Sightings for October 2012


October 31st

A Barred Warbler was seen briefly this morning on the northern edge of the Stanpit Recreation Ground; it then crossed the path towards Ashtree Meadows but wasn't seen thereafter. Meanwhile, on Hengistbury there was a Snow Bunting over the Beach Huts. Despite the strength of the wind and constant threat of showers there was also some overhead movement with counts of 480 Linnet, 320 Goldfinch, 115 Chaffinch, 21 Redpoll, 5 Brambling and 3 Bullfinch. The sea was watched for 3-hours between 7:30 and 10:30 and although quiet at times 165 Kittiwake and 19 Little Gull were logged, together with 111 Common Gull, 36 Razorbill, 18 Common Scoter, 9 Knot, 7 Red-throated Diver, 5 Guillemot, 5 Sandwich Tern and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull; all these birds moving west while a flock of 50 Dunlin went east. A raft of up to 50 Common Scoter was on the water just off the Beach Huts; also half a dozen Razorbill there. On Stanpit, the Spoonbill and Spotted Redshank were both present.


October 30th

Lapwing on the harbour shore - Clinton Whale

On a fine settled morning with little or no wind, there was again very little movement. Just 350 Woodpigeon and 20 Stock Dove were logged moving north-west together with 3 Woodlark east, 3 Swallow south, a single Brambling and 6 Rook. The Wood at Hengistbury held both Firecrest and Coal Tit, while half a dozen Chiffchaff were seen and 2 Fieldfare were on Wick Fields; also a Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh. The Spoonbill remained faithful to East Marsh, where it seemed to spend most of the day asleep. The first Goldeneye of the autumn was in Stanpit Bight before it flew off north. Waders today included 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot and the Spotted Redshank; also 3 Shoveler and a Pintail on Stanpit. A large flock of gulls feeding off the Long Groyne held 2 Kittiwake and 3 Mediterranean Gull, while a raft of 24 Common Scoter was offshore. Finally, 4 Raven were noted.


October 29th

Raven on Crouch Hill today - Lorne Bissell

On a morning of frequent heavy showers the sea was watched from both the favoured vantage points - Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts. The combined totals were 39 Common Scoter, 39 Common Gull, 4 Red-throated Diver, 4 Little Gull, 3 Gadwall, a Red-breasted Merganser and an Arctic Tern, all moving west. On the sea off the quay were singles of Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter, while 3 Razorbill were on the water off Hengistbury. The Spoonbill was again on East Marsh, Stanpit, where a flock of 150 Black-tailed Godwit took to the air this morning; also noted were 10 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a late Sandwich Tern. Visible migration was negligible with just one flock of 18 Swallow south, 2 Fieldfare and a single Brambling. To round up, a Black Redstart was around the Beach Huts and a Raven was on Crouch Hill.


October 28th

Sunrise over the beach huts this morning - Colin Raymond

Fortunately the wind had moved round to the west and eased somewhat, hence it wasn't quite as cold this morning for the second WeBS count of the season. There was also plenty of cloud cover, but that didn't prevent the movement of Woodpigeon and Stock Dove, with another 11500 and 230 respectively. Otherwise it was quiet with just 19 Redpoll, 2 House Martin and a late Yellow Wagtail over Hengistbury. From the Beach Huts, a Slavonian Grebe was on the sea, while a real mix of wildfowl headed west. The pick of these were a Long-tailed Duck and 14 Velvet Scoter, but also 87 Teal, 49 Gadwall, 43 Common Scoter, plus another dozen of these were on the sea off Mudeford Quay, 17 Shoveler, 12 Pintail, 8 Shelduck, 6 Pochard, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Eider and 3 Tufted Duck. The movement wasn't confined to wildfowl, however, as 3 Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 31 Golden Plover were also logged. The WeBS count found the Spoonbill and Spotted Redshank still present, but didn't throw up any surprises although the 'counters' felt that the numbers were down possibly due to the recent high water levels. The totals included: 316 Wigeon, 186 Coot, 131 Brent Geese, 65 Teal, 6 Pochard, 5 Shoveler, and 2 each of Pintail and Gadwall while waders were 163 Redshank, 74 Dunlin, 49 Ringed Plover, 7 Grey Plover and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. Finally, 11 Egyptian Geese passed over the harbour heading north.


October 27th

On a clear morning when an unforgiving northerly wind made it feel bitterly cold, the first significant Woodpigeon movement of the autumn occurred with 12000 birds logged over Hengistbury by mid-morning; also 130 Stock Dove. Rather surprisingly, despite the strength of the wind, good numbers of smaller passerines were also on the move - the highlights being singles of Lapland Bunting and Woodlark; while the totals were 650 Goldfinch, 530 Chaffinch, 230 Linnet, 125 Siskin, 112 Skylark, 106 Meadow Pipit, 87 Redpoll, 59 alba Wagtail, 36 Swallow, 35 Brambling and 8 House Martin. Bearded Tit also featured with the arrival of seven birds over the top of the head, then another two in the East Marsh reedbed. A Ring Ouzel in the North Scrubs was the only grounded migrant of note. A Tawny Owl flew over the Broadway just after dawn, then later 3 Short-eared Owl were around Hengistbury. Raptors, all moving into the wind, included a Marsh Harrier, 2 Merlin, 8 Buzzard and 9 Sparrowhawk. To round up, a Little Stint arrived, 3 Pintail moved east and a flock of 11 Pochard circled the harbour.


October 26th

Snipe digi-scoped at Stanpit - Lorne Bissell

A stronger than expected wind came directly from the north and there was an almost constant drizzle throughout the day. Incredibly though, small birds were moving through it and numbered an unlikely: 490 Meadow Pipit, 37 alba Wagtail, 510 Linnet, 115 Chaffinch, 75 Goldfinch, 16 Siskin, 8 Brambling, 4 Redpoll and a Swallow. These were nearly all logged from the shelter of the southernmost beach hut and heading generally east. In addition, 29 Song Thrush came in over there, while a Ring Ouzel was reasonably settled around the HHC area and at least 3 Fieldfare came through. Migrant harriers were anticipated during the morning, but it wasn't until around three this afternoon that a young male Marsh Harrier appeared at Stanpit and eventually departed high to the east, so a sighting of one at Wick 90-minutes later was certainly another bird; also a Merlin west and 2 Swallow south around that time. More on migrants and the conditions they face at the end of the post. A Yellow-browed Warbler was elusive at the eastern end of Redpoll Alley, where there was also a scattering of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. At Stanpit, there was an intriguing situation when an owl was being mobbed in thick vegetation by Jay and a cohort of smaller birds, but unfortunately the bushes were so dense that ID was not possible. Also on the marsh, the Spoonbill, 2 Avocet, 7 Grey Plover 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and over 30 Dunlin. Meanwhile, waders were moving at sea, all to the east and coming to: 2 Golden Plover, 3 Grey Plover, 17 Sanderling and 78 Dunlin, plus around 30 Snipe arriving and a Jack Snipe that came up from the top of the head. Also at sea, a party of 3 Great Skua that headed rapidly west and 8 Eider east, plus 26 Pintail, a Shoveler, 46 Wigeon and 2 Teal in the opposite direction, along with random movements of 37 Brent Goose and 16 Common Scoter. On the subject of Brent Goose, an isolated gaggle of nineteen birds on Stanpit, so possibly newly-arrived, contained five juveniles - the highest ratio so far. Almost there with this long post - with at least 3 Sandwich Tern in the area, an adult Mediterranean Gull off Mudeford Quay and 2 Mistle Thrush over the recreation ground.

We've just had some information from one of the Christchurch lobster boats. On Wednesday, the 24th, around 3-4 miles off Hengistbury, in fact by the 'second bass buoy', many passerines (mostly described as Blackbirds) were seen pitching into the sea. In addition to scooping one out of the water, a further seven (plus 6 Robins and 2 'thrushes') that landed on the boat were caught, boxed, warmed in the wheelhouse and released when back at Mudeford Quay. If that was happening in what were relatively favourable conditions, one dreads to imagine what may have taken place in the drizzle of today.


October 25th

In a similar vein to yesterday, it makes sense to deal with less expected first and in chronological order of appearance. While it was still dark, a Stone Curlew was calling around Wick; then in the half-light, a grey goose, which was also calling, flew north over the same area, but unfortunately we don't see/hear enough of these to be sure of the ID, although a 'white-front' was suspected. However, a few minutes later there was no uncertainty when the distinctive silhouette of a Glossy Ibis passed low over the HHC, before leaving west towards Whitepits. In the next hour or so, 2 Marsh Harrier passed through, as did a real premium bird, in the form of a Hawfinch, which arrived over the end of the head - likewise 2 Woodlark and 4 Crossbill; those in addition to 5 Jack Snipe flushed from Warren Hill by the same dog that got a mention yesterday, 3 Velvet Scoter, an Arctic Skua, an adult Little Gull and a juvenile Arctic Tern, all at sea, and the Spoonbill at Stanpit throughout the day. In terms of visible migration figures it was the best day so far for Goldfinch, which thanks to the brisk easterly wind were forced to pass the western slope of the head at nothing short of ground level, evading observers as they did so. The final tally, but from the opposite end of Hengistbury, was 2600 birds along with: 730 Linnet, 710 Chaffinch, 310 Siskin, 215 Greenfinch, the first movement of those this season, 63 Redpoll, 11 Brambling, a Bullfinch, 31 Swallow, 16 Starling, 66 Skylark, 61 Song Thrush, in excess of 60 Blackbird, 16 Redwing and 43 Lapwing, all generally east and with four accompanying Sparrowhawk and a Merlin, plus a lingering Peregrine. Although settled passerines are becoming sparser, there were 3 Firecrest and 30+ Goldcrest about Hengistbury, as well as isolated Chiffchaff and Blackcap. To finish off, a reasonably busy sea also produced: 145 Common Gull, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 5 Kittiwake, a Common Tern, 19 Common Scoter and 23 Dunlin on the move to the west, with 7 Razorbill feeding actively just off the Double Dykes. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news of local interest.

Additional news: a 'large owl' was seen by a couple of the regular dog-walkers at the western end of Roebury Lane early in the morning.


October 24th

Kingfisher - Jimmy Main

In very similar conditions to yesterday, it was a day of sheer numbers. However, before those, some of the oddities: a Yellow-browed Warbler was with around 80 Goldcrest on the Batters; a Snow Bunting, a Short-eared Owl and a Merlin arrived off the sea; a Woodcock was flushed by a dog from the top of the head; a Little Stint left the area; singles of Black Redstart were by the HHC and on the sandspit; and the Spoonbill remained at Stanpit. The following seemed to arrive from all southern points of the compass, but all quickly polarised to a northerly route along the sandspit: a Ring Ouzel, 2 Mistle Thrush, 7 Fieldfare, 115 Redwing, 320 Blackbird, 410 Song Thrush, 163 Skylark, 670 Starling, an incredible 6200 Linnet, 3700 Chaffinch, 1550 Goldfinch, 290 Siskin, 69 Redpoll, 615 Meadow Pipit, 3 Grey Wagtail, 520 alba Wagtail, 38 Reed Bunting, 79 Swallow, 41 House Martin, 5 Golden Plover, 29 Snipe and 28 Lapwing. Meanwhile, there was also reckoned to an arrival of Stonechat and Robin, at 25 and 70 respectively, onto both sides of Warren Hill. A fair bit of wildfowl was also on the move, with the totals, mainly from the end off the head and unless otherwise stated to the west, comprising: 11 Eider east, 3 Pochard, 6 Shoveler, 31 Pintail, 17 Teal, 8 Gadwall arriving, 91 Brent Goose, 6 Shelduck and 23 Common Scoter. Also, 2 Red-throated Diver, 16 Mediterranean Gull and 53 Common Gull, with 4 Sandwich Tern inside the harbour. To conclude, at Stanpit, the Ruff, a Greenshank, the Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 40 Ringed Plover and 45 Dunlin were present.

Additional news: a Little Owl was calling in the Wick horse paddock tonight, when Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbird could all be heard passing in reasonable numbers.


October 23rd

Sparrowhawk - Jimmy Main

Christchurch Harbour is not renowned for numbers of thrushes, so this morning's experience under dull skies with very little wind was something of a moment to remember, in local terms that is. Up until just after midday, 211 Blackbird, 120 Redwing, 47 Song Thrush, 5 Fieldfare and Ring Ouzel all moved north-west from Hengistbury towards Wick or Southbourne, many of the birds pitching into Double Dykes for a brief rest before they did so. Caught up in the movement were 16 Skylark and 318 Starling that did much the same thing, while a single Black Redstart was by the HHC and a further three were on the sandspit. Because of the thrush attraction, the higher parts of the head were given little attention, so it's not known whether there was any sort of smaller passerine movement, although 2 Brambling, a Grey Wagtail, 105 Swallow and 2 House Martin were logged from lower down. A hint of wildfowl movement came from 9 Pochard and 6 Tufted Duck touring the harbour, but the 3 Eider on the sea off the Beach Huts have probably been there for a few days now and 6 settled Shoveler were at Stanpit. Also, a Red-throated Diver past the head, but little else over the water. The Spoonbill was again obliging around Stanpit Bight, where the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 38 Ringed Plover and 21 Dunlin also make the post. Elsewhere, a Raven went over, a Kingfisher was along Fisherman's Bank and a single Sandwich Tern was present.

Additional news: there were over 100 Redwing calling from Wick before first light, 12 Egyptian Goose were in flight to the north-east late morning and the Shoveler at Stanpit rose to fifteen later in the day.


October 22nd

A record shot of the Stanpit Scaup - Lorne Bissell
As this 75x video grab suggests, the bird prefers to stay well out into Stanpit Bight

There was a 15-minute spell of interest at sea early this morning, when a Red-necked Grebe and Black-necked Grebe accompanied each other past the end of the head, from where 3 Eider, a Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Pintail and 21 Common were also logged. Meanwhile, inside the harbour, the Spoonbill and Scaup remain, 5 Shoveler and 3 Tufted Duck were around all day, and 6 Shelduck were seen to arrive. A Hobby catching an insect over Hengistbury was a good record for the date, while a Merlin taking a Meadow Pipit at sea was a little more expected; in addition, a couple of Black Redstart and a single Wheatear were on the sandspit groynes briefly. Waders at Stanpit included the Spotted Redshank, a Sanderling, a Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 46 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin; along with a Purple Sandpiper, a Golden Plover, a Greenshank and 3 further Grey Plover turned in from the head. The anticipated easterly wind was actually nothing more than a north-westerly puff at dawn and petered away completely an hour later - as a consequence, the vis-mig numbers until 10:00 were less than exciting, but did include: a Yellowhammer, 7 Brambling, 3 Bullfinch, 80 Siskin, 130 Chaffinch, 155 Goldfinch, 85 alba Wagtail, 185 Meadow Pipit, although these were still moving in 'dozens' at 11:30, 7 Swallow and a House Martin, all east. Incoming over the same period were 12 Grey Heron, made up of high-flying flocks of three and nine, 61 Redwing, 85 Song Thrush and 18 Blackbird. It was confirmed there are still 2 Nuthatch in the Wood, 6 Mediterranean were at sea and 3 Sandwich Tern were seen from Fisherman's Bank.


October 21st

Carrion Crow tumbling over Hengistbury - Alan Crockard

Overnight, the breeze moved to the north-east - then as the day wore on veered a few degrees further east, gathering strength as it did so. As such, at least 4 Ring Ouzel on-site, the most obliging being an individual in the Bobolink Field on Wick, hopefully give a hint of what may come as a result of the changed wind direction. Meanwhile, there were also 10 Redwing at Stanpit and 63 presumed migrant Song Thrush on or over Hengistbury, as well as several high-flying northbound Blackbird. Also notable, was an immigration of Snipe from the sea with many pitching straight into the heather on Warren Hill - sixty-two was the total, the largest flock being fifteen. Other birds that were perhaps settling into winter quarters included a Black Redstart on the sandspit, a Merlin over the Long Field and a Dartford Warbler at Stanpit, where there was a small arrival of 8 Stonechat. Conversely, 2 Reed Warbler and a Wheatear need to get a move on and make progress to the south. The Scaup remains inside the harbour and was joined by 6 Tufted Duck that hung around for most of the day. In addition, the Spoonbill continues its stay around Stanpit Bight, where the Spotted Redshank, a Ruff, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit were also settled. Overhead migration was much better than yesterday and for a short while it looked like Goldfinch were going to storm through, but even though it all quietened down earlier than hoped the morning's total still reached a respectable 1400, along with 14 Brambling, 33 Redpoll, 86 Siskin, 130 Chaffinch, 310 Linnet, 35 Reed Bunting, 25 Skylark, 330 alba Wagtail, 190 Meadow Pipit, 111 Swallow, a House Martin, 220 Woodpigeon and 5 Rook, all east over the area. Just after first light, an unkindness of 9 Raven arrived on Hengistbury and lingered for the next couple of hours, while a single Mediterranean Gull passed at sea and a Sandwich Tern was at Stanpit. Finally, with the increasing numbers of Egyptian Goose now seemingly resident in the Lower Avon Valley, it was no real surprise that a skein of fifteen skirted the north of the area just before lunch.


October 20th

Starling - Mark Andrews

The surprise of the day was the apparent return of the Scaup to Stanpit after what is thought to be a week's absence, while the again present Spoonbill is now well into its second week on-site. Despite the same team being on duty for the same period of time, the migration over Hengistbury was mere shadow of yesterday's - Goldfinch being the most numerous at 215, but also 105 Linnet, a Brambling, 6 Redpoll, 48 Chaffinch, 9 Siskin, 19 Reed Bunting, 91 alba Wagtail, 44 Meadow Pipit and 27 Swallow, as well as a Snipe flushed from the top of the head. The appropriately named Redpoll Alley held 13 settled birds, along with a Firecrest, plenty of Goldcrest, several Chiffchaff and 8 Siskin. Meanwhile, a flock of 11 Bearded Tit left the HHC reeds and headed up-river. After forgetting to mention the sea yesterday, but that now amended below, a Black-throated Diver passed west mid-morning, the same Common Scoter was settled and an adult Mediterranean Gull moved into The Solent, as did 3 auks. A good look from Fisherman's Bank produced the Spotted Redshank, a decent record of a Sanderling, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, an overnight increase of Ringed Plover to 38 birds and a single Sandwich Tern. To wrap up, the day's Kingfisher records were made up of two pursuing each other by the HHC, one settled on fence posts in the popular spot of Brewer's Creek and one from Fisherman's Bank.


October 19th

Oystercatcher - Joe Murphy

The 'vis-mig' team has been a little depleted over the last couple of weeks, but should return to full strength by at least Monday, albeit perhaps a little late for the peak passage. Nevertheless, there was a cracking easterly movement of Linnet recorded over Hengistbury this morning - 2225 in all - some in flocks of over 150 birds. Most of this was actually crammed into the hour between 9:00 and 10:00, when some early stifling cloud had lifted. Meanwhile, Goldfinch also passed through, but in surprisingly low numbers, 405 being the count; but, on the converse for the date, there were far more Meadow Pipit than expected, 285 the total for those. Also logged during the count period were: 4 Brambling, 46 Redpoll, 405 Chaffinch, 99 Siskin, 71 alba Wagtail, 15 Reed Bunting and 7 Swallow; and a Merlin moving in the same direction was no doubt attracted by the array of choice on offer. The night also saw an arrival of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff, with all suitable spots on Hengistbury holding birds, while the crest of a male Firecrest bathing at point-blank range by the Lily Pond was bright enough to potentially cause retina damage! Over at Stanpit, the Spoonbill was still around, as was the Spotted Redshank, a Ruff, a Greenshank, 8 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin.

Omissions: a couple of Common Tern and a Common Scoter were settled off the end of the head, a Tufted Duck was in Barn Bight and at least one Nuthatch was in the Wood.


October 18th

The day started with a brisk southerly wind, which discouraged any 'vis-migging' attempts at Hengistbury and instead turned the focus to Mudeford Quay. As it was, this was fairly disappointing with the best not actually coming from the sea, as a breeding-plumaged Red-throated Diver exited the harbour east over the quay! Meanwhile, a Great-Northern Diver and 3 Common Scoter were offshore, and a couple of Kittiwake came in through The Run. Around the same time, it was the only period of the day when any tidal fringe existed at Stanpit, so allowing the Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover and 13 Dunlin to be notched up from Fisherman's Bank, as well as just over 100 Brent Goose and, at lunchtime, the Spoonbill. To round-up, there was a very light scattering of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest on Wick, in addition to 5 Swallow over there.

Omission: the first juvenile Brent Goose of the autumn went past Mudeford Quay this morning.


October 17th

Little Grebe in Barn Bight - Joe Murphy

Overnight, quite a south-westerly wind built up and brought some serious rain with it. As a consequence, the early work was done from Mudeford Quay in the hours up to 10:30. An offshore flock of Gannet pulled in some snippets of quality, with a Sooty Shearwater briefly at 9:10 and a couple of Balearic Shearwater throughout the period; while a Black-necked Grebe was settled on the water and a Great Northern Diver passed by. Also, 12 Kittiwake, 2 Common Tern and 2 Guillemot west, a Mediterranean Gull fishing in The Run, 4 Common Scoter and 6 Sandwich Tern. The rain-assisted tide made Stanpit largely impassable, but the Spoonbill and 65 Snipe were logged from around the Visitor's Centre, plus a Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 8 Black-tailed Godwit from Fisherman's Bank.


October 16th

A rather confused Great Spotted Woodpecker on the Hengistbury cliff top - Alan Hayden

There was far less interest about the place today, despite similar coverage to the previous few days. The Spoonbill went AWOL this morning, but was back in its favoured spot on South Marsh this afternoon, when it even lifted its head from under its wings on a couple of occasions! Otherwise, there were just 2 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover, a couple of Dunlin and 6 Sandwich Tern to pass the time of day at Stanpit. Save for a few Chiffchaff and Goldcrest dotted around the area, plus small numbers of Swallow moving into the westerly wind, there is nothing else to mention. A big tide is due at 10:45 tomorrow, when wellington boots will be essential at Stanpit, but from recent experience even those may not be enough to keep the feet dry....

Additional news: an Eider was off Mudeford Quay.


October 15th

Female Kingfisher breakfasting at Clay Pool - Alan Crockard

A Mealy Redpoll settled on Wick in the company of 5 Redpoll was the bird of the morning, during which the expected overhead migration was once again barely existent. However, 65 Swallow, 10 House Martin and 16 Skylark were logged, mostly over Stanpit. A Marsh Harrier passed low through the harbour at around 7:30, while the Spoonbill seemed to spend most of the day in its favoured spot on the tip of South Marsh, which hopefully it will continue to do so - the encouraging lack of disturbance permitting. The wader presence at Stanpit stepped up a gear, with 2 Ruff and 2 Greenshank new-in, but the most impressive record was of 165 Snipe that were gradually flushed off East Marsh by the flooding spring tide. Also counted throughout the day were: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin. To wrap up, a couple of Raven cruised about Hengistbury early in the day.


October 14th

The rolling mist over and off Hengistbury this morning - Alan Hayden

The early morning visitors to the area all had their journeys delayed due to having to retrieve last winter's ice-removers. Unfortunately, a light northerly breeze pushed a inland mist cloud over Hengistbury just after first light and, despite lasting only an hour or so, this effectively killed any hopes of a good day for visible migration - for example, just 4 Swallow were recorded during the morning! Of the very little logged, the best were 2 Yellow Wagtail west and a Redpoll heard. The cloudless overnight skies saw a big clear-out of birds, including the two recent stars in the North Scrubs, with only isolated Chiffchaff and Goldcrest remaining on Hengistbury. Stanpit, however, did deliver some quality in the form of a Woodlark over and a Water Pipit settled, while an exceptional count of 23 Raven were all heading north. Meanwhile on the marsh, the Spoonbill is still settled and the Brent Goose rose to 77 birds; but the waders included only 10 Ringed Plover and a single Dunlin, and the rapidly dwindling Sandwich Tern numbered no more than two. To liven up the end of a rather negative post, a Marsh Harrier was by the Wooden Bridge on Wick in the afternoon, when a further 20 Swallow passed through and 4 wandering Buzzard were over harbour airspace, and a Kingfisher was particularly obliging in the channel to Holloway's Dock.

Additional news: a Greenshank was in Barn Bight.


October 13th

Goldcrest - Alan Crockard

Ring Ouzel have been very scarce, almost rare, in the area for the last two years, so it was good to get a male bird moving off Hengistbury towards Wick this morning; with other seasonal highlights comprising the two Yellow-browed Warbler continuing to be fairly consistent in the silver birches at the southern end of the North Scrubs, Stanpit, a Hobby over the marsh, a Merlin past Hengistbury and a Firecrest or two at the end of the head, where there were plenty of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. Meanwhile, the Spoonbill and Scaup remain about Stanpit Bight. The overhead passage, although not religiously monitored, was considered to be fairly light and almost aimless in direction, but did include: 2 late Tree Pipit, 4 Grey Wagtail, a Brambling, over 30 Redpoll, a Mistle Thrush, a Rook and 2 Jackdaw among the more expected fare. However, the Wood seemed full of Chaffinch for a time, so perhaps the light westerly wind had grounded many birds. Also settled, a Reed Warbler, a Wheatear on South Marsh and a few Blackcap. The waders at Stanpit were headed by the Spotted Redshank and 4 Knot briefly, as well as a Turnstone, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed plover and 8 Dunlin. The in-harbour Brent Goose count reached a seasonal high of thirty-seven and a further ten moved west at sea, over which 12 Mediterranean Gull and 21 Common Scoter were also logged. The remaining miscellany comes courtesy of: 2 Nuthatch, one in the Wood and one on Wick, the first Little Grebe of the winter in Brewer's Creek, a Kingfisher lingering in the same spot, a Shelduck in Stanpit Bight and 3 Sandwich Tern resting up on South Marsh.


October 12th

Yellow-browed Warbler - Alan Hayden

Despite the unfavourable north-west wind, there were still some elements of quality to be had today, mainly at Stanpit. Around 7:15, a Great White Egret passed over to the west before returning around 45-minutes later and ultimately heading north, where it was most likely seen by a half-asleep photographer driving along the bypass. Interestingly, as the bird passed low over Crouch Hill it could be seen to carry no rings, so was not the regular Avon Valley individual. Throughout the day, the 2 Yellow-browed Warbler behaved variably in the North Scrubs, the latest sighting being 6:15 tonight, while a latish Whitethroat was in the same area and a male Redstart was about the adjacent golf course; and to complete the out-of-the ordinary, the Scaup was again in Stanpit Bight. Moving to the more expected, most of the fifty or so Chiffchaff were on Wick, where 3 Redpoll and 10 Siskin passed over, 5 Redwing moved north over Stanpit, 2 Wheatear were on Stanpit and one was on the sandspit, and a handful of Goldcrest and Blackcap were settled around the area. The best of the waders was a Ruff, but also a Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin; in addition, a single Grey Wagtail was in the Purewell Stream and a 'flock' of three appeared to head high north over the recreation ground in the afternoon.

Omission: the Spoonbill was again around Stanpit Bight.


October 11th

With multiple sightings along the South Coast over the past week or so, it was perhaps only a matter of time before we joined in the Yellow-browed Warbler bonanza, and today they finally arrived - singles in North Scrubs on Stanpit and in the woods on Hengistbury (at the Salt Hurns end) this morning, with a second bird joining the first in North Scrubs this afternoon, both showing well. The Chiffchaffs on Hengistbury have formed a loose flock of around 50 birds, and are likely to be a good starting point for anyone seeking out their rarer cousin tomorrow. A Firecrest was once again seen in Redpoll Alley, the Marsh Harrier was still around the Wick Hams area, and mixed Swallow and House Martin flocks were passing through at a rate of 60 or so a minute late in the morning. Stanpit Bight continued to host a Scaup, with 2 Common Tern, an Avocet, the regular Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 9 Black-tailed and one Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, 10 each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, a Kingfisher and a Yellow Wagtail adding variety, and 59 Canada Geese too many plus 2 Greylags for the record.

Late news: a Spoonbill (presumably yesterday's bird) was feeding in the creek at the entrance to Fisherman's Bank mid-afternoon, and a second Firecrest was present on Hengistbury, near the HHC entrance gate, with a late Garden Warbler by the Barn.


October 10th

A dry, relatively mild day encouraged a little more field activity from the locals. Overhead movements included 80 Linnet, 25 Siskin, 5 Redpoll, 5 Skylark, 6 Mistle Thrush, 3 Song Thrush, 4 Snipe and 21 Jackdaw, with the best being 2, maybe 3, Crossbill, as well as uncounted Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Swallow and House Martin, with all birds heading south or south-east. A Firecrest was in "Redpoll Alley", and a Nuthatch in the Woods; 5 Goldcrest, 22 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap and a Wheatear were scattered around the Head and on Wick, these numbers being well down on recent days. A Peregrine was over the Beach Huts, and a couple of Pochard toured the area early on. Over on Stanpit, the Scaup remains settled, with a Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 6 Mediterranean and 22 Common Gull, 5 Gadwall, 26 Brent Geese, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, the Spotted Redshank, 4 Grey Plover and a Ruff as supporting cast. Late in the day, Fishermans Bank held just 9 Brent Geese and a Kingfisher, and whilst typing, news has just arrived of a Spoonbill heading over Christchurch By-pass towards the Harbour at around 18:30.

Omission - 2 Redwing were on Wick at first light.

Additional news: a Short-eared Owl passed over Hengistbury mid-morning.


October 9th

A gloomy start to the day soon degenerated into almost constant rain. Despite the weather, a few birds were on the move, notably hirundines, with 180 Swallow, 95 House Martin and 30 Sand Martin heading east. Grounded migrants were headed up by Chiffchaff, with 25 along the batters and in the woods, plus a further 22 on Wick; Goldcrest numbers in the same areas were 20 and 9 respectively, with 4 Blackcap and a Redwing on Wick, and 5 Redpoll overflew. At first light, Bearded Tit were heard but unseen by the wooden bridge, 3 Raven headed west, and later on there were 3 Coal Tits plus singles of Nuthatch and Mistle Thrush in the woods. Meanwhile, an early count from Fisherman's Bank found 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Brent Geese and at least 9 Ringed Plover, with a Greenshank, a Grey Plover and the regular Spotted Redshank, and the Scaup was also reported as being present today.


October 8th

Goldfinch on Wick - one of a regular flock of up to a hundred there - Joe Murphy

A day of little wind and almost constant rain or drizzle, during which the identity of the Scaup was confirmed - and it looks to be a juvenile bird so perhaps explaining some of its behaviour. For the records, the bird has been present since the first of the month and spends much of its time amongst the Coot in Stanpit Bight. Other wildfowl in the bight mixed in with the 100+ Wigeon were a Tufted Duck, a Shoveler, 6 Pintail and 8 Brent Goose. A Ruff was also at Stanpit, as was the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin and up to fifty fidgety Snipe. The only passerine information concerns single Wheatear by the former Point House Café site, apparently now known as Ocean Point, and on East Marsh, Stanpit; while a quiet seawatch from Mudeford Quay mustered just 2 diver sp., 17 Brent Goose and 2 Mediterranean Gull, with all but three of the geese heading west.


October 7th

Migrating Goldfinch over Hengistbury - Alan Hayden

A duck that is almost certainly a Scaup was at Stanpit for what is it's sixth day. There has been much suspicion about this bird as it has been behaving uncharacteristically at times, including dabbling, but opinion now seems to be swaying toward it being genuine bird. However, closer views could well undo that possibility. Offshore, there was a definite good bird in the form of a first-winter Black-throated Diver seen on the water until flushed by jet-skis from the sandspit, while a less disturbed Red-throated Diver was just south of Double Dykes. The best of the settled passerines was a Firecrest in 'Redpoll Alley', that's the woodland just south of Holloway's Dock, with a young male Redstart on Wick and a Whinchat in the North Scrubs also worth a mention, as well as 60 or so Chiffchaff, 40ish Goldcrest and 20 Blackcap across the south side of the area. Wader numbers have been disappointing all autumn, but there is nevertheless some constant variety, with a Ruff, the Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, a Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Ringed Plover and 29 Dunlin being the peak in-harbour counts for the day. Again, what wind there was came from the north and seemed to stifle much of the expected overhead migration, although a lot could have been missed due to the rather light-hearted attempt at counting - the totals until 9:45 coming to: 5 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 7 Jay, 2 Rook, 5 Skylark and a Song Thrush, all north/west: plus a Brambling, 17 Redpoll, 44 Siskin (although undoubtedly more, but it's a case of trying to actually see them!), 390 Linnet, 410 Goldfinch, 9 Reed Bunting, a Grey Wagtail, 230 alba Wagtail, 115 Swallow, mainly east. After their recent paucity, Mediterranean Gull are having a slight renaissance - at least eight in all of the three possible plumages during the day - with the best-of-the-rest coming from 3 Raven and 2 Gadwall.


October 6th

Nuthatch - Darren Hughes

The early wind was just east of north, but that had dropped to almost nothing by lunchtime. The best of some fairly relaxed 'vis-migging' from first light until 10:30 were 3 Golden Plover, 5 Mistle Thrush and a Great Spotted Woodpecker all north, along with 155 Meadow Pipit, 175 alba Wagtail, 260 Linnet, 200 Goldfinch, 53 Siskin, 40 Chaffinch, 10 Redpoll, 365 Swallow and 260 House Martin. Of the numbers, other than the hirundines, which headed west, the movement was almost entirely eastbound. Settled birds were harder to catch up with, however - the only reports being of a Wheatear, 18 Chiffchaff and 11 Blackcap across Wick. Once again, as the Snipe took to the air, they were seen to be present in excess of 70 birds, with a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, 3 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and 7 Black-tailed Godwit amongst the other waders on-site. There was barely anything at sea, save for two passing Mediterranean Gull, while up to 3 Raven visited the area and 2 Kingfisher were active along Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: a Little Stint, singles of Whinchat and Wheatear, and 5 Bearded Tit were at Stanpit.


October 5th

Curlew on Stanpit this morning - Clinton Whale

Some time between five and six this morning, the westerly blast stopped almost instantly so resulted in unexpectedly calm offshore waters for the early risers. However, there was a brief highlight in the form of a settled Grey Phalarope off end of the head. Otherwise, the sea came up with just: 3 Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, 4 Common Tern, 66 Sandwich Tern, 7 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot, 160 Gannet and 36 Common Scoter; with the exception of a few of the scoter, the direction of travel was westward. As a consequence of the dropping wind, there was an hour or so of decent overhead passage, with totals to the west comprising: 3200 Swallow, 2250 House Martin, 1450 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 420 alba Wagtail, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Crossbill, 510 Linnet, 210 Siskin and 10 Redpoll. The morning also saw an arrival of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest - totals from Hengistbury and Wick coming to 300 and 150 respectively - while other numbers from those areas included 33 Blackcap and 8 Wheatear; plus a Whinchat, a further Wheatear and a latish Whitethroat on Stanpit. The marsh also held a variety of waders, the best being a Little Stint through during the afternoon, as well as the Spotted Redshank, 4 Grey Plover, a Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 or so Black-tailed Godwit, along with another eighteen out-to-sea, 2 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin at various times during the day. In addition, an unexplained flush of birds from East Marsh saw around 60 Snipe take to the air. To round off, 4 Mediterranean Gull moved through and a Kingfisher was on Wick Meadows.


October 4th

Great Green Bush Cricket - often popular with Kestrels - on Hengistbury recently
- Clinton Whale

It's starting to look like a Marsh Harrier has set up residence in the harbour, possibly roosting on the Wick side, as the presumed young female was again present at various times during the morning. A reasonable wader selection seems the next best thing to mention - that comprising: 17 Golden Plover north, including a flock of fourteen, and 3 Knot west, plus a Ruff, the Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, up to 60 Black-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 26 Dunlin inside the harbour, and around thirty-five more Turnstone commuting across The Run. Also settled about the area were 5 Pintail, a Gadwall and 8 Wheatear. In terms of visible migration, a south-westerly breeze saw most birds moving into it: starting at sea, where 3 Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, an Arctic Tern, 12 Common Tern, 70 Sandwich Tern, 2 Mediterranean Gull, over 70 Gannet, a Brent Goose, a Razorbill, 20 Gadwall and 55 Wigeon were logged, while a further two Red-throated Diver were settled off Mudeford Quay in the afternoon; in addition, over Hengistbury and Wick, the numbers were 1400 Swallow, 270 House Martin, a Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail, 225 alba Wagtail, 620 Meadow Pipit, 510 Linnet, 220 Goldfinch, 135 Chaffinch, 90 Siskin and 36 Redpoll.

Omission: 8 Knot were on Stanpit in the afternoon.


October 3rd

Sandwich Tern - Chris Chapleo
Today's count on South Marsh is the highest ever October in-harbour total
- the previous best being around sixty in 2006.

Once again, Mudeford Quay provided the best of the day with 2 Balearic Shearwater and two unidentified shearwaters this morning, plus a couple of Red-throated Diver, one still in breeding plumage, settled just offshore this afternoon. Otherwise, it's just a Kittiwake and 50 or so Sandwich Tern west to report from there, plus a Razorbill from the Beach Huts. Early on, a Marsh Harrier was seen over the Wooden Bridge on Wick, with the fields also experiencing something of a crow-fest, i.e. 2 Raven, 4 Rook and 19 Jackdaw all in the air together; while a further 6 Raven were logged from Hengistbury. Late in the afternoon, a Little Gull was off Fisherman's Bank, from where wader peaks throughout the day came to: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover and 29 Dunlin, along with a Greenshank in Holloway's Dock. In addition to 3 Redpoll over and 4 Wheatear on the sandspit, 10 Goldcrest and 15 Chiffchaff were on Wick, while a Gadwall was in Barn Bight and an afternoon count of Sandwich Tern resting on South Marsh, Stanpit, came to seventy-four.


October 2nd

Yellow Wagtail on the sandspit yesterday - Chris Chapleo

Although the sea wasn't too lively today there was real quality with 3 Sooty Shearwater - all seen from Mudeford Quay - two in the morning and one c5:00 tonight; also 3 Turnstone and a Sanderling passed there. From the Beach Huts just 80 Gannet, 25 Common Tern and 2 Guillemot were logged. Over Hengistbury this morning small numbers of Swallow and Meadow Pipit moved east with counts of 175 and 80 respectively; as well as 12 Siskin. Waders on Stanpit included the Spotted Redshank and a Curlew Sandpiper, together with 64 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, a Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Knot, plus a Greenshank in Brewer's Creek. To summarise, the 4 Brent Geese were still present, drakes of Tufted Duck and Gadwall were in Barn Bight, 42 Sandwich Tern were inside the harbour, 2 Raven passed over and 13 Chiffchaff were noted.

Check back to yesterday for late news.


October 1st

Little Gull at Stanpit today - Alan Hayden

A couple of Pale-bellied Brent Geese, first seen in The Run this morning, later joined their four dark-bellied cousins in Stanpit Bight. Earlier from Mudeford Quay, 2 Arctic Tern and 10 Common Tern moved west, also 22 Common Scoter and 6 Razorbill, while 2 Little Gull entered the harbour.Subsequenntly, one of the Little Gull, although elusive, was around for most of the day. Waders on Stanpit were 36 Black-tailed Godwit, 27 Snipe, 18 Dunlin, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Ruff, 2 Turnstone, a Knot and a Grey Plover. A Firecrest was in Ashtree Meadows and 5 Bearded Tit were around Parky Meade Rail; also 20 Blackcap in the North Scrubs and a Tree Pipit overhead.

Late news: an afternoon walk at Hengistbury found a few migrants with 55 Chiffchaff, 15 Goldcrest, 5 Blackcap and 2 Coal Tit in the wood, plus 5 Wheatear and 2 Yellow Wagtail on the sandspit while 6 Common Scoter moved east at sea.

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