Welcome to the website of the Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group
Slideshow Image 1 Slideshow Image 2 Slideshow Image 3 Slideshow Image 4 Slideshow Image 5 Slideshow Image 6 Slideshow Image 7 Slideshow Image 8 Slideshow Image 9 Slideshow Image 10 Slideshow Image 11Slideshow Image 12Slideshow Image 13Slideshow Image 14Slideshow Image 15Slideshow Image 16 Slideshow Image 17 Slideshow Image 18 Slideshow Image 19 Slideshow Image 20

Sightings for the current month

August 1st

There was the most cloud for quite some time this morning, when birds were much sparser than of late. The exception perhaps being Sedge Warbler, which had a brief run in the nets early on. In Ashtree Meadows, a Bullfinch was a nice record, while a Redstart and 3 Garden Warbler were in the North Scrubs, and 20 Willow Warbler were across the two aforementioned sites. On the other side of the river, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 20 Whitethroat and 15 Willow Warbler were between Wick and the Long Field. The only report from Stanpit comes from the afternoon high tide period, when 5 Whimbrel, the breeding-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper and 30 or so Dunlin could just about be picked out roosting in the long grass on East Marsh. In a brisk south-westerly breeze, there was mention of perhaps going to look at the sea, but no details have been received so it is presumed to have been an uneventful affair.

At the AGM in April, there was something of a shuffle on the committee and we thought it may be useful for members and others to see who is now doing what, as well as a little bit about each of them. CHOG committee....

Tides August 2nd: H01:55 | H04:50 | L08:45 | H14:15 | H17:20 | L21:25

July 31st

Common Tern
Common Tern – Alan Hayden
...and another with a Sandwich Tern (left) – Alan Hayden

It was by far the best day of the season for Atlantic bound terns, with 190 Common Tern and 100 Sandwich Tern passing west at sea, as well as over seventy of the former and forty-two of the latter resting up at either Stanpit or about the tip of the sandspit. Meanwhile, with these on the move, it was not altogether surprising for an Arctic Skua to join them. Also at sea, a Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gull, all juveniles; while the year-older Little Gull was again in Stanpit Bight early morning. Marsh Harrier hasn’t been recorded for quite some time, so a bird that landed briefly on East Marsh at 11:45 before being seen off by gulls was most welcome. Earlier in the day, Willow Warbler were reckoned at around 150 birds, but in two quite distinct concentrations - one at the north end of Wick Fields, the other at the end of the head - along with singles of Wheatear and Tree Pipit. Wader numbers at Stanpit came to: single Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 100+ Dunlin, with 8 Sanderling on the sandspit and a further 17 Black-tailed Godwit over Hengistbury. To round up, 55 Little Egret were counted at Stanpit, along with a couple of Shoveler. 

Tides August 1st: H01:10 | H04:00 | L08:00 | H13:30 | H16:30 | L20:40

July 30th

Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
This Great Black-backed Gull plunged almost osprey-like to catch a mullet,
but was unable to carry the fish very far before it wriggled free – Alan Hayden

No need to remark about the weather, but the passerines keep on coming through. Yesterday saw another decent day of ringing, while today’s field observations on Hengistbury included: 170 Willow Warbler, but according to the ringer an earlier start would have yielded more, 100+ Sedge Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher on the Long Field, a Whinchat and a Wheatear. Also, singles of Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail over. It was a bumper day for Little Ringed Plover with three individuals being seen around Stanpit and a flock of four west over the HHC, so stating a total would be bordering on a guess. In addition, a couple of Green Sandpiper were in Brewer’s Creek, 27 Sanderling were off Mudeford Quay, as many as 15 Common Sandpiper were about, a Spotted Redshank passed over the HHC and 3 Greenshank, a Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, the bright bird and one plain individual, 3 Snipe and 79 Dunlin were turned in from Stanpit. The first-summer Little Gull was again around the marsh, as were 3 Pintail, 3 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and 11 Teal. Another low-tide vigil at Parky Meade Rail came up with 21 Water Rail and 23 Moorhen.

July 29th

Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Grey Heron – Alan Hayden

We haven’t mentioned the weather for few days, but for the records I guess it should be stated that the warm and settled conditions continue. Terns are starting to become more conspicuous, with 41 Common Tern resting on South Marsh this morning and 55 Sandwich Tern on East Marsh this afternoon, along with 3 Mediterranean Gull. The main focus of the day was waders, which were headed by a Green Sandpiper on Wick Meadows and a Little Ringed Plover on Grimmery Bank, but both soon took flight. Otherwise, Stanpit held: 2 Sanderling, 8 Common Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, the splendid Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe and 121 Dunlin - the latter figure exactly the same as yesterday, so suggesting little or no movement in the last 24-hours. On the other side of the harbour, passerines were logged at 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 45 Willow Warbler and 15 Sedge Warbler, while a Wheatear and a juvenile Stonechat were on Crouch Hill, Stanpit. To finish up on the birds seen from inside the recording area, a couple of Bearded Tit were about, as well as 2 Kingfisher, a Gadwall, 6 Water Rail and 25 Moorhen. Just outside the zone, although almost certainly visible from within, a Red Kite attempted to head out to sea but was hassled by gulls and decided to coast westward instead. Of butterfly interest, a Clouded Yellow moved over East Marsh.

July 28th

It’s difficult to know where to start today, but why not passerines? After yesterday, when over 100 birds were ringed, it was a surprise to get a second good day in succession; but the western end of Hengistbury and Wick produced: 115 Willow Warbler, a Wood Warbler, a Whinchat, 2 Redstart, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Yellow Wagtail and 9 Wheatear. The remaining sections of the head were, however, by-and-large deserted. Next to waders and a fine species tally of sixteen from across all areas, which included: a Wood Sandpiper up from Central Marsh and north, a Green Sandpiper, 2 Grey Plover and a Knot that seemed to arrive over the HHC, 5 Greenshank, 10 Common Sandpiper, 17 Sanderling on the sandspit, 7 Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, four or so Ringed Plover and 131 Dunlin. In addition to an adult Roseate Tern that lingered off the Beach Huts, 98 Common Tern moved west, as did 42 Mediterranean Gull, around half of them juvenile birds, and 230 Sandwich Tern were estimated to be using the site. Meanwhile, 160 Swift moved over to the west and a further sixteen and five of Common Tern and Mediterranean Gull respectively were inside the harbour along with a juvenile Common Gull. The Parky Meade Rail area came up with a count of 12 Bearded Tit and a Tufted Duck in eclipse plumage, presumably the tame bird, was again seen.

July 27th

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit in full breeding-plumage – Alan Crockard
Lapwing – Alan Hayden

An crake-watch that started at dawn, in order to catch the best of the tide, turned up 19 Water Rail in Parky Meade Rail, four of them chicks, and a good count of 25 Moorhen. Around Stanpit Bight, both the flood and ebb tides were watched and between them produced a wader tally of: a Little Ringed Plover, that actually on Crouch Hill after first being seen over the Barn Field, an Avocet, 6 Sanderling, 5 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 16 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover and 101 Dunlin. The Little Gull was in the harbour during the morning, while an adult Common Gull was again in The Run, and around a dozen Mediterranean Gull came-and-went throughout the day. Meanwhile, 8 Common Tern passed through and Sandwich Tern numbers are starting to build. There were fewer Willow Warbler than yesterday, around twenty being estimated across the site, but the reedbeds were once more busy with migrant Sedge Warbler. That said, there is still occasional song from resident birds and even more from the incumbent Reed Warbler, at least five males heard giving it a go. Also in the reeds, a couple of juvenile Bearded Tit seen across the river from Grimmery Point. A Tufted Duck toured the area early on and, later in the day, an adult Peregrine made a pass over East Marsh that caused a fair degree of panic.

July 26th

Bearded Tit
Bearded Tit
These Bearded Tit siblings started as a quartet,
but the remaining three are going strong – Alan Crockard
Little Egret
Little Egret – Alan Hayden

The overnight northerly wind dropped a decent number of commoner passerines into the area; for example, 52 Willow Warbler and 70+ Sedge Warbler were estimated to move past the HHC in a couple of hours. Also: a couple of Whinchat moved through and a Wheatear was by the Natterjack Pond; while a much shorter distance traveller was a Treecreeper in the company of a tit flock in the riverside willows. At least 6 Green Sandpiper were logged - one in Stanpit Creek, one on Wick Meadows and the rest over the HHC - as well as 5 adult Knot, 10 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank, 6 Whimbrel, 7 newly-arrived, adult Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe, 2 Ringed Plover and 78 Dunlin; most of these at Stanpit. The best-of-the-rest was the Little Gull on South Marsh in the morning, but also: an adult Common Gull off Mudeford Quay early on; around 10 Mediterranean Gull throughout the day; 8 Common Tern through; 3 Raven, the quay bird and two others; 20 Common Scoter at sea; the photographed Bearded Tit; a Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill; and singles of Pochard and Shoveler. A local butterfly highlight was a Marbled White by the Natterjack Pond. 

July 25th

Shoveler (above) and Teal at Stanpit – Alan Hayden
Painted Lady
...and Painted Lady on the top of Hengistbury – Clinton Whale

There were a few Swift on the move this morning - a total of 310 birds counted westward over Hengistbury - as well as Common Tern and Mediterranean Gull coming through the harbour; the former logged at thirty-one and the latter at forty-three, but thirty of those were juveniles so adding weight to the on-going suspicions that it's been a bumper season somewhere to the east of us. Also passing over were a Tree Pipit and possibly a Hobby, although that may well have been on a hunting foray from elsewhere. With the tides still unfavourable for early morning wader counting, the best were a Little Ringed Plover over Hengistbury and a juvenile Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and a few Dunlin from Fisherman's Bank. To complete the post, a flock of 17 Shoveler circuited and Bearded Tit could be heard in the HHC reedbed. 

July 24th

Greenshank – Alan Hayden
Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler – Alan Crockard
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler – Alan Crockard

In a north-easterly breeze, there a little bit of movement at sea into the airflow. This included 8 Eider, 24 Mediterranean Gull, twenty-two of them juvenile birds, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 78 Common Scoter and at least 40 Gannet. Meanwhile, a total of 94 Cormorant travelled high and purposefully in the opposite direction. A Little Ringed Plover, a Sanderling, 2 Turnstone and 2 Common Sandpiper were logged from Hengistbury, with a further 2 ‘common-sands’ inside the harbour along with 4 Whimbrel and a Dunlin. Back to the head and a few migrant passerines, namely 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Wheatear and 6 Willow Warbler, while a decent few days of ringing have produced 41 Reed Warbler and 21 Sedge Warbler, as well as a juvenile Dartford Warbler - a species less than expected in a reedbed net! The remaining miscellany for the day comes courtesy of: the season’s first juvenile Common Tern, trailing one of its parents around the area, 14 Shoveler, 5 Teal and a Kingfisher. Yesterday, there was much commotion around a rather gruesome event in the Hengistbury Sand Martin colony, when an Adder leant over the edge of the cliff and plucked a youngster from the burrow, which was then swallowed over a 5-minute period. 

July 23rd

Avocet at Stanpit last night – Alan Hayden
Black-tailed Godwit
...likewise, these adult Black-tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden

The moment of another gloriously warm day came at 10:20 this morning, when a dark, adult female Honey Buzzard soared over Two Riversmeet. Other than that, it’s mainly about waders, with: a Little Ringed Plover, 2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe and Ringed Plover being turned in from Stanpit. After yesterday’s Common Gull record, there was an even less frequently seen plumage example seen in the area today - a juvenile at Stanpit over lunch - as well as 3 Mediterranean Gull. Passerine interest was modest to say the least, just a single Yellow Wagtail amongst the marsh ponies. 

July 22nd

There were fifteen species of wader recorded inside the harbour this morning - the following list in notional order of interest: a Wood Sandpiper over Fisherman’s Bank, a Little Ringed Plover over Crouch Hill, 2 Avocet around all day, a Knot likewise, 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 9 Whimbrel, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe, a Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin and then uncounted Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher. In addition, a couple of Whimbrel passed by westward at sea. The best of the gulls, for the date that is, was a first-summer Common Gull, as well as a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, but just one Mediterranean Gull, an adult. The water meadows on Wick hosted singles of Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail, while 3 Shoveler were at Stanpit. 

July 21st

The first Mullet-hawk, i.e. Osprey, of the year was recorded today, when a bird passed high to the south-west over the north of the area. There were also further signs of returning passerines - 3 Whinchat, an adult and two juveniles, were on Priory Marsh, 3 Willow Warbler and a Garden Warbler were in Smithy’s Field, and ignoring those birds still singing around 35 Sedge Warbler fed up in the reeds. In addition, around a hundred each of Swift, Swallow and House Martin travelled west, ditto an unkindness of 7 Raven, while the Mudeford Quay resident was rifling through last night’s trash early on. After a few days of not being seen, the Glossy Ibis was in Stanpit Bight for some time this morning, when a Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Snipe and 4 Shoveler were also logged. The remaining news involves at least 9 Bearded Tit at Stanpit. 

July 20th

Great Green Bush-cricket
Great Green Bush-cricket - very popular with the local Kestrels – Chris Dresh

Another scorching day saw the first returning Wheatear of the ‘autumn’, a female-type bird that spent most of the day on Crouch Hill; also an adult Yellow Wagtail around there in the morning, before heading over towards Wick Hams. Although the wader selection was down on yesterday, there was still a modicum of interest - not least from an adult Curlew Sandpiper with the Dunlin and a 2 Little Ringed Plover over Crouch Hill - but also: 17 Common Sandpiper, thirteen of those on the sandspit, 3 Greenshank, 6 Whimbrel and 63 Dunlin. A juvenile Sandwich Tern in Stanpit Bight was the first of the year, while the Little Gull, 7 Mediterranean Gull, five of them juveniles, and 3 Common Tern were also inside the harbour. The end of the sandspit again hosted Raven, but it does now seem to be just a single bird. 

July 19th

Lightening over Mudeford Quay
Lightening over Mudeford Quay
Mudeford Quay at around 1:30 this morning – Chris Dresh

Firstly,  a piece of news from yesterday on a bird that was understandably treated with some caution. Late in the morning, a warbler song full of mimicry was heard for around 15-minutes from the hedge that runs from Stanpit car park alongside the sea scouts building. Although suspicions were deep as to the species involved, it wasn’t until some recordings had been circulated that a Marsh Warbler was confirmed. The bird was listened for yesterday evening and from first light this morning, but it does seem to have gone. Back to today and an incredible wader-fest. This was initially headed by 10 Curlew Sandpiper, all adults and all still in full breeding-plumage, amongst the Dunlin on Stanpit; but these were then somewhat eclipsed by an early afternoon build-up of Greenshank to thirty-nine birds on Blackberry Point, from where they left on the flooding tide. Meanwhile, the ‘curlew-sands’ remained and there was a further, single Greenshank, so making a neat forty for the day. In addition, 4 Sanderling, 7 Whimbrel, 11 Common Sandpiper, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, a Snipe, a Ringed Plover and 58 Dunlin were on-site. The best of the terns were 2 Little Tern at Stanpit, as well as 18 Common Tern logged, while the Little Gull and 3 Mediterranean Gull were present. To round up, East Marsh hosted 47 Little Egret and a Fulmar was noted at sea.

July 18th

Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull – Alan Hayden
Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper – Alan Hayden
The thunder and lightening came overnight, along with some quite heavy rain and a strengthening of the wind. As a consequence, the sea off Hengistbury was given some attention, but was deathly quiet until just after 7:30, when things picked up significantly. Over the next hour or so, the following were all seen heading west: an adult Roseate Tern, an Arctic Skua, 2 Great Skua very close in, 140 Common Scoter, a Golden Plover, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a flock of 22 Mallard, those surely as wild as we’re ever likely to experience. Meanwhile, 3 Black-tailed Godwit came into the area and there was the bizarre sight of a Peregrine attacking a Gannet over the water, before a Herring Gull joined in to see off the falcon and escort it back to shore! A little earlier, at least 22 Mediterranean Gull were about the eastern side of Stanpit, but in-harbour waders were somewhat limited; while other points of note included a flock of 22 Skylark that lifted up from the Barn Field and a Raven on Mudeford Quay.

July 17th

As the humidity builds ahead of the thunder storms that are forecast for this coming weekend, it was altogether quieter around the area today. Singles of Kingfisher were seen in Parky Meade Rail and Stanpit Creek, while at least 8 Bearded Tit were spread across Stanpit and over 40 young-looking Sedge Warbler were in the Great Spires reeds. Waders were probably slightly down on yesterday - 8 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank and a Snipe being the only ones of note - but there were 3 Tufted Duck and 2 Shoveler around. Mediterranean Gull were thin on the ground early on, but a late afternoon ant hatch saw 20+ taking advantage directly over Two Riversmeet. However, with the swarm and its accompanying gulls right around the periphery of the harbour there were surely far more out there.

Additional news: 19 Mediterranean Gull were pre-roosting in the harbour this evening.

July 16th

There were just 3 Mediterranean Gull logged today; but one, in second-summer plumage, was carrying a colour ring. A little subsequent searching on the web confirms the bird was ringed in 2012 as a chick in the nest in Lithuania - so, as suspected, some of the birds currently passing through the area are of East European origin. In terms of species interest, a flock of 4 Crossbill that overflew Stanpit this morning is the pick of the news; but also a Hobby, the first since the incoming birds of the spring, over the marsh. A decent list of waders is headed by a Little Ringed Plover and then: 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank, 8 Whimbrel, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Dunlin and 2 Snipe. To wrap up, the Little Gull was seen first thing and a couple of Common Tern were around slightly later.

Members' Day
KIngfisherSeptember 6th

Ringing demonstrations, guided walks and more...

Further details will be announced closer to the date.
CHOG Committee
CHOG is managed by an annually elected committee. To find out more about the committee...
CHOG Committee page >> Report-2013Chairman, Chris Chapleo, receiving a donation from the Captain's Club Hotel for the placement of bat boxes around Wick.
Now out

The Birds of Christchurch Harbour 2013

report cover 2013 Another excellent production containing:
  • Over 110 pages
  • 8 plates of colour photos
  • Review of the birding year
  • 215 species systematic list
  • Breeding bird surveys
  • Butterfly report
  • Mammal, reptile and amphibian summary
The report retails in local outlets for £7.00, but is free for members. To get your copy Join CHOG.
Harbour Map
harbourmapthumbnail Our new, interactive harbour map helps you to identify locations around the harbour and gives some useful pointers.
Harbour Slideshow
Snow Bunting 20 See the best of some recent rarities in our Harbour Slideshow.
Search CHOG
Search Facility
You can find text or photos from previous articles on the CHOG Website on our Search Page. Access it from anywhere on the site with the 'Search' menu item on the left.
CHOG Forum
CHOG members and friends can participate in our new forum. You can ask questions of our more knowledgeable members and share information and photos. Sign-up NOW!