Sightings for May 2009


May 31st

Some call this the final day of the spring, migration-wise that is, and other than a few straggling waders on Stanpit it does seem to be the case. As the tide fell this morning, a breeding-plumaged Knot was with 3 drab Bar-tailed Godwit off Blackberry Point, as were 3 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover. Meanwhile, a couple of Curlew, 4 Redshank and 10+ Lapwing were probably not heading anywhere with purpose; instead considering their options after failing to find a mate, presumably. It's also a little intriguing as to why Mediterranean Gull are suddenly again a feature - a flock of 4 over Stanpit this afternoon comprised 2 adults and 2 first-summers, while 4 further adults were milling on the sea off Hengistbury. Ornithologically, the only other interest comes from a Gadwall in Stanpit Bight; but a couple of Stoat chasing each other around East Marsh was a definite mammal highlight.


May 30th

A north-easterly wind, veering to east as the morning went on, brought in a real mixed bag of waders and duck. A Golden Plover (well, given the distance of the views that's what it had to be assumed to be!) arrived and then settled off Blackberry Point with 2 Grey Plover, before all three left together to the west. An Avocet was still about Stanpit, as were an unexpected 2 Greenshank, 10 Ringed Plover, a further Grey Plover, 10 Whimbrel, most of these being a flock of 9 arriving from the west, 2 Dunlin, 8 Lapwing, a Curlew and a Black-tailed Godwit. While earlier, at least 8 Gadwall, but possibly 13, circled a few times, and 5 Tufted Duck went straight through. Mediterranean Gull put in another creditable number, as at least 10 moved over, including two pairs made up of adult and second-summer birds. There was also a reasonable Swift passage into breeze, the final total being 69, as well as a Hobby and 8 seemingly late House Martin. Finally, in addition to a Fulmar that took a close look at Barn Bight, 3 more passed at sea, as did 2 Common Scoter, a Common Tern and 25 Gannet.

Additional news: a Little Gull and 6 Knot were on Stanpit in the late afternoon, by which time the Whimbrel had risen to 11 and 8 Mediterranean Gull were noted. On Wick, the Cuckoo was again heard singing .


May 29th

There was another Avocet record this morning - this time from Fisherman's Bank - and who knows if this is the same as that on the HHC bar a couple of days ago? Also from there, a Whimbrel, while 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Lapwing were recorded from Hengistbury. A party 5, all presumed to be related, Mistle Thrush overflew Wick Fields heading towards Stanpit, as did 2 adult Mediterranean Gull and a single House Martin. Meanwhile, in an easterly breeze, a quintet of Canada Goose that arrived from the same direction and settled on East Marsh were far beneath the bar that had been set for the day!

Additional news: the Canada Goose number actually reached 12 birds.


May 28th

For the first time in a couple of weeks, Mediterranean Gull were recorded at Hengistbury - two adult pairs passing over - also 2 Spotted Flycatcher off the head and on to Wick Fields. Waders are still occasionally dropping in to Stanpit, with the peak counts today comprising: 5 Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Dunlin, a Ringed Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Lapwing. The remainder of today's post is dedicated to a breeding update. The Wood is actually hosting two successful pairs of Great Spotted Woodpecker, as well as 8 singing male Blackcap. Meanwhile, the Nursery is pretty crowded as 3-4 pairs of Grey Heron and 6 pairs of Little Egret jostle for position. Finally, the Long Field Lesser Whitethroat is widening its territory as it get progressively more desperate and the Cuckoo was again about Stanpit.


May 27th

Before the rain set in, a degree of activity was possible on Hengistbury, where a duck Wigeon that appeared on the river was most unexpected. The HHC mudbar again held singles of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit, as well as 2 Lapwing, while a group of 16 waders on Stanpit comprised 3 Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover and 11 Dunlin. This afternoon, from Fisherman's Bank, the mix had changed to that of 32 Dunlin, but little else of interest other than 20 or so Sandwich Tern. A quick look from Mudeford Quay saw the westerly wind had pushed at least a Fulmar far into Christchurch Bay and with the way the forecast is it could be worth checking the sea again tomorrow. Finally, it seems the huge Painted Lady movement over the weekend was experienced across the UK and large parts of mainland Europe. One estimate of numbers I have seen, presumably based on sample counts and extrapolation, ventures between ten and fifty million incoming!


May 26th

In clammy conditions this morning, after some overnight rain, an Avocet on the HHC bar was something of a surprise. Also there, singles of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit, while a lone Whimbrel was at Stanpit this evening. Although Jackdaw are currently commonplace in the northern past of the area, they are still unusual at Hengistbury, so 2 over the HHC do get a mention.


May 25th

A real mixture of weather today. At dawn, there was light north-westerly breeze that gathered strength and brought in some moderate rain. Thankfully, this soon cleared and by 9:00 the wind had swung to the south-west and with it came some more glorious weather. However, while the conditions were fine, the birds were few - the best records were a single Yellowhammer off the head onto Wick and a Mistle Thrush over the Long Field and seeming to come down into the Wood, while equally unseasonable was a pair of Shoveler that toured the area briefly. A flock 7 Grey Plover left the harbour and headed north, but 2 more hung around, as did a Turnstone and 2 Whimbrel. The Cuckoo was again singing, apparently on Stanpit, and at least 20 Swift came in after the rain had cleared. Non-breeding Mute Swan are now building up ahead of their moult, with 151 being counted this morning. Also, still Redshank and Lapwing in the area. Finally, the last three days cannot be allowed to pass without mention of the massive northerly irruption of Painted Lady that is currently underway. From sample counts around Christchurch and reports elsewhere in Dorset and Hampshire, the numbers have to be considered in terms of hundreds of thousands, if not more. Interestingly, a similar phenomenon was experienced in Costa Blanca, Spain, on 14th and 15th of this month, with huge numbers of butterflies arriving from North Africa. Of course, it may be unlikely these are the same that are now in the UK, but it does indicate just how widespread this present movement is.


May 24th

With many of the regulars birding elsewhere this morning, the only records involve a Cuckoo calling on Wick and 9 Grey Heron east over Hengistbury.

Additional news: the Cuckoo was seen singing as it flew from Stanpit to Wick, a Little Grebe and Redshank were in Parky Meade Rail, while 2 Whimbrel were out in Stanpit Bight.


May 23rd

Some of the weekenders had overdosed on optimism for today, but they were brought back down to earth by a dense fog belt that suddenly engulfed the harbour from 6:00 to 7:00 this morning. This seemed to stifle any form of movement, other than a late Curlew, 3 Whimbrel and 3 House Martin that seemed to have latched onto the resident Sand Martin. For the second day in succession, Collared Dove were noted on Hengistbury, with 3 over the Wood, but that was about the extent of the interest. A pair of Oystercatcher continue going through the motions on East Marsh and there were 12 Black-tailed Godwit still knocking about the harbour.


May 22nd

By local reckoning, it was the best day of the spring for Spotted Flycatcher - at least 9 were on Hengistbury, most in the south-east corner of the Long Field, but a bird also went over Stanpit. That portion of the Long Field is also currently hosting an extremely vocal and showy male Lesser Whitethroat, which is presumably now getting quite desperate in its quest to find a mate. Well worth a look if you want good views of a sometimes difficult to see species. A Marsh Harrier passed high over Stanpit, where a very late Little Ringed Plover whizzed around and even settled on the South Marsh gravel patch for a brief period. A female Yellow Wagtail was on Priory Marsh in the morning, as well as apparent pairs of Lapwing and Redshank throughout the day, which is very interesting indeed; also, a Mistle Thrush gathering food on the adjacent golf course this afternoon. Back to Hengistbury and the morning, when a Hobby came in over the Coastguards, along with a few Swift, and a Collared Dove flying by the Nursery initially promised to be slightly more interesting. Around Stanpit Bight, the few remaining waders included 15 Black-tailed Godwit, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Sanderling and 3 Dunlin, while up to 3 Canada Goose were making the place look decidedly untidy.

Additional news: a Cuckoo was calling on Stanpit this evening, a Wheatear had been on the Barn Field this morning and a pair of Gadwall flew upriver.


May 21st

There was something in the air this morning that encouraged large raptors onto the wing. Firstly, a 'grey harrier' passed low over Wick Fields, but was unfortunately picked up too late and heading away; then, slightly later, an Osprey was spotted soaring above The Priory. Meanwhile, but not quite so large, were singles of Hobby and Peregrine over Hengistbury. Offshore this morning, there was a large assembly of terns, including a Roseate Tern, a species that complete the list of expected spring migrants; also at least 150 Sandwich Tern and 30 Common Tern. Additionally at sea, a siege of 3 Grey Heron far out and heading west, 4 Common Scoter, 40 Gannet and a Guillemot on the water. To finish on Hengistbury, a Spotted Flycatcher was in the Wood. The day's highest Black-tailed Godwit count - 41 birds - came from Fisherman's early on, when there was also a single Wheatear on the shore there. A Whimbrel at lunch is the only addition to the in-harbour wader list, but there were around 15 Sanderling and 10 Turnstone from Mudeford Quay in the late afternoon, as well as a good number of Sandwich Tern feeding distantly.


May 20th

With the exception of a Turtle Dove in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, this morning, it really did feel as if the migration may be all but over. This, despite the wind dropping considerably overnight. The only other interest for the day involves a Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel, 22 Black-tailed Godwit and 21 Dunlin on Stanpit, where a Lesser Whitethroat was singing on Speller's Point, and a Guillemot past Hengistbury.


May 19th

Still the wind perseveres, but brings little with it. The best on the sea was a dark phase Arctic Skua close past the Beach Huts, as well as 24 Gannet, an auk sp. and 4 Fulmar, with a further of the latter actually over the Long Field at one point. Not surprisingly, migrant passerines were pretty much non-existent, apart from a Spotted Flycatcher behind the Nursery. The evening at Stanpit saw over 10 Sanderling and 50 Dunlin, plus 2 Whimbrel.


May 18th

On another day dominated by a strong south-westerly wind, there was a further sighting of Pomarine Skua, this time off the Double Dykes early on. Also from there, a couple of Manx Shearwater; while on the subsequent walk to the Beach Huts, the Wood turned up a singing Wood Warbler and 2 Spotted Flycatcher. From the far end of the head, there was reported high number of Fulmar, but as the official figure is currently unavailable, 35+ will have to be what goes down on paper; as well as 8 Common Scoter, 2 Common Tern and 2 Guillemot. At lunchtime, a wind-swept Fisherman's Bank could produce just a single Whimbrel and, late this afternoon, a hopeful hour at Whitepits saw 4 Manx Shearwater west.

Additional news: 14 Sanderling were in front of the Beach Huts, the final Fulmar count was 47 and the morning Manx Shearwater crept up to 7. Also, a couple of Garden Warbler about the Long Field.


May 17th

A real mixed bag of weather this morning, which started with a very promising south-easterly wind. In fact, the first bird of the seawatch was a stunning Pomarine Skua that passed so close to the Beach Huts that one could almost grab it by the spoons! This, before it headed into The Solent, accosted a Herring Gull and settled on the water. Then, a few minutes later, a large shearwater was seen heading east in the mirk, but unfortunately too far out to make any claims about - one that really got away! Actually, efforts to pin the ID were swiftly curtailed by the onset of some quite awful rain, which meant the four observers present spent the next hour wedged between any Beach Huts that could afford a modicum of shelter. This went on until the wind took an abrupt swing to the south-west allowing refuge and viewing to be once again an option. Almost immediately, two more Pomarine Skua were picked out on the sea, just before they took off and headed westward. Once conditions and optics had dried out fully, the watch continued into the early afternoon, when 2 dark-phase Arctic Skua moved by east and 4 Manx Shearwater headed the opposite way. Other totals for sea comprised: 100+ Sandwich Tern, 15 Common Tern, 36 Common Scoter, c50 Gannet and a handful of auks. The main wader passage at Stanpit looks to be through, as only 8 each of Whimbrel and Black-tailed Godwit were on show from Argyle Road, but there were a couple of Sanderling in front of the Beach Huts. To finish, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing in the Long Field, while 11 Swift and 35 Swallow travelled in front of the rain.


May 16th

In a strong south-south-westerly, once access to Hengistbury had been allowed, it was straight to the Beach Huts for a good 4-hour seawatch. Although northerly migrating birds were sparse, there was a good representation of species that summer west of the area, heading back down the channel after their wind-enforced displacement. The best counts came from 28 Manx Shearwater, mainly in groups of 3 to 5, 44 Fulmar, 17 Kittiwake and 77 Gannet; but also 9 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and 17 unidentified auks. Meanwhile, birds that were on the move to places further a field included: an adult dark-phase Arctic Skua, a Great Northern Diver, a Red-throated Diver and 2 Whimbrel; while 40 Common Scoter, 8 Little Tern, 19 Sandwich Tern, 2 'commic' tern, 2 Shelduck and a Shag were perhaps all more local. Other than the sea, however, there was little additional interest on the head, save for a Turnstone on the groynes plus a light arrival of Swift and Swallow. Even less news from Stanpit though, apart from the Spoonbill again on East Marsh.


May 15th

The undoubted highlight of the day was an Icterine Warbler that showed all too briefly in Wick Ditch this morning. A quick reference to the archives suggests the last was in 1992 and today's bird constitutes the area's first ever spring record! Meanwhile, on a blustery day, it was difficult to catch up with birds anywhere; however, the Spoonbill showed well throughout, although never seeming to settle in one spot for too long. Fisherman's Bank is a good bet though. Also from there, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, a breeding-plumaged Knot, 3 Sanderling, 9 Whimbrel, around 75 Dunlin and still 64 Black-tailed Godwit. Of interest, an Oystercatcher appears to be sitting on the tip of East Marsh - hopefully that spot will not get too disturbed over the weekend and thereafter.

Correction: the delve into history was far too brief - the last was in 2000 and a spring bird was present for over 4-weeks in 1993.


May 14th

The Spoonbill was seen again this morning, just off Blackberry Point at low tide, but later in the day it proved more elusive. On Hengistbury, there was very little evidence of migration with just a single Spotted Flycatcher and a couple of Reed Warbler, the latter singing on the Long Field and on Wick Fields. A Marsh Harrier headed north-east over Stanpit and the information services reported a Yellow-legged Gull from there. Wader counts today were 89 Dunlin, 79 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Whimbrel, 7 Sanderling, 6 Ringed Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 2 Knot and 1 Curlew.

Evening update: a pair of Shoveler were opposite Fisherman's Bank.


May 13th

The harbour was covered in low cloud this morning with a fine and persistent drizzle making things fairly unpleasant. Highlights included the first Nightjar of the year and another sighting of 'the' or a Stone Curlew. The Nightjar was heard in the 'Bobolink' field on Wick, while the Stone Curlew headed south over Central Marsh towards Blackberry Point. When the weather cleared later in the day, a Wood Sandpiper, another first of the year, was on Priory Marsh while on Wick Fields a Turtle Dove was in North Paddock; also over Wick during the afternoon were 250 Swallow, 50 Swift and 40 House Martin. The only passerines of note this morning were singles of Spotted Flycatcher and Yellow Wagtail. A brief look at the sea from the Beach Huts found a few terns on the move with 33 'commic' type, 7 of which were Arctic, also 4 Common Tern passed over the Barn Field. Stanpit still held 3 Grey Plover, 2 of which were in summer plumage, also 80 Dunlin, 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Sanderling. Wildfowl today included a pair of Tufted Duck and a drake Gadwall in Parky Meade Rail and 2 Greylag Geese on the river.

Evening update from Stanpit: the Whimbrel numbers had built up to 39, also 100 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Sanderling, the 2 Redshank and 1 Common Sandpiper. A flock of 29 'commic' type terns arrived on South Marsh but then moved on quickly.


May 12th

The day was again dominated by a strong and very cold northerly wind, so much so that the morning effort at Hengistbury was limited to sheltering behind Double Dykes looking at the sea, but more of that later. After lunch, however, things livened up when a Stone Curlew, the second of the year, was found on East Marsh, Stanpit. Typical of this species though, it walked into one of the channels and couldn't be relocated. A Spoonbill, first seen north of the harbour at Cowards Marsh, arrived on Priory Marsh mid-afternoon and then moved to Stanpit Bight, where it fed as the tide dropped. Alsso on Priory March was a drake Garganey, which eventually moved to Parky Meade Rail. Another first for the year was a Curlew Sandpiper, which was with the flock of 200 or more Dunlin on Stanpit; and other counts were 148 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Whimbrel, 7 Ringed Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Sanderling, 5 Grey Plover and 2 Redshank. The morning's seawatch produced very little, just 7 Gannet, 3 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin east, a Sanderling west, 1 Fulmar offshore and a Great Crested Grebe on the sea. Finally, the local Peregrine paid a visit to Stanpit mid-morning.


May 11th

The only reports received today are from Fisherman's Bank, where waders this morning included: 107 Dunlin, 16 Whimbrel, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Turnstone. By late afternoon, the Black-tailed Godwit had increased to 141 and 3 superb summer-plumaged Grey Plover were in Stanpit Bight. Other counts were 125 Dunlin, 21 Whimbrel, 10 Ringed Plover, 6 Sanderling, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank and the single Redshank; also a pair of Gadwall out on Blackberry Point.


May 10th

It's going to be difficult to try and make this morning sound anything other than mundane! The forecast south-easterly went north instead - and with it very few birds indeed. Almost out of sheer desperation, as next weekend could be too late, a rather forlorn seawatch was undertaken and, unsurprisingly really, resulted in just 14 Common Scoter, 5 Fulmar, 9 Whimbrel and an auk sp. A Common Sandpiper arriving broke the monotony, however, and that or others were also seen in Barn Bight and from the HHC slip. Meanwhile, perhaps the only other birds new-in were a singing Lesser Whitethroat on the Batters and a Wheatear by the Coastguards. Stanpit was sampled morning and afternoon, with peak counts being: 216 Dunlin, 130+ Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Whimbrel, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Sanderling settled, as well as an impressive flock of 35 Oystercatcher that arrived from the north and then dissipated in a variety of directions over the harbour. The apparent pair of Little Tern remains, as do several amorous Sandwich Tern, but none will find suitable habitat to breed, unfortunately. Finally, a pair of Greylag Goose toured noisily early on; then, frustratingly, by late afternoon, the wind had taken on a south-east origin, but no-one was available to enjoy it.


May 9th

A largely disappointing morning for the weekend regulars, with the highlights being: a Marsh Harrier in-off and then north across the harbour; a first-summer Little Gull west past the Beach Huts; single Red-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver past the end of the head; and an information services report of a Short-eared Owl over Stanpit. The Salterns Lesser Whitethroat was again in song, so that looks like a new territory for the species, and a migrant Garden Warbler was in the Long Field, but there were barely any other passerine migrants. Before moving to Stanpit, remaining interest from Hengistbury includes: 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gull over the Barn, 15 Whimbrel moving through, 2 Rook over the HHC and 5 Sanderling on the sandspit. Hopes were high for the afternoon falling tide in Stanpit Bight, but despite some reasonable numbers, variety was low. Dunlin nudged the 200, along with 107 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and a lone Redshank; while, to complete the visit, 2 Little Tern and 3 Common Tern made it onto the day-list.


May 8th

With the early rain and continuing wind, today was something of a disappointment - not least the afternoon ebb tide at Stanpit, when the waders were greatly reduced from last night's high. In total, only around 100 each of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit could be mustered, as well as 10+ Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Ringed Plover. In fact, the most interest came from 3 obviously migrant Curlew, which arrived high from the west and then went straight to roost. The only other news from inside the harbour concerns 2 Little Tern in Stanpit Bight and a chunky Wheatear on Crouch Hill. During the morning showers, the sea was briefly inspected from Mudeford Quay and Hengistbury, with the two sites combining to produce: 5 Fulmar, 3 Little Tern, 5+ Gannet, a passing Whimbrel and 11 arriving Black-tailed Godwit. At least 1 Grey Heron has now fledged and was watched practising its fishing in the Nursery pools.

Additional news: by 7:00 tonight, there was an increase in waders, all noted from Argyle Road and totalling 243 Dunlin, 136 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot and 2 Sanderling. Much earlier in the day, there had been 8 Whimbrel and 6 Sanderling on the sandspit.


May 7th

With a south-westerly wind as cold as it was today, it's hard to believe we're some way into May. Anyhow, from the shelter of the Beach Huts, the sea produced: 2 Manx Shearwater, 3 Great Northern Diver, 4 Fulmar, 4 Common Scoter, 5 Common Tern, 70 Gannet, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and 15 auk sp., all into the wind, while an unidentified diver headed the opposite way. Overhead, a Hobby passed over the Barn Field, being pursued by one of the local Swallow, 17 Swift and around 75 Swallow trickled in, 30 Dunlin were seen to arrive and a Peregrine was on the search for tired migrants, of which there were very few, 7 Wheatear excepted. At lunchtime, Stanpit held 21 Little Tern, so I guess it's fair to assume these were some of the 27 that were feeding off Mudeford Quay later in the day. As the tide dropped through the afternoon, Stanpit pulled in the passing waders, particularly Dunlin, which approached the 500 mark, but also: 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Whimbrel, 13 Ringed Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Sanderling, 2 Knot and a Grey Plover, as well as the lingering Curlew. Also about the marsh, 2 Wheatear, 45 Sandwich Tern, 7 Jackdaw and 18 Shelduck. Hengistbury fared less well for waders, but did register a Greenshank in Holloway's Dock.


May 6th

New arrivers for the day were sparse, but did include a Spotted Flycatcher in the Double Dykes and at least 3 Wheatear elsewhere; while a Lesser Whitethroat was singing at an infrequently visited spot along the harbour shore. The Batters Willow Warbler was again in full song and Wick now holds territories of Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler, as well as the resident 3-4 pairs of Cetti's Warbler. An enormous gull flock that has been feeding south-east of the Beach Huts for the last couple of days has so far failed to attract any passing skuas, but over 100 Sandwich Tern and 25 Gannet were noted. Also at Hengistbury: 4 Common Tern, singles of Rook and Jackdaw, a steady incoming of Swift and almost certain breeding of Great Spotted Woodpecker. There is likely to be more news from Stanpit, but 5 Little Tern were there this morning.

As promised, the news from Stanpit, where a heady 400 or so Dunlin confirm the wader passage is now in full swing. Also, around 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone and the missing-the-boat Curlew. Whimbrel numbered 19, those in addition to 21 recorded at Hengistbury in the morning, the Little Tern had crept up to 9, 4 Common Tern were present and a Wheatear was on Crouch Hill along with 14 Jackdaw.


May 5th

Although passerine migrants are generally starting to thin out, the Wood held a further two Wood Warbler this morning, as well as the year's first Spotted Flycatcher, while 11 or so Wheatear were again around the old pitch and putt course. Another first-for-the-year came at sea, where 2 Arctic Tern passed by, as did a single Common Tern, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Gannet. Meanwhile, inside the harbour, 6 Little Tern fed in Stanpit Bight and 2 more did likewise around Clarendon's Rocks. There were more Dunlin around today, the peak count being 160, but slightly fewer Black-tailed Godwit, 140 the highest number reached; also 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Whimbrel, but just 2 Redshank and 2 Common Tern about Stanpit Bight, and a Greenshank and single Common Sandpiper were recorded on Hengistbury. Of local interest, a pair of House Sparrow seem to have set up home in the soffits of the Barn.

Stop press: by 6:00 tonight, the Stanpit Dunlin had increased to 275, the Bar-tailed Godwit had risen to 8 and a Canada Goose was on site; while, quite uncharacteristically, a Rook was feeding on the exposed mud of Stanpit Bight.


May 4th

On a day when the sun never really saw off the cloud, a surprisingly cold westerly wind necessitated the use of glove and hats, even late into the afternoon. On Hengistbury, around 9:30, there was a sudden arrival of Wheatear and Whinchat - with 25 and 6 respectively on the Barn Field and the old pitch and putt course - but all soon moved on. Earlier, the Wood held a first-summer Pied Flycatcher, as well as a few Willow Warbler, while the Batters continues to host a strongly singing individual that would be a welcome return to the breeding-list should it hang around. It's barely worth mentioning the sea, but purely out of courtesy single Fulmar and Common Tern do get noted, as does a steady incoming of Swift and Swallow, plus a few House Martin. The highly anticipated Stanpit wader-watch this afternoon was actually headlined by a pair of Wigeon, which constitute a more than noteworthy record for May. Meanwhile, the main quarry, in numerical order, comprised: 151 Black-tailed Godwit, 93 Dunlin, 12 Whimbrel, 3 Sanderling, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 each of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit, with singles of both of these in quite glorious breeding plumage, and the lingering Curlew. Also, a Common Tern around Blackberry Point and a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight. Of interest, we have since learnt that yesterday's harrier put in an equally sparkling performance at Keyhaven, half-an-hour after it left us.


May 3rd

Firstly, a big thank you to all of those - members, guides and ringers - who made the morning at Hengistbury and midday at Stanpit so enjoyable. Helped just a little bit by a very obliging harrier, it must be said! Sometime around 8:30 or 9:00, the ringing demonstration was interrupted by a low flying raptor, earlier seen over Wick, directly above the HHC. Quickly identified as a Montagu's Harrier, the bird then proceeded to fly over the other three guided points, meaning just about everyone on the head was treated to a view. Before all of this, a Short-eared Owl was low over Central Marsh, but soon departed up the Valley; and late this afternoon a Marsh Harrier was over Wick Village. Other highlights for the morning included: a drake Garganey, which arrived over the Beach Huts, and female Pied Flycatcher and Whinchat in the Barn Field. Stanpit attracted very good numbers of waders throughout the day, but they were not always easy to catch up with on the ground. For example, a group of 70 Whimbrel and a mixed flock of 90 Ringed Plover/Dunlin went over Wick this afternoon, and 7 Sanderling passed by the Beach Huts. Meanwhile, settled birds included: 197 Black-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight, a huge increase on recent numbers, a Greenshank in Holloway's Dock, 3 Turnstone on the groynes, a single breeding-plumaged Grey Plover on Blackberry Point, 22 Dunlin and around 20 more Whimbrel. With this variety and volume, it bodes well for Stanpit late tomorrow afternoon, when the tide is most favourable. To round up, a Garden Warbler was close to the Wooden Bridge, 4 Wheatear were on the Barn Field, at least 3 Little Tern were recorded, 15 Swift checked-in over the Coastguards and a Dartford Warbler sang and showed itself by the Natterjack Pond; while Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat were among those birds trapped.

Omission: a Common Sandpiper was in Barn Bight and the Curlew was on Blackberry Point.


May 2nd

Negative news from Portland meant that even the twitchiest of regulars were able to avoid their second trip west in three days and could therefore spend some time on Hengistbury this morning. An almost windless dawn saw at least 3 Grasshopper Warbler in the area, with birds reeling in the Long Field, in Wick Hams and on the Batters; also a female Redstart at the latter location and 4 suspected 'Greenland' Wheatear in the Barn Field, but just very small numbers of Swallow, House Martin and Willow Warbler elsewhere. Despite the unfavourable conditions, the sea was given quite a bit of scrutiny, which was not entirely wasted as 3 Manx Shearwater were seen from the Gully, along with 2 Little Tern, 12 Common Scoter, 5 Fulmar, 2 Common Tern and 2 Gannet. There was only one Mediterranean Gull record for the day, a bird in its first summer, while 2 Raven briefly visited the top of the head. On Stanpit this afternoon, it was encouraging to see a Cuckoo agitating the songbirds, also a straying Buzzard over South Marsh that received similar hassle but from Carrion Crow. A couple of Common Sandpiper opposite the Argyle Road slip were new-in, as were most of the 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20+ Whimbrel and 18 Dunlin. Meanwhile, the Black-tailed Godwit have risen slightly to 74 individuals and there is still a single Curlew hanging around.


May 1st

Despite the masses of biting insects on Hengistbury, it was actually quite a good morning. A Wood Warbler singing in the Wood was good entertainment for many of the year-listers, while 5 Whinchat, 4 Garden Warbler, 4 Yellow Wagtail and 6 Willow Warbler were between the Barn Field and the HHC. Acrocephalus warblers also seemed to have arrived overnight, with over 20 Sedge Warbler considered to be new arrivers, 8 of these trapped and ringed, as well as a Reed Warbler that was already bearing a Spanish placed ring. The second Marsh Harrier of the week, a young bird, passed overhead, as did a Hobby, 19 Swift and 22 Mediterranean Gull, including a 12-strong flock of mixed age birds. Waders in or around Stanpit are now picking up in numbers, with maximum counts comprising: 14 Whimbrel, 25 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 9 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 69 Black-tailed Godwit and a single late Curlew. For once, a proper goose was recorded, as a single Brent Goose left the harbour; also 49 Shelduck and a Greylag Goose on site. To conclude, of moth interest, an Emperor was trapped overnight.

Additional news: a Cuckoo was heard around the HHC early in the morning.

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