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, 27 July 2014

A Positively Purple Patch

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week...

Monday 15th to Sunday 27th July 2014... 

There were certainly some quality birds this week. Best of the bunch was a Great Egret on Thursday... 

Above two pics the Great Egret with a Little Egret.  
Both © Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

I found the bird on the far shore, near Cuckoo Coppice, as I went down to feed at just after 8.30 am on Thursday. Moments earlier my text alert had sounded but when I saw the bird I became somewhat distracted. When I did get round to reading my text it was not surprisingly from Mike Morse at West Bexington to say that he and Alan Barrett had just had a Great Egret flying east. Ironically it had first been seen earlier at Seaton by their ex-fellow 'West Bex' patch-birder Ian McLean! Distant for most of it's hour and a half (or so) stay it did get fairly close to the Fleet Pipe Hide at one point but it stubbornly stayed the far side of the perimeter fence... 

The Great Egret from Fleet Pipe Hide.   
It was subsequently seen at the RSPB reserves of Lodmoor and Radipole. 
© Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

I thank Charlie for the use of his images, which were better than my efforts and Mike and Alan for the tip off.

Off the top of my head this is about the tenth Great Egret for The Swannery although there have been a few 'unconfirmed reports' and maybe a bit of duplication (three within a few months in 2003 for instance). 

Now most British birders refer to the species as Great White Egret of course but for once I prefer the 'official' IOU standardised English name of Great Egret. It may be Americanised (in America the species is known as Great Egret) but the word 'white' just seems superfluous. If a distinction needs to be made between the American and Eurasian forms then American Great Egret and Eurasian Great Egret works fine (as does African Great Egret and Eastern Great Egret for the other two forms). Some refer to the Old World forms as Great White Heron of course (which is technically more accurate as it is an Ardea not an Egretta) but then that just causes confusion with the white morph of the Great Blue Heron of the Americas (which surprise surprise is colloquially known as the Great White Heron). Confused? Well I suppose there will never be complete agreement on standardised English names! 

Any ways back to the other good birds of the week...

Last week's Black Tern lingered all week (or at least to Saturday, as I was off this weekend and didn't get down to The Swannery on Sunday)... 

The Black Tern this week - the lower image more heavily cropped.
And a less heavily cropped image of the Black Tern by Charlie. 
© Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

Remarkably the Black Tern was joined by a Roseate Tern on Monday... 

The Roseate Tern far left and the Black Tern far right, with Common Terns.

The Roseate Tern centre, 
with adult Common Tern left and first summer Common Tern right
The Roseate Tern (the same image as above but more heavily cropped).

It bore a metal ring indicating that it was different from the other two or three individuals seen earlier this summer (one of which was colour ringed and the other one or two un-ringed). Also drawn in by the thriving Common Tern colony this week were a few Sandwich Terns and at last the first (and long anticipated) Little Terns of the year - an adult with two still dependent young. Five tern species in one week! As for gulls, all the usual species were present in varying numbers including a few Mediterranean Gulls and a couple of early Common Gulls.

The fourth quality bird of the week was a Wood Sandpiper that Steve Hales saw briefly on Thursday on Bum Point. Thankfully it, or another, was on Meadow Pool on Saturday (and was reported again on Sunday)... 

The Wood Sandpiper on Meadow Pool.

The 'Woody' shared the pool with a couple of Green Sandpipers, which had been a bit thin on the ground, but a peak of four were seen on Thursday...

One of this week's Green Sandpipers.

Other waders noted were a singles of Little Ringed Plover and Knot, whilst there were peaks of two Snipe,  three Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, three Whimbrel, three Curlewthree Redshank, three Sanderlingfive Common Sandpiper and forty Dunlin, plus a few Oystercatchers and Lapwings

Unseasonal wildfowl included the female Scaup still all week plus a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on Monday! Otherwise numbers and variety remained similar to the last few weeks. 

As for warblers the reed-beds are now heaving with Reed and Sedge along with quite a few Cettis's, while in the hedgerows Common Whitehroats are numerous. The Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the withy-beds have yet to be joined by any returning Willow or Garden Warblers and similarly there have been no more Yellow Wagtails and as yet still no Tree Pipits but with all the latter species (plus all the usual autumn passage migrants - and maybe something more unusual) it's only just a matter of time!

I'll leave you with my best images of the Great Egret...

The Great Egret, with a Little Egret near Christmas Ditch.

The Great Egret at 'The Fleet Pipe'.

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