Sightings for March 2004.
The fine weather continues and the harbour was again well watched. Most reports are from Stanpit, where a male Redstart on the Golf Course was the first of the year, as was a Green Sandpiper appearing to come off Wick Fields and passing over Hengistbury. The flooded northern Wick Fields are underwatched, but may be worth for checking for freshwater waders, as Sunday's LRP seemed to head in that direction. There was a strong visible, northerly migration over Stanpit, comprising: 450 Meadow Pipit, 170 Linnet, 86 Sand Martin, 30 Chaffinch, 20 alba Wagtail, 10 Siskin, 5 Swallow, 1 Fieldfare and 1 House Martin. A Yellowhammer was also seen, along with 5 Black cap and 2 Peregrine, and 11 Water Pipit were on Priory Marsh. Things were a little quieter on Hengistbury, just 10 grounded Chiffchaff, a single Wheatear and Swallow, and 2 Sandwich Tern. The Knot is still in the harbour, as are 13 Turnstone, however, wildfowl numbers are declining with just 140 Wigeon and 13 Brent Goose counted. Just after dawn a drake Pochard headed downriver and shortly later a pair of Gadwall went the opposite way, and a Grey Wagtail moved east. Finally, for those of you who know Iain Prophet, next time you see him pass on congratulations. After 8 years of frequent visits, he finally got Rook onto his harbour list! There were 2 from Stanpit and another over the end of the head.
Some wonderful weather which befitted the presence of an Alpine Swift over the Nursery at Hengistbury this morning. Ian and Jean Southworth were watching 2 Swallow from the top of the head when the star appeared at eye level. The bird spent around 10 minutes in harbour airspace, before heading off eastwards. The area has been long overdue a national rarity, the last was in November 2002 when Stanpit hosted another species of apus . Surprisingly, the rest of the day was fairly unremarkable. The pick being a flock of 8 Ruff arriving from the Avon Valley over Stanpit, before disappearing south into the glare. Early morning, Priory Marsh held over 10 Water Pipit, most looking very pink, but numbers dwindled to 2 by mid-morning and just 1 this evening. Hengistbury migrants included 12 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap, while the Sand Martin are now starting their cliff excavations. Over Stanpit, 100 Meadow Pipit and 25 Linnet headed north, and a Mistle Thrush was seen in flight past the Priory. Holloway's Dock attracted 105 Black-tailed Godwit, some turning cinnamon; while a Sanderling was with 11 Ringed Plover just off the Sandspit. Stanpit this evening held a Knot and at least 2 Sandwich Tern.
A fine, spring-like day, which made the weekend's conditions all the more galling. The best birds were 3 Goosander that flew west past Hengistbury this morning, a newly arrived, male Black Redstart and 1 Firecrest on the top of the head, and a pair of Bearded Tit in the HHC reedbed this morning. As would be expected, visible migration was good with over 800 Meadow Pipit and 30 Linnet west, 6 Redpoll and 2 Siskin east, 25 alba Wagtail north and 2 Jackdaw. A Little Ringed Plover was also heard moving, but could not be seen. More good numbers of Wheatear were present, 42 in all on Hengistbury, also grounded were 80 Chiffchaff, 10 Willow Warbler and 6 Blackcap. After a slow start, Sandwich Tern were evident with 5 birds off the head and 1 from Stanpit. A wildfowl variety was seen today, with 5 Pintail west, 2 Shoveler in the harbour and 1 drake Pochard flying upriver. As sometimes happens at this time of year, a Fulmar was prospecting the cliffs, although it's hard to imagine a pair actually selecting a suitable site. The usual suspects were around Stanpit, namely the first-winter Little Gull and 3 Water Pipit, other notables were yesterday's Knot and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull off Fisherman's Bank. Black-tailed Godwit were counted at 90 birds and Shelduck at a high 51.
A definite influx of Wheatear and Chiffchaff today. This morning a total of 18 Wheatear were on Hengistbury, including 14 recent arrivers on one groyne, while this afternoon 12 birds were scattered around Stanpit. During most of the day, there was little evidence of a significant phyllosc arrival, however, by late afternoon, over 130 Chiffchaff were estimated around the northern fringes of Stanpit, also 3 Willow Warbler. One of the Chiffchaff was a suspected abientus bird. Quality, rather than quantity, was present early morning, with a Marsh Harrier high south-west over Wick and a male Ring Ouzel on the ground there, while the year's first Little Ringed Plover circled Priory Marsh, calling, before heading over to Wick. Priory Marsh also held 7 Water Pipit and late this afternoon the Little Gull was hawking insects. Blackcap are starting to trickle in, 2 birds were in the Wood on Hengistbury this morning; a Raven was also heard overhead. Bullfinch are not common birds in the area, but there was a pair in Smithy's Field possibly for most of the day. A wader count at Stanpit yielded 165 Dunlin, 76 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Turnstone, 8 Ringed Plover and 3 Grey Plover. Finally, a Knot was off Fisherman's Bank and what is presumably the wintering Common Sandpiper was seen, along with a colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit, hopefully details will follow.
Despite a blanket of unforecast low cloud with drizzle and very poor visibility, birds continued to arrive this morning. The best being a Little Stint with the Stanpit Dunlin and female Ring Ouzel on Wick Fields. Clear evidence of migration was provided by a Willow Warbler seen arriving on the top of the head, resting and preening for five minutes on fence wire, before commencing a feeding frenzy in the first available gorse bush; also 2 Wheatear came in off the sea and settled on the groynes. A migrant Buzzard was flushed from around the Coastguards by the first dogwalker of the morning, the bird then presumably rested on the cliffs for a few hours before being seen rising and leaving north a few hours later. Small gaps in the cloud revealed northerly moving Meadow Pipit, around 200 birds were estimated; also seen moving was a group of 17 Stock Dove east, 3 Brambling, 2 Redpoll and 2 House Sparrow. The 2 Black Redstart were on the pitch and putt course again and another Wheatear was on the Barn Field. The sea itself provided interest with 1 Velvet Scoter off the Beach Huts and a Great-northern Diver off Double Dykes. There was also a close, assumed sick Razorbill and slightly further out a Guillemot. Other notables from Hengistbury were 2 Purple Sandpiper, two sightings of a male Peregrine, a Mediterranean Gull heard from the HHC, 3 Greylag Goose circling the area and 2 Common Scoter west. Stanpit's best included 60 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Turnstone, also 2 Water Pipit remaining on Priory Marsh. The information services reported a Greenshank and a further 10 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh.
Some early morning frost soon gave rise to a pleasant morning. More Garganey today, this time 3 birds, 2 drakes and 1 duck, in Parky Meade Rail during the morning, with the first-winter Little Gull feeding around them, also a Great-crested Grebe. An Avocet was in the harbour, seen in both Stanpit and Barn Bights. Hengistbury continues to host 2 Black Redstart, both on the pitch and putt course, also there, 5 Wheatear and a further 2 on the Barn Field. After apparently leaving, a pair of Gadwall have returned to Barn Bight. Initially the Wood seemed empty, but after a couple of hours it held at least 6 each of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. True to form, the extremely pink-flushed, first-winter Little Gull was feeding in Mother Siller's Channel just before dusk. A pair of Jackdaw, not normally harbour breeders, were gathering twigs from trees on the old Council Depot site early today.
A week of quality continues, with a drake Garganey in Stanpit Bight being today's star, while the first Swallow of the season put in an appearance over Stanpit Golf Course. What are considered to be 2 new Black Redstart were on Hengistbury today, 1 on the pitch and putt course, the other behind the HHC. There was a Firecrest in the Wood, which also held 7 Chiffchaff and a female Blackcap; 1 Wheatear was seen on the head and 3 Sand Martin were over the Barn. The still, clear conditions prompted a raptor bonanza just north of the harbour, at one time 26 Buzzard could be seen soaring, some coming high over the area before gliding back. Also soaring during the course of the morning were 6 Sparrowhawk, 4 Raven and 3 Peregrine. A female Merlin was seen and 3 further Sparrowhawk, in off the sea and north, provided evidence of migration. Also heading north were 150 Meadow Pipit and 6 Rook, while over 50 Chiffchaff were in the northern Stanpit vegetation, along with a single male Blackcap. Counted, wintering birds at Stanpit included 250+ Wigeon, 54 Brent Goose, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 43 Shelduck, 35+ Teal, 7 Turnstone, but now just 1 Grey Plover. Long-tailed Tit were seen nest building in the Wood on Hengistbury. The first-winter Little Gull remains on Stanpit. Around 5:30pm it was again in Mother Siller's Channel, which it seems to favour. Slightly later, a Little Owl was calling around Two Riversmeet car park.
After a clear night, there was something of a chill in the air as the wind turned to a light north-easterly. Another 2 Black Redstart were seen today, one by the driving range at Wick, the other around the HHC. Yellowhammer are always welcome, so 1 bird over Wick Fields this morning was well appreciated; there was also a Firecrest in the same area. From the Beach Huts, 3 Scaup, 2 duck and 1 drake, were seen coming from the west before making a full circuit of Christchurch Bay, then departing eastwards; a Wheatear was observed coming in off the sea. On the sea, but at greater distance than in recent days, were the single Velvet and Common Scoter. Migrants were sparse, but 10 Goldcrest and 6 Chiffchaff were noted. A Great-spotted Woodpecker is also lingering in the Wood. A potential breeder?
It was more of the same today, even yesterday's early afternoon hail came back for an encore. After a couple of blank days, the Velvet Scoter was again seen off the Beach Huts. Also from there were 6 Common Scoter and 2 Diver sp. going east. The female Black Redstart was again in the Barn Field, along with 4 Wheatear. Sand Martin are still trickling in, with 5 birds seen today. Holloway's Dock has recently become attractive to waders, today it held 3 Black-tailed Godwit. Over 200 Meadow Pipit headed north over Stanpit this morning, while a Firecrest was in the North Scrubs and 25 Chiffchaff were scattered across the area, most of them singing males. A female Merlin was over the marsh, the Little Gull was hawking over Priory Reeds and 9 Water Pipit were on Priory Marsh. Undoubtedly the strangest sight of the day was a Robin in the sea just off the end of the sandspit during the hailstorm. Presumably it was a migrant forced down by the weather. The bird immediately attracted the attentions of 3 Black-headed Gull who attempted to finish it off. Despite their best efforts the Robin, on its third attempt, lifted clear of the water and headed seemingly unscathed to the relative safety of the Beach Huts.
A fine start to the day, but severe hail arrived in the early afternoon. In a slightly northerly wind, some birds were moving over Hengistbury. Around 100 Meadow Pipit headed north, while single Brambling and Siskin were presumably heading east. A strange sight was a Red-throated Diver which approached very high from the east and then settled down in the harbour itself. Other movers included 4 Tufted Duck going south, 3 Firecrest, 2 in Double Dykes and 1 in the Wood, around 10 Chiffchaff and 2 White Wagtail. A female Merlin and Sparrowhawk were noted heading east. Yesterday's Black Redstart was still present on the Barn Field, also 2 Wheatear; and a pair of Mediterranean Gull were very vocal as they circled the harbour. At the end of the head, a partially oiled Guillemot was sadly forlorn between groynes S12 and S13, along with at least 6 Purple Sandpiper. On Stanpit, the first-winter Little Gull was again seen in the Mother Siller's Channel area.
Today was still extremely windy with frequent, squally showers; nevertheless, some good birds were seen. A female Black Redstart was sheltering under the raised floor of the HHC this morning and, a little later, another was seen on the Barn Field. Click here for photos of the latter. The Barn Field also played host to over 4 Wheatear, of which at least 3 were females. Male migrants tend to arrive first in order set up territories, so the presence of female birds indicates the passage is well underway. The strong winds forced a first-winter Little Gull into the harbour; this morning it was seen from Hengistbury over Blackberry Point, while this afternoon, it was feeding in Mother Siller's Channel, Stanpit. From Fisherman's Bank, a Jack Snipe was seen. Other sightings include: a White Wagtail opposite the Hungry Hiker , a small, scruffy looking Peregrine passing over Wick Ditch and 3 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. This afternoon, there were 10 or so Sand Martin feeding over Priory Marsh.
More rain and gales, which made seawatching the only realistic option, however, a single Firecrest was seen by the double bends en route to the Beach Huts. Having got there, it was all a little disappointing; the only movement being 7 Fulmar west, 3 Gannet, 3 east and 2 west, and 1 Common Scoter west. The sitting scoter identification became a little trickier as there are now settled, single Velvet and Common Scoter, sometimes together, sometimes apart. Purple Sandpiper numbers took a leap with two groups of 9 and 3, the latter accompanying 5 Turnstone. On the way back to a long overdue breakfast, 20-30 Goldcrest were estimated in the Wood, while a Jack Snipe flushed by the incoming tide around Barn Bight was a nice bonus.
The truly awful weather meant the morning's only birding was from the refuge of a car on Mudeford Quay, where 2 Fulmar passed west, and 1 Purple Sandpiper and 10 Turnstone were seen on the sandspit. This afternoon on Hengistbury produced 3 Sand Martin overhead and 1 Common Scoter on the sea.
More heavy, lingering fog this morning, with things not clearing up until lunchtime. Despite this, the year's first House Martin was in the western extremes of the recording area, seen between Solent car park and the Point House Café. An adult, breeding plumaged Mediterranean Gull was in Barn Bight, while a couple of Wheatear and Chiffchaff were around the Beach Huts. Some late news in: 2 Black Redstart were in the field adjacent to Wick Ditch and 2 Tree Pipit were noted. A further 5 Wheatear were on the Common and the top of the head; 5 Purple Sandpiper were on Groyne S!1 and a Common Scoter was offshore.
Firstly, look back to yesterday for some quality late news. Today saw still conditions which meant the heavy sea mist did not clear until mid-afternoon. Birds were still moving though: with over 350 Meadow Pipit north, plus many more heard; also heard were Brambling, Siskin, Fieldfare and Redpoll. Chaffinch were also heard frequently, but it wasn't clear if they were moving or resident; however, given the reported movements at Portland, they are now assumed to have been passing. Best bird was undoubtedly a male Ring Ouzel, startled on the top of the head and quickly, and characteristically, disappearing into the Batters. Settled birds included 2 Redpoll in the Wood, along with over 30 and 20 Chiffchaff and Goldcrest respectively. 2 newly arrived Wheatear jostled with 8 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes, and a further 2 Wheatear and 2 Sand Martin were seen between Whitepits and Double Dykes.
Another well observed day which yielded more spring arrivals. A single Sandwich Tern was feeding of Mudeford Quay this morning, while Smithy's Field, Stanpit, held a Willow Warbler and a male Blackcap. Also in that area were 1 Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and 1 Brambling, and 1 Yellowhammer north overhead. The Wheatear flow increased with at least 16 birds on Hengistbury and 7 on Stanpit, there were also 3 Sand Martin over Priory Marsh. Over 30 Chiffchaff and 10 Goldcrest were scattered around the Stanpit area and a first-year Mediterranean Gull was on East Marsh. This afternoon, there were 7 Ruff off Blackberry Point, a summer-plumaged Water Pipit on South Marsh, with a further 5 on Priory Marsh, also 3 White Wagtail there. Other counts were 382 Wigeon, 373 Dunlin, 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Shoveler. The 3 Gadwall were still in Barn Bight, while, this evening there was a lone Ruff on Priory Marsh. Late news: one of the Hengistbury wardens reported a Hoopoe by the Nursery.
Before the weather turned for the worse this afternoon, Hengistbury was well watched during the morning, when there was more evidence of the spring migration; as 200 Meadow Pipit, 9 Golden Plover and 5 alba Wagtail headed north. The Wood contained one frantically feeding, silent Chiffchaff, which was certainly an arrival, as well as a handful of Goldcrest. At sea, 5 Gannet and 2 Red-breasted Merganser went west and 1 Velvet Scoter was settled; and 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes. A couple of Peregrine were seen today, a large female over the Beach Huts and, slightly later, a male west over the Common. The 3 Gadwall remain in and around Barn Bight.
It was pretty nasty out there today, a strong south-westerly wind and frequent downpours. Amazingly, 2 Sand Martin saw this as a good time to arrive, they were seen briefly from Hengistbury as they headed north through the harbour. From the same area, but leaving south, a Goosander headed out to sea. The 3 Gadwall are also still present. The sandspit held 4 Turnstone and 5 Common Scoter were seen heading west off there. On the Stanpit side, a Redwing was feeding by the Warden's Caravan and 2 Canada Goose were on East Marsh. The Dunlin have built up to an estimated 600 birds, while Black-tailed Godwit numbered 54 and Grey Plover 32. Small skeins of Brent Goose have been passing west on their journey back to Siberia and this is reflected in the harbour gaggle being now less than 50 birds. 4-1!
CHOG have been laid a year-list challenge by the Pennington/Keyhaven birders. The competition will comprise the total species count for each area, as well as highest individual counts. There may also be a series of one-day competitions. For those of you interested in following the scores, regular updates will be provided on this site. Currently, CHOG lead the way with a total of 134 species, the highest indivdual list being 121; whereas Pennington are weighing in with 124 and 116 for their totals respectively. For a current list of CHOG's 2004 birds, as well as Pennigton's totals, click here .
Dawn broke to clear skies and a moderate south-westerly. This was the time for spring arrivals! Finally, after a couple of expectant weeks, the Wheatear arrived, with one bird, a male, spending most of the morning on the Barn Field. Other signs of movement were 100 Meadow Pipit north, a Buzzard in off the sea and a drake Pochard making an overhead tour of the area. The pair of Velvet Scoter seem to have had a falling out. After spending the winter closely together, today they were both present close offshore from the Beach Huts, but keeping their distance from each other. Other local favourites included the 3 Barn Bight Gadwall, 2 Goldeneye and the Treecreeper in the Wood. A Peregrine passed over the Common and 2 Great-crested Grebe were in the harbour, with another passing east at sea. Stanpit this afternoon had a Merlin over Smithy's Field and 2 Chiffchaff in the same area. Finally, thanks to Chris Chapleo for an enlightening talk on California last night. Birds were the main focus, but Chris also excellently portrayed other aspects of visiting that part of the world.
Very quiet, but thankfully, a little warmer. This morning, a Peregrine was harassing waders on Stanpit, where overall numbers seem unchanged. Only other report of note is 3 Gadwall in Barn Bight.
Still a mightily cold wind, capped off with mid-morning driving rain; and by this evening the blow is even colder. This morning, one hardy soul, while sheltering from the elements in the sanctuary of Crouch Hill's gorse bushes, estimated there were 500 or so Dunlin in Stanpit Bight and noted 28 Black-tailed Godwit leaving north up the valley. The lone visitor to Hengistbury faired slightly better, with 1 Firecrest in the company of half a dozen Goldcrest, also 1 adult Mediterranean Gull over the harbour.
Yet again cold. Before getting into today's sightings, it's worth checking back to yesterday as there were a good number of late reports. Today on Hengistbury was inevitably chilly, but 2 Pintail in Barn Bight were new birds, as was a female type Goldeneye; also there today were just 3 Gadwall. The Wood held 4 Goldcrest, which may also be moving birds. Numbers from Stanpit were good, the highlights being 6 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh, a Scandinavian Rock Pipit by the Warden's caravan, and an Avocet and Bar-tailed Godwit, both presumably in Barn Bight. Dunlin were estimated at 500 and Black-tailed Godwit at 80.
Still bracing in the harbour today. Hengistbury produced nothing of note, but Stanpit produced a good variety of birds. These included 2 Mediterranean Gull, 1 adult and 1 first-winter, a Red-legged Partridge was flushed from Crouch Hill and Priory Marsh still plays host to 2 Water Pipit. Other good sightings were a male Merlin, 1 Raven and 1 Peregrine, the latter being sparse in recent weeks. There was a singing Mistle Thrush around Two Riversmeet and 3 Greylag Goose overflew the area. Spring was in the air as far as the local birds were concerned: at least 7 Buzzard and 3 Sparrowhawk were soaring; and Dartford Warbler were singing on Crouch Hill, which is interesting as they don't normally breed this side of the harbour.
A chilling north-easterly wind made birding unpleasant and removed any hopes of migrant arrivals. Only reports are of the 8 Gadwall still around Barn Bight. Despite the conditions, the local Skylark are in full song.
All reports from Stanpit today, where there are still at least 3 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and a wintering Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill. A Kestrel was also seen eating a kill on the ground. The monthly WeBS count selectively totalled: 324 Wigeon, 250 Dunlin, 200 Lapwing, 167 Brent Goose, including 22 first-winter birds and colour-ringed adult 8C, 113 Teal, 95 Redshank, 30 Shelduck, 23 Grey Plover, 17 Ringed Plover, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Curlew and 8 Gadwall. Birds are clearly starting to leave the area.
Firstly, thanks to Ian for looking after the site so well during my nuptial excursions. Today was an extremely pleasant morning on Hengistbury, with some limited evidence of migration. This was underlined by the occurrence of birds considered mundane outside the recording area, but notable within; presumably these records represent local, early spring movements and included: 6 Jackdaw west, 3 Rook and 2 Collared Dove east, 3 Stock Dove in off the sea and 2 House Sparrow by the Ranger's Cottage. Of perhaps more interest to outside parties, a single Brambling and 2 Redwing headed north-west, while the 2 Velvet Scoter were still off Long Groyne and 2 Common Scoter went west. The 6 Gadwall were grazing in the flooded area adjacent to Barn Bight and the Stanpit Lapwing flock seems to be around 200+ birds. As is typical for the season, game birds featured; with the Red-legged Partridge in the Barn Field and a cock Pheasant making it onto at least 2 year lists. On Stanpit, a comprehensive, late afternoon census of Central Marsh yielded 28 Common Snipe and 1 Jack Snipe. A Great-spotted Woodpecker overflew the Recreation Ground, while another was in the Nursery on Hengistbury.
For the second morning running the harbour was blanketed in mist consequently there was very little sign of any movement. A Siskin was heard near Holloway's Dock and a party of 15 Linnet on the Barn Field were probably recent arrivals. The Treecreeper was still in the woodland where there were also 2 Jay. The 8 Gadwall were in the muddy field adjacent to Barn Bight along with a few Snipe. This afternoon an Avocet and 10 Turnstone were on the Mudeford Sandspit.
The harbour was shrouded in mist until around 10am this morning hence there was very little to report. A Brambling calling over the HHC was the only highlight. However as the mist cleared and visibility improved the 2 Velvet Scoter, 13 Common Scoter and a Fulmar were seen off the head. There were 2 Avocet off Fisherman's Bank and a single Golden Plover amongst the few remaining Lapwing. Mistle Thrush has been noticeably absent from the Harbour this year but three were recorded today, 2 on the Stanpit Golf Course and 1 over Fisherman's Bank.
A Bearded Tit was heard in the reedbed adjacent to the HHC this morning. Hopefully this species will breed in the harbour again this year. Elsewhere there was scant evidence of migration with just a Chiffchaff in the Nursery and a Siskin over the beach huts. Maybe tomorrow? The 2 Velvet Scoter and 15 Common Scoter were on the sea again mid-morning - the birds flew in from the west in small flocks with the Velvet Scoter keeping their distance as usual. A brief seawatch produced 4 Gannet, 3 Fulmar, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Kittiwake. Finally the elusive Treecreeper was seen behind the Nursery.
The wintering Common Sandpiper was again on Fisherman's Bank this morning. On Stanpit the Dunlin flock has built up to around 600; there were 35 Grey Plover and just 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. There were 8 Gadwall, inc. 6 drakes, in Barn Bight but the Goldeneye seem to have moved on.
A late item of news from yesterday - at dusk a flock of approx. 150 Black-tailed Godwit flew into the harbour from the direction of the Avon Valley.
Although today's springlike conditions didn't produce any early migrants the local Dartford Warblers were out on the Common enjoying the warm sunshine and Skylarks were in full song over the Barn Field. A Red-legged Partridge was flushed from the bracken adjacent to the path just opposite the Ranger's cottage. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard in the woodland and the 4 Gadwall were still in Barn Bight. This afternoon the 2 Velvet Scoter were on the sea just off the beach huts.
A couple of items of late news from the weekend - the Avocet was seen from Fisherman's Bank on the 29th and there were 4 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh on the 28th.