Sightings for August 2011


August 31st

Wheatear selection on Crouch Hill - Jimmy Main
...and one of the exceptional number of grounded Tree Pipit
that the season has seen - Chris Chapleo

The breeze didn't swing to the east until a couple of hours after dawn, but when it did there was an almost uncanny arrival of birds. Not least, a group of 9 Spotted Flycatcher and a Pied Flycatcher that pitched into a conifer at the end of the head, before vaporising into the greater part of the Wood. Also over, and mainly from the eastern tip of Hengistbury, 40 Yellow Wagtail, 10 Grey Wagtail, 10 Tree Pipit, 1300 Swallow, 390 House Martin and 360 Sand Martin, mostly into the wind. Meanwhile, a Roseate Tern lingered offshore, a Spoonbill went over westward, an Eider and a Common Scoter passed east, and a Golden Plover arrived and descended onto East Marsh. All of this coincided with the high spring tide and, consequently, the sandspit held a myriad of displaced waders, including 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 9 Knot, 79 Sanderling, 18 Turnstone and 67 Ringed Plover. Later on, as Stanpit became more accommodating, the Spotted Redshank, which we today learnt has been around since about the 27th and could well be the 'regular', was seen, as were 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, 5 Greenshank, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, an increase to 80 Ringed Plover and 55 Dunlin. The final, real migrant interest comes from: 2 Redstart, 3 Whinchat and 3 Lesser Whitehroat on the Long Field, with 32 Willow Warbler, 22 Chiffchaff, 33 Whitethroat and 7 Wheatear spread about. Singles of Hobby, Redpoll, Kingfisher and Shoveler were seen from Wick, a pair of Raven were again settled at Stanpit, as were 5 Mediterranean Gull, and 2 Great Crested Grebe went through the harbour.


August 30th

Ring-billed Gull at Stanpit on Sunday 28th - Jimmy Main
...and, although a distant shot in fading light, a nice comparison of
Spotted Redshank
(rear) with Redshank at Stanpit last night - Jimmy Main

Other than a Serin north over Crouch Hill this morning, it was the quietest day for quite some time. Amongst the small number of commoner migrants on Hengistbury and Wick there were: a male Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Tree Pipit, 10 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Wheatear; with a further 6 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, Stanpit. Meanwhile, above Hengistbury, small numbers of House Martin and Swallow are now mixing with the Sand Martin, so we might expect a hirundine surge over the next few days, particularly if the forecast easterlies come about, and an observation that Chiffchaff now seem more abundant than Willow Warbler. In addition to a Green Sandpiper over Wick, an adult, female Ruff, which was seen to arrive with 7 Ringed Plover in the morning, spent most of the day on South Marsh; from where 3 Knot, 4 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Sanderling, 45 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin could also be seen. Final snippets include: a Shoveler arriving, some recently fledged Stonechat on Hengistbury and some updated Yellow Wagtail numbers for yesterday that now been added to that post.


August 29th

Garden Warbler - Chris Chapleo
...and Blackcap , both on the same elder branch in the Long Field - Chris Chapleo

Apart from the first hour or so of daylight, a westerly breeze again dominated the day. Final figures are not available for Yellow Wagtail, but the site total is well in excess of 170 birds. For example: 65 were seen coming off Wick, where 35 were later settled by the Wooden Bridge; at Stanpit, the maximum returns were 15 over and 25 decked about Crouch Hill; and at Hengistbury at least two 15+ flocks went through. It's also all a little vague about Tree Pipit and the current tally of nine is certainly there to be beaten when all the information is in. Other than the almost exceptional number of Yellow Wagtail, the two bits of main interest involve a Spoonbill that came down onto Stanpit mid-morning and a Marsh Harrier over the Old Depot site mid-afternoon. Back to the morning and a total of 5 Redstart of varying plumages, mostly on the Long Field, 6 Whinchat, nearly all on the Barn or Long Fields, 21 Wheatear from all areas, a Turtle Dove over the HHC and towards Wick, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warbler, 43 Blackcap, 40 Whitethroat and 30 Willow Warbler. A total of 33 Black-tailed Godwit off Fisherman's Bank this afternoon suggests something of an arrival for this species, while 12 powered straight on eastward during the morning; also 14 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper airborne, with 3 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot, 11 Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper, 8 Greenshank, 40 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin, all more settled. The remaining miscellany comes from singles of Raven, Wigeon, Peregrine and Great Crested Grebe, as well as a dozen Teal. Of interest, the marsh is currently being watched until almost dark in the evenings and, for the last two days, there has been a build up of small waders at this time, plus a bit of news that makes it worth checking back to yesterday's post.

Additional news: a Spotted Redshank was by South Marsh this evening.

Additional news: a revised Yellow Wagtail figure of 170+80 = 250 is not unreasonable, while Tree Pipit came to 15; along with 6 Grey Wagtail, 27 Wheatear, a Grasshopper Warbler, 53 Willow Warbler and 9 Chiffchaff, all on Hengistbury; as well as 3 Shoveler and 5 Gadwall over.


August 28th

An animated, young Grey Heron with a fairly unimpressed looking adult - Darren Hughes

The wind blew from the west all day and brought on the first serious seawatch for some time. From the Gully, a total of 138 Common Tern in some sizeable flocks moved west, as did a juvenile Arctic Tern and 47 Sandwich Tern. Meanwhile, Common Tern were also taking the short-cut through the harbour, with 126 logged, including a flock of 57, and a first-winter Little Gull was seen from Stanpit. Despite the conditions, there were some pipit and wagtails on the move - 18 Tree Pipit, 39 Yellow and 3 Grey Wagtail being the figures - while on the deck, there was: a Grasshopper Warbler close to the HHC, 5 Redstart, all on Wick, ditto 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Wheatear and a Whinchat on the Barn Field and a Garden Warbler in the No Dogs Field: plus 33 Whitethroat, 11 Blackcap and 21 Willow Warbler scatted from the Long Field to the Wooden Bridge. On Stanpit in the morning, there were small groups of lingering Yellow Wagtail, perhaps up to 20 birds, but these had mostly left by the afternoon, when there were around 15 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. The beach beneath the Gully was the best spot for waders today, as 33 Sanderling and 2 Turnstone stopped off there, with a further 8 Sanderling in Stanpit Bight made up of the season's first juveniles. Also inside the harbour, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 80 Ringed Plover and 41 Dunlin. Late in the afternoon, an Osprey passed over and seemed to head directly south, a Great Crested Grebe was around and a Kingfisher was on Wick.

Additional news: well into the evening, an adult Ring-billed Gull in heavy tail moult overflew South Marsh.


August 27th

Wheatear - Alan Hayden

An initially, light westerly wind gathered pace as the day wore on and with it came some spurious showers. Crouch Hill was fairly spectacular this morning, in that it was covered in Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear - 45 and 32 being the respective totals - with good numbers still present this afternoon. Perhaps of interest for the date, several of the Wheatear were actually adult male birds. Also from the hill, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was seen to arrive into Mother Siller's Channel, while a Golden Plover headed north and an adult Grey Plover came in from the Blackberry Point direction. Other waders at Stanpit, included 7 Knot, 7 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, around 50 Ringed Plover and 30 or so Dunlin. On Hengistbury, an unseasonable Redpoll overflew the HHC, as did 14 Tree Pipit and 3 Grey Wagtail, with airborne Yellow Wagtail being more widespread, 65 in all, the most notable flocks being 26 over Whitepits and 22 over the Wooden Bridge. A couple of Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart and a Garden Warbler were on the golf course embankment, with a further 'spot-fly' seen coming off the head, where there was 2 Redstart, 5 Whinchat, 28 Wheatear in the Barn Field, 4 Lesser Whitethroat and 49 Willow Warbler that 'crossed the gap'. To conclude, a Swift lingered over Wick, 17 Common Tern passed westward and 2 Great Crested Grebe were off Rushy Piece.


August 26th

Avocet - Jimmy Main

    

Turtle Dove - Jean Southworth & Darren Hughes

...and the regular, young female Peregrine perched on East Marsh - Alan Hayden

After some very heavy overnight rain, there were further showers during the course of the morning with limited windows when some birding was possible. On Hengistbury and following a recent trend of records elsewhere in Dorset, there was a very early Firecrest in the Long Field, where there was also 3 Whinchat. Meanwhile, in the No Dogs Field on Wick, a Turtle Dove was very obliging during the periods it spent perched in riverside willows. Totals of commoner species from Hengistbury and Wick came to: 4 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 98 Whitethroat, 30 Willow Warbler and 17 Blackcap; those in addition to a Hobby low over the Wooden Bridge. On the Stanpit side: there was a Nightingale on the golf course embankment, 9 Garden Warbler in the adjacent areas, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, a Grasshopper Warbler, 70 Sedge Warbler in habitat indicative of migrant birds and 2 Redstart; plus 35 Willow Warbler and 15 Chiffchaff, today being the first day of apparent migration for the latter. Possibly due to the length of the vegetation in the Barn Field, this year's preferred spot for Wheatear seems to be Crouch Hill - 41 there this morning with just two on Hengistbury. There was little moving over, just 6 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit from across the area, but a few House Martin are starting to appear with the remaining Sand Martin. To finish the passerines, the damson crop by the Purewell Stream attracted 3 Bullfinch and 5 Raven were seen from Fisherman's Bank. Waders were headed by 3 Ruff and a fly-through Avocet, as well as 12 Greenshank, all on Priory Marsh, 9 Knot, 3 Sanderling, a magnificent Grey Plover, a Whimbrel, at least one Common Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Black-tailed Godwit; with the Dunlin and Ringed Plover too distant to census accurately, but probably down on yesterday. The now familiar juvenile female Peregrine was again frequenting the area, as were 4 Teal, a Common Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gull.

Additional news: a totoal of 4 Great Crested Grebe were in the harbour and 17 Knot were seen to arrive late on.


August 25th

Juvenile Sedge Warbler - Chris Chapleo
Spotted Flycatcher - Jimmy Main

The early part of the day was spoiled by showers, other than in Smithy's Field, where there were 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Garden Warbler, 35 Whitethroat, 45 Blackcap, 20 Sedge Warbler and 20 Willow Warbler; while 21 Wheatear were on Stanpit, 18 of them on Crouch Hill, and 6 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit went over Hengistbury. Priory Marsh and its newly restored ditches is now proving the freshwater wader magnet we hoped for, with 4 Green Sandpiper, 10 Greenshank and 6 Snipe being there today, as well as a Bearded Tit in the adjacent reeds. Elsewhere on the marsh, a juvenile Ruff was present all day, this evening preferring Stanpit Creek, and a Curlew Sandpiper was with the estimated 40 Dunlin and 80 Ringed Plover around Stanpit Bight; with other waders on-site including 3 Avocet, 7 Sanderling, 3 Knot and a few Black-tailed Godwit. A total of 5 Raven was logged, along with the juvenile female Peregrine that was seen a few times, even managing to catch something, 3 Great Crested Grebe, an adult Common Gull and 3 Mediterranean Gull. Of interest, there was a first-summer 'sabs gull' at Penzance yesterday and I'm told that from photos elsewhere on the web it looks pretty likely to be the bird last seen here on Sunday.


August 24th

Sparrowhawk - Jimmy Main
Willow Warbler - Jimmy Main

The first hour of daylight was marred by very few birds and a plethora of incessant, biting insects. However, as soon as a light breeze came about the relief was instant and things really started to get moving. Although nowhere near the counts of the old-days, the numbers of Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit this season are significantly up relative to the recent past. Today saw 124 of the former and 37 of the latter over Hengistbury and Wick; the most notable flock being 28 Yellow Wagtail heading directly out. Also over, a party of 5 quite early Grey Wagtail. Meanwhile, a Turtle Dove that flew from Stanpit across the river was most likely the same as an individual recorded on Wick - it would be good if these also had an above average year. At least 3 Grasshopper Warbler were on-site, two by the Long Field and one on Wick, as well as: 9 Redstart, four of them in the Barred Warbler Bush; a Pied Flycatcher, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and 12 Goldcrest on the Batters; a couple of Whinchat on the Barn Field and 3 Lesser Whitethroat on Wick, plus aggregate figures of 63 Willow Warbler and 40 Whitethroat. For once, Stanpit usurped Hengistbury in terms of Wheatear, as 32 carpeted Crouch Hill, while a mere eight were on the other side of the harbour! Also about the marsh, on the golf course embankment, were 4 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Garden Warbler. Before dropping down to the waders, other pieces of interest involved a young male Marsh Harrier coming through from the east, a passing Arctic Skua close-in to the Double Dykes and a tally of 7 Raven, five in the Nursery and two feeding on rowan berries in the North Scrubs, on a bush that could barely take their weight. A maximum of 14 Greenshank were around, but seven were seen to leave, as were 5 of 6 Knot; with those more settled comprising: 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Sanderling, a Turnstone, a Whimbrel, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 70 Ringed Plover and 45 Dunlin. Hirundines were present throughout, but a 30-minute sample of birds thought to be moving produced 250 Swallow, 200 Sand Martin and 80 House Martin, with an associated Swift. Before this rambles on too much, the rest came to: a presumed family party of 4 Hobby over Stanpit, a couple of settled Great Crested Grebe and a minimum of 11 Mediterranean Gull, nearly all birds of the year.


August 23rd

Common Sandpiper - Alan Hayden

Large portions of the day were taken up by heavy rain and low cloud, which the very light easterly wind never really blew through. During one of the drier patches of the morning, a Marsh Harrier overflew Crouch Hill and a juvenile Arctic Tern was feeding in The Run for a short time; also 2 Little Tern inside the harbour and a group of 35 Common Tern seen to arrive during one of the showers. A fine total of 8 Green Sandpiper was logged, five over Fisherman's Bank and three settled on Priory Marsh; with 21 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Shoveler and 17 Teal also being at Stanpit. At lunchtime, the best record was easily a juvenile Cuckoo that was seen flying over East Marsh and coming down into the reeds there, but also a healthy count of 18 Knot, all but sixteen of these leaving shortly thereafter though. During the afternoon, the best of the waders was a young Little Ringed Plover, but also on-site were: 7 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, 7 Sanderling, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, a Snipe, 98 Ringed Plover and 63 Dunlin. The still conditions at the end of the day encouraged migrant passerines in the North Scrubs to become more obvious than normal, as they fed up on the many mosquitoes - for example, a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart and 4 Garden Warbler - while on Crouch Hill, a couple of Whinchat and 16 Wheatear were dotted around. To conclude, the day's Mediterranean Gull tally came to barely five birds.


August 22nd


Purple Heron - Chris Thomas
This bird overflew the Avon Causeway at 16:50 last night and it's difficult to imagine it's not the same individual as that seen in the harbour early in the morning yesterday

Cattle Egret at Stanpit this morning - Chris Dresh (top) & Darren Hughes (bottom)
Somewhat reversing the behaviour of the heron, this Cattle Egret, still in breeding plumage, spent two days at the Causeway before appearing in the harbour this morning
...and the Sabine's Gull in Stanpit Bight last night - Chris Thomas

Ironically, after yesterday's comments about herons, the Avon Causeway Cattle Egret chose to spend some time at Stanpit this morning - from about 8:00 until 11:00, when it was seen to leave northwards, it flitted between Priory and Central Marshes. Later in the day, the bird was frequenting its favoured field south of the causeway. A relatively clear and still night made for something of a bumper morning on Hengistbury. The quality came from a Wryneck seen in flight from the top of the head and appearing to come down in the Barn Field, but the more expected were around in excellent numbers. Prior to 8:30, around 430 Willow Warbler jumped the gap by the HHC, while a further 100 were estimated settled elsewhere. Also logged, mainly airborne and from the same spot, were: 13 Spotted Flycatcher, plus two on the Batters; 6 Redstart, along with two settled on Wick and two by the Ironstone Quarry; 61 Tree Pipit, the largest flock being 15 birds; and 74 Yellow Wagtail, the best being a group of 25 heading out southbound. More settled, however, were: 69 Wheatear, including 39 that lined the southern fence of the Barn Field before being disturbed and seeming to head directly skyward; 7 Whinchat, five of them in the Bobolink Field; 125 Whitethroat across Wick and to the Long Field, plus 50 or so elsewhere; 9 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Garden Warbler, the latter all on Wick. From the number of passerines being recorded recently, there is a very strong suggestion this must have been an excellent breeding season. In addition to a Green Sandpiper over Wick, there were again decent numbers of waders at Stanpit, where the 'smalls' totalled around 200, with the vast majority being Ringed Plover, but also there were 4 Greenshank, 5 Sanderling, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Turnstone, 8 Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. A Little Tern spent some time in the harbour, but 27 Common Tern moved through quickly west; the day's Mediterranean Gull came to 11 birds; a Pochard, a Tufted Duck and 6 Wigeon were seen to arrive; and a male Peregrine was over Stanpit. Finally, and perhaps quite notable for the date, there were 16 Swift passing over St. Catherine's school between 18:00 and 18:30 this evening.

Additional news: an adult Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Common Gull were the best of the gulls at Stanpit in the evening.


August 21st

Mediterranean Gull fast losing its juvenile plumage - Alan Hayden
...and a Knot losing its breeding plumage - Jimmy Main

There was something of a heron-fest this morning, when a juvenile Purple Heron was seen at 6:20 in flight from the Wooden Bridge and appeared to go down somewhere beyond the HHC. Around 90-minutes on, it was seen again, this time from Grimmery Bank, as it made its way north-west over the Wick Fields. Slightly later, a couple of non-adult Spoonbill put in an appearance, coming in from the west and circling the harbour, but then continuing on eastward. These records, coupled with a Cattle Egret in full-breeding plumage that was yesterday discovered 4-miles north of the area by the Avon Causeway, suggest an influx of interesting herons. Stanpit held a good selection of waders, which included: 2 Ruff, one of them actually a reeve, the autumn's first Spotted Redshank, an Avocet, 2 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling, 8 Knot, 3 Greenshank, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Snipe, 86 Ringed Plover and 60 Dunlin. There were also a few settled Yellow Wagtail around the ponies at times, as well as 2 Tree Pipit on Priory Marsh, while overhead totals from across the area for the two species came to 27and 14 respectively. Settled migrants were relatively sparse, the pick being a Whinchat on the Barn Field, a Redstart in the North Scrubs, 14 Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a couple of Lesser Whitethroat. Later in the morning, Swallow and House Martin were on the move westward, 400 and 300 being the figures over a 2.5-hour period, along with a single Swift and 5 Common Tern. Also seen airborne, were 2 Hobby, 2 Peregrine, 2 Rook, 2 Wigeon and 2 Pochard, the latter settling briefly. Up to 20 Canada Goose roosted just off the Christchurch Harbour Hotel and by Parky Meade Rail there was a Tufted Duck, the first two Little Grebe of the winter and a Mediterranean Gull.

Additional news: the Sabine's Gull was off South Marsh from 19:30 onwards and an Osprey passed high over there during the afternoon.


August 20th

The wind varied from south-west to south-east and back again, all before midday. A dreadful seawatch that saw just 7 Common Scoter and a juvenile Kittiwake, was enlivened by a passing, juvenile Osprey, which travelled west to east at cliff top level. Unfortunately, no cameras were to hand! Earlier, a party of 8 red-head Goosander circuited the harbour, one of them peeled off unseen, while the remaining seven headed back upriver. It was a fine morning for Yellow Wagtail, with a total of 66 being logged, nearly all heading directly south, including a purposeful flock of 19 birds; also 16 Tree Pipit and 300+ Sand Martin, with a few associating Swallow, in the notebooks. Settled passerines were not that plentiful, however, with a maximum of 40 Willow Warbler by the HHC and onto Wick, but there was a Spotted Flycatcher in Wick Ditch and a Redstart on the Long Field. At Stanpit, today's wader selection comprised: a Sanderling, 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, a Snipe, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 73 Ringed Plover and 42 Dunlin; and the remainingl bits-and-pieces come from Wick, where singles of Peregrine and Kingfisher were seen. Finally, the first-summer Sabine's Gull that was seen in the harbour on Thursday was settled at the Avon Causeway last night.

Stop press: the Sabine's Gull is in the harbour, off South Marsh, at 7:30 this evening.


August 19th

Kingfisher - Mike Crockard

The pick of the day was clustered around Priory Marsh this morning, where a Wood Sandpiper overflew and a Green Sandpiper was a little more settled. In the golf course conifers, there was a Pied Flycatcher and 3 Spotted Flycatcher, with the commoner migrants in that immediate area comprising: a Garden Warbler, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 50 Whitethroat, 30 Blackcap, 80 Willow Warbler and 30 Sedge Warbler. Meanwhile, Wick and Hengistbury, as far as the Barn Field, contributed: 3 Garden Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 85 Whitethroat, 15 Blackcap, 23 Sedge Warbler, 7 Reed Warbler and 25 Willow Warbler. The Wheatear total came to 13 birds overall and up to 25 Yellow Wagtail, 9 Tree Pipit and a Swift passed through, but 300+ Sand Martin hung around for most of the day. A Little Tern and 14 Common Tern lingered around Stanpit Bight, where there were also 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 7 Common Sandpiper, a Knot, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin. The first Wigeon of the 'winter' appeared, a couple of birds, with 7 Teal and 2 Shoveler also in the harbour, while an adult Peregrine slipped through almost unnoticed and a Kingfisher was in the Two Riversmeet area. Outside of the recording area, but closely associated with it, the presumed first-summer Sabine's Gull was briefly on the pig fields just east of the Cat and Fiddle during the morning, but more settled on the floods around the Avon Causeway from the late afternoon into the evening.

A record shot of the Sabine's Gull near Sopley,
but earlier the bird had been seen within the recording area at Stanpit - Darren Hughes
Limited experience of adults in August suggest they should still have something of a hood, so this head pattern and the apparent lack of yellow tip to the bill may actually suggest a first-summer bird, but comments would be welcome.

August 18th

There was barely a moment in the day when the rain could be described as anything other than torrential! Somehow though, a dry window was found by Paul Morrison, who nabbed his third good gull of the year in the form of a Sabine's Gull seen heading inland from Fisherman's Bank. This is typical behaviour of the many Black-headed Gull that head off daily towards the pig field at Sopley and it didn't take long for the bird to be relocated there. Also seen at Stanpit during the morning, a Garganey flying upriver, a flock of 18 Yellow Wagtail over Crouch Hill, where there were 17 settled Wheatear, while 4 Shoveler and 12 Teal were on the water. Later in the day, the waders around Stanpit Bight comprised: 4 Greenshank, the juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit, a Sanderling, a Turnstone, a resplendent Grey Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and 65 Ringed Plover. As could be expected, there was a good deal of anticipation that the gull would reappear in the harbour with the masses that use the area for the customary bathe and roost. Incredibly, however, by 6:15 when there are normally 1000+ larids on-site, there were barely fifty, at least fifteen of them Mediterranean Gull. Presumably, the freshly waterlogged Avon Valley was far more attractive.


August 17th

Omission: a total of 15 Knot were seen at Stanpit in the afternoon, most of them passing straight through.

Willow Warbler - Jimmy Main
Avocet - Jimmy Main

After some pre-dawn rain, the forecast north-easterly breeze picked up and is currently still with us. This morning though, it probably hadn't been established long enough to bring in any 'goodies', but an enjoyable few hours around Hengistbury were never short of a bit of interest. A flock of 7 Goosander appeared over Wick and then turned west over Whitepits and headed off towards Southbourne and beyond; also 3 Shoveler seen to arrive, while a total of 93 Common Tern and 18 Mediterranean Gull, including a flock of 10, moved over to the west. The cloudy conditions seemed to encourage a few Swift to slowly drift through, feeding up as the did so, 12 birds in all; plus 17 Yellow Wagtail, the largest group being seven, and 4 Tree Pipit overhead. Other than a Redstart in the Barn Field, a couple of Garden Warbler by the HHC and 32 Willow Warbler trickling across 'the gap', all the other interesting passerines on Hengistbury were congregated around the Coastguards, where there were 5 Whinchat and 9 Wheatear, with a further 11 Wheatear being on Crouch Hill, Stanpit. When a Peregrine came over the harbour, an Avocet and 2 Knot pushed off west; later, however, there were still 3 Knot settled at Stanpit, along with 5 Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh and a wisp of 7 Snipe that dropped in and settled around Parky Meade Rail, joining 5 Water Rail and a Moorhen family with a single, day-old chick. In addition, the Stanpit Bight area held: a Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel and 6 Black-tailed Godwit, but the Ringed Plover and Dunlin weren't counted. Regarding the previous reference to Peregrine, there were actually two birds about, one of them the clumsy youngster, the other an adult, with the final bird of a longer than expected post being a Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight.

Omission: a Hobby was seen over Wick on a couple of occassions.


August 16th

Reed Warbler - Jimmy Main
...and juvenile Knot migrating through the harbour recently - Jimmy Main

The south-westerly wind continued through the night and quickly brought showers with it. Therefore, most of the morning's news comes from Mudeford Quay and the shelter of vehicles. For an hour or so around 9:00, in addition to a Great Skua east, there was something of a westerly tern movement involving: 2 Roseate Tern, 4 Arctic Tern, two of them juveniles, 2 Little Tern, 170 Common Tern and 55 Sandwich Tern. However, as soon as the rain stopped, so did the terns, although a 30-minute spell just after 11:00 saw a further 70 Common Tern pass by. Also at sea, 7 Common Scoter east. Not surprisingly, given the wind, passerines were hard to come by, but 11 Wheatear on Crouch Hill were the exception. Consequently, waders at Stanpit constitute most of the rest of the news and included: 4 Greenshank, 2 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 80 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin. In addition, at least 15 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Shoveler and 4 Teal were about the marsh, while a Kingfisher was by the HHC. Parky Meade Rail at low tide is currently holding a good number of 'showy' Water Rail, with up to eight birds at a time easily being visible.


August 15th

After two or three quiet days, the commoner migrants flooded off Hengistbury this morning, just as soon as the sun had risen enough to warm the bushes. Totals included: 290 Willow Warbler, 100+ Sedge Warbler and 32 Blackcap, as well as a Pied Flycatcher, 4 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Redstart. Slightly later, around 110 Whitethroat, now nearly all juvenile birds, were across the Barn and Long Fields, while 2 Grasshopper Warbler sang from behind the Barn and 2 Whinchat, 2 Redstart, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler and 21 Wheatear were dotted around the same area. Over on Stanpit, there was further interest from a Turtle Dove seen flying from Stanpit Scrubs towards The Ship in Distress, a Cuckoo on Crouch Hill and a Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat on the golf course embankment. Overhead movement recorded on both sides of the harbour, comprised: a single Swift, 11 Tree Pipit and 20 Yellow Wagtail; with 375 Common Tern heading south-west either side of Hengistbury. A Little Ringed Plover overflew Stanpit and 3 Green Sandpiper, an Avocet and a Golden Plover went over the HHC, as did 118 Ringed Plover, 7 Knot, 8 Whimbrel and 14 Black-tailed Godwit. Around the same sort of time, however, there were 79 Ringed Plover, 3 Green Sandpiper, 5 Sanderling, 5 Knot, 3 Whimbrel, a Turnstone, a Snipe, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 31 Dunlin settled about Stanpit. This afternoon, to add to the day's wader variety, there was a juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Sandpiper. Back to the morning, when there was a Roseate Tern lingering off the Double Dykes, Hobby and Peregrine over Stanpit, a couple of Raven seemingly feeding on this year's bumper Rowan crop in the North Scrubs, along with three more circling Hengistbury, and singles of Shoveler and Teal. Late in the day, the Mediterranean Gull around Stanpit Bight probably exceeded 25 birds, with at least ten of them being juveniles.


August 14th

Adult Sandwich Tern - moulted to non-breeding plumage - Alan Hayden

With the wind dying down overnight, there were some raised hopes for this morning, but it never really seemed to happen - although, there was a Grasshopper Warbler in Smithy's Field, a Redstart in the North Scrubs and 3 Yellow Wagtail over that area. However, for the rest of the site, other than a couple of Whinchat on the Long Field, then moving to the Barn Field, at least 7 Tree Pipit, including a flock of five, over Hengistbury, and ones-and-twos of Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, there was just a very modest scattering of Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and 5 Wheatear to remark upon. The pick of the birds around Stanpit Bight was an adult Roseate Tern during the morning, while 38 Common Tern passed through westward. Also on the move, a total of 7 Swift. There were at least 3 Green Sandpiper about - the northern sections of Stanpit or Wick being the best place to catch up with these - as well as still 6-10 Common Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank. Other waders were also pretty well represented, with a flock of 5 Knot passing through quickly, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, an adult Turnstone, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 34 Ringed Plover and 13 Dunlin. Most of these were around Stanpit Bight, which also hosted an adult Common Gull and a few Mediterranean Gull this afternoon, along with a couple of Raven that settled on South Marsh before the local crows saw them off. To conclude, there are now few extra bits-and-piece added to yesterday's post.


August 13th

Ringed Plover and Dunlin - Jimmy Main

Despite the overnight rain clearing before dawn, there was still a reasonably strong south-westerly, which had blown all night and seemed to stifle nearly all passerine movement - the only exceptions being a Tree Pipit over Wick and 6 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, but in any case all of those could well have been left over from yesterday. Otherwise, it's just 64 Common Tern into the wind, with most of these taking the cut through the harbour rather than rounding the head, as well as 3 Swift, to mention in terms of moving birds. A breeding-plumaged Grey Plover on the HHC mudbar was certainly a new arrivee, but singles of Whimbrel and Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin may all have been around for a while. The only other interest for the day came from: a Peregrine low over Wick, a Great Crested Grebe on the river, 7 Common Scoter west at sea and 7 Mediterranean Gull, 4 of them juveniles, at Stanpit.

Additional news: the wader numbers at Stanpit during the evening were: 9 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Ringed Plover and 13 Dunlin, as well as 10 Mediterranean Gull. Earlier on the marsh, there had been an unseasonable Brent Goose and 3 Peregrine soaring over the Avon Valley.


August 12th

Sanderling - Jimmy Main

The wind settled overnight, but by late morning it had somewhat picked up again. During the calm, a Melodious Warbler, the two-hundredth species for the year, was briefly watched on the lower Batters before jumping over into the Long Field. Despite reasonable searching, however, it was not seen again. Also on Hengistbury: 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, one caught by the HHC and one on the Long Field, a Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 25 Whitethroat, 25 Blackcap and 47 Willow Warbler; while Wick held over 90 Willow Warbler, a further Garden Warbler, 10 Blackcap and 25 Whitethroat; and overhead, between the two sites, totals of 8 Tree Pipit, 5 Yellow Wagtail, a Siskin and 7 Swift were managed. To wrap up the passerines, Crouch Hill hosted a peak of 5 Wheatear. Now to waders, with singles of Green Sandpiper being turned in from Hengistbury, Wick Farm Meadows and Priory Marsh, the latter site also holding a Greenshank and 2 Snipe. Around Stanpit Bight, a juvenile Knot circled loudly this afternoon and 5 Sanderling were present, as were a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, 14 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin. There were also 5 Sanderling on the sandspit, which may have been additional birds. No news yet from the quay, but 21 Common Tern were inside the harbour, along with a Tufted Duck, a Shoveler, 4 Gadwall and 3 Mediterranean Gull, although an evening visit would surely raise that total.

Additional news: by midday, 11 Little Tern, 180 Common Tern and 75 Sandwich Tern had moved west past Mudeford Quay.


August 11th

Another strong westerly and the constant threat of rain curtailed most activity today. A seawatch from the Coastguard produced only 7 Common Scoter east, a 'constant presence' of Gannet in Poole Bay and a single Swift into the wind. Meanwhile, a further 3 Swift battled headlong over Wick, as did a Tree Pipit. Early on, Mudeford Quay was fairly uneventful, with just 3 Sanderling past and around 40 Gannet, some very close in, on each sweep across Christchurch Bay.

Additional news: on its last full day of being watched, Mudeford Quay came up with 2 Manx Shearwater and an Arctic Skua, as well as 3 Kittiwake and 2 Mediterranean Gull; while the evening at Stanpit saw a Ruff, a Greenshank, 15 Mediterranean Gull and a Peregrine .


August 10th

Sparrowhawk - Chris Dresh
Ringed Plover and Dunlin - Alan Hayden

It was a day of variety, meaning it's difficult to know exactly where to start, but a Wood Sandpiper west over the HHC seems as good a bird as any. Also, a party of 4 Crossbill north over there, while 2 Siskin passed over Wick, a couple of Green Sandpiper moved through, a total of 8 airborne Tree Pipit were logged and 2 Grasshopper Warbler were decked. Before moving to the more expected, an Arctic Skua was offshore haranguing a feeding flock of terns. On Wick, there were 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Garden Warbler in the No Dogs Field, plus 35 Whitethroat that were more widespread; meanwhile, at least 85 Willow Warbler were across Hengistbury, as were 17 Wheatear, with four more on Stanpit, and 7 Swift passed overhead. The commoner waders were pretty mobile, but the peak numbers, mainly from Stanpit, are reckoned to be: a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 8 Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Ringed Plover and 30 Dunlin. Also from the marsh, 13 Common Tern, 10 Shoveler arriving, 7 Teal, 7 Gadwall and 2 Tufted Duck, along with adult and juvenile Peregrine. Finally, a Kingfisher passed by the Christchurch Harbour Hotel mid-morning.

Additional news: from the temporary resident of Mudeford Quay - there was a steady passage of 550+ Common Tern west throughout the afternoon, while a further 75 were much closer inshore, as were 3 Arctic Tern and a Roseate Tern. Also, an Arctic Skua east past there, plus an adult and juvenile Common Gull, while up to 10 Mediterranean Gull were at Stanpit.


August 9th

Wheatear - Alan Hayden

In reasonably still conditions, there was an average fall of Willow Warbler onto Hengistbury and Wick this morning, with 25 about the fields and a further 61 coming off the head in the hour after 6:30. Also on Wick, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Garden Warbler, with 55 Whitethroat spread from there to the Barn Field. On the Long Field, there was a Whinchat, while 8 Wheatear were on-site in total. From the HHC, up to 7 Tree Pipit moved over, one of them perching for a few minutes in an elderberry bush; also a Green Sandpiper upriver from that spot and a Swift west. Later in the morning, three wandering Buzzard came down from the Avon Valley and caused some mild alarm about the harbour.


August 8th

Roseate Tern in The Run - Alan Hayden

Despite many birds having already left or passed through the area, there are still
a few Sand Martin on-site - Jimmy Main (top) Colin Raymond (lower)

After some quite spectacular rain, thunder and lightening yesterday evening, the wind quelled overnight. However, by mid-morning, another westerly flow had picked up with an irritating intensity. From 3:00 onwards, an adult Roseate Tern, bearing rings, was fishing or resting on buoys in The Run, as were a maximum of 9 Little Tern and a few Common Tern. Record shots of the 'rosy' may follow later tonight. Much earlier, while it was still calm, a good number of passerines left Hengistbury, including: a Pied Flycatcher, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Redstart, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warbler, 65 Whitethroat, 20 Blackcap, 45 Sedge Warbler and 175 Willow Warbler; meanwhile, a further 2 Garden Warbler on Wick, a Whinchat was on Solent Meads golf course, 13 Wheatear were across the area, from the Black House to Whitepits and on Stanpit, and 2 Tree Pipit, a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Swift and 135 Sand Martin moved over. Also from Hengistbury, in addition to an aimless Peregrine, a Garganey was seen to arrive, as were 3 Teal, a Tufted Duck and 14 Ringed Plover. Priory Marsh, however, held the most wader interest with as many as 7 Green Sandpiper and 3 Greenshank; while a Sanderling, a further Greenshank, 5 Turnstone and 4 Ringed Plover were on the sandspit, and 10 Dunlin were at Stanpit, which again had the best tide conditions during the most inconvenient parts of the day.


August 7th

Juvenile Stonechat - Jimmy Main

A strong and uncomfortable westerly wind blasted for most of the day, making it feel much cooler than the sunshine suggested. Inevitably, none of this really aided fieldwork and there is relatively little to report. The best were 2 Green Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank on Priory Marsh, while a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Snipe, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Dunlin were all that could be seen elsewhere at Stanpit during the high tides. Bush-dwelling passerines were hard to find, 2 Garden Warbler being the only figure of significance, but there was a Tree Pipit over Wick as well as 4 Wheatear dotted about. A Hobby came in for a morning patrol, the novice Peregrine again failed at Stanpit, but must be catching something somewhere, and a Raven's croak was heard.


August 6th

Juvenile Common Tern passing through the harbour - Jimmy Main

The Ring-billed Gull was reported from the Stanpit Bight area this morning. Meanwhile, a Nightingale was at the northern end of the Double Dykes on Hengistbury and showed briefly a couple of times early on. Actually, with the benefit of hindsight, it has probably been there since Wednesday, when some suspicious calls were heard but couldn't be definitely placed to a species. Also around there, a sprinkling of Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler, a Garden Warbler and a Tree Pipit over. While the bushes were being stared at, a Spoonbill almost made it in undetected, but was fortunately spotted as it arrived over Whitepits and descended onto Stanpit, from where wasn't seen to leave although it certainly has. Single Green Sandpiper were turned in from the HHC area and the Wooden Bridge, while intermittent flocks of Common Tern travelled west through the harbour during the day, 37 being the total logged. Little has been received in terms of other wader news, however, and the afternoon high tide didn't help things at Stanpit, where just 2 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin could be picked out. A couple of Gadwall arrived from the sea and the peak number of Mediterranean Gull, on a day of below average coverage, was eight, five of them juveniles.

Additional news: there were some more wader details from Stanpit, including 11 Common Sandpiper, 6 Whimbrel, 5 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin, while a Treecreeper was again in the North Scrubs and by the early evening Mediterranean Gull numbered around 25. Also, from Wick, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Garden Warbler.


August 5th

Greenshank - Alan Hayden
Sedge Warbler - Jimmy Main

An almost windless morning with varying cloud cover put a few passerines down around the area. The North Scrubs at Stanpit held 2 Pied Flycatcher, a Redstart and a Treecreeper, while two more of those by RIBS Marine makes it a quite remarkable day for the species, in terms of Christchurch Harbour that is. On Hengistbury, between 6:00 and 7:00, 53 Willow Warbler made the leap across the 'gap', but the larger warblers were more settled and, between the first Wick Field and the Barn, came to 70+ Whitethroat and 13 Blackcap. Further onto Wick, there were 4 Garden Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat; elsewhere, 50 Sedge Warbler were estimated around Priory Marsh, 2 Wheatear were on Hengistbury, and singles of Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit and Swift went over, as did 14 Common Tern west. In terms of waders, a Little Ringed Plover overflew, 5+ Green Sandpiper were about Priory Marsh and peaks of 3 Greenshank, 9 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Common Sandpiper, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin were around Stanpit Bight. To wrap up, a Hobby and 2 Peregrine visited to hunt during the morning and a up to 20 Mediterranean Gull, around 50% of them juveniles, were present this afternoon, as well as a first-summer Common Gull.


August 4th

Although this Lesser Black-backed Gull is obviously physically impaired, it doesn't seem to have stopped it raising at least one young this year - Jimmy Main
...and one of the several Common Sandpiper still around Stanpit - Alan Hayden

From the hours of darkness until just before 11:00, the whole area was subjected to nothing short of a deluge. However, in the two hours after it dried, there was something of a tern passage through the harbour. Birds were moving on a broad front, stretching from Mudeford Quay to Priory Marsh, and comprised: 2 Roseate Tern, 2 Arctic Tern, 210 Common Tern and 65 Sandwich Tern, all west. As the day progressed, it also became clear there was another decent miscellany of waders on-site, including: 5 Green Sandpiper again on Priory Marsh for a while; plus a Ruff, a Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit, both those still in striking plumage, 10 Sanderling, a Turnstone, a Grey Plover, 9 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin. A couple of looks from Mudeford Quay produced no more than a Fulmar and some very close Gannet, while a Peregrine hunted over Stanpit in the afternoon and the Mediterranean Gull reached twelve by 5:30, seven of them juveniles.

Additional news: an Avocet was present during the evening.


August 3rd

Ring-billed Gull - Alan Hayden

Some early cloud cover gave rise to an hour-long flurry of birds at Hengistbury this morning, most of them seen crossing from the head on to Wick. As well as a Wood Warbler, a fine number of Grasshopper Warbler, nine in all, were involved, along with: a Pied Flycatcher, this glimpsed in the Barn Field, 4 Redstart, 12 Garden Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 130 Whitethroat, 16 Blackcap and 180 Willow Warbler, plus 14 Tree Pipit, seven of them forming a flock in the Barn Field. Sedge Warbler, meanwhile, were very sparse for the field-birders as they moved through adjacent reedbeds. At Stanpit, Green Sandpiper came to 7 birds, two on Central Marsh and five from Priory Marsh to Wick; while other waders about the area came to 5 Knot and a Sanderling, these east at sea, 4 Greenshank, 4 Whimbrel and 3 Common Sandpiper. A small departure of Swift saw 36 birds head south, 5 Gadwall were inside the harbour and a Peregrine visited. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

Stop press: a Ring-billed Gull was at Stanpit this evening and described as 'not quite adult,' meaning it could possibly be last summer's bird making a return. Photos may follow later tonight.

Additional news: further Stanpit numbers came to: a Bar-tailed Godwit, two more Common Sandpiper, 7 Ringed Plover and 4 Mediterranean Gull, two of them juveniles.


August 2nd

Redstart - Jean Southworth

Nearly all observers who were out today remarked there were again fewer birds around. That said, I understand a decent number were caught, including a Redstart by the HHC. All of the other passerine numbers come from Wick, however, where there were: a further Redstart, 2 Garden Warbler, 25 Whitethroat, 10 Sedge Warbler and 12 Willow Warbler, with a Tree Pipit and 2 Yellow Wagtail moving over. Although the overall wader numbers have dropped slightly, there was still a fair bit of variety, not least a decent figure of 5 Green Sandpiper from Stanpit and 4 Avocet at Hengistbury that settled for a while in Barn Bight. Also around Stanpit in general, 4 Greenshank, 9 Common Sandpiper, 7 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe and 8 Dunlin. After the recent bumper counts, Mediterranean Gull have returned to more normal levels; for example, just three at Stanpit late this afternoon, when there was also a Peregrine, a Common Tern and a Shoveler.

Additional news: a Red Kite moved north over Stanpit recreation ground at 11:45.


August 1st

It was a lot quieter than hoped for today, but there was a Grasshopper Warbler in the No Dogs Field on Wick, as well as 2 Garden Warbler, 80 Whitethroat, 70 Sedge Warbler and 15 Willow Warbler on Hengistbury, plus 3 Tree Pipit over. On Stanpit, a Redstart was in the North Scrubs and 2 Garden Warbler on the golf course embankment, along with 15 Whitethroat. The best wader was a Little Stint that got mixed up with Sand Martin over Hengistbury, before descending on to Stanpit, where there were: 3 Greenshank, a Knot briefly, a Turnstone, 11 Whimbrel, 6 Common Sandpiper, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin and 22 Curlew, while a further 4 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight. A hint of Common Tern passage saw 27 birds head west, a Peregrine hunted over the sea and 3 Gadwall were inside the harbour.

Additional news from Wick: a Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 34 Whitethroat were spread about, while a wandering Dartford Warbler was also present. Also there, a Kingfisher.

Additional news from Stanpit: a Ruff and Green Sandpiper were also present, the Common Sandpiper count increased to 14, but there was just a single Mediterranean Gull in the evening, a juvenile.

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