Sightings for May 2012


May 31st

Heron - Alan Crockard
Adult and juvenile Linnet - Joe Murphy
Fledgling Wren - Joe Murphy
Rock Pipit - David Williams

As the spring peters into summer, there was little to get excited about today - other than, as the photos show, the fact that the breeding season is paying off for some species. Actually, after reporting that we were a duckling down for the last week, it was confirmed that the Shelduck do still have a full complement of fourteen, which is something of an achievement. Having said that, there does seem to have been a change of pig-feeding technique in the Sopley/Bransgore area, so resulting in a massive reduction of loitering, large gulls in the Lower Avon Valley, thus the harbour as well. The only other news for the day concerns a Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, a Redshank and 4 Lapwing, all from Fisherman's Bank.


May 30th

Cuckoo - Alan Hayden
Female (above) and male Cuckoo - Joe Murphy
Turnstone from yesterday - Alan Hayden
...and Grey Plover and Greenshank , also from yesterday - Alan Hayden

A rolling sea mist hampered visibility until well into the afternoon, but that didn't prevent a Nuthatch in the North Scrubs getting onto the year-list at some point this morning. Also, confirmation that there are indeed singing male Cuckoo on Wick and Stanpit, with a female perhaps commuting between the two - scandalous! Hobby were reported from both sides of the river, so possibly the same touring bird, while a Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwit, both first-summer individuals, a Golden Plover and 2 Grey Plover were at Stanpit, as was a lone, drake Shoveler. Also about the marsh: an apparently leucistic juvenile Starling that was first seen a week ago and looks unerringly like the more interesting 'rosy' variety; and a pair of Shelduck showing a liking for rabbit burrows, so hopes are high for a second family, with the first still seeming to be just one-down.


May 29th

The Stanpit side of the harbour received most of the attention today, with three visits to Fisherman's Bank bringing maxima of 7Lapwing, 2 Grey Plover, 9 Sandwich Tern, 4 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, 3 Ringed Plover, a pair of Shoveler, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank, with the Shelduck brood of 13 young all present and correct. Possibly the same Shoveler were off Mudeford Quay, along with 4 Mediterranean Gull, and additional records from the marsh included a Knot, a Whimbrel and an extra 2 Dunlin, also 3 Great-crested Grebe north. On Wick this morning a couple of Swift headed into the northerly breeze and a Spotted Flycatcher was also seen.

Additional news: a further 2 Mediterranean Gull, plus 2 Curlew and a Redshank, were at Stanpit during the evening.


May 28th

The hot, settled weather continues, with precious little evidence of passerine migration, a single Spotted Flycatcher on Wick being the only likely candidate. A small but interesting selection of waders on Stanpit comprised braces of Greenshank, Grey Plover and Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Dunlin and a Knot. A Peregrine headed north over Wick, carrying prey, and the Bearded Tit story gets better, with 2 males and a female all seen with food.


May 27th

A few records from various parts of the harbour today. From Mudeford Quay, a Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, and a Black-throated Diver headed east; a Whimbrel was seen to arrive over the HHC; whilst on Stanpit, combined counts amassed 10 Grey Plover, 7 Sanderling (outnumbering just 6 Dunlin), 2 Greenshank, single Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit, and 3 Lapwing on Priory Marsh. Best of all was a male Bearded Tit carrying food - fingers crossed!



May 26th

Cormorant - Joe Murphy
...and one of a pair of Swallow that look like they may be breeding on the HHC - Leo Pyke

The stiff easterly wind blew all night and day, so despite the cloudless sky a second layer was definitely needed on Hengistbury this morning. However, before the news from there, the highlight from Mudeford Quay, where a Roseate Tern passed east at around 7:30; but there was little else from the sea, save for at least 36 Common Tern, 14 Sanderling and 7 Common Tern from the Natterjack Pond area on Hengistbury. The most notable event on the head was a steady arrival of Swift - 110 birds in just over 3-hours - but only 11 Swallow and 4 House Martin accompanying them. Meanwhile, a Common Sandpiper dropped in by the HHC, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull headed south-west over there, 2 Greenshank were in Stanpit Bight and the pair of Shoveler were still inside the harbour. Sadly, the waterborne disturbance level at Stanpit continues to significantly notch up, with small plastic canoes seemingly intent on getting everywhere - but even worse is when the occupants decide to pull-up and walk around on the saltmarsh and Blackberry Point. If the Oystercatcher scrape on East Marsh is still intact, it will be nothing short of a miracle.


May 25th

Kestrel on a successful hunting foray - Alan Hayden
Sedge Warbler at Stanpit - Alan Crockard
Dunlin on Hengistbury - David Williams

A windless start to the day meant that the early part of the Dawn Chorus event was a tad uncomfortable in terms of insects, but as a breeze picked up, which turned into quite a south-easterly wind by lunchtime, things got a little more bearable. All the resident breeders, including the 2 Cuckoo, were present and correct, but were augmented by a Wood Warbler and 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, plus a Yellow Wagtail, a Hobby, 83 House Martin, 106 Swift and 300 Swallow over Crouch Hill in a couple of hours. A Common Sandpiper was around the Parky Meade Rail area and 5 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and 2 Grey Plover, one of these a stunner, were off Fisherman's Bank, while as many Dunlin as can be counted in the above photo were on Hengistbury. The pair of Shoveler from yesterday were again on-site, but one of the Shelduck duckling seems to have gone. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.


May 24th

House Sparrow - Alan Hayden
Pair of Goldfinch on Stanpit - Alan Hayden
...and it wouldn't be unfair to accuse us of over-doing Whitethroat recently,
but the normally skulking females are not that often commited to .jpeg - Joe Murphy

Another fine day weather-wise saw a reasonable selection of interest, although quantity was again disappointing. The morning at Stanpit produced: a Marsh Harrier that seemed to come up from the northern reedbeds on a couple of occasions, on one of them being pursued by a Lapwing; a Black Tern that came in through The Run and left over the Barn Field; a Little Gull that was hawking insects high overhead with the Black-headed Gull; and a Turtle Dove that zipped north over Wick; while on the Hengistbury side, a Nightjar was in voice by the Ironstone Quarry at 8:30. Terns in general were present in reasonable numbers; for example, 4 Little Tern of Mudeford Quay plus a further bird inside the harbour, where 5 Common Tern passed through and up to 40 Sandwich Tern lingered. Once more, although sparse, wader variety was to be had, with a Common Sandpiper by the Wooden Bridge on Wick, 9 Sanderling - three on the sandspit and six west - and 4 Greenshank at Stanpit, along with a Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Ringed Plover and 41 Dunlin about the marsh at various times. The best the passerines could conjure up was singles of Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler around the Stanpit golf course, a singing Willow Warbler on Warren Hill and 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Finally, there was an unseasonable pair of Shoveler in The Run early on and a pair of Cuckoo were on Stanpit, with a further bird singing on the Wick side.

A Nightjar was churring between 21:40 and 22:20 on Hengistbury, favouring the area above the steps at the end of the head, while earlier in the day 3 adult Water Rail were seen on the low tide about Parky Meade Rail.


May 23rd

Fledgling Stonechat on Hengistbury - Joe Murphy
One of an apparent pair, presumed to be so by the adult type bonding calls,
of first-summer Mediterranean Gull over Stanpit tonight - Alan Hayden

...and the Avocet that refused to come within reasonable distance of a lens, despite the patience of the photographer - Alan Hayden

It was easily the warmest day of the year so far, with the temperature just exceeding 25C about the harbour. The fine conditions no doubt gave rise to the 5-minute spell around 10:30, when an Osprey and 2 Red Kite passed over the area, while earlier 3 Little Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gull moved through with several Black-headed Gull. A Whinchat joined 3 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, with 2 Yellow Wagtail heading over there and 2 Spotted Flycatcher were settled on Wick. Also on the move during a 90-minute watch this morning were 43 Swift, 88 Swallow, 31 House Martin and 11 Common Tern. The wader variety picked up a little inside the harbour, where an Avocet spent all day at Stanpit and peak counts of 2 Greenshank, 14 Sanderling, 7 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel, a Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 23 Dunlin and a Redshank occurred throughout. All the young Shelduck made it through the night and it seems as if the Tufted Duck's efforts to woo a Mallard may have paid off, as the pair was seen with a very strange looking duckling on Wick!


May 22nd

Pair of Shelduck - Alan Hayden
Whimbrel - Joe Murphy
Greenshank - Alan Hayden

From a local perspective, the best news for the day was definitely the appearance of 14 Shelduck ducklings off Fisherman's Bank this morning, where they remained all day. Meanwhile, just over the water from there on East Marsh, an Oystercatcher still seems to be sitting and the other bird of the pair is consistently intercepting crows as they come towards the area. Of more widespread interest was a duck Goosander in the harbour this morning, along with 2 Wheatear on Stanpit, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher on Wick this evening, where 3 Lesser Whitethroat and a Cuckoo are still present, and a couple of late Reed Warbler, away from reeds, singing in Wick Ditch and the North Scrubs. In terms of waders, it almost feels like June already, with just a Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, a Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin and a Redshank being the sum-total from across the entire area. Please check back to yesterday for a late evening update from Hengistbury that's well worth a look.


May 21st

Male Wheatear - Alan Hayden
Female Blackcap - Alan Hayden

Unless there is something of a revival in the next week or so, then this year's spring migration has finished inordinately early. Also of concern are the obviously reduced numbers of summer migrants at some of the spots in the New Forest that are frequently visited by CHOGgers. From personal experience, I had given up on my own swallows in Sopley, which are normally restoring the nest by the second week of April, so it was somewhat of a relief to find they had finally arrived and started work several days ago - but no chance of three broods this year! Anyhow, a digression and back to Christchurch Harbour, where to continue the theme the only obvious passerine migrants on site were 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. However, to liven things up a bit, a couple of Spoonbill passed east over Stanpit and 2 Hobby came in over Hengistbury. As has been the case in the last week more waders are using the Hengistbury seashore than coming inside the harbour; for example, 22 Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin could be seen on the sandspit, whereas the day's maxima from Stanpit came to a Greenshank, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Black-tailed Godwit, the latter 'wit' species not having been recorded for a few days and in varying degrees of exquisite plumage, 2 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin. The sea was also given a go and came up with a Fulmar, 11 Common Scoter and 50 Gannet over the course of an hour this morning.

Additional news: a dusk visit to Hengistbury allowed Nightjar to get onto the year-list with perhaps two territories being occupied.


May 20th

Guillemot - Alan Hayden
OK, so it's a bit of a cheat as this photo wasn't taken within the recording area,
rather from today's Bird Boat to The Needles, where several other great shots were to be had. Please click here to see more.


Sandwich Tern most certainly off Hengistbury Head - Joe Murphy

There are only two reports for the day. Firstly, involving a seawatch from The Gully for two hours after 7:00, when 153 Gannet were logged heading east as well as a single Fulmar in the opposite direction. Then, from Wick, where a Hobby was hunting over the No Dogs Field and there now seem to be four territorial Lesser Whitethroat.


May 19th

Swallow over the Barn Field - Joe Murphy
Small Heath Chris Dresh
...and Bottlenose Dolphin off Hengistbury - Darren Hughes

A southerly wind made for a period of interest at sea during the earlier part of the morning. A Great Skua, 4 Manx Shearwater, a Black-throated Diver, a Red-throated Diver, 6 Kittiwake, a Fulmar and at least 60 Common Scoter were all seen from the end of the head, but a party of Bottlenose Dolphin, perhaps as many as 15 animals, which moved slowly into Christchurch Bay easily stole the show. A Grasshopper Warbler that reeled briefly by the Ironstone Quarry was something of a surprise, as was a Siskin in over Warren Hill, but a single Wheatear on Stanpit was the only other passerine of note. Over the last few weeks, the water table has risen dramatically, so much so that even a low tide at Stanpit provides very little feeding opportunity for waders. As a consequence, just a Sanderling, three first-summer Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin were inside the harbour; but the seashore did come up with a minimum of 16 Sanderling and a few more Ringed Plover, while 17 Dunlin were in Holloway's Dock. To finish up, a Hobby came in with reasonable number of Swallow, over 10 Common Tern passed through, a Great Crested Grebe was in the Barn Bight area and a Little Grebe was again on the Ironstone Quarry pool.


May 18th

Linnet - Joe Murphy

With the exception of a female Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher and a single Wheatear on Hengistbury, it was again deathly quiet in terms of late migrants. However, a modicum of interest was provided by a drake Goosander that flew down river in the morning, when an Arctic Skua was also seen off the sandspit. In addition, the sea came up with 21 Common Scoter, a Guillemot, 3 Razorbill, 30 Gannet and a Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile, a Greenshank was in Holloway's Dock and a Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, 4 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Curlew, 2 Ringed Plover and up to 20 Dunlin were on Stanpit. Other wader interest at Stanpit concerns a pair of Oystercatcher that seem to have eggs opposite the Argyle Road slipway on the tip of East Marsh - if that area gets through the next couple of weekends without too many watercraft landing nearby, which incidentally is not permitted, then the birds may have half-a-chance. Wader chicks of any species in the harbour have not been seen for at least 30-years! Also of breeding interest is the Sand Martin situation - although not at the numbers of previous years, after a slow start nearly fifty nest holes are now occupied, but interestingly on a previously unused section of the cliffs. Finally, despite it being confirmed there are 2 Great Crested Grebe in the harbour, a romance is surely inconceivable given the habitat.


May 17th

Whitethroat - Alan Hayden
Peregrine - Jimmy Main

It was a rather windy day from the south-east, which ensured Mudeford Quay received a deal of attention, but its best effort was an Arctic Skua that landed on the water late in the afternoon. Otherwise for the sea, it's just 5 Common Scoter from the quay and a further twenty-five off Double Dykes. During the morning, save for a Crossbill perched on the golf course conifers, plus a Yellow Wagtail and 26 House Martin over, Stanpit was a migrant desert. However, a third calendar-year Yellow-legged Gull was present in the morning, as was a Common Tern, with wader interest throughout the day coming from: 2 Greenshank, 5 Knot, 3 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel, 4 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 25+ Dunlin and up to 10 Ringed Plover.


May 16th

Sanderling - Darren Hughes
Willow Warbler - Joe Murphy

There were a couple of pieces of quality this morning, namely the spring's second Hoopoe and fourth Honey Buzzard, both of which were seen from Hengistbury. The former was watched from the HHC, seeming to come out of the Barn Field and then along the head towards the Salt Hurns at just before 7:00, while the latter passed high north-west at around 10:15. Meanwhile, a Turtle Dove was almost overlooked as it toured the area with a Collared Dove, 2 Hobby went over and ditto 26 Swift. Apart from 8 Spotted Flycatcher together on Whitethroat Corner for a brief period, plus a further bird on Wick, there were few genuine other passerine migrants to be had; for example, just a Garden Warbler, a Tree Pipit over and 4 Wheatear, two either side of the harbour. Waders inside the harbour were once more disappointing, with maxima of 3 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Dunlin and a Curlew, but a Sanderling and up to 50 more Dunlin were on the groynes on the sandspit, and 9 Grey Plover and 14 Knot were logged travelling by. At least one, but possibly 2 Great Crested Grebe were along the inner Hengistbury shore, a Cuckoo was on Wick Hams, 6 Common Scoter were at sea and several groups of high-flying Jackdaw, presumed to be young, non-breeding birds, passed over towards the New Forest.


May 15th

Sandwich Tern - Joe Murphy (upper) & Joe Gillespie
Dunnock - Joe Murphy

Unlike last year when there was a good presence of waders at Stanpit through to the end of the month, there seems to have been something of a clear out - the best from four reports being just 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and up to 50 Dunlin. However, a party of 9 Little Tern that fed frantically in Stanpit Bight and then rested on the tip of South Marsh before resuming activities in Stanpit Creek made the visits worthwhile. The only news from elsewhere involves 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the Wood, a Cuckoo on Wick, a couple of Wheatear on Crouch Hill and the drake Tufted Duck.

Omission: a Puffin went east past Mudeford Quay at around 7:30.


May 14th

Whitethroat - Joe Murphy
Recently fledged Starling - David Williams

It was an overall quiet morning with the only news coming in from Hengistbury, where the best was a Hobby in-off over the Barn Field. Also, 2 Wheatear in that area, 3 Spotted Flycatcher in the Wood, but little else in terms of small migrants. Meanwhile, a couple of Whimbrel were in Holloway's Dock, 4 Common Scoter passed at sea and the Great Crested Grebe was again in Barn Bight.


May 13th

Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry - Joe Murphy
Common Lizard - David Williams

Clear blue skies opened the day, but it did cloud over later in the morning. However, the sky blue returned in the afternoon, sometime around 4:45 in fact! An Osprey headed west through the harbour quite early on, while 3 Little Tern passed through in the opposite direction. Despite some reasonable coverage, passerines were hard to come by, with just a Whinchat on the Barn Field and 10 scattered Wheatear making the post. At Stanpit, the peak wader figures were: 13 Sanderling, 15 Whimbrel, but 10 of these seen to push-off north-west, 4 Grey Plover, a reddening Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 130+ Dunlin. Elsewhere: singing Cuckoo were again both sides of the river; a Grey Wagtail over Wick was good for the date; a Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry suggests a resumption of breeding after one blank year; a couple of Buzzard entered harbour airspace; and the drake Tufted was again logged.


May 12th

Sand Martin on the Hengistbury cliffs - Joe Murphy

The undoubted star of the day was a female-type Golden Oriole that flew over observers by the riverside trees on Wick and then at the HHC, before disappearing towards the Nursery or even beyond. At least 6 Spotted Flycatcher - three in the Wood and three on Wick - also made land overnight and were fairly typical for the date, as were 2 Garden Warbler and perhaps a Whinchat; but a male Redstart and 2 Willow Warbler, all of which attempted song, were certainly a little on the tardy side. Also, up to 25 Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Lesser Whitethroat on-site, although the latter may now be applying for residential status. The Stanpit waders were counted during the afternoon and came to: 2 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, a Whimbrel and 182 Dunlin; while a Hobby passed over, as did earlier a Buzzard, and a Great Crested Grebe was on the river. A brief seawatch turned in a reasonable count of 58 Common Scoter - thirty-seven settled and twenty-one west - and 2 Whimbrel east. Please also check back to yesterday for some inexcusable omissions.

Outside of the recording area, but by just a hundred metres or so and from a Purewell garden, there was something of a Red Kite fest at around 11:00, when five were seen thermalling with a Marsh Harrier, a Buzzard and a Grey Heron. At roughly the same time, a couple of Red Kite, so possibly additional birds, were also noted over west Christchurch.


May 11th

Peregrine - Alan Hayden
Natterjack - Joe Murphy
Adder - Jimmy Main

For the first time in a few days there was absolutely no precipitation, but there was a light northerly wind that gathered strength throughout. Incredibly, the third Honey Buzzard of the week was seen just prior to 7:00, when it appeared low over Stanpit Bight and then, in scene more in keeping with Eilat or the Bosphorous, the bird grazed the rooftops of Fisherman's Bank before heading inland. The other event of the day was a couple of young Spoonbill that spent an hour or so in the harbour over lunch, before gaining a great deal of height and seeming to head south. In comparison to this time last year, wader numbers are considered to be a little on the low side, as just 9 Whimbrel, a Sanderling, a Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 110 Dunlin were at Stanpit, although 25 Black-tailed Godwit passed west over Hengistbury. At least 5 Spotted Flycatcher and 30 Wheatear were about the area, while 2 Whinchat were on the Barn Field and 3 Lesser Whitethroat were on Wick. A Hobby also passed over the fields and a Peregrine made a few sorties around Stanpit.

Omissions: a decent figure of 40 Sanderling was recorded at Mudeford Quay early in the morning, with eight of them being seen to leave to the north-east; also there, a Common Sandpiper through The Run, 3 Whimbrel and an arriving Wheatear. Meanwhile, at Stanpit, 6 adult Mediterranean Gull passed west through the harbor and pairs of both Greylag Goose and Canada Goose were present.


May 10th

Jay - Alan Hayden
Black-headed Gull - Barrie Taylor

There was even more rain today, meaning Mudeford Quay was well used, although there was also a sojourn made to the Beach Huts. Not surprisingly, therefore, seabirds and waders are likely to feature most in this post, but before those the other bits-and-pieces. A Hobby went over Wick early on and up to 20 Swift were also logged arriving, while a Redstart was on the Batters, 2 Spotted Flycatcher were in the Wood and a wet-looking Wheatear was on the end of the sandspit. The sea delivered relatively little, but a Little Gull, 4 Kittiwake and 7 Little Tern, all west, were well worth the effort, and a Common Tern, a Fulmar and 9 Gannet were also noted. The exposed sands of the early low tide off Mudeford Quay encouraged a decent wader selection to stop by, including: 18 Sanderling, 23 Whimbrel, a Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 7 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin. In addition, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit were turned in from Stanpit.

Omissions: a second calendar-year Common Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gull were seen from Mudeford Quay in the late afternoon.

Song Thrush - Alan Hayden

May 9th

In the brief periods between the showers some birding was possible - nearly all of it at Stanpit. The pick of the waders was a Little Stint for a short time, along with: 6 Grey Plover, 23 Whimbrel, 2 Knot, a red bird and the regular individual, 24 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 43 Ringed Plover and 180 Dunlin. Around 5:00 tonight, a Short-eared Owl was airborne over East Marsh for a few minutes before appearing to come down somewhere in the region of Priory Marsh; and the earlier passerine migrants about the area included 5 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, 21 Yellow Wagtail over and four settled, a White Wagtail, 2 Whinchat, 8 Wheatear and 2 Garden Warbler. In addition, around 150 Swallow headed north. Of waterbird interest, a drake Pochard and a Great Crested Grebe were both inside the harbour, while there was a drake Gadwall active around Priory Marsh.


May 8th

Reed Bunting - Peter Clarke

Given the inclement nature of the weather over the holiday weekend, it wasn't unreasonable to expect to find a good selection of migrants on what was a much more pleasant morning. It wasn't to be, however, as just a handful of Swallow moved through, with the only grounded birds being 4 Wheatear, a couple of Garden Warbler and a newly arrived Reed Warbler singing on the Batters; while another 11 Wheatear were on Stanpit this afternoon. The best of the day were 2 Spoonbill that moved high over the harbour to the south-east. A Little Ringed Plover was on Stanpit, where the single Knot was still present, along with 71 Dunlin, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, another 28 of these circled the harbour before heading north, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Ringed Plover, 6 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Lapwing, 2 Whimbrel and a Greenshank. Incidentally, the Lapwing were displaying over Central Marsh. To round up, a drake Shoveler and 2 Canada Geese were on the river, while 10 Mediterranean Gull were logged and there are still Cuckoo on either side of the harbour.

Evening update: a Honey Buzzard, the second in as many days, came in over Priory Marsh this evening.


May 7th

Recently fledged Grey Heron in the Nursery - Chris Dresh
Jackdaw on Stanpit - Peter Clarke

In the hours preceding 11:00, lashing rain courtesy of a blustery south-easterly meant that Coastguard was the only real option, although a commendable attempt was made from the Beach Huts. This was all largely a waste of time, however, with only 7 Whimbrel, 2 Fulmar, 2 Common Tern and around 20 Common Scoter taking up space in the notebooks. In sharp contrast, the hour or two after midday at the Beach Huts produced: a Honey Buzzard in-off the sea over Mudeford Quay, a Puffin west and an arriving Hobby, plus a Razorbill on the water. On Wick, a Grasshopper Warbler was again reeling close to the Wooden Bridge and is now starting to raise questions as to whether there is a lingering bird or a number of coincidences; also a Cuckoo in song there, a Whinchat on the Barn Field and around 20 Wheatear on-site - including an individual that chose to sit out the worst of the rain from the top of a gorse bush, for at least an hour. The wader scene at Stanpit doesn't seem to have changed much with 28 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Grey Plover, 3 Whimbrel, a Turnstone, the regular Knot, 66 Dunlin and 21 Ringed Plover returned.


May 6th

Cattle Egret - Chris Dresh
...and today's Bird-Boat to The Needles,
which again offered great views of breeding Guillemot, Fulmar and Shag - Alan Hayden

The general consensus is that it was pretty rubbish today, although the Cattle Egret was on Wick meadows for a short while this morning before it left the area and settled in the field adjacent to Coward's Marsh, where the above photographs were actually taken. Otherwise, it's just a Hobby over the harbour in the afternoon, 20 or so Wheatear, most of them at Stanpit, and a Garden Warbler in the North Scrubs that feature as migrants. Of more local interest, the first fledgling Starling were on Wick last night and 4 Greylag Goose arrived and alighted onto Central Marsh.


May 5th

Spotted Flycatcher - Chris Dresh
Whinchat - Jimmy Main
Great Tit - Joe Gillespie
...and male Natterjack - Chris Dresh

One of the quotes this morning was, 'can someone confirm it really is May?" That said in the context of a penetrating northerly breeze. Not surprisingly, birds were much sparser than yesterday, but there were some moments of quality. A Cattle Egret was on Stanpit all day, where it favoured East Marsh after first being seen on Central Marsh, but there was also: a Marsh Harrier north over the harbour; a Short-eared Owl that settled on the top of the head before leaving west across Poole Bay; and the 3 Little Ringed Plover that remained faithful to Central Marsh despite the full-moon high tide. As the day wore on, the Wheatear total notched up to twenty-seven, while a Yellow Wagtail was on the Wick horse paddock this morning, Spotted Flycatcher were in the North Scrubs and on Stanpit golf course, and 2 Whinchat plus a White Wagtail were on Central Marsh. Although it offered little, the sea was watched for a couple of hours from the shelter afforded by Coastguards. During that time, singles of Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver were logged, as was a steady passage of Gannet to the east, 2 Sanderling, a Whimbrel, a Grey Plover, a Razorbill, a first-summer Common Gull and, in keeping with the recent ibis and egret, 2 Grey Heron came in-off the water. It looked as if the wader contingent was reasonably similar to yesterday; for example, counts of 64 Bar-tailed Godwit and 15 Grey Plover, 2 Knot and a Turnstone from Stanpit, along with 4 Whimbrel there and another fifteen on the Salt Hurns. To conclude, a drake Pochard was in Parky Meade Rail.


May 4th

Redstart - Darren Hughes
Spotted Flycatcher - Alan Hayden (top) & Darren Hughes
Pochard - Alan Hayden

The undoubted star of the day was a Glossy Ibis that was watched on East Marsh for around 10-minutes this morning, before slipping away unseen and deciding to settle for a little longer a few miles along the coast at Pennington. A light north-easterly wind and cloud cover dropped a really good number of birds onto the area this morning, not least Whitethroat that seemed to be in every piece of suitable and not so suitable habitat. Estimating numbers is always tricky, but 200+ would certainly be on the safe side, while also obviously numerous were Willow Warbler, with at least 100, and Blackcap, but those not counted. There was variety as well as quantity right across the area, including: 11 Spotted Flycatcher, most of those on Wick, 2 Wood Warbler, one in Wick Ditch and the other briefly on the cliff-top, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 14 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Redstart, 11 Whinchat and 60 Wheatear. The Cuckoo situation is hard to gauge at the moment, but a reasonable assessment of the day would be a pair at Stanpit and a singing male on Wick, plus a stunning rufous-morph (hepatic) female that seemed to arrive over the Barn Field. Further excitement came from 2 Short-eared Owl - one east over the area that was seen from several sites at around 7:45 and one that descended into Speller's Point much later in the morning - plus a Hobby that headed north over the Barn Field. Hirundines and Swift, although on the move, were down in numbers from yesterday, but 5 Tree Pipit and 11 Yellow Wagtail were logged overhead, along with a settled of the latter at Stanpit. In addition to 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Lapwing passing over high east, Stanpit held a decent wader selection that comprised: 3 Little Ringed Plover on Central Marsh for most of the day, 2 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 61 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Grey Plover, 8 Ringed Plover and 116 Dunlin, as well as two late Redshank and a Curlew. Genuine wildfowl interest came from a party of 9 Pochard that spent the day inside the harbour, but 2 touring Egyptian Goose, 2 Gadwall and a Greylag Goose are of less reputable pedigree. To close this down, a Peregrine and 6 Mediterranean Gull were recorded.

Omission: a third-calendar year Yellow-legged Gull was in Parky Meade Rail in the late afternoon and 6 Mediterranean Gull went over Wick earlier in the day, while a Short-eared Owl and 2 Spotted Flycatcher were seen there in the evening.


May 3rd

Reed Warbler - Jimmy Main
Spotted Flycatcher - Jimmy Main

The sun failed to penetrate the grey cloud all day, which remained fairly windless throughout and even more so by the evening. Arctic bound waders took advantage of Stanpit, including an immaculately plumaged Curlew Sandpiper and a flock of equally handsome Knot that peaked at 47, plus the plain wintering individual. Also logged using the area were: 3 Greenshank, 8 Sanderling, 22 Whimbrel, 27 Grey Plover, 51 Bar-tailed Godwit (but no other godwits), 2 Turnstone, 2 Common Sandpiper, 44 Ringed Plover and 161 Dunlin. Many of these birds, particularly later in the day, were seen to lift off and head purposefully north as the tide flooded, rather than choosing to roost on the adjacent saltmarsh. At least 3 Spotted Flycatcher were on-site - two at Stanpit and one on Hengistbury - as were a Whinchat, that by the Rusty Boat on Stanpit, two singing Lesser Whitethroat and 9 Wheatear; while a Tree Pipit and 5 Yellow Wagtail passed over. A Hobby travelled north and a Peregrine was seen incoming over Mudeford Quay, but no attempt was made to census the many, many Swallow, House Martin and Swift that moved on a broad front into the light north-easterly wind. A flock of around 50 Common Tern paused briefly to feed off Mudeford Quay early in the day, along with a couple of Little Tern, and there were a further five of those inside the harbour at lunchtime with 2 Common Tern and 19 Sandwich Tern. Of potential breeding interest, Cuckoo were heard from a both sides of the area, but of course these could still be migrants; however, a pair of Gadwall on Priory Marsh were engaging in some rather more clear-cut activity.


May 2nd

Stonechat - Joe Murphy
Whinchat - Darren Hughes
...and Yellow Wagtail at Stanpit last night - Alan Hayden

The old adage of it's never good two days on the run seems to have been broken today; particularly on Hengistbury, which enjoyed a unseasonable Woodlark over, a Tree Sparrow that settled on the end of the head after arriving from the sea and 2 Short-eared Owl - one looking to pitch in and the other leaving to the east. Birds more settled were: a Firecrest in the Nursery, a Spotted Flycatcher, with another on Wick, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Redstart, one of those by the Ironstone Quarry, 2 Whinchat, 7 Garden Warbler, 65 Blackcap, 32 Whitethroat, some of these actually along the cliff edge, 2 White Wagtail and 53 Willow Warbler. There was also some overhead movement, including a Siskin, 63 Goldfinch and 42 Linnet, as well as 21 Yellow Wagtail, 7 Tree Pipit, a Hobby, 111 Swift, 72 House Martin and 410 Swallow; while at sea 16 Mediterranean Gull, 9 Common Gull, a Brent Goose, 14 Common Scoter and 2 Gadwall all headed east. Before moving to the waders, a couple of Cuckoo were chasing each other around Crouch Hill late in the afternoon and 27 Sandwich Tern were counted resting inside the harbour. To conclude: a Golden Plover came in over Hengistbury; a Greenshank, a Knot, 5 Grey Plover, 25 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Whimbrel, 7 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin were turned in from Fisherman's Bank; a Common Sandpiper was in Holloway's Dock; a Sanderling, 12 Grey Plover and 31 Whimbrel travelled east at sea; and a further 13 Whimbrel stopped very briefly at Stanpit tonight.


May 1st

Goldfinch - Joe Murphy

An almost windless day meant that the overnight rain didn't really give in until around 9:00, but when it did, it became apparent there had been a decent fall of birds onto Hengistbury that quickly spread on to Wick. The best were 2 Wood Warbler in the Wood, but also two female Pied Flycatcher there, while a male lingered for some hours on Wick. Also across both sites were: 150+ Willow Warbler, 7 Garden Warbler, 5 Whinchat, 4 Redstart, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Cuckoo and 16 Wheatear. There was some additional overspill on to Stanpit, where 2 Redstart, 2 White Wagtail and 5 Wheatear were present in the morning, 2 Whinchat and 2 Yellow Wagtail were settled in the evening on North Marsh, and what may now be a resident Cuckoo sang from the area of Speller's Point. The north-easterly Bar-tailed Godwit passage seems well underway as the maximum count from Stanpit came to 93 birds, but just 11 Black-tailed Godwit were around the area so suggesting the winter birds have now started their journey to Iceland. Most other wader species were up in numbers, however; for example, 11 Grey Plover, 3 Knot, 2 Turnstone, 8 Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover, 52 Dunlin and the first Lapwing for some time - most of them using Stanpit as a stop-over. Before lunch, around 35 Swift, 12 House Martin and steady procession of Swallow moved through, as did 2 Little Tern. Meanwhile, a drake Pochard was at Stanpit, as was a single Brent Goose, and the Tufted Duck was on the meadows at Wick.

Additional news: a Hobby and a Cuckoo were at Wick in the evening.

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