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, 13 February 2016

Swannery Bird News - January 2016


A drake Green-winged Teal was glimpsed briefly amongst an influx of (Eurasian) Teal on the 2nd but it was not seen again. 

I didn't manage to get a photo of this month's Green-winged Teal so above is a record shot of last winter's bird. In fact it could potentially be the same returning individualNote the white vertical stripe on the fore-flank that is  lacking on the accompanying (Eurasian) Teal

There were no other rare vagrants, scarce migrants or 'Swannery first's' this month so it's on with the rest of the news...


The two first winter Long-tailed Ducks reappeared on the 10th and were then, in contrast to last month, seen almost daily. Scaup sightings continued to be erratic at the beginning of the month but by the 19th all five (the adult drake, adult duck and three first winter ducks) had reunited and then lingered to the month's end.  The regular hybrid duck Scaup x Tufted Duck also reappeared and was often misidentified as a pure Scaup

Although none were seen at The Swannery the regular flock of (wild?) Barnacle Geese reappeared at nearby Rodden Hive again this winter with twenty-four there in mid-December. Only two remained by mid-January though and these were seen between Rodden Hive Point and The Swannery on the 17th (though they still didn't make it to The Swannery recording area). 

In addition to the three species mentioned above the peak counts of the commoner wildfowl were: 

Mute Swan 640; 

Black Swan 2; 
Canada Goose   70; 
Brent Goose 3; 
Shelduck 40;
Wigeon  10; 
Gadwall 4; 
Teal 800;
Mallard  370; 
Pintail 4;
Shoveler  100;
Pochard 450; 
Tufted Duck 200;
Goldeneye 6; 
Red-breasted Merganser 2o.

Drake Common Teal

Other Water Birds... 

Gannet was a surprise find among the swans on the 26th... 

Spot the odd-one-out! The Gannet among the Mute Swans
Although common off the seaward side of The Chesil Bank Gannets are only just about annual at The Swannery with most of the records involving birds either oiled or entangled in fishing gear.  This individual however showed no obvious signs of 'contamination' but was clearly unwell. Still present the following day it avoided any attempts to take it into care and was unfortunately found dead on the 28th...

The Adult Gannet in The Swannery grounds

Equally unusual in the shallow waters of the Swannery Embayment was a Shag present briefly on the 2nd; while what was presumably the same Black-necked Grebe seen just to the south-east of The Swannery last month, made it into the recording area proper this month, being seen on the 7th and 16th. 

Peak counts of the commoner species were:

Cormorant 8;
Little Egret 7;
Grey Heron 1;
Little Grebe 20; 
Great Crested Grebe 10;  
Moorhen 20:
Coot 240.

A snoozing Great Crested Grebe

In addition, although not seen, Water Rails  were regularly heard.


A Ringed Plover on the 16th was the first since September but there were no other surprises and peak counts of the only other species seen were: 

Oystercatcher 3;
Lapwing 500;
Dunlin 1; 
Snipe 30; 
Redshank 3.


The highlight was a record count of seven-hundreMediterranean Gulls in The Swannery Embayment on the 24th. Back in the 1980's and 90's a count of seven was considered a good number! Peak counts of the other species seen were: 

Black-headed Gull 200;

Common Gull 600;
Lesser Black-backed Gull 5;
Herring Gull 60;
Great Black-backed Gull 7;


After there were no sightings last month there was a return to recent form for Marsh Harrier with regular sightings of an immature bird and one sighting of the local resident adult male. In addition there was only one Peregrine sighting and no sightings of Tawny Owls but they were presumably present. The following three species though were noted regularly:   



Other Non-Passerines...

There were no noteworthy sightings but the following species were noted in varying numbers: 

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


Over-wintering warblers included a male Blackcap on the 14th, along with regular single Common Chiffchaffs and several Cetti's Warblers. The only 'winter thrushes' were two Fieldfares on the 17th. 

Other species noted in varying but unremarkable numbers were: 


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

And that's it for this month...

A recent view from 'Helen Hide' looking east