Sightings for September 2010
In little wind and relatively clear skies, save for a light mist, hopes were raised for a morning of decent overhead passage. However, by 8:00, only 30 Swallow, 10 Goldfinch, 2 Chaffinch, a Redpoll and 20 alba Wagtail had been detected moving east, while 30 Siskin and a paltry 23 Meadow Pipit headed in the opposite direction. At this stage, it was decided to give up and instead focus on the bushes, which were thankfully holding a little more interest. A Ring Ouzel was in the Bobolink Field on Wick and a Spotted Flycatcher was on the Lower Batters close to the Nursery. Meanwhile, between the two sites, there were: 110 Chiffchaff, 50 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest and a Coal Tit. The only other news from that side of the harbour concerns 2 Tufted Duck downriver and 3 Wheatear on Whitepits. On Stanpit, there were a further 5 Wheatear, including a striking adult male, which for the date may make it reasonable to suggest this individual at least had come from quite a way north-west of here; also a Whinchat on the marsh. Both Spotted Redshank - the interloper on Priory Marsh and 'the' bird in Stanpit Creek - were present: as were 3 Ruff and a Golden Plover, these on South Marsh in the afternoon, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, over 100 Dunlin, 140 Redshank and 90 Wigeon. Finally, and it was almost forgotten again, but the Glossy Ibis is still performing well.
The only dry period during the day was from dawn until around 10:00, when it was clear that wildfowl were on the move to the south-west. The first Brent Goose of the winter that passed over the Barn Field was soon supplemented by 36 more, some of which rested briefly around Blackberry Point before moving on. Also, a flock of 20 Shoveler, 8 Pintail and several groups of Wigeon, although the latter may have been the incumbent birds on a fly-around, as well as 85 Teal settled in Barn Bight. In the bushes, a vocal Ring Ouzel was clearly very uncomfortable about a sitting Kestrel by the Long Field, where there were also 25 Chiffchaff and 10 Blackcap. The only other news for the day comes from Fisherman's Bank, which came up with: the Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Greenshank, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and over 35 Ringed Plover. Finally, please check back to yesterday for some additional news.
Omission: the Glossy Ibis was still on-site.
It was something of a surprise to find that the wind had died away to nothing overnight and fairly dense fog enveloped the area. Needless to say, there is little to report from early on, save for a Raven croak, 25 Chiffchaff and around 10 Blackcap from Hengistbury. However, as things cleared up, there was a little more to be seen at Stanpit, not least the Glossy Ibis in the normal spot, along with a Garganey and 70 Teal on Priory Marsh. Of late, it's become something of a challenge to day-list waders, but a figure of 18 seems hard to beat, with today's selection made up of: at least 4, but maybe as many as 7, Ruff, these on East and Priory Marshes; a stint, thought to be a Little Stint, also on Priory; 2 Spotted Redshank, a juvenile on Priory Marsh and the adult off Fisherman's Bank; 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Knot, a Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, at least 15 Bar-tailed Godwit and 8 Black-tailed Godwit around Stanpit Bight, along with uncounted Snipe, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatcher; while a dozen or so Turnstone were visible from Mudeford Quay.
Additional news: we've just heard about a photo that's appeared on, of all places, Facebook, of a Wryneck around 100m east of the Ironstone Quarry today, as well as a Ring Ouzel and Redstart on Hengistbury.
This depressing north wind now looks set to continue well into tomorrow, as yesterday's forecast for south-easterlies seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the main internet weather sites. As a result, the enthusiasm to blog around the Hengistbury side of the harbour is on the wane. To the extent that only the No Dogs Field on Wick was really tested this morning, producing just 27 Chiffchaff, 14 Blackcap and a Whitethroat, along with 5 Siskin and around 200 Swallow over. On the hirundine theme, at lunchtime, there was a few hundred strong gathering of mainly Swallow, but also some House Martin, over the Mudeford Quay area. Thankfully, the site maintained some interest with the return of the Glossy Ibis to the Rusty Boat - so raising the question as to whether it really is the same bird that was over the eastern side of Southampton Water yesterday - as well as another decent wader selection. A Green Sandpiper was again present, presumably in the Priory Marsh area, while, between them, Stanpit Bight and Fisherman's Bank came up with: 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 5 Grey Plover, 3 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and 105 Dunlin.
Additional news: a Spotted Flycatcher was on Stanpit late this afternoon, close to the ibis, as were 3 Chiffchaff.
One thing is becoming clear. That is, a persistent northerly wind is not conducive to mass hirundine movements through Christchurch Harbour. On this date, we should have tens of thousands of Swallow and House Martin in the records, instead it's barely a few thousand, with those that opted to travel today ground-hugging and heading back inland. There was, however, some other migration logged and the full numbers appear later in the post. Meanwhile, the Glossy Ibis was back on-site for a short time this morning, before leaving to tour a selection of coastal sites in Hampshire. Incredibly, last month's bird, which must surely be the same, did exactly the same - leave Christchurch, flirt with Poole, return to Christchurch briefly and then head east. Perhaps we can expect to see it back in four weeks or so? Meanwhile, a Firecrest and 3 Goldcrest were in the Wood, the former by post 17, where there was also a Treecreeper. Also on the deck on Hengistbury/Wick were: 108 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat, the Whitepits Whinchat and 2 Wheatear; while a Spotted Flycatcher, a Yellow Wagtail, a Whinchat and 4 Wheatear were at Stanpit. The big wader news of the day concerns a flock of 6 Grey Plover that arrived in Stanpit Bight late this afternoon, this being a species that has been noticeably absent from the autumn passage so far. Also about the bight: 2 Curlew Sandpiper, the first Common Sandpiper for several days, a Whimbrel, 5 Greenshank, the Spotted Redshank, 5 Sanderling, 3 Knot, a good count of 29 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Snipe, 86 Ringed Plover, 180 Dunlin and 17 Sandwich Tern. Before getting into the numbers, the only other note for the day is of at least 6 Raven - 4 and 2 - over the area in the morning. The visible migration figures, mostly between 7:00 and 8:30 from the top of the head, comprised: 365 Meadow Pipit, 38 alba Wagtail, 5 Snipe, 2 Rook and 2 Mediterranean Gull, an adult and first-winter, west; and 178 Linnet, 34 Siskin, 25 Goldfinch and 2 Redpoll east. It was also the first WeBS count of the winter, and for those interested, in addition to the more interesting species already covered, there were 170 Redshank, 130 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 26 Curlew, 94 Wigeon, 47 Teal, 2 juvenile Shelduck, a Canada Goose, 336 Coot, 47 Little Egret, 6 Little Grebe and 2 Kingfisher across the recording area.
After circuiting the harbour and re-settling on Priory Marsh, the Glossy Ibis finally upped and left at around 10:00 this morning and with a bird reported from Middlebere, Poole Harbour, around an hour later, it seems it may have departed. Hopefully, this event was purely coincidental with the instances of several visiting photographers venturing well off the pathway, some even trying to tape lure the bird closer!! However, a Shorted-eared Owl south over Stanpit and seeming to come down into the Salt Hurns on Hengistbury was slight compensation for those who arrived later in the morning. A bitingly cold northerly wind seriously stifled overhead movement; for example, a 2.5-hour spell on the top of the head saw, hirundine-wise, just 6 Swallow and a single House Martin; but there were 170 Meadow Pipit, 62 alba Wagtail, 10 Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail west, and 113 Linnet, 62 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 4 Chaffinch and a Redpoll east. Also, a Common Tern arrived in the harbour and 3 Common Gull passed west over it. At Whitepits, the Whinchat was joined by another, while a Spotted Flycatcher was in Wick Ditch, and a Whitethroat, 15 Blackcap, 67 Chiffchaff and 2 Wheatear were elsewhere between the Long Field and Wick. The high spring tide meant that it was difficult getting to grips with the waders, but there was a Green Sandpiper by the Wooden Bridge, plus a Curlew Sandpiper, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit and 7 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit, where a Peregrine once again tried its luck during the late afternoon. To finish off the bird news, a couple of Pintail joined the 59 Teal and 40 Wigeon that are on-site, and a Kingfisher was at Wick Hams. Of mammal interest, at least 6 Bottle-nosed Dolphin were amongst the day-angling boats off the Coastguards, all presumably attracted by the same gathering of mackerel.
Around 9:00 this morning, the north-westerly wind brought in some pretty, foreboding rain clouds, which didn't actually produce any water but did lower a few hundred hirundines to just over the Barn Field; and with them, one of the highlights of the day - for the date that is - in the form of a Swift that was watched for around 5-minutes. Other than that, however, the overhead movement was negligible, with just a few hundred Swallow and House Martin, a Sand Martin, 145 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, a scattering of alba Wagtail and some unseen Siskin, all westish, to remark upon. Although, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker 'off the head', with none returning, once more raised the question of whether they constituted migrants or just wandering local birds. On the deck, there was a Spotted Flycatcher in the Barn Field, the lingering Whinchat at Whitepits and a Wheatear on Crouch Hill, plus 107 Chiffchaff and 17 Blackcap across Hengistbury and Wick. Ironically, after yesterday's wader bonanza, there were two further species at Stanpit - singles of Avocet and Whimbrel - as well as: 2 Curlew Sandpiper, the Spotted Redshank, 9 Knot, a Sanderling, around 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 56 Dunlin and 70 Lapwing; while the best total for Ringed Plover came from the sandspit, where 60 birds roosted out the tide. Also from the spit, a couple of Razorbill east and a Peregrine over. Of course, the Glossy Ibis and Wryneck remain faithful to the Rusty Boat and the Barn Field respectively.
Additional news: the season's first Redpoll went over Wick Fields.
In addition to the Glossy Ibis and Wryneck that remained in their favoured spots, there was a cracking influx of decent waders onto Stanpit today. New-in were, a Little Ringed Plover, a Little Stint and a Green Sandpiper, while a locally impressive flock of 16 Golden Plover were seen to leave south-west. These were complemented by: 2 Curlew Sandpiper, the Spotted Redshank, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank, a Snipe and 7 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as an uncounted presence of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank and Oystercatcher. All of which come to a total of 17 species on site. Actually, although we don't normally like to mention species that haven't been seen, this does raise a question about Grey Plover. A quick recall suggests there have been just two birds recorded during the return migration! Given the heavy rain that only eased at around 10:30, it's not surprising the only mainstream passerine records are of 2 Grey Wagtail and 4 Wheatear at Stanpit, where singles of Hobby, Peregrine and Kingfisher were also logged. Feeding in The Run, off Mudeford Quay, there were three extremely confiding Razorbill and a few Common Tern.
The wind swung slowly from south-east to south-west from dawn to around 1:00, strengthening as it did so. This did encourage some hirundines to move; however, nowhere near as many as might have been expected. From various reports, it's reckoned that around 1600 birds went through, over 90% being Swallow with the vast majority of the rest House Martin, but also a few Sand Martin. The direction was effectively south, but by the early afternoon this had virtually stopped and the flocks that remained were feeding on what insects were available. Other migrants, from first light to 10:30 and to east were: 11 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail, 18 alba Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, 2 Skylark, 13 Reed Bunting, 3 Rook and a Gadwall; while 283 Meadow Pipit, 9 Siskin, 2 Snipe, 3 Pintail and 2 Shelduck headed in completely the opposite direction. Numbers of grounded birds about the area were equally uninspiring and involved: 35 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat, 30 Chiffchaff, a Whinchat and 10 or so Wheatear. So, to pick up the interest, a couple of Garganey were on Priory Marsh, the Glossy Ibis was again close by and, on the Barn Field, the Wryneck put in a prolonged show. From Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Redshank was on hand, as were 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, a Sanderling, 3 Greenshank, a Snipe and 10 Black-tailed Godwit. To finish up, a Hobby went over Wick, a Kingfisher was over the Salt Hurns and a Little Grebe was in Barn Bight.
Additional news: 4 Garganey were on Priory Marsh.
Early fog that didn't really clear until some time after 10:00 put paid to hopes of a big hirundine count, as those more interested in systematic numbers had left by then. However, anecdotally, there were thousands an hour over Wick Fields between 11:00 and 2:00, with birds swarming in their hundreds onto the low bushes. The vast majority were Swallow, closely followed by House Martin, but much lesser numbers of Sand Martin. The Wryneck reappeared on the Barn Field, favouring the Barred Warbler Bush, and showed not infrequently until mid-afternoon. Whilst the fog was still around, there was some attempt at overhead movement; for example, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail and 26 Meadow Pipit, as well as some unseen Siskin. However, the bushes of the Barn Field, Whitepits and Wick were slightly more productive, holding: 37 Chiffchaff, 38 Blackcap, a Whinchat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler and a Reed Warbler; plus at least 30 Stonechat, suggesting a slight influx. The two headliners at Stanpit - the Glossy Ibis and the Ring-billed Gull - were again faithful to their habits, the former by the Rusty Boat all day and the latter on Crouch Hill from 6:15. In Stanpit Bight, the noticeable, juvenile Curlew Sandpiper first seen on Sunday was around, as were: the Spotted Redshank, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Knot, 2 Greenshank, a Sanderling, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 or so Ringed Plover, 113 Dunlin and 20 Sandwich Tern. Also at Stanpit, 3 Common Gull, an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Shelduck, a Wheatear and a handful of Yellow Wagtail. At Wick, a Buzzard was decked in the afternoon and a Hobby went over, while 2 Little Grebe were in Barn Bight.
Another day of migrant paucity in the south-west wind, although an Ortolan Bunting did make it to the Bobolink Field on Wick, from where it flew to the No Dogs Field but couldn't be relocated. The interest at Stanpit continued with a Grey Phalarope in Stanpit Bight for around 30-minutes late in the afternoon, before that too disappeared. Also, the incredibly tame Glossy Ibis around the Rusty Boat for the whole day, while the Ring-billed Gull was about Crouch Hill from 4:30 onwards, along with 2 Common Gull and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull. The latter, in complete contrast to sites either side of us, are once again being recorded barely daily, hence the mentions they continue to get. Before moving to the waders, let's dispense with the passerines, which today involved just: a Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail at Stanpit, as well as a Goldcrest and a Coal Tit in the Wood on Hengistbury. So, back to Stanpit, where this afternoon the bight held: a Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, minimums of 100 Dunlin and 50 Ringed Plover, 4 Common Tern, 15 Sandwich Tern and 35 Wigeon.
A strengthening south-westerly seemed to see off any migrant action, so it was just as well that some of yesterday's goodies hung around. The Glossy Ibis located itself close to Rusty Boat, Stanpit, for the entirety of the day, where it was extremely confiding, down to just a few feet at times. There are some fantastic photo opportunities to be had. On Hengistbury, the Wryneck was harder work, but did pop up on occasions during the morning; however, the bird was not seen after 10:20 when it seemed to make a longer than normal flight from its favoured Barn Field towards the HHC. Around 40-minutes before that, a Lapland Bunting had passed over, calling as it went; even earlier, at 7:15, the adult Spoonbill was seen leaving purposefully into the wind over Coastguards; then at just before 6:00 this evening, the Ring-billed Gull checked-in at Stanpit Bight. After a couple of day's absence, Curlew Sandpiper were again in the bight, where there were at least 2 individuals, including a very well-marked juvenile that has not been seen before, so suggesting another small party may have arrived; also 11 Knot, 2 Sanderling, 2 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, a Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Ringed Plover, 144 Dunlin, but no sign of the leucistic bird, an adult Common Tern, over 20 Sandwich Tern and a Common Gull transitioning from juvenile to first-winter plumage. What migrants there were made barely recordable numbers, but it would be a shame to let 9 Wheatear, a Whinchat and 2 Goldcrest go unmentioned. Meanwhile, the regular 2 Razorbill were by the Long Groyne and 2 Raven went over the head.
A fine day, which saw the wind mainly from the south-west and gather strength throughout, produced several highlights. Given the current, national situation with Lapland Bunting, one calling frequently about the top of Hengistbury for around 5-minutes late in the morning was not as much of a surprise as it otherwise might have been. Earlier, a Short-eared Owl was seen briefly over the Salt Hurns, where it appeared to come down; while throughout the morning and into the afternoon, the Wryneck was showing on and off in the Barn and Long Fields, and just after midday an Osprey again hunted the harbour. The final piece of local quality came from a Spoonbill that was in Stanpit Bight and on the adjoining South Marsh this afternoon, despite a number of errant ocean-kayakers. The full migration totals for the day are still somewhere in a notebook, but will hopefully follow later. Meanwhile, other bits of interest included: 3 Knot, 3 Greenshank, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and a minimum of 50 Dunlin at Stanpit, also 5 settled Yellow Wagtail there; a Whimbrel and 2 Water Rail in Brewer's Creek; around 50 Linnet and a Whinchat in the Barn Field; 2 Little Grebe in Barn Bight; and 2 Raven, 2 Peregrine and 4 Jackdaw over.
Stop press: at 5:40 a Glossy Ibis is circling the harbour.
Migration numbers from 6:30 to 10:30, all west: 2100 Meadow Pipit, 2600 House Martin, 1500 Swallow, 86 alba Wagtail, 20 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, the first 9 Chaffinch of the season, 5 Sparrowhawk, 2 Rook, 3 Common Scoter and a Shelduck. Meanwhile, 3 Ruff, 2 Tufted Duck and 3 Snipe were seen to arrive, and more casual observations during the remainder of the day suggested hirundines were still on the move in some volume. On the deck, there was an obvious arrival of Blackcap, with all suitable habitat that was checked containing birds. Figures from Wick are a bit vague, but if one extrapolates the Hengistbury counts across the greater area then a day-total estimate of 100 would not be unrealistic.
17:45: A further update on the Glossy Ibis, which has now settled on East Marsh and may be visible from Fisherman's Bank.
Omissions: the aggregate totals for Chiffchaff and Wheatear were 50 and 6 respectively, and a Mistle Thrush was on Wick.
Hopefully, the final update: the Glossy Ibis was still present at dusk, along with the Ring-billed Gull and the Spoonbill. Not a bad day really!
In very little wind, with what there was coming from the west, and clear skies, Meadow Pipit really got going this morning. Between 6:30 and 9:30, an estimated 4000 passed into the breeze, and with them went: a Merlin, the first 12 Siskin of the autumn, 19 Tree Pipit, 21 Yellow Wagtail, 9 Grey Wagtail, 125 alba Wagtail, 1100 House Martin, 900 Swallow and 49 Reed Bunting; also travelling west, after first been seen at Barton-on-Sea, were 3 Avocet. Meanwhile, there was a hint of early thrush movement, as 2 Mistle Thrush and 4 Song Thrush came off the head. Actually, throughout the day, small groups of Meadow Pipit and Swallow were still on the move, with the latter perhaps in the order of 300 per hour, thereby easily doubling the morning's figures, but appearing to head in the opposite direction. There was another good show of Chiffchaff on Hengistbury and Wick, the absolute minimum being 225 birds, along with 11 Goldcrest, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, a Whinchat, a Grasshopper Warbler and 9 Wheatear, plus a further 5 of these on Stanpit. Today's Wryneck sightings were centred about the Barred Warbler Bush and could well involve the bird from yesterday; and to finish for that side of the harbour, 3 Tufted Duck, a Pochard, a Shoveler, 2 Hobby and a Peregrine were all seen overhead. Just over a week ago, a very inexperienced Osprey spent at least 20-minutes fishing around the area, just like one this afternoon. After finally extracting a fish from the river off Grimmery Bank, the bird attempted to streamline its catch over the main part of the harbour, but promptly dropped it. It's not often you see a mullet plummeting down from around 100 metres! Anyhow, the whole episode started again and was slightly more efficient second time round. Once more, it was noticeable how some wader species have now moved on: for example, just a single Greenshank, 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 14 Ringed Plover; however, Bar-tailed Godwit rose to 16 for the day, with others comprising 8 Knot, the Spotted Redshank, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 152 Dunlin and 114 Redshank. Finally, a single Common Tern was resting inside the harbour and, before first light, a Tawny Owl was heard calling around the Civic Offices.
Although a fairly clear night and a light westerly failed to live up to numeric promise, there were some isolated pieces of local quality. The fifth Wryneck of the season showed well around the eastern edge of the Barn Field for some time this morning, but a juvenile Cuckoo in the field before being seen off by local crows was probably a better contemporary record. Also from the Barn Field, a Grey Phalarope was noticed as it flew up river, then circuited and settled briefly on the sea off Double Dykes, from where it soon upped and headed towards the Long Groyne. Moving hirundines were almost totally absent; however, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail, 11 alba Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit, 64 Meadow Pipit and 5 Linnet did head generally west. At dawn, many of the bushes on Solent Meads golf course held Chiffchaff, as did the some areas of bracken by the Barn, and an estimate of 100 could well be on the low side. Also, a couple of Willow Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat and 15 Blackcap on Wick and as far as the Nursery. Meanwhile, at least 10 Wheatear were spread around and the ringers caught 2 Grasshopper Warbler. At lunchtime, there was a good count of 177 Dunlin from Fisherman's Bank, where a Ruff, the Spotted Redshank and 5 Curlew were also present. This evening, on the marsh itself, the numbers were seemingly overall reduced, but there were still 7 Knot, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, the leucistic Dunlin and 10 Black-tailed Godwit to be seen. Also, the Ring-billed Gull and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull on East Marsh, while much earlier in the day Hobby and Kingfisher had been logged.
After the wind dropped a little overnight and the skies cleared, there was an air of expectation that was never fully realised, 11 Redstart and 7 Spotted Flycatcher aside that is. At one stage, there was actually a 'flock' of 6 of the former feeding together in one of the Wick Fields. Other totals, almost exclusively from the main sites on Wick and Hengistbury, involve: 72 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, a Whitethroat, 4 Blackcap, 2 Reed Warbler, a Goldcrest and 19 Wheatear. Meanwhile, 260 Meadow Pipit, 12 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Grey Wagtail, a paltry 95 Swallow, an Arctic Tern, 43 Common Tern and a Hobby passed over to the west. The overall wader numbers for the site remain reduced, but a modicum of variety came courtesy of: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, a Ruff, 5 Greenshank, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, a Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, 8 Knot, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and 49 Dunlin; most of these from Fisherman's Bank, but with contributions from Stanpit Bight and Hengistbury. Wildfowl round up the post with 70 Wigeon and 62 Teal settled, 6 Tufted Duck over and 5 Canada Goose in Stanpit Creek early on.
Additional news: a Little Stint was on Priory Marsh with 2 Snipe.
The continuing, strong south-westerly effectively put migration on hold for the day - 6 Wheatear being the only passerines to mention. However, there was still a good variety and presence of waders at Stanpit, for the morning that is, including: the Little Stint, 6 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 2 Green Sandpiper, what is fast becoming 'the' Spotted Redshank back for its fourth winter hopefully, 2 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Black-tailed Godwit and an impressive count of 108 Redshank; while a lone Whimbrel was the other side of the water in Brewer's Creek. Surprisingly for the time of year and conditions, the sea was dire, with singles of Arctic Skua seen from Mudeford Quay and the Long Groyne, where 2 Razorbill sheltered on the leeward side, but otherwise nothing else to remark upon; with the only other news from before lunch being a Peregrine over Hengistbury. An effort to build on the early wader totals through a late afternoon visit to Stanpit was ruined by some of the most flagrant windsurfer disturbance that has been witnessed around South Marsh, East Marsh and Stanpit Bight for a number of years. At one point, five surfers were inside the yellow buoys, four of them landing and spending time on South Marsh. Meanwhile, over in Barn Bight, another recognised Sensitive Area, a kite-surfer was effectively emptying that of birds. Tellingly, and in complete contrast to the morning's figures, there were absolutely no godwits, shanks or wild duck on site; and, in comparison to the previous couple of weeks, a big reduction in Dunlin and Ringed Plover to just 60 and 10 respectively!
Inevitably, it was much quieter today, with just a few hundred hirundines over Hengistbury during the morning. However, there was a bit of variety on the deck, as 4 Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 25 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 18 Blackcap and 5 Whitethroat were about the normal spots on Wick/Hengistbury, while 13 Wheatear were more scattered. Aerial migrants, again over the previously mentioned areas, included a single Tree Pipit, 35 Meadow Pipit, 10 Yellow Wagtail and 15 Reed Bunting, all west. A Treecreeper in the Wood was a nice record, as was a Garganey in Parky Meade Rail, with other wildfowl interest coming from drakes of Pochard and Tufted Duck that toured together, 3 Shoveler and up to 50 Teal. It seems that, other than a single bird in Holloway's Dock, Whimbrel have mostly cleared out; and the same could be said of some of the other waders as today's totals do seem reduced, although the tide/light combination was not always the best. Nevertheless, it's still worth a trip out to Stanpit, where the Little Stint, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Ruff, a Spotted Redshank, 6 Knot, 6 Sanderling, a Turnstone, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshank and 60 Ringed Plover remain; the exception being many of the godwit, which passed straight on through. Dunlin, meanwhile, have increased to an estimated 200 birds, with the pale bird again present. The Ring-billed Gull showed up with the Black-headed Gull on South Marsh just after 5:00 tonight, when there were also 2 Mediterranean Gull, a juvenile to first-winter and a second-winter, a young Shelduck and a Kingfisher. Earlier, a Peregrine had been over the area.
Omission: a juvenile Arctic Tern was fishing in the harbour along the sandspit.
On another bird-filled day, the highlight was the season's fourth Wryneck that was watched for 10-minutes or so, as it sunned itself close the Wooden Bridge on Wick. Meanwhile, a still, early morning and clear skies encouraged birds to get on the move, then with a breeze picking up from the west, the hirundines found it completely irresistible. The main counting period was dawn to 12:30, but the time between 8:00 and 11:00 saw the biggest rush, with totals of 7500 Swallow, 6000 House Martin and 280 Sand Martin. This afternoon, at Stanpit, it was clear that Swallow were still coming through in quite some numbers - perhaps still in the low hundreds an hour. Phylloscs were also around in numbers; in fact, the way they were piling out of Double Dykes onto Wick was reminiscent of spring. The day's figure was 265 birds, split 75:25 in favour of Chiffchaff, with the ringer's reportedly experiencing a similar ratio, albeit it on a much smaller sample size. Across the area, the Wheatear count came to 120 birds, while 61 Yellow Wagtail moved west, plus 17 more settled at Stanpit. The rest of the figures are from the Wick/Hengistbury side of the river and consist: 3 Pied Flycatcher 10 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 15 Whitethroat and 32 Blackcap - the latter two sylvias seeming to have cleared out dramatically - but 3 Goldcrest were the first on Hengistbury for some time. Overhead went: around 1250 Meadow Pipit, 17 Tree Pipit, 21 Grey Wagtail, 38 alba Wagtail, 65 Linnet and 2 Rook; and, at sea, a couple of Arctic Skua mixed it with an Arctic Tern, 80 Common Tern and 30 Sandwich Tern. Now to the waders, with Stanpit turning in: 3 Ruff, 3 Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh, the Little Stint, 9 Curlew Sandpiper, the Spotted Redshank, 21 Knot, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Sanderling, up to 20 Greenshank, a Grey Plover, these have been very hard to come by of late, 30 Snipe and 17 Black-tailed Godwit, but with the Dunlin and Ringed Plover again remaining uncounted. Finally, we come to: 2 Raven, 3 Hobby, a Peregrine and a Buzzard over harbour airspace; a second-winter Mediterranean Gull on South Marsh; the bizarre site of an albino House Martin over the Barn Field and the leucistic Dunlin still present; plus a steady number of Wigeon and over 30 Teal.
Thankfully, the heavy rain that started at dawn lasted for barely 30-minutes, meaning a dry walk to the Beach Huts and subsequent 3.5 hour seawatch, which produced: a Grey Phalarope, a Great Skua, 5 Arctic Skua, some of these lingering on the water to harangue the Sandwich Tern, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, 5 Fulmar, 2 Great-crested Grebe, 37 Sandwich Tern, 39 Common Tern, 5 Razorbill, a Guillemot, 5 Common Scoter, one with an accompanying Mallard, and 63 Swallow, nearly all west. Also from the sandspit, during the very high 1.8m spring tide, roosting waders included: the Little Stint, the leucistic Dunlin, 3 Sanderling, a Knot and 2 Turnstone. However, as the waters ebbed during the afternoon, most of these relocated to the Stanpit Bight area, where they joined: up to 20 Curlew Sandpiper, 14 resting together at one point, 2 Green Sandpiper, a further 5 and 9 of Knot and Sanderling respectively, 8 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe and a Black-tailed Godwit, plus unrecorded numbers of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Needless to say in the strong wind, passerine migrants were somewhat tricky, but there was a single Wheatear on Hengistbury; while 5 Raven and a Shoveler complete the post.
A strong south-westerly wind, which seemed to have been completely overlooked by the forecasters, prompted some changes of plan this morning and meant the sea got a look in. A situation that came up with one of the biggest day-totals ever of Balearic Shearwater for Hengistbury - a total of 27, in flocks of 21 and 6. Also, a juvenile Pomarine Skua, which was actually the first record for the year, an Arctic Skua, a skua sp., 10 Common Scoter, a Gadwall and a Hobby, all west except for 4 of the scoter. This information spurred on an afternoon attempt, but that fell far short of the morning's marker, producing just 20 Common Tern, 37 Sandwich Tern, a Fulmar and a Kestrel, again all west. Another species that put in a good figure for the day was Bar-tailed Godwit, with an obvious westerly passage of 78 birds through the harbour this morning, including parties of 42, 23 and 10. Also on the move, into the wind, 850 Swallow, 6 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail. Other passerines were hard to come by, however, and could muster only a Redstart, a Whinchat and a Lesser Whitethroat at Stanpit, plus 6 Wheatear on Hengistbury. The waders on the marsh got slightly less attention than of late, but there were still figures of: 7 Curlew Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper by the Rusty Boat, 24 Knot, 2 Ruff by the Visitor's Centre, 2 Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank, 2 Sanderling, 14 Greenshank, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper, 70 Ringed Plover and 100 Dunlin, with the leucistic bird still present. Meanwhile, at least 4 Turnstone were on the sandspit.
The spell was broken and it was good for two days on the run! Before getting into the numbers, however, firstly the finer points. A Wryneck was seen briefly in the No Dogs field on Wick, but far less elusive, albeit extremely uncharacteristic for the species, was a Nightingale that sat in the open for 20-minutes by the Natterjack Pond. As an Osprey fished the harbour for a good 25-minutes, before it eventually caught its breakfast, amongst the alarmed birds were a Black Tern and 2 Avocet, the latter departing with 6 Bar-tailed Godwit; and, throughout the day, 3 late Little Tern were seen from Stanpit, Mudeford Quay and the sandspit. Offshore, an Arctic Skua hassled some Sandwich Tern, 37 Common Tern headed west and a Fulmar grazed the Barn Field. The most numerous bird of the morning was Chiffchaff, as 270 were seen, mostly west of the HHC, but also spread about Wick and the Barn Field were: 37 Willow Warbler, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 7 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 55 Whitethroat, 92 Blackcap and 2 Reed Warbler, these seemingly very sparse at the moment. A total of 43 Wheatear were across the area, while 12 Grey Wagtail, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Tree Pipit, 75 Meadow Pipit, 1300 Swallow, 240 House Martin, 170 Sand Martin. 2 Rook and 4 Raven moved over. By the Wooden Bridge on Wick, there was a Green Sandpiper and 2 Ruff, with a further of these on Stanpit, where a Little Stint and at least 12 Curlew Sandpiper remain. A Little Stint seen on the sandspit over the high tide could have been the same as previously mentioned, but 11 Sanderling and 12 Turnstone were almost certainly unique to that site. Other waders for the day, seen mainly from South Marsh, were: 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Knot, 3 further Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, at least 10 Greenshank, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 77 Ringed Plover and the leucistic Dunlin in with 80 or so others. The final bit-and-pieces include a Mistle Thrush on Wick, a Peregrine, a Kingfisher, 120 Canada Goose littering the harbour at first light and, after a few day's absence, Mediterranean Gull records, two in fact. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.
The early rain dried up at around 8:00, when it became clear the conditions had grounded a whole load of birds onto Wick and Hengistbury. The best were 2 Wryneck on the Barn Field, one of which hung on for most of the morning, but also: 59 Wheatear, 8 Spotted Flycatcher, a Pied Flycatcher, 9 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 11 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 126 Whitethroat, 95 Blackcap, 175 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler and 70 Sedge Warbler, as well as the first 70 Linnet of their passage. This afternoon, there were still 34 Wheatear spread across the area and knowing how quickly individuals tend to move on, then a day-total approaching 90 is not unreasonable to assume. One of the later birds was actually a very richly coloured male, still in breeding plumage, possibly a Greenland breeder? The skies also saw the first Meadow Pipit movement, as 119 passed over, in the company of 23 Tree Pipit, 7 Yellow Wagtail, 10 Grey Wagtail and 8 Rook. At Stanpit, singles of both Black Tern and Arctic Tern were present, in addition to the now regular wader roll of: a juvenile Little Stint, 9 Curlew Sandpiper, a Ruff, a Spotted Redshank, 6 Sanderling, 8 Knot, a Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, 7 Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 95 Ringed Plover and 70 Dunlin. Amongst these, were the moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper and the leucistic Dunlin, these being specifically mentioned as a gauge of how long birds may hang around during the return journey - both have now been present for almost a week. The sandspit area can also add some numbers, not least Holloway's Dock, where 8 Knot, including an adult were present, while a further 6 Turnstone and 3 Sanderling were on the spit itself. The Ring-billed Gull was present around 5:30 on Crouch Hill, Hobby were seen on three occasions and the Wigeon have increased to 57, likewise the Teal to 21.
Additional news: September Swift are always notable, so it's hard to imagine how I managed to omit 5 over Wick from the main post, also 700 House Martin and 570 Swallow over, while by dusk the Curlew Sandpiper count had risen to 14.
During the night, the rain stopped, the skies cleared and the wind moved to the south-west; from where it dropped to almost nothing this evening, meaning the mosquitoes on Stanpit could make a real nuisance of themselves. There was another cracking selection of waders on show throughout the late afternoon flood tide, comprising: 2 Little Stint, 12 Curlew Sandpiper, including the moulting adult, a Spotted Redshank, at least 12 Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 6 Knot, 2 Turnstone, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 93 Ringed Plover and around 80 Dunlin, with the pale bird still on site. Earlier, a Little Ringed Plover went over Wick and a total of 15 Sanderling had roosted on the South Marsh gravel patch, while a further 5 Common Sandpiper and 3 Snipe were about Parky Meade Rail. The early part of the day was generally quiet, but the area between the No Dogs field on Wick and the Long Field held: a Spotted Flycatcher, a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whinchat, a Garden Warbler, 26 Whitethroat and 15 Blackcap, but no Wheatear, although four of these were on Crouch Hill. There was little at sea, save for an Arctic Tern and 9 Common Tern west, with an additional 12 of the latter moving through the harbour. This evening, the Ring-billed Gull was with 2 adult Common Gull and a few Black-headed Gull on Crouch Hill, with other oddities for the day made up of: a Little Grebe, 35 Wigeon and 5 Teal at Stanpit, plus an impressive flock of around 50 Long-tailed Tit in the Stanpit golf course sycamores.
Additional news: 2 Redstart were on Wick this evening.
Until mid-afternoon, when the rain set in, the conditions were similar to yesterday - a blustery, south-easterly wind and variable cloud. Not really the scene for a travelling raptor one, would imagine. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to record an Osprey over Wick Fields from Stanpit, a species that hasn't so far been particularly obliging this autumn. The other highlights around the marsh were, the first Jack Snipe of the 'winter', 3 Green Sandpiper, 4 Curlew Sandpiper and a Spotted Redshank. At sea, the real quality came from a Sooty Shearwater east from the Gully, but also a Balearic Shearwater, 7 Fulmar, 292 Gannet, 6 Common Scoter and a Razorbill, all in a likewise direction. Also over the water, a couple of Arctic Skua, one east and one west, as well as 2 Arctic Tern, 63 Common Tern, 78 Sandwich Tern and a Great Crested Grebe, all west. Despite the conditions, there was some overhead activity, comprising 250 Swallow, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Raven, 19 Wigeon and 2 Gadwall, while 5 Ruff were seen to arrive and seemingly settle on Stanpit. The only other passerines of note were 5 Wheatear, with the remaining wader interest coming from Fisherman's Bank and made up of: a Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel and 6 Black-tailed Godwit, but just 5 Dunlin.
A brisk south-easterly that blew for the entirety of the day stifled much of the overhead migration, but did make for some brief interest at sea this morning. Not least, a Black Tern that was feeding around the Long Groyne in the company of a juvenile Arctic Tern, 9 Common Tern and 12 Sandwich Tern. Meanwhile, 4 Arctic Skua passed by close in and 180 Gannet headed into the wind, as did 2 Common Scoter. The only movers over the land were 1500 Swallow and 110 Sand Martin east, but 12 Yellow Wagtail and 7 Grey Wagtail were a little more aimless. On the deck, it was the Lower Batters that provided the most interest with a Grasshopper Warbler and a Redstart, while 20 each of Blackcap and Chiffchaff were on Wick, and 6 of the day's 7 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. The Stanpit Bight area still held a Little Stint and 11 Curlew Sandpiper, but not to be outdone Priory Marsh hosted 2 Green Sandpiper and a Ruff, with the remaining wader totals across the area made up of: 8 Sanderling, 3 Common Sandpiper, 13 Greenshank, 3 Whimbrel, a Turnstone 24 Snipe and 10 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as 75 or so each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, the leucistic individual still being present. The wildfowl remained fairly static at 27 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall and the juvenile Shelduck in Stanpit Bight, the regular early morning Hobby and Kingfisher were logged from the Wooden Bridge, and a male Peregrine hunted at Stanpit in the afternoon.
There was another excellent miscellany of waders about the area today, including a maximum count of 14 Curlew Sandpiper at Stanpit this afternoon, when there was also a Little Stint, 13 Knot, 4 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 4 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Common Sandpiper, along with the leucistic Dunlin amongst uncounted numbers of those and Ringed Plover. Earlier in the day, a Little Ringed Plover went over the Wick Fields, from where single Ruff were seen on three occasions, a Green Sandpiper was close to the Wooden Bridge and at least 6 Greenshank commuted between there and Priory Marsh. Passerines were harder to come by, but did include: 34 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit, as well as 3 Whinchat, 15 Wheatear, 2 Redstart, 30 Chiffchaff and 6 Willow Warbler. As expected, most of these were on Wick/the west of Hengistbury, but Stanpit also contributed to the figures. To round up the migrants, a light, easterly hirundine passage comprised: 2300 Swallow, 100 House Martin and 25 Sand Martin. The rest is a bit of a muddle and made up of: several sightings of Kingfisher from the Wooden Bridge; a Raven, a Buzzard, at least 2 Hobby and 2 Tufted Duck over Wick Fields; the Ring-billed Gull from 4:00 onwards, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 30 Wigeon, 5 Common Tern and the juvenile Shelduck in Stanpit Bight; and around 30 Canada Goose leaving their seasonal roost in Stanpit Creek.
Another fine day, which saw a group of 5 Spoonbill spend most of it in Stanpit Bight, where they remain this evening. Also at Stanpit, still 9 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stint, a Spotted Redshank, 4 Knot, a Turnstone, 2 Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel and a Black-tailed Godwit, as well as many, but uncounted, Dunlin, including the leucistic bird, and Ringed Plover. The fine wader variety wasn't confined to the bight, however, as Priory Marsh held a Ruff and 9 Snipe, while a Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover were recorded from the Wooden Bridge, and a total of 9 Greenshank were dotted about both those sites. The best of the passerines was a Turtle Dove at Stanpit, where there was also a Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, but a further three of these were on Wick Fields, which also held: 19 Whitethroat, 15 Blackcap, 4 Lesser Whitethroat and 15 Sedge Warbler, but negligible numbers of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Meanwhile, around 13 Wheatear were logged around the area in general. Overhead, a half-hour Swallow count over the Barn Field averaged 50 per minute, so a minimum of 1500 for the day, all east, with Yellow Wagtail chipping in at 9 birds. Hobby were seen on a couple of occasions over Wick in the morning, as was a Kingfisher, and a Peregrine passed over Stanpit in the afternoon.
A Wryneck was seen briefly today as it came off Hengistbury and into Wick Ditch, from where it was seen once more before disappearing into the fields, never to be seen again. The day also saw the first proper hirundine movement of the season, with Swallow reckoned to be moving at 50-100 per minute at one point. The total for them over a couple of hours came to 15000, along with 2200 House Martin and 1100 Sand Martin, all east into the wind. Also moving generally in that direction, were: 56 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Grey Wagtail and 15 Tree Pipit, while 37 Common Tern and 48 Ringed Plover went west. The numbers for settled birds come from between the Long Field and the Wooden Bridge and comprise: 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 7 Whinchat, 7 Redstart, most of these on the Long Field, 14 Wheatear, as well as 4 on Stanpit, 13 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 41 Blackcap, 87 Whitethroat, 36 Chiffchaff, 18 Willow Warbler and 16 Sedge Warbler. Additionally, during the afternoon, around 8 Yellow Wagtail were about the sandspit. Little Stint made it on to the year-list with one, but possibly two, at Stanpit, where there were also at least 9 Curlew Sandpiper, including 2 moulting adult birds, as well as a Spotted Redshank, a Green Sandpiper, an over-flying Golden Plover, 2 Turnstone, a Sanderling, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, 6 Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 170 Ringed Plover and 145 Dunlin, including a leucistic individual that has been around for a couple of days already. Meanwhile, around the fringes of the area, a Ruff was on Priory Marsh, a further 4 Greenshank were on the Wick pools and 8 Sanderling were on the sandspit. Finally, the Ring-billed Gull showed up on Crouch Hill at around 6:00, a Gadwall and 19 Wigeon were in Stanpit Bight for most of the day, a Razorbill was off Hengistbury in the morning, 2 Mediterranean Gull were on South Marsh in the late afternoon and, of mammal interest, an Otter is currently been seen quite frequently adjacent to the river.
The Ring-billed Gull turned up on cue around 4:00 this afternoon on Crouch Hill, where a second-summer Mediterranean Gull and a Common Gull were also present with the Black-headed Gull flock; earlier an adult Mediterranean Gull was seen. Another fine morning saw the first significant hirundine movement of the autumn with an estimated 1500 Swallow an hour over the Barn Field by mid-morning. Once again coverage was concentrated on Wick and the Barn Field the totals being 45 Whitethroat, 18 Blackcap, 12 Yellow Wagtail, 12 Sedge Warbler, 7 Wheatear, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Reed Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Redstart; another 5 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. Waders today included 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 14 Greenshank, 11 on Stanpit and 3 on Wick, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot, 4 Common Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Whimbrel, also good local counts of 103 Redshank and 28 Curlew. A Common Buzzard was over Wick this morning and Hobby, Peregrine and Raven were also seen. Barn Bight held 19 Teal and 3 Wigeon moved east at sea while a Shoveler and 13 Wigeon were in Stanpit Bight this afternoon; also in the bight were 246 Coot.
Additional news: A Whinchat and 7 Yellow Wagtail were on Wick this evening