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.



Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Swannery Bird Sightings - February 2021...

Waterfowl... 

Brent Geese were seen on three dates (all 'Russian Brants' aka 'Dark-bellied Brent Geese'), with a peak of 53 on the 16thCanada Geese were present daily with a peak of 180 on the 15th; eleven Barnacle Geese were seen briefly on the 22nd; single Greylag Geese were present on the 1st, 5th and 27th, with the latter bird being in the company of a single Bar-headed Goose (the first since 2015).

Russian Brants (aka Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Barnacle Geese, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


The herd of around 400 Mute Swans still held the four Whooper Swans (the three wild birds and the resident escape) throughout, along with the single wintering Black Swan. 

Whooper Swans, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


All the expected ducks were present with peak counts of 15 Shelduck, 80 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 16 Wigeon, 310 Mallard, 6 Pintail,  300 Teal, 300 Pochard, 150 Tufted Duck and 20 Red-breasted Merganser

Pochard & Coot, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


The four Scaup and the wintering second calendar female Ferruginous Duck were present daily until the 24th but were not seen subsequently

Scaup, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


Scaup, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


Ferruginous Duck (2nd calendar year female), with Shelduck & CootAbbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


Ferruginous Duck (2nd calendar year female) & Shelduck, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


Shorebirds...

At least four Oystercatchers were seen regularly; two Avocets were seen on the 15th,  followed by a single on the 26th;  Lapwings were present throughout peaking at 700 on the 16th; Golden Plovers were noted on four dates with a peak of 20 on the 15th; and three Grey Plovers were seen on the 16th.

Image

Avocet, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Golden Plovers, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Two Knots were seen on the 10th and 16th; Dunlins were seen regularly between the 8th and 17th, with a peak count of 12 on the 9th; Snipe were seen regularly with a peak count of 20 on the 17th; the over-wintering Common Sandpiper was seen regularly; a Green Sandpiper was seen on the 8th; whilst Redshanks were present throughout, with a peak count of seven on the 16th.

Dunlins (& Mallards), Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Gulls...

The three regular smaller gull species were all present throughout with peak counts of 250  Black-headed Gulls, 300 Mediterranean Gulls and 1,000 Common Gulls. The three regular larger gull species were also present throughout with peak counts of just three Great Black-backed Gulls34 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (all apparently being 'British Lesser Black-backed Gulls') and 200 Herring Gulls. The highlight though was a (second calendar year) Yellow-legged Gull on the 15th.

Other Water Birds...

The three regular rails were present throughout, with a peak count of 220 CootsMoorhens however were a little harder to connect with, with only single figures actually seen, whilst Water Rails were not seen at all but regularly heard. 

Both Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebes were present throughout, with a peak of 13 of the former and at least 21 of the latter. A Great Northern Diver that flew west on the 17th was the first since 2015; whilst Cormorants were present throughout, with at least 20 in the roost nightly. 

Up to 33 Cattle Egrets continued to roost nightly and there were also of course daily single figure sightings of Little Egrets and Grey Herons but unusually the only Kingfisher noted was on the 12th.

Image

Cattle Egrets, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Raptors... 

Single Sparrowhawks were seen on two dates; single Marsh Harriers were seen regularly but with two on the 23rd; whilst single figures of Buzzards were seen virtually daily.

Single Barn Owls were seen on three dates; and at least two Tawny Owls were heard regularly

Kestrels were present in single figures virtually daily; single Peregrines were seen regularly, with two on the 11th; and a single Merlin was seen on the 26th.

Other Non-Passerines... 

A Red-legged Partridge was heard on the 28th; whilst 50 odd PheasantsFeral Pigeons and Wood Pigeons were present throughout, or at least seen regularly, as were a few pairs each of Stock DoveCollared DoveGreat Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker.

Passerines...                       

All the usual Corvids were seen regularly, if not daily, with a couple hundred each of Jackdaw and Rooklow double figures of Carrion Crowsingle figures of Magpie and Raven; and singles of Jay.

Great Tit Blue TitCoal Tit and Long-tailed Tit were all relatively numerous throughout and at least one Firecrest continued to overwinter, along with several GoldcrestsChiffchaffs and Cetti's Warblers.

The nightly Starling roost increased even more with some 25,000 estimated to be present on the 8th although this had apparently dropped to only a few hundred by the month's end.  

WrensRobins, Stonechats, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were both relatively numerous throughout but the only Mistle Thrush was noted the 2nd and the only Redwing on the 22nd.

Skylarks,  Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails were also relatively numerous throughout; whilst up to two Rock Pipits were seen regularly and a single Grey Wagtail was noted on the 26th.

Dunnocks, House SparrowsChaffinchesGreenfinches, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings were all seen in single figures regularly, whilst Linnets peaked at over 20 on the 22nd.


... And that's it for this post except to thank, Kev Butler, Joe Stockwell, and Charlie Wheeler for additional sightings and where applicable for the use of their photos. 

Various waterfowl, Abbotsbury Swannery, February 2021 © Steve Groves


March 2021 sightings to follow shortly.

Steve Groves.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Swannery Bird Sightings - January 2021...

  

Waterfowl... 

A single Greylag Goose joined the regular 300 or so Canada Geese from the 4th to the 12th. 

Greylag Goose, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Greylag Goose, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 © Steve Groves


Around 350 Mute Swans were present throughout, as were the four Whooper Swans (apart from the odd excursion to Rodden Hive) and the Black Swan was also present for much of the month.

All the expected ducks were present with peak counts of 24 Shelducks, 150 ShovelerGadwall, 20 Wigeon, 450 Mallard, 20 Pintail,  650 Teal500 Pochard, 400 Tufted Duck, 4 Scaup and 10 Red-breasted Merganser

The highlight though was the continued presence of the (now 2nd calendar year) female Ferruginous Duck.

Ferruginous Duck (& Pochards), Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 © Joe Stockwell

Ferruginous Duck (& Pochard), Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 © Joe Stockwell

Ferruginous Duck (& Mallard), Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 ©  Joe Stockwell


Shorebirds...
Single Oystercatchers were seen on the 15th and 29th, with two on the 23rd; whilst Lapwings were present throughout peaking at 500 on several dates. A Golden Plover was seen on the 18th and six were present on the 27th.

Two Knots were seen on the 6th; Snipe were present throughout, with an impressive 100 seen on the 4th; the over-wintering Common Sandpiper was seen regularly but 'the' Green Sandpiper was only seen on the 11th; whilst Redshanks were present throughout with a peak of four on the 28th.

Gulls...

Of the smaller gulls Black-headed Gulls  and Common Gulls were present throughout with regular counts of over 100 of the former and of over 1,000 of the latter. Mediterranean Gulls however were a little harder to come by this month, with no counts exceeding double figures. Of the larger gulls Herring Gulls peaked at around 30 but there were only single figure counts of both Great Black-backed Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


Other Waterbirds...

The three regular rails were present throughout with Water Rails being regularly encountered in 'ones and twos', while  Moorhens peaked at at least 20 and Coots peaked at 330. 

Both Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebes were present throughout, with a peak of at least 12 of the former and at least 8 of the latter. 

Cormorants were present throughout, with at least 20 in the roost nightly. 

Around 30 Cattle Egrets continued to roost nightly and there were also of course daily single figure sightings of Little Egrets and Grey Herons, whilst a Great Egret lingered from the 2nd to the 4th.

Single Kingfishers were seen regularly.

Hawks, Owls & Falcons... 

Single Sparrowhawks were seen on two dates, Marsh Harriers were seen regularly but with two present on four dates, whilst single figures of Buzzards were seen daily.

Single Barn Owls  were seen regularly but the only Tawny Owl was heard on the 2nd, although both species were almost certainly present throughout

Kestrels were present in single figures daily and single Peregrines were seen regularly.

Peregrine, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 © Joe Stockwell


Other Non-passerines... 

Pheasants, Feral PigeonsWood Pigeons, Stock Doves and Collared Doves were all noted in varying numbers; whilst single figures of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker were both seen regularly too.

Passerines...                       

MagpieJackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crow were all relatively numerous throughout; Ravens were seen in single figures regularly; whilst single Jays were noted on two dates.

Coal Tit Blue TitGreat Tit and Long-tailed Tit were all relatively numerous throughout, as were Wrens Cetti's WarblersChiffchaffs and Goldcrests., whilst up to two Firecrests were seen regularly too. 

The nightly Starling roost began to increase dramatically early in the month and by mid-month at least 10,000 birds were present.  

Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were both relatively numerous throughout and single Mistle Thrushes were noted on four dates. Redwings and Fieldfares however were again scarce with only five of the former noted on the 6th and just one of the latter noted on the 5th.

Dunnocks,  Robins and Stonechats were all relatively numerous throughout; as were Skylarks,  Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails; whilst two Rock Pipits were seen regularly and a single Grey Wagtail was noted on the 12th.

Dunnock, Abbotsbury Swannery, January 2021 © Joe Stockwell


House SparrowsChaffinchesGreenfinches, Linnets and Reed Buntings were all seen in single figures regularly, with only the Goldfinch flock reaching low double figures, whilst the only Siskin was heard on the 8th.


... And that's it for this post except to thank, Kev Butler, Joe Stockwell, and Charlie Wheeler for additional sightings and where applicable for the use of their photos. 

February 2021 sightings to follow shortly.

Steve Groves.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Swannery Bird Sightings - December 2020...

 

Waterfowl... 

Canada Geese were present daily with a peak of 250 on the 20th; Brent Geese were seen on four dates (all 'Russian Brants' aka 'Dark-bellied Brent Geese'), with a peak of 12 on the 10th; whilst Barnacle Geese were seen on two dates, with 13 on the 10th and 11 on the 17th.

Barnacle Geese, & Canada Geese, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves


Over 400 Mute Swans were present throughout; whilst the four Whooper Swans were also present virtually daily; and a Black Swan was also present throughout.

 Whooper Swans, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves


Shelducks were present throughout with a peak of at least 25 on the 20th.

All the expected dabbling ducks were present, with peak counts of 130 Shoveler; 3 Gadwall; 100 Wigeon; 225 Mallard; 150 Pintail; and 450 Teal.

All the usual diving ducks were noted too, with peak counts of 220 Pochard; 150 Tufted Duck; 4 Scaup; and 5 Red-breasted Merganser. In addition three (first calendar year) Long-tailed Ducks were seen briefly on the 8th and 9th. 

Scaup (1cy drake), Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Charlie Wheeler

Scaup (ad. duck), Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Charlie Wheeler

Long-tailed Ducks (1cy duck, 2 1cy drakes), Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Kevin Butler


The highlight though was a Ferruginous Duck (a first calendar year) found on the 7th (the first since December 2009). It was not present the next two days but reappeared on the 10th and was then seen virtually daily to the 31st (although it wasn't always easy to find even from the grounds). Due to ongoing Avian Influenza and Corona Virus restrictions and the fact it could not be easily seen (if at all) from public rights of way, the decision was made heavyheartedly to not release the news of it's reappearance (until now).

Ferruginous Duck, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Charlie Wheeler

Ferruginous Duck, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves

Ferruginous Duck, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves

Ferruginous Duck, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves

Ferruginous Duck, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves


Shorebirds...
The only Oystercatcher was seen on the 7th; whilst Lapwings were present throughout peaking at 500 on the 25th. 

Two Black-tailed Godwits were present on the 2nd; eight Turnstones were seen on the 10th, followed by a single on the 10th; a Knot was seen on the 10th; single Dunlins were noted on three dates; Snipe were present throughout, with a peak of 30 on the 29th; singles of both Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper were again seen regularly; whilst Redshanks were present throughout with a peak of five on the 1st.

Gulls...

The three regular small gulls were all seen daily with peak counts of over 500 Black-headed Gulls on the 26th,  over 500 Mediterranean Gulls on the 21st and over 1,000 Common Gulls also on the 21st.  The three regular large gulls were all seen virtually daily too with a peak counts of over 200 Herring Gulls on the 21st and over 10 Great Black-backed Gulls on the 14th. Lesser Black-backed Gulls though were only ever noted in low single figures.


Other Waterbirds...

Water RailsMoorhens and Coots were all present throughout, with a peak count of 180 of the latter on the 29th.

Both Little Grebes and Great Crested Grebes were present throughout, with a peak of at least 14 of the former on the 11th and at least 10 of the latter on several dates. 

Cormorants were present throughout, with at least 20 in the roost nightly.

Cattle Egrets continued to roost nightly, with a peak count of 29 on the 25th; There were also of course daily sightings of Little Egrets, with at least 10 present on the 7th; and Grey Herons, with at least three present on the 1st.

Single Kingfishers were seen regularly.

Hawks, Owls & Falcons... 

Single Marsh Harriers were seen regularly but with two present on three dates: whilst single figures of Buzzards were seen daily.

Barn Owl  was seen on the 1st, followed by two on the 8th; whilst a Tawny Owl was heard on the 3rd, although both species were almost certainly present throughout

Kestrels were present in single figures daily but single Peregrines were seen on three dates only.

Other Non-passerines... 

Pheasants, Feral PigeonsWood Pigeons and Collared Doves were all relatively numerous throughout, whilst singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker were both seen regularly too.

Passerines...                       

MagpieJackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crow were all relatively numerous throughout; Ravens were seen in single figures regularly; whilst single Jays were noted on two dates.

Coal Tit Blue TitGreat Tit and Long-tailed Tit were all relatively numerous throughout, as were Cetti's WarblersChiffchaffsGoldcrests and Wrens

The nightly Starling roost was rather unimpressive, peaking only at around 200 on the 17th.  

Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were both relatively numerous throughout but Redwings and Fieldfares were scarce with only one of the former noted on the 2nd, followed by two on the 21st and just one of the latter noted on the 2nd only.

Dunnocks,  Robins and Stonechats were all relatively numerous throughout; as were Skylarks,  Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails; whilst single Rock Pipits and Grey Wagtails were seen regularly too.

Robin, Abbotsbury Swannery, December 2020 © Steve Groves


House SparrowsReed Buntings, Chaffinches and Goldfinches were all relatively numerous throughout, with a good count of over 50 of the latter on the 12th. Greenfinches were seen fairly regularly but only in single figures, with a peak of five on several dates (sadly 50 would be the norm not that long ago). The only Linnets were a few heard on the 8th (scarce here in winter) and the only Bullfinch was seen on the 29th.

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

January 2021 sightings to follow shortly.

Steve Groves.