Sightings for October 2005


October 31st

The last day of the month saw a magnificent, easterly, overhead finch passage. Linnet were, for once, forced into second place by 3600 Goldfinch, the former numbering 3000. They were joined by a remarkable 1250 Greenfinch, 1100 Chaffinch, 220 Brambling, including a single flock of 50 birds, 120 Siskin and 112 Redpoll. Of the higher quality members of the family, there were 2 Twite, 5 Hawfinch, in groups of 3 and 2, and 10 Bullfinch. Although ultimately heading east, many of the birds were seeming to approach from the north and then coasting. The watch period was for 4 hours, from 6:30 onwards, with most of the action packed into 90 minutes or so early on. The star bird on the deck was a Marsh Tit in the vegetation at the end of the head - there are only just over 10 harbour records! At sea, the highlight was a close in, westerly heading Grey Phalarope. Add in 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Merlin, a Firecrest in the Wood and 5 Bearded Tit in the HHC reeds, then it really was an excellent morning. A total of 4300 Woodpigeon and 35 Stock Dove were seen, mostly heading north-west, as were 29 Song Thrush, 8 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare and 2 Mistle Thrush. Other passerines with the finch hordes included 180 Starling, 170 Meadow Pipit, 120 alba Wagtail and 100 Reed Bunting. Waders on the move comprised 9 Golden Plover, while 16 Turnstone and 2 Sanderling went west at sea. Goldcrest numbers again increased, over 250 around today, but mainly at higher levels than in the main woodland. Finally, a couple of Raven traversed the area, and 2 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were in the Wood.


October 30th

At times, a truly miserable day, as southerly winds and rain lashed the area. However, there are some birds of interest to talk about. The best record is also the most frustrating. Any swift on the penultimate day of October deserves to be good, but one over Hengistbury late this morning was just a Common Swift. Nevertheless, a great record. Prior to that, some quality at sea, with 3 Velvet Scoter east, and 1 Red-necked Grebe and 3 Little Gull west, all very close in, as was a dark, juvenile Arctic Skua. Also in the morning, there was a Black Redstart by the Black House and, this afternoon, a Short-eared Owl flushed from Wick then toured the harbour; also accidentally "booted" was a Jack Snipe. During the first 90 minutes of daylight, there was a reasonable overhead passage that comprised 920 Linnet, 570 Goldfinch, 70 alba Wagtail, 69 Siskin, 6 Redpoll and 5 Brambling. In the foliage on Hengistbury, Goldcrest were numerous, with 150 being the estimate, along with 1 Firecrest. Also at sea were 2 Red-breasted Merganser, the first of the winter, and 1 Eider, all east, while 28 Kittiwake, 21 Common Gull and 63 Gannet headed west. A rather forlorn Swallow was struggling over The Run, and there were 13 Turnstone there. Over Stanpit, 9 Stock Dove went west and 8 Jackdaw east, also Coal Tit and Dartford Warbler. The highlight of the monthly WeBS count was the Brent Goose tally. The count of 172 birds is a high figure of late and the reason is easy to see, with the ratio of juvenile birds being in the order of 30-40%. Some families seem to have even 5 young. Whatever happened in Siberia this summer was good for geese. The count was difficult on a very high tide, but there were also 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 4 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall about the marsh. Other totals include 750 Lapwing, 467 Wigeon, 255 Coot, 91 Teal, 33 Dunlin, a low 12 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Snipe.


October 29th

Cloud and a reasonably strong south-easterly suggested the overhead passage could have been light. However, as it turned out, there was quite a movement - over some of the head, at least. Before the numbers, let's despatch the headlines. A Pallas' Warbler was twice seen briefly in the cleared area at the end of the head, a Lapland Bunting flew low over the Batters, a flock of 34 Crossbill headed high west, there were a total of 6 Firecrest spread around the Wood and 2 Little Gull left the harbour over the Common. Birds for which it is now getting late on Hengistbury, included: 1 Sandwich Tern west, 6 Chiffchaff, 6 Swallow, 3 Blackcap and 1 Wheatear. As well as moving overhead, Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin were seen on the deck, with 31, 61 and 86 recorded respectively. Other movers, all east, totalled 1500 Linnet, 1100 Goldfinch, 630 Greenfinch, 320 Chaffinch, 93 alba Wagtail and 85 Meadow Pipit. There was a hint of Woodpigeon passage with 160 seen heading south-west and 470 going north-west. Starling were also leaving to the south, 230 counted in all. The only thrush presence came courtesy of 76 Song Thrush and 24 Redwing; while other mild interest was provided by 3 Pintail and 1 Peregrine over the head, a Little Owl by the HHC at dawn and 116 Brent Goose west over Wick in the afternoon. At sea, an Arctic Skua was the most notable, but 46 Common Gull west is also worth a mention. Other than that, it was just distant Gannet and auks, 1 Common Scoter and 1 Kittiwake.


October 28th

Additional news from yesterday makes up the highlights for today. Please check back for some extra reports. In a southerly wind with very light drizzle, the Beach Huts didn't afford their usual shelter. Only records were 10 Brent Goose west and another settling briefly on the swell, 10 Common Scoter, 8 east and 2 west, and 2 Great-crested Grebe west. A Kingfisher was around Barn Bight and 2 Redpoll were in the Wood. Despite Wick and Mudeford Quay receiving attention, there is nothing more to offer for the morning. After lunch, however, Hengistbury picked up a little. A couple of Sand Martin out to sea past the Beach Huts is an excellent late October record. Also at sea, 2 Little Gull and 1 Kittiwake, while a Razorbill was seen in flight over the harbour! Turnstone continue to increase, with 36 being counted. The Wood was also slightly more lively, a total of 30 Goldcrest estimated.


October 27th

An incredibly warm day for late October with the mercury topping 17ºC this morning, while it was still dark! On Stanpit, the winter's first 3 Water Pipit were reported by the information services. Elsewhere, in a light south-easterly breeze, it was down to the corvids to provide the highspots. Over Hengistbury, 4 Rook moved east and a total of 23 Jackdaw coasted both ways; also a single Raven overhead. A very light Woodpigeon movement to the west comprised 1800 birds and the smaller passerines, to the south-east, totalled: 290 Meadow Pipit, 210 Goldfinch, 160 Linnet, 135 Greenfinch, 50 Chaffinch, 27 Skylark, 6 Reed Bunting and 4 Redpoll. Airborne Brambling and Siskin were heard, and on the ground a Bullfinch was vocal in Wick Fields and 2 Blackcap were seen.

Additional news: a Woodcock was flushed from the Wood just prior to 7:00 and, an hour or so later, a dark-phase Arctic Skua headed east at sea. Also 3 Common Scoter over the water and 4 Redpoll feeding in birches. In the afternoon, there were 17 Turnstone at the end of the sandspit.


October 26th

In today's drier conditions, the overhead passage resumed. With very light winds inland, birds headed south to be met by a reasonable onshore wind, which confused them slightly and resulted in a rather mixed bag of directions. These were certainly not classic pigeon conditions, but 3250 Woodpigeon and 121 Stock Dove were recorded heading, as Sunday, towards Durlston. Most of the activity was confined to a 90 minute spell, during which the bread and butter tallies were: 1500 Goldfinch, 810 Linnet, 460 Greenfinch, 370 Chaffinch, 180 Meadow Pipit, 180 alba Wagtail, 125 Siskin, 116 Redpoll, a good day for them, 110 Reed Bunting, 33 Brambling and 3 Swallow; while the highlights were 8 Bullfinch and a Woodlark. Just after dawn, thrushes moved off the head and over Wick, and totalled: 60 Redwing, 36 Song Thrush, 3 Ring Ouzel and 1 Woodlark. Also worth noting are a single Raven, 2 Jackdaw and 3 Pintail. On the ground, a Willow Warbler in the Wood was an excellent October record, and there were also 50+ Goldcrest and a Firecrest. The last few days has seen a marked increase in Mediterranean Gull, today there were at least 4 birds, but possibly 6, most of them of first-winter age. Normality was restored on the sea, where only 4 Common Scoter and 2 Eider were recorded.


October 25th

Following yesterday's maritime highlights, there were more than just a handful of observers at the Beach Huts this morning. It's strange how time is suddenly found! Anyhow, those who turned out were treated to a Long-tailed Skua show. A distant group of 3 birds were persistently watched and, fortuitously, the only squall of the morning encouraged them very close inshore, where they could be easily recognised as 1 adult and 2 intermediate-phase juveniles. The birds actually came as close as the groynes, before heading north along the sandspit towards The Run. Then, around 40 minutes later, they re-appeared, as close as before, and headed off west. Amazingly, the general situation was quiet, although a Little Auk east later in the morning would have otherwise made the day. To put things in perspective, other totals for the four hour watch were just: 5 Little Gull, 1 Arctic Tern, 21 Common Scoter, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 7 Gannet and 7 Razorbill, including 1 in the harbour. A later, shorter spell produced first-winter Mediterranean Gull and Kittiwake, 2 Sandwich Tern and a female Merlin coasting low along the beach. There were noticeably fewer Goldcrest than of late, but a Firecrest was seen and a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard, both by the Double Bends. Holloway's Dock recent wader attraction continued, with single Grey Plover and Dunlin there today. Finally, mention must be made of the now happier, Poole-based "foreteller", who, after a series of year and life (in the harbour) successes, can be quoted as saying, "I can't keep away from the place."

Additional news: there were information services reports of Mediterranean Gull, 2 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Little Gull and a late Garganey on Stanpit.


October 24th

In some severe wind and rain from the south-west, 3 new species and 1 sub-species (or has it been split?) were added to the year list. Not surprisingly, 2 of these came at sea: firstly, a Little Auk passed west close to the Beach Huts; and later, a Grey Phalarope was seen well as it lingered around 30 yards offshore there. A Pallas' Warbler on the Batters, just west of the Ironstone Quarry was, I guess, to be expected, but a Siberian Stonechat on Wick, in the field adjacent to the Driving Range had far greater rarity value. Given the conditions, it's amazing that any warblers were showing themselves, but there were three Yellow-browed Warbler encountered this morning, all presumed to be different individuals. One, probably yesterday's bird, was heard in the Wood; another was seen east of the Ironstone Quarry; while the third was on Wick Fields by the eastern Stonechat. There were also 2 Ring Ouzel in the fields and a couple of Firecrest were present on the Batters. The sea was overall pretty lively and records before lunch include: 1 Great Skua, 1 first-winter Little Gull, 1 Arctic Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern, 48 Kittiwake, 91 Gannet, all west; and 3 Eider and the autumn's first Red-throated Diver went east. Also noted were 10 Knot west, a couple of Purple Sandpiper, 85 Common Scoter, a Swallow and 2 Razorbill. There were a further 16 Knot in the unlikely setting of Holloway's Dock, also 2 Greenshank and a Grey Plover with them. This afternoon, there was an Arctic Tern lingering in The Run, just off Mudeford Quay, and a group of 3 adult Little Gull and a similarly aged Kittiwake passed westward. A further Great Skua went west just after 1:00, as did 50 Kittiwake and 20 Gannet.

Additional news: a 45 minute seawatch around 3:00 produced an Arctic Skua and a heavy passage of over 100 Kittiwake.


October 23rd

A light south-westerly and cloudy conditions did not stop the early Woodpigeon movement. An initially considered to be good total of 13500 passed south-west over Hengistbury throughout the morning. However, this figure soon paled into insignificance when compared to the numbers over nearby Durlston. A massive 73000 estimated there! Just 60 Stock Dove were mixed in with the larger pigeons. Visiting birder, Alan Thompson, found his second Yellow-browed Warbler in as many days, this time behind the Nursery. Are the locals focussing too much on the overhead passage and leaving the Wood neglected? Other highlights included: a ringtail Hen Harrier in off the sea and then north, a drake Scaup west at sea, Bearded Tit calling in the HHC reedbed and a Woodcock flushed from just east of the Ironstone Quarry. The best of the overhead movement was 42 Crossbill, nearly all west, including a flock of 30, 3 Tree Sparrow, 2 Sand Martin, exceptional for late October, and 1 Yellowhammer. A total of 16 Bullfinch were recorded, including 1 northern (Scandinavian) type that was seen and heard calling over the Long Field. A couple of Coal Tit may also been of overseas origin. The thrush tally comprised 7 Ring Ouzel, 79 Redwing, 76 Song Thrush and 1 Mistle Thrush, mostly heading north-west early on, while a reasonable number of 85 Goldcrest contained 1 Firecrest. A total of 34 Jackdaw, the largest group being 27 birds, went east, and 5 Raven were over the area. The Spoonbill remains on Blackberry Point and a late Whimbrel was seen leaving from Stanpit, also 7 Golden Plover counted. Meanwhile, on Holloway's Dock, there were 2 Greenshank and 1 Kingfisher. Of mild wildfowl interest, 4 Shelduck and 2 Pochard were noted. Around 7:15 the Barn Owl again headed towards the Nursery over the HHC reeds. This seems to be an established routine and it is now thought the bird is roosting somewhere on Hengistbury. Slightly earlier, a Little Owl had been sat on the HHC entrance sign. At least 4 Water Rail showed themselves in Brewer's Creek, as did a further Kingfisher. Finally, the day's commoner passerine totals, the passage being predominantly to the west: 1600 Linnet, 1200 Goldfinch, 830 Goldfinch, 520 Greenfinch, 320 Skylark, 320 Meadow Pipit, 140 alba Wagtail, 90 Brambling, 66 Redpoll and 53 Siskin.

Stop press: the Yellow-browed Warbler was still present this evening. It was seen very well from the Batters, just above the Nursery, in a tit flock.


October 22nd

Not a good two weeks to be away on a business trip and my ill luck continued this morning, as a return trip home to collect forgotten sandwiches meant missing the Barn Owl over the HHC reedbed. Thanks to Mark Andrews for managing the site so proficiently in my absence. In a south-westerly, the visible migration could be described as average, but there were several items of quality. Richard's Pipit were encountered either side of lunch - a bird was seen on Stanpit in the morning; and this afternoon, the same, or another, was heard over Wick Fields. Another probable brace were Yellow-browed Warbler: firstly one was seen along the riverside Wick path; and around 45 minutes later, a further bird was in the Barred Warbler Bush in the Barn Field. Add these to the Spoonbill on Blackberry Point, a Woodlark over Wick, a Firecrest in the Wood and 3 different Merlin, then it really was a good day. The week of the mountain thrush continues, with an estimated 20 Ring Ouzel across Hengistbury and Wick Fields, including a flock of 9 birds. Other quality came with a locally high count of 13 Bullfinch, most feeding in Wick Ditch, also 3 Yellowhammer, at least 5 Brambling, a female-type Black Redstart by groyne S2 and some "heard" Bearded Tit in the HHC reedbed. Winter thrush included 74 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare, and other seasonal immingrants were 64 Song Thrush, 60 Blackbird and 1 Mistle Thrush. Wood Pigeon normally save themselves until early November and clear weather, so 3500 west in today's cloud were considered to be slightly early. Conversely, a Whinchat on Stanpit and a Wheatear on Whitepits are on the late side. Before the day's numbers, a few duck to note, in the shape of 6 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall. The final passerine migration totals are: 520 Goldfinch, 435 Greenfinch, 420 Chaffinch, 330 Linnet, 230 Starling, 170 Siskin, 150 Meadow Pipit, 126 Reed Bunting, 120 alba Wagtail, 78 Redpoll, 20 Skylark, 15 Brambling, 12 Swallow, 6 House Martin and 2 Grey Wagtail. Of butterfly interest, a Clouded Yellow was near the Point House Café.


October 21st

Buoyed by the prospect of a memorable seawatch, the sole observer found the sea and little else! This would appear to be in line with other south coast watchpoints, with no particularly unusual reports noted. Visible migration also ground to a halt today, with 25 Siskin, 35 Redpoll and 75 Goldfinch being the only records worth noting. There were 2 Ring Ouzel on Wick, the Woods held some 50 Goldcrest and 25 Chiff-chaff, and 10 Jay were mobile around the area, with 2 Greenshank in Holloway's Dock. Over on Stanpit, the juvenile Spoonbill remained, and 98 Brent Goose included 31 juvenile birds, a high proportion, hopefully reflecting a good breeding season. Mudeford Quay held 30+ Turnstone this evening, as well as a Razorbill off there. Tomorrow has been chosen for a further co-ordinated visible migration count across the County, so here's hoping for rather better conditions come the morning.


October 20th

The day dawned bright and sunny, with a fairly strong south-westerly wind and no sign of the forecast showers until much later in the day. Overhead passage was still prominent this morning, with counts of 60 Song Thrush, 3 Ring Ouzel, 330 Linnet, 630 Goldfinch, 195 alba Wagtail, 250 Meadow Pipit, 270 Chaffinch, 42 Redpoll, 59 Siskin, 90 Skylark, 690 Greenfinch, 130 Woodpigeon, 9 Stock Dove, 15 Swallow, 8 House Martin and 3 Golden Plover. A Lapland Bunting headed east over Long Field, calling, single Merlin were seen on both sides of the harbour, a Yellowhammer and a Woodlark went over, the latter heading south, and a Crossbill was heard in the Nursery treetops. 2 Shoveler, 3 Pintail and a Pochard were also noted. Early on, 74 Brent Goose were in the harbour and 39 flew west at sea; interestingly, 111 birds were later counted from Stanpit, along with 20 Black-tailed Godwit and a good selection of the usual waders and duck. A flock of 8 Jack Snipe put up from Central Marsh around midday was an excellent number. The juvenile Spoonbill remained on Stanpit, looking a little more healthy today, but a Gannet was less fortunate, having been washed up by the Point House Café entangled in fishing net and taken away by the RSPCA with some wing damage. This evening, 3 Ring Ouzel were on Wick, probably different birds to this morning's sightings. Strong southerlies and driving rain are forecast for tomorrow morning, so if viewing is possible, given the conditions, seawatching is likely to be the best option.


October 19th

Heavy, thundery showers with hail made birding decidedly unpleasant at times today, but there were still some excellent birds on offer. Highlight was a Great White Egret, seen over the Beach Huts, which was brought down by a particularly heavy shower and was likely to have landed in the harbour. What was presumably the same bird had given a frustratingly-brief view in Holloway's Dock yesterday; interestingly, one had also been seen last Saturday (15th) flying down the Avon towards the harbour in the early evening. Also seen during the seawatch were 2 Little Gull, an Arctic Skua, 55 Common Scoter, 2 Tufted Duck, 67 Pintail, 12 Shoveler and 63 Brent Goose, single Arctic and 3 Sandwich Terns, a Kittiwake, a Razorbill plus 4 unidentified auks, and a Merlin. 25 Turnstone were also seen off Mudeford Quay. Most of the passage was to the west. On the land, visible migration consisted of 150 Meadow Pipit, 80 alba Wagtail, 120 Greenfinch, 230 Linnet, 1 Brambling, 24 Siskin, 125 Chaffinch and 16 Swallow. Grounded birds included 124 Song Thrush, 100+ Blackbird, mostly on Long Field, 4 Ring Ouzel and a Short-eared Owl on the head; yet another Yellow-browed Warbler was seen today, firstly at the far end of the head, then later by the Ironstone Quarry, with a supporting cast of 60 Goldcrest. Later in the day, there was a Black Redstart by the Beach Huts. Over on Stanpit, the sole reported visit was at high tide, never ideal viewing conditions, but 38 Brent Goose, 36 Black-tailed and 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover and 28 Dunlin were reported. The juvenile Spoonbill, now rather bedraggled, remained on the extreme point of South Marsh, apparently surrounded by 48 hungry-looking Great Black-backed Gulls.


October 18th

Before first light, Tawny Owl was again heard by Two Riversmeet. A stiff easterly wind and heavy cloud cover contributed to a slow start to the passage today, with very little movement until almost 8am. However, Linnet and Goldfinch numbers quickly built up to 1320 and 820 respectively; also noted were 270 alba Wagtail, 160 Meadow Pipit, 75 Siskin, 60 Greenfinch, 25 Chaffinch, 45 Swallow, 15 each of Redwing and Song Thrush, 18 Reed Bunting and 7 Redpoll. Brent Geese were on the move in both directions, with 24 west and 13 east, and a Golden Plover arrived. Of the "odds and ends", there were 6 Ring Ouzel seen this morning, 3 Pintail flew downriver, a Great-crested Grebe was in the middle of the harbour, and 2 Merlin were noted, one on the Head early on and another, a female, over the path by the Nursery, with the juvenile Spoonbill noted on Blackberry Point. Bird of the morning was a Hawfinch, dwarfing the accompanying Linnets. Over on Stanpit, 3 Jack Snipe were seen in flight late afternoon.

Yesterday's post has now been updated, with several good records added.


October 17th

The day started well, with the regular Barn Owl seen by the HHC. Visible migration continues unabated, with today's totals including 156 Song Thrush, 52 Redwing, 159 Siskin, 310 alba Wagtail, 220 Meadow Pipit, 112 Reed Bunting, 190 Blackbird, 370 Chaffinch, 460 Goldfinch, 41 Redpoll, 290 Linnet, 330 Greenfinch, 31 Jay, 131 Starling, 170 Swallow, 46 House Martin and 5 Brambling. A single Crossbill was also seen, and pick of the bunch, a Lapland Bunting (a particularly well-marked male) was seen twice. At least 2 Bearded Tit appeared to arrive, and at one point were in the hedgerow near the HHC; a total of 11 birds were eventually seen. On the head, 16 Ring Ouzel included a flock of 9, with 2 Short-eared Owl, Peregrine and Merlin seen and a Woodlark over. There were 2 Raven over the Nursery; 4 Black Redstart, a Firecrest, 3 Shoveler, a Pintail, 30 Snipe, 8 Greylag Goose, 4 Rook, 31 Jackdaw, 2 Blackcap and a Bullfinch were also noted. Wick came up with 3 Ring Ouzel this morning, one remaining to the evening, along with 30 Redwing, a male Bullfinch, 12 Chiff-chaff and 7 Snipe. Over on Stanpit, the juvenile Spoonbill remained, with 400+ Wigeon, 33 Brent Geese, 6 Bar-tailed and 8 Black-tailed Godwit, a Peregrine, 120 Teal on Priory Marsh, with 2 Greenshank, and a dozen Chiff-chaff in North Scrubs. The Information Services report Purple Sandpiper and Sanderling by the Beach Huts. In the evening, the Barn Owl was seen hunting along Wick Fields.


October 16th

Today was one of those days that make compiling this report difficult, for all the right reasons. The quantity and variety was nothing short of spectacular - indeed, one harbour veteran commented that it was probably the best visible migration he'd ever witnessed here. Records were surely broken for several species. As luck would have it, the day had been designated for a "co-ordinated count" across Dorset from 07:30 to 09:30, with several other sites joining in, and it is hoped that a summary of the results will be posted here in due course. Starting with the "volume", there were 4200 Goldfinch, 2800 Linnet, 1800 Chaffinch, 2200 Greenfinch, 580 Siskin, 370 alba Wagtail, 260 Meadow Pipit, 218 Redpoll, 211 Reed Bunting, 210 Skylark, 150 Starling, 138 Brambling, 94 Swallow, 32 House Martin, a late Sand Martin, 59 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 48 Redwing, 66 Blackbird (plus 80 grounded birds) and 58 House Sparrow, all moving east into the wind. Before first light, there had already been 2 Tawny Owl and a Little Owl by Two Riversmeet, and the seemingly-regular Barn Owl was also seen at the far end of Wick as dawn broke; in the evening, it was seen by Two Riversmeet. An amazing 41 Ring Ouzel were seen, as well as 17 Rook, 3 Jackdaw, 3 Woodlark, 1 Merlin north, a Hen Harrier on Wick Fields, 6 Buzzard east in a single flock, 31 Crossbill, a Tree Sparrow, and 4 Hawfinch. An adult Spoonbill was also caught up in the movement - a second bird, this time a juvenile, was on Stanpit for most of the day. Pigeons staged their first movement of the autumn, with 560 Woodpigeon and 121 Stock Dove moving east (most passage is in November, when birds tend to move west). Grounded birds in the Woods and on the Batters included 44 Goldcrest, 39 Chiff-chaff, 11 Coal Tit, 2 Firecrest and yet another Yellow-browed Warbler. Wildfowl comprised 435 Wigeon, 31 Teal, 2 Gadwall and 34 Brent Goose on Stanpit, 14 Pintail, a Goosander flying downriver and returning almost immediately, a Tufted Duck, 4 Shoveler west, with 6 on Stanpit, and waders included 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Golden Plover and 9 Knot. 2 Mediterranean Gull were also logged.

Finally, please look back to yesterday for a couple of interesting late reports.


October 15th

Not quite the numbers to match yesterday, but there was certainly a good variety of birds on the move today, mostly flying into the easterly wind. Goldfinch, with 1500 birds, and Linnet, with 1200, once again headed the totals; 430 alba Wagtail, 630 Chaffinch, 720 Meadow Pipit, 170 Siskin, 130 Reed Bunting, 800 Greenfinch, 330 Swallow, 12 House Martin (numbers of this species continue to be very low), 110 Skylark, 120 Starling, 15 Redpoll, 3 Grey Wagtail and a late Yellow Wagtail made up the bulk of the overhead passage. 2 Woodlark were seen, with one over the woods and one hugging the coastline, calling as it headed east. There were also 2 Black Redstart today, one on the Long Field and another by the Beach Huts. A total of 19 Brent Geese were seen, a Golden Plover arrived from the south, a Ring Ouzel was a brief visitor to Barn Field, but quickly headed towards Wick, and a Tufted Duck landed in Barn Bight. Other miscellaneous sightings included 7 Common Scoter, 7 Wigeon, 1 Razorbill and 2 Red-breasted Merganser at sea, a Wheatear, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 14 Common Gull, 3 Grey Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Short-eared Owl are a regular passage migrant to the area in small numbers, but are rarely seen well, so a bird that landed on the Batters before being accidentally flushed down to Barn Field and spending some time giving an extended fly-past pursued by crows, was much appreciated by its observers. On the subject of crows, sadly neglected of late, 9 Rook, 2 Jackdaw and 14 Jay were seen today. Wick Fields held 25 Chiff-chaff, 9 Blackcap, a Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Peregrine, with 2 Bearded Tit in the reedbed by the HHC.

Late news - A Marsh Harrier was seen from Stanpit in the evening, going to roost in the Wick reedbeds, and the Barn Owl appears to have returned to its old haunt near the wooden bridge on Wick, being seen at first light.


October 14th

Unlike yesterday, birds were on the move from first light, around 7am, and passage was still evident over four hours later. Huge numbers of birds were involved, but with only two observers the following totals are likely to be understated. The bulk of the finches were Goldfinch and Linnet, with 3400 and 3100 respectively, with a still-impressive 1200 Chaffinch, 770 Siskin, 330 Greenfinch and 210 Reed Bunting, whilst 59 Redpoll was a good count. Meadow Pipit weighed in with 1600 birds, and 870 alba Wagtail were noted, mostly within the first hour. 180 Starling and 220 Swallow also passed through, along with a couple of Grey Wagtail. Large movements of common birds are often accompanied by the odd rarity, and today did not disappoint, with yet another Richard's Pipit moving east with a small flock of Meadow Pipit, heard and seen as it flew over the Batters. 3 Black Redstart were on and around the HHC building, and a Raven and 2 Merlin were also seen during the morning. With the wind moving to the north-east, wildfowl and waders are often seen on the move - in the event, 28 Golden Plover, 5 Greenshank, 5 Grey Plover and 5 Pochard were seen, but more can be expected over the next few days if the weather forecast is correct.


October 13th

A much better day today, with both quality and quantity. All was quiet for the first hour after dawn, but cold fronts and rain moving through on a stiff NNW'erly wind appeared to push a sizeable passage of birds through the harbour. Apart from 53 Song Thrush, a single Redwing and 34 Golden Plover moving north-west, all other passage was to the east or north-east, with 630 alba Wagtail, 610 Siskin, 64 Redpoll, 70 Skylark, 1300 Linnet, 1100 Goldfinch, 1050 Meadow Pipit, 120 Chaffinch, 85 Greenfinch, 28 Reed Bunting, 30 House Martin and 5 Swallow logged in total. 4 Greenshank were in the harbour, and Bearded Tit was again heard, not seen, in the HHC reedbed; 2 Merlin were also seen, and a Raven landed briefly on the head. A Yellowhammer and 3 Bullfinch, both unusual birds for the harbour, were noted with the finch passage, but pride of place (on a local level) went to a Hawfinch seen following the Bullfinch. Finally, more local quality was provided by a Lapland Bunting, which alighted briefly on the footpath at the eastern end of the head before being flushed towards the beach by a dog.


October 12th

Another relatively quiet day in the harbour, with just the visible migration providing any interest. Today's totals were 370 Siskin, 5 Grey Wagtail, 320 alba Wagtail, 420 Meadow Pipit, 360 Goldfinch, 170 Linnet, 260 Greenfinch and 58 Swallow, all moving east or south-east. On the sea, the forecast strong southerlies did not materialise - the wind was from the south, backing to the south-west as the morning progressed, but was too light to cause any seabird displacement. 52 Brent Geese headed west, as did 12 Sandwich Tern, 1 Common Tern, 5 Pintail and a Common Scoter, and the regular feeding Gannet flock comprised 50 birds today.


October 11th

A change in the weather today - a mirky, mild morning, with a southerly breeze backing to the east, increasing cloud cover, and rain setting in late afternoon. The birds reflected the conditions, with rather limited movement today. Goldfinch headed the count with 330 birds east. Also counted were 140 Linnet, 93 Siskin, 110 Greenfinch, 76 alba Wagtail, 75 Meadow Pipit, 50 Chaffinch, 32 Reed Bunting, 21 Swallow, 2 Grey Wagtail and a single Redpoll. Few grounded migrants were noted, although the Black Redstart remained by the Beach Huts. 3 Tufted Duck were seen flying through the harbour, and Wick held a late Willow Warbler, 2 Redwing and a Peregrine. Finally, a Bearded Tit was heard by the HHC, but did not show itself in the stiffening breeze (edit - a late report indicated the presence of at least 5 birds).


October 10th

Another warm, sunny day, with a southerly breeze. Not ideal conditions for visible migration, perhaps, but in the event numbers were quite reasonable. The regular morning count from Hengistbury produced totals of 230 Meadow Pipit, 330 alba Wagtail, 560 Goldfinch, 180 Linnet, 110 Siskin, 520 Swallow, 11 Redpoll and 300 Greenfinch passing mostly east. A single Brambling also passed overhead, as did a Golden Plover. Interest at ground level was provided by 12 Coal Tit, 95 Goldcrest and a Firecrest in the woods, a Ring Ouzel, a late Whinchat and a Mistle Thrush on the Common, and 1 Razorbill, 3 unidentified Auks and an adult Mediterranean Gull at sea, with a Black Redstart, the first of the autumn, by the Beach Huts. 12 Bearded Tit were also in the reedbed by the HHC. Over on Stanpit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover and 3 Greenshank were seen amongst 20 Black-tailed Godwit and 40 Dunlin, with 4 Wheatear also seen.


October 9th

Prior to today's Outdoor Meeting on Stanpit, on a gloriously sunny, mild day, both sides of the harbour were covered. On Hengistbury, pick of the overhead passage were 2 Woodlark, the first record this year, with a well-marked male Ring Ouzel seen to leave the head towards Wick. Other birds seen included 2 Golden Plover west, 4 Greylag Geese in the company of 2 Canadas, 2 Common Tern west and a Firecrest on the Batters. Of the regular passage birds, 44 Redpoll, 78 Siskin, 420 Goldfinch, 230 Meadow Pipit, a late Tree Pipit, 41 Skylark, 260 Swallow, just 15 House Martin, 160 alba Wagtail, 135 Chaffinch, 170 Greenfinch, 30 Reed Bunting, 38 Song Thrush and a single Redwing were noted, with most passage to the east. Another Ring Ouzel, this time a female or immature, was in bushes along Wick, with a third bird on Crouch Hill, Stanpit. The third Richard's Pipit in a week, an excellent run of records, was reported flying north over Stanpit; Water Pipit, Grasshopper Warbler and 6 Wheatear were also reported.

During the Meeting itself, a group of over 50 were treated to a Curlew Sandpiper as the highlight, with 8 Greenshank, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit and 9 Grey Plover identified amongst the usual Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit. Finally, Brent Goose numbers are slowly increasing, with six birds present today. Thanks must go to David Taylor and Dave Smith for guiding such a large group around the Marsh.


October 8th

Upon arrival at Hengistbury, it was slightly disappointing to find the wind was coming almost directly from the south. However, as it transpired, the morning turned out reasonably well. The second Richard's Pipit of the week was seen from the harbour shore as it flew westwards towards the top of the head; and much later in the morning, an Osprey was seen from Wick Fields. At sea, a juvenile Arctic Tern and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull both headed west; while, overhead, it was a good falcon day, with 2 Hobby, 2 Merlin and a juvenile Peregrine all being seen from Hengistbury. Certainly the best record of the day was a flock of 150 Song Thrush moving north. These were very high and only seen by chance, and their height may explain why the harbour gets relatively low numbers of thrushes compared with more inland sites. A pre-match record of Bullfinch by the Driving Range on Wick should also be mentioned before the day's numbers. For a short period around 8:00, the finch passage over the end of the head made a fantastic sight, with groups of 30 or so coming through almost continuously. The counts of these and others were: 1200 House Martin, the first time this autumn they outnumbered Swallow, which came in at 960 birds; also 860 Goldfinch, 820 Linnet, 420 Siskin, 360 Meadow Pipit, 240 alba Wagtail, 86 Chaffinch, 62 Reed Bunting, 7 Redpoll, 4 Grey Wagtail and 1 Yellow Wagtail. Not too much in the bushes, but a total of 8 Coal Tit, a couple being very bright, although not seen well, were most likely of continental origin; and 16 Jay may well have come the same way. No reports from Stanpit, but waders seen from Hengistbury were 20 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Grey Plover over the harbour, a Common Sandpiper in Holloway's Dock and a Turnstone past at sea.

Late news: 3 Yellow Wagtail were on Wick this morning.


October 7th

An almost windless morning produced a fine total of birds. Nothing too special, but a spectacular overhead passage. Firstly though, the more notable. A couple of Bearded Tit, a species not recorded for a while, were in the reeds halfway along the Wick reedbeds; and on the head, a Firecrest was on the Batters. There were visible migration counts turned in from both the top of the head and Wick Fields, and it is safe to assume there is very little duplication. Before the more expected totals, it is worth picking out Song Thrush, which totalled 145, including birds seen coming in off the sea, also 6 Redwing and 5 Mistle Thrush and a great day total of 660 Siskin. Apart from the thrushes, all movement was east and weighs in at 1800 Swallow, 1600 House Martin, 990 Goldfinch, 630 Meadow Pipit, 610 Linnet, 285 Chaffinch, 160 Greenfinch, 138 Reed Bunting, 70 alba Wagtail, 36 Redpoll, 6 Grey Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Jackdaw. There were relatively few settled birds, just 24 Chiffchaff and 7 Blackcap recorded on Wick, and a Coal Tit on Hengistbury. As yesterday, Snipe were seen arriving, with 20 counted today, along with 3 Grey Plover and 2 Golden Plover. The Brent Goose arrival has not yet happened, but just needs an easterly wind to encourage them along, so 3 west at sea is worth a mention, as is a single Sandwich Tern, with 2 Common Sandpiper settled in Holloways Dock. A couple of Peregrine were over the harbour during the morning and a Tawny Owl at Two Riversmeet before dawn. Finally, a forlorn looking figure from Poole was still scouring the head for an eastern phyllosc!


October 6th

A really damp and mirky day that stifled the recent visible migration. The Hengistbury Yellow-browed Warbler was seen on the lower Batters this morning. Although the views were again brief, the bird was vocal and accompanying Goldcrest. One melancholy, Poole based, harbour lister was making his fourth attempt to see the bird today - we wish him all the best! The most notable migration event was the presence of at least 75 Song Thrush across the western section of Hengistbury. These represent a significant influx and a group of 9 birds was actually seen to arrive. Also seen coming in were 15 Snipe and 7 Pochard, the latter seeming to settle in the harbour. Another bogey bird for the taximan. A couple of Firecrest were in the Wood, while overhead only 106 Siskin, 5 Redpoll, 2 Grey Wagtail and 1 Yellow Wagtail were noted. More spectacular was the Chiffchaff and Blackcap presence - 150 of the former and 75 of the latter were estimated on Wick Fields and the Common. There was also a Reed Warbler seen on Wick and, on the western extremities, a single Whinchat and Wheatear were present. Another good Jay count totalled 15 and a very confiding Razorbill fished in the surf. Holloway's Dock held a surprise, in the form of a Little Stint, along with 20 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone, a Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank and some Black-tailed. Most soon realised, however, there is far more to be had around Stanpit Bight, where two counts were made today. The maxima being 5 Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 150 Dunlin, 55 Ringed Plover and 20 Black-tailed Godwit. On Crouch Hill, there were 4 Wheatear throughout the day, meanwhile the Sandwich Tern have dwindled to 2 individuals.


October 5th

What was presumably the same Yellow-browed Warbler as yesterday was still present on Hengistbury this morning; the information services reported the bird just after 11am. Earlier, for the first couple of hours after daybreak, there was a good visible migration with all the birds apart from thrushes moving east. There was a light wind from the north-east hence it was quite chilly. Hirundines numbered 1500 House Martin and 800 Swallow whilst there were 530 Goldfinch, 480 alba Wagtail, 315 Siskin, 240 Meadow Pipit, 170 Linnet, 130 Chaffinch, 16 Redpoll, 5 Brambling and 2 Yellow Wagtail. Heading north were 29 Song Thrush and 2 Redwing. A late Whinchat was on the Barn Field and 3 Wheatear were noted. A Golden Plover and 3 Turnstone were seen to arrive, a Knot was on the beach while Holloway's Dock held 3 Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper. The sea, which was watched for a short time, produced just 3 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe east with 10 Common Gull and 7 Sandwich Tern moving west; an Arctic Tern passed through the harbour also west. Brent Geese still seem reluctant to remain as 4 were seen leaving over the beach huts. The only raptor of note was a juvenile Peregrine heading over the HHC towards Wick.

Late news: there was a confirmed sighting of the Yellow-browed Warbler on the Batters late this afternoon. The views were brief, but the bird did call. It was associating with around 10 Chiffchaff and more Goldcrest.


October 4th

Another Yellow-browed Warbler was seen today, the fourth record in just under a week. The bird was in the Sycamores just below the top of the Head this morning. The weather was once again gloriously sunny with just a slight north-easterly wind. Finches, pipits and wagtails were moving overhead in reasonable numbers. Counts were 325 Goldfinch, 200 Meadow Pipit, 125 Linnet, 85 Siskin, 40 Greenfinch, 25 Chaffinch, 25 Reed Bunting, 15 Skylark and 8 Redpoll all east with 45 alba Wagtail and 4 Grey Wagtail west. There were fewer hirundines with just 195 House Martin and 80 Swallow east. Thrushes seen today were 15 Song Thrush on the Barn Field and 2 Redwing at the far end of Wick; also noted were 45 Chiffchaff, 18 Blackcap, 2 Wheatear and a Whitethroat. At least 9 Jay were present while 2 Rook and a Jackdaw were overhead. The 2 Brent Geese, first reported yesterday, were settled in Stanpit Bight before they flew off west while 8 Pochard and 3 Pintail made brief sorties into the harbour. Finally 8 Grey Plover arrived on the tip of South Marsh.


October 3rd

An overcast morning with a slight northerly wind produced good visible migration including some quality birds. Most of the movement occurred between 7:30 and 9am. The second Richard's Pipit of the autumn headed west low over the Batters and a short time later 2 Lapland Bunting went in the same direction. Both Yellow-browed Warbler and Firecrest were among a mixed flock of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff on the lower slopes. With the exception of thrushes heading north and Meadow Pipit west most birds were moving east. Counts were 1120 Meadow Pipit, 960 Goldfinch, 470 Swallow, 340 Linnet, 280 House Martin, 238 alba Wagtail, 230 Siskin, 125 Chaffinch, 64 Redpoll, 56 Reed Bunting, 51 Song Thrush, 12 Redwing, 9 Grey Wagtail, 2 Ring Ouzel, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Yellowhammer and 1 Jackdaw. Grounded migrants were 70 Goldcrest, 61 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap and 1 Reed Warbler. At sea were 34 Wigeon, 27 Brent Geese, 18 Common Gull, 9 Common Scoter, 5 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Gadwall with all birds moving west whilst 7 Pochard flew through the harbour. Soon after dawn 3 Golden Plover arrived and 5 Greenshank left; another 3 Greenshank were in Holloway's Dock, 19 Black-tailed Godwit were on the HHC mudbar and 2 Grey Plover were in the harbour. Finally a juvenile Hobby was in the Nursery briefly before flying off west.

This evening a Grasshopper Warbler and around 25 Chiffchaff were on Wick.


October 2nd

A big day for visible migration in quite a chilly north wind. Before all the action however, a Little Owl was seen at 6:30 sat on a street lamp in the Broadway. From the top of Hengistbury, the following passage was recorded during a 3 hour spell - 2450 Meadow, 1130 Goldfinch, 1000 House Martin, 960 Swallow, 609 Chaffinch, including a flock of over 100 birds, 510 alba Wagtail, 488 Linnet, 438 Siskin, 123 Greenfinch, 112 Reed Bunting, 84 Sykark, 4 Grey Wagtail, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit. All the movement was to the west, except the smaller finches, Goldfinch, Siskin and Linnet, which headed in the opposite direction. Other birds on the move included 9 Song Thrush north-west, 3 Avocet and a Whimbrel west, 12 Golden Plover north, with a further bird settling in the harbour, and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit seen to arrive. A couple of Rook were over the harbour this morning, as were a couple of Raven this afternoon. There were also some reasonable birds on the ground, with a Firecrest and 38 Chiffchaff in the Wood, a Redstart on the Barn Field, and 3 Whitethroat and 2 Reed Warbler in the same area. Birds moving at sea included a diver sp., 35 or so Gannet, 28 Common Gull, 4 Canada Goose, 1 Guillemot and 1 Peregrine, all these were going west.


October 1st

A morning of varying wind saw it swing from almost north-west to south-west, and gather pace, in a very short time. Conditions seemed far from ideal for overhead passage, nevertheless, some good totals were turned in. Prior to the number crunching, the points of interest, be they relatively minor. A couple of Raven headed onto Hengistbury from the north, causing excitement amongst the resident crows; and a party of 5 Jackdaw headed north-east. At least 1 male Peregrine was again hunting over Stanpit and put up a Knot in a flock of Black-tailed Godwit, which numbered 24 in all. A couple of Whimbrel and a Ruff were seen to arrive; and 5 Gadwall and 4 Tufted Duck over the harbour are of interest, locally at least. On Stanpit, there was a really good count of 20 Wheatear, but only a single bird noted on Hengistbury, but also 2 Sedge Warbler and a Whitethroat there. Now the statistics, with most movement southerly - 630 Meadow Pipit, 430 Swallow, 300 House Martin, 220 Linnet, 220 Goldfinch, 211 alba Wagtail, 116 Siskin, 75 Chaffinch, 47 Reed Bunting, 20 Skylark, 18 House Sparrow, 8 Redpoll, 6 Grey Wagtail and 2 Yellow Wagtail. Finally, 2 Greenshank were recorded, also Kingfisher and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

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