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, 19 September 2015

Swannery Bird News - August 2015

Bird Of The Month - Shag...

Although regular on The East Fleet in winter, the Shag is a scarce bird on the shallow waters of The West Fleet and particularly so in summer, so two together in The Swannery embayment on the 6th is unprecedented... 

One of the two Shags that lingered briefly in the western embayment

And now the rest of the news... 

Now Scaup may be a regular wintering species at The Swannery but they're pretty unusual in the summer so the drake that appeared on the 4th and still present on the 31st was noteworthy...

The 'eclipse' plumaged drake Scaup

In addition to the Scaup and following the first returning Teal and Shoveler last month, more fresh in 'winter' wildfowl included the first Pintail on the 22nd and the first three Wigeon on the 23rd. 

The peak counts of wildfowl were: 

Mute Swan 746; 

Black Swan 2; 
Bar-headed Goose 1;
Canada Goose 106; 
Shelduck 8; 
Wigeon 3;
Gadwall 12; 
Teal 13;
Mallard 320; 
Pintail 1;
Shoveler 3;
Pochard 17; 
Tufted Duck 20;
Scaup 1.

Other Water Birds... 

Elsewhere within the parish of Abbotsbury a Black Stork was reported on the 11th in a field at East Bexington before moving to the neighbouring parish of West Bexington. As it was previously seen over Weymouth and Portland and was observed flying west along The Ridgeway it presumably flew within viewing distance of The Swannery but alas I didn't connect if it did. Thankfully though I did connect with one in August 2007.

Peak counts were: 

Shag 2;

Cormorant 30; 
Little Egret 11; 
Grey Heron 4;
Great Crested Grebe 55; 
Little Grebe 10;
Moorhen 10; 
Coot 339.

In addition the first returning Water Rails were regularly heard at the month's end.

The breeding Oystercatchers moved on with just the odd single seen, whilst Lapwing peaked at ten. There were singles of both Grey and Golden Plover and Ringed Plover peaked at two. Only two Whimbrels were seen but a few Black-tailed Godwits were noted with a peak of three on the 27th/28th...

Black-tailed Godwit on 'The Bund' on the 26th.

Turnstones peaked at five on the 25th; a Ruff flew east on the 18th; there were sinle Sanderlings on the 3rd and 8th; Dunlin peaked at ten on several dates; Common Sandpipers peaked at a noteworthy twenty on the 16th...

One of this month's Common Sandpipers

Green Sandpipers peaked at five on the 3rd; a couple of Greenshanks were 'heard only' and Redshanks peaked at seven on the 13th but only a couple of Snipe were seen.

Terns & Gulls...
An adult Little Tern and two juveniles were seen on the 14th and the last few Common Terns departed around the same time. No terns were seen at all in the second half of the month. 

Mediterranean Gulls were regular and peaked at twelve on the 14th and at least two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls was seen regularly later in the month. Up to three Common Gulls were seen including an adult and a juvenile.

Peak counts of commoner species were:

Black-headed Gull 180;
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1,
Herring Gull 25;
Great Black-backed Gull 11.

Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls on Meadow Pool this month

A Red Kite flew east on the 11th, a juvenile Marsh Harrier was seen on the 31st and of course a few Sparrowhawks and Buzzards were seen regularly.

A Barn Owl was seen on the 31st, whilst Tawny and even Little Owls were heard regularly.

Hobby was seen on the 11th, single Peregrines were seen on three dates, whilst Kestrels were regular with eight together on the slopes of Chesters Hill on the 6th.

Other Non-Passerines...
A Cuckoo (a juvenile) seen on the 31st was the first of the year as, despite being a relatively recent regular Swannery breeding species, there were none in the spring!  Swifts peaked at a measly five on the 8th and the last (three) were seen on the 25th; whilst one or two Kingfishers were seen regularly, with four on the 16th. Other species noted in varying numbers were Pheasant, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A Firecrest joined the relatively abundant Goldcrests in the tit flock on the 16th as did the first Coal Tit since June on the 28th and the first Nuthatch since March on the 3rd. The hirundine roost held six-hundred Swallows and two-hundred Sand Martins on the 8th, with peak daytime counts of the former of two-hundred on the 11th and fifty on the 20th and peak daytime counts of the latter of fifty on the 11th and 20th; whilst House Martins peaked at ten on the 8th and fifty on the 20th. The first returning Willow Warblers were noted from the 8th but didn't appeared to exceed double figures all month and the two Garden Warblers on the 16th, were the first since May... whilst Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Cetti'sReed and Sedge Warblers were regularly encountered all month of course. The first Starlings since the spring (another lost breeding species) appeared on the 1st and around eighty were roosting by the end of the month. A Pied Flycatcher was present on the 16th and a Redstart on the 31st...

The Redstart (female/1st winter female)

As there were none in the spring, the first Whinchat of the year was seen on the 9th and there were three together on the 28th. The first Wheatear since May was seen on the 17th but there were then regular sightings with a peak of four on the 18th. A Yellow Wagtail on the 8th was also the first since May and there were then regular single figure sightings until a daytime count of forty on the 28th and a roosting peak of one-hundred and eighty on the 31st.  Other species noted in varying numbers were Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, WrenBlackbird, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.

One of this month's Ravens © Charlie Wheeler

And that's it for this month except to mention some non-bird wildlife news... the Deaths-head Hawkmoth caterpillar that Jack Oughton found on the 21st...

The Deaths-head Hawkmoth caterpillar © Charlie Wheeler

... and thank Charlie wheeler-photography for the use of the last couple of pics.