Sightings for May 2006


May 31st

The early clear conditions soon gave way to cloud and stiff breeze. However, the month did finish on a relative high, as The Wickman found an adult male Woodchat in the Bobolink Field, just before 6:00 this evening. Undoubtedly, the bird had been present all day, looked settled and was feeding well on bees tonight. Photos to follow later. Duck again feature today, with a different mixture of Tufted Duck, 1 drake and 2 ducks, in Parky Meade Rail this morning. There was also a pair of Shoveler in the same area, while another couple in Barn Bight could well have been different birds. A Peregrine was again on The Priory, 8 Ringed Plover were in Stanpit Bight and a Curlew was on Blackberry. On Hengistbury, 2 Lesser Whitethroat in the Barn Field were certain new migrants, as was a Hobby hawking insects over Whitepits. Half a dozen Swift were seen coming in and 3 Common Buzzard were interacting over harbour airspace. Tomorrow sees the start of June, the most birdless month of the year. It will be a forthcoming struggle for the website writers, so any records at all would be very welcome.


May 30th

Another low-key day, until a holidaying birder found a Pectoral Sandpiper, from Fisherman's Bank, on the verges of East Marsh. The description given sounds very credible indeed and it is well worth having a stab at re-finding this bird. It is being looked for again this evening and a big thank you to the finder for reporting it to the locals. The Pec accompanied a single Dunlin, while 6 had earlier been seen from Hengistbury. A Whimbrel was on East Marsh and a Black-tailed Godwit was in Parky Meade Rail; where there were also 3 drake and 1 duck Tufted Duck, which make a fantastic record for the harbour in May. After a few barren weeks, it was nice to hear about The Priory again hosting a gargoyle perching Peregrine, at 8:30 this morning. No seawatch was made today, but will the lure of a large, dark petrel prove too much for some tomorrow morning?

Additional news: 2 Gadwall were on Priory Marsh and 4 Ringed Plover were on Stanpit this evening.


May 29th

In a north-westerly breeze, most of the regulars decided to either: treat themselves to a lie-on, or to generally conduct themselves a little more responsibly in terms of domestic arrangements. However, given the reports coming from Portland, these decisions may have constituted some grave errors of judgement. It is not actually known if Hengistbury was covered at all this morning. On the morning low tide, around 20 Sanderling and 5 Dunlin were seen from Mudeford Quay, as were 2 Little Tern and an arriving Swift. Slightly later, a couple of Sanderling were around Stanpit Bight, along with 5 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and, today, 3 Curlew. It really is quite unusual to have any Curlew about the recording area in late May.

Additional news: a Mistle Thrush was on Wick, where there are still the odd sightings of Red-legged Partridge, most recently 2 on the Driving Range.


May 28th

Firstly please check back to yesterday for news of continued Little Grebe breeding success. This morning, nearly all the regulars birded outside of the harbour area, so, as a consequence, there was nothing submitted for the early day period. There are, however, some information services accounts of a "possible" Great White Egret over the harbour and a Black Tern arriving, both reportedly seen from Hengistbury. An afternoon visit to Stanpit wasn't particularly inspiring, with just 12 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and a summering Curlew to report.


May 27th

A reduction in the wind overnight brought in several migrant species that are more usually associated with early April. Along with an obvious influx of male Blackcap and Chiffchaff, registered by birds singing from hitherto unoccupied parts of Hengistbury, there was a high flying Ring Ouzel seen from the HHC and a Grasshopper Warbler reeling on Wick Hams; while also fitting in with the trend was a Golden Plover over the harbour. Equally surprising was a Barn Owl, presumably the bird, on fence posts adjacent to Barn Bight, before heading off to Wick Fields. This is the first sighting since the end of last month. A pair of Bullfinch close by the HHC were also well outside of the May norm. It's a sign of the recent Storm Petrel phenomena that they are only mentioned so far down the report. From 6:00 to 10:30, around 75 moved west past the Beach Huts and 10 were lingering with large gulls around fishing boats. In the next couple of hours, another 100 or so were recorded, pushing the day total towards the double century. Some of the birds were very, very close to the shore, with the underwing bar being clearly visible with just binoculars. Common Scoter also featured highly, with groups of 20-45 birds heading both ways throughout the morning. Estimating true numbers is next to impossible, but given that a few hundred have recently been recorded just east from here, then a total well into three figures is not inconceivable. A breeding plumage Black-throated Diver went west, as did a close, dark-phase Arctic Skua. The young male Eider was again seen on the water and 3 further birds headed into The Solent. There was a steady presence of Gannet, at least 5 Fulmar and a Guillemot fishing just off the beach. As yesterday, hirundines were still arriving - 40+ Swallow, 6 House Martin and 2 Swift, all seen this morning. An adult Mediterranean Gull was over the Double Dykes and waders on the beach included: a couple of lingering Whimbrel, up to 50 Sanderling, and a handful of Turnstone and Dunlin.

Additional news: the Little Grebe pair on the Ironstone Quarry have hatched 3 chicks.


May 26th

A commendable six hour seawatch from 5:30 to 11:30 produced 84 Storm Petrel west. The quarter hour rate was also monitored, with the period 7:15 to 7:30 giving the highest total of 17 birds. The real highlight, however, was a Balearic Shearwater, the first of the year, at 7:00. Also noteworthy was an immature drake Eider lingering offshore around mid-morning. All of these were seen from the Beach Huts, as were: 135+ Gannet, some very close in, 47 Common Scoter, 25 Kittiwake, 25 Razorbill, including a group of 7, 20 Common, 15 Little Tern and 16 Fulmar. A few straggling hirundines, namely 2 House Martin and 1 Swallow, were seen coming in off the sea, and a Swift was over the HHC. A couple of Whimbrel were feeding on the shore for the entire morning, while 7 Sanderling were also there, but more briefly. On Stanpit this afternoon, there was just a single Whimbrel and 10 or so Dunlin.


May 25th

Some torrential overnight rain seemed to calm the wind, but the sea was still holding plenty of interest. An enthusiastic 3.5 hour watch, starting at 5:00, produced another 73 Storm Petrel passing west by the Beach Huts; also a group of 3 late Velvet Scoter, a pale Arctic Skua, an adult Little Gull and 2 Eider heading east. There was a small arrival of Spotted Flycatcher on Hengistbury, with 3 birds by Whitethroat Corner; also seen in numbers were Mediterranean Gull, a flock of 9 birds, 8 adults and 1 youngster, arrived from the west in a high flying group of Black-headed Gull and mixed terns. Other passing seabirds included: 37 Common Tern east and 11 west, 32 Common Scoter east and 9 west, and 2 Fulmar, while 31 Little Tern appeared to be lingering. The wader movement comprised 17 Sanderling east and 6 west, 12 Dunlin west, and 5 adult Grey Plover were resting in the harbour.

Additional news from Stanpit, where single Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit were present in the afternoon.


May 24th

The sea continues to provide the late Spring interest. More petrels today, but firstly news of a very close Pomarine Skua seen from Mudeford Quay and just in front of the Beach Huts, as it headed west, giving excellent views, spoons an' all, to the two observers, of whom I am extremely envious. A distant Great Skua was also seen from the Beach Huts, moving west. Between 7:45 and 9:00, a minimum of 21 Storm Petrel were seen from both the aforementioned positions, 3 more lingered and later 2 moved west off the Coastguards. At least 8 Manx Shearwater were seen from Hengistbury, as were 7 Fulmar, 11 Gannet, 3 Common Scoter, 3 Guillemot and 5 Common Tern, again all west; additionally, there were 3 Whimbrel on the beach and 2 Swift in off.


May 23rd

Despite the weather settling down, there were still a few Storm Petrel lingering off Hengistbury. Between 5:45 and 6:15, half a dozen were seen from the Beach Huts and later, 5 were seen from up near the Coastguards. A single Little Gull headed east at sea and 3 Mediterranean Gull were seen from Wick, where there now seems to be 3 Lesser Whitethroat holding territory. Back to the sea, as 21 Common Scoter headed east and 2 Little Tern were off Mudeford Quay, but only a single Gannet record was received. An early morning wader count from the sandspit produced: 11 Sanderling, 5 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone and 2 Whimbrel arriving.


May 22nd

More wind today, but it was overall drier. In two consecutive spells, 5:30 to 7:30 and then to 9:00, from the Beach Huts, a total of 63 Storm Petrel were seen. Again, all apart from 2 birds were heading west, so over 60 individuals seem certain. Please check back to yesterday for some extra sightings. On this basis, one can only speculate about the day total - 60 in 3.5hours could crudely extrapolate to well over 150 birds in the day. Also spread across the period were 30 Gannet, 14 Fulmar, 13 Sandwich Tern, 10 close in Kittiwake, 3 Common Tern and 2 Razorbill west, also just under 10 Gannet east. Around 60 Common Scoter appeared to be lingering and 3 Swift came in off the sea. Around 30 Sanderling were feeding up on the beach, along with 5 Dunlin. On Stanpit, there were a further 52 Dunlin, also 2 Common Tern and a pair of Gadwall.


May 21st

A thoroughly miserable day: with only the first couple of hours of daylight being properly dry. Yesterday's Storm Petrel bonanza encouraged some early starts: and between 5:30 and 6:15, 11 were seen moving quickly west into the wind. Also during that spell, 5 Gannet and 1 Fulmar at sea, and around 25 Sanderling on the beach. A little later, when it was much wetter, 6 more Storm Petrel and 3 Fulmar were seen. While even later and presumably just as wet, 2 Storm Petrel, 2 Fulmar and 7 Common Scoter were turned in. So, in summary, that's a recorded 19 Storm Petrel; however, given the intermittency of the watches, it is clear they were moving past throughout the entire morning, and probably the afternoon as well. It's almost certain that better conditions would have produced a much, much larger total.

More from the sea: 3 Storm Petrel between 2:50 and 3:50, and a further bird between 17:15 to 18:15 off Whitepits, increases the day total to 23 birds. Also on the earlier watch, 4 Manx Shearwater west, as well as a steady movement of Gannet and a few Fulmar; also 3 Kittiwake and 3 Sanderling east.


May 20th

It's not often that Storm Petrel is the most numerous seabird off Hengistbury, but in the continuing south-west blow, over 80 were heading west between 6:00 and 10:15. In fact, 85 birds were recorded, however, a few seen moving east could well have been double counted as they returned to join the main direction of movement. Also out of the ordinary, was a Hobby watched for around a minute, far out to sea, attempting to catch Storm Petrel. Referring back to yesterday's caution, perhaps it had been unwary . A dark Arctic Skua was very close in off the Beach Huts for a short while and another bird went into The Solent. Around 15-20 Manx Shearwater headed west, as did 65 Gannet, 10 Fulmar, 3 Razorbill, 8 Little Tern and 4 Common Tern; and couple of Swallow and 1 Swift were seen arriving. A good total of 121 Sanderling were spread along the sandspit, also 4 Turnstone and 1 Dunlin with them. Despite the good numbers on the seashore, wader numbers inside the harbour were poor, with just 52 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Curlew seen over the late morning to early afternoon period. There is a further seawatch currently going on, so more news may follow.


May 19th

As the wind continued overnight, even picking up a bit of strength, today's target species certainly obliged, as at least 18 Storm Petrel were seen from the Beach Huts. A total of 10 records came before 9:00, with a further 2 up to 10:00 and then 6 between 11:00 and 1:00. The earlier birds were quite close in, but the later 6 were all rather distant. Nearly all the sightings relate to birds going west. Interestingly, a party of 10 House Martin arriving in off the sea was a potential trap for the unwary. The early morning also saw 6 Manx Shearwater heading west, and just before midday another tight group of 7 went the same way. A dark Arctic Skua headed east very early in the morning, and throughout the period over 35 Common Scoter, 45 Gannet, 25 Common Tern and 9 Little Tern were noted. With the exception of most of the scoter, all were going into the wind. Over 55 Sanderling, 17 Turnstone and 17 Dunlin were feeding on the seaward side of the sandspit, while there were 20 Dunlin and 5 Whimbrel on Stanpit, and 2 Ringed Plover overflew Barn Bight. Finally, a male Merlin over Crouch Hill is an excellent May record for the area.

Additional news: a Black-throated Diver was on the sea off the Beach Huts.

Evening news: another 2 Storm Petrel were off the head just before 5:30 tonight and 16 Sanderling remained on the beach.


May 18th

A strong, overnight south-westerly prompted a two hour seawatch, which wasn't actually, particularly eventful. However, the wind is forecast to continue, so it could well be better tomorrow. Back to today, and between 7:20 and 9:20, 45 Gannet, 8 Common Tern, 5 Fulmar, 3 Guillemot, 1 Little Tern and 1 Kittiwake passed by the Beach Huts into the wind. While moving with the wind, were 22 Common Scoter and a further Common Tern;and a Razorbill was settled on the water. Also around the huts were 9 Sanderling and 1 Turnstone on the beach. Looking over to Stanpit, around 30 Dunlin, 4 Sanderling and 2 Whimbrel could be seen. The only other notebook entries were few incoming Swift.

Additional news: a Hobby was seen over the West Field at Hengistbury this evening and a Peregrine headed out to sea in the morning.


May 17th

Just when I confidently declared the Spring migration was fading away, a heavy overnight fog brought in some birds of interest. A migrant Nightjar was flushed from the lower Batters this morning and a Wood Warbler was heard to sing, albeit briefly, from the Wood; but despite searching could not be seen. Another arrival of Spotted Flycatcher was evident, with at least 3 by Double Dykes and a further 2 in the Wood, while a female Pied Flycatcher was seen moving along the Batters and a Yellow Wagtail was over the sandspit. At times, the fog meant that Hengistbury could not be seen from Stanpit and this made accurate assessment of wader numbers very difficult. There were certainly a lot of Sanderling, the absolute minimum being 58 birds in a single flock, however somewhere around 90, including a group of 33 on the sandspit, is the most likely, but 180 is not inconceivable; it's just that duplication of counts cannot be ruled out. Likewise, the Dunlin lower limit is 47, but the upper could be 137 birds. Over to the report sub-committee on this one! Easier to interpret are counts of: 5 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 or 3 Curlew. Later in the morning, a gathering of 13 Jackdaw was on Crouch Hill.


May 16th

It's starting to feel like the Spring passage is prematurely over. In fact, a 45 minute spell at Hengistbury this morning failed to produce anything even remotely printable. The day's "highlight" came from Mudeford Quay, where a Brent Goose was seen leaving the area over The Run early this morning; meanwhile, a pair of its unwelcome cousins were loitering on South Marsh. A couple of Little Tern were also off the quay and a Whimbrel was seen leaving. Just opposite, a total of 30 Sanderling could be seen on the sandspit and 25 of the same, along with 1 Turnstone, reported from a slightly different area may well have been additional birds. There were around 10 Whimbrel at the eastern end of Hengistbury and 3 more on Stanpit, in the company of a single Bar-tailed Godwit and the 2 lingering Curlew. There was also a light northerly movement of Swallow, which later switched to the west in conjunction with the breeze, observed from Stanpit; where Cuckoo were seen and heard throughout, and the gathering of non-breeding Oystercatcher was 52 birds.

Additional news: there were 2 Whinchat on Stanpit Golf Course this evening.


May 15th

A light south-easterly suggested the sea might have been good, but as it turned out, that theory seemed to be seriously flawed. The aggregate score from two hour long watches, one at Whitepits and one from the Beach Huts, totalled: 37 Common Tern, 16 Gannet, 5 Guillemot, 5 Whimbrel and 1 Little Tern; all were east except for the 5 Whimbrel and 2 of the Gannet; while a Fulmar was lingering, and 22 Sanderling and 1 Turnstone were resting on the shore. Inside the harbour, during the morning, there was a noticeable turnover of waders, the highlights being a Little Stint and a partial breeding-plumage Curlew Sandpiper. Peak numbers for the commoner species include: 86 Dunlin, 54 Whimbrel, 18 Ringed Plover, 9 Grey Plover, 8 Sanderling, 4 Knot, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was seen over Hengistbury and Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull, was on Stanpit. Only passerine migrants were a Lesser Whitethroat singing in the Barred-warbler Bush and a Wheatear on Priory Marsh. It's disconcerting, to say the least, that 6 Canada Goose are behaving very territorially on Priory. If they go to the natural conclusion, this would be a first breeding record for the area - the tension mounts!

Additional news: the evening low tide attracted 25 Sanderling, 16 Dunlin and 1 Grey Plover to the sandbar between Blackberry Point and the sandspit, and 3 Whimbrel were in Holloway's Dock.


May 14th

Fortunately, I didn't have to endure it, but I'm told the insect presence on Hengistbury this morning was almost unbearable. With the conditions largely unchanged from the previous couple of days, any kind of large arrival was never on the cards. Nevertheless, it was nice to pick up some more Turtle Dove records; one was in The Nursery on Hengistbury this morning, and one was on Stanpit this afternoon. Interestingly, the Hengistbury bird was in the company of 2 Collared Dove, which may have also been migrants, as they are rarely recorded in that part of the area. There were also 3 Spotted Flycatcher on Hengistbury, along with a lone Garden Warbler. Just after 6:00, a Yellow Wagtail was resting on the roof of The Haven pub on Mudeford Quay, while Hobby and Cuckoo were also seen arriving. Later in the morning, a Roseate Tern was watched from the harbour shore as it left to the south; there was also a first-summer Mediterranean Gull seen from there. The token wader passage this morning comprised: c25 Dunlin, 5 Sanderling and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit in the harbour, while 9 Whimbrel headed east at sea. This afternoon, 17 Sanderling and 5 Dunlin arrived on the falling tide, 9 Whimbrel left north and 5 remained, and a couple of unseasonal Curlew were seen throughout the day. At sea, 3 Red-throated Diver passed east, a Great-northern Diver was on the water and 68 Common Scoter were noted. Barn Bight contained the normal 3 Gadwall and Jackdaw were again obvious.


May 13th

Wow! What a game. I'm just so glad I'm not a West Ham fan. I can feel their desolation. A very settled morning that saw a definite arrival of Spotted Flycatcher, with 4 birds leaving the head early on, and a further 7 feeding in The Nursery later. Also single Whinchat and Wheatear on Hengistbury. However, these were pretty much it, so for want of anything better to do, a 3 hour seawatch was undertaken. This proved to be extremely hard work and, needless to say, the conversation became varied and banal. In fact, the mass emergence of St Peter's Fingers caused as much comment as the birds. Talking of which, 1 Red-throated Diver and 1 Black-throated Diver passed east, as did 10 Kittiwake, all these raising the hopes of something better. As it was, the only other highlight was a Hobby watched far out as it came in off. Around 50 Common Tern moved up the channel, most of them in pairs; also 41 Common Scoter east and 13 west, and a Great-crested Grebe on the water. A 60 strong, mixed group of Dunlin and 50 Sanderling was around the Long Groyne, and a further 15 of the latter passed east, as did 8 Whimbrel. Inside the harbour, around 120 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plover were seen from the sandspit. This evening, a Whinchat was on Wick Fields and the 4 Red-legged Partridge ware again recorded. There is an information services report of a Spoonbill on Hengistbury at 4:30 this afternoon, by the Beach Huts, but then flushed by dogs.


May 12th

Very similar conditions to yesterday, so I guess it was no real surprise that a large raptor featured. Today, it was a female-type Marsh Harrier that was first seen low over Wick Fields, before gaining height and appearing to leave north. However, a few minutes later, presumably what was the same bird was again low over the fields. Earlier, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull left the area over the Beach Huts and a Whinchat was on the top of the eastern end of the head. In comparison to this day last year, wader numbers are very much down. In the morning, around 50 Dunlin were off South Marsh, while 91 were on the sandspit along with 9 Sanderling, 8 Ringed Plover and 5 Turnstone. This afternoon, 41 Dunlin were on Stanpit, where 2 breeding-plumage Knot were new birds, also 10 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Curlew. There was small Swallow passage noted this morning and three small groups of Woodpigeon headed east out to sea, but changed their minds and came back. Throughout the day, there was still a strong Jackdaw presence on both Wick and Stanpit. A parrot sp., possibly a "Red-rumped", caused some initial consternation on Wick this morning.


May 11th

A windless, clear day that held titbits of quality. A pair of Garganey were found on pools at the north of Wick Fields this morning, but then disappeared until this evening, when they were re-found on the pool just next to the wooden bridge. More photos should be posted later. Mid-afternoon saw a Honey Buzzard soaring over Wick Fields and drifting slowly north, towards the Avon Valley. The Spoonbill was seen briefly at 7:30 this morning, from Hengistbury, on East Marsh, but it then vaporised. Also on an insect ridden Hengistbury was a Turtle Dove, first on the top of the head and then in the Wood. An adult and first-summer Mediterranean Gull passed west over the harbour, while 20 Whimbrel and Knot were also seen in flight. A nice flock of 28 Bar-tailed Godwit were seen arriving at Stanpit, joining 20 Whimbrel and a Grey Plover there. Around 250 Swift were seen heading north over the head, while Swallow continued to arrive. A Lesser Whitethroat was singing on Wick, 3 Gadwall were in Mother Siller's Channel and a group of 10 Jackdaw were feeding on Central Marsh. At sea, just 3 Common Scoter were recorded, but 50 Dunlin, 3 Turnstone and 3 Sanderling were on the sandspit.


May 10th

A fairly quiet day that finally produced some quality late in the afternoon, when an adult Spoonbill, in full breeding attire, was found on East Marsh, Stanpit. The bird then spent time feeding actively in the water off Fisherman's Bank and is probably still present. Hengistbury this morning held at least 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 in the Wood and the other behind the HHC, also a small influx of Willow Warbler. Meanwhile, further evidence of a warbler arrival came from Smithy's Field, as 20+ Blackcap and 6 Garden Warbler were there. There was also a clear movement of Swallow, with over 500 counted at Stanpit, and birds were still tricking in at lunchtime. At sea, a Red-throated Diver was fishing off the sandspit and 3 Gannet moved east; also 80 Dunlin, 3 Turnstone and 1 Sanderling around groynes S7 and S8. At least 1, but probably 2, adult Mediterranean Gull were over the HHC just after 6:00 this morning, while 2 Gadwall were in Barn Bight and another was off Blackberry Point. It is interesting to note the changes in wader numbers at Stanpit throughout the day. Early on, there were 42 Dunlin that were seen to leave. This was proved by a slightly later visit producing just 2 birds, but by late afternoon, another 37 were present. Other waders on the marsh today included: 29 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, but seen to leave north, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone and the first Knot for quite some while. There was a very clear indication that Cuckoo are breeding around Crouch Hill, and perhaps on Wick Fields. Finally, check back to Monday for some additional news.

Additional, evening news from Wick, where there was another Spotted Flycatcher record and a Yellow Wagtial over.


May 9th

Most reports from a fairly windless day involve the sea. An early morning stint at Whitepits saw 42 Common Scoter east and 22 west, also a single Fulmar east and 5 Little Tern west. A later spell produced a Roseate Tern moving towards The Solent and an Arctic Skua heading in the opposite direction, along with 35 more Common Scoter. A Cuckoo on the Salt Hurns, and then in the Wood, may have been a new arrival. A brief look from the Argyll Road slip this evening added just 8 Whimbrel to the day list. More seawatching, between 6:00 and 7:00, saw what is becoming a customary, evening movement of Manx Shearwater - 34 birds east recorded in the 60 minute period. The pair of Gadwall were still in Barn Bight.


May 8th

An absolutely massive few hours on Stanpit this morning, as the drizzle and poor visibility brought in, literally, thousands of waders and terns. Most birds passed straight over, but some did pause. Before those details, however, the rarity - a Common Rosefinch that flew low over Crouch Hill, calling as it went, towards Wick. Now the numbers, starting with terns. A total of 23 Black Tern, including a flock of 17, passed through, while a single group of 46 Arctic Tern settled briefly on South Marsh before heading inland. Also noted were 2 Roseate Tern, 270 Common Tern and 12 Little Tern. In terms of waders, an incredible 2500+ Dunlin were estimated, along with 300+ Ringed Plover, 160 Bar-tailed Godwit, 125 Grey Plover, including one flock of 50 birds, 65 Turnstone, 55 Whimbrel, 42 Sanderling and 5 Black-tailed Godwit. All of this was observed from South Marsh over a three hour period starting at 8:00, during which, there was also a Little Stint and 3 Greenshank seen on the deck. Amazingly, despite the fact there were over 500 Dunlin on East Marsh at the end of the watch, by early afternoon, there were none. In fact, by then, the only waders present were 36 Whimbrel! This really underlines the speed and exception of the movement. Other movers recorded were: 8 Yellow Wagtail, 350 Swallow and 200 Swift. A party of 8 Eider, including 2 drakes, was on the sea off Whitepits early this morning and, later, they passed by the Beach Huts, where a single bird was also seen on the water. On a more normal day, a total of 18 Manx Shearwater east would have been considered good, but given the other numbers, they sort of pale into insignificance. Other details from the sea, all east, are: 68 Common Tern, 28 Gannet, 3 Guillemot and 2 Fulmar. A Hobby was seen arriving over Mudeford Quay and 6 Little Tern were lingering off there, 2 Gadwall were in Barn Bight with a further bird off East Marsh, Stanpit; and a lone Wheatear was on Hengistbury.

Additional news: a total of 3 Garganey, a pair and a duck, were seen at Stanpit during the morning, the lone duck briefly settling in Stanpit Bight.


May 7th

Yesterday's wind dropped off almost completely and made for a pretty quiet sea. The massive exception being a group of 14 Pomarine Skua that lifted off the water fairly close in to Double Dykes, before gaining height and pushing off to the south. Otherwise, in 90 minutes, just 1 Arctic Skua and 15 Common Tern went by. Equally quiet, was Stanpit, where waders were almost impossible to detect: just 5 Dunlin, 25 Whimbrel, a Greenshank 10 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Curlew could be seen. As the tide ebbed and the bar between Blackbery Point and the sandspit was exposed, the figures improved, with 170 Dunlin and 9 Bar-tailed Godwit showing themselves. A Hobby passed over the Wood early in the morning and, later, a Buzzard that appeared over the Coastguards was escorted out to sea by gulls and crows. A Pied Flycatcher was in the Wood, a Garden Warbler was by the Driving Range on Wick, a Tree Pipit moved overhead and 2 Wheatear were on the head. After being seen at sea and in the harbour yesterday, an adult Common Gull with a slightly injured wing was noted on a couple of occasions around Stanpit this morning. An afternoon wader count at Stanpit totalled 160 Dunlin and 46 Whimbrel, also a single Wheatear there. Some general observations over the last few days, include: a couple of Canada Goose frequenting Priory Marsh; the drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker on Hengistbury; the two pairs of Red-legged Partridge on Wick Fields; and recently fledged Grey Heron from the Nursery now getting about the area. A late afternoon visit to Stanpit was particularly rewarding, as it added Spotted Redshank to the year list. This bird was actually seen, along with a Turnstone, in a group of 46 easterly moving Whimbrel. Another evening seawatch is currently underway and, so far, 3 Manx Shearwater have moved east. Hopefully, more to follow…


May 6th

The dawn was windless, but after a couple of hours a south-easterly breeze picked up and a good seawatch ensued. Between 6:30 and 12:30, 770 Common Tern moved east past Hengistbury, in various sized groups. It was interesting to note that prior to 9:30, only a fraction of this total had been recorded. There were also some strong cases for Arctic Tern amongst them, but only 15 could be positively identified. Prior to this main movement, a drake Garganey and Hobby had passed by, both were also seen later on from Hurst. Year firsts came from a Roseate Tern east (at the same time as the Garganey) and a Black Tern resting in the harbour late in the morning. Other quality came from 4 Manx Shearwater, 3 east and 1 west; and 2 Black-throated Diver, 4 Red-throated Diver and 1 Great-northern Diver east. Also that way, 4 Kittiwake, 5 Little Tern, 1 Razorbill and 1 Guillemot. Common Scoter topped the 150 mark, 3 Great-crested Grebe were on the move, 6 Fulmar were recorded and a Peregrine headed out to sea. There was also a steady Gannet passage to the east, along with around 10 Whimbrel and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, although a flock of 20 or so birds may have been the latter. Passerine migrants were sparse, to say the least, although 2 female Pied Flycatcher were seen, on the Batters and in Wick Ditch. A Wheatear was on the Barn Field and another big bird was on Stanpit this afternoon. Within the harbour, during the day, there were 164 Dunlin, 20ish Whimbrel, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover and 1 Sanderling. Later in the afternoon, these were joined by 6 each of Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwit, while 2 Turnstone were on the sandspit in the morning.

Late update: a 2 hour evening watch from 5:50 to 7:50 produced an exceptional count of 93 Manx Shearwater east, along with a further 52 Common Tern, 9 Little Tern, 1 Red-throated Diver and 1 Fulmar.


May 5th

Something of nothing today, despite some pretty good coverage. The sea was again quiet, just: 20 Common Tern, 20 Common Scoter and 1 Curlew seen moving east. There were also 5 Fulmar west and 3 Little Tern feeding off Mudeford Quay. The only other interest came from a Wheatear in the Barn Field, 2 Gadwall in Barn Bight, and 10 Turnstone and 5 Whimbrel on the sandspit. Equally disappointing was Stanpit this afternoon, where there were only 40+ Whimbrel, a similar number of Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 5 or 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Sanderling and 2 Grey Plover, all around Stanpit Bight. In the same area, 14 Common Tern were resting up and 5 Little Tern were feeding. A Greenland looking, male Wheatear was on Crouch Hill, as was a smaller female, and a male Whinchat was in Stanpit Scrubs. The Brent Goose have now declined to 4 individuals and a Cuckoo was vocal around Crouch Hill. Finally, it's nice to see that Dorset Constabulary are doing their bit for the community. After so thoughtfully erecting a temporary safety camera on The Broadway on Good Friday, they are now reaping the fruits of their labours. Such good work, we can all sleep easily tonight.


May 4th

Overnight the wind had turned to the north-east, which scuppered the hoped for Pom-fest. Instead, it was down to Stanpit in the afternoon to make up the interest; as a Little Stint, another year first, was in Stanpit Bight; also there, a Curlew Sandpiper, which was a different individual to the bird earlier in the week. Other wader interest comprised: 75 Dunlin, 28 Whimbrel, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 1 Grey Plover and 1 Turnstone; and earlier in the day, 6 Turnstone, a Common Sandpiper and 1 Ringed Plover had been seen from the sandspit. This morning saw a steady passage of Swallow, moving east into the wind, also a single Yellow Wagtail north over the Beach Huts. A seawatch started promisingly enough, with 41 Common Tern in as many minutes, but these then dried up. Final totals, moving east, over nearly 3 hours were: 23 Gannet, 17 Whimbrel, 5 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Diver, 4 Fulmar, 3 Little Tern, 1 Great-northern Diver and 1 Red-breasted Merganser. A smaller, westerly passage was made up of 5 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Razorbill. Wheatear are now getting thin on the ground, just 3 on the Barn Field today, while the only other passerine migrant was a singing Garden Warbler in the Wood. A Coal Tit in the Nursery suggests breeding may be taking place, something that is not usual for that side of the harbour. To round off, there were 2 Mediterranean Gull on Stanpit in the afternoon, one un-aged but the other a first-summer, also a Peregrine over South Marsh, carrying prey that was described as bright yellow! That's one to think about in early May.

Additional news: a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling in the gorse just opposite St Michael's Church.


May 3rd

A mirky, drizzly start suggested there might be an arrival of birds within the area, an assumption that held reasonably true. Firstly, however, the bizarre: as a Manx Shearwater was found paddling around in the middle of the harbour early in the morning. Despite the intermittent attention of large gulls, the bird was still sitting on the water at lunchtime. The most notable passage came from Swallow, as 700 were estimated in a 90 minute spell this morning - nearly all these birds were passing over at extreme height; also 32 Swift moving with them. Spotted Flycatcher put in their first appearance of the year, with at least 4 birds on Hengistbury and Wick right through until this evening. Other passerines this morning included 4 Garden Warbler together in the Wood, 1 Grasshopper Warbler by Double Dykes, 5 Wheatear on the Barn Field; and 2 Turtle Dove, 7 Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit over. Also new for the year was a Great Skua seen moving east from the Beach Huts, along with 1 Black-throated Diver, 3 Red-throated Diver, 30+ Common Scoter, 150+ Gannet, 12 Common Tern and 40 or so Common Scoter. There was also a small westerly movement, comprising: 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great-northern Diver, 40 Common Scoter, 17 Gannet, 3 Razorbill and 2 Fulmar. The wader momentum is still building, with 120 Dunlin, 70 Ringed Plover, 17 Sanderling and 27 Whimbrel east, while 9 Turnstone and 1 Grey Plover were noted arriving. A count on Stanpit this afternoon produced 335 Dunlin, contrast this with Sunday, 40+ Whimbrel, 21 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank, 1 Sanderling and 1 Turnstone. A Buzzard was seen coming in off and 6 Brent Goose remained on the marsh. There were still migrants around late in the day: for example, 12 Wheatear and 2 Whinchat on Wick, and a further 8 and 1 respectively on Stanpit. The 4 Red-legged Partridge were all again seen on Wick.

Additional news: a Pomarine Skua was seen from Hengistbury this evening; while wader numbers on Stanpit had dropped significantly, with just 71 Dunlin, 15 Whimbrel and 1 Grey Plover seen, also a Cuckoo.


May 2nd

A cold, southerly wind made for a good, by local standards that is, seawatch that saw the year's first Pomarine Skua. This was a single bird high over the Beach Huts, however, 2 further groups of 4 birds at 8:30 and 6 birds at 8:55 were almost certainly also Poms. Any information from further east to perhaps confirm this would be welcome. A couple of pale Arctic Skua also moved east, as did 3 Great-northern Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver and 1 Red-throated Diver. A total of 6 Velvet Scoter also moved into The Solent, these were made up of two lots of 2 birds, and a further 2 with a lone Common Scoter. An Arctic tern moved west, 36 Little Tern went the opposite way and 1 Manx Shearwater was lingering, as were a further 15 or so Little Tern. Other totals were: 65 Gannet, 63 Whimbrel, 35 Fulmar, 27 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Common Tern, 3 Common Gull and 2 Kittiwake east, as well as 1 Guillemot west. Waders had a big arrival today, including a Curlew Sandpiper, acquiring breeding plumage, seen inside the harbour from the sandspit. Also 137 Dunlin, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Grey Plover seen from there, with a further 100 Dunlin in Stanpit Bight. Barn Bight again hosted 2 Common Sandpiper and 3 Gadwall, a Greenshank was seen arriving, an Avocet circled the harbour, and 2 Sanderling and 1 Turnstone were on the sandspit. A couple of Redstart were present, 1 on Wick and another at the end of the head, and also decked were 7 Wheatear. Meanwhile, overhead movers were noted as: 110 Swift, 70 Sand Martin moving with them and 1 Yellow Wagtail. A Peregrine was seen on the Priory this morning and a further bird was seen over Mudeford Quay, entering the harbour, this afternoon.


May 1st

Some heavy rain fell overnight and drizzle continued until around 7:30. A two hour seawatch from the Gully produced a couple of Manx Shearwater west at just after 6:30 and, a few minutes later, 8 Eider, all females or young males, passed close in the opposite direction, as did 9 Brent Goose. Other counts included 26 Common Scoter, 20 Gannet, 11 Common Tern and 8 Fulmar, all heading west. Little Tern are now peaking, with 21 seen together over the harbour this morning. On the rising tide, between Blackberry Point and the sandspit, there were 47 Dunlin and 24 Bar-tailed Godwit; and 6 Turnstone, 4 in full breeding plumage, and 6 Sanderling were on the sandspit. There was further wader interest in Barn Bight, where there were 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Greenshank, also 2 Gadwall and 2 Canada Goose. It was almost a no news day for passerines, a reeling Grasshopper Warbler in the Long Field and 2 Wheatear in the Barn Field being the only returns. A pager report from Stanpit contained news of a Water Pipit, Hobby, Peregrine, an Arctic Tern and 38 Whimbrel. A visit this evening produced a similar number of the latter, mostly out on Central Marsh. There was also a good number of Bar-tailed Godwit, around 25 birds were joined by a group of 23 that plummeted in from very high. The Dunlin had reduced to around 30 birds, a single Grey Plover lurked in the ditches on East Marsh, where there were also 2 female Wheatear. Finally, the Brent Goose have increased by one, to 7 birds, and the Red-legged Partridge were again seen on Wick.

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