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 December 2015

Swannery Bird News - November 2015


With no rare vagrants, scarce migrants or 'Swannery first's' to report this month, November's best birds were probably the first winter Long-tailed Duck that  lingered from October, plus a second individual that joined it on the 30th...   

A distant record shot of the first of this winter's Long-tailed Ducks © Charlie Wheeler

...And the slightly unseasonal first winter Garganey on meadow pool on the 17th (that was too uncooperative for even a poor record shot).

And now the rest of the news... 


The adult drake and the first winter  Scaup lingered from October and were joined by an adult duck and another first winter on the 23rd. The following day the adult drake had disappeared but another first winter arrived. The adult duck and three first winters then lingered until  the 27th and the adult drake and one of the first winters reappeared on the 29th only. So to reiterate this month, although the peak count was only four, there were at least five Scaup seen, an adult drake, an adult duck and three first winters (and the latter were probably comprised of two ducks and a drake but time and continuing moult will tell if, as hoped, they overwinter).

First for this autumn/winter was a 
Goldeneye on the 22nd (with a peak of four on the 3oth); whilst the first Dark-bellied Brent Geese since the 1st of October were settled birds on the 15th  and 22nd (one) and 24th (two)...

The two Dark-bellied Brent Geese that lingered briefly on the 24th © Steve Groves
The peak counts of the commoner wildfowl were: 

Mute Swan 790; 

Black Swan 2; 
Canada Goose   25; 
Shelduck 9; 
Mandarin 1 (the white escape until the 13th);
Wigeon 1200;
Gadwall 20; 
Teal 300;
Mallard  470; 
Pintail 200;
Shoveler  50;
Pochard 378; 
Tufted Duck 260;
Red-breasted Merganser 1o.

Pintail & Teal on Meadow Pool © Steve Groves

Other Water Birds... 

There were no noteworthy sightings and peak counts of the commoner species were: 

Cormorant 7; 
Little Egret 2; 
Little Grebe 25; 
Great Crested Grebe 17; 
Moorhen 40; 
Coot 1500.

Little Grebes off 'Bum Point' © Steve Groves


Most noteworthy were sightings of Golden Plovers... with four on the 1st and one on the 3rd; Curlew... with one on the 26th and Turnstone with one on the 16th. 

Peaks counts of the commoner species were: 

Lapwing 100;
Dunlin 5; 
Snipe 2; 
Redshank 2.

Redshank © Charlie Wheeler


The only gulls of note were two Yellow-legged Gulls (an adult and a second winter) on the 15th. 

Peak counts of the commoner species were:

Black-headed Gull 90;

Mediterranean Gull 400!;
Common Gull 300;
Lesser Black-backed Gull 16;
Herring Gull 580;
Great Black-backed Gull 210. 

Mediterranean Gull © Steve Groves


Most noteworthy was a Short-eared Owl on the 20th...

The Short-eared Owl © Charlie Wheeler

...while Marsh Harriers were seen regularly with the regular adult male on the 1st and at least one immature on several dates...

Immature Marsh Harrier © Charlie Wheeler

There was at least one Peregrine sighting, while Sparrowhawks, Buzzards and Kestrels were all seen with some regularity and Tawny Owls were frequently heard, if not always seen.

Other Non-Passerines...

There wasn't the mass movement of Wood Pigeons that was noted elsewhere in Dorset but one thousand flew east on the 16th, one hundred west on the 20th and two hundred in several directions on the 23rd.  Other species noted in varying but non-noteworthy numbers were: 

Domestic/Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Green Woodpecker,
Great Spotted Woodpecker.


Highlights were single  Bramblings on the 1st and 17th, a Firecrest on the 19th and two late Swallows on the 23rd. Also of note were around half-a-dozeChiffchaffs early in the month (with just the occasional single by the month's end); up to twenty Redwings throughout and a peak of twelve Lesser Redpolls on the 26th.

Other species noted in varying but unremarkable numbers were: 

Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Sky Lark
Cetti's Warbler
Long-tailed Tit
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
House Sparrow, 
Grey Wagtail,
Pied Wagtail,
Meadow Pipit,
Rock Pipit,
Reed Bunting.

And that's it for this month except to thank  Charlie Wheeler for the use of his photograph of his photos.