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.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Swannery Bird Sightings - January 2021...



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

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.


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.


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.

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