Sightings for April 2009


April 30th

With the forecast rain holding off until later in the morning and a south-south-easterly breeze, the sea was given a bash. From the Beach Huts, singles of both Pomarine Skua and Arctic Skua headed east, as did 16 Common Tern, 9 Whimbrel, 85 Sandwich Tern, a Red-breasted Merganser, 48 Common Scoter, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Knot and an auk sp. - all these between 6:30 and 9:30. Meanwhile, around 8:00, a Great Northern Diver came through the harbour westward and passed over the HHC. Likewise, 2 Raven and 2 Jackdaw, while a Great Crested Grebe was by Barn Bight. From Fisherman's Bank, 63 Black-tailed Godwit were counted and the in-harbour total for Whimbrel was 18 birds.


April 29th

On a fine morning, there was an early flurry of migrants around the Double Dykes, but this soon died away. However, during the relatively brief period of activity, a Redstart, a Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Garden Warbler, 26 Whitethroat, 23 Willow Warbler and 11 Blackcap all moved through. Meanwhile, waders were checking in and out with 18 Whimbrel, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Sanderling and 3 Grey Plover noted; while 67 Black-tailed Godwit were settled off Fisherman's Bank and a group of 5 Common Tern took the year-total to 26 birds, which is an incredibly low figure given it's almost May! A couple of Raven were over Hengistbury, the Cuckoo was again on Wick Fields, at least 5 Mediterranean Gull headed west and, just in case anyone is interested, the flock of 9 Greylag Goose in Parky Meade Rail could well be the largest ever recorded in the area. Finally, but for no apparent reason, there was a murder of 60 Carrion Crow loitering with intent around Wick Hams.


April 28th

A vast improvement in the weather this morning saw a Turtle Dove on the northern-most Wick Field, as well as a Cuckoo heard around there, plus a Hobby and a male Marsh Harrier overhead, and 2 Lesser Whitethroat trapped and ringed at the HHC. Some novelty wildfowl interest was provided by 6 Greylag Goose in Parky Meade Rail briefly, but more serious records involve a Tufted Duck by Blackberry Point this evening and a Great-crested Grebe on the river. Stanpit was tested either side of the lunchtime showers and came up with a single Greenshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Snipe, 6 Dunlin, 7 Whimbrel and a maximum of 76 Black-tailed Godwit. Also, at least 4 Mediterranean Gull, a Wheatear and 33 Shelduck around the marsh, while at sea 4 Common Scoter moved by.


April 27th

Some quite dismal weather, which resulted in the only 'field' work being conducted from cars on Mudeford Quay and the Argyle Road slip. The former site produced a Red-throated Diver, a Fulmar, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Little Tern, 1 Common Tern and 12 Sandwich Tern; while the Knot that was present last night was seen across Stanpit Creek, as well as 9 Whimbrel and 37 Black-tailed Godwit. Although not noted today, most of the Mediterranean Gull over the last few weeks have signalled their presence by their distinctive call.


April 26th

Just as the concerns were setting in that the on-going, alarming decline of the Cuckoo would perhaps mean no spring records, an individual in Smithy's Field this morning was something of a relief. It will be most welcome if this proves to be a breeding bird, rather than a passing visitor. Little else in that part of the recording area though, other than a Yellow Wagtail over. The brisk onshore wind suggested the sea should have put in a much better performance, but it was not to be. Watches were made morning and afternoon, and in the aggregate 2-hours produced just: 27 Sandwich Tern, 14 Common Scoter and a Fulmar, while a further 40 Sandwich Tern were on the bar in the The Run. On the subject of terns, Common Tern numbers are currently abnormally low, something underlined by the fact that a flock 10 over Barn Field this morning constitutes the season's highest day-total! At Stanpit, the very high spring water during most of the day made wader recording quite difficult, meaning only a vocal Greenshank and 9 Whimbrel could be logged - these actually from Hengistbury. To round up, 12 Willow Warbler, a Wheatear, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Raven and a Peregrine were also noted.

Additional news: a Knot, Wheatear and 2 Mediterranean Gull were at Stanpit in the early evening, when there was a Common Sandpiper on the Beach at Hengistbury with a couple of Common Tern west.


April 25th

With a promising weather forecast for today the sea was approached with optimism this morning. In the event, however, it was a little disappointing with the only quality being singles of Great Skua and Arctic Skua, in a two-and-a-half hour watch. Also, 3 Little Tern together with 36 Gannet, 23 Common Scoter and 10 Whimbrel; all these birds moved east, while a further 10 Common Scoter moved west and 8 Fulmar were offshore. Just 6 Wheatear were around the Barn Field, 26 Swallow and 15 Blackcap were logged, and 2 Bullfinch were on the harbour side of the Wood. A Tufted Duck was in the harbour and a single Mediterranean Gull was seen.

Additonal news: around 50 Bar-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit in the evening, when a Great-northern Diver went by at sea, as did 2 Mediterranean Gull.


April 24th

A complete contrast in the weather today as quite strong south-easterlies made it feel cooler than of late, although it was still pleasant in the spring sunshine. A Hobby in off the sea and 5 Swift north were firsts for the year, while a female Ring Ouzel on the Barn Field was the pick of the grounded migrants. Predictably, given the wind direction, the sea received good coverage and produced 9 Manx Shearwater and 4 Arctic Skua east, as well as 65 Sandwich Tern, 59 Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Gannet, 28 Whimbrel, 24 Common Scoter, 9 Brent Geese, 2 Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Greenshank and 1 Grey Plover; while moving in the opposite direction were 2 Razorbill, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver. A Guillemot was on the sea and 6 Fulmar were offshore, while 9 Mediterranean Gull were seen. The first-summer Little Gull was again in the harbour, also 70 Sandwich Tern and 4 Common Tern. Back to the passerine migrants, around 30 Wheatear were counted, also 9 Willow Warbler, 4 Garden Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler and a Redpoll was again on Wick Fields. Waders today included 7 Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach at Whitepits, plus another 44 on Stanpit. Also there were 34 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel and a Ringed Plover. Finally, 2 Raven made an early morning visit to the head.


April 23rd

The fog was much heavier and stayed around much longer this morning, hence there were fewer birds around. However, there was some quality with a Wood Warbler in Double Dykes and a local 'mega', an Egyptian Goose, which flew over the Long Field towards the harbour. A little later, at lunchtime, a Red Kite, seen from just north-west of the harbour, was clearly over harbour airspace being mobbed by gulls. Only 75 Willow Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 1 Redstart and 1 Wheatear were seen, also a Redpoll in the first field on Wick. On Stanpit there was no sign of the Ruff, but the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman's Bank plus 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Dunlin and 4 Whimbrel. Another 4 Whimbrel left the harbour over the Barn Field and a single Bar-tailed Godwit was on Holloway's Dock.

Additional news: a drake Garganey was on Priory Marsh in the morning.


April 22nd

This morning's fog grounded good numbers of migrants including the first Garden Warbler. Counts were: 300 Willow Warbler, 53 Blackcap, 57 Wheatear, 43 Chiffchaff, 30 Whitethroat, 16 Redstart, 7 Reed Warbler, 7 Whinchat, 4 Garden Warbler, 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Black Redstart, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and a female Pied Flycatcher. Overhead were 120 Swallow, 5 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit and a Redpoll. Offshore, a single Red-throated Diver moved west, while 4 Common Tern headed east. To round up at Hengistbury, only 5 Mediterranean Gull were seen today, 4 Teal arrived, a Mistle Thrush was on Wick and 6 Whimbrel were in the harbour. On Stanpit in the late afternoon, the 2 Ruff and Spotted Redshank were on the edge of Stanpit Bight; also 32 Dunlin, 4 Whimbrel and 2 Curlew, while 3 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill.


April 21st

Although it was much quieter today, there were still a few migrants around. A male Pied Flycatcher in Wick Ditch was the pick, but the Barn Field held 6 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat and a Lesser Whitethroat, while c35 Willow Warbler were counted. On Wick, singles of Yellow Wagtail, House Martin and Wheatear were noted and 2 Sedge Warbler were by the HHC, while another 5 Wheatear were on Stanpit. A total of 12 Mediterranean Gull passed over and a pair of Shoveler was on the tip of South Marsh. The Spotted Redshank was again off Fisherman's Bank, but only a single Ruff was seen, also 36 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Curlew. Good numbers of Shelduck are still present with 41 counted today.

Evening update: a Short-eared Owl was hunting over Whitepits around 6:30.


April 20th

Given that the wind had dropped overnight it's no surprise that there were many more birds around this morning. The undoubted highlight was a Stone Curlew, which flew high over the harbour just before 7am. This is the first record of this species since 2006. Another first for the year was a Crossbill that came off the lower Batters and headed north across the harbour. Further excitement came from a Short-eared Owl, which was watched coming in off the sea and appeared to land near the Ironstone Quarry. There was a reasonable fall of Willow Warbler with 330 counted, also 200 Swallow, 42 Whitethroat, 27 House Martin, 26 Blackcap, 19 Wheatear, 10 Redstart, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whinchat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and a female Pied Flycatcher. A Mistle Thrush flew the length of the head, 14 Mediterranean Gull were logged, 6 Whimbrel were around and a Shoveler was in the harbour. On Stanpit, the 2 Ruff and the Spotted Redshank were seen from Fisherman's Bank, also 49 Black-tailed Godwit, 46 Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit.


April 19th

A cloudless sky on a glorious morning, but still feeling quite cool in the northerly breeze. A scattering of 15-20 Willow Warbler, 4 Wheatear and a Whinchat across the head, plus 2 Yellow Wagtail over Crouch Hill, were the only evidence of migration. At sea, 6 Mediterranean Gull moved east with just 2 Whimbrel in the same direction and a further 2 Whimbrel were on Holloway's Dock. To round up at Hengistbury, 3 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes, a Peregrine hunted over the cliffs and a single Rook passed over. On Stanpit wildfowl featured with a pair of Tufted Duck in Parky Mead Rail, a pair of Shoveler on Priory Marsh and a pair of Teal. Only 1 Ruff was seen today, also the Spotted Redshank, 63 Black-tailed Godwit, 53 Dunlin, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Snipe. Finally, 10 Jackdaw were on Crouch Hill.


April 18th

A stiff northerly breeze coupled with the lack of sunshine made it feel quite cold this morning, so gloves and woolly hats were back in vogue. A few Willow Warbler around the HHC and a male Ring Ouzel on the Barn Field suggested that, despite the unfavourable conditions, there were migrants to be found. Later, a male Pied Flycatcher was behind the Nursery, a Whinchat was on the Barn Field and a female Ring Ouzel was at the eastern end of the head. Other totals were 42 Willow Warbler, 31 Wheatear and 2 Redstart, while overhead 75 Linnet, 6 White Wagtail, 5 House Martin, 2 Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit moved through. Earlier, a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Greenshank, the first of the year, arrived in the harbour. On Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank and 2 Ruff remain together with 24 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Snipe. Another 43 Whimbrel and a single Bar-tailed Godwit moved east at sea, also 26 Common Scoter, 6 Eider, 2 Gadwall and a Red-breasted Merganser. A Red-throated Diver and 2 Common Scoter were on the sea off Double Dykes, while 6 Fulmar were offshore. This morning's Mediterranean Gull count was c25, with all birds moving west. On Stanpit this afternoon, additional counts were 87 Dunlin, 61 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Ringed Plover, but only 5 Whimbrel remained; also 5 Wheatear on East Marsh.


April 17th

On a windless, cloudy day, the flies were approaching the unbearable, unless one could find a modicum of breeze that is. Consequently, the top of the head was given some attention and dead on 8:15, a probable measure of the flying time from dawn in France, the diurnal migrants started to pitch in. From that vantage point, 56 Wheatear, 7 Redstart and a Whinchat were seen to arrive, while a further of the latter was on the Barn Field. Around 85 Willow Warbler were mainly buried in the bushes, as were 11 Blackcap and 3 Goldcrest; but 65 Linnet, including a flock of 40, around 40 Swallow, small numbers of Goldfinch and 2 Tree Pipit were more conspicuous as they moved overhead. Meanwhile, Peregrine has not been recorded for a few days, so presumably it was the numbers of arriving passerines that attracted today's bird. There was little else at sea though, save for 4 Whimbrel and a Black-throated Diver inshore past the Coastguards, and what may have been the same bird was even closer tonight, on the water just off the Point House Café. Reflecting how quickly birds move through the area, there were only 2 Whimbrel on Stanpit today, where it does seem the pale Ruff is now the only one remaining, along with the Spotted Redshank and the Bar-tailed Godwit. A couple of Yellow Wagtail were about Crouch Hill, and 60 Black-tailed Godwit and 29 Dunlin were in Stanpit Bight. For the records, the Mediterranean Gull total for the day is in the region of 10 birds and the pair of 'Barn' Swallow are now back in place.

Additional news: 5 Lesser Whitethroat were singing on Wick Fields today.


April 16th

An easterly wind and some cloud cover, along with the threat of rain, made the sea look attractive this morning, but in the event it was something of an anticlimax. The exception, and it's a big one, was a Puffin east past the Double Dykes. This is a species of mythical status for harbour-listers and this record is likely to be the only of the year. The rest over the water was made up of: a Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Shearwater sp., 22 Sandwich Tern, 42 Common Scoter and 5 Fulmar, with the dominant direction of travel being up-channel. Whimbrel are now around in big numbers; for example a flock of 38 arrived from the north this afternoon and pitched on to South Marsh, where they attempted to get a bit of kip over the high tide. Also, 8 birds north earlier, along with 7 Grey Plover and 4 more of those in Stanpit Bight. Meanwhile, a male Ring Ouzel spent the entire day on the northern portion of the Bobolink Field and a cracking male Yellow Wagtail was around cattle there this evening. After last night's godwit invasion, only 24 remained this morning, as well as a single Ruff and Dunlin off Fisherman's Bank, and a pair of Greylag Goose adjacent to the Mudeford Quay approach road. At least 10 Mediterranean Gull were recorded before lunch and firsts for the year were 2 Little Tern through the harbour and a Common Sandpiper on the HHC mudbar.


April 15th

I've just been handed a great list of birds and it's difficult to know exactly where to start, but here goes. On a foggy morning, most of the overhead action seemed to be at the end of the head, where a Tree Sparrow arrived and landed briefly in the vegetation, but soon moved on; with the rest of the numbers during a 2-hour period comprising: 7 Yellow Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit, 63 Meadow Pipit, 38 Linnet, 132 Swallow, 18 moving Sand Martin and 5 Rook. Earlier, a male Ring Ouzel was over the Long Field and 2 dull Yellowhammer were about Warren Hill. Grounded migrants were also present in reasonable numbers - the best being an unringed Firecrest in Wick Ditch and 4 Lesser Whitethroat in the fields this morning, and a female Redstart in Stanpit Scrubs tonight - but also 32 Willow Warbler, 21 Wheatear, 21 Blackcap and 10 Whitethroat across Hengistbury and Wick. A couple of Purple Sandpiper knocking about the Long Groyne was a nice record, as was the year's first Velvet Scoter east offshore; while the sea also registered 7 Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Fulmar. This was the first real day for Whimbrel, with 51 certainly recorded, most passing by, but at least 16 settled inside the harbour, where there was also a Grey Plover and 10 Dunlin. For the second time this week, a 'pair' of young Raven were making out on Stanpit and the day's Mediterranean Gull figure was around a dozen. There could be more news to come from Stanpit.

Additional news: there was a sharp increase of Black-tailed Godwit to 125 birds tonight and the 2 Ruff.


April 14th

Relatively speaking, it was a fairly quiet morning; nevertheless, there were 3 Grasshopper Warbler in the area - one at the end of the head and two on Wick Fields - as well as a Lesser Whitethroat in song by the HHC. The onshore breeze and cloud cover inspired a seawatch, but 21 Common Scoter and a single Fulmar was a less than hoped for return. Back to the land and a Yellow Wagtail was about Central Marsh this evening, while a Grey Wagtail was holding a territory close to the Civic Offices. The Stanpit regulars, namely: the Spotted Redshank, the first-summer Little Gull, the 2 Ruff and the Bar-tailed Godwit were all present and correct, as were 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin. It was also rather amusing to see a bewildered looking Raven that chose to land on South Marsh be immediately surrounded by around 25 Carrion Crow. Quite where they came from so suddenly was something of a mystery. Finally, please check back to April 10th for a decent omitted record.

Update: a hour's vigil at Holloway's Dock seemed to be a lost cause, so it was something of a pleasant surprise for the Short-eared Owl to be encountered over the HHC reedbed at around 6:00 tonight, before it made its way back along the head.


April 13th

Although it didn't feel like it at times, it was much, much better today - once the early morning fog had been burnt off that is. A total of 150 Willow Warbler were spread across Hengistbury and Wick, with one of the biggest concentrations on the Batters, where the bushes were literally jumping. The star of the day was a Nightingale that showed all too briefly for a bird that is in serious decline; however, a male Pied Flycatcher present throughout in the small enclosure just south of the Wooden Bridge went a long way to making amends. Lesser Whitethroat made their first appearance, as up to 4 birds were occasionally rattling, mainly in the Wick area, while Grasshopper Warbler, probably 3 birds, reeled from Wick and the Batters, and a settled Yellow Wagtail was on the driving range. There was another Yellowhammer record and again it was from the top of the head, as a bird headed towards Warren Hill, but little else overhead other than a trickle of Swallow and 2 House Martin, a Tree Pipit and 2 Raven; and, for sake of completeness, a couple of Wheatear were on the Barn Field. During the morning, the northern section of the recording area echoed almost constantly to the calls of airborne Mediterranean Gull, with the best estimate being as many as 30 birds. Meanwhile, Whitethroat territories are starting to spring up and Blackcap were also very audible, particularly around the North Scrubs. Stanpit received less coverage than of late, but the Little Gull, the Spotted Redshank, the 2 Ruff, now 5 Brent Goose and around 40 Black-tailed Godwit were confirmed, and on Hengistbury the Short-eared Owl was again on show in the late afternoon. The last couple of days have seen the traditional appearance of Jackdaw on Stanpit, as they presumably seek out the soft grass and animal hair for their nest building.


April 12th

Migration was almost non-existent this morning, save for a Firecrest trapped and ringed at Solent Meads, a male Redstart by the Nursery, a couple of Tree Pipit over and a few singing Willow Warbler in the Wood. However, this evening, Swallow were piling in-off the sea and one hopes this could be an omen for the morning. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank and the 2 Ruff have again been joined by an Avocet, all these in Stanpit Bight late this afternoon, when the Little Gull was remaining faithful to Fisherman's Bank. Also in the Bight: 40 or so Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 4 Dunlin, with the 4 Brent Goose on East Marsh. The Mediterranean Gull total for the day is in excess of 15 birds and a Red-breasted Merganser passed by at sea. Yesterday's post has now been updated to include the outstanding records.

Omission: the Short-eared Owl performed as usual from around 5:00 onwards.


April 11th

Just before first light at Solent Meads and with up to 8 Grasshopper Warbler reeling away in the fields, the scene seemed set for a large fall of spring migrants. A few minutes later, a male Ring Ouzel out of Whitepits and over the golf course did nothing to dent this ambition. However, after a further half hour it became apparent this really had been a false dawn, as barely any more passerines of note were recorded. The clear exceptions being a flock of 5 Brambling over Crouch Hill and a single Siskin over Wick Ditch. Otherwise, it was just 3 Wheatear and small numbers of singing Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff to jot down. The sea was equally bad, with 3 Common Scoter, a Whimbrel and a lone Fulmar being the only marine records, although the first Common Tern of the year from the Gully was some consolation. This disappointment was offset, however, by not one, but two, Hen Harrier leaving the area south-west on a line that would have taken them to Durlston. The first bird was a ringtail, while the second, about a half-hour later, was a full adult male. Presumably, these were wintering birds clearing out of the New Forest and/or Avon Valley. Other raptors for the day included a territorial Sparrowhawk mobbing the first harrier, a Merlin over Wick Fields and a Peregrine over Warren Hill. Stanpit again hosted the first-summer Little Gull - initially over Central Marsh, but then off Fisherman's Bank - as well as the 2 Ruff, the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, a Sanderling, 43 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover and now 4 Brent Goose. Around Holloway's Dock, the Short-eared Owl again performed well. In fact, it now seems to have taken a severe dislike to a large, plastic owl that is fixed to the roof of one of the beach huts! Earlier, a couple of Sanderling had been on the sandspit, where a Rook overflew and a Lapwing was bizarrely resting up on one of the groynes. Almost there now, with a Little Owl calling in the dark on Wick, a Mistle Thrush on Priory Marsh and a White Wagtail on Crouch Hill completing the day's interest. The final total for the recording area was 101 species, which considering the passerine no-show and the dire seawatch, was not too disgraceful. Please check back to yesterday for some late news.

Omission: the Mediterranean Gull estimate could be as high as 30 for the day.


April 10th

Heavy rain that commenced in the small hours had, by dawn, reduced to a light drizzle with an accompanying south-easterly breeze, and this prompted a seawatch that turned out to be relatively fruitful. A Spoonbill went west past the Gully, with singles of Black-throated Diver and Red-throated Diver east. Meanwhile, a dark-phase Arctic Skua and 3 more Red-throated Diver had been picked up from the Beach Huts. Also from there a couple of less than average sized duck, which in the murk exhibited all the right jizz and structure for Garganey. However, a pair of Teal that were certainly identified from Milford and Hurst in the same timeframe does add an element of complication. Nevertheless, of all the suggestions being made here, Teal was not one of them, so we're settling for the 4-bird theory. The best-of-the-rest over the water comprised: 8 Eider into The Solent, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Teal, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull, 4 Kittiwake and around 7 Fulmar, as well as 87 Sandwich Tern and 86 Common Scoter. Although conditions were far from ideal for arriving passerines, it seems some did. For example, a Grasshopper Warbler was singing for some time in the Barn Field, a Reed Warbler was in the reedbed by the Stanpit car park and at least 3 Sedge Warbler were in the area. Also, 6 Wheatear on the Barn Field plus singing Blackcap and Willow Warbler noticeable, particularly on Stanpit. Late in the afternoon, a first-summer Little Gull was located off Fisherman's Bank, from where most of the old-favourites - including the Spotted Redshank and the 2 Ruff - were also on show, along with a Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit, c50 Black-tailed Godwit, the Brent Goose and a pair of Shoveler. Around the same time, on Hengistbury, the Short-eared Owl was performing as usual, being seen to catch a vole that it proceeded to eat when perched on a fencepost. To finish, other interest for the day comes from 2 Sanderling and 13 Turnstone on the sandspit, a pair of Tufted Duck around Parky Meade Rail, 2 pairs of Mediterranean Gull one made up of second-summer birds, a pair of Gadwall on Priory Marsh and an intriguing record of 2 Raven actually mating on Crouch Hill! Tomorrow sees a 'big-day' in the field, so the website may not be updated until late on Sunday morning.

Additional news: An Osprey was seen from Fisherman's Bank around 7.45 pm flying over the harbour in a westerly direction, being mobbed by gulls.

Omission: a party of 14 Manx Shearwater were seen from the Beach Huts close to dusk.


April 9th

Drizzle, an onshore wind and 2 Little Gull moving east through the harbour just after first light suggested the sea was the place to be this morning. However, despite a Whimbrel passing by on almost the first scan, it was something of a disappointment all round. In just under 2.5 hours effort only 15 Sandwich Tern, 7 Common Gull and a single Razorbill could be recorded! Passerine migrants were even sparser, with no apparent new arrivals, except perhaps a Tree Pipit on the Long Field. At the end of the head, a Firecrest was again present and a Siskin was by the Ironstone Quarry, while a dozen or so Blackcap were in song across Hengistbury and a Whitethroat was on the Common. From Fisherman's Bank late this afternoon, the Short-eared Owl could be distantly watched as it hunted the Holloway's Dock area. In fact, were anyone in that locale they would have got point blank views. At the same time, in Stanpit Creek, there were the 2 Ruff, the Spotted Redshank and 54 Black-tailed Godwit; while 20 Sandwich Tern, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 7 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin and the Brent Goose were scattered across Stanpit. Sorry for the rather rushed report, but the first European quarter-final for 30 years beckons!


April 8th

There was heavy rain during the night and something of a westerly breeze, but this didn't deter Tree Pipit from making the channel crossing. The first of the season went over the top of the head, but further birds were actually settled by Barn Field, a ringed individual, and in Wick Fields. Whitethroat also made landfall, with up to 4 singing males about the area, as did a cracking male Redstart, initially on the Barn Field but then onto Wick, 32 Willow Warbler and around 8 Blackcap. Perhaps the most intriguing record of the day involved 2 Yellowhammer by the Coastguards and then off to Warren Hill, although it wasn't possible to see if they were an adult pair. Following the two on Sunday that headed west, early this morning a party of 3 Spoonbill went directly east, at one time threatening to stop but then deciding otherwise. Later at sea, a Great Northern Diver also went east, a Fulmar loitered offshore and 4 Common Scoter were equally undecided. Interestingly, while Sandwich Tern have been present for at least a fortnight; today saw a sharp increase in birds present, with perhaps up to 45 knocking about. Fisherman's Bank maintains its wader hotspot status, as the Spotted Redshank and 2 Ruff were again off there, as were 53 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover and 1 Dunlin. To finish, a single Greylag Goose was in the harbour early morning and 4 Mediterreanean Gull passed over.

Additional news: the Short-eared Owl was on show from around 5:20.


April 7th

The Short-eared Owl put in another sterling performance by Holloway's Dock late this afternoon. It was first reported around 5:00 and then again after 6:30, although some beach hut residents spoke of it being on view from as early as 2:00. For those who aren't familiar with the geography of the area, Holloway's Dock is the lagoon at the end of Hengistbury, just before the Beach Huts, and the bird hunts that area and the neighbouring Salterns. As has been the case for most of the last few weeks, Fisherman's Bank provided the wader interest, with the pale Ruff, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover and 2 Dunlin joining 51 Black-tailed Godwit. In the morning, on a reasonably quiet Hengistbury, a Firecrest and Whitethroat were singing by the Wood, while 35 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcap were dotted about. Also, 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field, a Raven over the Wood and a trickle of Swallow passing through. Finally, 3 White Wagtail, a Wheatear and the lone Brent Goose were at Stanpit; and the evening trip to Hengistbury allowed a pre-roost gathering of 63 Carrion Crow to be noted.

Additional news: a Raven was in the strange place of Grimmery Bank in the evening, while over 40 Sand Martin were feeding over Parky Meade Rail.


April 6th

It wasn't a great day for migration, but a former common breeder (from the days of the Broadway Fields in the '60s that is) made a welcome return to a harbour year-list. A Corn Bunting was singing briefly from the Double Dykes very early this morning, before quickly leaving along Hengistbury. This is only the third record since 1999, with the last being in 2003. Also early on, the Short-eared Owl was flying around Warren Hill for a short time. Later, the first wave of 9 Wheatear that pitched in around the Coastguards brought a Black Redstart with them, but only one more of the former could then be recorded. A single Siskin went over, as did 16 Swallow, and the day's Mediterranean Gull total was 9, while 2 Greylag Goose were in the harbour. Common migrants numbered: 18 Willow Warbler, 16 Blackcap and 12 Chiffchaff; and 31 Common Scoter, 23 Kittiwake, 2 Fulmar, 2 Shoveler and 16 Brent Goose moved by at sea. The 2 Ruff and the Spotted Redshank were faithful to Fisherman's Bank for most of the day, along with a Bar-tailed Godwit and 42 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as a Peregrine over there. Out in Stanpit Bight, there were 2 more Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 25 or so Wigeon and the last remaining Brent Goose.

Additional news: the Short-eared Owl was seen very well about Holloway's Dock, while on Stanpit there were 2 Sniple, 2 Grey Plover, a Wheatear, a Shoveler, a Mediterranean Gull and a Raven over.


April 5th

The night started cloudless, but by first light there was a hint of cover that meant the sun took a little time to warm the bushes. When it did, however, it soon became apparent there wasn't that much in them, as Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were recorded in only modest numbers; although a Whitethroat in the first Wick Field deserves slightly more acclaim. The pick of the day came around 8:30, when a twosome of young Spoonbill passed quickly over Hengistbury on their way west. Very little else from the head and Wick though, but what there was included: 2 Wheatear, 2 Swallow, a Peregrine returning from the Bournemouth area with prey, 4 Greylag Goose and a group of 7 Shoveler, four of them drakes. There has been a big clearout of wildfowl over the weekend; for example, Stanpit this afternoon held just a single Brent Goose, 5 Teal and 2 Wigeon, as well as a pair of Shoveler. Conversely, the wader interest is picking up slightly: in addition to the 2 Ruff and Spotted Redshank, there were 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, 11 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin.

Additional news: around 6:00 this evening, what is becoming 'the' Short-eared Owl was around the Holloway's Dock area, seen from Stanpit. Also, a marked increase in the Bar-tailed Godwit count to 16 - with numbers like that, it could be a few weeks later - as well as a 18 Black-tailed Godwit.


April 4th

Dawn broke to some quite heavy rain, but that soon cleared and almost immediately phylloscs started to materialise, particularly in the Double Dykes and the first Wick Field. The estimate for the morning was 150 birds, split two-thirds in favour of Willow Warbler versus Chiffchaff. Earlier, while it was still wet, a female Black Redstart was sheltering by the HHC and a short time later a male bird was also close by. A male Pied Flycatcher in the Barn Field mid-morning was the first of the year, as was a Whitethroat that moved quickly along Wick Ditch; also, a male Redstart by the Barn, a Yellow Wagtail over and up to 14 Wheatear spread across Hengistbury. Around 10:00, an Osprey and a female-type Marsh Harrier simultaneously appeared over the area, causing just about every bird in the harbour to dissolve into a frenzy. In fact, it was amusing to see an Oystercatcher pursuing the Osprey at about 200m in the air! Later, when a Peregrine came into view, it was only really the waders that took flight, but this did prove the 2 Ruff were still around. Also recorded while airborne were: the pair of Red-breasted Merganser over the river, a Buzzard grazing the HHC, 2 Rook, 12 Mediterranean Gull about the head, a White Wagtail, 4 House Martin and a Swallow or two.


April 3rd

While yesterday was the domain of the diurnal migrants, last night produced a major influx of night-movers aided by a light southerly wind. This, plus some low cloud over the coast, resulted in a whole load of birds alighting onto Hengistbury this morning. Willow Warbler at 360 headed the numbers, but there were also 125 Chiffchaff and 17 Blackcap; with variation coming from 2 Redstart, the first of the year, a Firecrest and a Yellowhammer, both of these by the Ironstone Quarry, and 6 Wheatear. Also new for the calendar-list were 3 House Martin and 3 Yellow Wagtail moving overhead, along with: 708 Meadow Pipit, 135 Linnet, 9 Redpoll and a Siskin. Inside the harbour, there was something of a sawbill-fest, as the pair of Red-breasted Merganser and the long-staying drake made it 3 in total. Of course, compared with many other Hants and Dorset harbours this is a paltry figure, but here it is approaching the incredible. In fact, a Goosander north was probably less notable! Finally, for the southern side of the area, the shelter of the northern Wick Fields encouraged 12 Swallow to linger. The regular Avocet and Spotted Redshank, this now moulting very quickly, were off Fisherman's Bank; ditto a Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit, mixed in with 45 Black-tailed Godwit, around 150 Redshank, 11 Brent Goose and 3 Dunlin.

Additional news: there were 2 Ruff recorded at Stanpit in the evening.


April 2nd

On another extremely pleasant day, there was a decent arrival of Wheatear on Hengistbury, with 115 being reckoned and including a peak of 58 on the Barn Field around 10:30. Other highlights early on involved a Black Redstart pitching in by the Coastguards amongst the first Wheatear wave and a Little Ringed Plover north over there, as well as singles of Redwing and Siskin. At lunchtime, a couple of Ruff were off Fisherman's Bank, moving to East Marsh this evening, when a Short-eared Owl was airborne over Hengistbury briefly at 5:30. Also remaining in Stanpit Creek were the Avocet, the Spotted Redshank and the Bar-tailed Godwit. Back to the morning and a good count of 32 Mediterranean Gull, including two flocks of 8, 125 Meadow Pipit, 106 Linnet, 7 Rook and 2 Jackdaw over, while 9 Chiffchaff, 7 Willow Warbler and 6 Blackcap were in bushes. A pair of Red-breasted Merganser inside the harbour was something of a surprise, but 2 Gadwall, 3 Greylag Goose and a drake Shoveler were slightly more expected. There was little at sea to mention, other than 23 Common Gull and 15 Sandwich Tern passing by; and to complete the in-harbour picture 43 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Brent Goose, 10 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin were on site.

Additional news: the Short-eared Owl popped up again around 6:15 and then spent the next 45-minutes about Holloway's Dock, where the gulls would not leave it alone. Also 3 Snipe in that area.

Omission: in a joint move, the Pergerine pair took one of the arriving Wheatear.


April 1st

This day last year saw, amongst other things, an incredibly early pied flycatcher; however, this morning was something of a contrast as Hengistbury was almost deserted. To reinforce that comment - not a single phyllosc was recorded! The best was an Osprey that headed north-east at 9:45 over Stanpit, while the rest of the aerial 'excitement' came from corvids: namely, 7 Raven, 5 Rook and 4 Jackdaw, all east. Mediterranean Gull were relatively plentiful, with 17 being totalled, most of these young couples, i.e. pairs comprising of an adult and a second-summer. Otherwise, it's just a Peregrine, a Blackcap that was trapped, 3 Wheatear and 20 lingering Sand Martin to report from that side of the area. Meanwhile, Fisherman's Bank continued to entertain the Avocet and the Spotted Redshank, which is quite suddenly developing its plumage, while many of the 52 Black-tailed Godwit are already fully-attired for their forthcoming trip north. Also about the marsh, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, a pair of Shoveler and a littoralis Rock Pipit on Grimmery Bank, as well as counts of 53 Shelduck and 40 Brent Goose.

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