Sightings for June 2006
The last day of the dreaded month provided a taste of things to come, as a breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank was on Stanpit, before departing over Hengistbury. Also moving west were 7 Greenshank, while 3 more were feeding inside the harbour on the low tide. A total of 4 Ringed Plover also went the same way. A couple of Teal on the HHC sandbar were very early returners, but 2 Common Sandpiper were slightly more expected. Around 170 Lapwing were counted on Stanpit, a Guillemot was loafing off Double Dykes, and the customary Common Tern and Little Tern were seen from Mudeford Quay. This afternoon, a family party of Coal Tit were in the conifers at Stanpit Car Park and elsewhere around the area young Linnet, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Skylark are becoming more conspicuous. Possibly not of interest to many, but there seems to be a significant reduction in Starling numbers this year.
Common Sandpiper now seem to be moving back through. Following yesterday's late sighting, a further 3 birds were on the Priory Marsh riverbank this morning; while 11 Black-tailed Godwit passed over there northwards. Around Stanpit Bight, the Greenshank was still present, as was the Bar-tailed Godwit, previously being seen from Mudeford Quay, 11 Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit. There were also a handful of Swift over Stanpit, even fewer Gannet at sea and a single Little Tern off Mudeford Quay. A juvenile Whitethroat was on the Golf Course bank and lots of young Sand Martin were about the area.
Evening update: a male Nightjar commenced churring at 9:40 this evening, from a spot midway between the Ironstone Quarry and the end of the head. The bird was remarkably vocal for Hengistbury, but not particularly showy. Earlier, the 3 juvenile Little Grebe had all been seen and are now feeding themselves. Even earlier, on Stanpit, an adult Mediterranean Gull was present, before being flushed by a canoe, also a Common Sandpiper in Mother Siller's Channel, and a Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Dunlin.
The day's best comes from Stanpit, where 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 first-summers and an adult were present, along with "mid-thousands" of Black-headed Gull. There were again 3 Little Tern and 2 Common Tern seen from Mudeford Quay; and 9 Curlew, 1 Dunlin and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit were inside the harbour.
Additional news: a late evening trip to Stanpit yielded a Common Sandpiper on East Marsh, the Dunlin and the Greenshank; and two Shelduck broods, now 7 and 5 respectively were seen.
A couple of morning views across Stanpit produced similar results. A total of 16 Curlew were in the harbour, along with the Bar-tailed Godwit and a newly arrived, single Dunlin. Lapwing numbers continue to rise, now over 100 in the area. A trio of Little Tern is a reasonable record for the period, also 2 or so Common Tern. The two older Shelduck broods were again on show, one numbering 7 birds, the other uncounted; and a pair of Oystercatcher were pairing on East Marsh, but it is extremely unlikely they will succeed.
A windless day of almost constant drizzle, however, this did produce some exceptional numbers of Swift feeding over the recording area. A figure of around 500 birds comes from the morning, while at lunchtime, from Fisherman's Bank, around 400 were estimated, but many more were distant over Wick Fields. There was also a very small arrival of waders, headed by 2 Avocet in Stanpit Bight; also 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit around that area.
Additional news: one of The Priory Peregrine was hassling gulls on the Stanpit Golf Course, before heading back to its perch.
We look to be slowly improving and progress to the last eight, but I just wish I could enjoy watching England play! Very little to report today, but the Greenshank reappeared on East Marsh this morning, where the young Shelduck were resting, but couldn't be counted in the long grass. From Hengistbury, the summering flock of 23 Common Scoter were on the sea off Double Dykes.
Additional news: a single Bar-tailed Godwit was inside the harbour and around a dozen Common Tern were feeding off Mudeford Quay.
A much more interesting morning than expected with some definite movement, mostly provided by Curlew - a total of 38 going west. This included a flock of 11 birds, containing some juveniles, over the Barn Field. Birds were also moving further out at sea, where there were 28 Common Scoter settled on the calm water. A drake Tufted Duck headed west over the Golf Course and 5 Mediterranean Gull were noted: 3 adult and 2 first-summer birds. A Great-spotted Woodpecker about Hengistbury gave a hint of the first signs of post breeding dispersal from outside of the recording area. This afternoon, a couple of Knot inspected Stanpit from above, but moved on west without settling. A pair of Red-legged Partridge and 2 Mistle Thrush were seen on Wick Fields later in the morning, also young Nettlecreepers evident there, and Chiffchaff and Blackcap continuing to sing.
The only report involves an hour at Stanpit, where 5 Bar-tailed Godwit spent some time on East Marsh, before heading off east. Also 6 Curlew in that area.
Additional news: a Grey Wagtail was over Wick Fields in the morning.
Unfortunately, one of the best potential records for the year couldn't be surely assigned to a species, as a parakeet sp. zigzagged madly over the harbour just after 5:00 this morning. Also a few Swifts early on and the precocious Sedge Warbler on top of his elder bush adjacent to Brewer's Creek. If you want good views of this often elusive bird, then this is the place to go. Later, a seawatch observed a feeding flock of 250+ Herring Gull, with 40 or so Gannet, slowly drifting west, along with 12 Sandwich Tern and 6 Common Tern.
Additional news: almost as good as the parrot was a singing Yellowhammer on Wick this morning, heard from Stanpit.
Are we good and just playing badly, were we facing 12 Swedes last night, or are we just not as good as we believe we are? Both Stanpit and Hengistbury were visited this morning, the former seeing the Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit all still present. Earlier, a Bar-tailed Godwit had been seen from Hengistbury, appearing to leave, also 6 Curlew from there. Around 70-80 Gannet were offshore and 12 Common Scoter moved into The Solent. From the Beach, a total of 178 Sand Martin burrows were counted below the Coastguards, but the occupancy rate is not known. The local Crows are showing their opportunism, however, as they hover by the holes attempting to pluck out any unwary youngsters. Some general news from Wick, where Mistle Thrush and Red-legged Partridge are being seen regularly in the evenings.
Despite fairly comprehensive coverage of Hengistbury this morning by one chogger there was very little to report in the way of new birds. The most interesting sighting was of 2 Common Sandpiper, which were first seen around the groynes on the Mudeford Sandspit before they headed off east. The Little Grebe with young were still present on the quarry pool while the Black-tailed Godwit was again resting on East Marsh at high tide.
On a much fresher but still fine day only Stanpit was visited this morning. The Greenshank was in Stanpit Bight briefly before it flew off towards the river. A Bar-tailed Godwit was out on Blackberry together with 2 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover while the returning Curlew have increased to 6.
Not too much to report today, but some extra news from yesterday is worth checking. On Wick this morning, there were 2 Red-legged Partridge, surely breeding birds. This afternoon, Stanpit mustered a single Dunlin, while the 13 strong Shelduck crèche, wardened by a pair of adults, was out in the centre of Stanpit Bight, despite the presence of canoes and rowing boats.
An incredibly poor turnout at Hengistbury this morning, as some well-known faces were noticeably absent, although some late arrivers added a modicum of respectability. As it was, Stanpit probably provided the best reports, with a single Greenshank topping the list, along with the first-summer Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Lapwing and 4 Curlew. The 13 young Shelduck reported yesterday seem to have got a bit mixed up, as broods of 9 and 4 were noted today. However, a new brood of 8 very young birds means it really is a good year for this species in the harbour. Also doing well are the Ironstone Quarry Little Grebe, still 3 juveniles there, while Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Sand Martin and Pied Wagtail are all sporting their new offspring. A couple of Mistle Thrush around the HHC were probably dispersals from the family breeding just off the area at Tuckton, but make a good June record. The Gadwall pair meanwhile, are still keeping us guessing. A total of 41 Swift moved east over Hengistbury early on, 8 Lapwing headed off high south, but soon came back, while 4 Curlew moved past south-west. At sea, the only interest came from 8 Gannet.
Additional news: the male Peregrine spent some time on The Priory this morning, only interrupting its rest to chase Starlings over the Golf Course. In the early evening, a Snipe at Stanpit was a really good mid-June record, also the Greenshank still there. There were far more Lapwing than earlier, around 65 birds being the estimate. The older two Shelduck broods now seem to have completely merged into a single crèche of 13; also a juvenile Whitethroat in the North Scrubs. Finally, despite the insects, a late evening trip was made to Hengistbury, where, at 21:40, a Nightjar was hawking over the Ironstone Quarry.
Stanpit held more interest than might be expected for mid-June. This was headed by a Greenshank seen towards Barn Bight from South Marsh, also the Gadwall pair in the same area and a couple of Dunlin off Blackberry Point. The returning Lapwing have built up to over 40 birds and 1 Curlew was seen today. A further Shelduck brood has become apparent, making it two again this year, one of 7 and the other numbering 6. The year's first juvenile Black-headed Gull was recorded and a Fox cub was enjoying the sun. There are currently lots of dragonflies on Hengistbury, which I am reliably informed include Spotted Chasers, a few Black-tailed Skimmers and the season's first Emperors.
It was hard work, but in the words of the captain, "at the end of the day, you know, we're through, you know." On an almost windless morning, the sea produced a mere 2 Gannet; while the only other spark of interest came from a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight.
A north-easterly breeze and murky conditions encouraged a 90 minute seawatch this morning, when at least 6 Manx Shearwater were seen moving with the wind. Going in the opposite direction were: 53 Gannet, around 30% being immature birds, also 4 Kittiwake, 1 Razorbill and 1 Fulmar. There is still a movement of Swift, even on this relatively late date, with a minimum of 17 birds moving over Hengistbury.
Today saw something of a mid-June surprise, as a newly arrived group of 6 waders, feeding on a bar in the main channel, contained a pale Ruff in partial breeding plumage. The other 5 birds were Black-tailed Godwit. Earlier, a couple of adult Mediterranean Gull headed west over Whitepits and, throughout the morning, around 19 Swift were seen arriving. An update on the Long-eared Owl that was unfortunately found dead on Wick Fields in April. The taxidermist working on the bird has confirmed it to be a mature female, probably around 3 years old. Although she was not carrying excess body fat, neither was she in any way emaciated. Alarmingly, the cause of death was almost certainly from a shot. Entry and exit wounds, corresponding roughly to the size of an air gun pellet, were identified and the bird's spine had been broken. The only upside to this dreadful story is that death is likely to have been instant.
Some dawn rain, accompanied by a light thunderstorm, kept the watchers away from Hengistbury this morning. However, after it had dried, Stanpit was visited, where there was a steady presence of Swallow feeding over North and East Marshes. The large numbers of recently fledged Starling were, no doubt, the attraction for a Sparrowhawk, perhaps visiting from the Wood on Hengistbury. Best news was another appearance of Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull, still accompanying a Lesser Black-backed Gull. There were 4 Curlew today, but just 15 Lapwing, while the Little Egret number is increasing, with at least 20 birds feeding in Stanpit Bight. The septet of Shelduck young remains intact.
The east wind died away and turned lightly to the more conventional south-west. Only Stanpit bears any reports and they are largely uneventful. This morning, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 31 Lapwing and 3 Curlew were present; but this afternoon, there was nothing at all worth noting. Let's take this quiet period to update the breeding bird news. The Ironstone Quarry Little Grebe are still raising 3 juveniles, however, the Stanpit Shelduck brood has reduced to 7, from an initial 8. The earlier suspicions of a bad Dartford Warbler year are holding true, with perhaps just 1 pair on Hengistbury, contrasting to a norm of 5-8 pairs in recent seasons. Also down, right across the area, are Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler, but at least 1 pair of Swallow is using the Barn. Sand Martin numbers seem relatively healthy and the Nightjar are churring. Meanwhile, we are still waiting to see if the Gadwall are producing. Finally, this posting can't go without the mention of some flagrant disturbance at Stanpit this morning. Normally, disturbance can be attributed to unwitting visitors, who are unfamiliar with the sensitive areas. So, it is doubly sad to see a local resident resuming her routine of canoeing across Stanpit Bight, with up to 5 swimming dogs behind her, whom then proceed to cause havoc amongst the resting birds. Unfortunately, this has become a common sight over the last two summers.
Almost as mystifying as England's second half tactical plan, was the relative, with respect to yesterday, lack of seabirds off Hengistbury this morning; despite the conditions being almost identical. The most numerous were Gannet and Herring Gull, with low hundreds of each moving east. In fact, some of the former were also settled on the water just off the Long Groyne. Also noted were: 36 Common Scoter, 2 Kittiwake and 1 Guillemot; while 56 Swift and House Martin passed over to the east. Just after dawn, 9 Dunlin, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Curlew arrived on a quiet Stanpit, which later in the day was devoid of interest.
A fairly strong easterly wind saw quite a movement of gulls and terns up the channel past Hengistbury. Of most interest, was a single Black Tern, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, with Herring Gull, and 3, but possibly 5, Roseate Tern. A distant flock of Common Scoter seemed to attract the attention of 2 Arctic Skua, while an apparent smaller bird with them was strongly suspected to be an adult Long-tailed Skua. Also lingering off the Beach Huts were 2 Balearic Shearwater. In all, the movement totalled: 470 Herring Gull, 160 Sandwich Tern, 130 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 70 Greater Black-backed Gull, 32 Common Tern and 11 Kittiwake. Of the gulls, nearly all were adult. Other records include: 100+ Common Scoter moving east, 75 Gannet, 3 Fulmar and 2 Guillemot. At least 9 Sanderling moved past, and 75 Swift and 22 House Martin were seen arriving.
The only migrants noted this morning were 5 Swift which moved north-east over the Head. A Rook, unusual at any time of year, flew over the common to the Nursery; also seen was a Fulmar over the long groyne and 3 Gadwall on the river. This afternoon, a summer plumaged Grey Plover was on the exposed mud beyond Blackberry; its presence possibly due to the fact that it was clearly injured with a pronounced limp! The 2 Curlew were also still there.
Additional news: a single Peregrine was on The Priory in the evening.
On another fine day, the Nightjar was heard churring on Warren Hill West at 6.45am this morning, while a male Gadwall was in Barn Bight. Stanpit held just 2 Curlew along with the lone Black-tailed Godwit. Rather worryingly, 15 Lapwing have returned to the harbour probably due to a lack of breeding success. It has already been reported that the heavy rain a couple of weeks ago washed out some of the ground nesting waders, such as Lapwing and Redshank, from sites just north of the harbour. Finally, the Cuckoo was heard from Stanpit this morning.
Late info: The Ranger has reported that a Hoopoe was probably heard on Warren Hill West on 10th May with one being seen by the Ironstone Quarry the following day, the 11th May.
Please check back to yesterday for some comprehensive additional news. This morning, just 7 Swift were seen over Hengistbury and a party of 6 Gadwall were on the river off South Marsh; there is certainly a suspicion this species is again breeding in the area. Meanwhile, Shelduck have definetely succeeded, with a party of 8 small duckling being seen from Fisherman's Bank. A combination of single Curlew and Golden Plover circled the harbour, before heading east; and another Curlew and 4 Dunlin were off East Marsh. Over the last couple of weeks, a couple of Peregrine have been heard and seen late in the evening, seemingly going to roost on The Priory. While being an apparent pair, the female is probably too young to breed, but presuming the bond is made, who knows next year?
The only report received today is of the Nightjar on Warren Hill West; it was briefly heard 'churring' at 7:45am.
Additional news: there was actually still quite a movement over Hengistbury this morning, as 173 Swift and 48 House Martin moved in from the south. Also "arriving" was a Barnacle Goose, in off, and then settled in Barn Bight, adjacent to 3 Shoveler and a drake Gadwall. The sea also provided interest, with a Roseate Tern east and 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adults and 1 young bird, feeding around fishing boats. Also taking advantage of the shoal were 78 Gannet, while 21 Common Scoter were noted, along with a single Kittiwake. A relatively late wader movement comprised: 31 Ringed Plover, 23 Dunlin, 21 Sanderling and 1 Grey Plover, all moving through quickly. Finally, 5 Spotted Flycatcher were in the woodland.
Unfortunately no reports have been received so far today.
After such a miserable spring the current spell of fine weather is most welcome. Migrants continue to arrive and today Swift in particular moved north in numbers with 370 being noted; also north were 41 House Martin, 26 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Whimbrel and just one Turtle Dove while 79 Wood Pigeon moved west. There were also 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the wood and 1on the Batters with another late Wheatear at the eastern end of the Head. It's worth noting that most of the moving birds were counted in the couple of hours just after dawn. At sea 79 Common Scoter and 8 Eider went east while waders moving in a similar direction were 37 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Sanderling, 15 Ringed Plover and 2 Knot. At low tide in the harbour this afternoon were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew and 1 Little Tern with a Mediterranean Gull calling overhead. Check back to yesterday for some late Nightjar news.
On another glorious June day, there was still just a hint of late migration with a few stragglers moving through. A female Wheatear by the Coastguards was particularly noteworthy as this species is one of our earliest migrants with the first birds in early March. There had clearly been a small influx of Willow Warbler with at least 6 singing birds noted; 9 House Martin also moved north. The Peregrine was again on The Priory tower and a Mediterranean Gull was heard over Wick. The 3 juvenile Little Grebe were in the quarry pool in the company of one adult. After lunch, singles of Golden Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit were on the mud off South Marsh. Check yesterday for late news.
Late News: A Nightjar was churring on Warren Hill West from 9.50pm; it was also reported the previous evening.
After a clear night it's perhaps not surprising that there was no sign of the Woodchat Shrike on Wick this morning. There were still quality birds to be found however. A Spoonbill moved east past Double Dykes while a Roseate Tern went in the opposite direction; also west were 1 Manx Shearwater and 3 Mediterranean Gull, a 1st year bird and 2 adults. Waders today included 25 Sanderling and 6 Dunlin east, a Greenshank in the harbour and a Black-tailed Godwit on the HHC mudbar. There was a north-westerly movement of Swift, 78 were counted and hirundines with 46 House Martin and 41 Swallow; also 2 Spotted Flycatcher were noted. A Nightjar was heard churring near the Ironstone Quarry around 9am; there is also a late report of either that bird or another one heard in the same area three days ago on the 29th May. The Peregrine was again on its favoured gargoyle on the Priory tower this morning and a Buzzard was on Wick. Finally 11 Canada Geese came in off the sea and over the common; hopefully, they passed over the harbour without stopping!
Late news: At Stanpit this evening the lingering Whimbrel was still present, also the Black-tailed Godwit