Sightings for October 2006


October 31st

A rather unpleasant north-westerly breeze got up from first light and made it probably the coldest morning of the season so far. Birds were fewer, but there was a highlight, as a Richard's Pipit was flushed from long grass adjacent to the cattle stall on the Wick Field closest to the HHC. Other than that though, it's just some limited overhead passage upon which to remark. A total of 2100 Wood Pigeon, including a 1000 strong flock, went west, as did 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 birds together and then a loner. Other numbers are: 35 Goldfinch, 35 Meadow Pipit, 24 Linnet, 6 Reed Bunting, 2 Redwing, 2 Brambling and 1 Redpoll. While the thrush went north-west, the others headed in the opposite direction. The only bird noted on the ground was a Wheatear was by the Hungry Hiker.


October 30th

Spoonbill topped the proceedings this morning, as a flock of 7 birds appeared over Hengistbury heading certainly towards Poole, where there are now a good number, I'm told, on Brownsea Island. This possibly constitutes a harbour day record. Nowhere near record proportions, but starting to build in numbers are Wood Pigeon. Early this morning, at least 7300 moved west about a kilometre north of the recording area, also 320 Stock Dove with them. The Yellow-browed Warbler was heard on several occasions in the Wood, along with the Nuthatch. Other highlights include a Snow Bunting east over the Barn Field, a Yellowhammer in Wick Ditch and 3 Firecrest, including 2 together in Double Dykes. There was a fair amount of wildfowl and wader activity, including 118 Dunlin, 1 Golden Plover and 1 Grey Plover arriving; also 49 Brent Goose, 9 Shelduck, 12 Curlew and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit passing by west. Of the aerial passerines, thrushes totalled: 69 Song Thrush, 22 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush and 1 Fieldfare, whereas the smaller birds comprised: 320 Linnet, 235 Chaffinch, 225 Greenfinch, 180 Goldfinch, 165 Skylark, 100 alba Wagtail, 28 Siskin, 21 Brambling, 16 Redpoll and 3 House Martin. It really is quite early for hirundines to be so sparse. More settled were 110 Goldcrest, a couple of Chiffchaff and 2 Sandwich Tern. Finally, after being reminded of its presence by CHOG, many thanks to Christchurch Borough Council and the Environment Agency for removing the old oil tank from one of the feeder ditches to Priory Marsh.


October 29th

Lots of numbers today, thanks to some visible migration, but also the monthly WeBS counts. Before getting into the detail, first the highlights. A Yellow-browed Warbler was seen on two occasions during the morning. Firstly, in the Wood around 50 yards beyond the Double Bends and subsequently in the Nursery. Short-eared Owl have not been very obvious this autumn, so one over Wick Fields this morning would have been welcome for some of the locals; also a Yellowhammer from the HHC and a Ring Ouzel north there. There was also a Ring Ouzel in the North Scrubs on Stanpit. All previous Raven records were smashed, with perhaps up to 20 birds involved. An unkindness of 13 was seen from Hengistbury, while slightly earlier, 11 were over Stanpit; along with a pair frequenting the Nursery and a few single sightings. It's impossible to know how many birds were actually involved, but at least 15 for certain. Other interest came from a Black Redstart on the small, brick shelter halfway along Solent Meads Golf Course, the Nuthatch in the Wood; and a (the) Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone and the Marbled Duck on Stanpit, where there was also a Water Pipit on Priory Marsh. A Wheatear by the Hungry Hiker might be considered late, but definitely so when it was actually an adult male. Now to the moving birds, which saw migrant Sparrowhawk, a dozen in all, moving in a northerly direction. Also not normally logged as travellers are Lesser Black-backed Gull, but, as noted last year, birds moved high to the west. A count of 220 was made, mainly comprising flocks of 50-60. The Wood Pigeon are entering the arena, although conditions weren't great, at least 2500 passed west; but far more impressive was the count of 560 Stock Dove in the same direction. Before the number crunching, mention must be made of 8 arriving Golden Plover that joined 2 already on Stanpit, and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit that were also seen stopping off; also at least 9 lingering Sandwich Tern inside the harbour. If you're not into the numbers game, then you may want to stop here. Visible migration to the south-west: 340 Goldfinch, 320 Linnet, 270 Chaffinch, 75 Skylark, 70 Siskin, 25 Redpoll and 5 Brambling. Selected totals from the WeBS count, some of which are impressive and marked* : 695 Wigeon*, 478 Coot, 414 Lapwing, 331 Teal*, 141 Mallard, 129 Brent Goose, 90 Redshank, 83 Mute Swan, 60 Oystercatcher, 57 Dunlin, 46 Little Egret, 38 Snipe, 29 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Curlew and 14 Ringed Plover, as well as the trashy 35 Canada Goose and 3 Greylag Goose.


October 28th

The curse of Saturday struck again, as overnight rain and a south-westerly wind dashed all visible migration expectations. In fact, it was a desperately quiet few hours this morning on Hengistbury; where there was a Firecrest in Wood, but not much else, save for 4 Redwing, a few Goldcrest and the Nuthatch. Seawatching was equally dull, the best being a juvenile Kittiwake just off the Beach Huts and 2 Common Sandpiper on the beach. Otherwise, just 10 Sandwich Tern, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Common Gull and 2 Guillemot to report. Wick was slightly better, offering a Ring Ouzel, a Firecrest and 4 Brambling over; and there was a Wheatear around the Hungry Hiker. A Peregrine over the harbour forced a Little Egret down into the water, also a Raven overhead and 6 Jay around the Long Field, and a pair of Gadwall and a Kingfisher by Barn Bight. I'm told the clocks change tonight, so back to earlier starts again.


October 27th

On a still, clear morning when the dawn temperatures dropped a few degrees, there was a definite increase in the number of birds on the wing. Initially, direction was a bit confused, but then settled down to a southerly passage. First the best of the smaller passerines, headed by 2 Tree Sparrow, but also a Bullfinch, a Yellowhammer and a Woodlark. The more routine numbered: 720 Goldfinch, 690 Chaffinch, 580 Greenfinch, 470 Linnet, 165 Reed Bunting, 163 Siskin, 130 Meadow Pipit, 80 alba Wagtail, 78 Starling, 39 Brambling, 36 House Sparrow and 21 Redpoll, the best day for those so far, but the only hirundine was a solitary House Martin. Most impressive, however, was the Skylark total with birds constantly moving on a broad front, the final figure being 515; although I understand that further west fared much better. Wood Pigeon were also on the move across the country, but seemed to give Christchurch a wide berth, with the only migrants being 470 to the south. More noteworthy though, were 180 Stock Dove, which represents a significant ratio in a pigeon movement. Redwing were relatively conspicuous first thing, as birds were settled in Wick Fields, 74 in all; also 7 Ring Ouzel about the area, and 60 Song Thrush and 3 Mistle Thrush. The local interest was sparked by 2 Rook and 47 Jackdaw, all movers, as were considered to be 5 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 of which arrived from very high. Of massive local significance is the simultaneous presence of Nuthatch and Treecreeper by the Nursery: a few weeks ago, if anyone had suggested this might happen, they would have been looked at sideways! Other birds in that area were 5 Chiffchaff and a few Goldcrest, also 2 Blackcap on Wick. Today, there were 4 Raven noted, also a male Peregrine over the harbour, as was a Shoveler and 39 westward Brent Goose. Stanpit is holding good numbers of birds, but not too much variation, although at least 6 Sandwich Tern are still in the area. Also 14 Black-tailed Godwit in the harbour, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Dunlin by Crouch Hill, where there was a large, well-marked Wheatear, suggesting it hatched in Greenland this summer. Almost forgotten, but not quite, was a female Marsh Harrier, seen from both sides of the recording area mid-morning.


October 26th

This is a far from complete posting, as one of the main contributors, who was definitely in the field this morning, has temporarily gone underground. A comprehensive update will, no doubt, follow some time tomorrow. Things we do know about include 2 Firecrest in Double Dykes, with a further bird by the Nursery, along with a couple of Chiffchaff. The Nuthatch was in the wood just past the double bend and a Treecreeper was in the same area. At least 8 Ring Ouzel were recorded, but the only definite location was a single bird on Wick Fields. A Black Redstart was just outside the recording area, in the school complex by Solent Meads Golf Course car park, but could be seen from within the limits, while a total of 6 Raven moved over Hengistbury. Also moving over there, but with no certain totals, were: Linnet, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit, Redpoll and Brambling. Wagtails, however, were counted and comprised 3 Grey Wagtail and 15 alba Wagtail, but there are likely to have been more. A couple of Sandwich Tern were in the strange location of Holloway's Dock, as were 6 Black-tailed Godwit. Finally, as the year's grand vis-mig finale approaches, Wood Pigeon are creating interest. Today, around 600 left the Nursery roost just after dawn.

Stop Press: the Information Services have just reported that the Pallas' Warbler was seen at 1pm today from the path behind the Nursery.

The best of the missing reports are a Fieldfare and Merlin over Hengistbury, and a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight, a bird that was well grilled. Also 32 Song Thrush, 270 Linnet, 160 Meadow Pipit, 95 Goldfinch, 3 Redpoll, 3 Pintail and 3 Wheatear, the latter on Solent Meads Golf Course.


October 25th

The bird of the day wasn't found until around 2.00 this afternoon, when a Pallas' Warbler was amongst a tit and 'crest flock that also held 4-5 Firecrest, 4 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap. This was on the Batters slope by the Double Bends. The bird then disappeared, but was again reported in a similar location at 4:30, along with 5 Firecrest. A Black Redstart had earlier been seen on the sandspit and a later report, presumably of the same bird, has also been made. Early this morning, visible migration was steady and from the slightly disadvantaged, but potentially drier, position of the HHC; the following were recorded over a 100 minute spell: 157 Goldfinch, 95 Meadow Pipit, 55 Linnet, 45 Greenfinch, 17 alba Wagtail, 8 Skylark, 4 Redpoll, 2 Redwing and 2 Swallow, while Reed Bunting and Siskin were heard. All movement was to the south-east. Stanpit also provided some interest this morning with 2 Water Pipit and a Hobby, also a Firecrest on the Golf Course bank and a Merlin from there. There was also a reasonable count of 170 Teal on Central Marsh and Priory Marsh.


October 24th

Some torrential overnight rain eased off by around 8:15 and allowed another full morning and partial afternoon in the field. A Red-necked Grebe close by the Beach Huts and moving west was a first for the year; while, a Goosander high over and inland was only the second. Also seen during the 90-minute watch were: 4 late Sandwich Tern, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Great-crested Grebe. Sadly though, 4 swans watched in off eventually proved to have far too much orange in the bill! A total of 7 Firecrest were spread across Hengistbury, a Ring Ouzel was by the HHC and a Brambling was settled with some Greenfinch on Whitepits. The best on the sandspit was a Black Redstart and 4 well studied Wheatear, also 42 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling there. Inside the harbour, a Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank were heard; and 5 Gadwall were on the water. An arrival of Blackbird was evident, with 80+ estimated on the head, along with 31 Goldcrest, 19 Song Thrush, 9 Blackcap and the now, faithful Nuthatch. This bird is fast heading towards legendary status, matched only by one seen over The Run, on a seawatch, a few years back! Reversing the recent trend, overhead movement was westerly, but was relatively light. Just, 220 Linnet, 175 Meadow Pipit, 80 Goldfinch, 65 Chaffinch, 55 Skylark, another good day for these, 25 Siskin, 17 Swallow, 5 Brambling, 5 Redwing and 4 House Martin for the 7-hour period.


October 23rd

The recent winds subsided completely, giving rise to the irritation of a mosquito menace. A good 8 hours were put in on Hengistbury and Wick, but as the later totals show, the clear conditions didn't make for a significant overhead movement. Some highlights were there however, including the autumn's fourth Wryneck record, as a bird was flushed from the Batters, but then disappeared onto the top of the head about 100m east of the Coastguards. There were also 3 Firecrest around Wick, and 2 Woodlark and 2 Yellowhammer passed over Hengistbury. The harbour is notoriously poor for thrushes, but we are coming into the peak period for them, so 86 Song Thrush, 9 Redwing and a single Mistle Thrush were not completely unexpected. Some of the grounded migrants are becoming sparse - today saw a single Wheatear and 6 Chiffchaff, but up to 100 Goldcrest, all on Hengistbury. At one point, something spooked the birds on Stanpit and 1 Ruff, 4 Turnstone and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit could be picked out of the crowd. Now the overhead passage numbers, all to the east and over an 8-hour period: 330 Greenfinch, 290 Linnet, 280 Chaffinch, 140 Meadow Pipit, 130 Reed Bunting, 128 Skylark, 120 Goldfinch, 110 alba Wagtail, 86 Siskin, 29 Swallow, 12 Brambling, 8 Redpoll and 2 House Martin. As of late, the sea was a total write-off, with just 10 Common Scoter worthy of mention. Finally, a Kingfisher was at Barn Bight.


October 22nd

Just a couple of hours were managed on Hengistbury this morning, before the rain set in. A Firecrest was seen on two occasions, on both sides of the main path by the southern of the Double Bends. The Nuthatch was also seen in that area, along with a few Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. Despite the continuing onshore blow, the sea is still bordering on the dire. In 45 minutes, just single Common Scoter, Brent Goose and Sanderling moved past the Beach Huts. Overhead movement was also stifled, with just token numbers of Linnet and Goldfinch.


October 21st

A party of 15 Little Gull of mixed ages, that passed through the harbour just after dawn, suggested that seawatching would produce the best results in the strong southerly wind. However, other than 7 Eider, 5 Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Razorbill, the only interest came from a strong westerly passage of Black-headed Gull with a few Common Gull mixed in. By mid-morning, as conditions dried a little, it became apparent there was some kind of overhead movement, with parties of alba Wagtail, 185 Meadow Pipit, 470 Linnet, 180 Goldfinch, 65 Chaffinch, 16 Swallow and 8 Redpoll swirling about over the end of the head, where there were also 25 Redwing and over 40 Song Thrush in the vegetation. At least 2 Firecrest were in the Wood, by the Double Bends, and 3 Raven and a Peregrine were over there, a Wheatear was in Double Dykes and a Kingfisher patrolled Barn Bight. A glance from Fisherman's Bank this afternoon saw 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and around 40 Brent Goose in the channel, as well as a Mute Swan family with 7 almost fully grown cygnets.


October 20th

After a quite atrocious night of gusty rain, it was no surprise that migrant birds were sparse. The exception being Water Rail - with at least 50 birds right across Stanpit, including the North Scrubs. Perhaps there had been an overnight fall, which was made more obvious by the high water levels pushing birds into the open. There was also a Yellowhammer on Crouch Hill and 3 Firecrest, 2 in the North Scrubs and 1 by the golf course; also a Ring Ouzel in the North Scrubs with a further individual chakking on the Batters over on Hengistbury. A Redwing was in the Barn Field there and 4 more passed over Stanpit, where there were also 45 scattered Goldcrest and 3 Dartford Warbler around Crouch Hill. These are also very conspicuous on Hengistbury right now, suggesting a good recovery from last winter's setback. Migration over Hengistbury was light, but Bullfinch, Redpoll and Siskin were all heard, and 50 Meadow Pipit, 15 alba Wagtail and 2 House Martin were seen. A couple of Merlin were over the area, as were a total of 7 Raven, 5 north-east and 2 west, and a Peregrine was with kill over Double Dykes. There is a tremendous volume of birds on Stanpit - the Brent Goose now exceed 100 and 132 Redshank is a really good count. Also nice to see in October are 4 Greenshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Knot, while 32 Black-tailed Godwit is also an improvement over the recent weeks.

Additional news: the Marbled Duck was showing well on Stanpit and a late Reed Warbler was on Crouch Hill.


October 19th

A strong southerly with showers made seawatching the only viable option this morning. Birds on the move included 60 Gannet, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Little Gull, a late Arctic Tern, 3 Common Scoter, a Great Skua and 2 Arctic Skua, 4 Razorbill and single Guillemot, Kittiwake and Golden Plover. Land-based sightings were at a premium, with a Firecrest in the Nursery and a couple of Chiffchaff on Wick being the only migrants reported.


October 18th

A bit of a mixed bag today, and still no sign of "the big one", but a few interesting sightings nonetheless. Pick of the bunch was a Snow Bunting, caught up in the general movement to the south-east; a Short-eared Owl moving through high to the north was one of only a handful so far this autumn, and there were 2 Firecrest along the track from the woods to the Ironstone Quarry. There also appeared to be a flurry of late migrants, with Willow Warbler, Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail all reported today. Overhead passage was slow to start, with little movement until around 9am, and comprised 116 Skylark, 85 Chaffinch, 430 Goldfinch, 410 Greenfinch, 44 Siskin, 21 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Ring Ouzel, a Redwing, 152 Reed Bunting, 300 alba Wagtail, 450 Meadow Pipit, 930 Linnet, 26 Swallow, 18 House Martin, 2 Golden and 14 Grey Plover and a single Merlin. Also seen were single Wheatear, Coal Tit, Raven and Mediterranean Gull. On Wick, there were several Song Thrush, maybe 40 in all, 15+ Blackcap and a handful of Chiffchaff, but a large Pipit, thought most likely to be Richard's, remained frustratingly silent as it flew over the observer, heading for Stanpit from the Driving Range area of Wick.


October 17th

On an overcast, mild but breezy morning, birds were clearly moving into the strong easterly wind, but no formal counts were made of the usual suspects. Starling, however, were estimated at 150 birds, and 3 Grey Wagtail and 8 Skylark accompanied the movement. It was notable that passage ceased on the approach of light rain at 11am, when several flocks of apparently grounded migrants were seen. Ring Ouzel numbers remain high, with 12 birds this morning, including a flock of 8 feeding near the Lily Pond, and 2 Redwing were on Wick Fields. At least 15 Chiff-chaff were noted, a Raven flew over the Common, and the Nuthatch remains in the woods, with a Firecrest by the Lily Pond at midday. Around the area of the HHC, a late Whimbrel was seen, and 5 Pintail moved to the south, with Greenshank heard and Kingfisher seen.


October 16th

Much the same as yesterday, but perhaps slightly murkier. After a week long wait, Yellow-browed Warbler finally made it onto the year list, with a bird heard four times in the gully at the northern end of the Ironstone Quarry. The other highlight for the day were Ring Ouzel - a total of 14 were recorded; a flock of 7 descended noisily into the Wood, but later left to the east, along with 15 Song Thrush; later, a party of 6 moved over very high, again to the east, while earlier a single bird was by the HHC. There were a further 40 or so Song Thrush in bushes towards the end of the head, along with a single Firecrest and 107 Goldcrest, and 6 Redwing and 3 Mistle Thrush moved over. The main migration was slightly more varied than the last few days and ran in numerical order as: 1130 Linnet, 820 alba Wagtail, 670 Meadow Pipit, 510 Goldfinch, 250 Chaffinch, 240 Greenfinch, 110 Starling, including a flock of 70, 67 Siskin, 63 Swallow, 48 Skylark, 32 Brambling, the largest group comprising 26 birds, 26 House Martin, 3 Grey Wagtail and 2 Redpoll. Numbers of the latter are well down so far this season. A couple of darkness records include the now regular Tawny Owl "kevicking" by Two Riversmeet and a Bearded Tit "pinging" in the HHC reeds, also heard was a Greenshank, 3 Snipe were seen coming in and 9 Pintail headed west. A brief seawatch produced an Eider, a Red-throated Diver and around 40 Gannet. Meanwhile, Holloway's Dock held 7 Black-tailed Godwit.


October 15th

Another day of easterly wind was actually far less rewarding than might have been expected. Having said that, Linnet beat yesterday's total with 2500 this morning, but overall variety was down with details later on in the post. There were 4 Ring Ouzel seen today, 3 on Hengistbury and 1 on Wick; also a Merlin over the head, and a Great Skua and 5 Eider just off it. At least 2 Redwing moved over, a Golden Plover was heard and a late Sand Martin moved with the Swallow, which numbered 250 birds, also 150 House Martin. On Stanpit this afternoon, there was a duck Pintail, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Dunlin. An apparent five youngster Brent Goose family was also seen, well separated from the main gaggle of 50 or so birds, which also contained young birds. It would appear the Siberian population of this goose has again fared reasonably well this summer. Now, as promised, the remaining "viz-mig" totals - 800 Meadow Pipit, 550 alba Wagtail, 250 Chaffinch, 250 Goldfinch, a poor day for these, 52 Siskin, 35 Reed Bunting, a few Starling and 2 Rook.

Additional news. Later in the day, Stanpit produced far more, including 5 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall; also a Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 more Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, c20 Dunlin and c10 Ringed Plover.


October 14th

The north-easterly wind signalled a heavy overhead passage, however, before the number crunching, some of the highlights. A group of 5 smallish grey geese that headed south over Hengistbury this afternoon, if identified, would have been the day's choice by far. Alas, they will remain a mystery. Black Redstart have been scarce this year, so a bird on the sandspit, by the Noddy Train Terminus, this morning was most welcome. Slightly later, a Firecrest was heard at the end of the head and a Yellowhammer passed over; and, this afternoon, 3 Velvet Scoter and 3 Eider went by east, while a Merlin was overhead. There were also 5 Ring Ouzel about Hengistbury, but as usual, very secretive. Goldfinch led the way this morning with 2050 birds, but there were also healthy counts of 800 alba Wagtail, 560 Siskin, 85 Brambling and 67 Skylark. All movement was easterly and other totals include: 1780 Linnet, 1100 Meadow Pipit, 1050 Chaffinch, 830 Greenfinch, 370 Swallow, 216 House Martin, 124 Reed Bunting, 27 House Sparrow and 10 Redpoll. As is their want, migrant thrushes always seem to head north-west, and 36 Song Thrush were no different. Grounded birds, however, were sparse with 3 just Wheatear and a dusting of Goldcrest on Hengistbury. There was even an afternoon seawatch, which underlines the enthusiasm brought on by easterlies; but apart from the earlier mentioned duck, it was just 2 Common Tern, 1 Arctic Tern and 1 Red-throated Diver that made it into the notebooks. Other interest for the day involves: the Nuthatch on Hengistbury; a couple of Raven over the area late morning, while the female Peregrine sat on The Priory as her mate patrolled the harbour; a Pochard north and a Kingfisher on Wick. The waders can, again, be encapsulated in a sentence - 3 Grey Plover left this morning, and 14 Dunlin, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Bar-tailed Godwit were more settled. The 50 or so Brent Goose now seem well ensconced on Stanpit, and the drake Wigeon and Teal there are rapidly shedding their drab, eclipse plumage and starting to look more the part. Late this afternoon, around 200 House Martin were feeding over Priory Marsh. Tomorrow's forecast again holds much promise…


October 13th

A much quieter day today, with the focus remaining upon the visible migration; however, more time spent on the grounded birds may perhaps have paid dividends? Passage birds counted included 4 Ring Ouzel, including 3 together, with a further 4 Brambling; other totals were 350 alba Wagtail, 270 Meadow Pipit, 23 Song Thrush, 370 Goldfinch, 410 Chaffinch, 88 Reed Bunting, 165 Siskin, 560 Greenfinch, 125 Swallow, 75 House Martin, 930 Linnet, 77 Skylark, 4 Sparrowhawk west, 3 Grey Wagtail and 3 Mistle Thrush, with a further bird over Wick. Other records were a couple of both Merlin and Peregrine, 3 Rook, a single Grey Plover, 1 Red-breasted Merganser west, 43 Common Gull west, 2 first-winter Mediterranean Gull and 116 Goldcrest. On Wick, Blackcap numbers had dwindled to just 5, Chiffchaff were down to 8, and a Raven flew overhead. The information services confirmed the continuing presence of the Marbled Duck on Stanpit, but no other records were received from that side of the harbour today. With strengthening easterlies forecast for the next few days, optimism remains high….


October 12th

Overhead passage was once again the order of the day, with the pick of the bunch being a Richard's Pipit, seen well but not calling, which arrived from the east, flew low over Long Field and was lost to sight over Wick Fields. A Lapland Bunting and 2 Woodlark are also worthy of elevation from the numbers game that follows. The bulk of the passage moved in various directions in the light wind, and was counted as follows - 148 Skylark, 98 Swallow, 23 House Martin, 320 alba Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 785 Meadow Pipit, 5 Dunnock, 4 Ring Ouzel, 9 Blackbird, 21 Song Thrush, 14 Jackdaw, 2 Raven, 30 House Sparrow, 335 Chaffinch, 14 Brambling in a single flock, the first of the autumn, 360 Greenfinch, 10 Redpoll, 39 Siskin, 720 Goldfinch, 930 Linnet, 2 Yellowhammer and 210 Reed Bunting. Grounded birds comprised 45 Goldcrest, 60 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, a Whearear and 5 Coal Tit, possibly continental birds. 6 Gannet, 52 Brent Goose, 2 Pintail, 9 Eider, a Common Scoter, 5 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 9 Curlew and 12 Common Gull passed west along the coast or at sea, with a single Great Skua on the sea, then east, and within the harbour were 20 Teal, 7 Shoveler and 2 Buzzard just to the north of the harbour airspace. 2 Dunlin were also seen to arrive. On Wick Fields at the same time were a Firecrest, a Mistle Thrush and the first Redwing of the autumn, and there were also 25 Chiffchaff and at least 30 Blackcap, but little sign of any overhead movement, which was clearly confined to the coastal "corridor". Stanpit was visited both morning and afternoon, with peak figures of 4 Bar-tailed and 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 350 Wigeon, 86 Teal on Priory Marsh, as well as 12 Shoveler and the long-staying Marbled Duck, single Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper, 16 Ringed Plover, 19 Dunlin, a late Whimbrel, 31 Curlew, 132 Redshank, 66 Cormorant, 700 Lapwing, 78 Greater and 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 57 Brent Goose, of which 11 were young birds, and a late Whitethroat, a young bird, on Crouch Hill.


October 11th

Normal lines of communication have now been reopened, and the revised report reads as follows. Visible migration this morning was quite busy, with 380 alba Wagtail, 85 Reed Bunting, 3,100 Meadow Pipit, 375 Goldfinch, 970 Linnet, 130 Skylark, 9 Grey Wagtail, 200 Swallow, 40 House Martin, 120 Chaffinch, 160 Greenfinch, 6 Redpoll and 2 Siskin. At sea, birds were passing mainly to the west, with 18 Pintail, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 62 Common Gull, 162 Brent Goose, 5 Sandwich Tern, 5 Gadwall, a Golden Plover, 5 Shoveler, 147 Wigeon, Spotted Redshank, 2 Great Skua, 3 Common Tern, 1 Arctic Tern, 3 commic Tern, 3 Common Scoter and a Peregrine all noted. Grounded birds comprised Whinchat, 2 Merlin, 70 Chiffchaff and late Reed and Sedge Warbler. Stanpit this morning held 2 Blackcap and a Great-spotted Woodpecker in North Scrubs, with 2 Chiff-chaff along the Golf Course, 78 Teal on Priory Marsh and the Brent Goose flock now exceeding 50 birds; the Marbled Duck remains, today being seen on Central Marsh, with 47 Snipe escaping the attentions of the Air Ambulance, and there were a brace of both Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit on South Marsh, with a good count of 52 Meadow Pipit on Crouch Hill. A good total of 29 Greylags departed up the Avon in the morning, and later in the day, 44 Canada Geese arrived to roost. The only other sightings of note were a Wheatear on the beach off Solent Meads and 2 Kingfisher on Wick.

Late records have now been added for 9th and 10th.


October 10th

Based on the records received so far, it would appear there was a return to normality today, but a few good birds nonetheless. The Nuthatch ventured onto Long Field this morning, with 2 Raven over the nursery. In the wood were 11 Goldcrest, accompanied by a single Firecrest, and a Short-eared Owl flew west over Warren Hill. Finally, there were 2 Razorbill on the sea just off the Beach Huts.

Addendum: Passage noted at Hengistbury this morning comprised 300 House Martin, 1,500 Meadow Pipit, 630 Goldfinch, 180 Chaffinch, 90 Reed Bunting, 270 alba Wagtail, 30 Siskin, 70 Skylark, 170 Swallow, 5 Pintail and a male Pochard, with 2 Reed Warbler, 2 Raven and 50 Goldcrest on the Head. The Cattle Egret was seen on Wick from Stanpit Golf Course, a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was in trees by the Civic Offices, and Dunlin had increased to a heady 13 birds, with Spotted Redshank and Greenshank also seen.


October 9th

Predictably, the absence of most of the regulars heralded a good day in the Harbour, with pride of place going to a Little Bunting, present for a while mid-morning on the Barn Field. It showed well, occasionally landing on top of bramble scrub, before being spooked by a Merlin and lost to view. A subsequent search during a "lunch break" which redefined the term was unsuccessful. This is the first record since 1998, coincidentally also on 9th October, and the ninth overall (although a review of some previous records may have reduced this total). A Lapland Bunting was also seen around the Salt Hurns area this morning, and a Pomarine Skua went east. Other birds seen on the morning's seawatch were 6 Arctic Skua, 28 Sandwich Tern, 3 Black, 5 Common, 2 Arctic and 5 commic Tern, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 21 Brent Goose, all moving west, with 21 Common Scoter, 35 Gannet, 5 Razorbill and 4 Guillemot moving in both directions. Overhead passage is starting to build up, with the following noted in a 5-hour period from 8 am to 1 pm - 1,100 House Martin, 1,250 Swallow, 180 Meadow Pipit, 120 Goldfinch, 110 Linnet, 80 alba Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail and 8 Siskin. Also seen were 8 Raven, 2 Merlin, single Whinchat and Wheatear, a Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank. A full count of the birds on Stanpit this afternoon read as follows - 49 Little Egret, 6 Brent Goose, 280 Wigeon, 54 Teal, 84 Oystercatcher, 320 Lapwing, 9 Ringed Plover, 18 Black-tailed and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 36 Curlew, 1 Spotted and 113 Common Redshank, 1 Greenshank, just 7 Dunlin, 16 Sandwich Tern and a male Peregrine. Both the Cattle Egret and the Marbled Duck remain on Priory Marsh. Finally, 86 "unmentionables" arrived on the Marsh at dusk.

Omission - an Arctic Skua passed west through the Harbour this afternoon.


October 8th

Initially, it was thought the reasonably strong southerly wind might stifle the overhead passage, but as the sun came up this proved not to be the case. In fact, a thoroughly enjoyable three hours on the top of the head saw Linnet dominating the movement, 834 birds being the total for the day. The direction was generally south or south-west and, in numerical order, other figures were: 251 Goldfinch, 245 Swallow, 217 Meadow Pipit, 64 alba Wagtail, 39 Greenfinch, 37 Siskin, 11 Skylark, including an exultation of 7, also 7 Chaffinch, 5 Redpoll, just 4 House Martin, 4 Reed Bunting and 1 late Sand Martin. Merlin were seen on four occasions, chasing Snipe and finches, and it is thought that at least 2 birds were involved. Notable for the harbour, but trash elsewhere, were 2 Rook east, also 16 Jackdaw heading the same way, while 12 Starling went north-west. Pick of the settled birds was a Firecrest in the Wood, also 2 Whinchat on the Long Field, with a further bird on Stanpit, and a reasonable presence of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. A Treecreeper in the Nursery is a new bird and a Mistle Thrush is spending its third day on Hengistbury, also a Great-spotted Woodpecker and Pergerine overhead. This morning, a party of 12 Brent Goose arrived onto the Wick Fields, by the wooden bridge, but were soon moved on by a jogger; however, there are now 5 settled birds on Stanpit. The sea was only really looked at from Mudeford Quay, but a reasonably close Great Skua made the effort worthwhile. Stanpit waders throughout the day included: 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, a Knot and a lingering Whimbrel. Early visitors to the area were subjected to 100+ Canada Goose cluttering up the river, 4 remained into the afternoon on East Marsh and 117 returned at dusk.

Errata: the Marbled Duck was present on Stanpit, around the northern edge of Central Marsh.


October 7th

In much more clement conditions than yesterday, there was definitely more to see this morning. The best bird was a juvenile Black Tern that arrived over the Barn Field and then spent some time feeding in the middle of the harbour. The Siskin passage is now picking up, although a mere shadow of last year's phenomena, in a couple of hours this morning, 58 moved west, along with: 330 Linnet, 240 Meadow Pipit, 270 Goldfinch, 127 Chaffinch, 120 alba Wagtail, 55 Swallow, 53 Reed Bunting, 36 House Martin, but just a single Redpoll. A couple of species that are now considered late were a Yellow Wagtail over the HHC and 2 Reed Warbler about the head, meanwhile, at least 7 Jackdaw moved east, a Wheatear was by the Barn and a Whinchat was on Wick. A couple of Raven were over Hengistbury, the Nuthatch, 15 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap were in the Wood, and 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker were recorded over the head. The main Brent Goose arrival is still too happen, but perhaps the 3 in Stanpit Bight this morning are the start of it; also 12 Black-tailed Godwit and a Knot there, and a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight. The only marine record involves 15 Gannet, while 5 Common Tern and 3 Great-crested Grebe were inside the harbour, and 5 Gadwall went over it. The only Kingfisher sighting for the day comes from Wick Fields.


October 6th

A month or so ago, I can recall the anticipation of a big seawatch. Today was no different; the time safely booked off work, in position by the Beach Huts while it was just getting light and already soaked. The first two hours then produced a juvenile Arctic Tern, 3 Common Tern, 15 Sandwich Tern, a few Gannet and 3 Common Scoter! Not the show we were expecting and something reminiscent of late June with an offshore wind, rather than a south-westerly in October. The next hour added an Arctic Skua, a Kittiwake, another Common Scoter, a Guillemot and 6 more Sandwich Tern. A Turnstone also moved west, a Greenshank was in Holloway's Dock, and a drake Gadwall was in Barn Bight. This afternoon, there was a juvenile Arctic Tern off Mudeford Quay, also a couple of Common Tern. If you have already made diary notes for the indoor meetings, please note the February date has now changed to the 16th.


October 5th

In stark contrast to yesterday and after some heavy overnight rain, there was almost no movement at all today. A Yellow Wagtail was over the HHC first thing, but there were just a handful of alba Wagtail, Linnet, Goldfinch and Meadow Pipit for the remainder of the early period. There were, however, 9 Jackdaw moving high to the east, also 2 Raven over the Nursery. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull went by the HHC and there was a Mistle Thrush over the Long Field. A Great-spotted Woodpecker also went over there, Little Grebe were in Barn Bight and on the Ironstone Quarry, and a Great-crested Grebe was in the centre of the harbour. A fast moving tit flock on Hengistbury also carried 40 or so Chiffchaff, a couple of Blackcap and some very vocal, but difficult to count, Goldcrest; a further 4 Blackcap were at Whitethroat Corner and a Wheatear was in Wick Hams. On the other side of the harbour, a lone Brent Goose was on East Marsh, but less welcome were 73 Canada Goose, 60 of them leaving an hour or so after dawn, and a Greylag Goose could be heard somewhere on the river. A group of 8 Black-tailed Godwit were resting up on South Marsh.


October 4th

An almost completely still morning, with just a hint of a westerly breeze. One of the first migrants seen from the HHC was a ringtail Hen Harrier that headed purposefully west along the coast. Shortly later, things really got going, but before the details let's make mention of the year's first Woodlark, heard and seen over the Double Dykes. The finch passage is now building and today saw: 340 Linnet, 320 Goldfinch, 150 Chaffinch, 6 Siskin and 5 Redpoll, also at least 50 Reed Bunting settled or travelling. The other group of birds currently on the move is pipits and wagtails, and numbers included: 750 Meadow Pipit, 180 alba Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit. Hirundines were sparse to start with, but later 120 House Martin and 70 Swallow passed by, and, by the late morning, a few hundred House Martin were feeding over the area. All today's passage was to the west, except for 11 migrant Jackdaw that made their way steadily east, in groups of 2, 2, 5 and 2. Best of the settled birds was probably a Mistle Thrush that spent most of the morning on Hengistbury, also a late Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler, 150 Chiffchaff, 60 Goldcrest, 8 Blackcap and a Whinchat, spread from the Barn Field to the Wood. There were no Wheatear on the main part of the head, but 3 on the sandspit, where 2 Common Sandpiper and a few Turnstone were on the groynes. Waders are probably experiencing the worst autumn passage in anecdotal memory, just 4 Knot, 1 Greenshank, 1 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover and 4 Black-tailed Godwit recorded inside the harbour today. The Nuthatch was seen again throughout the day - it's amazing how one individual can change the apparent status of a species - also a couple of Great-spotted Woodpecker in the Wood, Kingfisher in Wick Meades and Barn Bight, along with single Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe there. The North Scrubs on Stanpit held 40 Goldfinch, probably migrants, a Raven and 2 Peregrine overflew the marsh and a single Willow Warbler was on Wick. So that just leaves wildfowl to summarise: a Brent Goose passed through without stopping, as did 5 Tufted Duck, while a pair of Gadwall seemed comfortable in Barn Bight. Of butterfly interest, there were quite a few Clouded Yellow around the area today.

Additional news: a Bearded Tit was in the reeds where Brewer's Creek enters Barn Bight.


October 3rd

Weather-wise, things were far more settled this morning. So much so, that an Osprey was over the area mid-morning, heading towards the Priory, where there was also a Peregrine on a gargoyle. Keeping to that area, the Marbled Duck was showing down to a few feet, and there was a Whinchat and 2 Wheatear on fence posts. Across the river, the first Siskin of the autumn was recorded on Wick Fields and 3 more passed over Hengistbury. Other westerly passage over the head: included 150+ Meadow Pipit, 75 Linnet, 40 Goldfinch, 25 alba Wagtail, 15 Skylark, 2 Grey Wagtail and, saving the best to last, a Ring Ouzel. All of these were over a two hour period. There had been an obvious arrival of Chiffchaff, with around 75 birds from Double Dykes to the lower Batters; also conspicuous on the deck were Reed Bunting, 25 being the total, along with 2 Wheatear. At least 4 Raven were about Hengistbury, as were 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Additional news: the Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh this evening and there were a reasonable number of Chiffchaff around.


October 2nd

The area suffered some quite abysmal conditions this morning, as a south-westerly gale and rain battered those who made it out. This weather, however, was localised to the south coast, so birds further north headed straight into it. This probably accounts for a flock of around 1000 Meadow Pipit that were almost forced into the sea just off the Beach Huts, fortunately, they struggled to the safety of the head. These birds, and 1200 others, made 2200 over a three hour period. In between the downpours, 800 Swallow, 335 Linnet, 95 Goldfinch, 70 alba Wagtail and 4 Grey Wagtail also moved south, heaven knows what happened to them if they hit the rain over The Channel. Of course, seawatching was good with a Sooty Shearwater east heading the cast, but also 7 Arctic Skua, 2 Great Skua, 2 adult Little Gull and 1 Black Tern all heading west. The numerous other terns comprised 410 Sandwich Tern, 175 Common Tern, 23 Arctic Tern and 210 "commics". Razorbill have been obvious over the last few days, so 18 this morning is no surprise; conversely, given the conditions, just 75 Gannet is. A few waders also moved west, including 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 23 Dunlin and 2 Turnstone, while 4 Greenshank were in Holloway's Dock. The Nuthatch now seems settled in the Wood and Raven were again very raucous about the Nursery. A group of 7 Wheatear were on Solent Meads Golf Course and 5 more were on Hengistbury, also a single Blackcap and half a dozen Chiffchaff. Stanpit held a Garden Warbler and a Whinchat this afternoon, with a further bird on Wick this evening along with a Yellow Wagtail. There were also 2 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank on Stanpit, and the Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh. Please check back to yesterday for some good late news.


October 1st

The first day of the "big month" was slightly disappointing, thanks to the tradition of light Sunday coverage and a very strong south-westerly wind, which actually suggested seawatching should have been better than it transpired. The best from the Beach Huts was a Great Skua heading west and a female Eider on the sea. Also, 100+ Sandwich Tern, 80 Gannet, 30 Common Tern and 3 Razorbill from there. To complete the Hengistbury story, there was a Whinchat on the Long Field. Stanpit fared slightly better, mainly due to a reasonable wader selection, which included a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper on the tip of South Marsh early this afternoon. Other waders totalled: 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Turnstone, 6 Ringed Plover, 4 Sanderling, 4 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit; also 60 Sandwich Tern and 6 Common Tern resting up on South Marsh. A couple of Wheatear were on Crouch Hill and the Marbled Duck, if that's what it is, continues to attract visitors.

Additional news: the information services report a Cattle Egret and 1 Garganey. The assumption being Priory Marsh.

Additional news: a Wryneck was watched for 10 minutes at noon, at the eastern edge of the Ironstone Quarry on Hengistbury. This is exactly the same spot that a bird was seen in just over 2 weeks ago, so conceivably this is the same individual. Also a skua sp., most likely Arctic Skua, and a distant shearwater sp. at sea.

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