Sightings for September 2005
Heavy rain just prior to dawn cleared away as daylight broke, and a couple of hours later there was a good visible migration over Stanpit. This included the best House Martin count so far, with an estimated 2000 birds east in a 30 minute spell; also 500 or so Swallow. Also counted were 300 Meadow Pipit, 32 Siskin and 6 Yellow Wagtail. A Ring Ouzel was in the North Scrubs and a good total of 16 Wheatear included an individual of the larger form that breeds in Greenland, but uses a migration route to Africa via the British Isles. A couple of marauding Peregrine kept the waders airborne, enabling a Spotted Redshank to be picked out amongst 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Golden Plover and 31 Black-tailed Godwit. A walk across Priory Marsh noted a Jack Snipe, 36 Snipe, 31 Teal and a Gadwall; also a couple of late Sedge Warbler there. A Treecreeper was in Smithy's Field, while on the other side of the harbour, the Nuthatch was heard by the Nursery and at least 8 Jay were around. A Mistle Thrush perching on the fence at the end of the head is well worthy of mention and a clear migrant, but otherwise Hengistbury was relatively quiet. Around 85 Goldfinch seemed to be settled, as did 6 Siskin, 25 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and a Whitethroat. A brief seawatch saw 65 Sandwich Tern, 55 Gannet and 2 auk sp. head west; and Holloway's Dock held 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank. This afternoon, there was a very confiding Firecrest by the Doreen Ann Lewis bench, and on Stanpit, 50 Goldfinch were feeding on Crouch Hill.
Possibly the coldest day of September so far, brought on by clear overnight skies, started quietly. In fact, early on, there was a better movement of hirundines seem from an office in Mudeford, than over the recording area. Things stepped up a gear at 9:30 however, when 2 Yellow-browed Warbler were found in the woodland towards the end of Hengistbury. At one time, both birds were viewed together, as they associated with Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and a single Firecrest. As it was attempted to relocate them in the denser woodland, a juvenile Nightjar was, literally, almost trodden on, before taking flight. The interest continued by the Nursery, as another Firecrest was found, along with a Pied Flycatcher. The rarest bird of the day, locally speaking that is, was yet to come. As the rare warblers were being sought this afternoon, a Nuthatch was found. It is estimated that, over the years, Yellow-browed Warbler records outnumber those of Nuthatch by nearly two to one. There was a further, single Yellow-browed sighting at 3:30 in the Nursery, with a Firecrest still present there. The totals for Chiffchaff and Goldcrest are 26 and 18 respectively. The Jay influx continues, with at least 16 birds today, also 9 Jackdaw and 3 Rook over. Passerine migration was mainly to the south and included: 360 Swallow, 340 Meadow Pipit, 220 House Martin, 136 Goldfinch, 111 Siskin, 62 alba Wagtail, 56 Greenfinch, 30 Reed Bunting, 30 Chaffinch, 8 Redpoll, 6 Grey Wagtail and 2 Yellow Wagtail. While, on the ground, 2 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat were seen, and 3 Greenshank were in Holloway's Dock.
A much better day for visible migration over Hengistbury, in a very light westerly breeze. The choice cuts included the first Brambling of the autumn, a Tree Sparrow and a flock of 26 House Sparrow, all moving south-west. While, as seems customary for thrushes, a Ring Ouzel went north-west over Wick Ditch, as did a total of 27 Song Thrush. The total south-west passage tallied at: 630 Swallow, 430 Meadow Pipit, 270 Goldfinch, 183 House Martin, 126 alba Wagtail, 99 Siskin, 90 Greenfinch, 85 Chaffinch, 73 Reed Bunting, 8 Redpoll, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit. I hate to bring them up again, but corvids feature. At least 24 Jackdaw and 3 Rook seemed to be on the move, a couple of Raven were seen and 8-10 Jay were around Wick and the head. Back to quality, and a Firecrest was in the Wood, a Jack Snipe was in the SSSI area by Barn Bight and an Arctic Tern passed west, along with 16 Sandwich Tern. The grounded warblers were counted at 165 Chiffchaff and 35 Blackcap, these were from Wick Fields to the Long Field. Also on the Long Field, a Whinchat and 3 Wheatear. Holloway's Dock held 3 Greenshank and 3 Common Gull traversed the area. There were a further 3 Wheatear on Stanpit, a feeding flock of 27 Goldfinch by the Warden's Caravan and a Water Rail in Parky Meade Rail.
We seem to in something of a migration lull. Although the wind of the last couple of days has brought some American treats to the south-west of the country, it has done nothing for us here. As it now dies away, hopefully, things will pick up again. A Swallow count over 90 minutes this morning produced only 125 birds, to the south-east, and underlines just how slow it currently is. This was around the HHC, where in addition, a few Siskin were heard, but that was the extent of it overhead. On the deck, 25+ Chiffchaff and a single Blackcap are the only mentionables. A Kingfisher was by the slipway and 13 Black-tailed Godwit were seen to arrive from the north. The recent regulars were still around Stanpit this afternoon. On Crouch Hill, there were 4 Wheatear and, around Stanpit Bight, 48 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot, 2 Greenshank and 1 Grey Plover were counted. As time moves on, it's probably worth noting Sandwich Tern - 27 were counted in the harbour today.
Slightly later update: a Firecrest in the Wood certainly raised the tone of the day, as did a Mediterranean Gull on Stanpit this afternoon. A seawatch from the head produced 6 Common Scoter, 2 Gannet and a good record of 1 Common Sandpiper on the beach.
Not much of an overhead passage was apparent, just 200 Swallow and 150 House Martin, but Wick Fields held a reasonable number of grounded birds. A mixed, feeding flock, comprising 50 Goldfinch, 12 Reed Bunting and 3 Chaffinch, were probably refuelling migrants; while 6 Redpoll and 3 Siskin were over the area. More of the latter could be heard, as were Jackdaw, but none were seen. A total of 12 Song Thrush, including a group of 3 arriving, indicates a definite influx. On the Batters, a single bush briefly held 8 Blackcap and 5 Reed Bunting, before they swiftly worked their way across the Long Field. Also 50+ Chiffchaff estimated in Wick Fields and western Hengistbury. Stanpit also held some resting finches, with a charm of Goldfinch in the North Scrubs. A Gadwall was on Central Marsh and 2 Little Grebe, which weren't there yesterday, were in Parky Meade Rail. In the morning, a Whimbrel was on East Marsh and the Black-tailed Godwit numbered just over 25. This evening, in very windswept conditions, there were 3 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Knot in Stanpit Bight. Presumably the earlier Gadwall was with the Wigeon and 3 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. Finally, we received some very enthusiastic feedback about yesterday's corvid reports, so tonight's photos are dedicated to all the crow fans out there!
A reasonably strong south-westerly got going during the hours of darkness, so prompted an early seawatch. That, coupled with distraction of the winter's first WeBS count, meant that little attention was paid to any visible migration there might have been, although, the constant passage of Swallow at sea suggested a reasonable count could have been made. Also very obvious were Siskin, the eastern part of Hengistbury being alive with the calls of a settled flock. As it was, the sea could offer no more than 3 Common Scoter, 3 auk sp. and around 30 Gannet feeding offshore. Six of the seven British corvids were recorded today, 2 Raven were mobbed by Carrion Crow, before heading north, and 1 Rook and 4 Jackdaw passed north-east. Jay are also now showing themselves quite well, the resident pair or two being supplemented by incomers, and, of course, Magpie are everywhere. A juvenile Arctic Tern in Stanpit Bight this afternoon was probably the best bird of the day, but a good wader selection was present throughout. This morning, a vocal Golden Plover circled Hengistbury then Stanpit, a single Grey Plover was there all day and a Ruff came in after lunch. There were also 14 Turnstone, most of these seen from Mudeford Quay, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 2 Sanderling and 2 Knot. Before completing the water bird numbers, mention of some passerine migrants. Single Yellow Wagtail were on Hengistbury and Stanpit, 5 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill, and small numbers of Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler were noted around Stanpit. The final counts included: 328 Coot, 191 Mute Swan, 190 Wigeon, 122 Dunlin, 121 Redshank, 83 Cormorant, 64 Ringed Plover, 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 37 Curlew, 32 Little Egret, 12 Snipe, 10 Grey Heron and 6 Water Rail.
A light, but chilly north wind certainly made today more interesting than of late. One of the highlights was the first Goldfinch movement, as over 225 made their way east in small, but very vocal charms. Other finches moving with them included 200 Linnet, 74 Siskin, 65 Greenfinch, a slightly early 58 Chaffinch and 6 Redpoll. To complete the package, 360 Swallow, 211 Meadow Pipit, 120 House Martin, 56 alba Wagtail and 3 Grey Wagtail also headed east. There was also an improvement in terms of birds in bushes, particularly on Wick Fields, where 25 Blackcap and 2 Whitethroat were in one elderberry bush alone. These were supplemented by 8 Blackcap, 2 Wheatear and 2 Whinchat on the Barn Field; and 2 Firecrest and a few Chiffchaff in the Wood. I guess it takes a certain something to enjoy Rook and Jackdaw, but in an area where they are only occasionally seen, 35 of the former and 24 of the latter moving overhead certainly suggests a migration. From the top of the head, 2 Avocet and 1 Golden Plover were seen to arrive, and 12 Knot headed south-west over the sea. Earlier, at dawn, a single Yellow Wagtail was over the HHC and, a little later, a Kingfisher was around Barn Bight. Stanpit also upped its game with a juvenile Little Ringed Plover spending most of the day on Priory Marsh; also Green Sandpiper and Ring Ouzel present this morning. The early afternoon produced some reasonable wader counts, the best being 16 Knot, along with 2 Golden Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Turnstone; while the more regular tallied at 35 Ringed Plover and 34 Black-tailed Godwit. A couple of adult Hobby tussled over Central Marsh, with a further bird also being recorded, and at least 12 Buzzard were airborne over the Avon Valley. The only blight on the day was the disturbance around Stanpit Bight. Most of it coming from canoes and sailing dinghies, presumably launched from Fisherman's Bank. Some were seen skirting East Marsh, flushing the resting birds that really do need to recharge, while others, seemingly oblivious to the "please keep away" buoys, headed straight across the bight itself. At high tide, there really is lots of open water in the harbour, well away from South and East Marsh!
Given the time spent in the field this morning and the time of year, today can only be described as poor. A light south-south-west breeze brought in drizzle just before lunch. By that time, however, even the most enthusiastic had made other plans. Some totals may seem high, but these cover a 3 hours time span! Again, Swallow lead the ratings, with 2000+ moving south, also 310 Meadow Pipit, 146 Siskin, 41 alba Wagtail and 4 Grey Wagtail. A simultaneous and equal in duration seawatch, produced 10 Gannet and 3 Common Scoter! After this, despite an an obvious influx of Goldcrest, all motivation to continue had gone. Scant reward came with a Merlin north and 3 Ruff arriving. Stanpit is still fairly passive in terms of movement. The 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill are probably into their fourth day there, while the familiar waders included 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot and 3 Greenshank. Some of these have definitely been here a few days. The only change came in Black-tailed Godwit, rising to around 50 this afternoon; and a Peregrine overhead deserves a mention. Going back to this morning, it is worrying to note the complete absence of House Martin. By this date, daily passages of several thousand are to be expected. So far, counts have barely exceeded 1000 and now time is ticking away.
A little slower in terms of migration today, with smaller numbers of birds moving directly south. Most numerous were Swallow, around 900 in total, including a single flock of 500 birds. House Martin were actually more than yesterday, over 600 counted; also 280 Meadow Pipit, 81 Siskin, 34 alba Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit; and earlier, 8 Yellow Wagtail left their roost in the HHC reeds. Arriving, rather than leaving, were 7 Song Thrush coming in high from the south. On the deck, the count was headed by 65 Chiffchaff, 46 Blackcap, 3 Reed Warbler and 2 Sedge Warbler, it's getting late for these now, and 1 Whinchat and 1 Whitethroat. On Stanpit after lunch, there were 2 further Whinchat, along with 6 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Given it is mid-September, waders numbers have been a little disappointing, but today was a little better. A count around Stanpit Bight included 93 Dunlin, 53 Ringed Plover, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, a good total of 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, with 8 seen arriving, also 5 Greenshank and 5 Knot. A fresh, headless and tailless corpse on South Marsh looks as if it were an unfortunate juvenile Black Tern, possibly the victim of juvenile Peregrine that had been seen. Finally, the wildfowl: the harbour Wigeon rose to 156 birds and on Priory Marsh there was a nice selection of 2 Shoveler, 1 Pintail and 37 Teal.
A light southerly wind that continued throughout the day encouraged a much better overhead passage, which was headed by a group of 4 Tree Sparrow over Hengistbury. These were part of a 2 hour watch from the top of the head, from 07:30 onwards, with all movement to the south-east. Totals, in numeric order, were: 1250 Swallow, 650 Meadow Pipit, 120 Siskin, 75 Linnet, 33 alba Wagtail, their first real passage of the autumn, 27 House Martin, 26 Reed Bunting, 11 Grey Wagtail, 6 Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Redpoll, 2 Jay and last, but in no way least, a single Rook. The winter's first Brent Goose arrived over the Barn Field, so far just 2 birds, and settled with 113 Wigeon in Barn Bight. Out to sea, a skua species west was most likely a pom., but firm identification could not be clinched, also a first-winter Little Gull and Arctic Tern going in the same direction. On the ground, across Wick and Hengistbury, the passerine migrants included: 110 Chiffchaff, 48 Blackcap, 8 Willow Warbler, 5 Whinchat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Coal Tit. A Whimbrel was seen to arrive, and single Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Grey Plover were recorded; while overhead, a female Merlin passed east over towards Stanpit and a male Peregrine was noted. Nothing much changed at Stanpit overnight, although both of the morning's Brent Goose were there late this afternoon, along with 3 Greenshank, 5 Knot, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 8 Black-tailed Godwit. No other counts were made.
Given that the area was covered by one dedicated and able individual for over 12 hours, the scarcity of any real interest underlines what a quiet day it was. In fact, Raven and Hobby are probably the headliners. A couple of the former were seen, 1 heading north and 1 east; also seen over the area were 2 Jackdaw and 2 Jay. Blackcap were the most numerous of the common migrants, with over 50 across Wick and Hengistbury; as well as 50 Chiffchaff, 7 Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Willow Warbler. Wheatear, meanwhile, numbered just 5 on the south side of the area, but there were a further 13 on Stanpit. Airborne migrants included 160 Swallow, 55 Meadow Pipit, 6 Siskin, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Redpoll and 1 Grey Wagtail. As autumn bears on, there are increased numbers of Robin and Blackbird, both species very vocal as they jostle for territory. Holloway's Dock continues its good, by its own standards, wader run, with single Greenshank and Bar-tailed Godwit there today; and a Water Rail was in Brewer's Creek, that's the small channel running into Barn Bight. The high tide wader roost on Stanpit this afternoon, contained 106 Dunlin, 102 Redshank, 43 Ringed Plover and 17 Black-tailed Godwit. As the water ebbed, 5 Knot, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank appeared on the mud, and a Whimbrel was on East Marsh.
A warmer and cloudier day than of late with little overhead movement. Consequently, the sea was given some attention and what a good decision that was. A couple of distant, dark and considered to be juvenile, Long-tailed Skua were east of the Beach Huts. The birds spent some time coming up and down off the water, sometimes quite high. After a while, one gained incredible height and headed off north over land, while the other was not seen again. Also seen were 79 Sandwich Tern , 14 Common Tern and 7 Turnstone, all west. A Firecrest around the Double Bends in the Wood was the best of the passerines, which also numbered 50+ Chiffchaff, 40+ Goldcrest, the last day or so has really seen these arrive, 25+ Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Whitethroat. Overhead, only 25 Siskin make it onto the day list. Holloway's Dock, normally a desert for waders, hosted 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank, and there were 2 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight. On Stanpit during the morning, there were 6 Knot, 6 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Whimbrel, as well as 24 Black-tailed Godwit. Also a Little Grebe and 2 Gadwall in Parky Meade Rail, and 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. A very light, westerly passage of Swallow was also noted. This afternoon, the Bar-tailed Godwit peaked at 7 birds, and there were 2 Greenshank and 68 Dunlin. At least 95 Redshank, a relatively high total were counted from South Marsh, but a favourite haunt, Fisherman's Bank channel was not cover and undoubtedly held many more. Even in the late afternoon, Chiffchaff were conspicuous around North Scrubs and Smithy's Field.
Another clear night brought about an average scattering of common migrants. Before getting into detail however, some local interest was provided by a Nuthatch in the trees by the small pond at the northern entrance to Wick Fields during the morning, also a Coal Tit on the fields, and a Red-legged Partridge was heard from the HHC. Seen from the same point, were single Arctic Tern and Hobby passing to the south. Grounded migrants on Wick Fields and as far as the Wood on Hengistbury included 130 Chiffchaff, 35 Blackcap, 11 Sedge Warbler, 10 Willow Warbler, 2 Whinchat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Corvids are not the best-known travellers, so 21 Jackdaw east and at least 10, but possibly 15, Jay around the area are well worthy of a mention. Perhaps more expected were 600 Swallow, 400 House Martin, 250 Meadow Pipit, 8 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit. At least 100 Siskin passed overhead this morning, as did 4 Redpoll; and 4 Song Thrush on the move are the first suggestion of the imminent winter thrush arrival. The morning exodus of gull from the harbour included a first-winter Mediterranean Gull and 3 Common Gull, also departing were 4 Whimbrel and 6 Grey Plover. Duck variety, albeit in small overall numbers, is still welcome: today 12 Shoveler, 3 Pintail, 2 Gadwall, 1 Tufted Duck and 1 Pochard provided the passing entertainment. The highlight of an afternoon visit to Stanpit was Golden Plover moulting out of breeding plumage and equally interesting was a Buzzard watched leaving high south. Wader miscellany came in the form of 5 Knot, 4 Turnstone and 1 Greenshank, as well as 93 Dunlin, 34 Ringed Plover and 23 Black-tailed Godwit.
A clear night and a slight northerly wind combined to make the temperatures plummet. This morning, the HHC thermometer read just 5ºC; while a short way north of the area, there was a very light frost. Stanpit took the day's honours, with a very elusive Richard's Pipit. The bird was briefly on South Marsh mid-morning, but could not be relocated, despite significant efforts, after it appeared to head towards East Marsh. Hengistbury held its fare share of migrants, the choice cuts being a male Crossbill over the Barn Field, a Ring Ouzel and Grasshopper Warbler on the Long Field, a Mistle Thrush north-west over Double Dykes and a Turtle Dove at the end of the head. More routine, and nearly all concentrated around the Long and Barn Fields, were: 70 Chiffchaff, 56 Reed Bunting, 53 Blackcap, 26 Sedge Warbler, 24 Wheatear, 9 Willow Warbler, 6 each of Spotted Flycatcher, Whitethroat and Whinchat, and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. There was also a notable influx of Stonechat, with 24 in the Long Field alone. As is the norm this last week, Siskin were constantly heard, 172 moved east, some hanging around for a short while. Also 7 Redpoll on the move. The Yellow Wagtail passage has passed its zenith, only 12 or so today, along with 520 Meadow Pipit, 10 Tree Pipit and 5 Grey Wagtail. It was a four falcon day with single adult male Merlin, 2 Hobby and a juvenile Peregrine, as well as the obvious Kestrel, being recorded. A Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a gull at sea is certainly worthy of migrant status. The hirundine numbers were relatively poor, a "mere" 600 House Martin and 400 Swallow being estimated, but the blue skies made high flying birds difficult to detect. Waders, however, were mobile and reasonably sized groups of Ringed Plover and Dunlin were seen both arriving and departing, also leaving were 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, while a Common Sandpiper was settled in Barn Bight. Shelduck made their return with 22 being seen on the move; and a small group of 15 or so duck arriving from the south-west contained mainly Wigeon, but also single Pintail and Teal. On Wick, there was just 1 Spotted Flycatcher and another was in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, where there was also a Whimbrel, 5 Wheatear and 2 more Bar-tailed Godwit. Only marine interest was a flock of at least 60 Gannet feeding out in Poole Bay. Finally, so far, at least 3 Kingfisher were seen around Hengistbury. This evening at Stanpit there was further evidence of wader movment, as 24 Curlew and 7 Knot headed west, while 40 Ringed Plover and 80 Dunlin went the opposite way. The best record, by a long chalk, was 3 vocal Spotted Redshank going east. Settled waders were counted as 170 Dunlin, 50 Ringed Plover, 33 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Knot and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit. In tune with this morning's observations, Wigeon have increased to 144 and there were 2 Shoveler.
Late news: a female Merlin was sat on East Marsh for a while late afternoon.
In a northerly wind, the seawatching was, perhaps, surprisingly eventful. What was even more surprising though, was the general direction of the passage, which was east. Between 8:15 and 3:15, the sea was watched for three periods, totalling 4 hours. The aggregate totals are: 5 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Skua, 2 Black Tern, 460 Gannet, 113 Sandwich Tern, 65 Common Tern and 10 Common Gull. Also noted were 6 Teal and 6 Common Scoter. The hirundine passage was not so concentrated as the last few days; nonetheless, over 1600 Swallow and 1800 House Martin were estimated. There was a notable raptor passage with a Merlin seen arriving from the south this afternoon and 4 Hobby east this morning. Also considered to be migrants were 5 Kestrel and 1 Buzzard, all east over the south of the recording area. A group of 10 waders seen arriving comprised 7 Curlew Sandpiper and 3 Wood Sandpiper, while earlier, 2 Curlew Sandpiper had departed. A total of 23 Snipe were also incoming. The early Siskin passage continued today, 223 birds being seen, mainly heading south-east. Other overhead passerines numbers were led by Meadow Pipit, with 480 going over, also 30 or so Yellow Wagtail, 6 Grey Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit. Meanwhile, a single Wheatear was on Wick and 3 Jay passed south over there. The regular, evening Wick Fields report has just been received and brings news of a Red-legged Partridge, a dozen or so Yellow Wagtail and 1 Green Sandpiper. Chiffchaff were also particularly vocal and active.
Earlier omissions. A Peregrine and 3 Raven were seen from Hengistbury in the morning, and a Hobby was over Wick this evening.
The continuing south-westerly brought in overnight rain that continued on and off throughout. This seemed to deck a reasonable number of migrants, mostly around the Ironstone Quarry. A Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was the undoubted highlight and a single Firecrest was the first of the season. Also recorded were 70 Chiffchaff, 30 Blackcap, 15 Goldcrest, 10 Willow Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Garden Warbler. A Whinchat was on top of the head and a Wheatear was by Barn Bight, where there was also a Common Sandpiper and another in Holloway's Dock. Unlike yesterday, which had a similar wind vector, the hirundines were heading south-west, mainly over the sea and included 4000 Swallow, 3000 House Martin and 150 Sand Martin. Only other overhead movement was 23 Siskin and at least 2 Redpoll east. A seawatch was fairly uneventful: 2 Fulmar, 20 Gannet and 11 Sanderling being the only notables. Mudeford Quay was quiet this morning, with just a handful of Turnstone around; while at lunchtime, a single Bar-tailed Godwit was inside the harbour, seen from the car off the approach road. A 3:15 to 4:45 seawatch produced better results, as 2 Arctic Skua, 28 Common Gull and 42 Gannet passed west, and the same, or another, first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was with the Herring Gull offshore. Stanpit was not visited today, but on Two Riversmeet golf course this evening a Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail were present.
Hengistbury was packed with local birders, all in anticipation of an exceptional day. However, if one had known about the actual strength of the south-westerly, moderate to say the least, then alarm clocks would have not been set for quite so early. Just over 70 Yellow Wagtail were seen, almost all of these leaving a roost in the HHC reeds. The wind didn't discourage Swallow, over 2700 moved in the first couple of hours, along with 1000 House Martin and the odd Sand Martin. In the conditions, seawatching seemed the best idea; but this yielded just 20 Gannet, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Common Tern, 1 Razorbill on the sea, and a Guillemot, 16 Sanderling and Great-crested Grebe past. All was not lost, as a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull seen from the Beach Huts was a good record. Passerine migrants, mainly on the top of the head and the Batters, consisted of 52 Chiffchaff, 17 Blackcap, 15 Goldcrest, 7 Siskin, a Spotted Flycatcher in the Nursery. There were also a Lesser Whitethroat and 6 Blackcap in the burnt gorse by the HHC, and 3 Grey Wagtail over. To wrap up on Hengistbury, a Kingfisher flying through bushes on the Barn Field was a strange site. Waders at Stanpit during the course of the day numbered 9 Sanderling, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, a Whimbrel, 6 Knot, 129 Dunlin, 75 Ringed Plover and 29 Black-tailed Godwit, while the seaweed clump at Mudeford Quay produced just a few Turnstone. A total of 3 Whinchat were around the marsh and 6 Wheatear spent the day on Crouch Hill.
Late news from the morning on Wick Fields. There were 20 Chiffchaff, a couple of Whinchat, a single Wheatear and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. While, given the geography, 2700 Swallow and 200 House Martin could well be additional to the previously scripted totals. This evening, there were 55 Yellow Wagtail in a pre-roost group by the HHC.
Only the slightest hint of a south-easterly breeze this morning, making it a good time for biting insects. Other than hirundines, the conditions seemed to keep overhead migration to a minimum. However, a bonus at 8:25 was a Honey Buzzard from the north that turned south-east over the harbour, but was then lost in the bright sun. The easterly hirundine passage peaked around 8:00 and died off at 9:30. The final estimates are 4500 Swallow and 1200 House Martin, many of the latter settling on the Broadway lampposts. What could we be the year's last Swift also passed east with them, as did a single Siskin. The sandspit seemed to be a better location for the limited passage of Meadow Pipit, turning in 150 birds over, as well as 5 Grey Wagtail and a handful of Yellow Wagtail. There was also a Tufted Duck and Pintail over the Beach Huts. The HHC only produced 3 Tree Pipit, 4 Snipe heading swiftly west, a high Song Thrush, hence presumed migrant, and 14 Yellow Wagtail seen leaving the reedbed roost just after dawn. A nice bit of quality in Wick Fields was a settled Turtle Dove, which allowed a few to catch up with it, also a Green Sandpiper there. Other migrants were on Hengistbury were 30 Chiffchaff, 4 Wheatear and 2 Lesser Whitethroat on the Barn Field, and Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Goldcrest in the Wood. The ringers caught 3 Chiffchaff and 1 Willow Warbler, reflecting the increasing presence of the former. The stinking pile of seaweed at Mudeford Quay is attracting good numbers of birds: today, there were 2 Common Gull, 15 Turnstone and 3 Sanderling. On Stanpit this afternoon, there were 101 Dunlin, 74 Ringed Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot, 3 Greenshank and a Knot around the bight, also 20+ Black-tailed Godwit; while around 10 Snipe and 1 Green Sandpiper were flushed off Priory Marsh. Also, 8 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, an adult white wagtail and 2 Kingfisher. Real raptor interest came in the form of a female Merlin, while more artificial was a bird thought to be a Lanner. At 7:00 tonight, there were 35 pre-roost Yellow Wagtail around the marsh.
The north-easterly wind actually made it quite chilly early on, but a good overhead passage soon warmed the bones. Meadow Pipit really got going today - at least 4250 moving east over Hengistbury during the morning. Also travelling east in big numbers were hirundines, the totals being 6500 Swallow, 2800 House Martin and 250 Sand Martin; most of these were before lunch, but House Martin were trickling through all day. The early season finch passage included 5 Crossbill and 345 Siskin, again east. Also in that direction, over the head, 162 Yellow Wagtail, 28 Tree Pipit and 35 Grey Wagtail. A group of three thrushes that came up out of Wick Ditch comprised 1 Ring Ousel and 2 Mistle Thrush, while over 60 Wheatear were across the area, along with 9 Whinchat and 2 Redstart. The third individual Marsh Harrier, this time an immature male, in as many days was over the sandspit this morning. Other raptor interest came courtesy of a Merlin heading north, single Peregrine and Hobby, and a party of 6 mixed age Buzzard actually over the harbour. Seaweed that is piling up against Mudeford Quay is attracting sandflies and consequently gulls, including a first-winter Mediterranean Gull just after 6:30 this morning. The waders on the sandspit included a juvenile Little Stint that appeared from inside the harbour, a Curlew Sandpiper, 12 Turnstone, 7 Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Later in the day, around Stanpit Bight, there was a further, but brief, Curlew Sandpiper sighting, also 11 Knot, 3 Greenshank and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit; and towards the Priory Marsh area, there was a Green Sandpiper, a Jack Snipe and 42 Snipe. The duck arrival continues (it won't be long before the winter geese arrive), there were 92 Wigeon settled and 58 west, also 3 Shoveler in off the sea, 49 Teal, 3 Pintail and 1 Gadwall. The sea was given a glance and yielded 42 Common Scoter, most west, 1 Razorbill and just under 50 Gannet. At dusk, around 90 Yellow Wagtail were gathering to roost around Wick Fields. There were none on Crouch Hill today, so these seem likely to be newly arrived birds.
After a very still close to yesterday, a disappointing north-westerly breeze appeared overnight. Not unexpectedly, this stifled the early overhead passage, however, an adult male Marsh Harrier coasted labouriously east just before 7:00 this morning. This was clearly a different bird to the female-type seen late yesterday. The raptor variety continued with an Osprey over the sandspit at 9:40, before heading off east. Earlier, a Peregrine had taken prey over Blackberry Point. It wasn't until after 9:00, when the wind had shifted slightly clockwise, that hirundines started to appear - over 800 House Martin were seen over Hengistbury; but early this afternoon, at least 2000 moved into the wind across the entire area. Strangely, only a handful of Swallow were involved in the passage. Overhead, Siskin were again mobile, with 15 over Wick mid-morning, also recorded were 3 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit. Yellow Wagtail were in all suitable parts of the recording area, including a couple of stonking males in the flock of 10 or so on Crouch Hill. Wheatear, meanwhile, are pretty much down, just 4 noted today. A reasonable variety of wader were seen, the best being the autumn's first Jack Snipe on Central Marsh. There were probably 2 Green Sandpiper, single birds been seen on Priory Marsh and Wick Fields, but a definite 2 Ruff, in fact 1 ruff and 1 reeve, fluctuating between Priory Marsh and Stanpit Bight. The latter area also provided 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, while the sandspit hosted 14 Turnstone and 10 Sanderling, and there were a total of 4 Common Sandpiper in the area. Tern are fast departing, so 10 Sandwich Tern and 1 Common Tern are worth mentioning. To finish, a Little Grebe was on the Ironstone Quarry and 2 Jay were in the Wood on Hengistbury; and single Gadwall, Shoveler and Kingfisher were at Stanpit. Finally, thanks to all those who attended the Dorset Bird Week walk at Stanpit.
Late update from Stanpit: an Avocet was on the tip of South Marsh at some point during the day, 2 Green Sandpiper went north-east over the golf course and 2 Whinchat were on Grimmery Marsh .
At last, a slight break in the conditions, as the wind swung to a very light south-easterly and brought cloud with it. A juvenile Spoonbill spent 10 minutes in the harbour this morning, before leaving east, after appearing to be settled off Speller's Point. The bird had initially arrived from the west. Around the same time, a group of 5 Avocet also checked-in and then spent most of the morning on various patches of exposed mud. Later in the morning, around 11:00, an Osprey was seen over the sandspit from Stanpit and appeared to head off. However, around 10 minutes later, what surely must have seen the same bird returned and went back up the valley. Today saw the advent of the autumn finch passage and the best were 2 Crossbill over Stanpit, but a total of 69 Siskin seen over Hengistbury heading east, with 2 more groups being heard, is notable for the relatively early date. Also a Chaffinch and 30 Goldfinch on the Barn Field, where they have not been so far this season. The hour between 8:00 and 9:00, when things stopped abruptly, saw a significant hirundine movement into the wind. An estimate of 5600 birds is low, as the front was so broad that accurate counting was impossible. The content of the passage was 70% Swallow and 30% House Martin, also the occasional Sand Martin, a single Swift and an accompanying Hobby. The flava-fest continued with 40 Yellow Wagtail seen leaving the HHC reeds at dawn. Further sightings produced a day total of 95 birds over and 25 on Crouch Hill, also 5 Grey Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit on the move. Other than the airborne migrants, things were sparse with just 9 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat and 1Spotted Flycatcher being the only counts worth mentioning. This report is running the risk of sending you to sleep, so the following wader totals are the aggregate of the entire recording area for both the low tide periods. Dunlin 110, Ringed Plover 75, Black-tailed Godwit 17, Turnstone 16, Sanderling 9, Bar-tailed Godwit 4, Knot 4, Ruff 2 and Green Sandpiper 1. Wigeon on Stanpit rose slightly to 73 and a Kingfisher was there.
Late news: a female-type Marsh Harrier was over Wick Fields at 6:30 tonight.
Very little change again and the head produced a fairly uninspiring migrant total. A couple of Spotted Flycatcher around the Barn were probably the pick of the bunch. Otherwise, just a few Whitethroat, 5 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Grey Wagtail. This afternoon on Stanpit, around 25 Yellow Wagtail were being extremely confiding on Crouch Hill, giving a real treat; also 2 Wheatear and 2 Whinchat there. In the North Scrubs, there was a Spotted Flycatcher, and on Priory Marsh 2 Ruff and a Green Sandpiper. A Gadwall was in Parky Meade Rail and between 30 and 40 Little Egret were on East Marsh during the high water. The recent, regular pre-roost gathering of 40 Yellow Wagtail was on Wick this evening, and 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Wood Sandpiper went overhead to the south.
Late update from the day at Hengistbury. There was a further Spotted Flycatcher on the top of the head, a Tree Pipit over, and 7 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Wheatear on the beach. Around 11:00 this morning, a juvenile Black Tern was in the harbour, while a Siskin overhead was the first of the autumn. Also mobile were 2 Greenshank and 1 Whimbrel, but more settled were 2 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper and 10 Turnstone on the beach. Finally, a Little Grebe was on the Ironstone Quarry and 3 Jay were in the Wood. A count of 1000 Swallow and 582 House Martin was received, but with no further detials.
Migration had certainly quietened today: far fewer hirundines over and just 10 Willow Warbler around Hengistbury being the indicator. However, some interest was provided by a Redstart and a Garden Warbler, also around 10 Yellow Wagtail. The best record of the day came at 10:00 this morning, as a juvenile Black Tern came along the beach and then went into the harbour. Elsewhere on the head, a Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight, a Hobby and Peregrine went over, and a single Great-spotted Woodpecker was recorded. After the main holiday season the sandspit remains undisturbed for most of the day and this tranquillity produced 2 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Knot, 120 Dunlin and 92 Ringed Plover, all feeding unmolested. At sea, just a single Fulmar was worthy of note. This evening, 2 Black Tern were feeding in the harbour, viewable from Crouch Hill. Continuing this welcome spell of Yellow Wagtail numbers, 21 were in that area and more could be heard around Two Riversmeet. Presently, they wonderfully seem to everywhere. There were also 3 Knot on the mud and 3 Wheatear with the flavae . At dusk, on Wick Fields, there were a further 40 Yellow Wagtail, along with a Greenshank , 2 Jay and a Great-spotted Woodpecker.
No need to dwell on the conditions, as they were near identical to the previous few days. In the early morning, a Spotted Redshank was seen to leave the harbour, also 15 Sanderling; while on the sandspit, there were 6 Yellow Wagtail and 20 Turnstone, and a Hobby passed overhead. September Swift are always noteworthy and today there were two - singles over Wick and the Barn Field. There was also a Mistle Thrush close to the latter site. During the morning period, 2000+ hirundines were logged moving east, these were evenly split between Swallow and House Martin, but there were a few Sand Martin mixed in. A Grey Wagtail was behind the HC and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, possibly migrants, were seen. Other migrants were sparse, just 25 Willow Warbler, 15 Whitethroat, 3 Wheatear and a singing Chiffchaff were in the HHC/Wick Fields area. Only other interest from Hengistbury was the first Jay for a while. The late afternoon on the falling tide on Stanpit Bight was dotted with mild interest. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull wa, again, the first for some time, also single Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper. On Crouch Hill, Yellow Wagtail were very confiding, with at least 15 present of both ages and joining them were 10 Wheatear and a Whinchat. A Peregrine moved through very quickly and, on the mud, there was 1 Knot, 1 Greenshank, just 1 Black-tailed Godwit and Limpy. Wigeon did not increase today, but there was a Shoveler present.
Late news from Beach Hut 18: 85 Ringed Plover and 16 Sanderling were on the beach, and 3 Greenshank were in Holloway's Dock.
The only reports received from this morning were of a Greenshank on the flooded fields on Wick and a flyover Mistle Thrush, a species becoming less and less common in the harbour. Afternoon & early evening visits to Stanpit produced 11 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat and 20 Yellow Wagtail on Crouch Hill; a further dozen or so Yellow Wagtail left the harbour over the beach huts. Wader numbers were still on the low side with 150 Dunlin, 70 Ringed Plover, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank and just 1 Knot. The Wigeon count was 63, similar to yesterday.
Late news from Wick: a Green Sandpiper was on the floods, along with c40 Yellow Wagtail that seem to go to roost on the HHC reedbed. Also 15 or so Chiffchaff across the fields.
Addendum: a Black Tern was off Mudeford Quay in the evening.
A dull and overcast start with very little wind gave way to a fine sunny afternoon. Although migration appeared to be on 'hold' there were some quality birds to be found. Two Avocet flew up and down river a couple of times, briefly settling in Parky Mead before coming down off East Marsh. A distant Honey Buzzard west of the harbour was seen from Wick heading south-west. Yellow Wagtail were plentiful again today with 6 on the beach, a couple heard overhead, 2 on Wick and 22 on Crouch Hill. There was a Redstart on Wick, 2 Whinchat and 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field with a further 6 Wheatear and a Whinchat on Crouch Hill. Waders today included 18 Turnstone and 12 Sanderling on the beach, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Knot and 2 Greenshank on Stanpit while 13 Snipe were over the SSSI. Wick held 3 Greenshank, 2 Ruff and 2 Green Sandpiper. The Wigeon flock had increased to 60 birds and another 12 left the harbour heading south; also present was a female Pintail and 3 Shoveler. One, possibly two Kingfisher were seen behind the HHC. This afternoon up to 6 Black Tern were present - 1 went west past the beach huts while 4 left the harbour over the run and another was feeding on the harbour side of the beach huts. By late afternoon there were still 4 off Mudeford Quay together with a juvenile Little Gull. An evening visit to Stanpit found 35 Yellow Wagtail on Crouch Hill plus 8 Wheatear and a Whinchat.
Almost identical conditions to yesterday, but perhaps fewer birds, except for 350 Canada Goose and 1000 Starling leaving their roosts at dawn. On Wick Fields this morning, there was 1 Redstart, 3 Lesser Whitethroat and 6 Yellow Wagtail, while the Common held 3 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. Over on Stanpit, there were 14 Wheatear and at least 5 Yellow Wagtail lingered around Crouch Hill, affording excellent views as they fed with the ponies. Highlight of the day came during the afternoon, as a Nuthatch was heard calling from the northern extremities of Wick Fields. The bird was in the grounds of the Broadwater Nursing Home. The waders on the morning rising tide at Stanpit included: 7 Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 2 Knot, a Ruff, 1 Whimbrel, a departing Bar-tailed Godwit, a heard only Grey Plover and a Common Sandpiper, the latter in Barn Bight. The Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit were not counted, but are certainly reduced in numbers. From the sandspit, where there is currently a residential CHOG presence, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Sanderling and 3 Turnstone were noted, also 40 Sandwich Tern and 27 Common Tern feeding offshore. Throughout the morning, there was a constant trickle of Swallow to the east, a Kingfisher buzzed Crouch Hill and a Peregrine was over Wick. The afternoon low tide showed an increase in commoner waders, with the Ringed Plover and Dunlin numbering 150 and 120 birds respectively. The Ruff was still present, as was a Greenshank and a Bar-tailed Godwit is probably a different bird to before lunch. Duck during the day comprised over 30 Wigeon, 8 Shoveler and 6 Pintail. It was good to hear that 35 Yellow Wagtail were around Stanpit in the late afternoon, it's been a nice few days for this rapidly declining species.
Late news: On the sandspit late afternoon were 36 Dunlin, 14 Sanderling and 10 Ringed Plover whilst rather bizarrely a Guillemot was on the sea near the harbour mouth. 2 Curlew Sandpiper arrived in the harbour during the evening. Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank were all heard between 10 & 11pm by our temporary beach hut resident.
Please check back to yesterday for some more late news.
The continuing easterly wind ensured another good migrant variety, of all kinds. An Osprey headed purposefully and high south over the harbour at 6:20, barely ruffling the feathers of the normally alarmist gulls. Other notables were 1 Arctic Tern south-west, and 1 Black Tern west at sea off the Double Dykes; also moving at sea were 12 Common Gull west. It was a really good day for motacillae with 90 Yellow Wagtail and 16 Grey Wagtail over Hengistbury this morning, and a further 15 of the former feeding around Crouch Hill, Stanpit. Also on Stanpit, 12 Blackcap, 2 Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher that was present throughout the day in the North Scrubs. Half a dozen Tree Pipit went over Hengistbury, as did a Hobby and 1 Snipe, and Swallow moved en masse, as over 4000 headed east into the wind. On the ground, 2 Whinchat and 1 Garden Warbler were recorded. At least 30 Wheatear in the area today, with 20 on South Marsh this afternoon. The pick of the waders were 2 Spotted Redshank - one that spent the day around Stanpit and the other seen leaving over the Barn Field. Also seen from the head in the morning, were 5 Greenshank and 2 Curlew Sandpiper, while there were 5 Knot on the other side of the recording area. The early period also produced a good selection of airborne wildfowl, including 80 Wigeon, 39 Teal, 16 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 3 Tufted Duck and a Pochard; and late in the afternoon, 14 Shoveler left towards the Avon Valley. A Fulmar over the HHC and 4 Kingfisher provided the remainder of the southside interest. Later in the day, Stanpit chipped in with 7 Knot, 2 Greenshank, making a day total of 7 birds, and 2 Common Sandpiper. In the early evening, a Swift moved east over Stanpit Village. Finally, to the trash: 389 Canada Goose roosted in the harbour overnight and left soon after dawn.
Stop press: a Turtle Dove was on Wick Fields this evening and a first-winter Little Gull was seen from there.
Late news: single Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Ruff were seen on Wick Fields.
The clear overnight conditions didn't promise too much in the way of migrants this morning but 20 Sedge Warbler, 15 Whitethroat and 1 Blackcap moved through from Double Dykes towards Wick. Elsewhere there were 2 Redstart and 2 Spotted Flycatcher while the Barn Field held 5 Wheatear and 3 Whinchat and a dozen Yellow Wagtail passed overhead. There were a further 2 Wheatear on the Salt Hurns and 11 more on the beach. Also on the move were 5 Knot which left the harbour heading west. A Little Tern was roosting in Holloway's Dock and a Kingfisher was present. This afternoon on Stanpit 19 Wheatear, 5 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Whinchat were on Crouch Hill. Waders on the falling tide included 4 Knot, just 2 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank and 1 Common Sandpiper. Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull, was sitting on the mud off the tip of East Marsh.
Today was much cooler than of late with quite a stiff westerly breeze blowing. An Avocet in Holloway's Dock was the first record for about three weeks while 10 Common Sandpiper commuting between the SSSI and the riverbank was the best count for some time. The Ruff on Stanpit had increased to 4 birds and there was a Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh. Other waders counted at Stanpit were 170 Ringed Plover, 150 Dunlin, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Knot, 6 Greenshank, 6 Sanderling and 6 Curlew Sandpiper while a further 6 Sanderling were on the beach at Hengistbury. Two Little Tern were feeding at the harbour entrance and 62 Common Tern passed through the harbour together with a juvenile Kittiwake. A Kingfisher was seen in Barn Bight and 2 further birds were on the river. Grounded migrants were just 15 Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 3 Whinchat, 2 Wheatear, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Overhead were 25 Yellow Wagtail, 9 Grey Wagtail and 6 Tree Pipit. Finally a Common Buzzard drifted east to west towards Wick.
This evening 11 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Wheatear and a Whinchat were on Stanpit