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.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Swannery Bird News - October 2015


Two Glossy Ibises flew in over Chesil Bank  at around 11 am on the 10th. They headed straight for a pool on the west side but just as they began to drop down they suddenly veered off west and just kept going. Previously that morning, at around 10.30, they were seen at nearby Lodmoor RSPB and then shortly after they were reported over Radipole RSPB. At the time of my sighting however I was unaware they were headed west and it was by pure chance that I was in the right place at the right time to finally add this species to The Swannery List!  Later in the day they were seen on the Axe Estuary (where they lingered into early November) and local birder Phil Abbott has kindly allowed me to use his photo of them at Colyford Common (as I failed to get a pic of them at The Swannery)...   

The Glossy Ibises at Colyford Common © Phil Abbott

Following on from last month's Cattle Egret sightings there were further sightings of a single on the 1st and 6th...

The Cattle Egret on Meadow Pool on the 1st

In what proved to be a very good autumn for Yellow-browed Warblers nationally... up to four individuals were seen or at least heard at The Swannery with singles on the 1st, 15th, 22nd and 31st. Unfortunately none gave themselves up to the camera so below is a pic of one that was trapped, ringed and released at The Swannery back in October 2012...

Yellow-browed Warbler October 2012

And now the rest of the news... 


A first winter Long-tailed Duck arrived on the 30th and the adult drake Scaup was at last joined by another on the 27th when a first winter bird arrived. All three were still present on the 31st.

Two firsts for this autumn were a Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the 1st and a Red-breasted Merganser on the 18th but both were the only ones of the month.

The peak counts of the commoner wildfowl were: 

Mute Swan 720; 

Black Swan 2; 
Canada Goose   240; 
Shelduck 1; 
Mandarin 1 (the white escape still);
Wigeon 460;
Gadwall 6; 
Teal 800;
Mallard  635; 
Pintail 250;
Shoveler  50;
Pochard 220; 
Tufted Duck 260.

Moulting drake Pintail

Other Water Birds... 

Apart from the aforementioned Glossy Ibises and the Cattle Egret there were no noteworthy sightings and peak counts of the commoner species were: 

Cormorant 20; 
Little Egret 3; 
Grey Heron 1;
Great Crested Grebe 30; 
Little Grebe 24;
Moorhen 20; 
Coot 1100.


Most noteworthy was a Jack Snipe on the 11th but also of note were sightings of Golden Plovers... with one on the 23rd and thirty on the 27th; Grey Plover... with one on the 6th; Knots... with singles on the 10th, 28th and 29th; Black-tailed Godwits with three on the 2nd and singles on the 4th and 21st; Common Sandpipers with one on the 6th and two on the 11th and Turnstones with six on the 2nd. 

Peaks counts of the commoner species were: 

Lapwing 60;
Dunlin 4; 
Snipe 3. 

Unusually not a single Redshank was seen.

The three Black-tailed Godwits on the 2nd


The only gulls of note were single first winter Yellow-legged Gulls on the 5th and the 12th. 

Peak counts of the commoner species were:

Black-headed Gull 30;

Mediterranean Gull 80;
Common Gull 20;
Lesser Black-backed Gull 5;
Herring Gull 20;
Great Black-backed Gull 200. 

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull
There were no terns.


Noteworthy sightings were of a Red Kite on the 15th; a Hobby on the 6th and a Merlin on the 31st. An adult male and at least two juvenile Marsh Harriers were seen regularly and there were at least two sightings of Peregrines including two together on one date. Sparrowhawks, Buzzards and Kestrels were also seen with some regularity of course. A Short-eared Owl was seen on the 15th and Barn Owl on the 21st, while several Tawny Owls were heard regularly.

Other Non-Passerines...

At least two Kingfishers were seen regularly but the only other species noted in varying non-noteworthy numbers were: 

Feral Pigeon
Stock Dove
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Green Woodpecker and 
Great Spotted Woodpecker.


Lingering summer migrants included at least ten Yellow Wagtails until the 6th; three Wheatears with the last on the 16th; at least one Sand Martin still on the 2nd; House Martins that peaked at one-hundred on the 1st and were last seen on the 16th and Swallows that peaked at two-hundred and fifty on the 15th and were last seen on the 26th. Chiffchaff and Blackcap numbers were relatively poor with no more than ten of each estimated in the grounds at any one time and apart from the aforementioned Yellow-browed Warblers and the ever present Cetti's Warblers, the only other warbler of the month was a latish Reed Warbler on the 15th. 

Incoming winter visitors included the first one of this season's Redwings on the 15th, with others heard regularly later in the month and a flock of over one-hundred Fieldfares that flew north on the 16th. At least one Brambling was present on the 31st and several Lesser Redpolls were seen, or at least heard, with six on the 8th being the largest flock. Siskins however were relatively scarce with flocks of around ten early in the month but then only sporadic singles noted thereafter. 

Goldcrest numbers continued to be very impressive though with estimates in the region of at least fifty in the lower grounds alone in the middle of the month...

One of this month's Goldcrests

It was perhaps not surprising with so many Goldcrests around that a few Firecrests were also seen with singles on six dates from the 15th...

One of the Firecrests...much less cooperative than the Goldcrest!

There was a small but obvious influx of Coal Tits with at least five on some dates but all seen well were of the British race, despite several records of Continental birds elsewhere in the county. Singles of Grey Wagtails and up to three Rock Pipits were regular, while seven  Stonechats on the 12th were the most so far this autumn. 

Male Stonechat

With movements noted elsewhere in the area it seemed only a matter of time before the first Bearded Tits dropped out of the sky, which they duly did on the 15th, with at least five then present to the end of the month.  

Overhead passage of commoner species was fairly unremarkable  with peak counts being eighty Skylarks on the 8th; one-thousand Starlings on the 31st;  fifty plus Linnets on several dates and small numbers of  Meadow Pipits and   Pied Wagtails although there were around thirty of the latter coming in to roost each evening. 

Other species noted in varying but unremarkable numbers were: 

Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
House Sparrow, 
Bullfinch and 
Reed Bunting.

Female Chaffinch
And that's it for this month except to thank Phill Abbott for the use of his photograph of the Glossy Ibises