Sightings for October 2003.
As we approach the weekend, Hengistbury was ominously short of birds. Highlights were a Firecrest in the Wood along with around 12 Goldcrest; and 2 first-winter Little Gull on the sea also made the visit worthwhile. Otherwise, just 1 Siskin was overhead, 2 Kingfisher were around Barn Bight and, this afternoon, a drake Pochard was roosting there.
A night and day of heavy rain with a strong southerly blowing by lunchtime. After the recent frosts, trees are starting to shed their leaves in earnest. Another new bird for the year was an adult male Snow Bunting passing east over the Batters early this morning. The other notable event of the day was a westerly passage of Jackdaw, a total of 170 went west, including one group of over 100 birds. This species is commonplace barely half a mile inland, but is only occasionally seen in the recording area. Another good movement, given the date, was a passage of 120 Meadow Pipit to the east. More expected and also easterly heading were 300 Goldfinch, 120 Chaffinch and 5 Brambling. Over 60 Redpoll and Siskin were also seen, but the majority of these were down and feeding. A small, north-westerly heading thrush selection included 12 Song Thrush, 7 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing and 3 Mistle Thrush. The Wood held 1 Firecrest, 35 Goldcrest; while 5 Common Scoter were out to sea and a Pintail overflew.
A complete change of conditions with a night of heavy rain, which subsided a couple of hours after dawn. As would be expected, there were few birds and even fewer birders, consequently, records are light. The Treecreeper was again seen on Hengistbury, this time by the first bend at the Nursery. Around 35 Goldcrest and 8 Chiffchaff were noted, mainly in Wick Ditch but a few elsewhere on the Head; 2 Blackcap were also seen. Overhead passage was almost non-existent, the sum total being an approximate 15 Siskin. A few Reed Bunting were settled around the Barn Bight area and a Kingfisher was also seen there.
After another clear night, there was average migration at Hengistbury. Having said that, Brambling at 60 was a good count; other finches were 350 Goldfinch, 120 Linnet, 100 Greenfinch, 80 Chaffinch, 37 Redpoll and 20 Siskin, most of which moved east. The north-westerly thrush movement comprised 70 Blackbird, 30 Song Thrush and 5 Redwing. Other migrants seen were 25 Reed Bunting, 16 Jackdaw and 3 Swallow. Seawatching was relatively rewarding with 1 Black-throated Diver west and 1 Red-throated Diver east, the first-winter Little Gull was still around, a Kittiwake was seen and a late Sandwich Tern was recorded. A young female Merlin was seen to come in off the sea. A total of 4 Firecrest were around the head - 3 towards the Beach Huts and 1 by the Nursery; 16 Grey Plover were seen leaving the harbour, and 2 Pochard and 1 Tufted Duck were traversing the area. At dawn a Little Owl was heard calling from Solent Meads car park. Stanpit in the afternoon held 185 Dunlin, 52 Ringed Plover, 4 Grey Plover and 1 Gadwall, while a Peregine was seen overhead.
Clear skies again overnight with a light frost this morning. Most reports come from Hengistbury where 4 Short-eared Owl were seen today - 2 distantly at sea, 1 on the top of the head and 1 over Wick before appearing to leave south over Double Dykes. A redhead Goosander, presumably the same bird as yesterday, was again seen; this time over the head, up the valley and then back again. On the sea, a first-winter Little Gull was present and 5 Razorbill went east. A bizarre sighting was single Bearded Tit in a bush by the Nursery! There were 2 Firecrest recorded, 1 close to the Bearded Tit and 1 on the Batters. Overhead, 100 Chaffinch, 40 Siskin, 20 Redpoll, 15 Brambling, 2 Redwing and 1 Fieldfare, all went north-west. Duck of local interest included a total of 21 Pochard and 2 Tufted Duck, while 3 Grey Plover leaving the harbour were also notable. On Stanpit, the Little Owl bush again produced the goods, click here for photos, and a Peregrine spectacularly took a Black-tailed Godwit, which put up a good fight, to no avail.
Despite the gargantuan effort put in yesterday, 4 more species were recorded today. Firstly, sawbills put in an appearance with a redhead Goosander being seen on the river from Stanpit before heading north over the gasometers; there was also a similarly plumaged Red-breasted Merganser seen from Fisherman's Bank. Also from there, a Common Sandpiper was seen feeding on the fringes of East Marsh. Finally, 2 Raven were seen mid-morning over Wick Fields. Hengistbury was comprehensivley covered this morning, the reward being a Short-eared Owl on the top of the head early on and a Ring Ouzel seen to leave the head. Otherwise, migration was not up to the same level as yesterday: just 10 Brambling, along with 60 Chaffinch, 30 Goldfinch. 12 Redpoll and 7 Siskin, all heading north-west. There is a definete influx of Jay, with 9 birds being around Hengistbury this morning. Also building up in numbers are Rock Pipit with 27 being counted around the beach and harbour shores. A Firecrest was also seen, the Treecreeper was again recorded and at least 3 Grey Wagtail were in the area. On Stanpit this morning, the Little Owl was again in its favoured hawthorn, 2 Jack Snipe were seen, a group of 29 Fieldfare went north-west over Riverslea and Redpoll were over South Marsh; while this afternoon a Firecrest was in Smithy's Field. It was WeBS count day and selected totals from around the harbour are: 329 Wigeon, 298 Coot, 125 Dunlin, 100 Teal, 83 Brent Goose, 52 Ringed Plover, 50+ Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Snipe, 15 Little Egret, 6 Water Rail, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, 2 Kingfisher, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Pintail, 1 Gadwall and 1 doddery Yellow-legged Gull.
Sorry the late report, but the fatigue of a bird race and the subsequent festivities got all too much. After a clear night with a light northerly wind, a total of 110 species were seen by the 3 competing teams. Bird of the day was a Little Auk which flew west past the Long Groyne; there was also a loitering Arctic Skua in the same area, no doubt attracted by the large congregation of gulls off shore. This gathering contained adult Mediterranean Gull, a first-winter Little Gull and 2 Kittiwake, another adult Mediterranean Gull was off Mudeford Quay late afternoon and the limping Yellow-legged Gull was in Stanpit Bight. Also seen at sea were 2 Great-northern Diver east, 2 Eider west, 9 Common Scoter and a Razorbill just off Double Dykes. For one fortunate team, the final species of the day was a skein of 8 White-fronted Goose heading west over Hengistbury around 5:30pm. As is usual on bird races, owls were recorded: the Little Owl sat in its favourite tree in the North Scrubs for most of the day, but wasn't actually seen by any of the racers, who had to content themselves with distant, pre-dawn calls around the Wick area. A Short-eared Owl was seen over Solent Meads golf course just prior to 7:00am. Visible migration was largely limited to the first 90 minutes of daylight, but did contain a varied selection. The highlights being over 50 Brambling, some of which were settled in the Nursery, along with Redpoll, until early afternoon at least. All the expected thrushes were recorded with 1 Ring Ouzel on the Barn Field, around 10 Fieldfare north-west and a handful of Redwing.. Duck were also well represented with Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Pintail all being seen. Best waders were probably 14 Turnstone and 3 Sanderling on the sandspit at high tide, an overflying Golden Plover at dawn, and 2 Bar-tailed and 2 Knot in the harbour at low tide, while at least 2 Jack Snipe came up from Central Marsh in the late afternoon. The clear night seemed to have encouraged most 'crests and warblers to move on, just 1 Firecrest and 1 Blackcap were on the head along with small numbers of phylloscs . The Wood was very quiet, but the Treecreeper was again heard. Finally, 3 Peregrine, 2 Rook and 2 Kingfisher were also seen throughout the day. At the end of a great day, the winning team weighed in with 99 species, while the others mustered 93 and 92 respectively.
A clear night which gave rise to a quite significant frost for October. Hengistbury was good for overhead passage this morning, the best being a group of 4 Lapland Bunting that headed west over the Ranger's Cottage. The thrushes were tending to head north-west, the numbers were 7 high Ring Ouzel in 2 groups of 4 and 3, 100+ Blackbird, 40 Song Thrush, 12 Redwing and 9 Fieldfare. Smaller passerines, on the other hand, were moving east with 200 Chaffinch, 150 Goldfinch, 100 Linnet, 60 Siskin, 60 Meadow Pipt, 60 alba Wagtail, 45 Redpoll, 40 Skylark, 33 Brambling and 10 Rock Pipit noted. Seawatching produced 2 diver species, Red-throated and the more unusual Black-throated, both headed east along with 5 Common Scoter. Diving duck were also around with a total of 21 Pochard and 14 Tufted Duck seen over the harbour. Also notable on the head, was the continuing presence of the Treecreeper, there are also still at least 4 Jay, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight, while the Wood held 1 Firecrest and small number of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff. Over on Stanpit, the long-staying male Ring Ouzel is still favouring the eastern end of the North Scrubs, click here for a great new photo. Amazingly, the Little Owl was seen in the same hawthorn bush as on Sunday - those racing tomorrow would be well advised to check it out. Other records from Stanpit are 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Dartford Warbler, 1 Sanderling, another good one for tomorrow, and Grey Wagtail. A late report concerns 2 small skeins of unidentified grey goose.
After an evening of heavy rain, it was back to a clear, cold day with a chilly east wind. Hengistbury was particularly bracing, consequently, sightings are sparse. A total of 3 Ring Ouzel were seen today, 2 high over Hengistbury and 1 on the ground in Wick Fields. No visible migration totals are available, but at least 8 Brambling were recorded. A Merlin was also seen, while the sea produced 100+ Gannet and 2 Common Scoter. This evening, 4 Tufted Duck were in a mystery location. As we approach the weekend's harbour bird race, with 3 teams of 2 participating, information becomes a premium! On Stanpit, 2 Knot and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull were seen.
Check back to yesterday's report for news of a harbour first. Apologies for the delay in releasing the news, but, until today, the report was only of a "possible". The weather changed dramatically overnight with drizzle and a light northerly throughout; this changed to heavy rain and a blustery easterly by lunchtime. All in all, the harbour was cold, wet and unpleasant all day. Two early arrivers at the HHC were rewarded with a Barn Owl which darted across Wick Hams and quickly disappeared over Wick Fields. Also nearby was at least 1 Ring Ouzel. Overhead migration was almost non-existent, just a handful of the usual suspects. Notables were a Golden Plover, 1 Redpoll and 2 Brambling, which came down into the Nursery. An adult Peregrine was also seen over there. Some news concerning the White Stork from Monday, apparently the information services reported it is an escape from Birdworld, Farnham.
A new bird for the harbour today. A Radde's Warbler was in the Wick Fields adjacent to the HHC, this bird takes the harbour total to 318, assuming acceptance. The wind had died almost completely by this morning, which gave rise to a mild frost. On Hengistbury, a Short-eared Owl was seen over the Barn Field this morning, but soon disappeared over the head. A Bullfinch seen on the head is also a good record. On Stanpit, in the North Scrubs, 1 Ring Ouzel is still present, but may have left this afternoon; and 16 Black-tailed Godwit were on the edge of East Marsh. Back to Hengistbury and the migration counts were 80 Linnet, 50 Goldfinch, 50 Swallow, 20 Redwing, 15 Redpoll, 12 Reed Bunting, 8 Brambling and 2 Fieldfare. A Common Buzzard over the head was a good record for October.
Another cold day in the face of a strong northerly. The talking point of the day was undoubtedly a White Stork that appeared on Stanpit mid-afternoon. The bird is ringed, a small metal band at the base of the left ankle, and approached to within a metre of the gathering crowd. One factor in its favour, and I'm assured this is true, is that it appeared to respond most to a Polish speaking passer-by! Even the most desperate harbour lister is going to have their conscience tested with this bird, especially as it was also seen taking a stroll through the North Scrubs. In that area, at least 1 Ring Ouzel, the male bird, was still present; and an adult Mediterranean Gull was on the marsh this evening. This morning on Hengistbury, the overhead passage was counted as: 136 Linnet, 10 alba Wagtail, 12 Redpoll, 2 Siskin and a Brambling, all heading south-east, while 13 Redwing went north-west. There were also 3 Jay seen around the Common.
The north-eastery blow continued and picked up strength throughout the day. Thanks to the windreak of trees, the tranquility of the North Scrubs played host to 4 Ring Ouzel this morning. These birds are amazingly confiding for the species, as they stock up on Rowan and Hawthorn berries. Also showing well was a Little Owl as it sat motionless in a bush for an hour or so. There was also a Serin over the North Scrubs and a Firecrest within. A late afternoon beach walk at Hengistbury saw a Long-tailed Duck on the sea before it flew east into the Solent, also over 100 Gannet were feeding offshore. Around the same time at Stanpit, a group of 6 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding within yards of the path just beyond the Warden's caravan, and 50+ Dunlin and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit were in a creek off Stanpit Bight. A single Wheatear was on Stanpit late morning and a Grey Wagtail spent most of the day feeding in Purewell Stream. There are over 50 Brent Goose on the marsh, with at least 6 juveniles.
Normal service is resumed. Thanks to Mark Andrews for gathering the information while I was away. The north-easterly wind meant the harbour was a chilly place to be this morning, however, the conditions seemed to attract Ring Ouzel. There were at least 5 present today, possibly 8: 3 birds, 1 male and 2 juveniles, spent all day showing extremely well in the North Scrubs on Stanpit, the information services actually reported 5 from there; while others were seen in Wick Fields and by the Nursery. The Wood was scoured today for eastern phylloscs but the only reward was 6 Firecrest at various points around the Nursery, incidentally Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Goldcrest numbers seem to be reducing. A couple of Short-eared Owl were flushed from the bracken on Warren Hill at 12:15, and the Treecreeper found earlier in the week is still present in the Wood. Visible migration continues but at a lesser rate, overhead today were 350 Goldfinch, 300 Chaffinch, 150 alba Wagtail, 85 Linnet, 50 Redpoll, 40 Siskin, 15 Jackdaw, 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Grey Wagtail; interestingly these all moved east while over 30 Skylark and 16 Brambling all headed north. Other notable migrants were 3 individual Great-spotted Woodpecker, each moving high east, and a flock of 7 Mistle Thrush north-west. Over 40 Song Thrush were dotted around the head and 2 Redwing and 1 Fieldfare went over. The group of 5 Pochard from yesterday, 4 drakes and a duck, were still around, 55 Wigeon were seen to arrive and 5 Pintail roosted overnight in Barn Bight. The sea was largely quiet, just 1 Common Scoter west. Finally, a Kingfisher was around Lobs Hole.
Only morning report is of a Ring Ouzel on Wick Fields. A brief, late afternoon scan out to sea from the Beach Huts produced 1 Eider and 1 Kestrel west, also 1 Great-northern Diver east, as well as 5 Pochard arriving from the east and settling in the harbour. All this in just a 5 minute watch. Over 50 Gannet were fishing on the horizon and there are now well over 100 Brent Goose in the harbour. The north-easterly wind looks set to continue into tomorrow.
A little quieter today, but Hengistbury still experienced a good passage of migrants, of which 2 Firecrest by the Ranger's Cottage, a flyover Yellowhammer and a Bullfinch in the Wood were the highlights. Other totals for the day include: 600 Goldfinch, 400 Siskin, 400 Chaffinch, 400 Swallow, 200 Linnet, 200 Greenfinch, 150 alba Wagtail, 80 Blackbird, 30 Redpoll, 11 Brambling, 10 Reed Bunting, just 10 House Martin, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Fieldfare and 1 Redwing. A couple of Sand Martin were also seen on this relatively late date. Other birds were 10 arriving Pintail and a Grey Plover. Over 30 Gannet were fishing off the head .
Starting with more highlights from yet another good day. A total of 3 Hen Harrier, all ringtails, were seen today - 2 went north together over Hengistbury, while another lingered around the head before moving in the same direction. A Short-eared Owl was also seen on the top of the head, along with 2 Raven over the Wood; 2 Ring Ouzel were present today, 1 on Wick and 1 on the head; a Firecrest was present close to the Ranger's Cottage; and an Arctic Skua was feeding aimlessly on the sea. A good, westerly movement of wildfowl and waders was recorded, the totals being: 130 Wigeon plus 57 arriving birds, 68 Brent Goose, 60 Pintail plus 18 arriving, 7 Grey-lag Goose plus 2 arriving, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 130 Dunlin, 8 Knot, 7 Grey Plover. A couple of Ruff and a Golden Plover were also seen to arrive. Overhead passerine migration weighed in with 1500 Goldfinch, 600 Linnet, 370 Greenfinch, 300 Meadow Pipit, 200 alba Wagtail, 120 Siskin, 120 Swallow, 23 Redpoll and 6 House Martin. Grounded passerines included 30 Goldcrest, 20 Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcap. Finally, Barn Bight held 73 Teal and 6 Black-tailed Godwit.
Now I can't wait to get back! A truly spectacular day of visible migration over the harbour, the combined totals from the 3 observers will follow, but first the oddities. After a couple of years' absence, Richard's Pipit made it onto the harbour year list with a bird on Stanpit Golf Course this morning, before being flushed towards Crouch Hill. A male Hen Harrier was also seen high over the harbour from Stanpit. Another 3 Ring Ouzel were seen today, 2 east over the HHC and 1 on the Batters. A single Coal Tit by the HHC is also worthy of mention. Easterly moving passerines were being observed from two points - the HHC and the top of the head - combined totals are: 1800 Goldfinch, 1150 Linnet, 940 Siskin, 900 Meadow Pipit, 550 alba Wagtail, 400 Greenfinch, 350 Swallow, 150 House Martin, 90 Chaffinch, 55 Song Thrush, 50 Skylark, 25 Redpoll, 25 Reed Bunting, 7 Redwing, 4 Brambling, 4 Grey Wagtail, 4 Mistle Thrush, 4 Jackdaw and 1 Fieldfare, also appearing to be on the move were 2 Dunnock. Also noted was a high count of 5 Great-spotted Woodpecker, undoubtedly an influx, as may have been 20 Robin. No time could be afforded to the Wood, but 15 phylloscs and 10 Goldcrest were seen. Finally, from the head, 8 Pintail were seen to arrive. From Stanpit around the same time, totals were 34 Brent Goose, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Turnstone, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Knot, 4 Pochard and 2 Sanderling.
An impressive list of birds from Hengistbury today which has left me wondering how to put them into a semblance of order. Best sighting was probably a Short-eared Owl being mobbed by 2 Raven, but 3 arriving Jack Snipe come close to this accolade, also seen arriving was a Merlin. The final items of local quality came in the form of a Ring Ouzel on the Batters, a flyover Yellowhammer, a first-winter Little Gull leaving the harbour, 6 arriving Pochard and an easterly moving Red-throated Diver. There was the first significant thrush movement of the season with 100+ Song Thrush, 80+ Blackbird, 20+ Redwing and 1 Mistle Thrush recorded. Other overhead passage towards the east was estimated at: 700 Linnet, 600 Meadow Pipit, 500 alba Wagtail, 400 Swallow, 350 Greenfinch, 200 Goldfinch, 100 Chaffinch, 60 Siskin, 36 Redpoll and a single Tree Pipit. 3 Mediterranean Gull were also seen from Hengistbury. Wildfowl are also becoming more conspicuous with 75 Wigeon, 25 Pintail and 1 Red-breasted Merganser west, while there were 16 Brent Goose in the harbour. Only 3 more days in Chicago!
There was even scantier coverage for Hengistbury today, however, the lone observer was rewarded with a ringtail Hen Harrier in off the sea at around 9:20. Overhead migration totals were 350 Goldfinch, 215 Linnet, 105 Greenfinch, 105 alba Wagtail, 83 Siskin, 72 Swallow, 54 Chaffinch, 50 Meadow Pipit, 20 Skylark, 11 Reed Bunting and a single House Martin. Grounded birds were very sparse with just 8 each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest noted. Only record from Stanpit is of 20 Black-tailed Godwit on East Marsh. A Merlin was also seen in the harbour today.
Today's reports come from an almost birderless Hengistbury - the lure of the Scillies depriving the head of most of its regulars. Overhead passage totalled 600 Goldfinch, 400 Linnet, 350 Greenfinch, 250 Meadow Pipit, 120 alba Wagtail, 100 Siskin, 80 Swallow, 50 Skylark, 5 Brambling and 1 Redpoll. A lone Golden Plover was also recorded and there has been a definite Stonechat influx with around 40 birds present. Two late Tern were one each of Arctic and Common passing by on the sea. There was also a Sandwich Tern feeding in Stanpit Bight in the late afternoon. A late addition to the day's records is a high flying group of Bearded Tit over the harbour.
A couple of good records today: firstly, the second skein of White-fronted Goose for the week flew north over the harbour this morning, this time 7 birds; while this evening an immature Spoonbill left the harbour south over the Common. In the morning at Hengistbury there was a light overhead passage, mainly westerly heading, of 40 Siskin, 40 Goldfinch, Swallow, 30 Linnet, 30 Meadow Pipit, 20 Pied Wagtail, 10 Chaffinch and 1 Redpoll. Conversely, 15 Reed Bunting headed east. Around 25 Goldcrest and 10 phylloscs were scatted around the head. A total of 48 Gannet were fishing off the head, a Razorbill was on the sea and a Sandwich Tern passed by.
Not so much action today, however, a Treecreeper in the Wood on Hengistbury is a good local record. Finch movement was estimated at 100 Linnet, 100 Goldfinch, 50 Siskin, 20 Chaffinch and 4 Redpoll, most were moving west. Other migrants were 40 Swallow and 30 Chiffchaff. There were single Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank in the field by Barn Bight, but no sign of anything more unusual. In the afternoon, there was a Buzzard seen over the Priory and a 2 Sandwich Tern went past west. Only birds ringed were Dunnock, Reed Bunting and a re-trapped Song Thrush.
A remarkable morning on Hengistbury. The star was undoubtedly a Cirl Bunting on the Common in the company of 2 Yellowhammer. The latter themselves are good birds for the area, but the former, is the first record for many years. The rich vein continued with 4 White-fronted Goose in off the sea and the north up the valley. A Black Redstart was by the HHC, a Tawny Owl was heard from there at 06:45 and a total of 4 Firecrest were on the head. The commoner migrants were estimated at 200 Siskin, a high count of 70 Redpoll and 1 Brambling, the first of the Autumn. Goldfinch and Chaffinch were also moving. Goldcrest numbers were down, but there were around 120 Chiffchaff. Also noted were 1 Tree Pipit and 1 Yellow Wagtail, amongst an average pipit, wagtail and hirundine passage. A group of 9 Pintail passed over the harbour on their way north up the Avon. Some late news from Stanpit, where 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot and 1 Greenshank were counted, along with an estimated 100 Dunlin and 60 Ringed Plover. The information services reported that the Pectoral Sandpiper was still present by Barn Bight.
In the blustery west wind seawatching was relatively productive from Hengistbury. Choice of the pick was a close, feeding Balearic Shearwater and a westerly moving Great Skua. Other birds moving west included 70 Gannet, 37 Guillemot, 10 Razorbill, 7 Common Scoter, 3 Kittiwake, 3 Sandwich Tern and 1 Purple Sandpiper. There was also a surprisingly good finch movement to the east with 350 Goldfinch, 200 Linnet, 70 Siskin and 3 Redpoll; a single Mistle Thrush was also noted. By late morning, the Pectoral Sandpiper was relocated by the patient Alan Hayden and eventually photographed, click here for best shot of a difficult bird to pin down. Stanpit at lunchtime produced 100 Dunlin, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot and lone Brent Goose, Wheatear and Peregrine.
The overnight rain seemed to dampen most birds' enthusiasm for making a move today. At Hengistbury, only overhead passage was 35 Goldfinch, 9 Siskin, 6 Redpoll, plus a few alba Wagtail and pipits. The first Redwing of the period were recorded though. Another excellent bird was a Merlin and the Pectoral Sandpiper was still skulking around in the floods by Barn Bight. Still a reasonable amount of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest on the Batters. An eveniing visit to Stanpit produced 2 Curlew Sanpiper, 9 Knot, 25 Black-tailed and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, also single Turnstone and Greenshank. Dunlin numbered 100 and Ringed Plover just 2. A Wheatear was also on that side of the harbour.
A northerly wind produced the chilliest day of the Autumn so far, even giving a mild frost on Stanpit. Hengistbury was much quieter this morning, but the Pectoral Sandpiper was still in the same field. A pair of Tufted Duck in flight over the harbour were also local highlights. Overhead, migrating birds included 40 Goldfinch, 30 alba Wagtail, 25 Siskin, 10 Reed Bunting, 3 Grey Wagtail and a single Redpoll; just 1 Golden Plover was seen today, on Hengistbury and Stanpit, while 4 Black-tailed Godwit were also noted. Decked birds included 35 Chiffchaff and 15 Goldcrest. A Kingfisher, presumably in the Barn Bight area, was again seen. Stanpit held a reasonable miscellany of birds: 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Knot and 1 Barwit providing the wader interest; ducks included 1 Shoveler and 1 Pintail over; there was also singles of Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat and Wheatear.
The recent run of lesser rarities continued with a juvenile Spoonbill flying east over the HHC just after dawn. It appeared to descend into the Holloway's Dock area, but could not subsequently be re-found. Slightly later, a Pectoral Sandpiper was in the flooded field adjacent to Barn Bight. This bird was limping - recent injury or second bird? The third good record came in the form of a Ring Ouzel, flushed from the Common and disappearing for good into the Batters. Meanwhile, migration was underway with constant small flocks of passerines overhead. In the absence of any significant wind, direction was mixed, but most of the 300 Goldfinch went east while the 60 or so alba Wagtail went the other way; also estimated were 200 Linnet, 200 Meadow Pipit, 100 Siskin, 70 Chaffinch, 60 Reed Bunting and 20 Song Thrush, while counted birds were 11 Redpoll and 1 Tree Pipit. On the ground, calling Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were around 50 and 40 respectively, 5 Blackcap were active close to the Nursery and 3 Wheatear were on the top of the head. Golden Plover are not regularly seen in the harbour, but today was an exception with 41 birds, in various sized flocks, passing through. Hirundine passage was relatively poor, but a single Sand Martin was a late bird. There were 2 Peregrine seen over the harbour today. The day cannot conclude without mention of the corvids, 3 Rook were seen over the Barn Field and Jackdaw were heard from the HHC - a sure sign of autumn passage. Finally, a Kingfisher was around Barn Bight. Some late news from yesterday, Stanpit had 1 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Wheatea; and waders included 16 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Knot.
Star bird today was a ringtail Hen Harrier which travelled south over the harbour this morning; while on a raptor scene, 3 different Peregrine, 2 adults and a juvenile, were also seen in the same period. Passerine migration over Hengistbury totalled 500+ Goldfinch, 200+ Meadow Pipit, 100+ Siskin, 100+ alba Wagtail, 75 Linnet, 6 Grey Wagtail, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Yellow Wagtail and some heard only Redpoll. Also moving overhead were an estimated 350+ House Martin and 75+ Swallow. There was also a high count of 80 Teal in Barn Bight and a Razorbill was on the sea off Double Dykes.
A spectacular day of Autumn migration which saw 1 Yellow-browed Warbler and 1 Lapland Bunting on Hengistbury this morning. The former was in bushes around the Ironstone Quarry, while the latter overflew the Batters. Easterly overhead migration was particulary spectacular with 3000 Meadow Pipit, 600 alba Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit, 3 Grey Wagtail and 1 Yellow Wagtail. Birds on deck included 100+ Blackcap, 80 Chiffchaff, 80 Goldcrest, 45 Siskin, in alders by the Ironstone Quarry, 30 Song Thrush and 1 Pied Flycatcher, a good October bird. Barn Bight held a Spotted Redshank and there was a gathering of 10 Gadwall further out in the harbour. 4 Golden Plover were seen to arrive and a Peregrine passed over.
Despite a fairly strong north-east wind, at Hengistbury overhead migration was occurring today. At least 1000 House Martin, 600 Swallow, 600 Linnet and 450 Meadow Pipit headed south-east. Finches also moved with 10 Siskin and 6 Redpoll heading north. Out to sea, a Hobby was pursuing hirundines while 23 Common Scoter, 4 Eider and 3 Razorbill went east, and 7 Brent Goose moved west. A Buzzard arrived off the sea and spent some time low over the Nursery, which also contained 1 Firecrest and 20 or so Goldcrest. Other birds worth mentioning from the head are 3 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. Stanpit wasn't covered in detail, but 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank and 2 Water Rail were on Priory Marsh; and single Knot and Curlew Sandpiper were turned in. A few Yellow Wagtail were noted.