Sightings for September 2008


September 30th

It really was a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show this morning, when a shift in the wind to the south-west meant there was barely any migration going on. The best was a female-type Marsh Harrier that was first seen from Wick, before spending ten minutes or so quartering the area around Parky Meade Rail, even touching down on a couple of occasions. However, the local gulls and corvids would afford it no peace, meaning it quickly soared off high to the east. Other than a few token passerine migrants and around 50 House Martin, the only other half-decent record was of 2 Raven by the Coastguards. Off Fisherman's Bank today, the Spotted Redshank and 49 Dunlin were present.


September 29th

After the quiet weekend, things really heated up in a light northerly wind but, most importantly, no fog. Around 7:15, a group of Goldcrest was encountered moving off the head by the Double Dykes and it soon became apparent that 2 Yellow-browed Warbler were contained within. Around 15 minutes later, a calling bird could well have been a third, but it's impossible to say with certainty. Also by now, the first of the day's 6 Firecrest had been recorded. It then got arguably better, with a Richard's Pipit landing on the top of the head with a few Meadow Pipit. Unfortunately though, the flock was soon flushed back out to sea by a passing dog. However, the best was yet to come, as a juvenile Penduline Tit was sat calling on the top of a bush by the Ironstone Quarry, before heading off purposefully high and west. Dropping down a tier, but still of local quality, a couple of Ring Ouzel were about the Coastguards briefly and 2 Yellowhammer headed east. Back to the more routine and a clear influx of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, which numbered 126 and 100+ respectively, most of these seen moving off the head at the natural pinch-point between the HHC and the Barn. This report threatens to drag on, so a quick list of the commoner migrants, all on or over Hengistbury, is probably the best way to keep things fairly succinct. Meadow Pipit 230, House Martin 220, Swallow 150, alba Wagtail 145, Goldfinch 130, Siskin 116, Reed Bunting 110, Chaffinch 71, Song Thrush 15, Redpoll 12, Wheatear 7, Grey Wagtail 3, Yellow Wagtail 2 and Reed Warbler 2, plus singles of Brambling, Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart. There were also a few snippets of interest from waders, including: 3 Curlew Sandpiper off Fisherman's Bank and one leaving over Hengistbury, 4 Golden Plover north and 11 Grey Plover arriving together. Also inside the harbour, a further 3 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, the Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank and 57 Dunlin, while a lone Pintail eventually departed west. Finally, some intriguing Tawny Owl news involving 3 birds calling to each other around Two Riversmeet. The vocal exchanges were first heard around 3:00 this morning, but were also going on just before dawn.


September 28th

It was fog again this morning, which may be good for making spiders webs look pretty but is of little use for bird migration. In fact, it was Stanpit that seemingly held the most migrants, with a Spotted Flycatcher in Stanpit Scrubs and 2 Whitethroat, 8 Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, several Chiffchaff and a Coal Tit in or around the North Scrubs. As the murk eventually lifted, around 10:30, a sizeable swarm of House Martin appeared over the Clay Pool, but soon moved off. On a glorious Indian-summer afternoon, the falling tide saw: a Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 36 Dunlin, a Sandwich Tern and a Shoveler feeding or resting about Stanpit Bight. Meanwhile, a flock of 11 Grey Plover circled a couple of times, but decided to push on through to the west and a Hobby hunted over Wick Fields, where there was a dusting of Chiffchaff.


September 27th

Some quite brutal fog shrouded the area until at least 9:00 this morning. Even though the sun was up in cloudless skies, the northerly wind just kept supplying the pea-soup from further inland. In fact, when the western and eastern fringes were clear, a river of low cloud was still coming from the Avon Valley. Needless to say, the migration numbers were a fraction of the recent counts, so let's get those out of the way first with: 700 House Martin, 450 Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, 145 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit, 63 alba Wagtail, 6 Yellow Wagtail and 97 Siskin. A Redstart by the Ironstone Quarry, where a Little Grebe remains and a Kingfisher darted over, was the best on the ground, but there were odd pockets of Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and Blackcap elsewhere. Sandwich Tern are now very sparse, so one gets a mention today, as do 2 drake Tufted Duck east, a Shoveler and 3 Mediterranean Gull over the head, as well as 8 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock. In general, waders were hard to find in numbers; however, tide and light conditions have not been the best at Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 2 Knot and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit were recorded this afternoon, along with a drake Gadwall. There is also a Coot chick off Fisherman's Bank, which is thought to be a very late breeding record for this species.

Omissions: a Common Sandpiper and Willow Warbler were on Hengistbury, and a Peregrine again took prey at Stanpit.


September 26th

They kept on rolling past this morning, with more good visible migration counts made. Before the numbers though, the quality. The year's first Lapland Bunting passed low over the sandspit and even looked to land, but could not be found during a brief search. Earlier, a Woodlark passed over the Long Field and the season's first Brambling went over Wick, while a total of 11 Crossbill went by throughout the morning. Hirundines topped the numbers with 3650 House Martin and 2750 Swallow, also 2 latish Sand Martin. The Meadow Pipit figure of 850 may well be low as calls were constant, but not always attributable to a visible flock; and, moving with them, 9 Tree Pipit, 162 alba Wagtail, 7 Grey Wagtail, 6 Redpoll, 70 Chaffinch, 110 Linnet, 189 Siskin and 275 Goldfinch. On the ground, Goldcrest were dominant with 62 about Hengistbury as opposed to 53 Chiffchaff, although Wick this evening hosted another 45, also up to a dozen Blackcap. There was also a Coal Tit in the Nursery, one of 3 birds, which may have shown characteristics of having crossed the channel. A few bits and pieces were moving at sea, including: a Red-throated Diver, a Tufted Duck, a Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Common Scoter, 2 Razorbill, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 40 or so Gannet and 8 Common Gull. Also, a juvenile Little Gull feeding in The Run for a short while. On the afternoon low at Stanpit, the waders were few and far between, but 3 Knot, 1 Grey Plover, and 1 Greenshank were on view, as well as 18 Ringed Plover on the sandspit and a couple of Gadwall in the harbour. Of interest, news has just been received of an authenticated Wryneck record on the lawns bordering Southbourne Coast Road on the 12th of this month. Finally, thanks to Steve at Barton for the call regarding the sandpiper this morning.

Additional news: a late afternoon visit saw a Golden Plover at Stanpit, but that was sadly to meet its end in the talons of a female Peregrine. Also, a male bird hunting with her. This trip also saw the commoner wader numbers bolstered, with 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 65 Dunlin, the Spotted Redshank, a further Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover and 4 Snipe all being counted.


September 25th

A fine day for visible migration, mainly into the north-easterly breeze, although it was perhaps a case of quantity rather than quality. The biggest number comes courtesy of Meadow Pipit, as 2800 moved over, also 6 Tree Pipit, 14 Grey Wagtail and 14 Yellow Wagtail. The first traveling Reed Bunting and Greenfinch - 126 and 32 respectively - were noted, as were 5 Crossbill, 2 Redpoll, 193 Siskin, 118 Linnet and 56 Chaffinch. Hirundines, however, were significantly down from late - just 870 Swallow and a paltry 130 House Martin, but more of these did appear high over the area as the day wore on. On the ground, 40 each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were the most numerous, Blackcap weighed in at 11, Wheatear at 5, then singles of Redstart and Lesser Whitethroat. What was presumed to be the same Mistle Thrush as yesterday was on Hengistbury, but 23 Song Thrush were certain new arrivers. Also incoming was a single Golden Plover, while 23 Common Gull and 6 Common Scoter headed by west. A total of 6 Brent Goose were settled inside the harbour this afternoon and, earlier, 5 had pitched in briefly but then pushed off east, with a further 14 west at sea that included 2 pale-bellied birds. After the recent bonanza, a single Raven over the head seems a poor return, but 2 Mediterranean Gull were slightly more noteworthy. This morning on Stanpit, there were 4 Curlew Sandpiper, then, throughout the day a Ruff, the Spotted Redshank, 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank, at least 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, a Snipe, 76 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover were counted. Not too much on the marsh in terms of passerines, other than a Lesser Whitethroat in Stanpit Scrubs and a Wheatear on Crouch Hill.

Additional news: an omission from the migration figures were alba Wagtail, which came in at 140 birds. Also, 2 Pochard and 6 Gadwall upriver in the morning. A Spotted Flycatcher was in Wick Fields and a Little Grebe was on the Ironstone Quarry, where they haven't been seen for a while. Finally, the arrival of 6 Knot into Stanpit Bight this evening raised the day-total to 8 birds.


September 24th

An adult female Hen Harrier coming in off the sea and heading north-east was the pick of the morning, which also saw an unidentified harrier, but probably a Monty's, heading out southbound. It was the best day so far for Meadow Pipit, with 1350 counted on the move, also 10 Tree Pipit, 15 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail and 155 alba Wagtail. Hinting at what is to come next month, finches are starting to pass through - the best being at least 3 Crossbill, but also the season's first 26 migrant Linnet, 4 Redpoll and 120 Siskin. Also more suggestive of October were thrushes, with single Redwing and Mistle Thrush, as well as 6 Song Thrush, over Hengistbury. All of the House Martin passage was packed into a 45-minute spell from 7:30, when 7000 moved quickly past, also 3300 Swallow and 65 Sand Martin. Later in the morning, however, smaller numbers of Swallow again began to appear. A Pied Flycatcher put on a brief show at the end of the head, but other than 30 Goldcrest, 6 Blackcap and 2 Wheatear, the area has been largely deserted by passerines. Raven again feature, 5 more east, while a Hobby was over the harbour and an Arctic Skua passed at sea. From Fisherman's Bank in the late morning, a total of 4 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Spotted Redshank could be seen; and a slightly later wader count numbered 2 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 86 Dunlin and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. A further 14 of the latter were in Holloway's Dock, along with 2 more Greenshank.


September 23nd

Although they weren't counted, House Martin were described as being just about everywhere this morning. The estimate between 7:30 and 9:30 is 5000 birds, but the observer himself readily admits this is likely to be on the very low side of reality. In fact, just a short distance to the east, the recently formed Barton Ornithological Group, popularly known as BOG, recorded almost 16000 birds over a similar period, including a pure white individual! Meanwhile, the Swallow approximation was 800 birds and 9 Raven, 7+2, headed east. Also overhead, 154 Meadow Pipit, 85 Siskin a Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail; but the settled migrant numbers are barely worth a mention, save for a Sedge Warbler and Garden Warbler being amongst the five trapped birds. A statistic that underlines how quiet it was. The information services suggest Stanpit was the place to be in the morning, when a Swift, 3 Curlew Sandpiper and the Spotted Redshank all made it onto the day's report. The sandspit has barely been visited of late, so it was good to get some news from there. A couple of Jackdaw on the beach is far from usual, whereas 9 Sanderling, 6 Ringed Plover and 5 Turnstone were perhaps more expected. Again, Holloway's Dock topped the Black-tailed Godwit count, 13 there today, with Stanpit contributing a couple more, plus singles of Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as 3 Knot. Late this afternoon, a couple of Kingfisher were up and down Fisherman's Bank; and, this morning, a Great-spotted Woodpecker was about Hengistbury.


September 22nd

The first Ring Ouzel of the autumn was on the top of the head this morning; but, in general, migrant numbers were again somewhat reduced. In fact, it was a morning for the corvid-philes , with a total of 16 Raven being recorded, including a group of 13 that came in from the west. Also, a party of 5 Rook moving through. The bright conditions allowed some of the passing 135 alba Wagtail to be identified as just that, i.e. white, while 20 Yellow Wagtail, 12 Grey Wagtail, 570 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit and 220 Siskin were also logged. Around 6000 and 3000 of House Martin and Swallow were estimated respectively - these bringing in at least 3 Hobby to try their luck. Over 50 Chiffchaff were spread across Hengistbury and Wick, but only 2 Willow Warbler were hanging on with them; also 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, 4 Blackcap and 3 Coal Tit. To finish the passerines, a further Spotted Flycatcher was by RIBS Marine on Stanpit, where a Grey Wagtail was overhead this evening. A Curlew Sandpiper was about Stanpit Bight this evening, when the Spotted Redshank, 2 Knot, a Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and around 45 Dunlin gave the peak wader figures for the day. Earlier, however, the best Black-tailed Godwit count, 19 birds in all, had come from Holloway's Dock. Although, the Wigeon numbers have dipped away, Teal were up at around 30, plus 2 accompanying Shoveler.


September 21st

Diminishing returns again today, with the regular sub-Saharan migrants now ebbing away. For example, just 2 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 2 Wheatear, 5 Sedge Warbler, a Willow Warbler, 8 Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler counted on Hengistbury and Wick, where there were also 21 Blackcap and at least 25 Chiffchaff. Overhead, hirundine numbers were down at 3000 House Martin and 2000 Swallow, while passerines comprised 142 Siskin, 210 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, plus one decked on Wick, 21 Yellow Wagtail, 13 Grey Wagtail and 48 alba Wagtail, also 2 Grey Heron high south-west. The day's best was a Jack Snipe flushed from the top of the head, from where a small arrival of 14 Snipe was also recorded. Although, equally notable, was a westerly passage of 22 Common Gull, along with 2 Mediterranean Gull. A Hobby was over the harbour briefly, as were 2 Raven, 5 Tufted Duck and 2 Shoveler. So far, no wader reports from Stanpit itself, but a Spotted Redshank was heard from Hengistbury, a Common Sandpiper was on the HHC slip, 19 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover were on the HHC mudbar, and a Greenshank fed in Barn Bight. The regular Hengistbury Nuthatch was again present, with a second bird in the golf course conifers at Stanpit making it a noteworthy two for the day. News just in from Stanpit, where there were 2 Knot and an unsuccessful Peregrine.

Additional news: the evening at Stanpit saw 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as 2 Raven going to roost in the Nursery.


September 20th

The clear overnight skies saw a clear-out of most grounded migrants and the overhead passage, although happening, was a shadow of the previous few days. The highlight was a Short-eared Owl over the Barn Field, then the HHC reeds and upriver, while being watched from both sides of the harbour. Also noteworthy was a Green Sandpiper, firstly in Brewer's Creek, but later off East Marsh before leaving north. A first-winter male Redstart was very confiding on Crouch Hill for the attendees of the new visitor centre opening, while further singles were on Wick and Hengistbury. Best of the other settled passerines were: a Grasshopper Warbler on the top of the head, a Pied Flycatcher by the Long Field, 8 Spotted Flycatcher on Hengistbury and one in the North Scrubs, 3 Whinchat on Wick with two more in the Barn Field, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler; but also 43 Goldcrest, 42 Blackcap, 30 Whitethroat and 3 Wheatear across the area. A total of 6 Coal Tit appeared to be on the move overhead, as were a late Swift, 43 Yellow Wagtail, including an HHC reedbed roost of 25, 8 Grey Wagtail, 51 alba Wagtail, 310 Meadow Pipit, 5 Tree Pipit, 130 Siskin, 1700 House Martin and 2000 Swallow. The pick of the Stanpit waders were single Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, with support of the Spotted Redshank, 3 Knot, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Greenshank, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Ringed Plover and 50 or so Dunlin. This afternoon, a Little Gull was in the harbour, a Hobby patrolled the airspace, a Kittiwake moved by at sea and at least 8 Shoveler joined the Wigeon throng. In the Wood, the Nuthatch and Marsh Tit could both be encountered and, on the clear afternoon skies, a kettle of 17 Common Buzzard thermalled over the Avon Valley.


September 19th

A little slower than of late, but still a good number of grounded migrants, despite the clear skies. In fact, one of the best spots this morning was along the fresh ground created by the path widening on Wick Fields. At least 8 Redstart were jumping around there, as were Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Blackcap. Before dealing with the numbers, mention must be made of a Tawny Owl that was inadvertently flushed from its roost in the Nursery this morning. It's not always easy to connect with one of these during the course of a year and even less likely on Hengistbury. Again, hirundines headed the numbers on the wing, but in much reduced number than yesterday and with Swallow dominating - 4500 versus 3000 House Martin. Other travellers numbered: 48 Reed Bunting, the first real day of movement for these, 570 Meadow Pipit, 470 Siskin, 118 Goldfinch, 32 alba Wagtail, 16 Grey Wagtail, 14 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit. Meanwhile, the bushes on the head held a further 6 Redstart, a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 96 Chiffchaff, 26 Blackcap, 9 Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Wheatear, 2 Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler. This afternoon, the North Scrubs held more than its fair share of Blackcap, with over 30 in the brambles, as well as 2 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 wandering Coal Tit in the nearby sycamores and conifers respectively. Back to the morning, when a Redpoll over Hengistbury was something of an oddity for the date, also a Golden Plover, a Pintail, 167 Wigeon in the harbour and 2 Raven over. On Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was seen from the 'log' and Fisherman's Bank, as were 2 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper and 40 or so Dunlin. To finish up, Kingfisher were in Barn Bight and off Fisherman's Bank, with a showy Water Rail at the latter site.

Additional news: a couple of first-winter Mediterranean Gull arrived over the Barn Field in the morning, while further afternoon and evening visits to Stanpit produced: a Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Knot, 4 Snipe and a Ringed Plover in Stanpit Bight; as well as 3 Wheatear, a Redstart and a Whinchat around the enclosure on Crouch Hill. Also, a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher about the marsh.


September 18th

Another great day; and with the forecast looking similar for the next week or so, the best could be yet to come. Just after midday, a Wryneck was showing by the Natterjack Pond in the North Scrubs, but subsequently proved elusive. However, a Treecreeper in that area was a good local record. This evening, there was something of a raptor fest over Hengistbury, but watched from the 'log' on Stanpit. Firstly, a Short-eared Owl was seen being hassled by gulls over the Salt Hurns, before it pitched into the trees. Then, around five minutes later, a Honey Buzzard moved east along the top of the head, first mobbed by crows, but then by the owl as well! Both appear to have roosted in the Ironstone Quarry area. Late this afternoon, 2 Spotted Redshank and 2 Curlew Sandpiper were off Fisherman's Bank; while Stanpit Bight held 5 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot, 15 Black-tailed Godwit and around 15 Dunlin. There were lots of birds moving over Hengistbury between dawn and mid-morning, including a hirundine spectacle estimated to comprise 14000 House Martin and 600 Swallow, although smaller numbers of the latter were seen passing through all day. A Merlin headed the other aerial migrants, which numbered: 630 Meadow Pipit, 325 Siskin, 85 Goldfinch, 28 Yellow Wagtail, 22 Chaffinch, 17 Tree Pipit, 17 alba Wagtail and 9 Grey Wagtail, all into the easterly wind. It really is quite early to see the finches on the move, Siskin perhaps excepted. Meanwhile, on the deck, 20 Blackcap, 18 Whitethroat, 11 Wheatear, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Garden Warbler, 2 Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher were also recorded. At sea, 3 Brent Goose passed west, as did 16 Common Tern, 2 Arctic Tern and a Mediterranean Gull. Early on, moving wildfowl were very conspicuous: for example, 148 Wigeon, 39 Teal, 3 Pintail, 3 Gadwall and 2 Shoveler. Also, 17 Snipe and a Knot through the area. Peregrine marauded morning and afternoon, allowing a single Ruff to be picked out amongst the Lapwing. Finally, thanks to Ian for covering the last eight days that saw me on an enforced trip to the US, during which time I lost the opportunity to add up to six species to my ailing harbour life-list!

Additional news: Stanpit also held a Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper and 3 Wheatear.


September 17th

Two harbour 'megas' were seen on Hengistbury this morning, albeit only briefly and only to the lucky finders in each case. Firstly, a Corncrake flew a few feet over the Long Field before it buried itself in the largest bramble patch available, never to be seen again. Then, about an hour later, a Bluethroat was seen on the path leading down to the HHC reedbed. Again, subsequent searches failed to relocate the bird. Even without the 'rarities' it was a good morning, with a good selection of raptors and many passerines on the move. A Marsh Harrier, 3 Hobby, Merlin and Peregrine all passed over the harbour. The falcons possibly tempted by the number of hirundines passing through. A total of 12000 House Martin and 2700 Swallow were logged in around four hours; also counted were 460 Meadow Pipit, 330 Siskin, 31 Yellow Wagtail, 16 Song Thrush, 16 Pied Wagtail, 11 Tree Pipit and 9 Grey Wagtail. A Knot was seen arriving, while a Spotted Redshank left the harbour and 9 Common Tern moved through south-west. At least 90 Chiffchaff were on Hengistbury plus 13 Whitethroat, 9 Sedge Warbler, 8 Blackcap, 5 Wheatear, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. The first Brent Goose of the autumn were seen, with 10 birds moving west past the cliff. In the harbour, were 6 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall, a Kingfisher was in Brewer's Creek with another off Fisherman's Bank. On the Mudeford Sandspit, there were 45 Ringed Plover, 15 Sanderling, 12 Turnstone and 10 Dunlin, while on Stanpit wader numbers were well down with just 14 Dunlin, up to 8 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 2 Knot, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Black-tailed Godwit.

Evening update: a Little Stint was on Stanpit.


September 16th

With some cloud cover and a light north-easterly wind, optimism was high this morning but, with the exception of hirundines, numbers of migrants were well down on recent days. For three hours from just after 7am an estimated 4800 Swallow and 1250 House Martin moved south-east through the harbour. Moving in a similar direction were 156 Meadow Pipit, 123 Siskin, 70 Goldfinch, 22 Reed Bunting, 18 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail and 1 Tree Pipit, while 3 Grey Heron went south-west. It was also a struggle to find birds on the ground with just 23 Chiffchaff, 11 Blackcap, 8 Whitethroat, a couple of Willow Warbler and singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Whinchat. A Kingfisher was behind the HHC and 2 Black-tailed Godwit were on the mudbar off there, while 3 Little Grebe were in Barn Bight and a single Raven went over. Waders on Stanpit were 71 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 3 Sanderling, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe and a Knot. A total of 21 birds were ringed including 6 Sedge Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Check back to yesterday for some late news.


September 15th

This morning's highlight was a juvenile Barred Warbler, which was trapped and ringed on Hengistbury. This is the first record of this species since 2003. Earlier, a Honey Buzzard headed south at 6:45am, while a second bird was seen to the north some time later. For the third day running an Osprey was seen; the bird drifted in from the east just off the Beach Huts before it headed off due south. Other raptors on the move were 11 Sparrowhawk west, 5 Common Buzzard and a Hobby. Today's visible migration watch yielded 11 Crossbill, plus 530 Meadow Pipit, 430 Siskin, 180 Goldfinch, 54 Reed Bunting, 45 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Grey Wagtail and 6 Tree Pipit, while hirundines numbered 4000 Swallow, 2000 House Martin and 65 Sand Martin. Wildfowl were also on the move with 130 Wigeon west, 6 Pintail, 3 Gadwall and 3 Shelduck; and 26 Teal were on Wick Hams. Arriving waders included 15 Snipe, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Little Stint and 1 Ruff, also Curlew Sandpiper was heard. At sea, a Great Skua moved east, 16 Common Gull went west and 2 Mediterranean Gull were over the harbour. Grounded migrants included 74 Chiffchaff, 11 Wheatear, 5 Willow Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Redstart and 2 Garden Warbler. A total of 15 Grey Heron moved south-west and 7 Raven were seen today. Waders on Stanpit were 47 Dunlin, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 each of Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Knot and Common Sandpiper. Including the Barred Warbler, 52 birds were trapped and ringed, among them 11 Sedge Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 8 Reed Warbler, 4 Blackcap and 3 Willow Warbler.

Evening update from Stanpit: 4 Greenshank, 3 Ruff and 2 Knot were present plus 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill.


September 14th

On a fine morning migrants were plentiful once again, although with a major movement of Honey Buzzard occurring down the eastern side of the country the sky received a lot of attention. This produced the morning's highlight, when a distant Osprey was watched heading south-east possibly over Stanpit village; also over harbour airspace were 8 Common Buzzard. There was also the bizzare sight of every bird in the harbour taking to the sky when a juvenile Gannet flew through before heading out to sea over Double Dykes, escorted by a few of the local corvids. Hirundines again featured with 1170 House Martin, 645 Swallow and 24 Sand Martin; other fly overs included 125 Meadow Pipit, 72 Siskin, 22 Yellow Wagtail, 13 Tree Pipit, 11 Grey Wagtail and 3 Grey Heron, the latter heading south-west. Most of the expected migrants were present on Hengistbury with counts of 105 Chiffchaff, 62 Blackcap, 42 Willow Warbler, 18 Goldcrest, 17 Wheatear, 6 Whitethroat, 4 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Redstart, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 2 Whinchat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Coal Tit. Raven visited the area again today with four birds spending some time in the Nursery, before heading back up the Valley. Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen on both sides of the harbour, while singles of Pintail, Greenshank and Snipe were seen from Hengistbury. On Stanpit, wildfowl numbers continue to increase with 95 Wigeon and 25 Teal this morning. Wader numbers from there were 53 Dunlin, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Spotted Redshank and 1 Knot. Finally 4 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill.

Ringing today produced 51 birds including 17 Chiffchaff and 15 Blackcap.

Evening update from Stanpit: wader numbers were 76 Dunlin, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank, 4 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel and 1 Spotted Redshank, also present were 39 Yellow Wagtail and a Peregrine passed over


September 13th

Despite the Harbour being blanketed in fog until mid-morning, there were still plenty of birds around today. Rather frustratingly, a Dotterel was heard three or four times but could not be located! Occasionally the fog cleared, so that birds passing overhead could be counted; the numbers, mostly moving south-west, were 430 Meadow Pipit, 35 Siskin, 29 Yellow Wagtail, 21 Common Tern, 7 Tree Pipit, 5 Crossbill and 5 Grey Wagtail. Once again phylloscs were the most numerous on the ground with 86 Chiffchaff and 23 Willow Warbler; also 61 Blackcap, 16 Goldcrest, 14 Whitethroat, 6 Sedge Warbler, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Wheatear, 5 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Whinchat. Both Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper were heard, while 60 Black-tailed Godwit arrived and 7 Avocet passed through. Finally for Hengistbury, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight and 3 Raven were seen. On Stanpit this afternoon, only 40 Black-tailed Godwit remained, also 6 Greenshank and one each of Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Common Sandpiper, plus 6 Wheatear on South Marsh. A female-type Marsh Harrier came in from the north and appeared to drop into the Wick reedbed. Finally, the Wigeon flock has now increased to 78. Just 20 birds were trapped and ringed today, including 6 each of Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

Evening update: an Osprey was seen from Stanpit this evening; the bird moved east to west over the Beach Huts. On the rising tide 6 Knot and 4 Sanderling were noted.


September 12th

The first fine day for some time predictably produced the best migration of the autumn so far. Most of the common species were logged in good numbers, with the highlight being 2 Tree Sparrow that moved east over the head. On Stanpit, just one Grey Phalarope was seen today and 7 Curlew Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper were on the marsh this afternoon. It was a good morning for hirundine passage with 4000 Swallow, 2500 House Martin and 360 Sand Martin logged. Also overhead were 370 Meadow Pipit, 188 Siskin, 28 Tree Pipit, 23 Grey Wagtail, 21 Yellow Wagtail and a Mistle Thrush, while grounded on Hengistbury were 89 Chiffchaff, 53 Blackcap, 40 Wheatear, 35 Willow Warbler, 23 Whitethroat, 7 Whinchat, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Redstart and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. A Nuthatch flew around the top of the head before dropping into the sycamores and 5 Great Spotted Woodpecker were around the area. There was also the unusual sight of a Guillemot in Barn Bight. To round up on Hengistbury, a Merlin flew north, 6 Raven went east, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight and both Green Sandpiper and Mediterranean Gull were seen. Moving over to Stanpit, although 86 Wigeon and a Pintail were seen arriving during the morning only 25 Wigeon were present later. Wader counts were 60 Dunlin, 54 Ringed Plover, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Snipe, 5 Greenshank, 2 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Knot, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Ruff, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. Another 5 Wheatear were on Stanpit this afternoon and a Peregrine was over the area. A total of 39 birds were trapped and ringed this morning including: a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 6 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 4 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler and 2 Cetti's Warbler.


September 11th

Another day of quality birds with the highlight being a juvenile Sabine's Gull that was found roosting on South Marsh at lunchtime. Unfortunately, the bird only stayed for about an hour before flying off strongly in a south-westerly direction. The 2 Grey Phalarope were still present, both on South Marsh, and there was also a report of the Pectoral Sandpiper from Stanpit. On what was otherwise a poor seawatch, an adult Pomarine Skua was seen attacking a Sandwich Tern just off the Beach. Back to Stanpit, where Wood Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover put in brief appearances, also 45 Dunlin, 28 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Ringed Plover, 6 Greenshank, 4 Snipe, 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Knot and 1 Sanderling; and a further 7 Black-tailed Godwit headed north. This morning saw a small movement of hirundines with just 300 Swallow, 30 Sand Martin and 20 House Martin logged, also overhead were 5 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Grey Wagtail. There were 4 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, 2 Whinchat on Wick and a Grasshopper Warbler in North Scrubs. The Nuthatch was in the Nursery, a Kingfisher flew over Holloway's Dock and a Raven was on Stanpit, where the Wigeon flock has increased to 18. Finally, to round up, the seawatch produced 28 Sandwich Tern, 10 Sanderling and 7 Common Tern moving west.

Evening update: 5 Curlew Sandpiper on Stanpit.

Check back to yesterday for some late news.


September 10th

An Ortolan Bunting put in a cameo appearance today, first seen perched on the Double Dykes in the pouring rain it then flew towards the Barn Field, but wasn't seen again. Although there was no news of the Grey Phalarope from Stanpit this morning, either that or a different bird did move west past the Beach Huts. The seawatch also produced the first Red-breasted Merganser of the autumn, plus an Arctic Skua, 112 Sandwich Tern, 46 Common Tern, 4 Pintail and 3 Common Scoter, all moving west, while 5 Garganey headed south-west over Wick Fields. In the Wood, were 2 Firecrest, Nuthatch and Treecreeper, while scattered around the head were 40 Blackcap and 30 Goldcrest, also 3 Whinchat on Wick. Another Treecreeper was seen by the Civic Offices. Overhead, around 230 Sand Martin moved south, also 4 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail. On Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was present together with 39 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel and one each of Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit. A tern flock off Mudeford Quay held 3 Arctic Tern, while 3 Turnstone and a Sanderling moved past. Finally, the Wigeon on Stanpit now number 14.

Evening update: The Grey Phalarope was on Stanpit plus 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank and 5 Teal. On Wick, the 3 Whinchat were still present and 4 Rook passed over.

Late news: The Pectoral Sandpiper was seen and photographed (see above) on a small pool by the river this morning. There was also a report of a 'ringtail harrier', but no further details.


September 9th

The rain curtailed any morning activity so, other than a Nuthatch by the House on Stilts at lunchtime and a Common Sandpiper on Mudeford Quay early on, it was left to Stanpit in the afternoon to provide the information. Just one Grey Phalarope was noted, a particularly tame bird on the South Marsh pools. The rest is slightly more routine, although a count of 15 Wheatear from the marsh is quite a good number. Small waders included only around 30 Dunlin and 10 Ringed Plover, while the larger variants numbered: 2 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Snipe. The 12 Wigeon and 2 Teal have not yet been joined by more, but soon will be. Conversely, terns are ebbing away - just 20 Sandwich Tern and 10 Common Tern around today.


September 8th

A nice, still day with lots to write about. Firstly, the highlights: a probable Ortolan went over Wick Fields, but was not encountered well enough for a firm claim; the couple of Grey Phalarope were at Stanpit throughout the day, with one making a brief excursion to Barn Bight; and an Osprey passed over westwards, seen from The Haven on Mudeford Quay. Incidentally, if you are visiting the area to see the phalaropes, please do try and keep off the open saltmarsh and take heed of the signage. It was an excellent first few hours for migrant passerines and totals between the HHC and the Nursery include: a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Garden Warbler, 119 Blackcap, 46 Chiffchaff, 31 Willow Warbler, 25 Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler, a Whinchat and 10 Wheatear - also 11 of the latter from other parts of the area. Meadow Pipit were on the move for the first time of the autumn, 225 directly south, also 127 Yellow Wagtail, 15 Tree Pipit and 7 Grey Wagtail, while Siskin were heard on a couple of occasions. Wader counts came from Stanpit, the sandspit and Barn Bight, although it was the former site that held the lion's share. From the various numbers received, estimated peaks are: 82 Dunlin, 52 Ringed Plover, 7 Sanderling, 12 Turnstone, 2 Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 14 Common Sandpiper, 5 Snipe, 2 Sanderling and 1 Whimbrel. Duck featured again, with the best being 2 Pochard in the harbour and 2 Tufted Duck west, but 12 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall and 2 Teal were also noted. A juvenile Great-crested Grebe was checking out Stanpit Bight, where it is unlikely to have much success, at least 7 Raven were over, as was a Peregrine, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker was on the Long Field. To complete the field observations, a late flurry at Stanpit produced 3 Arctic Tern, a Rook over and 23 Black-tailed Godwit. Meanwhile, the much reduced wind meant that ringing could again take place, with a total of 51 birds caught, including: 11 Sedge Warbler, 6 Reed Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler and a Kingfisher.


September 7th

There were still 2, but almost certainly 3, Grey Phalarope around Stanpit Bight throughout the day. Sometimes showing well, but sometimes elusive in the hidden creeks and pools. There was also a bird on a puddle behind the Hungry Hiker at Hengistbury for an hour or so this morning, but just before that was found one had been seen flying across the harbour from Stanpit. During its time on Hengistbury, the bird exhibited the tameness the species is famed for, as it fed just a few feet from the path. In fact, it wasn't until a dog literally sniffed it that it decided to take flight! This evening, a couple roosting together on the open water of Stanpit Bight was an event to remember, as was their flight calls. Also late this afternoon, the Pectoral Sandpiper put in another cameo performance, being seen briefly in the wader roost on East Marsh. Ruff have been incredibly scarce this year, so a single bird on South Marsh tonight is something of a premium, although there were 5 earlier in the day outside of the recording area on Coward's Marsh. Normally, 3 Arctic Skua and a Black Tern would be considered a fair return for the sea; but today, in comparison to the neighbouring site of Hurst, it was really rather poor. Thanks for the call though. In terms of passerines, at least 10 Wheatear were on Stanpit, plus 2 more on Wick, while up to 9 Grey Wagtail, 15 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Jackdaw passed over, and 15 Chiffchaff and a few Blackcap were on the fields. A Green Sandpiper toured both sides of the harbour in the morning, when 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, a Knot, 2 Greenshank, a Sanderling, 90 Dunlin and 55 Ringed Plover were also recorded, nearly all of these in Stanpit Bight. In the Wood, the Marsh Tit and Nuthatch were again present, and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight. Currently, one of the Grey Phalarope is being 'long-lensed' and further pictures may appear later.

Additional news: late items from Stanpit include the Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank and around 250 Canada Goose arriving to roost.


September 6th

Eventually, Grey Phalarope were recorded today. In the morning, one was on the sea off the Beach Huts briefly, but another showed rather better in Stanpit Bight. Then, this afternoon, two were seen together in the bight, before disappearing into the numerous hidden creeks on East and South Marshes. Later, there was a further record from the log, but in the company of a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper that was presumably the same as at Coward's Marsh on Thursday. As a result of the strong wind, the sea received plenty of attention, turning in: 2 Manx Shearwater, a Black Tern, an Arctic Skua, 3 Fulmar, 2 Common Scoter, 65 Sandwich Tern, 46 Common Tern and 11 Arctic Tern. Meanwhile, a Shag in Barn Bight made for a very good record indeed, as these are rarely experienced within the harbour itself. Amazingly, despite the conditions, there was some migrant passerine interest with 2 Pied Flycatcher and a Spotted Flycatcher in the Wood, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail over, and 4 Wheatear on Stanpit. There was also a reasonable selection of waders, including a Curlew Sandpiper and 35 Dunlin in Holloway's Dock, and 40 Sanderling about the sandspit; while Stanpit hosted an impressive 15 Greenshank in the morning, while other totals from the marsh involved the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover and a Snipe. Finally, the Marsh Tit and the Nuthatch were again noted on Hengistbury.


September 5th

A month's rain in a day was the prediction and, after the early evening lashing, it was probably true! In the drier afternoon, a seawatch saw 2 Black Tern approach from the west and pass over the Double Dykes, also a reasonably close Balearic Shearwater west, along with a Fulmar in the same direction, and a Kittiwake east. Holloway's Dock was checked for the so far elusive phalaropes, but was found to contain just 1 Greenshank. Meanwhile, a similar exercise on a very flooded Stanpit could register just the Spotted Redshank on North Marsh. The only passerines for the day were 2 Wheatear on Hengistbury.

Additional news: in the evening, a couple of Fulmar were wheeling around in The Run, then full waterproofs were donned and Stanpit was again checked out. The best were 4 Arctic Tern, in with 50 or so Common Tern, and a noticeable increase of Black-tailed Godwit, up to 35 birds. Also new were 6 Grey Plover, 4 of which left north, and a breeding plumaged Little Grebe in Mother Siller's Channel. The Dunlin and Ringed Plover were not countable as they cowered in the distance on Blackberry Point, however, 2 Knot, 2 Sanderling and 2 Common Sandpiper could be picked out. The 12 Wigeon were still about, as were 6 Wheatear, and, as dusk fell, the Canada Goose trickled in to roost.


September 4th

Waterfowl provided the only glimmer of interest today. The best were a couple of eclipsing drake Tufted Duck resting in Stanpit Bight this evening, but a very bedraggled Greylag Goose standing in The Run during the early morning deluge made for a strange sight indeed. Also on Stanpit, the 12 Wigeon and 3 Teal. The peak Dunlin and Ringed Plover counts, 80 and 60 respectively, along with 2 Sanderling, were managed from Fisherman's Bank this morning just prior to the downpour. Slightly later, the Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, a Knot and 3 Black-tailed Godwit were also counted from the bank; while this afternoon, a Common Sandpiper was on South Marsh, as were 67 Sandwich Tern. This evening, several likely areas of the harbour were checked for phalaropes, but to no avail.

Omission: a Wheatear that looked as if it might have recently departed Greenland was on South Marsh.

Of interest from just a mile or so north of the area was a Pectoral Sandpiper on Coward's Marsh until 6:15 tonight, when it was flushed by a Hobby and departed harbour-bound in the company of 2 Greenshank. The bird is currently being looked for around Stanpit Bight, but another cloud-burst is not helping.


September 3rd

The only report so far comes from Fisherman's Bank this morning, when 2 Curlew Sandpiper were mixed in with 65 Dunlin and 25 Ringed Plover, with other interest coming from 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Wigeon.

Additional news: the now regular dusk visit to Stanpit saw the Wigeon increase to 12 birds - a sure sign of winter; also a Gadwall and singles of Knot, Greenshank and Bar-tailed Godwit.


September 2nd

Despite the overnight blow, there was again a distinct lack of seabirds off the sandspit this morning. In fact, just 6 Common Scoter, 40 Common Tern west and a close Razorbill on the water are worthy of mention. A wader roost held 4 Sanderling, 73 Ringed Plover and 29 Dunlin, while migrant passerines were represented by 6 Yellow Wagtail and 5 Wheatear. However, other than the Nuthatch and the Marsh Tit in the Wood, there is nothing else to report from Hengistbury. Stanpit Bight is being worked hard in the evenings, but not really delivering, although an adult Arctic Tern made one of the visits tonight. The Spotted Redshank showed well from the log, as did 4 Greenshank, a Knot and 2 Black-tailed Godwit; but 2 Sanderling were more distant on Blackberry Point, where they mingled with similar numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover as yesterday. More may follow, as Stanpit is still being tested.

Additional news: the later Stanpit visit added 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Teal, 3 Wigeon and a Common Gull to the day's tally.


September 1st

Hard to believe it's September already, although today's weather - a strong south-westerly that was taking leaves of trees - actually gave it a feel of being a month or so later. Not surprisingly, land birding was poor; but surprisingly, the sea was almost as bad! For example, throughout the day, our resident 'hutty' was able to log just 40 Common Tern west and a handful of Gannet. Only 1 Yellow Wagtail was about the sandspit and the wader roost there comprised: 4 Sanderling, 45 Dunlin and 22 Ringed Plover. Meanwhile, the only migrant passerines on Hengistbury were 2 Whinchat on the Long Field, a Redstart on the Barn Field and a Tree Pipit over. On Stanpit this afternoon, a storm blown adult Kittiwake roosted with the land-lubbing gulls on South Marsh and 3 Pintail north were the first of the season, also a couple of Teal onto East Marsh. Other than Ringed Plover at 53 birds, wader numbers were down, with counts totalling 100 Dunlin, 4 Sanderling, 3 Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and, of course, the Spotted Redshank. Finally, a big word of thanks to the HHC staff and visitors for collecting and caring for the Swarovski bins they found in their car park. Moral of the story, don't drive away with a set of optics balanced on the bumper of a car!

Additional news: a Spotted Flycatcher was in the Wood and a Fulmar was offshore.

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