Sightings for April 2008


April 30th

Pretty much all of today's sea records are inspired by the guys from Hurst, who kindly called to let us know something was going on when the rain was discouraging most from venturing out. As a result, 2 Pomarine Skua were seen moving off Hengistbury, as were 7 Arctic Skua and a Black Tern. A couple of Hobby were seen coming in off - one of them spending up to 10 minutes trying to catch an arriving Linnet that eventually made it clear. Also a Golden Plover in, along with a Swift, while 41 Common Scoter moved by, most of them east, 3 Great-crested Grebe seemed to be hanging around, 2 Sanderling travelled east, and 3 Guillemot and 1 Razorbill were on the water. There was no obvious passage of tern; at least 150 aimless Common Tern were logged, as were 9 Little Tern, but 51 Sandwich Tern seemed to be a little more definite in their movement up channel. Encouragingly for the Saturday event, waders are again picking up on Stanpit - this afternoon saw: 9 Grey Plover, 3 Sanderling, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and 75 Dunlin in the bight. There were also 5 Little Tern in the harbour and 3 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Earlier in the day, a Mistle Thrush was gathering food by Mudeford Quay.

Additional news: 2 Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit were on Stanpit in the morning.

April 29th

A blustery south-easterly breeze bringing frequent showers made it feel quite cold this morning. However there was just a hint that a few migrants had struggled through with 3 Reed Warbler, 2 Blackcap and a Sedge Warbler in Wick Ditch. A Common Sandpiper was on the HHC slipway and 2 Grey Plover were on Grimmery Point while a flock of 14 Common Tern passed high over Double Dykes heading east.

April 28th

Firstly, an email received today about a male Montagu's Harrier over Hengistbury and north yesterday proves what had been suspected, i.e. the bird seen outside of the area from the Christchurch bypass had indeed passed through the official recording zone. Anyhow, back to the present and this morning, when, other than a Black-throated Diver and Eider east, the best of a quiet seawatch was a notable hirundine arrival. In a 90-minute count, 530 Swallow, 74 House Martin and 40 Swift were logged. The interesting aspect was the travelling altitude of each species - the Swallow were lowest, barely above the waves, the House Martin came through higher and the Swift even more so. Also a Hobby moving in with them, and other bits and pieces over the water were a 21 Gannet, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Little Tern. The Wheatear count peaked at 18, mostly on the Barn Field, where there was also one each of Whinchat and Cuckoo. Wader numbers seemed to fluctuate widely throughout the day, with the maximum figures being: 130 Dunlin, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Plover, including the fully attired individual that's been around for a few days now. This afternoon, there were 11 Little Tern in the harbour, also a Great-spotted Woodpecker drumming at Stanpit and 2 Jackdaw there. Earlier, 4 Greylag Goose had circled the area. Finally, it was good to see cattle back on Priory Marsh, where it is hoped that controlled grazing will once again make the habitat suitable for breeding waders. Thanks to Christchurch Borough Council and Natural England for managing and supporting this initiative.


April 27th

Prior to the morning thunderstorms, it was particularly quiet and the biting insects made for quite an unpleasant hour or so at Hengistbury. During this period, a Hobby north was the best, a Peregrine headed east towards Bournemouth, and 13 or so Common Scoter and 4 Whimbrel went into The Solent. When the storms signalled a hasty retreat to the HHC area, the mudbar was found to hold 6 Grey Plover, one in complete breeding plumage, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 41 Black-tailed Godwit. Slightly later, a couple of Golden Plover that arrived over the harbour and appeared to pitch in onto Stanpit provided some local quality. To complete the wader totals, there were around 50 Dunlin and 5 Turnstone were inside the harbour. When the conditions cleared, a light southerly blew up and this caused a Pomarine Skua to loiter of the Double Dykes late morning, also at least 1 Arctic Skua from there. The rains also seemed to bring in a number of Whitethroat, with at least 30 in the HHC area, as well as 9 Blackcap and 3 Garden Warbler, while 4 House Martin and 3 Swift moved over. The Mediterranean Gull count is as high as 15 birds; around half of these adults at sea, but 2 first-summer birds were inside the harbour, as was a Fulmar briefly.

A highlight from just outside the recording area was an adult male Montagu's Harrier from Christchurch bypass around 4:00 this afternoon. Unfortunately, the bird quickly gained height and was lost to view. On 28th, confirmation was received that the bird had actually passed over Hengistbury.


April 26th

After a relatively lively week, this weekend started somewhat disappointingly. Given the date and the conditions, a light onshore breeze, much was expected from the sea. However, the best it could offer was a couple of close Eider east, a Great-crested Grebe west, 25+ Common Scoter, 35 Whimbrel, including a flock of 24 that also carried a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Tern and a Little Tern. Meanwhile, a handful of Swift and Swallow were noted incoming, and the male Peregrine again hunted the cliff line. On Stanpit this afternoon, a/the Little Ringed Plover was heard in flight and seen to come down onto Central Marsh. Around the same time, there were also over 30 Wheatear, nearly all female birds, on South Marsh, whereas the Hengistbury birds of the morning held a fair proportion of males. If we conclude that both counts involve different birds, then the day-total exceeds 70. Common Sandpiper are now coming through, a single bird seen arriving from high, then 3 feeding on the river banks by the HHC, while a Greenshank was heard and 10 Mediterranean Gull were recorded leaving the area. Over 30 Blackcap in Smithy's Field this afternoon suggests a recent arrival, but other migrants were far less numerous, just singles of Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo from the HHC, and a Whinchat on the Barn Field. The Stanpit wader totals from two visits - late morning and mid-afternoon - comprise: 55 Dunlin, 8 Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, a Sanderling, 5 Turnstone, 8 Whimbrel and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, but, note, no other godwit. Also 4 Little Tern and a Buzzard that ventured as far out of the valley as Christchurch itself.

Additional news: two more Common Sandpiper were also about - one on the tip of the sandspit, the other on Fisherman's Bank presumably being the regular.


April 25th

A Little Ringed Plover, first found yesterday afternoon, remained throughout the day and gave most of the year-listers the opportunity to get it under the belt. Then, as it was being pinned down for the photographer to arrive, on a small pool by the southern edge of Crouch Hill, Stanpit, a Serin overflew and an Arctic Tern was in the company of 3 Common Tern on the tip of South Marsh. Earlier, a male Ring Ouzel had flown from the Wick side of the river and briefly alighted on the fence bordering the Two Riversmeet golf course. What were presumably the same 2 Velvet Scoter as yesterday were bagged from the Beach Huts, as was the spring's first migrant Common Sandpiper, while another debutant, Swift, came up with singles over Stanpit and The Broadway. Warblers at Stanpit were totted up to 14 Reed Warbler, 7 Blackcap, 5 Whitethroat and 4 Sedge Warbler, while 130 Swallow were logged during a 30 minute sample, a Tree Pipit went over Hengistbury and 10 Wheatear were across the area. We are still a week or so away from the major period for waders, so numbers from Stanpit are not great, but did include: 34 Black-tailed Godwit, 20+ Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover, 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as 30 Whimbrel, these actually being the total from both sides. Today's Mediterranean Gull figure is 5 birds, also 57 Sandwich Tern and 2 Little Tern inside the harbour, 3 Gadwall on Wick Hams, at least 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker in the Wood and a skein of 4 Greylag Goose touring around. This evening, the information services report 2 Yellow-legged Gull at Stanpit, with the Little Ringed Plover remaining.

News just received: a couple of Lesser Whitethroat were on Wick, and a Peregrine, 3 Little Tern and 2 Fulmar were recorded from the Beach Huts.


April 24th

In a wind that varied from south-west to south, the sea came up with some nice bits and pieces. A pair of Velvet Scoter were initially on the water, then headed off into The Solent before grazing past the Beach Huts, where the waiting photographer had inadvertently set his camera to a 10 second timer mode! A Black Tern and first-summer Little Gull moved eastwards, and a good total of 21 Fulmar along with a single Kittiwake went west, as did 2 Little Tern. To finish up with the sea, 9 Common Scoter, 6 Common Tern, a steady arrival of Swallow and a Peregrine were recorded. Stanpit was again quiet; the exception being a drake Red-breasted Merganser that thought about settling, but soon left to the south. The maximum count for Whimbrel, around lunchtime, was 23, but other numbers were low and included 25 Dunlin, 3 Curlew, just a single Black-tailed Godwit and still the Spotted Redshank. Also 2 Little Tern in the harbour. The only land migrants appeared to be 2 Wheatear and a Whinchat on the Barn Field, while other birds worthy of mention are a Peregrine on The Priory and a drake Gadwall on Wick Hams.

Additional news: a Little Ringed Plover was discovered on Stanpit late in the afternoon, also 9 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Little Tern there.


April 23rd

Much more lively this morning, when a Wood Warbler was seen very briefly in the Double Dykes, also a Grasshopper Warbler reeling there and a further bird on the top of the head. Garden Warbler piled in, with 15 recorded, also 3 female Pied Flycatcher - at the end of the head, on the Batters and by the Double Bends respectively, where there was also a Firecrest. Continuing their good showing of late, 5 Redstart were logged, as were 2 Whinchat, 5 Lesser Whitethroat and a Cuckoo, while the more numerous comprised 200 Willow Warbler, 65 Blackcap, 42 Whitethroat, 16 migrant Chiffchaff, 11 Wheatear, 5 Reed Warbler and 4 Sedge Warbler. Overhead, 5 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit moved through, and 93 Linnet came off the sea, which also saw 2 Arctic Tern, 6 Common Tern and 36 Whimbrel move east, and the active male Peregrine attempting to pick off more new-arrivers. A definite increase in Sandwich Tern was apparent, with 62 inside the harbour, and other early interest came from 9 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Raven and 3 Gadwall. The Stanpit wader numbers were down, for example, just 30 Dunlin, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 or so Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover, 4 Curlew and a Grey Plover to count, along with the Spotted Redshank. A first and second-summer Mediterranean Gull were together there this evening and the pale-faced Teal was the only small duck seen from Fisherman's Bank.


April 22nd

Much drier this morning, with lingering mist and a light northerly breeze, which some thought might bring in the birds. However, it was slow going and at one point it seemed that a party of 9 purposeful, easterly moving Cormorant and something in the talons of an offshore Peregrine would be the only recorded migrants. Things did pick up a little though and included a female Black Redstart briefly about the Hiker café, 2 Lesser Whitethroat on Wick, 2 Whinchat on the Barn Field and a total of 13 dotted Wheatear, one of which seemed to be on its way to at least Iceland. A 45-minute seawatch was headed by a Great-northern Diver west, also 8 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Turnstone, 5 moving Lesser Black-backed Gull, 9 arriving Linnet and 3 milling Fulmar. Other 'interest' from Hengistbury was provided by 2 Canada Goose in off, 2 Rook over and the tame Gadwall on Wick Hams. There's not too much to write about from Stanpit - 150 Dunlin, the washed-out looking Knot, 1 Grey Plover and a maximum of 8 Bar-tailed Godwit. Meanwhile, Black-tailed Godwit seem to be on the ebb, with only 30 birds around today. Finally, the elusiveness of the wintering Common Sandpiper may now be explained, as it has recently been discovered secreting itself on the permanently moored fishing boat SU170.

Omissions: a Collared Dove was in the strange location of the Batters and 10 Mediterranean Gull were estimated.


April 21st

Yesterday's late deluge continued right through until mid-morning, which means today's post is considerably more brief. The female Garganey was off Fisherman's Bank for the day and the Spotted Redshank was seen there this morning. At sea, a Great Skua spent a short time on the water before pushing on and 16 Whimbrel moved by, as did 4 each of Little Tern and Common Tern. The fence along the Barn Field hosted a very wet and sorry looking female Black Redstart, which then dived into the grass, never to be seen again. On Stanpit, a couple of Yellow Wagtail were settled about the north of Central Marsh and the pair of Brent Goose remain, as do 7 Teal, including the aberrant male, and 2 Gadwall were on Wick Hams. Other in-harbour counts involve: 195 Dunlin, but reducing to 147 later, 47 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Whimbrel, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and a lone Grey Plover. To conclude, a new Reed Warbler was singing in the reeds adjacent to Stanpit Scrubs. Although most of the regulars are not renowned for their twitching, the Norfolk Black Lark was causing arrangements to be rescheduled - thankfully, it seems to have left, taking any associated complications with it.


April 20th

It's one of those days when it's difficult to know just where to start. Although there weren't masses of birds in terms of numbers, there was variety and just about everyone who was out enjoyed something of interest. So, for argument's sake, let's start with the firsts-for-the-year. A Cuckoo was heard on Wick, as were Lesser Whitethroat, a Hobby zipped through northwards and a Garden Warbler was singing at the end of the head. Now moving to the highlights: a Black Tern was high over the HHC before heading strangely west; a few minutes later, a Marsh Harrier appeared over the river, soared over Stanpit, then went east; a Firecrest was briefly in Wick Ditch; and Stanpit again held a female Garganey, which is still there tonight with Teal off Fisherman's Bank, and a Water Pipit. The pipit, a really smart bird, was seen early on with 3 Yellow Wagtail and 4 White Wagtail by the Rusty Boat, before it jumped over onto Priory Marsh, where it remained into the afternoon. It's incredible to get so far down the report before mentioning Pied Flycatcher, a first-summer male in Wick Ditch on a couple of occasions, also Redstart along there, with 3 Tree Pipit and 2 Yellow Wagtail over. The best of the sea came from: 3 Velvet Scoter that initially moved east with Common Scoter, before returning on their own; 5 Little Gull, all adults east; also 3 Garganey and a Red-throated Diver past. It was also interesting to note an up-channel passage of Lesser Black-backed Gull, 127 in all, also 19 first-winter Common Gull and unspecified flocks of Black-headed Gull. Meanwhile, Mediterranean Gull numbers were something of a lottery, with almost 60 encounters of adult birds throughout the morning. The only definitely unique records are 16 east at sea and 14 west over the harbour. On Stanpit, the wintering Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and 75 Black-tailed Godwit remain, with migrant waders numbering 2 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, a Knot, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, over 10 Whimbrel and 140 Dunlin; also a pair of late Brent Goose spending the day on the marsh. Some evidence of finch movement came from a single Redpoll over Hengistbury, and 63 Linnet and 18 Goldfinch in off. A male Peregrine was actively hunting the area, even being seen to take an arriving Wheatear, and a young female was also about. Of breeding interest, the Little Grebe now seem to have eggs on the Ironstone Quarry and the Swallow are still looking good around the Barn. Finally, to finish a perhaps too lengthy post, the numbers for the commoner stuff. On or over Hengistbury, 112 Swallow, 71 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 11 Whitethroat, 8 Wheatear, 6 Blackcap and 1 House Martin. At sea, all east, 83 Whimbrel, 77 Common Scoter, 53 Gannet, 33 Sandwich Tern, 23 Common Tern and 1 Little Tern, with singles of Razorbill and Guillemot on the water.


April 19th

Quite appalling conditions for most of the day - a strong north-easterly and almost permanent squalls - made for a very uncomfortable few hours at the Beach Huts this morning. The seabirds were disappointing, but I guess that's no surprise in a largely offshore wind; however, a Grey Wagtail hopping around on the beach did provide a modicum of interest. In fact, the best pelagic species was actually seen from Mudeford Quay, when an Arctic Skua headed east past there. Other totals, also east, are: 20+ first-winter Common Gull, 20 or so Sandwich Tern, 7 Whimbrel, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 45 Gannet, 5 Fulmar, 5 Common Tern, 1 Dunlin and 1 Ringed Plover. A total of 6 Mediterranean Gull were seen from Hengistbury and a Peregrine was loitering, presumably in the hope of nabbing an exhausted migrant. Looking across Stanpit from Argyle Road on the afternoon low tide, it was clear to see there had been an influx of Dunlin, 217 in all, also the Spotted Redshank, which now has a completely black belly, 6 Ringed Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 3 Sanderling, around 50 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Mediterranean Gull. Meanwhile, 13 Whimbrel arrived at Mudeford Quay and started to feed in The Run, as did 7 Turnstone by the Lifeboat Station. An information services report carries news of a female Garganey north at Stanpit, 35 Whimbrel and 4 Mediterranean Gull.

Additional news: a Snipe was over Wick in the evening.


April 18th

An overnight swing in the wind to a more northerly vector seemed to kill-off any hopes for another good seawatch. However, an Arctic Tern close past Whitepits was an unexpected bonus during a generally quiet morning, when only 12 Common Tern, 4 Whimbrel, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Grey Plover and 2 Teal, all east, along with a few milling Gannet and 5 Fulmar, were otherwise recorded. There was something of a surprise on the northern Wick pond this afternoon, in the shape of a Green Sandpiper, which are very rare outside of the late summer months. Also notable there, a Redpoll over and a drake Gadwall making amorous approaches to a female Mallard. Stanpit was covered for most of the day. Early on, 6 adult Mediterranean Gull were on Priory Marsh, a Yellow Wagtail was by the Rusty Boat and 3 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. Considering the date, the fact the wagtail is only the third of the year is bordering on the incredible. A female Red-breasted Merganser spent several hours in Stanpit Bight, before being harried off by an aggressive, young Herring Gull, which also had it in for one of the 2 Knot present. Other waders included: 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, up to 4 Whimbrel, 100 or Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover and still the 73 Black-tailed Godwit, some of whom are now very smart and will already have their sights set on Iceland. Finally, 4 Teal, including 'pale-face', linger, over 40 Shelduck are frequenting the marsh and 4 Canada Goose were on Priory Marsh, from where the sound of Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler is becoming more sustained.

Additional news: a Greenshank was heard at Stanpit.


April 17th

Although the wind wasn't from the utopian south-east, instead more of a north-east, it wasn't a bad mid-April seawatch. The best was probably a Great Skua that spent some time loafing around the Long Groyne, where it was eyeing up a fishing Cormorant. The numbers, however, were headed by Whimbrel with over 186 heading up channel, also 54 Sandwich Tern, 15 Common Scoter, 10 Common Tern, 8 Dunlin, 3 Brent Goose, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Plover heading that way, while less expected was a female Kestrel and a party of 5 Gadwall, seemingly all drakes, also moving at sea. A Red-breasted Merganser headed off towards Poole, and several Gannet, 12 Fulmar and a Peregrine were logged. Not surprisingly, given the strength of the breeze, small migrants were at a premium; but 2 Wheatear were decked and a few Linnet, Goldfinch, Swallow and House Martin were seen coming "in off". Stanpit was checked on a few occasions from lunchtime onwards and came up with 2 Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, a Knot, 50 Dunlin and 70 or so Black-tailed Godwit. Meanwhile, 15 Turnstone and 2 Sanderling were on the inside shore of Mudeford Quay, where the Mistle Thrush again showed and was finally .jpegged . A locally notable record late this afternoon was of 12 Common Gull, interestingly all first-winter birds, resting up in The Run; also a similarly aged Mediterranean Gull with them. News just in from an evening sea vigil from Whitepits - another Great Skua, 11 more Whimbrel and 3 Common Tern.

Additional news: extras at Stanpit included a female Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Wheatear.


April 16th

A fine day for arriving passerines. A total of 4 Grasshopper Warbler - 3 on Wick and 1 on the Long Field - were heard and 8 male Redstart were spread across the southern side of the area. Whinchat also put in their first appearance, with 2 birds on the Barn Field, also 21 Wheatear there and a further 6 on Wick tonight, where a female Ring Ouzel remained in the Bobolink Field from the morning. Two species of tern also arrived today: firstly, a Little Tern was about Stanpit Bight just before midday; then 2 Common Tern went east past Mudeford Quay this afternoon. Back to passerines and a couple of female Pied Flycatcher in the Wood; 90+ Willow Warbler, a few Reed Warbler, a Sedge Warbler and several Whitethroat around Hengistbury; and a Yellow Wagtail and Rook over. Wader variety again edged up a notch, as a Greenshank was in Stanpit Bight, also 13 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover and 20 or so Dunlin, while the wintering Black-tailed Godwit remain at around 75 and the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman's Bank on a couple of occasions. The day count for Mediterranean Gull is in the region of 15, mostly adult or sub-adult couples, also of interest a Mistle Thrush again by Mudeford Quay and a Peregrine over Stanpit. Meanwhile, 1 Brent Goose and 3 Wigeon hang on, but the only Teal left is the dodgy looking, pale-around-the-head drake. Late in the afternoon, the wind picked up from the south-east and it was mooted that the sea may be good, but no one had the energy to make the trek to the Beach Huts. That could be a mistake as terns have just been reported piling into the harbour. For example, a group of 40 Sandwich Tern, seen from both Stanpit and Wick, held 1 Black Tern and a Little Tern. Also a flock of 20 Whimbrel moving through.

Additional news: a pair of Gadwall were on Priory Pools.


April 15th

A pair of Garganey were at Stanpit late this afternoon, initially in the bight, but then moving to Fisherman's Bank, where they were still present at dusk. Interestingly, after not being seen for a week or so, what is presumably 'the' Common Sandpiper was seen from the Argyle Road slipway, while the Spotted Redshank was also about the general area. Much earlier in the day, a Grasshopper Warbler reeled briefly in Wick Fields and male Redstart was on the Barn Field. In fact, by local standards, it's a good spring for these, with another being in the North Scrubs tonight. Commoner migrants continue to establish themselves - Whitethroat and Reed Warbler steadily increasing in numbers - as are Sand Martin, Sandwich Tern and Swallow, along with over 120 Willow Warbler. There were also signs of the start of the wader passage, as 28 Dunlin, some already in breeding plumage, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Sanderling were recorded from Stanpit. Also, at least 75 Black-tailed Godwit in the locale. Interest over Hengistbury came from 4 Mediterranean Gull, 2 separate Rook and, of novelty value, another Egyptian Goose record and 7 Canada Goose.


April 14th

Another reasonable day, so starting with the more notable sightings. A well-marked, female-type Ring Ouzel in the 'Dogs on Leads' (although you wouldn't always know it) field this afternoon could well have been a first-summer male. A couple of certain male Redstart spent all day on the Barn Field and a further bird was seen at the north of Wick Fields. After their debut yesterday, Whitethroat are now more established, with at least 4 birds around, also a couple of Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler. Phylloscs , meanwhile, had another good count, with a day-total of somewhere between 200-250 birds. Most of these were clearly Willow Warbler, but around 10% were estimated as being Chiffchaff. The Wheatear figure exceeded 13 individuals and 5 House Martin moved in over Wick, where there was a good count of 8 Jay and around 7 Blackcap. The usual spring puzzle of just how many Mediterranean Gull there are gathered pace, as 6 overhead records of adult pairs could constitute 2 or indeed 12 birds. Just to contradict the previous post's comments about Wigeon, 4 lingerers were on Wick Hams, while 47 Black-tailed Godwit were close by on the HHC bar. A couple of Raven, not noted for a while, passed over the Long Field and a pair of Shoveler were off Fisherman's Bank, as was the now duskier looking Spotted Redshank. A Peregrine and 2 Buzzard were logged over Wick, and a Mistle Thrush was along the Mudeford Quay approach road.


April 13th

As the wind dropped a slightly and swung more to the south-west, it was a little better this morning, when House Martin, Whitethroat and Reed Warbler all crept onto the year-list. Details are 2 of the former through, around 3 of the intermediate on Wick and a single of the latter in Great Spires reeds, where there was also a Sedge Warbler. Between them, Hengistbury and Wick hosted up to 100 Willow Warbler, along with 15 Chiffchaff, 6-8 Blackcap and 6 Wheatear, while Swallow also continued to move through in better numbers. A party of 9 Whimbrel were watched arriving onto Stanpit and 8 Mediterranean Gull were reported directly from there, although the information services tell of 16 adults. At least 86 Black-tailed Godwit remain in the area, as does a Bar-tailed Godwit and a lone Brent Goose, but Wigeon have now gone completely. Also on the marsh, a Wheatear, a Grey Plover that was seen to leave and a Peregrine over. Meanwhile, a pair of Canada Goose are looking worryingly settled on Priory Marsh.


April 12th

While an overheard telephone conversation that stated, "there are no birds on Hengistbury, " may have been a slight exaggeration; it wasn't actually too far off the truth from a migrant perspective. The only exceptions being a dribble of incoming Swallow, along with half-a-dozen each of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. The westerly winds and yesterday's west Dorset reports encouraged the Saturday crew to a seawatch, which produced 1 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Whimbrel, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Grey Plover, 1 Fulmar and auk sp. Not exactly what was hoped for!

Additional news: Stanpit hosted 2 Spotted Redshank this morning, also a Knot, the Bar-tailed Godwit, 69 Black-tailed Godwit and a good count of 95 Redshank, while the information services carried a report of 10 Whimbrel and 3 Mediterranean Gull. By the late afternoon, there were 4 Wheatear on the Barn Field.


April 11th

A statistic to illustrate just how poor this week has been is that on Monday, the 7th, the year-list was a full eleven species ahead of the same date last year. However, by today, the gap had closed to just one. This is due almost entirely to the absence of several of the commoner migrants, which one would expect to be here by now. Disappointingly, with the wind continuing from the west for at least tomorrow, things could be just as bad for the weekend. It wasn't all doom and gloom though, as a first-year Little Gull feeding inside the harbour was a nice bonus. After several attempts, the Black Redstart was eventually seen again along Rolls Drive this morning. It seems to favour the area halfway between The Broadway and the golf course car park - but waiting for it to appear does involve loitering suspiciously outside some rather nice houses! The results of a one-hour seawatch were condensed into a 5 minute spell, when 16 Gannet, 4 Kittiwake and Fulmar moved west, while 2 Common Scoter went the opposite way. To finish, Stanpit could produce 2 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 16 Dunlin.

Additional news: on Stanpit in the evening, 4 Whimbrel were over East Marsh, where there were also 5 Brent Goose and 65 Black-tailed Godwit, while Ringed Plover could be heard .


April 10th

Another quiet day was salvaged with a Black Redstart seen briefly along Rolls Drive, adjacent to Solent Meads golf course, this afternoon; while a couple of hours later a Redstart was fleetingly recorded in the North Scrubs. Little else to mention though, other than a couple of Mediterranean Gull over Wick, 6 Swallow at Hengistbury and 25 Black-tailed Godwit on Wick Hams. Over the last week or so, Rook have become almost daily, with conflicting opinions as to whether these are genuine migrants or local birds taking a rare wander into harbour airspace.

Additional news: an evening visit to Stanpit saw 65 Black-tailed Godwit in Mother Siller's Channel, 4 Sandwich Tern fishing the river and a Peregrine on The Priory.

Further news: a Short-eared Owl was over Hengistbury at 7:45 in the morning.


April 9th

Despite the date, there was again very little to note in terms of spring arrivers. A male Redstart on the Long Field was in exactly the same spot as one last week, raising the question as to whether it's the same bird hanging around. Another possible lingerer is an adult Yellow-legged Gull, with singles being reported for the last week or so, as well as today, on the HHC mudbar. Otherwise, save for a flyover Whimbrel, the rest is fairly mundane, comprising: 3 Swallow, 3 Sandwich Tern and a Jackdaw.

Additional news: a party of 8 Sanderling dropped in briefly to Barn Bight mid-afternoon, joining the 68 Black-tailed Godwit there; also, a couple of Siskin overhead.


April 8th

Yesterday's Ring-billed Gull was seen over Hengistbury this morning, heading towards Priory Marsh, but it could not be found on subsequent searches. Also 3 Mediterranean Gull recorded from the head during the same period. The only other bits and pieces on that side of the area involve 22 Willow Warbler and 6 Wheatear, while a Swallow is already setting up territory in the Barn. On Stanpit this afternoon, the 75 Black-tailed Godwit were probably the same that had been on Wick Hams earlier, also 2 Jackdaw and 3 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, with 4 more of the latter on Wick Fields. Meanwhile, at least 3 Sandwich Tern were knocking around inside the harbour itself.


April 7th

A bitterly cold morning again held up incoming migrants and it was down to the late afternoon to produce the quality, when a first-winter/summer Ring-billed Gull was on the HHC mudbar. Unfortunately, it didn't hang around too long, but a subsequent search saw a settled, immaculately plumaged and 'legged' Yellow-legged Gull, plus flyovers of adult and second-summer Mediterranean Gull. Around the same time, a brief scan from Fisherman's Bank notched up the Spotted Redshank and 51 Dunlin; while earlier, 83 Black-tailed Godwit had been present, along with 48 Brent Goose.


April 6th

After a week in the Arava Valley, Southern Israel, and temperatures of around 30°C, it was something of a shock to experience 20mm of snow between 7:00 and 9:00 this morning. By 11:00, however, any evidence of such an event had long since melted away. While the weather contrasted starkly with the last few days, so did the number of reports. From the early period, only a Whimbrel up off Wick Hams and 2 Mediterranean Gull over the HHC are worthy of mention. Slightly later, a Ring Ouzel was heard 'chacking' in the North Scrubs, but could not be seen, and a Brambling was with a group of presumably migrant Chaffinch about Stanpit golf course. A couple of Bar-tailed Godwit were off Argyle Road, from where it could be seen that the Brent Goose now number less than 50 individuals. Late in the afternoon, there was another flurry of snow and it was almost surreal to see Willow Warbler, migrants from south of the Sahara, actively feeding in bushes as it fell about them. Finally, the male Peregrine was again using its favoured gargoyle perch.


April 5th

The highlight this morning, shortly after 7:00, was the sight of 2 Spoonbill heading east over the cliffs; the birds eventually disappeared into the murk over the Beach Huts a couple of minutes later. Despite a strong north-westerly breeze making it feel much colder than of late, it was another good day for Willow Warbler with an estimated 370 arriving, also counted were 30 Chiffchaff, 26 Swallow, 6 Blackcap, 5 Wheatear, 1 Firecrest, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Redstart and a female Pied Flycatcher. The first Whimbrel of the year was on Wick Hams, where there were also 63 Black-tailed Godwit. At sea, heading west, were 16 Common Gull, 2 Gadwall, 1 Great-crested Grebe and a Red-throated Diver, while a Red-breasted Merganser went east . To round up, another 2 Gadwall were on the river, 2 Mediterranean Gull, an adult and a second-year, were overhead, a Knot was flying around the harbour, the Great-spotted Woodpecker was drumming in the wood and corvids included 1 Raven and 2 Rook.


April 4th

On another fine spring morning, there was a large fall of Willow Warbler involving more than 450 birds on Hengistbury and Wick. Firsts for the year were Ring Ouzel, a male on the Barn Field, a Redstart on the Batters and a Tree Pipit overhead. The supporting cast included 100 Chiffchaff, 12 Blackcap, 9 Wheatear, 3 Firecrest and 2 Sedge Warbler, also 8 Sandwich Tern and a few Swallow . On Stanpit, just 1 Egyptian Goose was on South Marsh this morning, while the Spotted Redshank was still on East Marsh and the Black-tailed Godwit flock was similar in size to yesterday. A total of 11 Mediterranean Gull were logged; these were mainly adults but also a first-year and a second-year. Finally, 2 Jackdaw and a Rook were noted.

Check back to yesterday for some late news.


April 3rd

Although the first Sedge Warbler of the year was singing by the Wooden Bridge on Wick this morning, finding migrants was still not easy. Totals from Hengistbury and Wick were 90 Willow Warbler, 75 Chiffchaff, 30 Swallow, 5 Wheatear and 2 Blackcap. There were also up to 120 Sand Martin in the area, although some of these may already be on territory. The 2 Egyptian Geese returned to East Marsh briefly this morning and were there again this afternoon. Two pairs of Bearded Tit were seen well on Priory Marsh, while a Brambling flew over Stanpit. A female Marsh Harrier headed north over Wick this afternoon and a Peregrine was also seen. Up to 120 Black-tailed Godwit were in the harbour today and the Spotted Redshank, moulting into breeding-plumage, was opposite Fisherman's Bank this evening. Other wader numbers were 17 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. To round up, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were over Stanpit; also 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker on Hengistbury and a Great-crested Grebe in Barn Bight.

Late news: A Firecrest was on the Stanpit side of the harbour.


April 2nd

There were a few more common migrants around this morning and also some overhead movement. On the ground were 63 Willow Warbler, 39 Chiffchaff, 8 Wheatear, 5 Blackcap and 2 Firecrest. Overhead, 530 Meadow Pipit moved through, plus 85 Sand Martin, 77 Linnet, 17 Swallow, 9 Jackdaw, 2 Rook and 1 Redwing. Wick Hams held 27 Black-tailed Godwit, a Great Crested Grebe was in Barn Bight and 3 Common Scoter went west past the Beach Huts. This evening, a Sandwich Tern was in the harbour and 2 Mediterranean Gull, an adult and a second-summer, were seen. Finally, check back to yesterday for some late news.

The first ringing of the season got underway today with 16 birds trapped including 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler and 2 Jay.


April 1st

After a damp and murky start, which promised very little, the harbour enjoyed another day of glorious spring sunshine and also a good selection of 'firsts' for the year. The most interesting, particularly for the harbour-llisters, was the presence on Stanpit of 2 Egyptian Geese, the first record since 1996. It's probably reasonable to assume these are the two birds that were at Coward's Marsh a few days ago. The Pied Flycatcher, depicted above, is probably the earliest CHOG record for this species, although not quite the earliest Dorset record, as there are two records for the 30th March some years ago. The first Black Redstart of the year was on the HHC slipway briefly, while the first Yellow Wagtail was seen near the Rusty Boat on Stanpit. A Firecrest was again in the Wood, while up to 12 Willow Warbler were logged, also 25 Chiffchaff, 18 Sand Martin, 4 Wheatear and a Blackcap. Counts from Stanpit included 185 Brent Geese, 76 Black-tailed Godwit, 37 Dunlin, 35 Shelduck, 25 Ringed Plover and a pair of Shoveler. Finally, 2 Sandwich Tern were seen today and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the North Scrubs.

Late news: around 10:00 this morning, 2 Red Kite were seen from the Coastguards moving east; there was another Firecrest on the Lily Pond path and, on the Beach, singles of Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone were present. On Stanpit, a Woodlark was seen during the afternoon. An omission from the morning's posting was of 2 Redwing north over Hengistbury.

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