Sightings for May 2008


May 31st

Until the appearance of an Osprey, colloquially known as Mullet Hawk, over the harbour at around 10:45, it was looking like being an uneventful end to the month. This bird seemed as if it wanted to fish, but was discouraged by a lynch mob of gulls, who eventually saw it off up river. Maybe it will try again tomorrow; there are plenty of Mullet around. Earlier the calm sea had been largely uninspiring, but a party of 5 Eider east, including 2 drakes, was nice; as was a drake Tufted Duck over the Barn Field, then out into Poole Bay - a year-tick for at least one regular. The only other interest offshore came from up to 50 Common Tern, 5 Dunlin, 4 Sanderling and a couple of Swift, all east. Around the HHC, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing, an adult Mediterranean Gull passed over, and a Curlew was seen to stop briefly before continuing west, presumably a failed, early returner; while a skein of 16 Canada Goose arriving from the west hopefully pushed right on through! This afternoon, a short look from Argyll Road suggested little was on Stanpit, other than a Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Dunlin.


May 30th

Despite the late date, there were still numbers of terns on the move this morning. The best was a flock of 14 Arctic Tern eastwards, but also 90 Common Tern throughout the period. Perhaps this has something to do with the prolonged easterly winds, which have been going on for an almost unprecedented period of time? There were again Storm Petrel about - a bird was off the Double Dykes, then singles were seen from the Beach Huts at completely different times - making a certain 2, but probable 3. Also at sea, 85 Common Scoter east, 40 Gannet, 7 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling and 1 Guillemot. A Hobby was recorded over Hengistbury and the first-summer Little Gull was at Stanpit all day, where there were also a 2 adult Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Sanderling, 2 Curlew and 2 Redshank. Early in the day, a pair of Shoveler and 3 Gadwall were in the harbour, and the Little Grebe were on the Ironstone Quarry.


May 29th

Although the weather was much more settled today, at least 8 Storm Petrel still lingered off the Beach Huts this morning. Also noted were 20 Common Tern and 14 Gannet moving east. Apart from a Reed Warbler singing in Wick Ditch, there was little evidence of late migration. The first-summer Little Gull was again off the tip of South Marsh, resting on the mud at lunchtime. Waders on Stanpit today were 10 Dunlin, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling and 2 Grey Plover while a Black-tailed Godwit headed north. To round up, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Cuckoo were on Hengistbury, a Gadwall was in Holloway's Dock with another in Stanpit Bight and 2 Canada Geese were on the marsh.


May 28th

Before the rain set in this morning and before most of us were out of bed, two harbour rarities were found on Hengistbury. A Marsh Warbler, the 10th harbour record and the first since 1991, was heard and seen well in the "Barred Warbler" copse on the Barn Field. About half an hour earlier, a male Red-backed Shrike was near the HHC. Although there was a juvenile in autumn 2007, this is the first spring record for ten years and the first adult male since May 1990. Unfortunately, neither bird could be relocated by the "latecomers!" Seawatching also proved rewarding for those who weren't hunting rarities! From the Beach Huts, around 15 Storm Petrel, at times very close, lingered for a while before moving slowly east. Heading in the same direction were: 148 Common Tern, 116 Gannet, 11 Grey Plover, 6 Kittiwake, 4 Common Scoter, 2 Arctic Tern, 2 Greenshank and a single Arctic Skua. There was also a good movement of Swift, with 247 east, while both Turtle Dove and Cuckoo arrived. Wick Hams held 7 Black-tailed Godwit and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was over the HHC.

Evening update: at 7:00, there were still at least 9 Storm Petrel lingering off the Beach Huts, also 30 Gannet and 19 Common Scoter east, while moving west were 3 Manx Shearwater plus 9 Kittiwake, 9 Guillemot and 5 Sanderling.


May 27th

The first Storm Petrel of the year were off Hengistbury today, as 3 birds moved slowly east past the Long Groyne. There was very little else, however, with just 15 Gannet, 7 Common Tern, 5 Sanderling, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemot and a Fulmar. The first-summer Little Gull was just off South Marsh, while around Stanpit were 15 Dunlin, 5 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Curlew and 1 Grey Plover.

This morning's ringing session on Wick Fields yielded 77 birds trapped and ringed. The majority were local breeding birds, but an excellent haul nonetheless. The total included 24 Long-tailed Tit, 8 Great Tit, 8 Blue Tit, 7 Robin, 5 Whitethroat, 5 House Sparrow, 2 Blackcap and a Cetti's Warbler.

Check back to yesterday for some additional news.


May 26th

The morning's weather can only be described as atrocious and limited birding to counting Swift from the shelters offered by Mudeford Quay and the HHC. In all, just under 300 were recorded, all heading north-east. The rain broke late in the morning and inspired trips to Hengistbury and Stanpit. From the head, a Great Skua was seen heading east, while a Balearic Shearwater, presumably the same bird from last week, was lingering; also 12 Sanderling and 5 Ringed Plover east, plus a dozen or so Common Tern. The wader selection around Stanpit Bight comprised: 2 Common Sandpiper, one on the tip of South Marsh and the other on Blackberry Point, 13 Sanderling, 9 Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover and 24 Dunlin. The Little Gull was again present, as was the Gadwall; 45 or so Swift passed over and recently fledged birds included Starling, Meadow Pipit and Linnet. On the topic of breeding birds, a quick summary from Wick Fields, where territories are currently at: 3-4 Lesser Whitethroat, but only 4 Song Thrush, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap, with singles of Stonechat and Skylark, also Long-tailed Tit families about the area.

Additional news: a pair of Eider was on the sea off the Long Groyne during the afternoon.


May 25th

Although Hengistbury was pretty grey and miserable early on, things had improved by late morning and the forecast, all-day deluge thankfully failed to materialise. The rain front was certainly moving Swift around though, for example, 240 south between 8:00 and 9:00, also 40+ Swallow, 8 House Martin and an attendant Hobby that failed to catch anything. By 11:00, there was almost nothing overhead, but a rather scruffy Brent Goose made a few passes at sea before deciding East Marsh was to its liking, where it spent the rest of the day. There are still a few waders to be enjoyed: this morning, 2 Knot were seen leaving the harbour; and, during the afternoon, there were 17 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 1 Redshank around Stanpit Bight, where there was also a drake Gadwall. In-line with the Bank Holiday, disturbance was prevalent in the bight, although two canoeists did stop to free a hapless Herring Gull from a mass of fishing line. Unfortunately, it looked as if lasting damage had already been done, with the bird suffering from a broken wing.


May 24th

A blustery north-north-east wind seemed to give rise to a light wader passage. Off Hengistbury, 21 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover and a single Dunlin passed east, while a group of 8 Turnstone that arrived over the Coastguards joined a further bird on Stanpit. Also inside the harbour, 17 more Sanderling, 13 Ringed Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin and a first-summer Grey Plover; along with the lingering Little Gull. Common Sandpiper have been sparse this spring, so one past Mudeford Quay was a nice record, also a Mistle Thrush knocking about there, as well as 2 Great-crested Grebe. The best from Hengistbury and Mudeford Quay seawatches was a pale, adult Arctic Skua west and 2 Tufted Duck east respectively, but 9 Canada Goose entering the harbour over the sandspit made an interesting, but perhaps unwelcome, sight. Other seabirds seen from both locations include: 31 Gannet, 30 Common Tern, 3 Fulmar, 3 auk sp., an adult Kittiwake, 1 Guillemot on the water and a Razorbill. At Hengistbury, 78 Swift, 46 Swallow and 21 House Martin were counted arriving. Meanwhile, a steady trickle of these was also noted at Mudeford Quay.


May 23rd

A good ringing session this morning saw six nets in position and a total of 30 birds trapped. Although most were clearly residents, some of the 8 Reed Warbler and 5 Whitethroat that were handled carried very little body fat, suggesting they were recently arrived migrants. Away from this, there was little to pick out: however, a third-summer Yellow-legged Gull on Stanpit early this afternoon was noteworthy, while the first-summer Little Gull remained faithful to the southern fringe of South Marsh. There were also 6 Bar-tailed Godwit on the marsh, as well as a single Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Dunlin and the summering Curlew. Finally, a Cuckoo was again on the fence separating the Barn Field from the Double Dykes and the information services report a Balearic Shearwater east past Hengistbury at 5:05 tonight.

Additional news: a Turtle Dove was seen a couple of times around Wick Fields this evening and a Cuckoo was present in the morning, when 10 Common Tern and a Guillemot were recorded at sea.


May 22nd

It's probably fair to say the spring migration is all but over, save for a few late waders and terns heading north, although a Great-northern Diver west off Hengistbury did spice up an otherwise dull morning. Also, 11 Common Tern and 8 Gannet east at sea. Meanwhile, a party of 8 Sanderling and 1 Dunlin moved over the Long Field, 4 Knot were seen to arrive and a Grey Plover circled a few times. On Stanpit, the only interest came from 3 Bar-tailed Godwit.


May 21st

This month is not typical for Balearic Shearwater, so one that shaved past Hengistbury in the morning, seen from the Double Dykes then, a couple of minutes later, the Long Groyne, was a pleasant surprise on a reasonably quiet day, Nightjar excepted. The details on that being a bird sat in the middle of a pathway close to the Ironstone Quarry! A few late migrants were about, among them 3 Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Garden Warbler, while a pair of Lesser Whitethroat look set to breed in the Barred Warbler Bush. The best-of-the-rest as sea included an Arctic Tern, 3 Kittiwake, 67 Common Tern and 57 Common Scoter, all east, along with 2 Sanderling and a Mediterranean Gull. Meanwhile, interesting wader-wise, Stanpit contained just a single Bar-tailed Godwit and the summering Curlew, but 3 Whimbrel and 3 Grey Plover were seen from Hengistbury.

Additional news: the Little Gull was on Stanpit, along with a drake Gadwall, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Lapwing.


May 20th

Just arrived back from a great trip to Poland with four of the other regulars, only to be knocked sideways by the plethora of quality seen further west in Dorset over the last few days. Nothing much changed here though, with a Hengistbury seawatch producing just: 26 Gannet, 23 Common Tern, 6 Guillemot and a Fulmar east; while around 30 Swallow, 27 Swift and a couple of House Martin were seen coming in. In fact, probably the best from the head was a drake Tufted Duck, first seen from the HHC, but then also at sea. The spring wader passage seems to have peaked: other than 6 Sanderling seen to arrive, plus 3 east, Stanpit held just 1 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Redshank. The Little Gull remained, however, and a couple of Buzzard ventured over Stanpit village. Whilst the birds are few, there is an opportunity to catch up with some news. Firstly, the BBRC have recently accepted the Wilson's Phalarope from last September, which means the harbour list rises to 319 species recorded since 1956. Secondly, the colour-ringed Bar-tailed Godwit seen on Sunday 18th was ringed in May last year at Terschelling, the Netherlands, and this was its first sighting away from that location.


May 19th

A bits and pieces day, with not a lot happening and still that nagging north-easterly breeze, making it feel quite cool. Even the sea was quieter with just a single Arctic Skua, 4 Common Scoter and a few Gannet heading east. A lone Whinchat on the Barn Field was the only migrant reported. On Stanpit, the first-summerLittle Gull was resting on the mud off South Marsh this afternoon, but there appears to have been a virtual clear out of waders. Other than the regular flock of Oystercatcher, there were just 10 Sanderling, 5 Grey Plover and a Lapwing. Finally, the dozen or so Jackdaw are still making a nuisance of themselves around the marsh and there was a Gadwall by the Bailey Bridge.


May 18th

A Pomarine Skua seen from the cliffs heading east was the highlight of this morning's sea watch from Hengistbury. Also moving east were 93 Gannet, 27 Sandwich Tern, 20 Common Tern, with another 5 west, 7 Common Scoter, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel and 2 Arctic Tern. A Fulmar headed west, while a further 3 Whimbrel and a single Arctic Tern came into the harbour. The only grounded migrants reported were 4 Spotted Flycatcher by the Barn, with 40 Swift and 3 House Martin overhead. To round off the morning on Hengistbury, the Peregrine was seen towards The Priory, a Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the Wood and 3 Redshank were in Holloway's Dock. On Stanpit, the first-year Little Gull was still present and wader numbers were 180 Dunlin, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Sanderling, 6 Grey Plover, 3 Ringed Plover and the Curlew.


May 17th

Despite the absence of many of the Saturday regulars, the harbour received good coverage this morning, although we couldn't compete with the more exotic species found further west! Once again the sea turned up a bit of variety, but not in huge numbers. Most of the birds were moving east: 94 Common, 21 Sandwich and 4 Arctic Tern, 22 Gannet, 6 Sanderling, 5 Common Scoter and a Guillemot, while in the opposite direction were singles of Great Northern Diver, Fulmar and drake Eider. A Garden Warbler in the Wood was the only new bird found, although 31 Swift passed overhead and a Yellow Wagtail was over Stanpit. A Hobby was hunting over the cliffs, a Shoveler did a circuit of the harbour and a single Gadwall was on Wick Hams. On Stanpit, the first-year Little Gull was still present and the wader numbers were similar to yesterday - that's 180 Dunlin, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover, 7 Turnstone, 6 Grey Plover and 3 Sanderling.


May 16th

On another grey day, the wind was lighter but slightly more easterly, so it still felt cool and there were certainly fewer birds about. Only 5 Spotted Flycatcher were found on Hengistbury and 6 Swift passed overhead, while a singing Willow Warbler behind the Barn may have been a new bird. The sea was watched for about a couple of hours, but not continuously; the numbers were 45 Gannet, 22 Sandwich Tern, 14 Common Tern, 7 Arctic Tern, 2 Sanderling and 1 Guillemot, all moving east, while singles of Fulmar and Kittiwake headed west. To round up on Hengistbury, 2 Cuckoo were seen and 4 Turnstone were on the groynes. There was no sign of the Little Stint on Stanpit today, but both the Avocet and the first-year Little Gull were still present. This morning, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit could be seen just off South Marsh, but by mid-afternoon only two remained. There was a good count of 180 Dunlin, also 22 Ringed Plover, 4 Grey Plover, 4 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Lapwing, 1 Turnstone and 1 Curlew. Finally, up to 12 Jackdaw were still on Crouch Hill.

Of interest: a Poplar Hawkmoth was found in the Hengistbury moth-trap this morning.


May 15th

The promised rain didn't materialise today, but under cloudy skies there was a noticeable drop in temperature due to the persistent north-easterly breeze. The sea, which was watched for three hours from 6:30am onwards, produced good counts of Gannet, terns and waders, with the highlights being a Pomarine Skua heading west into Bournemouth Bay and both Roseate Tern and Little Stint moving in the opposite direction. Most of the birds were, in fact, moving east into the wind, the numbers being 182 Common, 9 Arctic Tern, 3 Little Tern, 180 Gannet, 53 Dunlin, 23 Sanderling, 10 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel and 2 Turnstone, plus 11 Common Scoter and 4 Guillemot. It was the best day for Spotted Flycatcher, with 14 in the Wood, while the second Wood Warbler of the spring was heard, also in the Wood. A Turtle Dove was in the North Scrubs and a Wheatear was on the Barn Field. A couple of summer-plumaged Knot were in Stanpit Bight, also present there: 45 Ringed Plover, 31 Dunlin, 11 Grey Plover and a Turnstone.

Evening update from Stanpit: an Avocet was obviously a new arrival, also 1 Little Stint still present and 18 Bar-tailed Godwit.


May 14th

A good day, which started with a fine male Serin over the HHC that travelled the length of the head, also a Turtle Dove seen pitching into the trees around the Nursery. More details on Hengistbury later, as it was Stanpit and its waders that perhaps stole the show. Late this morning, a nicely plumaged Little Stint was found in Stanpit Bight, where, by this evening, it had been joined by a second. The bight was watched throughout the day and from the varying reports in, there was clearly a rapid turnover of birds. It is reckoned that up to 150 Ringed Plover used the area, along with a similar number of Dunlin; but also: 20 Sanderling, 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 of these seem to be lingering, first-summer birds that keep their distance from the migrating adults, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Grey Plover, 7 Turnstone, 6 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper and, of course, the regular Curlew. To finish up on Stanpit, the Little Gull was still around, 4 Little Tern were resting up and a Canada Goose spoiled the view. Back to Hengistbury and the sea, where an Arctic Skua headed into Poole Bay, as did a Great-northern Diver. Also, 35 or so Gannet, 4 Fulmar, 3 Common Scoter and a steady arrival of Swift. The only other interest came from a single Garden Warbler moving off the head to Wick.


May 13th

Picture the scene, mid-May and a dark bird with pointed wings sporting white flashes is seen at sea. Immediate reaction is, of course, skua - but hang on a minute, 2 Herring Gull are mobbing it and they're huge in comparison. It then all clicks into place - an arriving Nightjar. However, almost immediately, enter a previously unseen Peregrine that stoops from above and smacks the unfortunate straight into the water. The falcon then made a couple of half-hearted attempts to pick up its victim, but soon gave up leaving it to succumb to the waves. Also seen during this time, 29 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Common Scoter and 16 Gannet east, a single Fulmar west and a Hobby over the end of the head. This evening, the first-summer Little Gull was on Stanpit, after a couple of days of going unrecorded, while 2 pair of Tufted Duck in Parky Meade Rail were most unexpected for the date. A drake Shoveler was also about the marsh for most of the day, as was the summering Curlew and a couple of Grey Plover. On the quarry pond, the 2 Little Grebe chicks are still doing well.


May 12th

Again, it was raptors that made the day, but this time Osprey. Two of them, in fact. Just after 10:00, a bird headed north-east over the harbour putting up the large gulls and waders as it did so. Barely 5 minutes later, a second was picked up over Southbourne, which then turned directly north and passed over Wick Fields. The airborne melee after the first allowed the Stanpit waders to be fully assessed, with the count totalling: 7 Knot, 21 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 11 Whimbrel, 9 Ringed Plover, 26 Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Dunlin; while earlier, the Curlew had been seen from Hengistbury. This was not actually a bad haul, however, by lunchtime, nearly all had left; for example, only 7 Bar-tailed Godwit being visible from Argyle Road. Mid-morning, a Peregrine was on one of The Priory gargoyles and a Rook passed over Hengistbury. The Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry now have 2 young and a fledgling Stonechat was also seen on the head.


May 11th

A complete change in fortunes today and we have raptors, clear skies and the breeze, which kept the insects largely at bay, to thank for that. At just after 6:00, a male Red-footed Falcon passed west to east over the area and was watched from the HHC. Then, in a 5-minute spell just after 11:00, a Honey Buzzard cruised over the same spot north-eastwards directly towards the New Forest and a female Marsh Harrier soared over Stanpit Village. To complement these, a couple of Hobby were seen hawking over Priory Marsh. No reports of the young Little Gull today, but a couple of adults flew into the harbour over the HHC, also a few Mediterranean Gull recorded during the morning. There was a slight improvement in passerines, with a Whinchat on the Barn Field, a Yellow Wagtail over there and 3 Spotted Flycatcher moving past the HHC, while some wildfowl interest came courtesy of 4 Shoveler over the river. This afternoon, Stanpit had been mostly cleared of migrant waders as a result of the increasing amount of high-tide disturbance from small plastic canoes and their occupants, who seem attracted to the shores of East and South Marshes. Earlier, however, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover and a Whimbrel had been recorded. Over the weekend, both Sandwich Tern and Oystercatcher have been going through the mating motions, an activity that will prove sadly futile in the pressured environment of the harbour.


May 10th

Even just a couple of hours into it, the morning was being described as possibly the worst in living memory for early May; and with no wind and lots of insects, interest soon waned. The only passerine migrants were 2 Spotted Flycatcher high over the HHC, while a Lesser Whitethroat in the Barn Field and a Willow Warbler in the Wood may have been newly arrived. The sea was watched and came up with a party of 4 Little Egret moving east quite far out, a Grey Heron in-off, but then just 2 Fulmar and 5 Common Scoter, although Swallow were trickling in constantly. On the upside, waders were slightly more numerous and when two model seaplanes were flown from inside the harbour it was possible to see 40 or so distressed Black-tailed Godwit. This activity has to be some of the most crass ever seen within the area and hopefully it will not be allowed to be repeated. The tide sequence throughout the day was high-low-high and the peak numbers for each species were: 37 Whimbrel, including an incoming flock of 19, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling. To conclude, the first-summer Little Gull was seen from the HHC, a Peregrine hunted the area, a Cuckoo was singing from several spots, a Gadwall flew upriver, a Great-crested Grebe was off Mudeford Quay and, of course, there were Jackdaw.


May 9th

There were not many takers in an absolute pea-souper of a fog this morning. Consequently, Hengistbury could only turn in a pair of Shoveler and 2 drake Gadwall in Barn Bight. When things cleared up a bit, Stanpit fared slightly better, although the best was actually on Wick as Bearded Tit were heard calling over there from Priory Marsh. In Stanpit Bight, the Little Gull was still present, while a Yellow Wagtail and a pair of Tufted Duck passed over. Waders were again less than plentiful, but variety came from singles of Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Grey Plover; also 10 Sanderling and 6 Turnstone seen to arrive, and still the 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. Another settled bird, the Curlew, was off Fisherman's Bank this evening, as were 8 Black-tailed Godwit.

Additional news: there were actually 6 Bar-tailed Godwit on Stanpit tonight, also 3 Whimbrel and a Dunlin.

Omission: a Raven was over Wick late this morning.


May 8th

Much more of an easterly breeze today, with the 'star' bird again being the first-summer Little Gull - by the HHC this morning and in Stanpit Bight this afternoon - also a Roseate Tern and a Velvet Scoter at sea. Interestingly, the scoter was attached to a flock of 8 Common Scoter, a combination also recorded last Friday, so possibly a lingering party. In all, there were 47 Common Scoter, but not too much else, other than 18 Common Tern and 2 Little Tern, all east. More duck interest came from a drake Tufted Duck moving by, also a pair of Shoveler with a single female sitting off Fisherman's Bank and the Gadwall pair remaining around Barn Bight. A flock of 30 or so Black-tailed Godwit made a spectacular sight as they sped past Double Dykes, as did 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling, a Curlew and a Turnstone. Meanwhile, over 18 Dunlin arrived in the harbour, likewise a couple of Mediterranean Gull, and Swift and Swallow trickled through consistently. A couple of Grey Wagtail over the HHC marked the best of the passerines, although a Whinchat was singing on Wick, as was a Cuckoo; also a Tree Pipit over there. Late this afternoon, Stanpit was holding few waders. For example, just 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and a few calling Whimbrel. However, all this changed briefly as a flock of 23 Whimbrel and 18 Bar-tailed Godwit pitched in around 5:30. They didn't stay long though, pushing on after only 30 minutes break from their journey to the north. There was also a late, adult Common Gull in the bight.

Extra news: a Hobby went over Holloway's Dock, while 6 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone and 2 Ringed Plover were also seen from Hengistbury.

More: this evening, the Little Gull had moved to Priory Pools and the Whinchat on Wick had increased to 2 birds. It also seems there are currently 4 male Lesser Whitethroat on the Wick Fields.


May 7th

It doesn't do to dwell too long on what is being seen at neighbouring sites and what isn't being seen here! In fact, a 'rarity force field' was one term used late today as pager messages continued to pile in; while this morning, at one point, it got as bad as counting Crows - 36 of them on Solent Meads golf course for the record. Seriously though, perhaps the most fascinating observation of the day was a Kingfisher fishing by the Bailey Bridge in Mother Siller's Channel. How many May records of these have there been, I wonder? The first Turtle Dove of the year passed over Stanpit around 9:30 and a late arriving, male Redstart was in Smithy's Field. From Hengistbury, the best was a Little Gull over the HHC, which looked different to the individual of yesterday and Monday, but although there was one seen at Stanpit throughout, two were never confirmed. At least 10 Mediterranean Gull were reckoned, Swift trickled through, as did Swallow, but just a single House Martin. A Cuckoo sang on Wick and Lesser Whitethroat were noted at three spots, including one showing well by the Barn. Until this evening, when around 10 Whimbrel arrived, there was a marked paucity of waders inside the harbour; just a heard Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, a Bar-tailed Godwit and the Curlew that looks set to summer to write about. Now some breeding updates: on the Ironstone Quarry, the Little Grebe should soon have chicks; there is certainly a Great-spotted Woodpecker territory in the North Scrubs, with the drumming almost constant; a pair of Oystercatcher were displaying, but will almost certainly fail; and a pair of Gadwall may be of interest around Barn Bight.

Additional news: the Little Gull was showing well in Mother Siller's Channel late into the evening, when the Ringed Plover had increased to 3 and there were 4 Whimbrel present.


May 6th

Nothing spectacular to report upon, but nevertheless a reasonable selection. A party of 4 Greenshank in Stanpit Bight is a nice spring record, as was a Redpoll over Hengistbury. The first-summer Little Gull is still at Stanpit, favouring the bight, at least 7 Mediterranean Gull were seen from Hengistbury and a Spotted Flycatcher was on Wick Fields, where there were also in excess of 30 Whitethroat. A couple of Shoveler overflew and 2 Sanderling moved east at sea, as did 21 Common Tern and 16 Whimbrel, while 4 Fulmar headed west. A Hobby came in off, along with 12 Swift and a House Martin, and a pair of Peregrine were seen from the head, with a further bird slightly later on. The waders on Stanpit totalled: 6 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover this morning, over 20 resting Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a first-summer Grey Plover that has been around a few days now and a Black-tailed Godwit. Also, 3 Little Tern in the harbour and several Jackdaw.


May 5th

The ninth species of gull for the long weekend was recorded at Stanpit this afternoon, when a first-summer Little Gull was present off South Marsh. In fact, given the numbers all along the south coast, it's rather a surprise it took this long to get one. The morning wasn't exactly action packed, but it did have its moments. Just after a Tufted Duck had passed by the HHC, a drake Garganey was seen arriving over the Double Dykes, then a few hours later it was again spotted overflying the harbour in the company of 8 Mallard. In poor visibility and a north-easterly breeze, the sea was not too inspiring; but did provide a single Velvet Scoter, a pair of Eider and 3 first-summer Mediterranean Gull; as well as 2 Hobby, a Great-crested Grebe, up to 30 Common Tern and 8 Little Tern, also a few Gannet, a couple of Fulmar and a Guillemot. Both Swallow and Swift were noted coasting - west to east - at both ends of the day, but other migrant were almost non-existent, the exception being a Grey Wagtail heard around the Beach Huts. Waders were also a bit of a let-down, with Stanpit holding just 7 Whimbrel, 5 Dunlin and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit this afternoon, but there were 3 Mediterranean Gull and 12 Jackdaw.

Additional news: a Garden Warbler was heard singing in the Wood .


May 4th

Although, relatively speaking with respect to yesterday, the sea received little attention; it did turn up two species not seen in the previous 24 hours. These were a total of 9 Manx Shearwater that headed by east and a group of 3 Velvet Scoter doing the same. Meanwhile, a sorry looking Brent Goose on Stanpit this afternoon would also have been welcome yesterday. A further goodie at sea was a Black Tern that grazed past the Double Dykes, also two flocks of migrating Bar-tailed Godwit totalling over 60 birds; while the more routine numbered: 179 Common Tern, 20 Whimbrel, a Kittwake and a diver sp. east; 73 Common Scoter, all but 24 west; and 3 Guillemot, 10 Gannet and 7 Fulmar. Also 50 Sandwich Tern into The Solent, but over 30 were lingering and feeding-up just offshore. Just 17 Swift were noted, all south, also a Lapwing, Yellow Wagtail and first-summer Mediterreanean Gull over Hengistbury, and a Lesser Whitethroat and Cuckoo singing on Wick. This afternoon, as any semblance of a breeze died away completely, the biting insects on Stanpit were quite awful. The best from a rather unpleasant stay was a first-summer Mediterranean Gull, 4 Turnstone, at least 3 of them sporting white heads, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel, 25 Dunlin and a pair of Gadwall. Thanks to modern technology, this entire post has been conducted 'wirelessly' from an outdoor patio whilst listening to the evening bird song. A rather enjoyable experience.

Additional news: a Black Tern and 2 Arctic Tern were on Stanpit in the evening, as were 25 Common Tern, including a badly oiled individual. Waders increased to: 9 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and a lingering Curlew. Other interest came from a first-summer Mediterranean Gull and 2 Greylag Goose.


May 3rd

The final total for the big-day was 105 species from within the recording area, which is slightly down on the 108 turned in for the last two years. However, given that the sea was a little disappointing in consideration of the south-easterly wind and that passerines migrants were sparse, it was overall not a bad effort. At dawn, a Little Owl was perched on a house roof in The Broadway and a rear view mirror was required to get it from inside the official area. Also early on, Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo, Lesser Whitethroat and Whinchat from Wick to the Barn Field. Seawatches were undertaken from just below the Natterjack Pond and the Gully. The former site scored with an Iceland Gull that was actually seen on two occasions - both times leaving the harbour and heading towards Southbourne; while the best from the easterly location was a Merlin far out at sea and a dark-phase Arctic Skua east at 06:45. One of these also spent some time marauding in Poole Bay. Terns were actually present in good numbers and Arctic Tern were showing very well, allowing much of the ID confusion to be dealt with. At least a dozen were noted, also 330 Common Tern and good numbers of feeding Sandwich Tern. Other movers included: over 70 Common Scoter, 370 Swallow, 265 Swift, 28 House Martin, a Kittiwake and a Sanderling. Later in the morning, Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler, Peregrine and Great-spotted Woodpecker edged onto the day-list, then it was round to Stanpit for the Dorset Bird Week, Waders at Stanpit walk, which, after a dreadful recce 24 hours earlier, turned out much better than anticipated. In fact, it wasn't a wader that provided the highlight, that honour fell to a superb Black Tern resting with Sandwich Tern just off South Marsh. The freshly exposed mud did attract passing birds though, at least 40 Whimbrel were watched to arrive, bathe, sleep and then continue; also at least 25 Dunlin, but these headed over directly northwards and inland. To complement these more mobile birds, there were 3 Turnstone, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. Lapwing and Redshank are both potential 'misses' in May, so 6 of the former that appeared from the north and headed across the harbour and a single of the latter off Fisherman's Bank were most welcome. Another problem species is Teal, but a single drake in Stanpit Bight obliged, a Hobby could be seen hunting over Christchurch and a Common Gull was nabbed on Blackberry Point. Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and Coal Tit all have limited availability, but the 'specialist sites' of Mudeford Quay and the conifers in Stanpit car park didn't let us down. The seawatch continued throughout the afternoon, when a couple of Pomarine Skua made in onto the list, also a further Arctic Skua and Black Tern. Meanwhile, Mediterranean Gull were being noted on both sides of the area. After most of the all-dayers had retired, a more relaxed individual strolled onto Stanpit and added Common Sandpiper and a fully plumaged Knot to the haul. Also at that time, between 5:00 and 7:00, the waders were very obviously turning over quite quickly and improved counts of 25 Ringed Plover, 8 Grey Plover, 4 Sanderling and 4 Turnstone were made. All in all, a great day's birding that justified a good night's sleep and the late Sunday morning.


May 2nd

The second day of the month that traditionally holds the 'big-one'; and tomorrow it's all out to get it, with a big-day planned to bag as many species as possible in the recording area. Ominously though, if today is anything is to go by, it could be hard work. The best came from a couple of seawatches, when a Roseate Tern and 1, but possibly 2, pale-bellied Brent Goose, a Velvet Scoter, with 11 accompanying Common Scoter, and 2 Arctic Tern passed Hengistbury. In fact, a further 20 Common Scoter were also at sea, as was a Common Gull. The year's first Spotted Flycatcher was seen in the Wood, Cuckoo were on Stanpit and Wick, 9 Wheatear were on the Barn Field, a Garden Warbler was in the Wood, a Yellow Wagtail went over and a Whinchat was on Wick this evening, when there was also a noticeable influx of House Martin. The pick of the waders were on the Long Groyne - a Common Sandpiper and 3 Sanderling there; while there were at least 15 Whimbrel were in the harbour, but otherwise just 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin and a late Curlew to remark upon. The Jackdaw invasion continues, as birds were reported from all areas, the biggest flock being 16 over Hengistbury. To wrap up, a Great-crested Grebe was in the harbour mouth and the 2 Gadwall were on Wick Hams.


May 1st

On a generally quiet day, which saw a south-westerly breeze throughout, it was left to Stanpit in the late afternoon to salvage some interest, when a Roseate Tern was in Stanpit Bight, before heading off westward. Also of interest was a Snipe on Priory Marsh, it's late for them, likewise a first-summer Common Gull loafing off South Marsh. Jackdaw are indulging in their customary late spring visitations to the area, with Stanpit covered in them tonight - well, at least a dozen. A few Little Tern were around, also a Common Sandpiper, 14 Whimbrel, 10+ Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 20 or so Dunlin. In stark contrast to yesterday, the sea was a bitter disappointment, as only 12 Common Tern, 1 Razorbill and 1 Fulmar were noted. A Little Tern showed well in Barn Bight, while a Great-spotted Woodpecker was heard in the Wood, 2 Gadwall were on Wick Hams, a couple of singing Sedge Warbler were new-in, determined by location, and 3 Wheatear sat in the Barn Field, with a further bird at Stanpit.

As a result of some confusion regarding who was going to call whom, some late news just in from a morning visit to Stanpit. Like Hengistbury, a Sedge Warbler arrival was noted - up to 14 birds considered to be new dotted about - while a couple of Lesser Whitethroat were heard across the river in the northern part of Wick Fields. A young, female Marsh Harrier passed through, as did a Hobby, a Greenshank was seen and 14 Little Tern counted.

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