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 July 2014

Hints Of Things To Come

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week...

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

Bird of the week was the adult Black Tern present around the Tern Island today (Sunday) and Saturday... 

Above two pics the moulting adult Black Tern with a Common Tern.
The Black Tern... about the best I could do and heavily cropped.
The Black Tern, in better light but more distant still (with Common Terns).

The Tern Island is certainly bustling at the moment. On Monday evening Luke Phillips and Joe Stockwell  came over to ring the chicks. They ringed eighty seven in total but there were a few that were still too small to ring, a dozen or so that had already fledged and also still a few possibly viable clutches still to hatch. So an educated guestimate would be that at least a hundred chicks will fledge this year, from around fifty to sixty pairs, the best year yet since the Common Terns colonised the artificial island back in the early 90's. Although no doubt well below the numbers that used to fledge from the vast ternery  once present on the beach here.

One of the younger Common Tern chicks we encountered.
© Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography

Common Tern chicks in a bucket awaiting their  turn to be ringed.
© Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography
A first summer Common Tern that has been around this week.

A first summer Little Gull on Tuesday was also a contender for bird of the week but it was much less co-operative than the tern, I didn't even manage to get a record shot. 'Also rans' on the gull and tern front were a few Mediterranean Gulls and a slightly unseasonal Common Gull, while Sandwich Terns continue to be regular.

Waders increased in variety and numbers this week. Oystercatchers peaked at five and Lapwings at around seven again. The first Ringed Plover of the 'autumn' was logged (as none nested again this year) and four Little Ringed Plovers were around for most of the week...   

Three of this week's Little Ringed Plovers in the meadow.

Other firsts of the autumn were Dunlin, which peaked at forty on Saturday, Sanderling (three), Knot (three), Turnstone (one) and Green Sandpiper (one), whilst others already noted on return migration were Common Sandpiper (peaking at two), Whimbrel (also peaking at two) and Black-tailed Godwit (peaking at three)... 

Black-tailed Godwit (all islandica) peaked at three on Thursday.

The female Scaup continues to over-summer with the Tufted Ducks and after a weeks absence several Pochard rejoined them. Also reappearing after a blank week were a few Shoveler and a Gadwall, while a few Teal were also still around. A Little Grebe and a Kingfisher also went back into the log.

A Marsh Harrier today (the first since early April, as none attempted to nest this year) was the best raptor of the week, whilst the best passerines were three Yellow Wagtails, the first of the year, that flew west on Saturday. More evidence of return migration included a noticeable increase in Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat numbers and a build up of Sand Martins and Swallows too. 

So it seems that things are definitely livening up... watch this space!

Along with many bird species Water Voles seem to have had a good breeding season with this youngster being seen regularly along the lower stream.

Thanks this week to Luke, Joe and Charlie and a belated thanks to Alan and Mike for last week.

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