Swannery birding highlights of the week...
Monday 25th to Sunday 31st March 2013
We would normally expect a few swan's eggs by the end of March but despite several pairs on territory and a few rounded out nests we have had no joy, not even so far over the Bank Holiday weekend. So no Easter eggs as yet! The lack of eggs is no doubt due to the below average temperatures and that is also probably responsible for the continued presence today of all three Long-tailed Ducks and nine Scaup despite them being elusive for a day or two in the week. Other wildfowl highlights were a very wary Greylag Goose that was flushed off the nest site first thing on Friday and just kept going, so it was a different bird than last weeks tame bird and may have even been a truly wild individual en route to Scandinavia. Equally flighty but obviously of 'feral' origin was a female Mandarin Duck on Monday...so flighty in fact that until I pinned it down I thought it might even have been a vagrant Wood Duck...
|After zipping about all over the shop this female Mandarin Duck finally 'gave it's self up' by the 'Fleet Pipe' hide.
|And here showing its crest.
|The main id feature is the thin white eye ring and neat line behind the eye.
Female Wood Duck shows a more extensive white eye ring that 'flares' out behind the eye.
|It may only be a naturalised species that is expanding it's range into Dorset but it's still a scarcity at The Swannery and what a 'cutie' at that!
|Adult (Eurasian) Spoonbill that dropped down briefly on the 'Round-up Site'
(with a Little Egret, Common Coot, Common Pochards & Common Shelducks)
The pair of Marsh Harriers were still around early in the week but only the male remained towards the end and no other raptors of note were seen. Only the usual waders were around but ringer Steve Hales flushed an unseasonal Woodcock from the withybed on Friday. Among much depleted numbers of larids a few Mediterranean Gulls continue to be seen and single figures of Sandwich Terns have been around most of the week...
|Sandwich Tern from Helen Hide this week still not quite finished acquiring its black summer cap.
To passerines now and incoming Chiffchaffs are much in evidence mostly ground-feeding in sheltered spots in the biting easterly winds, while Blackcap numbers seemed to have dropped off. There have been no Sand Martins this week let alone any Swallows but several Wheatears have been around (my first this spring having missed the first few last week) but the passerine highlight was the presence of two Black Redstarts on the drystone walls between The Swannery and Chapel Hill on Tuesday, with presumably the same two still there yesterday and at least one today. A rather scarce visitor to The Swannery they are perhaps not surprisingly more regular in the village. Despite trying to stalk them they proved to be far too flighty for photographic purposes.
Following my two above record shots of the two Spoonbills taken with my little Lumix FZ45 (as are all my other pics) I'll leave you with three photos of the second bird taken by colleague Charlie with his Nikon D90 and 70-300mm Nikon lens...
|Adult (Eurasian) Spoonbill from meadow hide on Friday © Charlie Wheeler
|In flight © Charlie Wheeler
|And feeding © Charlie Wheeler