Sightings for March 2014
Red-breasted Goose on East Marsh – Alan Hayden
Stonechat – Clinton Whale
An adult Red-breasted Goose, presumably the individual that was yesterday in Poole Harbour, was found this afternoon at Stanpit. After a short trip to the sandspit, the bird was still present at dusk and is a fine specimen to notch up 150 species for the year. Photographs will follow later this evening or tomorrow. In addition, an Avocet, the Spotted Redshank and a Black-tailed Godwit were inside the harbour. Much earlier, a morning of slight drizzle and a light south-easterly wind produced no arrival of passerines, but did host an impressive eastward, movement of birds at sea. The best were: a Long-tailed Duck, an Arctic Skua, 4 Little Gull, 2 Common Tern, a Black-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, 7 Red-throated Diver and a pale-bellied Brent Goose; but also 33 Mediterranean Gull, 96 Common Gull, 62 Sandwich Tern, 14 Red-breasted Merganser, 91 Common Scoter and 146 Brent Goose. Meanwhile, 29 Sand Martin came in-off, a Bar-tailed Godwit headed west, 3 Jackdaw passed over Wick and a Peregrine took an unsuccessful swipe at one of the passing scoter.
Linnet - Alan Crockard
There was far less wind today and far fewer birds. In fact, it took until the hour after midday before there was any real interest, when two Red Kite passed separately west over the northern portion of the area and a Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh. Earlier, the sea had produced individual Black-throated Diver and Red-throated Diver, both relatively settled, 25 Black-headed Gull and 4 Mediterranean Gull east, and 2 Greylag Goose west. Only a single Wheatear was on the Barn Field, while a Siskin passed over the Coastguards. A further 6 Mediterranean Gull passed over the inside of the harbour, where 4 Greylag Goose and 3 Gadwall were also logged. Later in the day, Stanpit was given a go and came up with a wader selection that included: a Sanderling, the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 4 Dunlin; as well as a further 4 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Sandwich Tern.
Pheasant – Alan Crockard
The easterly wind picked up overnight, but it didn’t feel as cold as its direction suggested it might. In fact, with it came a couple of good March records: firstly, a House Martin in-off by Coastguards and heading directly inland; then, a Common Tern moving east at sea past the Double Dykes. Also from the Coastguards, a drake Garganey was seen heading into The Solent, as were 21 Common Scoter, 6 Fulmar, 5 Sandwich Tern, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 9 Brent Goose, while a Black-throated Diver was watched for some time on the water. The conditions gave rise to a decent arrival of Meadow Pipit, at least 505 birds seen but lots of calls that went unsighted, along with 7 Sand Martin, 30 Linnet and 2 Goldfinch, all incoming. In terms of settled birds, 2 Willow Warbler were by the Wooden Bridge on Wick, 6 Wheatear were on-site and a Blackcap crossed the Barn Field. At least 12 Mediterranean Gull flew through the area and a male Peregrine went out to sea, presumably to hunt some migrants.
Omission: a Bearded Tit was by Brewer's Creek.
A cold south-easterly breeze made it quite uncomfortable this morning and there was little in the form of bird interest to detract from that. A Golden Plover and 5 Grey Plover moved east over Stanpit, while 320 Meadow Pipit headed inland. Otherwise, there were just 2 Wheatear about the site. The came up with a Great Northern Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Sandwich Tern and 2 Greylag Goose, all these from Mudeford Quay, but the only wader report for the day involved an Avocet inside the harbour. Wildfowl interest was headed by a Goosander, as well as 6 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall. Later in the day, there were 3 Sandwich Tern at Mudeford Quay.
The morning at Hengistbury produced some moments of interest, not least when a drake Garganey was seen over the sea with 5 Common Scoter before peeling away and heading west. In addition, an early Cuckoo came off the top of the head and went north and a Willow Warbler was on the Barn Field. A decent total of Meadow Pipit, 670 birds, was logged overhead, along with 21 alba Wagtail, while 5 Wheatear and 35 Chiffchaff on the deck. By lunchtime, most of the migrants had moved on, but an eastern-type Chiffchaff, this bird showing a faint wingbar so a different individual than of late, was on the Stanpit golf course and further Willow Warbler was in song in the North Scrubs. There were also 2 Blackcap around the golf course, plus a Sand Martin and a lone Wheatear. At least 55 Common Scoter were actually recorded at sea, as well as 2 Red-breasted Merganser, those east, and a couple of Sandwich Tern.
A Siberian Chiffchaff was on the golf course embankment at
Stanpit, where 4 Blackcap were also present, while up to 35
Chiffchaff were dotted about the entire recording area. Other
migrants were once again sparse; for example, 13 Wheatear on
Hengistbury, 21 Meadow Pipit in-off and now 9 Sand Martin
prospecting the cliffs. Meanwhile, a couple of Bearded Tit were in
the Great Spires reeds and 6 Mediterranean Gull passed over the
marsh. From Fisherman’s Bank, the Spotted Redshank was seen, along
with 10 Ringed Plover, 13 Turnstone, a drake Shoveler and 4
Greylag Goose, with 4 Gadwall also on-site.
Iceland Gull – Colin Raymond
It was thin pickings again today, although an Iceland Gull was on the sea off Double Dykes mid-morning. Otherwise, however, the best were: a Redpoll over Wick, 3 Tufted Duck at Stanpit, 10 Wheatear on the Barn Field and 7 Sand Martin lingering around the end of the head, plus a few Chiffchaff and the odd Blackcap. A Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit was the first in the area for a while and at least 11 Mediterranean Gull passed over. The remaining Brent Goose were counted at 127 birds and the pair of Gadwall are still hanging about.
Additional news: an Iceland Gull was also on the grass adjacent to The Hiker, where a Magpie took a cheeky nip on its tail.
Although a change in wind direction to the south-east made it
feel a little warmer this morning, it didn't bring the hoped for
'fall'. A Sand Martin over the Coastguards and 4 Wheatear on the
Barn Field were the sum total of a couple of hours' of effort.
After not being reported for a few days, the Iceland Gull was off
Whitepits today; also 6 Mediterranean Gull were seen, 4 birds
headed west over Double Dykes and a couple of adults were on the
Wick floods. The Spotted Redshank was again on Stanpit, where a
single Black-tailed Godwit was present; also a pair of Gadwall
there. Finally, a Peregrine, which came in over the cliffs from
the west, headed for Stanpit where it made a nuisance of
Migrants continued to struggle in today with just 5 Wheatear on
the Barn Field, a Sand Martin over Priory Marsh and a dozen or so
Chiffchaff on Stanpit, where there were two singing Blackcap. The
Spotted Redshank was still present this morning, also a pair of
Gadwall in the harbour. To round up, a Peregrine was over Wick
Fields, 6 Mediterranean Gull moved west and 4 Greylag Geese
circled before moving off north.
A bitter cold wind this morning made it feel more like mid
January rather than the second day of spring! Hence, migrants were
hard to find with just 7 Wheatear on the Barn Field and one on
Priory Marsh, plus a dozen Chiffchaff across Hengistbury and 2
Sand Martin. Only one Siberian Chiffchaff was seen today. To round
up, an adult Mediterranean Gull was on Priory Marsh and a
Black-tailed Godwit was on Stanpit; while from Hengistbury, 2
Red-breasted Merganser moved west and 2 Common Scoter were on the
On a fine but chilly day, a Red Kite passed high over Stanpit
heading west around mid-morning, while a little later a Marsh
Harrier circled the harbour. Earlier, the 2 Siberian Chiffchaff
were on the Stanpit golf course bank. On Hengistbury there were 9
Wheatear on the Barn Field, also one on the sandspit, 5 Sand
Martin over the cliffs and a Firecrest in the Wood. A couple of
Mediterranean Gull arrived over the quay, where 2 Raven were
helping themselves from the litter bins; also 2 Common Scoter
Newly-arrived Chiffchaff – Alan Crockard
Although there was next-to-nothing on the move overhead, there had been a clear arrival of warblers and ‘crests overnight. The most numerous were Chiffchaff at 88 birds across Hengistbury, but also 3 Blackcap, 2 Firecrest and 15 Goldcrest. In addition, 4 Wheatear were settled and 2 Redpoll went over. At sea, 2 Great Northern Diver were on the water before moving off west, while a total of 7 Fulmar was logged as well as singles of Sandwich Tern and Gannet. To round up, a single Purple Sandpiper was on the sandspit, a Peregrine toured over the sea and 2 Raven scavenged the bins on Mudeford Quay.
Canada Goose – Alan Crockard
...and singing Dunnock – Lorne Bissell
It remains hard going in terms of incoming migrants, with just a female Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a very small number of overhead pipits to remark upon. That said, there is still interest to be had in the area - a Siberian Chiffchaff is still around Stanpit golf course, an Iceland Gull headed over Stanpit towards Wick at 10:00 and a Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh this afternoon. In addition, around 20 Mediterranean Gull were logged, including a couple of first-winter birds, and a Red-throated Diver passed high over the centre of the harbour. Otherwise, there was a just a single Raven, around 25 Canada Goose that visited late in the day and a pair of Gadwall in Parky Meade Rail.
Hengistbury wasn't covered today, so all the news comes from Stanpit. A first-winter Iceland Gull was loafing on South Marsh this afternoon, when the Spotted Redshank was present amongst 115 Redshank. Priory Marsh is being avidly watched for the small plover and summer visiting duck, but drew another blank on these and seems to be now holding less pipits and wagtails than of the weekend. Elsewhere, two male Blackcap were at the golf course end of the North Scrubs.
Teal at Stanpit – Clinton Whale
Overall, it was a fairly quiet day in terms of numbers of migrants, but there were more than a few snippets of interest. What would have been the year’s first Swallow were it not for the incredible January record came in off the sea, as did 3 Sand Martin and a Little Ringed Plover. Perhaps of more note, however, were four high incoming Sparrowhawk and likewise 16 Rook, the latter in flocks of nine, three and four respectively. A couple of Spoonbill approached from the west and took a look at Stanpit, but thought better of it and continued on eastward. At sea, the only decent record was a Sandwich Tern, but 4 Wheatear were on Hengistbury, 13 Chiffchaff were spread about and 4 Raven visited.
Additional news: at least one Siberian Chiffchaff was in song on
the Stanpit golf course, but a further bird was seen at least.
Meanwhile, a Goldcrest sang from the conifers in the car park and
the Spotted Redshank was logged, as were 2 Black-tailed Godwit and
3 Sand Martin.
For those of you who are interested in such things,
these two Cormorant seem
to be of the sinenis race, i.e. of continental origin – Ali
Another stunning day of weather produced the spring’s first Willow Warbler, this on the Stanpit golf course embankment, where 2 Siberian Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap were also present; while a White Wagtail was close by on Priory Marsh. At least 12 Chiffchaff were on Wick, most of these now possibly on territory rather than passing through, and a Wheatear was on the Barn Field. There is currently some intrigue about whether Jackdaw may be attempting to nest in the area and 8 birds over Wick this morning certainly added to this. Later in the day, 214 Brent Goose and 18 Shelduck were counted around Stanpit Bight. Finally, around five tonight, an Iceland Gull was seen over The Broadway heading towards the harbour.
The day started with cloud and a westerly wind, which served to subdue things a little. That said, there was an apparent influx of Black Redstart, with a cracking male briefly on Solent Meads golf course and a further bird around Whitepits. However, just a single Wheatear, that on the Barn Field, was the total for the morning; but there were 2 White Wagtail on Priory Marsh in the afternoon, when 3 Sand Martin overflew northbound, and 9 Chiffchaff were on Wick. Amongst a steady incoming of Meadow Pipit, there were 4 Siskin and a single Jackdaw, plus a hint of Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon movement. Of the recent species of interest, an Iceland Gull went over the Barn Field and a Siberian Chiffchaff sang and called on Stanpit golf course. The sea was very quiet; for example, just 2 Red-throated Diver east, a settled Great Crested Grebe and 8 Mediterranean Gull, as well as a Greylag Goose and 2 Canada Goose west. A further eleven of the latter were uncharacteristically settled inside the harbour and 4 Mute Swan went straight through to the east. Finally, a young Raven made a nuisance of itself around the top of Hengistbury.
This male Dartford Warbler was particularly vocal on the Long Field today – Chris Chapleo
A morning of thick fog curtailed most activity meaning there is nothing to report other than a welcome update, courtesy of the cameras, on the Grey Heron nests. The five eggs in the one nest are now presumed infertile as the hatching date has passed, but the three laid around the same time in an adjacent tree have all hatched and the chicks are all being well fed by the parents. The third nest contains three eggs, with an expected hatching date of March 25th.
Bird of the day was a Short-eared Owl seen from Stanpit this
afternoon and seeming to come down on the Salt Hurns. Earlier, a
Siberian Chiffchaff was by Stanpit golf course, while a Firecrest
sang there, likewise 15 Chiffchaff across the area, and a Blackcap
was sub-singing. Otherwise, in terms of passerines, there were up
to 4 Wheatear on the Barn Field, Hengistbury, and a Water Pipit
was on Priory Marsh. Small waders were sparse, just 2 Ringed
Plover and 16 Dunlin, but a Spotted Redshank was on the marsh, as
was a pair of Egyptian Goose.
It was a fantastic day of weather, which heard the year’s first Blackcap song about the area – this being around Stanpit golf course, where one Siberian Chiffchaff was present and 4 White Wagtail were on Priory Marsh. Although later in the morning, Meadow Pipit were seemingly quite numerous moving over the greater Christchurch area, there were hardly any detected above Hengistbury early on. Presumably, the clear skies meant that birds were passing over higher than ears and eyes could detect. However, a Sand Martin, a Yellowhammer and a Siskin did move through; while a couple of Wheatear were settled, as were half-a-dozen Chiffchaff, and an Iceland Gull was logged. Later on, a female Blackcap was also on-site, as was a further Wheatear.
Siberian Chiffchaff at Stanpit yesterday – Chris Chapleo
There was an element of winter thrush movement this morning, when 2 Fieldfare and 12 Redwing were on Wick, along with a single Chiffchaff. At Stanpit, a further three ‘chiffies’ were present by RIBS Marine, while a Water Pipit and 22 Pied Wagtail were on Priory Marsh. Waders have not been counted for a few days so today’s numbers from Mudeford Quay and Fisherman’s Bank are welcome, and comprise: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover and 34 Dunlin; plus 8 Shelduck inside the harbour.
Additional news: a first-winter Iceland Gull was present.
Clear skies and a light northerly wind encouraged an arrival of
birds over Hengistbury this morning, comprising: 330 Meadow Pipit,
11 alba Wagtail, 5
Siskin and a single Brambling amongst a 100-strong flock of
Chaffinch. Meanwhile, at least 5 Wheatear were on the head, while
a Redwing and 2 Chiffchaff, these singing, were on Wick. Over at
Stanpit, there were 4 Siberian Chiffchaff and these are now
calling a lot more, plus 2 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh. In
addition to a Red-throated Diver and 2 Mediterranean Gull, a real
mixture of wildfowl was on the move, including: a flock of 4
Gadwall that chased each other over the sea for half-an-hour or so
before ending uo in Barn Bight, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Greylag Goose
and a Mute Swan. To wrap up, the Shelduck numbered around 8 birds
inside the harbour, along with a good count of 5 Grey Plover and
344 Brent Goose, a male Peregrine was keeping its eye on the
incoming migrants at sea and 2 Buzzard ventured as far south from
the Avon Valley as Clay Pool before being turned away by gulls.
Firecrest on Wick – Paul Wilkins
Siberian Chiffchaff at Stanpit – Clinton Whale
...and a recent shot of one of the seemingly, prospecting Kittiwake – Chris Chapleo
It was a glorious day of weather throughout that hosted a real mixture of winter and spring birds. The year’s first long-distance African migrant, a male Wheatear, was on Warren Hill for most of the morning, while an increase to 8 Chiffchaff at Stanpit represented an influx of those. In addition, a Firecrest on Wick, along the riverside path, may also have been a new bird as the species is rarely seen in that area. Meanwhile, the first-winter Iceland Gull cruised past the Coastguards and there are now 3 Siberian Chiffchaff around the Stanpit golf course, plus 2 White Wagtail and 2 Water Pipit on the adjacent Priory Marsh. The fine weather prompted a good number of species into song on Hengistbury, not least Skylark, Linnet, Rock Pipit and Meadow Pipit.
Tides March 10th: H02:15 | H05:45 | L12:05 | H16:40 | H19:25
Firecrest in the Wood today – Chris Chapleo
The first-winter Iceland Gull moved east over the cliffs just
off the Barn Field this morning, then later the information
services reported an adult bird off Mudeford Quay at 11am. Staying
with gulls, a 4-hour watch from the cliff top produced counts of
165 Herring Gull, 83 Great Black-backed Gull, 43 Common Gull and 4
Mediterranean Gull; also past there were 33 Brent Geese, 10 Common
Scoter, 7 Pintail, 3 Curlew, a Tufted Duck and a Red-throated
Diver, plus a Fulmar past Mudeford Quay; all these birds
east. One of yesterday's Kittiwake was again prospecting the
cliff for most of the morning. Earlier, a group of six geese over
the harbour was made up of 2 Egyptian Geese, which headed north up
the valley, and 4 Greylag Geese that headed out to the west. A
pair of Shoveler was on the sea off the quay, 3 Great Crested
Grebe were off Double Dykes and 20 Shelduck were on Stanpit.
Finally, a Firecrest was in the Wood.
Species already on territory around the harbour Skylark
– Clinton Whale
and Green Woodpecker –
Only one Siberian Chiffchaff was seen today, a bird singing from
the golf course bank this afternoon. The only other passerine of
note was the Firecrest in the wood although there was just a hint
of migration with 105 Meadow Pipit and 2 White Wagtail north over
the Coastguards. The sea again saw some movement with a Great
Skua, 3 Velvet Scoter, 3 Eider and 15 Common Scoter, all these
west. Of interest, a pair of Kittiwake was sitting on a
ledge on the cliff - prospecting? The observer commented that in
more than forty years of birding at Hengistbury he had never
before seen this! Around lunchtime, there was a female-type Marsh
Harrier at Stanpit, where once again there was a good count of 36
Common Gull, also a single Mediterranean Gull and a Grey Plover.
Waders on the Mudeford Sandspit were 8 Purple Sandpiper, 13
Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover and on the harbour shore, 8
Turnstone. Finally, the information services reported the
Iceland Gull on the sea off Hengistbury.
A Water Pipit in heavy moult on the marsh yesterday – Alan Hayden
There was something of a gull-fest today starting with the
younger of the two Iceland Gull on the beach at Whitepits around
7am. Shortly afterwards, a Glaucous Gull, probably a first
winter, moved east past Hengistbury, also 34 Mediterranean Gull
and 2 Little Gull in the same direction, while 98 Common Gull
headed west. A further 12 Mediterranean Gull moved through the
harbour over Stanpit and this afternoon 29 Common Gull were in the
pre-roost there. A Velvet Scoter was seen three times offshore,
while 106 Pintail and 7 Shoveler headed high to the south-east.
There was a Great Northern Diver on the sea and another one east,
also 5 Red-throated Diver, 3 Avocet and a Red-breasted Merganser,
the latter west. There was an influx of Stonechat today with
eight singing males logged on Hengistbury. The Black Redstart was
by the Beach Huts and a Treecreeper was in the Wood, but only one
Siberian Chiffchaff was seen on Stanpit. The Brent Goose count was
301, also 16 Shelduck and a pair of Pintail. Stanpit Creek held 2
Spotted Redshank, but elsewhere there was just a handful of small
waders, a Black-tailed Godwit and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, the latter
headed off to the west.
The two Siberian Chiffchaff were in the usual spot on Stanpit
this morning, also 3 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and a
Yellowhammer overhead. Wader numbers were fairly poor with
just 9 Ringed Plover, 8 Dunlin, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and the
Spotted Redshank. On Hengistbury a Black Redstart was by the beach
huts and 5 Mediterranean Gull moved over but the sea was again
disappointing with just 2 Red-throated Diver west and 5 Great
Crested Grebe on the sea, the latter off Double Dykes.
A topical shot of a Grey Heron with nesting material at Hengistbury today – Alan Crockard
The first Yellowhammer of the year moved over Hengistbury this
morning, but otherwise there was very little evidence of
migration. On Stanpit the two Siberian Chiffchaff had returned to
their favoured spot on the golf course bank. The sea was again
fairly quiet, although a total of 27 Mediterranean Gull moved
east, also a single flock of 44 Brent Geese in the same direction,
while singles of Sandwich Tern, Red-throated Diver and Pintail
moved west. To round up, 8 Common Scoter were on the sea, 27 Brent
Geese were on Wick Meadows and the drake Pintail remained at
Just one Iceland Gull was seen today, at Hengistbury, also 2
Fulmar west and 3 Mediterranean Gull overhead. The Firecrest was
in the Wood and a Black Redstart was by the Beach Huts with a
second bird on the sandspit, where 20 Purple Sandpiper were on
groyne 9. The two eastern-type Chiffchaff were by the old bonfire
site on the playing field at Stanpit, and finally one was heard to
call to confirm its identification as tristis.
In addition, five regular Chiffchaff were on the golf course bank,
where there was also a Firecrest. A Great Northern Diver was on
the sea off Mudeford Quay, while 4 Kittiwake, 2 Common Scoter and
2 Red-breasted Merganser moved west past there. There were two
Spotted Redshank today, with the usual bird on East Marsh and a
bird on Wick Meadows, also a Grey Wagtail there. Stanpit this
afternoon produced a Sandwich Tern on the tip of South Marsh, a
Merlin, a Mediterranean Gull and a drake Pintail. Finally, an
update on the Grey Heron nests on Hengistbury where a third nest
is now occupied with two eggs laid so far. News of the other
two nests is that the one with the three eggs now has its first
The Rusty Boat and Central Marsh at today's high water – Clinton Whale
...and the Salt Hurns – Colin Raymond
The day’s WeBS count was seriously hindered by a high water that
left Stanpit unpassable, even in wellies! Nevertheless, some birds
were counted. A first-winter Iceland Gull spent some time around
Crouch Hill this morning, while late in the afternoon a
first-winter Little Gull fed in the harbour just off the
Christchurch Harbour Hotel; also 3 Mediterranean Gull about. In
terms of waders, the best were the Spotted Redshank and 11 Purple
Sandpiper, the latter on the sandspit, but also a single Grey
Plover, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, this only the second record of the
year for the species, 28 Turnstone, 19 Ringed Plover and 66
Dunlin. In addition to a Firecrest in the Wood, a Mistle Thrush,
which has almost the same value in the recording area, was briefly
on Stanpit golf course and a single Raven passed over. At sea, the
best was easily a Black-necked Grebe that drifted east on the
water, along with westerly fly-bys of 5 Red-throated Diver, a
Great Northern Diver and a Gannet. A Peregrine was also seen over
the waves and the drake Tufted Duck toured the area in the company
of a pair of Mallard. The remaining interest comes from the
censused wildfowl and includes: 264 Brent Goose, 213 Teal and 193
Wigeon - it’s not often the smaller ducks outnumber the latter.
One of the putative Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff at Stanpit – Alan Hayden
The day started with thick fog, but as that cleared the interest
picked up. At least two, but possibly three, 'Eastern' Chiffchaff
were along the golf course footpath at Stanpit, as well as four or
more standard Chiffchaff. Over on Hengistbury, there had been a
clear influx of Stonechat, with as many as 20 birds present today;
while 2 Black Redstart were again at the end of the head and 2
Bullfinch, a male and a female, were on Wick Fields. First-winter
Iceland Gull were seen in two distinct locations - on the beach
just east of Double Dykes and loafing on Priory Marsh on the bank
of Clay Pool - and a Black-throated Diver was on the sea off
Hengistbury, from where a decent count of 34 Purple Sandpiper was
turned in. To finish off: a Spotted Redshank was heard at Stanpit,
at least 2 Raven passed over Priory Marsh, a Kingfisher was
on-site, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed in the North Scrubs
and a Painted Lady butterfly was on the wing.