Sightings for July 2003


July 31st

Some indication of return migration was obvious today as 4 Crossbill and 2 Redpoll were seen and heard overflying Stanpit this morning. On the same theme, 1 Pochard and 1 Tufted Duck flew upriver with 3 accompanying Shoveler. It was another reasonable wader day, especially 3 Avocet that were off the tip of South Marsh before leaving south-west as the tide rose. Other counts were around 85 Dunlin, 27 Curlew, 12 Common Sandpiper, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Ringed Plover and 3 Turnstone. Finally for the marsh, post-breeding dispersal was evident with a juvenile Great-crested Grebe was in Mother Siller's Channel, along with a Kingfisher there. Over on Hengistbury, there was a flock of 14 Sanderling on the beach.


July 30th

Dunlin continue to increase, this morning 135 were on Stanpit; also seen were 2 settled and 3 westerly Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover and 4 Common Sandpiper. There was also a single Black-tailed Godwit in Mother Siller's Channel. An afternoon scan from Fisherman's Bank added 1 to the Black-tailed Godwit count and a Greenshank. This evening, a Wheatear was on Crouch Hill.


July 29th

Some pretty awful weather throughout the night persisting into the morning and worsening thereafter. Waders on Stanpit have increased to 132 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling, 8 Common Sandpiper, 9 Ringed Plover and 1 Greenshank. There was also a lone Wheatear on Crouch Hill. On Hengistbury during the morning, 7 Common Scoter were west while 50+ Gannet and 3 Fulmar were feeding offshore. The beach held 1 Turnstone and a flock of 23 Whimbrel were seen to leave the harbour.


July 28th

A brace of visits to Stanpit produced 90 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel and 4 Little Tern on the first. While in the afternoon, wader numbers varied to 73 Dunlin, 3 Common Sandpiper and 2 Black-tailed Godwit, proving the harbour tends to be only a brief stopping place for most birds. The first 2 returning Wheatear were on Crouch Hill throughout the afternoon and a Dartford Warbler was also seen there.

J uly 27th

Stanpit was visited both morning and afternoon, but with vastly different results. On the morning's rising tide, there were over 120 Dunlin and 5 Whimbrel, but by the afternoon low just 15 and 1 of each remained respectively; there was, however, a Greenshank. Other sightings this afternoon were 3 Water Rail, including juvenile, in Parky Meade Rail, along with an adult Common Gull there. Meanwhile, aflock of 26 Sanderling were on the beach at Hengistbury, amazingly tolerant of the frequent disturbance. Also on the head was a single Whimbrel in Holloway's Dock.


July 26th

During the course of the night, the wind dropped almost completely and while the morning saw showers, the afternoon was constant drizzle. Stanpit produced the best birds in 3 Arctic Tern that entered the harbour via The Run and overflew Blackberry Point before leaving west. Another excellent harbour record was a Bullfinch on Hengistbury over the salterns. The wader count from Stanpit was 72 Dunlin, 11 Black-tailed Godwit (7 north and 4 south-east), 7 Whimbrel, 6 Common Sandpiper, 4 Ringed Plover and 1 Snipe. Not surprisingly, given the change in the weather, seawatching from the Beach Huts was poor; just a handful of Whimbrel, Turnstone and Sanderling noted on passage. Of interest, an offshore feeding group of 10 Common Tern contained at least 1 juvenile, the first of the season. By late morning the rising tide was encouraging waders to use Mudeford Sandspit and a group of 25 Sanderling was definitely worthy of remark, these were later joined by 37 Dunlin. A total of 8 Common Sandpiper was estimated on the Hengistbury side of the harbour, meaning a probable area number of 15 or so.


July 25th

Weatherwise, a dismal morning thanks to a strong southerly and fairly constant rain. The wind direction meant the Beach Huts offered little, if any, shelter and the only two observers received full two hour drenching. To make things worse, the birds were well below expectation; just 16 Gannet east, 3 Fulmar west, a handful of Sandwich Tern and 4 Sanderling on the beach. At least one of the two is currently questioning his sanity. Things picked up considerably this afternoon and a 4 hour watch produced 9 Balearic Shearwater, 2 Black Tern, 1 Great Skua, 6 Arctic Skua and 1 Manx Shearwater. A truly excellent local seawatch.


July 24th

On Stanpit this morning there were an increased 116 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 4 Common Sandpiper and 2 Whimbrel. By the late afternoon, the Sanderling had increased to 10. The wind has picked up throughput the day and seawatching could be good tomorrow. The Mute Swan round-up last Sunday officially herded 189 birds, of which 80 were unringed. A count on Monday showed there to be 468 in the harbour in total, meaning the area is of national importance for the species.


July 23rd

Apologies for yesterday's directional faux pas, west should have read east. Thanks to those who put me right. A late morning visit to Stanpit produced a nice variety of wader, including 79 Dunlin, 11 Common Sandpiper, 7 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling and 1 Turnstone. Late afternoon, there was a Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill, probably a result of post-breeding dispersal from the other side of the harbour.


July 22nd

Given other local interest just east of here, it's surprising there is anything to report today. However, Stanpit turned in 66 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Turnstone and 3 Common Sandpiper.


July 21st

Stanpit appeared very quiet this morning, just 48 Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpiper and 1 Whimbrel being the scant reward. The Bobolink of Wick Fields last November fame has been accepted by the BBRC.


July 20th

Some confusion over the tidal conditions meant that Stanpit was probably not watched at the best times today. On the morning's low there were 34 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel and 1 Common Sandpiper. This afternoon, during the swan upping, there was not a great deal of exposed mud and the only additions were 5 Common Sandpiper flushed during the proceedings. Around 150 Swan were rounded up into pens on South Marsh where the rings were checked.


July 19th

The early morning saw a moderate southerly blowing onshore. In the hour prior to 6:30, 2 Balearic Shearwater and over 200 Gannet were off Double Dykes; also at that time, 3 Knot overflew the harbour. Wick Fields provided an excellent harbour record, in the form of a female type Yellowhammer. A mid-morning watch from the Beach Huts yielded, in addition to an in-depth political discussion, 2 Whimbrel flushed from the beach, 1 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin, 1 Turnstone, a distant Skua sp., 2 Fulmar and 1 Kittiwake. On the return walk over 13 Common Sandpiper were counted in Barn Bight. Stanpit held quite a variety: including a Green Sandpiper off Fisherman's Bank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, 22 Dunlin (including 1 juvenile) and 1 Ringed Plover. Of interest, a family party of 4 Shoveler were around the area, perhaps indicating local breeding. Other birds noted were a Kingfisher in Parky Meade Rail and the harbour total of Little Egret is now estimated to be approaching 50. Juvenile Sandwich Tern were seen in the area today.


July 18th

In comparison to yesterday, the seawatching this morning was a disappointment, with just a dozen Gannet being noted from the Beach Huts. Elsewhere on Hengistbury, there were 10 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight and a Whimbrel in Holloway's Dock. Slightly later on Stanpit was visited where the Dunlin group has risen to 71, including a single juvenile, also 3 Turnstone, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel and 6 Common Sandpiper; also noted was a single Shoveler. This afternoon, a Bar-tailed Godwit was also on Stanpit.


July 17th

A night of almost constant rain during which the wind picked up to a moderate to strong south-westerly. A 90 minute seawatch, between 9:00 and 10:00, from the Beach Huts produced: 1 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Fulmar, over 150 Gannet, 50 Sandwich Tern and 3 Common Tern; all were moving west. There were also 3 Common Sandpiper about the groynes. Meanwhile, Stanpit a good variety of birds, including a Turtle Dove and 4 returning Willow Warbler in Smithy's Field. Waders were also well represented, the best being an adult Curlew Sandpiper, the first record of this species for the year. To back this up, there were 2 Green Sandpiper in the creeks of East Marsh and a high count of 18 Common Sandpiper, the bulk of these in Mother Siller's Channel. Completing the tally, there were also 34 Dunlin, 4 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone and 2 Whimbrel. Also of note, over 100 Swift moved west over the harbour during this time.


July 16th

There was good coverage of Stanpit this morning and this paid dividends; in particular around Priory Marsh where 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 8 Teal and a Greenshank were present. On the main part of the marsh Dunlin continue to increase, today totalling 40, there were also 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel and 1 Ringed Plover.


July 15th

The Dunlin reached a heady 22 on Stanpit this morning, along with 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel and a single Ringed Plover.


July 14th

The temperature was in excess of 30ºC for most of the day, so the harbour must have been a very pleasant place to visit. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on South Marsh, Stanpit, this morning. This bird was showing head moult, meaning it is probably a different individual to yesterday. Very little else to report, just 3 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Whimbrel. Things picked up a little with an evening visit to Stanpit with 3, possibly 4, Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel and 11 Dunlin being recorded.


July 13th

A gloriously hot day with a refreshing south-westerly blowing across the harbour. In the morning, Stanpit held a first-summer Mediterranean Gull, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Wigeon and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. On the falling mid-afternoon tide, there was a pristine adult Mediterranean Gull in Stanpit Bight, along with 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper and 6 Dunlin.


July 12th

An adult Mediterranean Gull was seen by the pitch and putt course at Hengistbury this morning and a second bird, a first summer, flew west. Three Great Crested Grebe flew south and out to sea while 2 Shoveler dropped into the Harbour. There were also 2 Teal off East Marsh, the Wigeon are still present and there were 2 Common Scoter resting on the sea off Double Dykes. Waders are still scarce with most paying just a brief visit before they move on. Overflying birds included 2 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit east, 1 Little Ringed Plover and finally 2 Ringed Plover which pitched in on Stanpit but didn't stay long. Of 8 Black-tailed Godwit present first thing 7 soon flew north while the remaining bird roosted on East Marsh for most of the morning - also in the Harbour were 13 Dunlin and 6 Common Sandpiper, 5 of which were in Barn Bight and 1 on East Marsh. An odd record for Hengistbury at this time of year was a Mistle Thrush which was commuting between Wick and the Barn Field. An estimate of the current Little Egret population yielded 40 birds, 31 of which were on East Marsh. An afternoon visit to Stanpit produced the third Mediterranean Gull of the day, another first-summer, while an evening visit saw the Little Egret and Common Sadnpiper totals rise to 48 and 7 respectively.


July 11th

Stanpit was visited morning and afternoon today. The first vist produced 2 Common Sandpiper around East Marsh, a Black-tailed Godwit leaving north from there and a Turnstone that flew towards the Beach Huts. On the second visit, the Common Sandpiper were still present along with 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin; 2 Whimbrel also flew south through the harbour. The eclipsing duck congregation in Parky Meade Rail held 1 drake Wigeon, presumably one of the summering birds, and 1 Teal.


July 10th

The first visit to Hengistbury for several days resulted in a very rewarding seawatch. A Balearic Shearwater lingered for a few minutes before heading west, however, this record was probably surpassed by an unseasonal Great Northern Diver seen to pass by. The supporting cast was not insignificant with 7 Eider east, 15 Common Scoter west and over 70 Gannet feeding close inshore. Stanpit was also covered and the totals from there are: 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel and now 11 Dunlin. A female Shoveler in Mother Siller's Channel is a good summer record. Other more regular birds were 20 Sandwich Tern, 3 Common Tern and over 30 Little Egret. On another evening excursion to Hengistbury, a Nightjar was around the Ironstone Quarry and a Green Sandpiper was heard after dark. Finally, the day cannot pass without a mention of Dave Smith's landmark birthday.


July 9th

A quality bird seen from the harbour today, in the form of an Osprey which approached from the north mid-morning before being repelled by a mob of gulls over The Priory. Osprey often spend several days in the Avon Valley, coming into the harbour to take the easy Mullet. If the bird can run the gauntlet tomorrow, it may be worth a try. Other than that, wader interest was maintained at Stanpit with 5 Common Sandpiper and a breeding plumage Turnstone joining the 7 Dunlin and 1 Sanderling. In Parky Meade Rail, single Tufted Duck and Gadwall were with the eclipsing Mallard gathering.


July 8th

From Fisherman's Bank this morning, the Whimbrel was still present along with 20 Curlew. Other waders were 7 Dunlin and 1 Sanderling, only other record was a count of 25 Sandwich Tern.


July 7th

A day which started and concluded fine, but with cloud in the middle part. On Stanpit, a Bearded Tit could be heard in the reeds adjacent to Parky Meade Rail in the morning. In the harbour, a group of 6 Dunlin were accompanied by a single Sanderling; also noted were 21 Sandwich Tern and 1 Common Tern, while the Lapwing have risen to 375. During the evening, 1 Common Sandpiper was recorded. In the last couple of days a Kestrel with avian tastes has been observed taking a Sand Martin as it left the nest hole, while the same or another was seen chasing a passerine around Stanpit car park.


July 6th

A fine day with a light south-westerly. As expected, Stanpit provided most of the records. On the lunchtime rising tide, a pristine adult Mediterranean Gull was present for over an hour, along with 7 Dunlin. Slightly earlier, while the water was still high, 3, possibly 4, Common Sandpiper were around the fringes of East Marsh, as were 18 Curlew; and Lapwing were counted at 182. Around the same time from Hengistbury, a small group of 3 Black-tailed Godwit were seen to fly north and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the Wood. The status of the harbour's breeding Shelduck status is one brood of quite mature birds now numbering 7 out of 10, while the younger brood of 12 seems to be down to just 1. An evening stroll on Hengistbury saw a Mediterranean Gull fly from the HHC towards Mudeford and a Great-spotted Woodpecker left the Wood heading for the same area. Slightly earlier in the evening, there were 10 Black-tailed Godwit off Fisherman's Bank.


July 5th

The early morning insects at the HHC were unbearable, so a beach walk quickly ensued. Not a bad decision as an exceptionally early Purple Sandpiper, replete in rarely seen breeding plumage, was present on Long Groyne. Also seen were 12 Common Scoter east, 2 Whimbrel west, 1 Kittiwake west and a constant presence of single figure Gannet. Sand Martin must have had good breeding success as over 350 were around the cliffs, including a group of 200 which spent time preening on the shingle. Also seen from Hengistbury were 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Gadwall in Barn Bight, while 2 Dunlin and 1 Greenshank were seen on the vast expanse of low tide mud. Post breeding dispersal was evident with Great-spotted Woodpecker and Kingfisher also being seen, the latter perched on the fringes of Barn Bight. Over to Stanpit, where 2 Ringed Plover were off Blackberry Point and a Peregrine was over Priory Marsh. Other news - the Stanpit Black Brant from October last year has been accepted by BBRC.


July 4th

Stanpit continues to hold small numbers of passage waders, with the feeling being that their return is perhaps a fortnight or so early. Hopefully, this doesn't mean poor breeding success. Totals were 15 Curlew, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. A Hobby was seen over East Marsh and 6 Common Tern were in the harbour. The tidal conditions look good for a late Saturday morning visit, there's no excuse not to be there.


July 3rd

Stanpit was again the focus of attention and returning birds were again conspicuous. During a 2 hour period, 165 Swift moved west along with 14 Black-tailed Godwit; while a Whimbrel was settled. A variety of wildfowl was on offer including 2 pair of Gadwall, 1 duck Teal and 1 drake Wigeon. At least 2 Lesser Whitethroat were present as well as 14 Curlew. This evening 3 Common Sandpiper were around East Marsh. A late evening Hengistbury visit produced Nightjar.


July 2nd

It's certainly worth looking back at yesterday's posting for some quality late reports. Stanpit was well watched this morning with 2 Green Sandpiper being present - 1 off Fisherman's Bank before flying towards Priory Marsh where it was joined by a second. The gathering of gulls on East Marsh held 1adult Mediterranean Gull. Other waders were 4 breeding summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew and 2 Dunlin. A Kingfisher was over East Marsh; and tern numbers picked up with 10 Little Tern and 5 Common Tern being noted. Little Egret were counted at 23 birds.


July 1st

The constant threat of a drenching deterred any harbour birding during the day. However, by the early evening a Greenshank was seen on Stanpit. A crepuscular, insect ridden visit to Hengistbury was particularly rewarding with 1, possibly 2 Nightjar churring around the Ironstone Quarry. Other very notable birds were a Green Sandpiper calling furiously at 10:20pm as it left south, while a Tawny Owl could be heard over on Stanpit in the North Scrubs area.

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