Sightings for September 2006


September 30th

The day started to a stiff southerly wind, which turned slightly east as the morning progressed. These conditions didn't prevent another Marsh Harrier moving through, as bird was seen heading east over the Beach Huts, from the HHC, at dawn. Rightly or wrongly, the sea was the chosen focal point, but the most interest there came from raptors. A male Merlin was seen incoming; while a juvenile Peregrine initially attempted to take a Sandwich Tern and then made a couple of efforts to pluck a Razorbill from the water, the auk diving to evade capture each time. There were 5 Razorbill in total, also 1 Guillemot, around 35 Common Tern passing by and a few distant, fishing Gannet. Around 1000 or so Swallow braved it into the wind, as did 500 Meadow Pipit, over a 4 hour spell. Also some evidence of finch passage, with 25 Linnet and 20 Goldfinch moving by. Other than that, there was a Spotted Flycatcher, 15-20 Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a few Goldcrest in the Wood, and 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail over the HHC. The Nuthatch was seen again from the main path through the Wood, exactly two weeks after it was first located, also some noisy Jay and a single Great-spotted Woodpecker in there. Over on Stanpit, the Marbled Duck was again showing, perhaps a bit too well, on Central Marsh; and the Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh until at least 6:40 tonight. More on the Tuckton Ring-necked Duck: it has apparently been around for at least a month and has frequented Christchurch Quay, so is most likely to be less than wild.


September 29th

A quite dismal morning curtailed almost all birding activity at Hengistbury. However, before the deluge, the first Bearded Tit for a while flitted into the HHC reeds. The start of the downpour forced a female Marsh Harrier into the Wick Hams reeds, but during a break in the rain the bird upped and then quartered Central Marsh on Stanpit, before going down there. The Marbled Duck was around Grimmery Point for most of the afternoon and a Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh. A late morning visit to Stanpit Bight proved that yesterday's Spotted Redshank theory was wrong, as a bird could still be heard about the area; also 30 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 1 Turnstone, with a further 2 of these past Mudeford Quay. There are still 47 Sandwich Tern in the harbour, along with a Common Tern, while an afternoon seawatch saw many distant, but unidentifiable terns. The only other interest on the sea came from 6 Razorbill. During the morning, overhead passage was non-existent, but in the afternoon's improved conditions, there was a steady passage of Swallow to the east. There were only 4 Wheatear across the area today. Of interest, the Tuckton female Ring-necked Duck has reappeared on the Stour. Although, this is just outside the recording area, the bird has been seen within, but popular opinion has always considered it to be of dubious origin.


September 28th

It was a relatively quiet morning on Hengistbury, save for a Red-breasted Flycatcher briefly at the western end of the Batters just before 8:00. Without checking past reports to get an exact date, this is probably the first record for at least 8 years. There was also a singing Willow Warbler in the same area, while 26 Chiffchaff and around 20 Goldcrest were in the vegetation between there and the Nursery. The overhead movement was particularly poor, with just 550 Swallow, 350 Meadow Pipit and a single Tree Pipit over a 2 hour period. A total of 4 Raven were settled around Hengistbury, including a couple in the Nursery, also a Peregrine over and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. The Marbled Duck was elusive today, being reported just once, at 2:00 on Central Marsh, when it was also photographed, but there were still 2 Garganey showing well on Priory Marsh. Again, Crouch Hill held Wheatear, 4 birds in total, and a juvenile Whitethroat. A couple of Spotted Redshank left the area over the HHC this morning, so that may possibly be the last sighting for the year. Inside the harbour, there were 22 Dunlin, 21 Ringed Plover, 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper and 1 Greenshank; also 2 Shoveler. Kingfisher have been numerous of late, but the only record today was from the House on Stilts on Wick. Of interest, Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull, was at Keyhaven today.

Additional news: a Whinchat was seen well on Crouch Hill during the afternoon.


September 27th

Firstly, a correction from yesterday, when the Marbled Duck was certainly allowing very close approach; however, tameness is not always a particularly reliable indicator whilst assessing the origins of potentially vagrant birds. There is now also a question regarding the presence of some darker flank feathers, see photo above. Any expert opinion on both issues is welcomed. The bird was present again today, but at times elusive. As usual, it was on Central Marsh and Priory Marsh, where there was also a Cattle Egret, a Garganey, 4 Greenshank and, on the golf course, the regular Whimbrel. The adjacent Smithy's Field held 2 Nuthatch, always remarkable, but seemingly increasing, for the recording area, also a Whinchat and a couple of Wheatear around Crouch Hill. The best of the waders on Stanpit was a Curlew Sandpiper, in the company of 6 Ringed Plover, about the bight; also 1 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 25 Dunlin, with 2 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight, where there was also a settled, drake Pochard. In a southerly wind, migrants on Hengistbury were slightly disappointing, although 2 Firecrest, 1 by the HHC and the other in Double Dykes, were not to be sneered at. Others on the deck, included 60 Chiffchaff, 40+ Goldcrest, 2 Reed Warbler, 7 or so Wheatear, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat and a Sedge Warbler; while, the overhead movement comprised 1400 Swallow, 315 Meadow Pipit, 38 alba Wagtail and just 6 Yellow Wagtail. Relatively speaking, the sea was quite interesting, as an Arctic Skua harassed the terns, which numbered 85 Common Tern, 38 Sandwich Tern and 6 Arctic Tern, and presumably the same juvenile Little Tern was inside the harbour, as was a first-winter Mediterranean Gull. Also at sea were 2 Razorbill and 2 Raven passed over the head.

Additional news: the Cattle Egret was on Wick Fields at 4:00 this afternoon.


September 26th

The Marbled Duck remained throughout the day, although it was curious the pager was reporting it down to 6 feet in one area, when, in fact, the bird was somewhere completely different. This said, in the section of Central Marsh the bird frequents, it is quite normal for Teal to allow very close approach. In support, a Wryneck was reported briefly close to the pines on Stanpit Golf Course, and the Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh this morning, but Wick Fields this afternoon, where a Little Stint was on floods adjacent to the pony field. Stanpit held a reasonable number of migrants, with 14 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat and a Whitethroat around Crouch Hill, and a Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs. Again, it's worth mentioning that Hengistbury did not receive a visit. This morning, there were 22 Black-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight, but these were flushed out of the area by canoeists. I think it's fair to say this activity has had a greater impact than uncontrolled dogs this summer. By the afternoon, there were again Black-tailed Godwit around, but just 6 birds, along with 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 18 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plover. The Spotted Redshank was still present and House Sparrow seem to be continuing their recovery, with birds in the North Scrubs today. A Great-spotted Woodpecker flew from there to the Priory, and a Peregrine and a Kingfisher went through Stanpit Bight. Also in that area, were young, singles of female-type Pintail and Shoveler, an adult Common Gull and, as I was gleefully told, 5 Canada Goose! Finally, please check back to Sunday for some additional news.


September 25th

The Marbled Duck was present all day, splitting its time between the north-west corner of Central Marsh and Priory Marsh. It is really interesting that there is now another bird in Sussex. Also in the Priory Marsh area, a Cattle Egret , 5 Greenshank and a Tufted Duck east. Prior to all of this, just before dawn, a Tawny Owl heard from Two Riversmeet made it a five-owl year - it's been a long while since that happened; also a Little Owl calling there. The morning started clear, but a mist soon descended, before dispersing around 10ish. This gave something of an intermittent overhead passage, totalling: 4000 Swallow, 2500 House Martin, 480 Meadow Pipit, 210 alba Wagtail, 16 Grey Wagtail and 5 Tree Pipit. Most of the 76 Yellow Wagtail from Hengistbury were from the HHC reeds, but there were 20 more in the pony field on Wick, where there was also a Lesser Whitethroat. The only passerine interest on Hengistbury was a Redstart, but Stanpit held 5 Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a Whinchat elsewhere. Wader variety was reasonable, with 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Little Stint leaving to the west, also the long staying Spotted Redshank on Stanpit, along with 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 12 Black-tailed Godwit, while 3 Common Sandpiper were on Hengistbury. The 3 Brent Goose were in Stanpit Bight, a couple of Peregrine patrolled the harbour and a Kingfisher was around Purewell Stream.


September 24th

Today saw what is potentially, if considered to be wild, the best bird for the year, as a Marbled Duck was seen by many around Parky Meade Rail. The bird, originally found yesterday afternoon, appears to be a juvenile and the timing coincides with the dispersal of the Spanish breeding population, and during the movement of the more migratory, eastern birds. The weather over the last week has been right for both origins and there are plenty of other birds from those areas presently in the country. The best spot to view seems to be south of Parky Meade Rail, on pools just into Central Marsh. Other goodies this morning included 2 Garganey on Priory Marsh and 4 Little Stint past South Marsh, also a juvenile Little Tern there. Late this afternoon, at 4:15, an Osprey was hunting over the harbour and left with a fish; however, just 45 minutes later, the same or another was again fishing and was again successful. There were also around 50 Yellow Wagtail feeding on Priory Marsh during this period; and what seems to be now just 1 Cattle Egret divided its time between Priory Marsh and Wick Fields. All of this made for a pretty exciting first WeBS count of the winter, with other notables being: 8 Greenshank, 5 on Priory Marsh, 3 Brent Goose in Stanpit Bight, a total of 7 Shoveler, the Golf Course Whimbrel, 1 Pintail and 1 Great-crested Grebe. A selection of the more routine figures include: 355 Coot, 285 Wigeon, 158 Mallard, a good number, 115 Teal, 118 Lapwing, 65 Oystercatcher, 41 Dunlin, 35 Curlew, 16 Ringed Plover, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Kingfisher. Finally, although not counted, there was a southerly Swallow passage that was probably as large as yesterday, also Meadow Pipit passing over, and 7 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Unfortunately, due to the WeBS count, Hengistbury was not covered today, but looking at news from further west, one can only wonder...

Additional news: a Pied Flycatcher was in the North Scrubs and 2 first-winter Mediterranean Gull were around Stanpit Bight.

Further additional news: a Firecrest was on Hengistbury, along with a Spotted Flycatcher, in the Wood; also 1 Whitethroat, 2 Whinchat and 5 Wheatear, including a probable Greenland type, were by the Double Dykes. A Raven was over the head, while a Hobby was over Wick Fields and a Kingfisher was also noted. On Stanpit, in the afternoon, there were a further 5 Black-tailed Godwit on top of the morning's 12, also a single Turnstone, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and a second-winter Common Gull.


September 23rd

A change of the wind to the east-south-east brought on the autumn's first four figure Meadow Pipit total, as 1350 were counted moving east, along with 6500 Swallow, 2300 House Martin and a few straggling Sand Martin counted on and off until the early afternoon. Giving a taste of things to come, finches are starting to pass through; this morning saw 170 Greenfinch, 90 Linnet, 20 Goldfinch, 12 Siskin and a few Chaffinch. Keeping with the flyers, 95 alba Wagtail, 75 Reed Bunting, 63 Yellow Wagtail, 15 Grey Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit were also recorded. In the blustery conditions, grounded migrants were hard to pin down, but a Ring Ouzel was seen with 6 Song Thrush, also considered to be travelling birds, in the Double Dykes. A Firecrest was lurking behind the Nursery, single Redstart were on the Batters and Wick Fields, 2 Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher were about the Barn Field, and 4 Wheatear were on the top of the head. Some of the warblers are now dwindling in numbers - just 20 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap and 2 Whitethroat today, along with a Lesser Whitethroat. A Short-eared Owl was briefly over Wick Fields and 3 Raven were over Hengistbury, as were 2 Jackdaw. Inside the harbour, a Black Tern and an Arctic Tern were with the commoner tern species, while the waders were topped by a juvenile Little Stint in Holloway's Dock, until the tide rose; also 50 Dunlin and a single Common Sandpiper seen from the head. A Merlin passed over to the north, as did 3 Golden Plover and a single Grey Plover was seen to pitch in. At sea, a few Gannet went into the wind, with the only other interest coming from a single Razorbill. A total of 17 Brent Goose, gaggles of 13 and 4, went through without stopping; a couple of Great-crested Grebe have now appeared, as have 2 Little Grebe, and the Greylag Goose remains on the river. From Stanpit, a Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh, also a Greenshank, 2 Gadwall and c70 Teal there. Around Stanpit Bight, there were 17 Ringed Plover, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Turnstone, 8 Greenshank and a Bar-tailed Godwit. There were also a good smattering of passerine migrants, with 3 Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat, 4 Wheatear and 2 Whitethroat turned in.


September 22nd

A rather wet day produced some flashes of quality. The best being the year's second Ortolan Bunting that was seen well on the Long Field late this morning. To complement, 3 Little Stint were on the sandspit briefly and the offshore tern presence included: a juvenile Roseate Tern, 6 Black Tern and 5 Arctic Tern. There were also 67 Dunlin, 5 Sanderling and a Turnstone on the spit, and 250 Common Tern, 117 Sandwich Tern, 60+ Gannet, 2 Razorbill and 1 Guillemot off it. A couple of Raven passed over Hengistbury and at least 200 Jackdaw could be seen over Steamer Point from the Black House. The Wood is now starting to hold Goldcrest, with 18 noted today; also 102 Yellow Wagtail, 320 Meadow Pipit and 6 Grey Wagtail moving south over the head. The morning Swallow passage was estimated at 1400 birds, but this continued throughout the day, despite the rain, and must number far, far more; also a handful of Sand Martin after lunch. This afternoon, Limpy, the Yellow-legged Gull was on Stanpit's East Marsh, a Wheatear was on Solent Meads Golf Course and 2 Common Sandpiper were at Mudeford Quay

Additional news: a Yellowhammer was on Wick Fields, a Spotted Flycatcher was on the Long Field and a Merlin passed through.


September 21st

In the first half hour after dawn 85 Little Egret and 63 Stock Dove left the Nursery on Hengistbury while 100 Yellow Wagtail came out of the HHC reedbed. A Short-eared Owl flew over towards Stanpit and a Marsh Harrier came in high from the south. Grounded migrants were again hard to come by, although a Firecrest on the Batters was clearly a new arrival; also logged were 25 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 6 Whitethroat, 5 Wheatear, 3 Blackcap, 1 Redstart, 1 Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher. The Nuthatch was still in the wood with 4 Coal Tit also present. Hirundines, all moving south, were 1700 Swallow, 620 House Martin and 210 Sand Martin; heading in the same direction were 470 Meadow Pipit, 57 alba Wagtail, 42 Reed Bunting, 37 Linnet, 14 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Siskin, 5 Tree Pipit and 4 Grey Wagtail. There are still good numbers of terns around, including 2 Black Tern and 25 Common Tern feeding off the sandspit, while inside the harbour were 70 Sandwich Tern, 32 Common Tern and 2 Little Tern. The first Mediterranean Gull for a few weeks, a first-winter, passed through this morning. Wildfowl today included 3 Garganey and a Shoveler on Priory Marsh, a Greylag Goose, both Pochard and Tufted Duck over the River and the Wigeon flock now exceeds 350 birds. A female Merlin spooked the birds on Stanpit, then a few minutes later a Peregrine followed suit. There were also 6 Raven in the area this morning. A very high tide meant that few waders remained, just 20 Black-tailed Godwit and a small flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover on the tip of South Marsh plus 4 Snipe on Priory Marsh; earlier 2 Avocet and a Knot had left the harbour. Finally, the information services reported 1 Cattle Egret from Priory Marsh this afternoon.

Check yesterday's sightings for late news.


September 20th

The wind had strengthened considerably this morning and had also moved round to the south, hence the prospect of finding many grounded migrants was slim and so it proved with just 30 Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat worth a mention. Oddly, a Nuthatch, presumably the same bird as on Saturday, was still in the wood on Hengistbury. The sea was watched for a couple of hours and produced a good selection of birds. A distant shearwater moving west was thought to be a Balearic; also moving west were 270 Common Tern, 135 Sandwich Tern, 7 Common Scoter and 1 Arctic Tern while 5 Black Tern were feeding in the bay off Mudeford Quay/Avon Beach. A large tern flock also attracted the attention of 2 Arctic Skua. The first diver of the autumn was also seen today but not from the Beach Huts; the bird, a Red-throated Diver was inside the harbour just off Goldeneye Point. Swallow movement was no more than steady with 1500 birds heading south. On the Mudeford Sandspit there was a mixed flock of 25 Ringed Plover and 23 Dunlin while Holloway's Dock held 3 Common Sandpiper. A Merlin headed north, the regular Kingfisher was around Barn Bight and 3 Yellow Wagtail were noted. Just after lunch, at least 1 Cattle Egret was present on Wick Fields.

Late News: An Osprey was over the harbour around 2:30pm and on Stanpit waders numbered 9 Ringed Plover, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Turnstone; also the 2 Whimbrel were on the golf course. On Crouch Hill, there was 1 each of Whinchat and Wheatear, and up to 50 Sandwich Tern were on South Marsh.


September 19th

In less than ideal conditions with a stiff westerly breeze migration slowed somewhat today. Overhead, there were just 130 Meadow Pipit, 22 Reed Bunting, 6 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Grey Wagtail while the only hirundines were Swallow with 2000 logged. All these birds moved south. On the ground at Hengistbury were 80 Chiffchaff, 60 Blackcap, 5 Sedge Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Wheatear and 1 Grasshopper Warbler. A Hobby was over the Batters and 7 Raven, including one group of 5, moved east. A Ruff left the harbour soon after dawn and 2 Snipe flew off west. The lone Brent Goose was with the Wigeon in Stanpit Bight, a single Gadwall was in Barn Bight while both Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe were on the river. Migrants on Stanpit around Crouch Hill were 6 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat and 1 Redstart. Wader numbers are still well down with just 19 Ringed Plover, 15 Dunlin, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Turnstone plus 5 Snipe on Priory Marsh and the 2 Whimbrel on the golf course. Finally, one of the Cattle Egret was on Priory Marsh until 9:20am when it flew towards Wick.


September 18th

On another fine day in the harbour, migrants were less numerous than yesterday with just 95 Chiffchaff, 30 Blackcap, 25 Whitethroat, 11 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Overhead there were 5 Grey Wagtail while both Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail were heard. For about an hour between 7:30 and 8:30am an estimated 3000 Swallow moved south, but then the passage slowed to a trickle, with only another 250 being logged in the next couple of hours, making 3250 in total. The Kingfisher was around Barn Bight and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen. This evening, 1 Cattle Egret was present on Wick Fields by the Wooden Bridge, while the other bird was on Priory Marsh.


September 17th

The almost cloudless sky and virtual lack of wind produced a reasonable fall of common migrants on both sides of the harbour this morning. There was also a strong hirundine movement and by 10:30am an estimated 12000 Swallow and 1500 House Martin had headed south over Hengistbury while over Stanpit a little later a further 3500 Swallow were counted. The 2 Cattle Egret were on Wick Fields by the Wooden Bridge, but there was no sign of the Wryneck today. Not surprisingly there was something of a late morning raptor fest with both Osprey and Honey Buzzard over the harbour; also 17 Common Buzzard, Peregrine and Hobby plus a Raven over Wick. Chiffchaff was the most numerous grounded migrant on Hengistbury with 155 birds; also logged were 115 Blackcap, 20 Willow Warbler, 10 Whitethroat, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whinchat, 3 Reed Warbler, 3 Pied Flycatcher, just 1 Wheatear, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and a Turtle Dove on Wick. At the north end of Stanpit there were 45 Blackcap, 25 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, 6 Garden Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher. Overhead there was a modest pipit passage plus 14 Yellow Wagtail and 11 Grey Wagtail. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the Nursery with another one over Double Dykes. This afternoon a Black Tern drifted east past the beach huts. Finally there are now 2 Whimbrel on the Stanpit golf course.

Update from Stanpit: A second Osprey moved south over the harbour this afternoon. The Wigeon count had reached 300 and the first Brent Goose of the autumn was present. Waders counted were 80 Dunlin, 25 Ringed Plover, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 2 Ruff, 2 Snipe, 1 Spotteed Redshank and 1 Common Sandpiper. Crouch Hill held 3 Wheatear.


September 16th

A fairly strong northerly wind at dawn did not bode well for a good day, but as it was, things got significantly calmer during the first hour of daylight. The best bird for the area was undoubtedly a Nuthatch that was feeding in the Wood, on Hengistbury, amongst a tit flock; while 3 individual Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Coal Tit supported the woodland theme. Probably of more general interest though, was the discovery of a Wryneck just east of the Iron Stone Quarry. I understand the bird was seen up until the early afternoon. Keeping with the quality, a male Goshawk, presumably the same bird as earlier in the week, was spooking the birds on Stanpit; and both the Cattle Egret spent most of the day on Wick Fields, before moving over to Priory Marsh. The first Goosander for the year, a redhead, was on the Avon and would be viewable from Priory Marsh; a couple of Merlin, a female and a male, were tagging onto the Meadow Pipit passage over Hengistbury; a Little Gull went west past the Beach Huts and a Yellowhammer was over the Barn Field. Also good numbers of some of the commoner passerines, including: 32 Wheatear, 50+ Chiffchaff, 14 Spotted Flycatcher, 14 Blackcap, just 7 Whitethroat now, 3 Redstart, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Willow Warbler. As mentioned earlier, the Meadow Pipit movement is now well underway, with 1195 going into the wind, also 25 alba Wagtail, a very early date for these to be travelling. Also overhead, c100 Yellow Wagtail, 47 Reed Bunting, 13 Grey Wagtail and 8 Tree Pipit. Wildfowl were very well represented, the best being 2 Garganey, circling then west, but also: 180 Wigeon, 74 Teal, 17 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 4 Pochard and 3 Gadwall; and, at sea, the first returning Brent Goose, a skein of 3 birds, moved west. The waders totalled 6 Grey Plover, 2 Knot and a Green Sandpiper west past Hengistbury, 22 Snipe arrived, 3 Greenshank were noted and the Spotted Redshank was heard. Finally, the Peregrine was on The Priory mid-morning, and 6 Common Scoter and a Guillemot were at sea.

Late update: a report has been received of a Spotted Crake heard, but not seen, in the Purewell Stream, by Parky Meade Rail. Also, a Whimbrel on the Golf Course there, and a Redstart, Pied Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, and 2 Wheatear and a Whinchat on Crouch Hill.

Errata: missing from the main report is the hirundine migration. Swallow were estimated at 14000 east, along with 1000 House Martin.

15th September

A wet start to the day meant that passage didn't really get underway until mid-morning, when the conditions started to improve. This brought about the first movement of Meadow Pipit for the autumn, around 325 birds moving in a generally easterly direction. Hirundines followed suit, but no real Swallow estimates were made, other than a steady trickle, although 90 or so House Martin were counted. When it was still raining, Priory Marsh hosted 1 Garganey with 115 Teal and a single Pintail, while at least 8 Whinchat in that area is a good count. Around 50 Chiffchaff were in the bushes at the end of Hengistbury, along with 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart; and there were a further 25 Chiffchaff at Stanpit. Wheatear today numbered 9 birds, most of them on the Barn Field and, overhead, c20 Yellow Wagtail and 7 Tree Pipit, 6 of them in a flock, and 2 Grey Wagtail complete the Hengistbury small passerine news. However, 3 Raven, the world's largest passerine, were also over there. Stanpit chipped in with 20 Yellow Wagtail feeding on Priory Marsh. A good record for mid-month is 3 Little Tern off the Beach Huts, as is a juvenile Mediterranean Gull in the same spot. The only wader news for the day is of 7 Greenshank and 1 Whimbrel on Hengistbury.

Additional news: there were 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a Wheatear on Wick Fields, also a really good count of over 50 Collared Dove.


September 14th

Just 1 Cattle Egret reported today, from Priory Marsh this morning. In very murky and wet conditions, a Dotterel over Stanpit certainly brightened things up. The bird was seen and heard on the first occasion, and heard only around 30 minutes later. The best from Hengistbury was a Wood Warbler, in the vegetation right at the end of the head, behind the Beach Huts. Also from the sandspit, a single Arctic Tern and 36 Common Tern west, and 3 Common Sandpiper and 11 Sanderling feeding. Around 60 Yellow Wagtail passed over, and 25 Chiffchaff, 1 Redstart and 1 Garden Warbler were more settled. Other highlights from Stanpit were a flock of 9 Black Tern heading downriver, a Little Ringed Plover in Stanpit Bight, along with the Spotted Redshank. Passerines there included: 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Garden Warbler, 21 Sedge Warbler and 15 Blackcap, as well as 8 Yellow Wagtail. Morning wader totals are 27 Dunlin, 34 Ringed Plover, 9 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Greenshank; and 2 Whimbrel were on Stanpit Golf Course this afternoon, as was a single Wheatear. Duck continue to pile in, the Wigeon doubling today to 223 birds, also 175 Teal, all on Priory Marsh, as were a couple of Pintail. At least 3 Kingfisher were in the area today.

Additional news: both Cattle Egret were on Priory Marsh just after midday.


September 13th

Firstly, the Cattle Egret news. Both birds were on Priory Marsh this morning, but just one was seen this afternoon, before leaving to a position across the river on Wick Fields. Low cloud and murk started the day, but there was an incredible number, in contemporary terms, of Yellow Wagtail roosting in the HHC reeds. Around 300 spent the night there and 200 of them left together in a rapidly rising flock; the others trickled out over a 30 minute spell. On the previous evening, during a walk in meadows just north of the area, there was a constant vocal presence of presumably some of these birds, as they fed in the long grass amongst cattle. Complementing these numbers, were 8 Grey Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit, while Swallow were only around 1500 this morning and 400 over the end of the head during the afternoon. Wader interest picked up slightly today, as a juvenile Little Stint and a Ruff passed west, also 35 Ringed Plover and 19 Dunlin in the harbour, along with 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Snipe, 2 Wheatear, but just 1 Greenshank; there were also 11 Sanderling recorded, most of these on the sandspit, and a Bar-tailed Godwit from there. Grounded passerines on both sides of the harbour included: 3 Whinchat and 2 Wheatear, but there are still figures to come in. Wigeon and Teal are both consolidating their presence, now 97 and 20 respectively inside the harbour, along with 5 Gadwall. The sea looked good, but delivered just a single Great-crested Grebe, 9 Common Scoter, a Fulmar and 7 Gannet.

Additional news: both Cattle Egret were on Wick Fields, by the Wooden Bridge, this evening and a Peregrine over.     


September 12th

Both the Cattle Egret were re-found this afternoon on Wick Fields, before being flushed by a dog and heading for Priory Marsh, where they were successfully photographed. Before this, it had been a largely quiet start to the day, with the best being a Marsh Harrier high over the HHC. Between 7:30 and 9:30, just 500 Swallow were noted; however, in the subsequent half-hour, around 75 per minute were estimated, to give a total of 2750 birds, all going south-east. After this, the passage settled down to 300 over a 30 minute spell. There were also "hundreds" of House Martin over Hengistbury for a quarter hour just after 11:00, and a single Swift south. Other migrants were hard to come by: only 3 Yellow Wagtail, 12 Whitethroat, 3 Whinchat, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap and a Wheatear were turned in from Hengistbury; and a further 6 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Wheatear came from Stanpit. Again the Flats held most of the waders, around 50 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin, while 10 Sanderling and 4 Turnstone were on the sandspit. At least 8 Greenshank are still on site and 2 Whimbrel were again favouring Stanpit Golf Course. The Spotted Redshank was heard from Wick this evening and 4 Black-tailed Godwit had earlier been seen. Peregrine were recorded over Stanpit this morning and Wick tonight. A group of 4 Pintail were in the area, also the drake Gadwall, 2 Little Grebe and a Kingfisher by the HHC. The lingering Greylag Goose really needs to think about leaving and we enjoyed 33 Canada Goose departing the roost just after dawn. News just in from one of the regulars, who is staying in a beach hut all week. Shortly after 5:00, a flock of 12-14 Manx Shearwater passed by very close west; and in the early afternoon, a party of 11 Eider pitched in on the sea and then went east.


September 11th

A Cattle Egret was seen again today, a single bird north up the river past the HHC. This wasn't long after dawn, so it could well have been using the Nursery roost. A male Goshawk was seen well over the northern Wick Fields slightly later, while a Merlin had earlier zapped north. There was a significant hirundine passage into the south-easterly wind. Two Swallow counts have been submitted: the first, a figure of 20000 birds between 7:00 and 12:00; the second, an estimated 100 per minute, for 135 minutes, between 7:30 and 9:45. That's 13500 birds. Also 9000 House Martin and 3500 Sand Martin, the latter's passage ending much earlier than the former's. All these numbers come from Hengistbury, but are almost certainly on the low side, as the movement was on a broad front, including over the sea. Other above average records were: 4 Black Tern east, 1 at sea and 3 through the harbour, also 2 Little Gull, an adult and juvenile, on the HHC bar, and Stanpit hosted 4 Avocet. There was a really good tally of Grey Wagtail over Hengistbury involving 32 to 38 birds, along with 42 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit. Other migrants included: a Redstart in the Barn Field, also from there and the Long Field, 2 Whinchat, a Spotted Flycatcher and 4 Wheatear. It's probably easier to split the waders between morning and afternoon. The first period saw 93 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin on the Flats, 14 Sanderling on the sandspit, a single Grey Plover over the HHC, a Common Sandpiper from Fisherman's Bank, 8 Greenshank dotted around and 25 Black-tailed Godwit leaving. After lunch, there were still over 40 Ringed Plover on Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel and 2 Turnstone were also recorded. The Wigeon in Stanpit Bight have increased to 75 and a drake Gadwall was with them; a Tufted Duck and 2 Pintail were also seen today. Kingfisher were at Barn Bight and Fisherman's Bank, the Little Egret numbered an absolute minimum of 45 across the area and 77 Canada Goose departed the roost at dawn.


September 10th

Although Ian promised a fuller account of yesterday's events, I'm not sure I can add anything, other than the audited total was actually 118. Mute Swan among one of the species not counted! This does tend to ruin the little ditty of the egrets being the record breakers though. Not even a spring low that exposed acres of mud could tempt in many waders this morning. From Mudeford Quay, just 29 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin and a Sanderling could be seen out on the Flats. That's the mud bar between the sandspit and Blackberry Point. There was also a couple of Grey Wagtail flying around over the quay. Stanpit itself held 15-20 Black-tailed Godwit for most of the day, also 8 Greenshank, but just 2 Ringed Plover. Passerines there included a Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher, also around 30 Yellow Wagtail. Over on Wick, there was a Whinchat, 30 or so Willow Warbler, 8 Yellow Wagtail and 6 Blackcap. A Swift over Stanpit is a good record for what is almost mid-month, and a count of 3 Kingfisher is also noteworthy. A Kingfisher was also seen close to the HHC, as was a Water Rail. Hirundines were again moving, but the only statistics received involve 300+ Sand Martin milling around Wick Fields. Wild duck numbers in the harbour comprised: 45 Wigeon, 35 Teal and 3 Shoveler.

Additional news: a Little Gull was hawking insects around the Double Dykes in the evening and a Peregrine was also seen from there.


September 9th

Although the harbour birdrace didn't take place as planned today, it was replaced by an attempt on the harbour 'big day' record which previously stood at 114 species. With the wind direction east south-east and a fine sunny day in prospect there was plenty of optimism at first light. A full report will be posted tomorrow, but a few highlights follow. A Wryneck was seen briefly on Wick Fields soon after 7am but couldn't be relocated. Even better, 2 Cattle Egret were on Central Marsh, Stanpit this afternoon. After a while, they were flushed by a helicopter to Priory Marsh and could be seen well from the golf course footpath. There has only been one previous record of Cattle Egret in the harbour in 1996, so these represent the 2nd and 3rd records for CHOG. Incidentally, the Cattle Egret was the record-breaking species, no.115! Shortly afterwards, an Avocet became the 116th and final addition to the list. An excellent effort and congratulations to all those involved. More of the detail now - a Little Owl across The Broadway at daybreak was followed by a flyover Golden Plover. The sea produced 5 Balearic Shearwater, 2 Arctic Skua, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and a Guillemot all moving east, while 14 Arctic Tern moved west; another Arctic Tern was on the Mudeford Sandspit together with 2 Little Tern. Most of the regular passerine migrants were seen but only in small numbers with 12 Wheatear, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Whinchat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Redstart and 1 Garden Warbler noted. Swallow moved through constantly all day, 2500 Sand Martin were logged and there was a late Swift. Wader highlights from Stanpit included 2 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and singles of Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Knot. As one would expect the easterlies produced a good selection of wildfowl with 140 Wigeon, 6 Pintail, 4 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler and 2 Tufted Duck. The Peregrine made a sortie over the harbour mid morning and a Hobby finally made it onto the list just after lunch.


September 8th

The south-easterly brought on a harbour record today. The first report came in around 8:30 of 25 Avocet in Stanpit Bight, but it was soon discovered that earlier an amazing total of 49 had been present. Both figures are record numbers. At least 23 birds were still there this evening, having stayed over the high tide on East Marsh. The reason that half the birds left the area was thanks to a Honey Buzzard, heading south, and a Marsh Harrier, heading north, meeting each other over the harbour at 6:45 this morning. The resultant melee caused an incredible number of duck to take to the wing, including: 2 Garganey, 16 Pintail, 21 Shoveler, 88 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 9 Gadwall and 6 Tufted Duck. Nearly all these birds must have pitched in overnight. Waders were also unsettled and comprised: 3 Green Sandpiper, 19 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin; and, like the duck, most were seen to leave; although, a Golden Plover was seen coming in. Later, a further Marsh Harrier, like the first, a female-type, went west, along with a Buzzard, and a Peregrine wreaked further havoc. There was a significant Swallow passage, with an estimated 8000 birds into the wind, but just 250 Sand Martin with them. The passerines were headed by a Yellowhammer on the deck at the end of the head; while the supporting cast was made up of 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Lesser Whitethroat and a Redstart, across Wick and Hengistbury. About the same area, there were also 81 Whitethroat, 31 Wheatear, 30+ Willow Warbler and 5 Blackcap. Another good flyover day, with 75 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Grey Wagtail, also 11 Tree Pipit; meanwhile, offshore, a feeding flock of 70 or so Common Tern attracted 2 Arctic Skua; Tomorrow sees an attempt for the recording area day record, so 3 Coal Tit in the Wood, 9 Common Gull, 2 Greylag Goose and 6 Canada Goose all take on new significance. An afternoon visit to Stanpit to witness the Avocet spectacle also saw: 6 Greenshank, a Knot, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Whimbrel; but just a single Dunlin in the harbour. There was also a good count of 40 Teal, tucked into East Marsh. Earlier, a Knot and 3 Greenshank had been in Holloway's Dock. A combination of the full moon and the approaching autumn equinox means there will be a very high spring tide, reaching 2 metres, tomorrow. The "social" tomorrow evening may mean no sensible updates until Sunday morning.


September 7th

The wind was expected to come from the south, but had, in fact, swung to a light north-westerly by daybreak. The day started slowly in terms of migrants but as the wind increased in strength throughout the morning more and more birds moved through resulting in the best fall of the autumn. At dawn, at least 30 Canada Goose took off north from their traditional, late-summer roost site of Stanpit Bight. More welcome overnight stayers were 42 Yellow Wagtail in the HHC reeds, all these birds exiting between 6:00 and 6:30. A further 86 went over later, as did 16 Tree Pipit and 8 Grey Wagtail. The bushes adjacent to the Barn held quite a few passerine migrants but Wick held the majority of the birds. Firstly the highlights, the fourth Melodious Warbler of the autumn was in the central area of Wick Fields mid morning and later a Tree Sparrow was on the Barn Field. Counts from Hengistbury and Wick were 130 Wheatear, 128 Blackcap, 125 Whitethroat, 100 Willow Warbler, 55 Chiffchaff, 25 Spotted Flycatcher, 13 Whinchat, 8 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Redstart, 2 Pied Flycatcher and 1 Grasshopper Warbler. On the other side of the harbour on Crouch Hill there were 20 Wheatear with another 25 there this afternoon; also present were 4 Whinchat and a Redstart. It was also the best day for hirundines with 2500 Swallow, 1700 House Martin and 370 Sand Martin moving north-west. There were four sightings of Peregrine including the regular bird on the Priory, a Hobby, 16 Common Buzzard to the north and 11 Sparrowhawk. A Wood Sandpiper flew over Wick while Stanpit held 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 5 Greenshank and 2 Whimbrel plus singles of Sanderling, Knot and Common Sandpiper, as well as the Spotted Redshank. At least 3 Gadwall were in Barn Bight together with 3 Shoveler, a Liitle Grebe and a Kingfisher while 2 Tufted Duck were over the river and 3 Little Tern moved west at sea.


September 6th

Although the conditions were similar to yesterday, there was a step function in terms of good birds. Best was an Ortolan Bunting heard and seen over the HHC, before appearing to descend into the Wick Fields. This was just after dawn, and around the same time a high-flying Osprey headed purposefully south. Earlier, a flock of 8 Green Sandpiper headed west, while later on, a party of 5 Avocet went the same way, as did a further 3 individuals. Keeping with the quality, a Spoonbill seen briefly in flight over Wick this evening was then located just off South Marsh, Stanpit, where it is still present at 7:00. Back to the early part of the day, when the passerine migrants around Hengistbury and the first Wick Field numbered: up to 50 Whitethroat, 37 Sedge Warbler, 23 Wheatear, 18 Willow Warbler, 17 Blackcap, 5 Redstart, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whinchat and 2 Garden Warbler. Yellow Wagtail were again relatively numerous, at least 115 birds south-west, also 11 Tree Pipit and 3 Grey Wagtail. Common waders on the move included 9 Whimbrel and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. Settled waders on Stanpit are now slightly more numerous, 30+ Ringed Plover and 20 or Dunlin, also a single Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper and 5 Greenshank tonight. A total of 17 Wigeon are now ensconced, also 2 Tufted Duck and 3 Gadwall today. An "impressive" 9 Greylag Goose went over and the individual bird is still in the harbour. That will be sought after on Saturday's birdrace! Finally, single Peregrine and Hobby recorded.


September 5th

Despite the apparent ideal conditions of thin cloud cover and a bank of fog over the Channel, grounded migrants were once again hard to come by today. There was a modest south-easterly movement of Swallow with 460 being logged in a two hours spell between 7:45 and 9:45am. On the ground were just 10 Whitethroat, 3 Whinchat, 2 Wheatear and 2 Garden Warbler. Overhead, 4 Yellow Wagtail moved through and 25 Common Tern headed west. The drake Gadwall was still in Barn Bight and 3 Red-legged Partridge were seen on Wick. An early evening visit to Stanpit found no improvement in the number of small waders, with just 20 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 Turnstone; also present were 8 Bar-tailed and 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshank and one each of Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel and Knot. On Crouch Hill, dog disturbance pushed 6 Wheatear into the fenced off area.


September 4th

The calm after the storm saw a much better selection of birds about the harbour this morning. Hengistbury came up with 5 Spotted Flycatcher on the Batters, 4 Tree Pipit over, and 4 Wheatear and 20 Whitethroat on the Barn Field. Meanwhile, 35 Yellow Wagtail passed over Wick Fields, as did 2 Grey Wagtail and a single Tree Pipit, also a Whinchat on the deck. Stanpit, however, produced the larger numbers, with 168 Yellow Wagtail moving through, along with 4 Grey Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit and 15 Wheatear. There was an excellent wader selection, but still low numbers. A single Green Sandpiper arriving from Hengistbury brought up 2 more from East Marsh, a Wood Sandpiper moved west, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover settled at the entrance to Mother Siller's Channel and a Spotted Redshank was heard. Another reasonable couple of birds through the harbour were a juvenile Arctic Tern and a Raven. The remaining interest came from 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Knot, but just the same number of Dunlin. A party of 6 Pintail circled the area a few times and the settled Wigeon today numbered 9 birds. Just to the north, a nice raptor show came from 11 Buzzard, 9 Sparrowhawk, 7 Kestrel and 1 Hobby, all on the wing over the Avon Valley. At midday, a gathering of 80-100 House Martin were on the fringes of the recording area at Wick.


September 3rd

After 24 hours of south-westerly gales, there was a talked up air of anticipation in the pub last night. Consequently, this morning saw a brisk walk, while it was still dark, through the Wood, the excitement building for the seabird spectacle about to be witnessed in the western Solent. The results - a miserly 10 Common Tern, around 6 Fulmar, and a few Gannet and Sandwich Tern! The date was right, the weather was right, but it seems no one told the birds. More seabird shenanigans at the end of the report. Holloway's Dock continued its recent wader interest, with a Green Sandpiper being the best today, but also 4 Greenshank, a Knot and a Common Sandpiper. On the beach, there were 2 each of Turnstone, Sanderling and Ringed Plover, also a Wheatear on the groynes. Not surprisingly, the Dorset County Council walk at Stanpit was far less well attended than of late. Just a few hardy individuals braving the drizzle and gusts, and attempting to pick out what waders there were. The final tally was 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Knot, 15 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin. A nice selection, but where are the numbers? A single Gadwall and 5 Wigeon were in Stanpit Bight, and 5 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill.


September 2nd

As expected, this morning saw a strong south-westerly and rain, which persisted well into the evening. All the focus was on the sea, but the results were not as good as hoped. In fact, probably the most remarkable record for the day is of a Gannet settled on the water inside the harbour, seen from Mudeford Quay looking towards the Avonmouth Hotel, this afternoon. The morning vigil saw 5 Arctic Skua distantly off the Beach Huts, but not too much else, other than 2 very distant Shearwater sp., possibly of different species. At least 10 Fulmar went west, also a Common Scoter and a constant Gannet and Sandwich Tern presence, along with 12 Common Tern. Around 3 or 4 small groups of Swallow, with a few Sand Martin and a late Swift mixed in, were coasting, and 9 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Grey Wagtail went over. A party of 9 Shelduck, presumably the young birds, left the area east, 4 Greenshank were in Holloway's Dock and 2 Common Sandpiper were on the groynes.

Additional news: an Arctic Skua was haranguing 4 Common Tern off the Long Groyne between 7:00 and 8:00 this evening. In the morning, a Whinchat was on Wick Fields and 3 Dunlin were off Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime.


September 1st

For the first of September, there is an alarming lack of birds. As an example, here is an extract from the posting for this day last year. " The Ruff on Stanpit had increased to 4 birds and there was a Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh. Other waders counted at Stanpit were 170 Ringed Plover, 150 Dunlin, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Knot, 6 Greenshank, 6 Sanderling and 6 Curlew Sandpiper while a further 6 Sanderling were on the beach at Hengistbury . " That mix of birds is not at all outstanding for the date, but today there were no Dunlin and just 3 Ringed Plover with a single Bar-tailed Godwit. The only increases came from Knot at 4 to 6 birds and 13 Black-tailed Godwit: Holloway's Dock contributed 8 Common Sandpiper and 6 Greenshank; a Little Ringed Plover was about the area; and the Spotted Redshank was briefly in Brewer's Creek. Other than a really good Firecrest record, from behind the Nursery, passerines are equally shy. The rather mundane total of 25 Whitethroat, 15 Willow Warbler, 5 Wheatear and 3 Blackcap on Hengistbury, was slightly offset by a Grasshopper Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart there. Flyover records consist of a meagre 7 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit. The sea perhaps offers the best option if the weekend's forecast is to be believed, and today saw 3 Arctic Skua, a Fulmar and 75 Common Tern. On the beach, there were 7 Sanderling and a Turnstone; and inside the harbour 19 Wigeon and 2 Shoveler were recorded. There is some good extra news for yesterday. Just in from Priory Marsh, a male Goshawk was seen well for 5 minutes over there late this afternoon, and a Ruff and 9 Black-tailed Godwit came from the north

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