Sightings for September 2011


September 30th


Glossy Ibis in the afternoon sunshine on Priory Marsh - Alan Crockard

For the third autumn in succession, Glossy Ibis put in a show, as a single bird spent all afternoon on Priory Marsh. During the same period, a Marsh Harrier was also loitering around the area; while earlier, an Osprey had passed over west and the Wryneck showed well in the Barn Field for most of the morning. In terms of visible migration, time in the field was limited, but as the settled, hot conditions continue the movement did seem much reduced, relative to the last couple of days that is. Totals from dawn to around 9:30 involved: 915 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit, 250 alba Wagtail, 2 Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail, 170 Linnet, 134 Siskin, 7 Redpoll and 90 Swallow, as well as a single Mistle Thrush, all east or south-east over Hengistbury. There is little news from elsewhere, save for 14 Brent Goose, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Grey Wagtail, all from Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: a Whimbrel was on Priory Marsh in the evening and a migrant Kestrel powered high west in the morning.


September 29th


Starling - Chris Dresh

...and a record shot of the Wryneck still on the Barn Field - Chris Dresh

With conditions pretty similar to yesterday, although slightly hazier, the emphasis shifted from hirundines to finches over Hengistbury this morning. Before the numbers, however, the oddities, which included: a Corn Bunting, 4 Crossbill and 15 Rook eastward over the end of the head, as well as a juvenile Black Tern lingering with a Common Tern and 26 Sandwich Tern off the Long Groyne. In numerical order and all east, the finches came to: 930 Siskin, 660 Linnet, 550 Goldfinch, 380 Greenfinch, 143 Redpoll and 102 Chaffinch; while 620 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 520 alba Wagtail, 16 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail and 83 Reed Bunting moved with them; as did a reduced number of Swallow and House Martin - 1300 and 320 respectively. A few waders and wildfowl were also mobile, not least a flock of 7 Avocet over the Batters, plus 48 Wigeon, 9 Pintail, 11 Common Scoter and 18 Brent Goose west. There was little to report in terms of settled passerines, other than the Barn Field Wryneck and 55 Goldcrest on Hengistbury, a few Blackcap and Chiffchaff on Wick, and 2 Wheatear and 2 Yellow Wagtail on Stanpit. Inside the harbour, 9 Brent Goose were around Stanpit Bight, where the Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 31 Dunlin were logged, plus a lone Shoveler in with the 50+ Wigeon.


September 28th


Spotted Flycatcher - Jimmy Main

...and Osprey , both at Stanpit last night - Jimmy Main

The recent forecasts held true, the wind swung to the south-east and a large number of birds were encouraged to travel. Numbers were topped by hirundines, with 22000 Swallow and 12000 House Martin heading out directly south into the cloudless skies, as did most of the 2350 Meadow Pipit. The rest, however, seemed to take a more easterly, coastal route and included: a Woodlark, 47 Skylark, 2 Tree Pipit, 14 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail, 670 alba Wagtail, 630 Siskin, 485 Linnet, 420 Goldfinch, 160 relatively early Chaffinch, a locally notable 76 House Sparrow and 109 Reed Bunting. Little time was afforded on the bushes, but the Wryneck was still in the Barn Field, 28 Goldcrest were along the Batters and 5 Wheatear were on Stanpit, where a couple of Yellow Wagtail lingered. There was more than a hint of the approaching winter, as 11 Brent Goose and 7 Pintail moved about the area, while the Spotted Redshank, 3 Knot, 2 Snipe, 4 Greenshank, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin made the best they could from the epidemic of green algae that still coats the harbour bed. To conclude, at sea, 15 Mediterranean Gull, a Common Gull, 5 Common Tern and 15 Sandwich Tern passed west.

Omission: a tight flock of 6 Grey Heron passed very high westward.


September 27th


Blackcap on Wick today - Chris Chapleo

Another Wryneck was present this morning, this time the bird was in a bramble clump in the centre of the Barn Field. The day's second highlight was an evening Osprey that took a fish before heading off up the Avon Valley. Back to this morning, when good numbers of Swallow were on the move with more than 3000 between 7:30 and 10:00, also 302 Meadow Pipit, 90 Siskin, 75 alba Wagtail, 25 House Martin, 19 Redpoll and 12 Skylark. A Redstart was on the Long Field with another one trapped and ringed, also 52 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 7 Wheatear and 4 Whitethroat. On Stanpit this afternoon were another 9 Wheatear and 5 Yellow Wagtail, while waders included 41 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover and 5 Greenshank. Finally, the 2 Raven made their daily visit to the harbour and a Kingfisher was on Wick Hams.

Evening update: a Whinchat and 3 Yellow Wagtail were present on Wick Fields, and a Spotted Flycatcher was in the North Scrubs.


September 26th

After another morning of steady but unspectacular migration, all hopes are pinned on the second half of the week when the winds move round to the south-east. A total of 465 Swallow moved through, together with just 95 Meadow Pipit, 29 Siskin,18 Redpoll, 15 alba Wagtail, a Tree Pipit and the first Brambling of the autumn. Only 22 Chiffchaff were found, plus singles of Wheatear and Whitethroat. An Avocet moved south-west over Double Dykes and 2 Shelduck followed the same path. A 30-minute seawatch from the cliff top saw 37 Gannet, 2 Razorbill and a Guillemot westm with a Brent Goose east. From Fisherman's Bank, there was a slight increase in small wader numbers with 45 Dunlin and 25 Ringed Plover, also 4 Greenshank, 1 Knot and the Spotted Redshank. The 2 Raven were seen again today, 2 Rook were in the Nursery and a Kingfisher was by the Wooden Bridge on Wick.

Late news: an afternoon visit to Wick found a Reed Warbler in Wick Ditch, also a Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Whitethroat.


September 25th

There was just a hint of migration this morning with a couple of hundred Swallow logged, also 7 Redpoll, 6 Siskin and 5 Yellow Wagtail, while on Wick there was a late Reed Warbler and a few Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. The first WeBS count of the season turned up one or two surprises: firstly, a Razorbill inside the harbour just off the quay; and then a Goosander in Stanpit Bight. However, wader numbers were still low, with just 33 Dunlin, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover, 3 Greenshank, 2 Ruff, a Sanderling and the Spotted Redshank. The Wigeon count has increased to 78 and the Coot to an impressive 326; also 21 Canada Geese and 2 Brent Geese in Stanpit Bight. The 2 Raven were on Crouch Hill and 2 Kingfisher were by the Wooden Bridge on Wick.

Check back to yesterday for late news.


September 24th


Wryneck on Whitepits today - Chris Chapleo

On another fine morning, which had just enough breeze to keep the insects under control, a Wryneck was found on Whitepits; the bird favoured the boardwalk that runs along the sand dunes. Otherwise, it was much the same as the last few days with a moderate amount of overhead movement and a scattering of grounded birds. Totals were 920 Swallow, 154 Siskin, 120 House Martin, 100 Goldfinch, 80 Meadow Pipit, 30 Chaffinch, 13 Redpoll, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit, 3 Grey Wagtail and 1 Mistle Thrush all moving east. From Wick Fields to the Nursery were 117 Chiffchaff, 14 Blackcap, 14 Wheatear, 10 Goldcrest and a Whinchat; while another 10 Wheatear were on Central Marsh, Stanpit. The local Peregrine also put in an appearance.

Late news from Stanpit: a juvenile Little Gull was present, also singles of Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper, plus 66 Wigeon, 20 Dunlin, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Greenshank, 4 Knot and 2 Gadwall.


September 23rd


Meadow Pipit and Whitethroat - Jean Southworth

On a near perfect clear and still autumn morning, biting insects meant that standing still was not an option! However migration picked up a little with hirundines, in particular, featuring strongly as in a two hour period 1800 Swallow were logged, as well as 25 House Martin and one or two late Sand Martin; plus 165 Meadow Pipit, 48 Siskin, 14 Redpoll, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Rook and a Grey Wagtail. On the ground, were: 99 Chiffchaff, 27 Blackcap, 8 Wheatear, plus 9 on Stanpit this afternoon, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler. A Little Ringed Plover was on Priory Marsh today, while other wader totals from Stanpit were 34 Dunlin, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover, 8 Knot, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, the Spotted Redshank and a Curlew Sandpiper. Finally, 4 Raven were around, a Hobby hunted over Stanpit, an Arctic Tern passed west over the Barn Field and an adult Mediterranean Gull roosted on South Marsh.


September 22nd


Carrion Crow - Jean Southworth

Today's report is fairly similar to yesterday's but with not quite as many Wheatear, just 14 around the area today. Overhead, all moving west, were: 160 Meadow Pipit, 120 Swallow, 97 Siskin, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail and 2 Redpoll. Chiffchaff totalled 37, also 6 Whitethroat and 3 Blackcap. A couple of Ruff, one of them actually a Reeve, were opposite Fisherman's Bank this morning and the Spotted Redshank was on Stanpit later. Other waders were: 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Greenshank, a Knot, a Snipe and a Whimbrel. To round up, 2 juvenile Arctic Tern were off Mudeford Quay, 2 Mediterranean Gull were on Stanpit, a Peregrine moved west over the cliffs and 2 Kingfisher were seen.


September 21st

The overnight rain, which didn't clear until around 7:00, certainly put paid to any significant migration, although Wheatear found conditions to their liking with a total of 84 across the area during the day. Those apart, only 140 Meadow Pipit and 14 Chiffchaff were logged, plus a few hirundines. Just after dawn a Little Owl was heard from the Wooden Bridge on Wick and a Green Sandpiper was nearby. Waders on Stanpit were: 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Dunlin, 7 Ringed Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, a Whimbrel and a Ruff. The Wigeon total is now 54, while an afternoon visit saw 67 Sandwich Tern and 5 Common Tern present on the marsh. Off Mudeford Quay, also this afternoon, were 3 juvenile Arctic Tern. Finally, just a single Raven was seen today.


September 20th

In blustery conditions, 4 Arctic Tern and 2 Little Tern were off Mudeford Quay this morning, while at lunchtime 24 Common Tern were settled on Stanpit. Singles of Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank were around the marsh, also 102 Redshank, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Turnstone; also 45 Wigeon. A Peregrine took an Oystercatcher and made short work of it on the tip of South Marsh, and earlier that or another bird was hunting off the cliff at Hengistbury. There was precious little movement with just 25 Meadow Pipit and 7 Siskin overhead, while on the ground were 15 Chiffchaff and 5 Blackcap, as well as 4 Wheatear on Crouch Hill.


September 19th

A light westerly wind generated some movement this morning, in particular Meadow Pipit with 579 counted, but also 35 Siskin, 16 Yellow Wagtail, 12 alba Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit, 4 Redpoll and 3 Grey Wagtail. Hirundines also took advantage of the benign conditions with 1350 Swallow and 40 House Martin through Hengistbury. There was a reasonable fall of Chiffchaff with 130 spread across Wick Fields and Hengistbury; also 30 Whitethroat, 25 Blackcap, 3 Wheatear, another four of these were on Crouch Hill, a Whinchat and a Lesser Whitethroat. The Spotted Redshank was again opposite Fisherman's Bank, but waders were still generally hard to find with just 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Dunlin, 6 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank. To round up, 3 Raven passed over to the west, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight, a Peregrine was over Wick and the Wigeon count is now 34.


September 18th


Curlew Sandpiper on the sandspit recently - Jimmy Main

On another morning of heavy showers only one hardy soul made it to the Beach Huts, where a Great Skua and 6 Arctic Skua were the highlights; also 175 Common Tern, 85 Sandwich Tern, an Arctic Tern, 50 Gannet and 3 Common Scoter, all these moving west. A Little Tern seen from Mudeford Quay was on Stanpit later in the day together with 21 Sandwich Tern, 24 Wigeon and 3 Greenshank. Another Greenshank was on Priory Marsh and a Kingfisher was about the marsh. Once again passerines were limited, with just 8 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Siskin over Wick Fields, plus 4 Chiffchaff in the North Scrubs.

Update from Wick: grounded migrants this morning included a Redstart, a Garden Warbler, 20 Whitethroat, 15 Blackcap and 10 Chiffchaff.


September 17th

The return of strong south-westerlies saw the sea receive most of the attention this morning from both Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts. Significant numbers of terns were on the move and this inevitably attracted the attention of a few passing skuas. Counts with all birds moving west were: 428 Common Tern, 380 Sandwich Tern, 5 Arctic Tern, 185 Gannet, 7 Arctic Skua, a Pomarine Skua, a Little Gull, 6 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Diver, 2 Guillemot, a Great Crested Grebe, 24 Dunlin and 3 Turnstone. Earlier, a Merlin had been chasing hirundines just offshore. The only passerines reported were 3 Grey Wagtail, a single Wheatear on the sandspit and a Coal Tit in the Wood.


September 16th


A record shot of Common Crane over Burton Village - Jean Southworth

Today's Short-eared Owl - Mark Andrews

A Common Crane, which was tracked along the south coast from Portsmouth, over Southampton Water and Keyhaven this morning, circled over Burton Village at lunchtime before it entered harbour airspace, where it was seen just after 1:00 from the Stanpit golf course; thereafter it drifted north towards the Avon Valley. Earlier, there was a spectacular movement of hirundines involving many thousands of birds - from Hengistbury in a two hour spell between 7:45 and 9:45 an estimated 21600 Swallow moved through east, while from Mudeford Quay in a 45-minute spell a further 11250 were seen. Although estimated, these figures are probably just a fraction of the actual numbers involved throughout the day. House Martin were much less numerous with just 4000 being recorded; also 50 Sand Martin. Grounded migrants spread across Hengistbury and Wick Fields were 115 Chiffchaff, 65 Blackcap, 45 Whitethroat, 18 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and a Redstart, while overhead were 60 Meadow Pipit, 25 Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit. Presumably what was yesterday's Short-eared Owl was in the Bobolink Field this morning. At sea, 2 Arctic Skua and 7 Common Scoter moved east, and 4 Brent Geese passed by west. To round up, 2 Raven were seen again today and 14 each of Wigeon and Teal were in the harbour.


September 15th


Yesterday's Short-eared owl on Stanpit - Jimmy Main

At last the winds of the last couple of weeks eased and on a fine sunny morning there were a few more migrants to be found on Hengistbury and Wick. Blackcap and Chiffchaff were easily the most numerous with 85 and 115 respectively, also 11 Willow Warbler, 40 Yellow Wagtail, 40 Meadow Pipit, 20 Siskin, 6 Wheatear, 6 Tree Pipit, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Whinchat and a Garden Warbler. A further 7 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Yellow Wagtail were on Stanpit. A Ruff and the Spotted Redshank were present, but wader numbers generally were still low with only 30 Curlew bucking the trend; also 12 Dunlin, 6 Greenshank, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel and 15 Sanderling on the sandspit. On South Marsh this afternoon, 52 Common Tern and 27 Sandwich Tern were settled, as well as 2 Mediterranean Gull and 5 Wigeon. To round up, 2 Kingfisher were in the harbour today, also the regular Peregrine, while a Raven and 2 Rook moved east overhead.

Evening update: from Mudeford Quay around 6:00, there were 4 Arctic Skua, one of which was harrassing an adult Pomarine Skua, and then just to complete the set a Great Skua moved through.


September 14th

On a quiet day in the harbour a Short-eared Owl visited Stanpit this afternoon but its attempts to settle on South Marsh were thwarted by the local corvids so it moved off towards Wick. Earlier a Firecrest was in the wood on Hengistbury and 2 Arctic Skua were harrassing terns off the beach huts. Grounded migrants included 6 Yellow Wagtail in the horse field on Wick, 5 Wheatear on Solent Meads, 3 Grey Wagtail over the sandspitand on Wick, also a Lesser Whitethroat with just a few Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Waders on Stanpit included 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot, 2 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and 1 Black-tailed Godwit, also 2 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Wigeon. Finally 4 Raven moved east over Hengistbury this morning.

Just outside the area, off Avon Beach, 2 Sabine's Gull, the 1st winter Little Gull and the Grey Phalarope were present all day.


September 13th


Yellow Wagtail - Jimmy Main

Lapwing - Alan Crockard

For a number of reasons, not least the attractions of Avon Beach, there was reduced coverage within the recording area this morning. Across Wick and Hengistbury no formal counts were made, but it was reckoned there were a fair few Chiffchaff about, as well as smaller numbers of Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat. Meanwhile, Swallow were again on the move into the, then, light south-westerly breeze, and at least 5 Yellow Wagtail were around. The best of the waders on show were the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank and 3 Greenshank on Wick Meadows, as well as 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit, while a Peregrine went over Stanpit.


September 12th


Juvenile Sabine's Gull - Alan Hayden
This bird spent most of the day feeding just off the seaweed pile on Avon Beach, Mudeford, right in front of the café, where these photos were taken. However, it was initially showing equally well on Hengistbury, just off the Beach Huts, and well within the recording area. Unlike the surprise individual that turned up in August, this one's appearance, after a series of south-westerly gales, is far more typical in that it has been blown westward from the species' autumn migration route between the Canadian Arctic and south-west Africa.

Juvenile Little Gull , also off Avon Beach, but also having being seen from Mudeford Quay
- Chris Chapleo (top) & Alan Hayden (bottom)

Two Curlew Sandpiper on the sandspit this morning - Darren Hughes

As the wind gathered a little more pace overnight, the Beach Huts were covered from 6:45 to 11:30. Most of the activity came early on, when a total of 11 Arctic Skua passed west, including a flock of four adults, but a further two did move by slightly later, as did a couple of unidentified skua. Of course, the main event was a juvenile Sabine's Gull that appeared right in front of the huts, where it spent a few minutes fishing alongside an adult Arctic Tern, before settling on the water and then pushing back into Christchurch Bay. Arctic Tern were a real feature of the day, with 17 being the total, most of these actually being adults, with at least three lingering just off the sandspit. The commoner terns were also on the move - 73 Common Tern moving at sea, but a good number more taking the cut through the harbour, as well as 94 Sandwich Tern following the longer route. Also over the water: a Balearic Shearwater and a couple of Little Gull were seen from Mudeford Quay; and 220 Swallow, a Common Scoter, a Fulmar, a Razorbill, a Guillemot and 85 Gannet all headed down channel; but there was also a flock of around 120 of the latter feeding just west of The Needles. To punctuate the later, quieter moments of the seawatch, there was a decent wader selection on the sandspit, including: 2 Curlew Sandpiper, a Knot, a Turnstone, a Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper and a Bar-tailed Godwit, plus numbers of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Meanwhile, inside the harbour, there was a Grey Plover - as with last autumn, these are something of a premium for Christchurch - a further 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and a 4 Wheatear.


September 11th


Juvenile Little Gull in The Run - Darren Hughes

Manx Shearwater from the Gully - Alan Hayden

Common Scoter passing the Mudeford lifeboat - Alan Hayden

...and the relative shelter of the Gully with the Purbecks in the distance - Alan Hayden

With the wind persisting and perhaps gaining a little in strength, it's nearly all about the sea today, which was watched from 7:00 until just after 2:00. The period before 10:00 saw most of the action, when there was a clear passage of birds taking place, with the combined totals from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts coming to: 2 Pomarine Skua, 4 Arctic Skua, 2 Black Tern, both of these adults still fantastic plumage, 2 Arctic Tern, an adult and a juvenile, 295 Common Tern, 160 Sandwich Tern and a Kittwake. In addition, a flock of 60+ Common Tern lingered off the sandspit, with 2 Balearic Shearwater and a further 2 Arctic Skua mixed in with them, and a juvenile Little Gull hung about in The Run. After 10:00, it was the Gully that received the attention and although the main movement had stopped the interest certainly hadn't, as a Grey Phalarope fluttered west, frequently landing on the water as it did so; while a Manx Shearwater, a Red-throated Diver, this still in breeding plumage, a Little Tern, 50 more Sandwich Tern and 150 unidentified tern moved in the same direction. Other bits-and-pieces for the sea come from 6 Common Scoter, a Guillemot, 2 Razorbill and several hundred Swallow, the latter battling the wind at little more than wave top height. Not surprisingly, the sky proper was given poor notice, but 2 Tree Pipit and 5 Grey Wagtail moved over, as did 5 Yellow Wagtail, although more of these were heard. There is little news from Stanpit, although a juvenile Arctic Tern was there this afternoon, along with a Green Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank, those on Priory Marsh, 15 Sanderling, a Shelduck and 5 Wheatear. On Hengistbury, the Nuthatch and a Coal Tit were in the Wood, a couple of Raven overflew and a Great Crested Grebe was off Goldeneye Point.

Additional news: a different Little Gull, but still a juvenile, to that photographed above was in the harbour just before dusk, while earlier a Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel were seen from Mudeford Quay.


September 10th


Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit - Alan Hayden

...and the Ring-billed Gull last night off Grimmery Bank - Alan Hayden

There was reasonable movement of birds into the south-easterly breeze this morning, including a really good total of 140 Yellow Wagtail, as well as 75 Meadow Pipit, 230 Sand Martin and 160 House Martin. Meanwhile, a Little Stint and 11 Knot headed west over the HHC and around 63 Common Tern came from the east, flocked and fed above the harbour for around half-an-hour, and then all pitched into rest; with at least thirty of them crowded onto a washed up tree off South Marsh. On Hengistbury, there were twelve decked Wheatear, a Tufted Duck and 8 Teal passed over, and the Nuthatch was in the Wood, where a pair of Raven spent most of the morning. The best across a one-hour seawatch was a dark Arctic Skua, but there were barely any terns at all. During the afternoon, the waders at Stanpit included: a Curlew Sandpiper, a Ruff, 24 Sanderling, 3 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin; with 3 Mediterranean Gull, a Common Gull, 60+ Sandwich Tern and an adult male Peregrine also there. As the day appeared to wind down, the sea got very lively, as over 220 Common Tern and an Arctic Tern off Mudeford Quay attracted single juveniles of Long-tailed Skua and Pomarine Skua.

Mudeford update: in addition to the above mentioned, there were 3 Arctic Skua, 2 skua sp., a further 3 Arctic Tern, a Balearic Shearwater, a further 150 Common Tern, 25 Sandwich Tern, 450 unidentified tern, and 85 Gannet; all in a feeding flock that was shifting westward.


September 9th


This shot of a juvenile Arctic Tern from a couple of days ago shows nearly all the salient
ID features - namely: the bill, the secondaries and the rump - Jimmy Main

...while this shot of a Common Tern goes some way to illustrating
the structural differences between the two species - Jimmy Main
 
...and Ruff - Alan Hayden

The very early morning saw almost no wind, but after an hour or so a brisk south-westerly had developed; however, by the evening the air was totally still and Hengistbury was enveloped in a substantial sea mist. Starting with Stanpit, where the Ring-billed Gull was present on Grimmery Bank, opposite the HHC, for several minutes around 4:30 before it went off in search of airborne ants above Barn Bight with several hundred other gulls. There was again a really decent wader selection about the marsh, headed by: a Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh; the Spotted Redshank, a Ruff, a Curlew Sandpiper and up to 40 Sanderling in Stanpit Bight, where a small group of 4 Knot were joined by a more impressive flock of 28 arriving birds; plus 5 Greenshank, a Snipe, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 64 Ringed Plover and around 40 Dunlin; while 2 Turnstone and a further 7 Black-tailed Godwit overflew without stopping. The afternoon mist seemed to dump around 100 Common Tern in the harbour, to join the 40 or Sandwich Tern already present, with other interest coming from: about a dozen Yellow Wagtail on South Marsh, a Redstart on Crouch Hill, along with 9 Wheatear, 4 Water Rail and a Kingfisher showing well in Parky Meade Rail, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a Common Gull. Early in the day, Hengistbury experienced a modicum of overhead movement, including several Linnet flocks, but unfortunately the actual numbers slipped the net so will be added tomorrow. However, there were 20 Tree Pipit, 48 Meadow Pipit, 48 Yellow Wagtail and 16 Grey Wagtail, all seeming to head pretty much directly south, as did 430 Swallow and 85 Sand Martin. The Long Field/Lower Batters held a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Whinchat, 7 Wheatear and 40 Chiffchaff; another 40 of these had earlier jumped the gap and average numbers of the common two sylvias were about. A couple of Raven and a Peregrine went over the head, and 3 Great Crested Grebe were on the river.

Omission: a couple of Bullfinch were on the golf course embankment, Stanpit.


September 8th


Juvenile Swallow still with yellow gape,
so perhaps only fledged in the last day or so - Alan Hayden

The entire family were being fed around the horse paddock on Wick - Alan Hayden

...where there was also an apparent family party of Lesser Whitethroat - Alan Hayden

As the photographs suggest, the weather was far more clement today, even bringing out a late brood of Swallow for perhaps the first time, likewise an apparent family of 4 Lesser Whitethroat. Firstly the current, resident scarcity, i.e. the Ring-billed Gull, which was seen on a couple of occasions - this morning from Hengistbury over the harbour and from 5:50 this evening in Stanpit Bight, when a young Little Gull, an adult Common Gull and 3 Mediterranean Gull were also present. The morning also saw a hint of Linnet passage, as 66 birds in two flocks moved purposefully into the still brisk south-westerly wind, as did a group of 60 Lapwing and 4 accompanying Knot. At least 16 Wheatear were settled, while it was suspected that most of the 19 Yellow Wagtail over Hengistbury and Wick were not intent on moving too far, with the same being said of 5 Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit. Much shorter distance movers, but still of significant interest for the recording area, included a Yellowhammer in the Bobolink Field and a Nuthatch, a Treecreeper and a Coal Tit in the Wood. The sandspit held a decent number of waders, not least 2 Curlew Sandpiper, but also 51 Sanderling, 85 Ringed Plover and 36 Dunlin. Meanwhile, a Ruff was in the Wooden Bridge area and the Spotted Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 22 Sanderling, 2 Knot, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit. A few Sandwich Tern were inside the harbour, but rather incredibly none were recorded over 60-minutes of looking at the sea, with the only interest coming from an Arctic Tern and 5 Common Tern west, plus a Guillemot on the water. The current rash of myxomatosis at Stanpit may be the attraction for what seems to be 3 regular Raven, an obvious pair and a younger bird, and a Kingfisher was around Wick.

Omission: a Hobby was at Stanpit, where there were 5 Wigeon and a Gadwall, while up to 20 Teal on the Salt Hurns.


September 7th


Sanderling on the sandspit - Alan Hayden

...and an artistic representation of yesterday's conditions at Whitepits - Chris Chapleo

Relatively speaking, today's conditions were 'calm' with the westerly wind averaging a 'mere' 25km/h - something that seemed to encourage a few Gannet back into the western part of Christchurch Bay, where a Balearic Shearwater and a pale, adult Arctic Skua were seen from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay respectively. Given the strength of the wind, there were actually quite a few passerines logged during the morning, mainly across Hengistbury and Wick, including: a couple of Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 20 Wheatear, 33 Whitethroat and 19 Blackcap. The best of the overhead movers was a Crossbill north over the Double Dykes, with Hengistbury also seeing 9 Yellow Wagtail and 5 Grey Wagtail pass over, while a Tree Pipit travelled above Mudeford Quay, as did a few unseen Yellow Wagtail and a handful of Swallow. In terms of waders, there was a Green Sandpiper on Wick and a Ruff at Stanpit, where, during the afternoon, a Curlew Sandpiper was also present, along with 27 Sanderling, 5 Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshank, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 80 Ringed Plover and 70 Dunlin. There were also 46 Sanderling on the sandspit in the morning, so some duplication with the Stanpit birds must be considered, plus 3 Turnstone there. A Goosander went up-river just before lunch, when 4 Shelduck passed east, and at least 25 Teal were about the recording area. A Hobby hunted over Stanpit village late in the day, the 2 Raven were very raucous in the Nursery for much of the morning, where there was also a Coal Tit, and a Peregrine was about Stanpit.

Omission: I managed to somehow neglect to mention that the near, if not already, adult Ring-billed Gull was around South Marsh, Stanpit, from 5:45 onwards this evening.


September 6th


Arctic Skua off Fisherman's Bank last night - Jimmy Main

...the Ring-billed Gull during its last appearance on 3rd - Jimmy Main

...and a bedraggled Raven by Crouch Hill this afternoon - Alan Hayden

The day was completely dominated by a very strong south-westerly wind and almost constant rain. A little after 6:00 tonight, a pale, juvenile Long-tailed Skua was seen from Mudeford Quay coming out of The Solent, but then reversed its direction and headed back east. Just before this, a 3.5-hour watch from the Beach Huts had mustered 3 Arctic Tern, all juveniles, a first-winter Little Gull that crossed into the harbour with a similarly aged Mediterranean Gull, a Fulmar and 3 Common Scoter. In fact, the sea was largely devoid of birds - for example, it took over 3-hours to log a Gannet! A few hours were also put in at Stanpit, from where: a Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 75 Ringed Plover and 50 Dunlin were logged; while the sandspit contributed 4 Turnstone and over 20 Sanderling. The only migrant passerine reported was Wheatear, with four spread around, but a single Raven was at Stanpit. Also loafing around the marsh, 10 Common Tern, 35 Sandwich Tern and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull.

Additional news: a Ruff was at Stanpit, where a Redstart has been in the same spot on the golf course embankment for a week or so.


September 5th


Blackcap - Jimmy Main

...and a Green-veined White that managed to find one of the few spots out of the wind
- Lorne Bissell

Despite a force 5-6 westerly that blew all day, the sea was again nothing short of dire - the best being 36 Sandwich Tern and 10 Common Tern passing by Hengistbury, which was being more than adequately manned. In fact, there was more interest to be had at Stanpit, where a first-winter Little Gull and juvenile Arctic Tern were present early afternoon, as well as 10 Common Tern and up to 100 Sandwich Tern, including a juvenile with a deformed upper mandible that has been around for a week or so now. Four species of falcon were recorded today, the best being a female Merlin over Wick, as was a Hobby, while the young, female Peregrine chased a Starling over the harbour and actually batted in into the water, from where it somehow managed to extract itself and find safety on the bows of the moored yacht Fanny Rose. Of course, the final part of the quartet was the resident male Kestrel that frequents Crouch Hill. Incredibly, given the conditions, there were some isolated moments of migrant passerine interest: for example, a Turtle Dove on Wick, 11 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail over there, a Spotted Flycatcher at the end of the head, a Redstart behind the Nursery and 27 Wheatear from both sides of the area, along with very small numbers of the more expected warblers. There are wader numbers from the sandspit and from Stanpit, so it's probably best to take the peaks from each as the sites were watched during both states of tide. These include: 41 Knot west, plus three inside the harbour, 59 Sanderling on the spit, plus seven west, 6 Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel and 6 Black-tailed Godwit, while of the 150 or so other 'smalls', two-thirds were reckoned to be Ringed Plover with Dunlin making up the remainder. There now seems to be 3 Raven using the area, the adult pair and a separate youngster that finds itself bullied by gulls and Carrion Crow; also still 6 Wigeon and around 10 Mediterranean Gull for the day.

Stop press: there was a small, juvenile skua inside the harbour tonight, which could still be there amongst the masses of roosting gulls. There are some photographs, but not yet available, so hopefully the ID can be nailed later.


September 4th


Juvenile Sparrowhawk - Jimmy Main
 
...and juvenile Arctic Tern - Jimmy Main

The early, persistent rain eased half-an-hour before the morning wader walk, which allowed for a really good selection of waders to be viewed around Stanpit Bight. There were a lot of Curlew Sandpiper about - the biggest gathering being of 8 juveniles, but with those thought to have left and twos-and-threes being seen on a number of subsequent occasions a figure of 15+ would not be outrageous. Also seen on the outing: around 55 Knot, 25 or so Sanderling, 5 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Turnstone, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Snipe, over 90 Ringed Plover and c60 Dunlin. In addition, a Green Sandpiper was on Wick Farm Meadows in the morning, the Spotted Redshank came to roost on South Marsh as the tide covered the mud in Stanpit Creek, a couple of Ruff were in the Parky Meade Rail area and a further 31 Sanderling were beneath the Gully. The only evidence of overhead migration came from 14 Rook that passed west over Stanpit, but there was a Turtle Dove in Stanpit Scrubs, 2 Spotted Flycatcher on the golf course embankment, 4 lingering Yellow Wagtail, a Whinchat and 13 Wheatear. For those currently obsessed with the sea, another six or more hours were 'invested' gazing across the shearwater-less waves - even with the wind picking up strongly from the south-west early in the afternoon. The best was, in fact, a juvenile Arctic Tern past Mudeford Quay, with 21 Common Tern, 105 Sandwich Tern and a Guillemot past Hengistbury. A Kingfisher put on a decent show in Mother Siller's Channel, using the obvious dead branches in the water as a much-favoured perch, while 6 Wigeon and 5 Teal were in the area, as was the Raven pair with a third, very high-flying bird passing over.

Additional news: a flock of 8 Shelduck passed east over Stanpit.


September 3rd


Raven - Jimmy Main
 
...and Osprey at Stanpit yesterday afternoon - Jimmy Main

It's probably tempting fete, but right on cue for the wader-walk tomorrow, there were up to 7 Curlew Sandpiper around Stanpit Bight this afternoon, including two adult birds. Also at Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, 8 Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit and some Greenshank, but these could only be heard, plus the normal selection of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Earlier, a Green Sandpiper was heard from the HHC and a Golden Plover checked-in over the Long Field. Also during the morning, a couple of juvenile Arctic Tern spent a few minutes in The Run, while 10 or so Common Tern passed westward. In a fairly strong south-westerly, overhead movement was not surprisingly limited, but there were 41 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit and 2 Rook on the move. The pick of the decked birds were a Wryneck up from the Long Field towards Wick and a Cuckoo settled on Wick itself. Meanwhile, in addition to an apparent influx of Stonechat, comprising of at least 33 birds in the vicinity of the Long Field, there were 11 Whinchat, a Redstart and 34 Wheatear around the same area, although eight of the latter were on Crouch Hill; also, a handful of Goldcrest and a Coal Tit in the Double Dykes. The sea was scoured for over 3-hours from shortly after first light, when it managed to produce just 6 Common Scoter and not a sniff of a shearwater, despite the events of this week further down-channel! Adult Hobby were seen at both ends of the day, the Raven pair were more-or-less ever-present and 9 Wigeon, a Shoveler, 2 Teal and Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour.

Stop press: the Ring-billed Gull appeared at Stanpit around 7:30 this evening.


September 2nd

There is a lot more to report from Stanpit today, including 3 Bearded Tit in reeds adjacent to Stanpit Creek, as well as 2 Ruff, the Spotted Redshank, 2 Avocet, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Knot, a Whimbrel and 103 Ringed Plover; while other choice waders for the day came courtesy of a Little Stint and 44 Sanderling seen from Mudeford Quay, presumably by looking across to the sandspit, and 2 Green Sandpiper on Wick Farm Meadows. Overhead, there was a constant, but uncounted, hirundine presence, along with: a party of 3 Goosander that came up from the Rushy Piece area of the harbour and headed upriver late in the morning; and 48 Yellow Wagtail, including a single flock of 31 birds, 5 Tree Pipit and 2 Raven. On the deck this morning, across Wick and as far as the Nursery, were: 3 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 55 Whitethroat, 16 Blackcap and 25 Chiffchaff. The afternoon at Stanpit produced a couple of large raptors - a Marsh Harrier west at around 3:00 and an Osprey south-east at 4:35 - plus: a juvenile Arctic Tern that left west; 3 further Knot that were seen to arrive; a Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 4 Snipe and 3 Black-tailed Godwit; a high-flying south-west bound Rook, with frequent pulses of Swallow in the same direction; 6 Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a couple of Mediterranean Gull around South Marsh.


September 1st


Wryneck Wick Fields - Alan Crockard

Juvenile Ringed Plover - Jimmy Main

The day broke to a fairly stiff easterly wind and it didn't fail to deliver. While an Ortolan Bunting, which overflew the Bobolink Field and seemed to come down in the meadows adjacent to the Wooden Bridge, was spot-on for the date and conditions, a couple of Hawfinch that flew out of the north scrubs and towards the golf course at Stanpit were most certainly a real surprise. Other highlights of what was nothing less than a bird-filled day, included: the tail-less, probable adult Ring-billed Gull off South Marsh late this afternoon; a Wryneck on Wick throughout the afternoon; a Marsh Harrier that headed directly south before it was even fully light, so it may have roosted in the area; and a Firecrest behind the Nursery. As alluded to earlier, there were plenty of birds to look at, not least 9500 Swallow that moved low east in the period to 11:00, with birds still trickling through thereafter. The heaviest passage was probably in the hour either side of 9:00, when a couple of independent one-minute samples produced 80 and 85 respectively. All of this was at Hengistbury, however, but it was reported that waves were also moving across Stanpit, so the final figure is surely way on the low side. Also on the same bearing, a couple of Swift, 390 Sand Martin, 130 House Martin, 69 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Grey Wagtail, 21 Tree Pipit and the first 15 Meadow Pipit of the season. Other than an Avocet in the area of Wick Hams and 47 Sanderling amongst expected numbers of Ringed Plover and Dunlin on the sandspit, there is no other wader news for the day. To wrap up: 9 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart were on Hengistbury; 6 Common Tern passed west and 17 were lingering offshore, a Shoveler, 5 Wigeon and 7 Teal moved over; there was the first record of Shelduck for a few weeks, a young bird that passed rapidly east; a couple of Common Scoter were offshore and 2 Raven were over the top of the head.

Archives
Return to the Sightings Archive Index

View the full archive of photographs, which now contains over 250 species.

Here is the full archive of features that have previously appeared on the CHOG website.