again a few Sandwich Terns, whilst the only noteworthy gull was the first-summer Mediterranean Gull again.

The best raptor of the week was an early returning Osprey on the 'Osprey Perch', which had only been re-erected (following the winter storms) the day before!

Also back was the first returning Kingfisher and another Little Grebe (joining the flock of fifty-five of its Great Crested cousins).

To passerines now and the only real highlight was the appearance at last of the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year (at The Swannery proper) which was singing in the scrub over on Shipmoor Point!

So a pretty interesting week considering it's now mid-summer. Lets hope the following few weeks produce a few unusual sightings too...

Until next week I'll leave you with a few non-birdy pics (the last three courtesy of colleague Charlie)...

Edit - I id'd this as an ad. male Black-tailed Skimmer but it's actually an ad. male Scarce Chaser, a first for The Fleet recording area!
Golden-ringed Dragonfly at The Swannery this week

Crab Spider at The Swannery this week.

Grass Snake by the 'Mill Stream' this week. 
© Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

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