Sightings for January 2008
A tempestuous day that saw birding reduced to a couple of trips to Mudeford Quay, from where 1 Turnstone was the sum total. Just to pad out this uneventful post, at least 28 Oystercatcher were feeding on the lawn alongside the approach road.
The bird of the day was a female-type Marsh Harrier, seen from the Civic Offices, heading towards the airspace of Stanpit. Also new for the year was an Eider of the same gender, east past Hengistbury, as were: a couple of Great-northern Diver, 4 Red-throated Diver, 3 diver sp., 3 Great-crested Grebe and 28 auk, but all of these westward. A Firecrest was again in the Wood, while the mild morning encouraged a Little Grebe back onto the Ironstone Quarry pool and a couple of Raven in the Nursery were perhaps having the same idea. As a Peregrine patrolled Stanpit, it was obvious there had been a clear out of the recent waders. For example, no godwit or plover and just 6 Dunlin. Also down in numbers were Wigeon, at 200 or so, but sometimes these simply leave the harbour and go and sit on the sea when a falcon is about. Meanwhile, the Brent Goose were level at 152 and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight.
A brief scan from Fisherman's Bank produced a huddle of roosting Black-tailed Godwit on the fringe of East Marsh, estimated to be around 400 birds. Other than that, just 4 Dunlin to mention.
After the early morning fog had lifted, a trip was made onto Stanpit, where there had been something of an overnight wader arrival. The incomers included: 20 Grey Plover, 91 Dunlin, 14 Turnstone and 14 Ringed Plover; however, the Black-tailed Godwit had almost halved from yesterday to 175 birds. A Chiffchaff showed well in the scrub bordering the south-east corner of the golf course, while a party of 8 arriving duck, which alighted in Stanpit Bight, comprised 4 Pintail, 2 Shoveler and 2 Wigeon.
A day that started quietly actually produced two firsts for the year - both of these on Stanpit over lunchtime. Winter records of Rook are very unusual indeed, so 3 together was quite an occasion; meanwhile, a female Merlin was slightly more in keeping with the season. The other remarkable event was the Black-tailed Godwit count - around 300 being present, a massive increase on the 40 or so of yesterday. A Yellowhammer seen in flight heading towards Wick was also of local significance. The fine weather encouraged Mistle Thrush out into the open: a pair was in the North Scrubs and a male was in song by the House on Stilts on Wick, also a vocal Coal Tit there. The clear skies encouraged around 12 of the Avon Valley Buzzard onto the wing, these being visible from the northern fringes of the recording area. To round off the birds, a Pintail was about Stanpit, while a female Peregrine was over Hengistbury in the afternoon, when 7 Little Grebe were logged. After being expertly relieved of £7.00 by Ian Southworth last night, it feels timely to give a gentle reminder about membership subscriptions. Finally, the running year-list has been updated and stands an impressive seven above the same date in 2007.
Despite the absence of nearly all the weekend regulars, it was quite a reasonable morning on Hengistbury. The best was undoubtedly a redhead Goosander moving east close off the Beach Huts. Also 2 Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver heading in the same direction, with 7 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and 37 auk sp. on an opposite bearing. The small presence of finches throughout the winter continues, as 5 Linnet, 4 Siskin, 1 Brambling and 1 Redpoll were all recorded today, as was a Fieldfare and a Chiffchaff, the latter in bushes by the HHC. There was an incredibly good Little Grebe count that totalled 21 birds in all, including 15 off the HHC slipway; while, earlier, at least 36 Stock Dove had been watched leaving the Nursery roost. This afternoon, the Common Sandpiper put in one of its cameo performances along Fisherman's Bank and the 42 Black-tailed Godwit about East Marsh contained a colour-ringed individual. Of 168 Brent Goose present on Stanpit, at least 10% were first-winter birds, also 10 Shelduck and 21 Dunlin counted there. For details of the colour-ringed godwit, please click here .
The only reports for the day concern 2 Raven and a hybrid Hooded/Carrion Crow on Hengistbury.
Only 1 Firecrest was seen today, between the bends in the Wood, and just 1 Redpoll. A count of 13 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes behind the beach cafe beats yesterday's 'record', while on the Long Groyne there were 28 Ringed Plover and 23 Dunlin. Stanpit held another 17 Dunlin and 25 Black-tailed Godwit, also 20 of the latter on Wick Hams. Although the sea was watched the only report so far is of around 75 Razorbill. The 2 Goldeneye were in Barn Bight and 3 Raven were loitering around the Nursery. Brent Geese numbered 170 on Stanpit today.
Additional news: an update from the sea watch, 96 Razorbill, but just Guillemot, and 1 Great-northern Diver past the Beach Huts.
A mild morning produced quite a mix of species on Hengistbury. The 2 Firecrest were again in the Wood, while 5 Redpoll were feeding on the alders near Holloway's Dock, also noted were Brambling, Siskin and Bullfinch. From the Beach Huts there were 6 Red-throated Diver, 4 east and 2 west; also 11 Razorbill, singles of Red-breasted Merganser and Kittiwake, plus 9 Common Scoter, 8 west and 1 east. A Golden Plover was heard over Stanpit and 35 Black-tailed Godwit were around Wick Hams, while 11 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes is possibly the best count of the winter. Finally, the 2 Goldeneye were in Barn Bight.
Both the Spotted Redshank and the Avocet were present today, the former roosting on East Marsh and the latter feeding just off South Marsh before moving out to Blackberry Point. On the Beach at Hengistbury were 3 Purple Sandpiper and a solitary Ringed Plover, while on Stanpit there were another 3 Ringed Plover, plus 45 Dunlin and 42 Black-tailed Godwit. Wick Hams held 6 Snipe and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. The drake Goldeneye was in Barn Bight and 2 Pochard were seen over Wick Fields, also 1 Great-crested Grebe and 6 Little Grebe were on the river. The only passerines reported were 3 Siskin and a Fieldfare from Wick Fields, plus a Kingfisher from Fisherman's Bank. Finally, 11 Common Gull were in the high tide roost on South Marsh and the Brent Goose count today was 101.
On another day of strong south-westerlies only Stanpit received any coverage. The Black-tailed Godwit roosting on South Marsh at high tide numbered 240; also present were 75 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. The 2 Goldeneye were in the usual spot and 8 Shelduck were on East Marsh, while the Brent Goose flock was a meagre 65 birds. A small flock of around a dozen Linnet was on the edge of East Marsh just below Crouch Hill.
On a quiet day in the harbour a first-year Mediterranean Gull west past the Beach Huts was probably the pick; also moving west were 8 Guillemot, 2 Common Scoter and a Fulmar. At high tide this morning, around 75 Dunlin were roosting on Grimmery Bank, while 30 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Ringed Plover were on South Marsh, and another 20 Black-tailed Godwit were on Wick Hams. To round up, the 2 Goldeneye were off the Nursery, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight and a Chiffchaff was by the Wooden Bridge on Wick.
Undoubtedly the bird of the day was a Woodlark on the tip of South Marsh this morning, an excellent January record for the harbour. Most of the birding effort was, however, directed towards the sea, where strong south-westerlies promised much. In the event, it was fairly modest fare with the highlight being 1 or possibly 2 Little Gull lingering offshore. Auks were on the move, but not in the same numbers as further west; the morning's tally being 145 birds, 70% of which were Razorbill. All were moving west, together with 47 Gannet, 30 Common Gull, 17 Kittiwake, 6 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Diver, also 2 east, 1 Great-crested Grebe and a Purple Sandpiper. On Stanpit, 5 Shoveler were present and over 100 Black-tailed Godwit with another 27 of the latter on Wick Hams.
Additional news : there were also 2 Fulmar west and a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the wood this morning.
Stanpit again held good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit this afternoon, with a count of 180 on South Marsh and another dozen on East Marsh, where there was also a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Grey Plover.
Additional news : a Siskin, the first of the year, over Wick Fields
On another day of mixed weather the 2 Firecrest were still in the Wood at Hengistbury. Despite a strong south-westerly blow, the sea produced just 7 Kittiwake and 3 Razorbill. Finally 42 Black-tailed Godwit were on Wick Hams, while another 10 headed east past Mudeford Quay..
A complete contrast this morning with little or no wind or rain, although the tide was still very high, probably due to the floodwater from the Avon and Stour valleys. The Avocet was on the tip of South Marsh and a Bar-tailed Godwit was roosting in Barn Bight, while Stanpit held similar numbers of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit to yesterday. At sea, 6 Red-throated and 1 Great-northern Diver moved west, also 11 Common Scoter in the same direction and a Great-crested Grebe was on the water. There was a good count of 13 Little Grebe in the harbour, but no sign of the Goldeneye. Finally, the Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the Wood.
With this morning's stormy conditions it's not surprising that the only report received was from Mudeford Quay, where a first-winter Little Gull moved slowly west. Once the rain had stopped, around lunchtime, Stanpit was watched from Fisherman's Bank and despite much of the marsh being underwater the Avocet was on the remnants of South Marsh. There was also a good local count of 175 Black-tailed Godwit feeding around the flooded pools just below Crouch Hill and 90 Dunlin in the area. Finally, there was a Great-crested Grebe in Stanpit Bight and a pair of Goldeneye on the river.
Despite apparently ideal sea watching conditions this morning and hundreds of seabirds moving past points further west, no reports have been received from Hengistbury so far. On Stanpit, another high tide had pushed 40 Dunlin on to Grimmery Bank, while 50 Black-tailed Godwit were scattered around the marsh, there was just 1 Grey Plover on East Marsh. The Brent Goose count was 82 and a drake Shoveler was in Stanpit Bight. A small flock of around 15 Linnet was feeding near the caravan and 6 Skylark were on Central Marsh.
The strong wind directly from the south was rather frustrating as it meant that no shelter could be had anywhere on Hengistbury. Consequently, despite there being masses of birds out there, only a portion could be identified. These included 2 Fulmar, 45 Kittiwake, over 100 Gannet and 75 auk sp. In the conditions, birds actually seemed to be circling Christchurch Bay, as opposed to moving with any purpose. With the recent amount of rainwater, the swollen Avon and Stour are ensuring very high tides inside the harbour, no doubt the reason why a Jack Snipe was flushed from the bracken adjacent to main path along Barn Bight. The lone female Goldeneye now has two companions, a drake and another duck, the male even going through some hopeful courtship routines. To finish at Hengistbury, a Firecrest was heard in the area of the Nursery. Not too much from Stanpit, other than a Raven that was harassing Coot on Priory Marsh, the reason not being clear; also counts of 411 Wigeon, 73 Teal and 53 Brent Goose. Back to yesterday, when the Dorset Birdrace CHOG team, which was unfortunately reduced to 2 rather than the normal 4, lost their grip on the trophy, despite a score of 122 being 3 more than last year. Congratulations to the winners, a Poole based outfit, on a record-breaking 129.
After yesterday's deluge the harbour was bathed in sunshine this morning giving it a very pleasant, spring-like feel. The undoubted highlight was a Short-eared Owl seen over Wick Fields just before lunchtime. Earlier, the sea had received the most attention; moving west were 6 Red-throated Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver and 1 Great Northern Diver together with 70 Gannet. There was also a significant westerly movement of gulls with 450 Black-headed Gull, 50 Common Gull and 29 Kittiwake. A female Common Scoter was on the sea off the groynes, while another 3 flew east, also 2 Great -crested Grebe were noted. On Stanpit, as another very high tide pushed the waders to higher ground, around 50 Dunlin, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Ringed Plover and 5 Grey Plover were counted. To round up, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the woodland, a Chiffchaff was in the bushes behind the Beach Huts, Grey Wagtail were on the edge of North Marsh and by Purewell Stream, the female Goldeneye was 'scoped from Crouch Hill and 3 Buzzard were high over the Stanpit recreation ground.
Dorset Birdrace Update: the understrength CHOG team made a very early start and were rewarded with a Little Owl, heard by the Solent Meads Golf Course at 4:00 and then the Common Sandpiper on Mudeford Quay at 4:30 (seen from car headlights).
Some very high waters saw the almost complete disappearance of East Marsh on the morning tide. However, a visit to Fisherman's Bank later in the day fared slightly better. From there, 250 Lapwing were estimated and 80 or so Dunlin were active about South Marsh. Continuing to Mudeford Quay, a group of 3 Purple Sandpiper were visible on the end of the sandspit, as were 12 Turnstone.
The frequent downpours throughout most of the day presumably discouraged the most of us. Consequently, just a single Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit from Mudeford Quay and a Gannet along the surf past the Point House Café are the only entrants.
A brief stroll about Hengistbury saw the familiar Goldeneye in Barn Bight, then 5 Red-throated Diver west at sea along with 10 or so Gannet.
A real hooly blew this morning, but once the squalls had cleared a trip was made to the Beach Huts. From there, the yearlist cruised past the century mark thanks to a Pomarine Skua, seemingly an adult, and 1, but possibly 2, Great Skua. At least 7 Red-throated Diver, 6 west and 1 east, were logged, however, a distant group of 5 birds eluded identification, but were almost certainly "red-throats" as well. Also recorded: 27 Kittiwake, 85 Gannet, 9 Razorbill, 7 Guillemot and 25 auk sp., all west. Meanwhile, the 2 Firecrest remain in the Wood, the dull female being by the Double Bends, and the Goldeneye was still in Barn Bight, also around 50 Black-tailed Godwit there. Later in the day, a murder of 27 Carrion Crow was by the Whitepits car park.
After being looked for almost daily, Firecrest made it onto the yearlist, with 2 birds being in the Wood on Hengistbury this morning. Also an addition, were 2 Redpoll close to the Ironstone Quarry. At sea, a couple of Red-throated Diver passed by eastwards, while 7 Kittiwake and a Fulmar, the latter a notable January bird, headed the other way.
A return to overnight frost and no discernible breeze made the harbour look and feel rather spectacular as the morning warmed up. The first reports of the day came from Wick, where there was a Bullfinch and more unseasonable Linnet. The same was true on Stanpit, with up to 20 of the latter using the grassland adjacent to Stanpit Scrubs. As the tide fell in the early afternoon, the waders started to show themselves. These were headed by the Spotted Redshank and Avocet, but also 4 Grey Plover, 160 Dunlin and 35 Ringed Plover, as well as 15 Snipe. The Black-tailed Godwit, however, were not affected by the tidal vagaries and spent all day feeding on Central Marsh, 55 of them in total. Other interest involves a couple of Shoveler and 5 Shelduck about the marsh and a Peregrine creating havoc for a short period, while counts of commoner species comprise 75 Brent Goose, 250 Lapwing and 80 Redshank.
Last minute news from the sea at Hengistbury: a Black-throated Diver was the only easterly moving bird, with the rest - 15 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great-northern Diver, 2 Common Scoter and a Guillemot - all passing by in the opposite direction. Inside the harbour, the Goldeneye was again present in Barn Bight.
After a very blustery start, by mid-morning the south-westerly wind had subsided almost completely. Of course, the sea received the bulk of the attention and served up a couple of Velvet Scoter from the west, which then alighted on the water seemingly off Barton cliffs. Another good gavia day saw over 20 Red-throated Diver in a mixture of directions, also a controversial, easterly moving bird that divided opinion between black-throated and great-northern, but for the website at least, it's going down as a Great-northern Diver. There was a steady movement of 50 auks and 40 Gannet, as well as a Great-crested Grebe west. A male Peregrine skimming the waves with purpose made an unusual sight, while another, this time a larger female, was later seen being hassled by crows over Barn Bight. As has become customary in the early part of the year, some raucous Raven could be heard in the Nursery, so time will tell as to what eventually happens. Certainly, the Grey Heron won't take kindly to such potential incomers. In Barn Bight, a female-type Goldeneye was back and the sandspit waders included 20 Dunlin and 15 Ringed Plover.
Much, much milder, but not a massive amount of field activity. Again, Fisherman's Bank comes up the best with Avocet, Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper all being recorded again. There were also 11 Grey Plover and a Kingfisher noted from there. From Hengistbury, just a Great-spotted Woodpecker and 3 Little Grebe are worth a mention.
Another bracing day that required shelter to be sought and that's exactly what the lee of Fisherman's Bank provided, where Chris Chapleo joined the select few who are actually able to encounter the wintering Common Sandpiper. Despite this bird performing well at times, it remains remarkably elusive for most, myself included. Also from there, the Avocet and a notable increase in Grey Plover - a consistent single bird over the last week being joined by 16 more, also two singles seen at Hengistbury. Other waders included, 17 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Ringed Plover, while a pair of Raven passed over toward the head. Earlier, the HHC had seen 2 Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush, and 4 Little Grebe were in the harbour. In these conditions, the Double Dykes offer a comfortable seawatch position. So much so, that an hour was put in, seeing: 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 in each direction; also a drake Pochard, a female Red-breasted Merganser, 8 Kittiwake, 9 Guillemot and over 25 Gannet, all east; and a Razorbill settled on the water.
Additional news: coming from Stanpit, where a pair of Pintail were present, as well as 230 Dunlin and a raise on the Black-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover to 40 and 20 respectively. A Kingfisher was on Fisherman's Bank, while up to 400 Wigeon were estimated and 40 Brent Goose counted. Interestingly, the geese were all adults, something that has been uncharacteristic this winter, which has so far seen a reasonable ratio of young birds.
The biting south-easterly made trips into the field something of an ordeal. Consequently, most reports come from areas that can be accessed by vehicle. A couple of Mistle Thrush on the grass by the Mudeford Quay approach road were nice additions to the year-list, which also gained Bar-tailed Godwit, the single bird being seen from both the quay and Fisherman's Bank. In fact, it seems the waders that were at Mudeford at lunchtime had headed towards Argyll Road by mid-afternoon, when 123 Dunlin and 7 Ringed Plover were counted. A further 19 Dunlin were on Grimmery Bank, viewed from the HHC, and at least 4 Little Grebe were about the harbour.
Another year kicks off and who knows what it will bring. No real surprises today though, perhaps other than a Golden Plover settled with the Lapwing on Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Avocet remain to provide some winter quality. The latter three were all nabbed from Fisherman's Bank. Also from there, 48 Snipe, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Grey Plover on East Marsh, and a Kingfisher on the jetties. At least 120 Dunlin and 4 Turnstone were in the harbour, with a further bird on the sandspit, along with 4 Purple Sandpiper - these viewed from Mudeford Quay. Bullfinch were again on Wick Fields, while Smithy's Field held another, as well as a Chiffchaff. Pintail were also obvious today, 3 on East Marsh, 1 mid-harbour and 4 arriving from the Valley. Meanwhile, a female Goldeneye was off Rushy Piece. To complete the picture, the sea was scanned from Whitepits and turned up a Red-throated Diver, a Razorbill, 2 Grest-crested Grebe and 4 Gannet.