Sightings for September 2004


September 30th

After a suspected individual last Saturday, Lapland Bunting made its way onto the harbour list for the year. A bird was around Crouch Hill late morning, in the company of pipits before being flushed by a low flying helicopter. During the night, the wind had become southerly and this, combined with the early morning rain, pushed birds onshore and made for a good seawatch from the Beach Huts. Prime birds were 1 Great Skua, 4 Arctic Skua, 3 Arctic Tern and a juvenile Little Gull, all heading west. In support came 35 Common Scoter, 25 Sandwich Tern, 17 Gannet and 9 Kittiwake. There were 5 Turnstone on the beach and a single Sanderling moving by. Although the late morning tide at Stanpit was high, the helicopter disturbance allowed the roosting waders to be assessed. These included: 6 Knot, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Golden Plover. Some passing Little Gull chose the route through the harbour, with 2 adults and 1 first-winter moving west. Passerines were varied, over 40 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap and 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs; while overhead, 7 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit were logged. In the afternoon, 2 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat were in the Crouch Hill area, and a Hobby was hunting over the reeds. There was slight increase in Black-tailed Godwit to 7 birds, but the recently arrived pair of Brent Goose have not yet been joined by their colleagues.


September 29th

The westerly breeze is now starting to border on the tedious, a swing to the east is long overdue. Best from today is a late Little Tern feeding off Mudeford Quay this morning; also late were 4 Whimbrel in with the Curlew on Stanpit. Pickings were elsewhere thin, with Stanpit providing most interest during the morning, when 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Knot, 1 Greenshank and 1 Black-tailed Godwit were recorded. Hengistbury migrants included 75 Chiffchaff, 15 Reed Bunting, mainly on the ground, 7 Blackcap and 3 Wheatear. Another incidence of Jackdaw, with 3 east, is worth a mention and also airborne and moving were a charm of 45 Goldfinch and a single Grey Wagtail. Hirundines were, uncharacteristically, moving with the wind, as 1200 House Martin west east, while around 250 Swallow went in all directions. Other news from Stanpit involves 2 Wheatear and 3 Canada Goose, 2 this morning and 1 to roost this evening, also 1 Kingfisher. As has been the case in recent years, another good wader just misses the spot, this time to the west of us!


September 28th

Things looked reasonably promising for a good visible migration, but hopes were dashed by a drizzle which came down at around 9:00 this morning. Prior to that, the best bird was a Merlin, while commoner species overhead included 360 Meadow Pipit, 70 alba Wagtail, 35 Reed Bunting, 4 Grey Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, all heading west. The recent run of passage Jackdaw continues with a total of 20 birds, 2 groups of 11 and 9 respectively, also seen moving west. Perhaps the best record of the day, however, is a Yellowhammer seen at Hengistbury. Further highlights came courtesy of a Great Skua harrying the gulls around a close-in fishing boat and a single Raven on the top of the head. Common migrants in the vegetation between Wick Fields and the Batters numbered: 90 Chiffchaff, 50 Goldcrest, 6 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Following yesterday's sighting and of relative local interest, 3 Coal Tit were in trees close to the Nursery. Later in the morning as the precipitation stopped, hirundines became more conspicuous, but were not counted.


September 27th

A fairly unremarkable day, mainly overcast with little wind. A mixed bag of migrants over Hengistbury this morning, over 2000 Swallow, 1900 House Martin and 470 Meadow Pipit were estimated moving generally west, and these may have attracted in the passing Hobby. Also overhead were 14 Jackdaw, 9 Grey Wagtail, 8 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit. Between Wick and the Batters, 75 Chiffchaff were reckoned, also 3 Jay and 2 Whitethroat. The sea produced a nice record of 3 Eider going west, also 7 Common Scoter, while 4 Common Tern and 1 Arctic Tern were in the harbour. Another good record was a single Bearded Tit in the HHC reeds and a Coal Tit in the Wood. Best of the waders were 3 Golden Plover moving by and 2 Curlew Sandpiper on the Sandspit, along with 5 Sanderling and 1 Turnstone. Other passing waders included 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. A couple of Kingfisher were in Holloway's Dock. Only news from Stanpit is of 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill at lunchtime.


September 26th

The recent routine of light westerly wind continued today, which saw the first WeBS survey of the winter season. The Stanpit Marsh counters were rewarded with a juvenile Hen Harrier which appeared low from the east over Stanpit Bight, before following the course of the river. The Brent Goose vanguard has finally arrived, with 2 bird spending all day in the area. A group of 3 Avocet was present this morning, seeming to appear from the Barn Bight area and heading high north; possibly Friday's birds. Other highlights were a Mistle Thrush over Smithy's Field and a Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh. Passerine migrants were fairly low, however, 50+ Pied Wagtail on Mudeford Sandspit is certainly worthy of note. Other than that, over 60 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap and a Spotted Flycatcher were on Hengistbury, while Stanpit held 4 Yellow Wagtail and a Whinchat; but the area as a whole contained just 6 Wheatear. The last few days has seen a definite increase in Blackbird and Robin numbers, presumably continental birds moving on for the winter. Selected WeBS count totals from all areas of the harbour include: 145 Dunlin, 62 Ringed Plover, 9 Snipe, 6 Knot, 4 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone, 2 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Curlew Sandpiper; also 262 Coot, 91 Wigeon, 55 Teal, 5 Pintail, 2 Shoveler and 1 Gadwall; and, finally, 32 Little Egret, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Kingfisher.


September 25th

A notably cold day, despite the wind coming from the west. For some, the Hungry Hiker breakfast couldn't come soon enough! It was a day of family representation: 2 owls, a Tawny heard from the HHC by an insomniac at 6:50, a full 45 minutes before first light, and a Short-eared west over the Barn Field just before 8:00; 5 corvids, including a lingering Raven, harried by Carrion Crow, 2 Jackdaw west and 2 Jay; 5 falcons, including a male Merlin, 2 Peregrine and a Hobby. The spectacle of the day was the hirundine presence; quite literally, many thousands of Swallow and House Martin were drifting, while feeding, south over the area. Full circle scans continually showed swarms at all height and distances throughout the morning. The remaining highlights are 2 Tree Sparrow seen over Double Dykes and heading towards Wick Fields, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull seen arriving and 2 Avocet seen departing west. Waders were definitely moving, these included: 9 Ruff, a group of 8 and a single seen arriving, also 8 Knot, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and a Greenshank; a loud group of 5 Curlew carried 2 Bar-tailed Godwit west, with a couple of the latter going the same way just later. Passerine migration overhead saw the first real finch movement, 170 Goldfinch, 145 Linnet, 34 Chaffinch and 1 Redpoll; while longer tailed passerines numbered 530 Meadow Pipit, 81 alba Wagtail, 15 Rock Pipit, 10 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit. On the ground, there was a influx of Goldcrest, perhaps 60 birds, Chiffchaff were also obvious, 2 Redstart were on the Barn Field, as were 8 Blackcap and 2 Garden Warbler. Not unexpectedly, the sea was fairly quiet, 9 Common Scoter, 1 Arctic Tern and 1 Common Tern being the only offerings. Finally, a vocal Pheasant, not recorded for some time, was in the Ironstone Quarry gully and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight.


September 24th

Another day and another new year bird. This time, a ringtail Hen Harrier, seen over the Priory from Wick Fields. The morning breeze started from the west, but had swung to almost north-east by the afternoon. During the early part of the day moving passerines numbered: 350 Meadow Pipit, 750 Swallow, 450 House Martin, 12 Reed Bunting, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit. The Swallow were counted in a 2.5 hour period, but birds were moving all day, tending into the varying wind direction; the total must be many thousands. Grounded Chiffchaff were censused in detail and came to 135 on Hengistbury, there were also 7 Blackcap there and a Spotted Flycatcher in Wick Fields. A notable record is a small movement of 6 Jackdaw to the east, a Hobby was seen distantly from Wick, a Peregrine was recorded, but the area total for Wheatear was just 7 birds. Stanpit mid- to late afternoon was good. A single Golden Plover being closely matched by 3 Avocet for top spot. Also 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 14 Knot, 12 Sanderling, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, the Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Common Tern and 1 Common Gull. Geese should be arriving any day now, they are already a little late. The information services reoprted a Garganey from Priory Marsh.


September 23rd

More of the same weather today, so a Firecrest in the Wood on Hengistbury was quite a surprise, however, it could, of course, have been there for some time. Other than that, it was a fairly unremarkable day. Mudeford Sandspit hosted a morning high tide wader congregation, which was harried by 3 Peregrine - 1 adult and 2 juveniles, one of which was watched pursuing a Sanderling for a full 5 minutes, before giving up; a Merlin was also attracted in to try for a breakfast. The waders themselves numbered 118 Ringed Plover, 11 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper. Sea movement to the west included: 104 Sandwich Tern, 28 Common Tern, only 3 Gannet but 1 Arctic Skua, while a couple of Razorbill were seen on the sea. Also heading west were an estimated 500 Swallow. Afternoon at Stanpit produced 115 Dunlin, 55 Ringed Plover, 6 Sanderling, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Knot, 3 Turnstone and a Whimbrel. Also 1 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Later news from Stanpit covers 1 Little Stint and the leucistic Dunlin still being present in the morning, while, at lunchtime, Limpy was scrounging chips at Mudeford Quay.


September 22nd

Seabirds were the order of the day in the continuing westerly. A Leach's Petrel watched for a short while this afternoon inside the harbour from Crouch Hill is another entry onto the year list. Earlier in the day, a Sooty Shearwater was seen from the Beach Huts as it moved west, also 2 Arctic Skua and an unidentified skua past there. Other birds recorded, all heading windward, were: 110 Sandwich Tern, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Arctic Tern, 1 Common Tern, 1 Fulmar and 12 Razorbill, with a further 9 on the water, including a close group of 6 birds. Opsrey scored another hatrick with sightings at 7:45, around two this afternoon and again at 5:00 this evening. The first and last left with fish. A Raven was over the Common on Hengistbury this morning, 2 Redpoll were heard overhead and 2 Jay were at the end of the head; while commoner migrants included 40 Goldcrest and 25 Chiffchaff. The Whimbrel was again around Barn Bight. Morning waders on the Sandspit included 1 Little Stint, 11 Turnstone and 9 Sanderling. After lunch Stanpit held 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Knot, 1 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank and 1 Common Sandpiper.


September 21st

More south-westerly wind during a largely overcast day. After a blank 24 hours, Osprey again feature, with 3 sightings this morning. Firstly, a single bird was over the harbour at 8:30, then later, a couple were seen together, one having caught a fish. Also obvious today were Hobby, a total of 4 recorded - 2 adults and 2 juveniles. A three and a half hour Stanpit visit yielded some movement into the wind, including: 1100 Swallow, 800 House Martin, 390 Meadow Pipit, 85 Sand Martin and 7 Grey Wagtail; while, on the ground, 1 Willow Warbler, now disappearing fast, 30 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, 2 Whitethroat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher were recorded. Similar movement took place over Hengistbury, with 200 Meadow Pipit, 150+ Swallow, 80 House Martin, 10 alba Wagtail, 6 Reed Bunting and 6 Grey Wagtail. Also noted were a total 10 or so Goldcrest, which, when linked with the Stanpit birds, represents the first real influx of the autumn. A lone Whimbrel was also seen. Meanwhile, the Stanpit waders hold their interest with 1 juvenile Little Stint and 2 similarly aged Curlew Sandpiper, also a high count of 30 Knot and a remaining Greenshank. Teal are increasing, 84 birds today and 3 Kingfisher are worthy of note, as are 55 Sandwich Tern.


September 20th

A day of strong wind, swinging from south-west to north-west by lunchtime, and punctuated with frequent showers. Despite many birders in the area, reports are sparse. However, seawatching was relatively good, the highlight being a Sooty Shearwater seen just before lunch by a gang of infiltrators from Hampshire. Earlier 2 Great Skua and an unidentified skua had passed west by the Beach Huts. Also counted were 160 Gannet, 111 Sandwich Tern, 3 Razorbill, 3 Fulmar and 7 Sanderling, all going into the wind. Hirundines were plentiful, over 1300 Swallow, 420 House Martin and 74 Sand Martin all went west. Only other news is of a Merlin, but no details of location. More reports filtering in: 4 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper were with a Dunlin flock on Holloway's Dock just after midday and a Whimbrel was in the flooded field by Barn Bight.


September 19th

A very clear night during which the wind dropped almost completely, but picked up from the west by dawn and swung southerly by lunchtime. The sea was disappointing after the last couple of days, but an Arctic Skua hassling terns before going into the Solent was worthwhile; slightly later, it, or another, headed purposefully west. Today's Osprey schedule went something like this: 8:40 one seen briefly over the Nursery; 9:00 one juvenile fishing around the harbour for 15 minutes before leaving, north, unsuccessfully; 1:25 one arrived over the Black House, inspected the area, then left north-west; finally, one fishing for 15 minutes at 3:00 before leaving north and still hungry. Passerine migration on Hengistbury was relatively good, the best bird being a seemingly exhausted Turtle Dove resting in trees at the end of the head. Also 60+ Chiffchaff around that area, some birds were seen arriving off the sea; while overhead, Meadow Pipit were moving west along with 30 alba Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail and 2 Yellow Wagtail. Swallow moved west and south into the wind all day, many hundreds must have passed through. Only 8 or so Wheatear were noted, but there was 1 Whinchat on Stanpit and a Tree Pipit, also good numbers of Chiffchaff in the North Scrubs. There is still a good wader selection on the marsh, around lunchtime a Little Stint came up off East Marsh calling, and finally settled on Central Marsh. A total of 6 Curlew Sandpiper were present late morning and other birds noted in that period were: 16 Sanderling, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot, 3 Greenshank, 2 Turnstone and the leucistic Dunlin. During the afternoon high tide, the waders were roosting on Mudeford Sandspit, where 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 3 Sanderling were seen, also a Common Gull which are still scarce. A couple of Peregrine were seen today, 1 bird patrolling for migrants at sea and another causing havoc around Stanpit. A Kingfisher was by the HHC. Some late morning news from Wick Fields has just been received, where a Tree Sparrow north-west is an excellent record, also a Grasshopper Warbler, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail and 20+ Chiffchaff. Also just received is news of a Pied Flycatcher by the Nursery late morning and a Hobby.


September 18th

What a fortnight to miss! The small northern gull, the small falcon and the seawatches! Thanks to Ian for taking charge while I was away. In a strong south-westerly and poor visibility, the sea again provided the quality this morning with a Sabine's Gull off the Beach Huts just after first light, the first record for a number of years. The bird arrived close from the west and had a look at the harbour before moving on east. Just later, a dark bird on the water 300 meters offshore was assumed to be a skua, but, when it flew, revealed itself to be a Sooty Shearwater. Skua were, however, present, the total being 4 Arctic and 1 Pomarine. Also seen at sea were a couple of Manx Shearwater, 120 Gannet, 46 Sandwich Tern, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Kittiwake and 1 Fulmar, the majority of these heading west. Also in that direction were 270 Herring Gull and 61 Greater Black-backed Gull. It has certainly been a week for the group's emblem, the Mullet Hawk, otherwise known as Osprey. This morning one caught a fish at 10:15, then headed north-east and, at 3:20 this afternoon, presumably a different bird left in the same direction, again with prey. An early morning melee in the harbour suggested another may have been around. Unsurprisingly, given the conditions, migrant passerines on Hengistbury were sparse with just 25 Chiffchaff and 8 Blackcap recorded. Stanpit was a little better and offered a Water Pipit by the rusty boat and a Whinchat on Crouch hill. An early Jack Snipe was flushed from the entrance to Priory Marsh and a Green Sandpiper was also around there. Morning waders included 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Little Stint, also 2 Greenshank; while, this afternoon, the best were 3 Sanderling, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Knot. Also in the afternoon a Merlin crossed Central Marsh and headed towards the HHC. Other records include 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, a juvenile Great-crested Grebe in Mother Siller's Channel, the Yellow-legged Gull on South Marsh and Wigeon building up to 71 birds.


September 17th

This morning's weather conditions, strong south-westerlies bringing angry looking rain clouds, didn't bode well for passerine migration so the sea was obviosly the best option. The first Sooty Shearwater for three years moving west past the Beach Huts was a welcome addition to the harbour year list which now stands at 207. A mixed feeding flock of around 50 Gannet and many Sandwich & Common Tern attracted the attention of both Pomarine and Arctic Skua. In all 10 Arctic Skua, including 2 pale birds and up to 5 Pomarine Skua, including a juvenile, were seen. The Arctic tended to move west fairly rapidly whereas the Pomarine lingered making it very difficult to ascertain the exact number (of Pomarine). In addition to the feeding birds another 30 Gannet moved west and there were 3 Common Scoter and just 1 Fulmar. An Osprey visited the harbour again around 8:30am before heading off north-east having caught a fish. Both Merlin and Hobby were seen over the golf course at Stanpit this morning. Passerines were few and far between although an estimated 250 Swallow went east.


September 16th

On a glorious late summer's day significant numbers of birds were on the move. Osprey again featured strongly and the first Spoonbill of the year headed east off Double Dykes just before 8am. There were 2 or possibly even 3 Osprey, the first came in from direction of the Avon Valley at around 9am, caught a fish and headed back up the Valley. The second one, three-quarters of an hour later, came in over the Beach Huts and after a couple of abortive attempts it too eventually caught a fish and headed off north-east. Finally, what was probably a third bird flew west to east over the golf course at Stanpit at around 10:30am. Hirundines, clearly making the most of the favourable conditions, were estimated as 3400 Swallow and 1500 House Martin all moving east while 950 Meadow Pipit headed west; also counted were 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail, just 1 Tree Pipit and the first Redpoll of the autumn. On the ground at Hengistbury were 350 Chiffchaff, 17 Blackcap, 5 Jay, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Wheatear, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Redstart and a Great Spotted Woodpecker; at Stanpit were 27 Blackcap, 7 Whitethroat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Whinchat and 2 Garden Warbler. Waders on Stanpit today included 21 Knot (11 also went west), 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Avocet, 1 Ruff and the leucistic Dunlin. Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull was still present. Both Peregrine and Hobby were also over the harbour today.

Late item of news from yesterday - a Ring Ousel was in the North Scrubs late morning.

Yellow Wagtail Roost: for the last week there have been up to 80 Yellow Wagtail roosting in the Wick reedbed.


September 15th

Rather predictably, after the weather settled down, there were hundreds of birds on the move today. The highlights were a juvenile Honey Buzzard, which flew south-west over Wick Fields mid morning and five sightings of Osprey. The first came in high over the Beach Huts at around 8:40am, lingered for a few minutes before it caught a fish and moved off slowly north-east. The second sighting, from Stanpit around 11:30am, was of a bird very high heading south-west. Shortly afterwards a bird came in from the east, once again caught a fish and returned to the east. The fourth sighting was around noon and the fifth over the Beach Huts early evening. It's possible that 3 different birds were involved. There were also 3 Black Tern today, one passed through the harbour while 2 were off the Beach Huts. Grounded migrants on Hengistbury this morning were 470 Chiffchaff, 62 Blackcap, 37 Wheatear, 17 Whinchat, 8 Whitethroat, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler and 1 Redstart. Overhead, all heading south-west, were 800 Meadow Pipit, 340 Swallow, 120 House Martin, 86 Sand Martin, 31 Reed Bunting, 16 Grey Wagtail, 12 Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail. At sea moving west were 80 Gannet, 62 Sandwich Tern, 56 Common Tern and 2 Little Tern. Waders noted were 15 Snipe arriving and on Stanpit 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Knot and 1 Curlew Sandpiper; 4 Pintail also arrived. There were 2 sightings of Hobby this morning and a Peregrine over Stanpit this afternoon. From Fisherman's Bank late afternoon - 4 Greenshank, 1 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper and a Kingfisher while on Blackberry Point there were 2 Knot, 2 Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit.


September 14th

After another stormy night of heavy rain and gales hopes of a good sea watch were high once again. The wind had also strengthened but significantly was more westerly than souh-westerly. Hence there was very little - just 83 Gannet west. Holloway's Dock held 28 Dunlin and there were 20 on the beach, also 2 Sanderling and a Turnstone. Waders on Stanpit this afternoon were 160 Dunlin, 35 Ringed Plover, 2 Sanderling, 1 Knot and 1 Turnstone. The only evidence of passerine migration was the presence of 4 Wheatear on Crouch Hill.

Yesterday I omitted to mention that 2 Raven were seen over the harbour mid morning.


September 13th

The sea was the obvious option this morning. Hence three harbour stalwarts braved the elements and headed for the Beach Huts to witness the spectacle. Unfortunately it didn't happen - just 50 Gannet, 5 Common Scoter and 2 Pintail, all moving west. On the beach there were 12 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper while Holloway's Dock held 50 Dunlin. Grounded migrants were just 70 Chiffchaff and 3 Wheatear.


September 12th

Incredibly the harbour's good recent run of rarities continued today when a Black Kite moved east at around 3:45pm. As if that wasn't enough an Osprey was fishing in the harbour at the same time. Both birds were seen by Laurence Chappell. Otherwise the strong south-westerly winds have reduced migration to a trickle. Having said that, there were a few more phylloscs around today plus just 6 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. Overhead 7 Grey Wagtail and 1 Yellow Wagtail were noted. Waders on Stanpit included 4 Sanderling, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit.


September 11th

An adult Ross's Gull was on the mud off Blackberry Point this afternoon albeit only for a couple of minutes. The bird, which was seen by Dave Smith and Ian Southworth, is only the second harbour record, the first being in 1974. It's all the more surprising as from a birding point of view things were fairly quiet. A sea watch this morning produced just 50 Gannet, 6 Common Scoter and 2 Common Sandpiper west and 1 Purple Sandpiper east. A few Swallow, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail moved overhead and there were 3 Wheatear on Hengistbury and 4 at Stanpit. A Wood Sandpiper on Priory Marsh this morning was the first for a couple of weeks. Other waders today were, on Stanpit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshank, 3 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Turnstone plus a Whimbrel on Holloway's Dock.

Late News Yesterday : A Little Stint was seen to leave the harbour heading east.

Disturbance was a problem again today. This morning 2 canoes made their way through Stanpit Bight and into Mother Siller's Channel. Apparently they were looking for the River Avon! Their activity resulted in the Wigeon flock leaving the harbour and pitching down on the sea towards the Isle of Wight. This afternoon two different canoes were beached on South Marsh and they left through Stanpit Bight again flushing all the birds.


September 10th

Today's abrupt end to the spell of fine weather also put a temporary stop to the visible migration. Grounded migrants were few and far between this morning, just a few Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat on Hengistbury and 4 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Most of the waders were roosting owing to the high tide but as it dropped around lunchtime 7 Knot, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Sanderling, 1 Avocet and 1 Turnstone were noted. By evening 11 Curlew Sandpiper, 8 Knot and a Greenshank were present. The Wigeon flock now numbers 98. A passerine which came in off the sea at Mudeford and alighted on the car park fence turned out to be an exhausted Spotted Flycatcher. Presumably the bird had made an abortive attempt to leave but was forced back by the inclement weather.


September 9th

Another fine sunny day in the harbour with the strong breeze becoming slightly more easterly. Other than a Turtle Dove seen by one early riser there was nothing exceptional. At best visible migration was steady with all birds moving east - 870 Swallow, 620 Meadow Pipit, 220 House Martin, 116 Sand Martin, 69 Yellow Wagtail, 21 Grey Wagtail and 18 Tree Pipit. Grounded migrants numbered just 6 Wheatear and 3 Whinchat. Wildfowl (not moving in any particular direction) were counted as 61 Teal, 17 Shoveler, 9 Shelduck, 5 Gadwall, 4 Pintail and 1 Pochard. On Stanpit there were 120 Dunlin, inc. the leucistic bird, 12 Knot, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, 1 Turnstone and 1 Avocet while12 Snipe flew into the harbour.


September 8th

An immature Red-footed Falcon, the fifth harbour record, was seen by Dave Smith near the Hengistbury Head Centre around 6:30am this morning. The bird lingered briefly over the first field on Wick before heading off south. The wind strength and direction were similar to yesterday hence good numbers of birds again moved east - 1100 Swallow, 350 House Martin, 320 Meadow Pipit, 80 Yellow Wagtail, 31 Grey Wagtail and 9 Tree Pipit. Grounded migrants on Hengistbury were 65 Chiffchaff, 24 Goldcrest, 12 Wheatear and 1 Lesser Whitethroat while in the Nursery both Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were present. On Stanpit were 5 Wheatear, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat and a Pied Flycatcher in Stanpit Scrubs. Wildfowl on the move today, all west, included 51 Teal, 47 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler, 9 Pintail and 1 Garganey; the harbour held 44 Wigeon, 10 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler and the drake Tufted Duck. A Green Sandpiper left the harbour early; also 2 Knot and 1 Common Sandpiper flew east and there were 2 Greenshank in Holloway's Dock. Waders on Stanpit included 6 Sanderling, 4 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Avocet, 1 Greenshank and 1 Whimbrel. The sea didn't produce much, just a few Gannet and the Razorbill was still off Double Dykes. 21 Common Tern passed through the harbour in a south-westerly direction.

STOP PRESS: A Serin was seen from Stanpit this evening. It flew from East Marsh and appeared to pitch down on Grimmery Bank.


September 7th

Today's strong north-easterly breeze provided perfect conditions for hirundines, mainly House Martin. Between 8 and 8:30am 1800 birds moved east and although things slowed down 2300 had been logged by 10am. There were very few Swallow, however, just 250 being recorded. Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Tree Pipit and 14 Wheatear were also noted. A late morning sea watch produced probably the best bird, a Balearic Shearwater, which lingered off the beach for a while; 60 Gannet, 5 Fulmar and 1 Purple Sandpiper were also seen. Earlier a Razorbill was off Double Dykes. A Peregrine made a pass over the harbour and in the ensuing commotion 12 Shoveler left heading high north-west. On Stanpit at least 2 Bearded Tit were heard calling from the reed bed on East Marsh soon after dawn while sometime later a juvenile Marsh Harrier was on the ground on Priory Marsh; also on Stanpit there was 1 Whinchat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Wildfowl in the harbour today were 75 Wigeon, 4 Pintail and a drake Tufted Duck. This evening a second Peregrine, a juvenile, was on the first island off Blackberry where it was being constantly harrassed by the local Carrion Crow flock. When eventually it took off the Lapwing and gulls joined in and saw it off but not before it put all the waders to flight. Amongst the numerous Dunlin and Ringed Plover were 4 Knot, 3 Avocet, 1 Little Stint and 1 Whimbrel. Finally there was an adult Mediterranean Gull in Stanpit Bight.


September 6th

The continuation of fine weather backed up by a slight but strengthening north-easterly wind produced another excellent series of records today. The star of the show was an Ortolan Bunting, the first of the year, which was seen a couple of times on the top of the Head this morning. Amazingly another Wryneck was on the Barn Field - could it have been last Thursday's bird? It's hard to believe that it could have been missed for three days given the weekend coverage. This is the fourth record in a couple of weeks. Around dawn 2 Tawny Owl, both adult and juvenile were heard and then seen near the Two Riversmeet Leisure Centre. Many species were moving in numbers; hirundines in particular with 3000 Swallow and 1700 House Martin logged between dawn and 11am. Other passerines also going east were 420 Meadow Pipit, 108 Yellow Wagtail, 24 Grey Wagtail and 18 Tree Pipit. On the ground were 85 Sedge Warbler, 46 Whitethroat, 33 Wheatear, 10 Goldcrest, 6 Whinchat, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Redstart, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Coal Tit. Wildfowl, mainly moving west, were counted as 118 Wigeon, 29 Shoveler, 10 Gadwall, 7 Pintail and 2 Goosander. Waders numbered 19 Golden Plover, 5 Greenshank, 4 Grey Plover, 3 Ruff and 1 Spotted Redshank moving west whilst 11 Turnstone and 4 Knot moved east; 2 Avocet, which flew into the harbour and settled in Stanpit Bight were still present this afternoon together with 250 Dunlin, 25 Ringed Plover, 14 Knot, 4 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 3 Greenshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Grey Plover. Both Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull and the leucistic Dunlin could also be found on Stanpit and a flock of 9 Pintail circled the harbour before moving on. There were 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs and 5 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Finally a Peregrine was over the harbour this morning and a Hobby this afternoon.


September 5th

Weather-wise, it was even better than yesterday; unfortunately, not so good bird-wise. There was a scattering of migrants across the area this morning, the best being a Wood Warbler in the North Scrubs at Stanpit, while on the Hengistbury side there were 3 Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail overhead, 3 Lesser Whitethroat in Wick Fields, 2 Whinchat on the Long Field and a Spotted Flycatcher in Wick Ditch. A prolonged inspection of Parky Meade Rail on the morning low tide produced just a Water Rail, however, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was seen and 2 Turnstone made a low pass before deciding it wasn't to their taste. Some hopeful skywatching resulted in a Raven over the Priory and a Peregrine heading rapidly north from off the sea. At Stanpit, in the heat of the afternoon, there were 6 Wheatear and 5 Whinchat in the Crouch Hill area, a Shoveler in Parky Meade Rail and a small bunch of Wigeon in Stanpit Bight. Waders numbers are worryingly low for the time of year, with a distinct lack of juveniles. This afternoon, there were a handful of Dunlin, including the leucistic individual which has been seen daily since Thursday, 2 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. A group of 4 adult Shelduck moving east over the marsh is notable for early September and Kingfisher were seen throughout the day.


September 4th

The fine weather continues and so do the birds. In the first hour of daylight, a couple of juvenile Serin were heard and seen heading north-east over the HHC. As the morning developed, all the talk was of large raptors and, right on cue, a female-type Marsh Harrier was seen from the top of the head going west over the Priory. Then at 11:00, the gulls and Lapwing started to behave as if another large raptor was in the locale. Sure enough, a juvenile Osprey cruised in from the east, circled low over Barn Bight, then drifted slowly north over Wick Fields and onwards. Other local goodies included a Golden Plover over the HHC at dawn, 2 Green Sandpiper heading west with 7 Snipe, a Mistle Thrush over Wick Fields and a Shelduck over Wick Hams; the latter species, although mostly common, is very difficult to record in late summer and early autumn, all having left to moult. Passerine migration was relatively quiet: 65 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit went overhead; while decked birds included 16 Whitethroat, 4 Goldcrest, probably the first of the autumn, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, 1 Pied Flycatcher and 1 trapped and ringed Lesser Whitethroat. Also trapped and ringed was a Kingfisher. Other moving birds numbered 270 Swallow south this morning, but the passage trickled on all day, also 36 Goldfinch and 1 Swift. Waders leaving the harbour during the morning numbered 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone and Grey Plover. The lunchtime high tide at Stanpit was disappointing for waders, just 3 Knot and a Whimbrel among the 100 or so Dunlin. A further 6 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill at that time and the Yellow-legged Gull was on South Marsh. Duck continue to arrive with 14 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler and 21 Teal today. The falling tide late afternoon fared better, with one each of Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin.


September 3rd

Another day of high pressure with a south-westerly breeze, which saved the best last. At 5:30 this evening, a Honey Buzzard was seen high over Stanpit heading south-east towards the Beach Huts, before being attacked by a gang of Crow and forced down into the Nursery. It was then watched for a further 30 minutes and was still there as the observer left. There must be a reasonable chance of the bird remaining overnight. Other raptors seen earlier in the day included a Common Buzzard and 2 Hobby, while Sparrowhawk seem to be omnipresent right now. Additional aerial records comprise a group of 16 Swift feeding high over Priory Marsh this afternoon, with a few more reported elsewhere in the area. Early morning on Hengistbury was quiet, only movers were 4 Grey Wagtail and 3 Yellow Wagtail; while, on the ground, there were 35 Whitethroat, 4 Whinchat and a Grasshopper Warbler. This afternoon, a couple of Wheatear were on the top of the head and 6 Wigeon circled Barn Bight. Only wader news from Stanpit is a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper present this morning and "a few" Knot throughout the day.


September 2nd

The high pressure and light southerly wind brought about echoes of September 2001, as 3 Honey Buzzard were seen over the harbour today. The first, just before lunch, was seen along side a kettle of 4 Common Buzzard over Smithy's Field, before it headed towards the Priory before turning south-east and heading off over the Recreation Ground. The other two bore south and west respectively in quick succession around 1:20, over the old Council Depot. The subsequent afternoon focus on the skies brought about a soaring male Goshawk, over the same site, and a similarly behaving Peregrine. Also a Hobby and 9 Swift. Much earlier in the day, a Garganey was with almost 80 Teal around Priory Marsh and a Little Gull flew from South Marsh towards Mother Siller's Channel. Equally amazing as the raptor bonanza, was the autumn's third Wryneck, this one in the Barn Field at Hengistbury. The bird remained for most of the day, but wasn't seen after a nationally recognised figure had tramped the site. With all this going on, it's easy to overlook the commoner birds, which again had a good day. A couple of hours this morning around Smithy's Field and Priory Marsh produced: 80 Chiffchaff, 75 Blackcap, 35 Sedge Warbler, 15 Yellow Wagtail, 12 Whitethroat, 7 Garden Warbler, 6 Grey Wagtail, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whinchat and a Tree Pipit. Around the Parky Meade area, there was a notable count of 18 Water Rail, also high was a total of 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker. Around the same time, Hengistbury played host to 50 Whitethroat, 5 Wheatear and a Spotted Flycatcher, also 6 Yellow Wagtail overhead. In the afternoon, there were 3 Whinchat, a Garden Warbler and 1 Tree Pipit. Afternoon at Stanpit yielded 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot and 2 Whimbrel, also 8 Wheatear and 2 Yellow Wagtail on the ground around Crouch Hill. Less common duck seen today include 3 Wigeon and a Shoveler. Finally, a few words about disturbance in Stanpit Bight. Today has seen a flotilla of over 10, apparently organised, sailing dinghies enter the restricted area, also a rowing boat and, finally, two more dinghies which decided to beach on South Marsh!


September 1st

A lovely clear day with a light southerly breeze. September really heralds the start of the autumn overhead migration and the first day of the month got things rolling. 130 Meadow Pipit and 102 Yellow Wagtail passed south over Hengistbury this morning, as did 7 Tree Pipit and 4 Grey Wagtail. 370 Swallow moved east and a further 200 milling on barbed wire fences made an impressive sight. Arriving from the south and continuing north were the winter visitors, in the form of 2 Golden Plover and a Merlin. To complete the compass, a Little Ringed Plover went west. A couple of Avocet seen arriving were later also seen settled around Stanpit, while at least 4 Green Sandpiper were around the area. Winter duck are becoming more obvious, with, today, 17 Teal, 9 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall and 2 Wigeon making it into the notebook. Passerines on the ground across the head included: 60 Willow Warbler, 57 Whitethroat, 56 Blackcap, 9 Whinchat, 8 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Wheatear, 5 Garden Warbler, 2 Redstart and a Spotted Flycatcher. Other species worth noting were 1 Kingfisher and 1 Common Sandpiper. Afternoon waders on Stanpit featured 1 Curlew Sandpiper and a leucistic Dunlin that caused some initial consternation. Also counted were 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Knot, a Turnstone and several Sanderling. On Crouch Hill, there were 8 Wheatear. During an evening visit to Hengistbury, there were 13 Sanderling and 6 Turnstone on the beach, and 2 Wheatear on the top of the head.

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