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.



Saturday, 11 July 2020

Swannery Bird Sightings - June 2020...

Highlights...

The first Roseate Tern of the year was present on the 8th and it was seen again briefly on the 20th...


Roseate Tern, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Joe Stockwell

Even more noteworthy these days was a Turtle Dove that was seen briefly in flight on the 11th.  

Waterfowl... 

The Canada Goose moult flock consisted of over eight-hundred (along with a few home bred family parties) and they were joined by a Barnacle Goose on the 4th, that then lingered for the rest of the month and a Greylag Goose on the 8th, which only stayed to the 15th...

Greylag Goose, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves

The Mute Swan moult flock numbered around five-hundred, along with around two-hundred breeding birds and their young, while the resident Whooper Swan was present throughout.

As usual the most numerous ducks (and the only ones breeding) were Mallard (with around two-hundred present) and Shelduck (with around forty present)...

Shelduck ducklings, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves

Around thirty Tufted Duck, ten Pochard and up to eight Teal were present through out, as where unseasonable singles of Wigeon and Pintail. The only Shoveler were a pair on the 7th/8th, while up to four Gadwall were present early in the month but not seen after the 12th.

Waders...

Of the four breeding pairs of Oystercatchers, one pair fledged one chick and one pair still had at least one chick set to fledge on the Tern Island but unfortunately the other two pairs failed. The post-breeding Lapwing flock (having not bred here for awhile now) increased from two last month to three this month: four Ringed Plover (another former breeder), were seen on the 8th and a single Little Ringed Plover was present on the 26th. 

A single Curlew was seen on the 16th and two Black-tailed Godwits were present on the 3rd/4th with singles then seen regularly until the 30th when three were present...

Black-tailed Godwit (islandica), Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves

A single Turnstone was present on the 22nd and a ruffed Ruff was present briefly on the 27th... 

Turnstone, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves
Ruff (male), Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Joe Stockwell

A combined total of six Dunlin were seen on three dates; Redshanks were seen sporadically with a peak of four on the 14th; the first returning Common Sandpiper was seen on the 4th, with it or another on the 8th, with then regular sightings of up to three daily from the 22nd; the first returning Green Sandpiper arrived on the 14th, with one or two then present most days to the 30th...

Green Sandpiper, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Kev Butler

Gulls & Terns...  

Black-headed Gulls peaked at over one hundred on several dates and Mediterranean Gulls peaked at around forty on the 7th.  Both species bred, with the twenty or so pairs of the former beginning to fledge the first of their young by the months end; while a single large but unfledged chick of the latter was discovered on the 28th. Bizarrely though it was being fed by Common Terns!  A third calendar year pair of Mediterranean Gulls had been observed nest building in the spring but then apparently moved on, but not before laying at least one fertile egg it would seem. Presumably it was then incubated (alongside their own eggs?) by a pair of Common Terns that used the vacated nest. Whatever the chain of events, if the chick fledges, it will be the first successful nesting of the species on The Fleet!

In addition to the above nesting gulls there were regular single figure counts of Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and to a lesser extent Lesser Black-backed Gull; whilst an unseasonable Common Gull was seen on the 4th.
 
The fifty or so pairs of nesting Common Terns were still doing well, whilst passing terns included near daily single figures of Sandwich Terns (though ten plus were seen on the 14th); and in addition to the Roseate Tern, were a (first for the year) Little Tern on the 15th and a (first for the year) Arctic Tern on the 7th.


Roseate Tern, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves
Roseate Tern with Common Terns, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Charlie Wheeler
 

Other Water-birds...

Water Rails were heard on a couple of occasions so presumably still breeding as were more obviously Moorhen and Coot, with an incoming post breeding flock of around forty of the latter by the end of the month. On the 23rd the first couple of returning Little Grebes joined the over-summering (non-breeding) Great Crested Grebe flock, which  peaked at over thirty mid-month. 

There were regular low single figures counts of Grey Heronsand mid-teen counts of Little Egrets... 

Little Egret, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves

The five pairs of nesting Cormorants and their young still lingered; a Gannet overflew the beach and embayment on the 3rd, as did a Fulmar on the 8th...


Fulmar, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Joe Stockwell

Predatory Birds...

There were regular sightings of Buzzard and Kestrel along with the occasional Sparrowhawk, so presumably all were nesting in the near vicinity. Single Marsh Harriers were regular too but there was no evidence of breeding; whilst this month's sole Red Kite was present on the 16th/17th only. The month's only Peregrine was seen on the 12th, the same day as the first Hobby of the year but another of the latter was seen on the 30th.

The pair of Barn Owls fledged two young but the pair of Little Owls were not seen after the 3rd so are believed to have failed this year.  Tawny Owls were not even heard, let alone seen but it seems inconceivable that there wasn't at least one pair present.

Other Non-Passerines...

The highlight was the Turtle Dove mentioned above (and as it was not photographed, below is a picture of the last bird in October 2018)...

Turtle Dove, Abbotsbury Swannery, October 2018 © Steve Groves

Swifts were seen regularly and peaked at over one hundred on the 3rd, at least a few of which were nesting in the village; whilst PheasantFeral PigeonStock DoveWood PigeonCollared DoveGreat Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker were all present too and all nesting at least within the local area if not all in the actual grounds. 

Passerines...

Spotted Flycatcher on the 8th was the only obvious late spring migrant but return migration, or at least post-breeding dispersal, became apparent by the end of the month with single figures of Sand Martin from the 14th; a Firecrest on the 17th; and single Crossbills on the 24th and 27th (the first of the latter since December 2018). There were also sightings of single Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Grey Wagtail and a pair of Mistle Thrush and all also fall into the latter category, as none bred at The Swannery this year. 

All seen regularly in varying numbers and either breeding within The Swannery or in the very near vicinity were: Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Skylark, Swallow, House Martin, Cetti's Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Stonechat, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting.

As there is a lack of passerine photos this month here's a couple of insect pics from June to end this month's post...

Azure Damselfly, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves 


Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Abbotsbury Swannery, June 2020 © Steve Groves
  

So that's it for this post except to thank Alan Barrett, Kev Butler, Joe Stockwell, Nick Urch, Steve Waite and Charlie Wheeler for their sightings and where applicable for the use of their photos. 

July 2020 sightings to follow shortly.  
 

Steve Groves.

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