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, 29 September 2014

Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th September 2014...

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week... 

'Bird Of The Week'... was the Red-backed Shrike (a first winter) that frequented the perimeter of the field behind Chapel Withybed, on Monday...

The (1st winter) Red-backed Shrike© Charlie Wheeler 
Unfortunately it was rather wary and unapproachable.
A more heavily cropped image of the Red-backed Shrike © Charlie Wheeler  
Both images are courtesy of Charlie Wheeler wheeler-photography as my efforts were atrocious!

There have only been two other records of Red-backed Shrike at The Swannery during my 25 year tenure. The last one, back in October 2007, favoured the very same area as this year's bird. The only other individual was back in October 1998 and that frequented the hedge adjacent to Meadow Hide. Incidentally my only other Swannery shrike was a Woodchat in May 1989 (although I have seen two other Woodchats elsewhere in Abbotsbury since). I still await my first Swannery Great Grey though but I won't hold my breath as surprisingly the sole record for The Fleet recording area was way back in June 1952! Tantalisingly, during an autumn back in the 90's, I did discover a shrike's larder on the barbedwire atop the perimeter fence but unfortunately it's owner had long gone!

And now to the  rest of the week's news...

Wildfowl... The first Dark-bellied Brent Goose of the autumn flew down The Fleet on Monday and proved to be the only 'new in' species of the week, with all the usual ducks still present in similar numbers including the regular female Scaup and the male Goldeneye

Two drake Gadwall © Charlie Wheeler  wheeler-photography 

Waders... Another rather poor week saw singles of Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper and Redshank, along with a few Snipe and a peak of ten Lapwing. 

Gulls & Terns... Yet another week passed without any terns and no real noteworthy gulls until Sunday when there were six Mediterranean Gulls and a single (first winter) Yellow-legged Gull. 

Great Black-backed Gull (1st winter) © Charlie Wheeler  wheeler-photography 

Other water-birds... There's really nothing to add to the last few week's sightings but again  a few Water Rails and Kingfishers were showy at times...

Water Rail

Kingfisher © Charlie Wheeler  wheeler-photography 

Raptors... The regular male Marsh Harrier, that reappeared this week, after an abscence of a week or so, was the only noteworthy sighting. 

Passerines etc... Although not of the same quality as the shrike there was a slight improvement in the quantity of the 'less common migrants' this week with singles of Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart...

This week's Redstart

'Commoner' migrants included a few Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and Stonechats in the adjacent fields and there were still plenty of Swallows and House Martins moving through overhead, along with a few Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Skylarks. With the exception of a few more Goldcrests there was no real change in the withybeds with Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps still predominating along with the odd Whitethroat, whilst the reedbeds still held a few Reed, Sedge and Cetti's Warblers. All the usual 'residents' were still to be seen of course but new in was the first Jay of the year, though it could well have been a migrant rather than a local bird. 


And Finally Another One That Got Away... 
Luke Phillips observed a Dotterel flying towards The Swannery over his ringing site, a mile or so to the east, on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't get his message until the evening but in fact  I was well placed at The Swannery at around the time of the initial sighting so should have connected with it if it had been calling and not to high but I didn't. Oddly enough the day before I had checked through a Lapwing flock in a ploughed field on top of adjacent Chesters Hill, as it looked good for Dotterel but to no avail! Hopefully one day soon though I'll get to add this enigmatic plover to The Swannery list!

So that's it for this week. My thanks to Charlie and Luke. Now bring on October!

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