Sightings for January 2004.
Another difficult day with gale force winds and heavy rain combining to deter any would be birders from either Hengistbury or Stanpit. A two hour vigil from Mudeford Quay this morning produced very little, just 1 Red-throated Diver heading west and 4 Pintail came into the Harbour. On the Mudeford Sandspit 7 Purple Sandpiper and 6 Turnstone were actively feeding despite the conditions.
Nothing at all to report from an extremely miserable, damp and wind swept harbour.
As would be expected, some definite cold weather arrivals. Just after dawn, 3 Fieldfare were on the Common, but these were later surpassed by a flock of 70 heading west over Stanpit. Arriving wildfowl included many Wigeon, at least 40 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 5 Pintail, 4 Gadwall and 1 Tufted Duck; there were also 4 Gadwall and 3 Goldeneye settled in Barn Bight, and a Great-crested Grebe in the harbour. The Bullfinch was again seen in the Nursery area and another good record was a Sanderling in the company of 8 Turnstone on the sandspit. The sea was quiet, just 1 Red-throated Diver east. Only other bird of interest was a Kingfisher in Barn Bight.
A rare event indeed, snow in the harbour. As I write this, there is a white blanket over the whole area. Even rarer though was today's headline bird, a Black Guillemot which appeared from the east off the Beach Huts. Its identity was suspected just before it disappeared into the sun; fortunately, it reappeared allowing confirmation before heading west. This was the firstof this species since 1998 and only the second in the last 11 years. On a lively seawatch, Diver were plentiful with 8 Red-throated west, 3 Great-northern, 2 west and 1 east and 1 of the rarer Black-throated west. Also noted were 3 Common Scoter, 3 Gannet and 1 Red-breasted Merganser west. In the harbour there were 5 Goldeneye and 3 Gadwall. Around 500 Lapwing were on Stanpit this morning and, a short while ago, a Little Owl was calling around the old depot site. Given the conditions, tomorrow could be interesting.
Conditions don't feel as cold as they are supposed to. In fact, it's now raining, hardly the sign of a cold snap! This morning the Common Sandpiper was again seen on Fisherman's Bank, with the only other observation being the paucity of Lapwing, one assumes the inland sites are now more attractive. Around 10:00 this evening, a Little Owl was heard from Two Riversmeet car park.
It was a duck day today, perhaps a sign of the impending cold snap. The best birds being a group of 3 Pochard that flew south through the harbour this morning. Also noted were an increased number of Shoveler, 12 birds today, along with 17 Shelduck, 3 Goldeneye and 2 Pintail. Stanpit also held 27 Grey Plover and 95 Brent Goose, but only 300 Lapwing and 23 Black-tailed Godwit, these birds preferring the fields behind Sainsbury's and Coward's Marsh respectively. From Wick, 2 Raven were seen heading north-west.
Despite 3 visits to Stanpit today, the only birds of note were 2 Gadwall flying north upriver this morning, probably the pair from Barn Bight yesterday, and 3 Shoveler in Stanpit Bight. The Brent Goose number 80+ with 12 first-winter birds, there were well over 50 Black-tailed Godwit and around 150 Dunlin.
The day started quietly, but some mid-morning sightings of local quality made the end result more interesting. Merlin are rarely seen well in the area, with most being low flying, disappearing individuals; so a young female bird flying over Wick towards Whitepits, then returning to chase a displaying Skylark, was an appreciated event. Just prior to that, 2 very vocal Raven appeared over the Wood and then left the area to the west. Meanwhile, Barn Bight held 3 brownhead Goldeneye, 2 Gadwall and 1 Little Grebe. The calm seas produced a total of 10 Red-throated Diver moving in random directions, also 1 close Razorbill and several unidentified auk. On Stanpit, there were 2 Grey Wagtail by the warden's caravan late morning, also 92 Black-tailed Godwit counted there. Thanks to Simon Woolley for the last night's talk, which, by all accounts was well attended and entertaining.
The only offering is the Little Owl remaining faithful to its hawthorn roost in Stanpit's North Scrubs. Although the scrubs themselves are waterlogged, the bird can be seen by rummaging through the Recreation Ground hedgerow.
A very high tide and constant rain meant that birding at Stanpit was difficult, to say the least. However, of interest, but also rather sadly, was an oiled Kittiwake on the marsh close to the warden's caravan. Among the Wigeon were 4 Shoveler and over 1000 Lapwing are still frequenting the area late into the winter. Don't forget the talk tomorrow evening!
Another still and mild day which saw the Goldeneye rise to 5 birds, 4 ducks and 1 drake, seen in the harbour from Hengistbury. The calm seas showed the 2 Velvet Scoter to still be present off the Beach Huts, as well as 8 Common Scoter and a Razorbill. 3 Red-throated Diver went west and there was a Great-northern Diver on the sea off Double Dykes. Half way along the sandspit, 3 Purple Sandpiper were seen; while the Wood held a definite 5 Jay in the Nursery area, also a Great-spotted Woodpecker. On Wick, there are at least 2 wintering Chiffchaff.
The Little Owl was again in the North Scrubs and the Lapwing flock on the marsh exceeded 1000 birds again, there were also over 60 Black-tailed Godwit. From the Hengistbury side, only report is 2 Common Scoter on the sea.
It seems only Stanpit was visited today, where the Lapwing have increased slightly and were counted at 625 birds, also counted were the Wigeon at 370. Black-tailed Godwit numbered 55 and the Grey Plover rose to 19 birds. There were also 5 Shoveler seen. Skylark seem to be sparse in the area this winter, but 2 birds were on Grimmery Bank this morning. Over on Hengistbury, the early breeding Grey Heron have already taken up residence in the Nursery, which is alive with strange guttural sounds. Back to Stanpit, where the Little Owl was in its hawthorn bush again today.
Today saw the ten yearly BTO gull census which took place in the last 2 hours of daylight. Estimated totals of gulls roosting in the harbour or on the sea are: 9310 Black-headed, 385 Herring, 74 Great Black-backed, 40 Lesser Black-backed, 6 Common and 1 Yellow-legged Gull. The main concentration was off Mudeford Quay where over 9500 birds were present. During the course of the count, 11 Turnstone were seen on the sandspit, 1 Red-throated Diver headed east and 3 Common Scoter were on the sea; while in the harbour 2 Dartford Warbler were on Crouch Hill and 11 Little Egret went to roost in the Nursery. Only other reports come from Stanpit this morning, where a Coal Tit in the North Scrubs was a good early year tick; The wintering Common Sandpiper was again on Fisherman's Bank and a single Pintail was seen early on. The common waders were counted at 300+ Dunlin, 135 Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Grey Plover.
The 2 Velvet Scoter were on the sea off the beach huts again this morning, also there was a Great Crested Grebe and another flew east. 2 Red-throated Diver moved west and a Great Northern Diver went east. There was just 1 Goldeneye in the harbour. Two Common Buzzard circled over Stanpit around lunchtime before one, very pale and slightly larger, headed off south as the second bird drifted back north up the Avon Valley.
On Stanpit this morning a Peregrine flew low from Grimmery Marsh towards Wick Fields scattering the Wigeon flock. There were 138 Black-tailed Godwit, just 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 47 Brent Geese on the Marsh and 3 Little Grebe on the river. The number of Lapwing, a mere 300, is the lowest for some time.
This morning's highlight was a 2nd year Ring-billed Gull seen on the harbour shore not far from Holloway's Dock before flying off west. There was also an immature/female type Scaup close to the HHC. A sea watch produced 5 Eider and a Great Northern Diver moving east and 3 Great Crested Grebe on the sea. Finally a Red-legged Partridge was on the golf course at Stanpit.
Rather disappointingly, no reports were received today.
It was another quiet day in terms of birding activity hence there is very little to report. Off the beach huts there were 9 Common Scoter, 1 Red-throated Diver, a couple of auks and a Peregrine came in off the sea. Another Red-throated Diver was seen off Mudeford and there was just 1 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit.
Another stormy start to the day deterred anyone from venturing into the harbour first thing. By mid morning when the rain had eased a brief seawatch from Mudeford Quay produced very little - just 19 Common Scoter heading west and a few Oystercatcher with one or two Turnstone on the sandspit. This afternoon on Stanpit there were 135 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Grey Plover, 2 Ruff and 2 Shoveler. There were 2 Kingfisher and 1 Little Grebe and a in Barn Bight.
Both sides of the harbour received good coverage today on the monthly WEBS count. The 2 Velvet Scoter and 10 Common Scoter were again on the sea off the beach huts. A Raven flew south-west mid-morning and the Little Owl was back in its favoured bush in the North Scrubs. Selected totals from the count:- 1920 Lapwing, 475 Wigeon, 191 Teal, 122 Mallard, 6 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 2 Goldeneye, 320 Dunlin, 140 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Grey Plover, 3 Little Grebe and the Great Crested Grebe was still in Barn Bight.
Despite a relatively calm sea there was some activity this morning with the 2 Velvet Scoter again being the star birds - for much of the time they were on the sea just off the beach huts. Red-throated Diver were particularly active with at least 10 birds seen - also noted were 20 Common Scoter and 2 Razorbill. In the harbour were 2 Pintail, a Yellow-legged Gull was in Holloway's Dock and Barn Bight held 3 Little Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe and the usual Kingfisher. A Bullfinch was in the copse at the edge of the Salt Hurns. The Lapwing flock on Stanpit seems to be growing - a very conservative estimate being 2000 birds.
Late News - One of the information services reported 4 Ruff and a Water Pipit on Stanpit today.
The 2 Velvet Scoter were on the sea off the Long Groyne again this morning - also seen were 3 Red-throated Diver. In Barn Bight there was a Great Crested Grebe and the Kingfisher was on its usual perch. On Stanpit the lone Golden Plover was still keeping company with the Lapwing which number around 1000 - 70 Black-tailed Godwit and 31 Grey Plover were also counted.
Early morning birding was out of the question today due to the stormy weather but things had improved by mid-morning when predictably sea watching proved quite fruitful. A walk along the beach at Hengistbury produced 6 Red-throated and 1 Black-throated Diver, 2 Little Gull ( adult & immature ), 2 Velvet Scoter and a Long-tailed Duck - also 5 Gannet and 3 Kittiwake. Off Mudeford Quay another 3 Little Gull ( 1 adult & 2 first yr ) and a Red-throated Diver were seen. On Mudeford Spit around 150 Dunlin, 9 Turnstone and 1 Purple Sandpiper were seeking shelter. Another 3 Purple Sandpiper flew east.
Sea watching this morning produced 2 Red-throated Diver, 12 Common Scoter, 10 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot, 4 Kittiwake, a single Gannet and a first year Mediterranean Gull - all the birds were moving west. On Stanpit the Lapwing flock numbered an estimated 1500 birds. The birds spent much of the morning airborne although the cause of the disturbance wasn't obvious. With the flock were 3 Ruff, a Golden Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Amongst the 450 Wigeon which were grazing on the Marsh were 7 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and a drake Pintail. There was no sign of the Red-necked Grebe but 9 Little Grebe were on the main river. A male Bullfinch was in the woodland by the Nursery and a Firecrest by the HHC.
There was no sign of the Black Brant today in a slightly smaller gaggle of Brent Geese, just 68 birds. However the Red-necked Grebe is still present but is much more wide-ranging - this morning it was off the Salt Hurns towards the beach huts but by early afternoon it was back in its favourite spot off Grimmery Bank. There were 2 Velvet Scoter on the sea off Hengistbury and 5 divers were noted moving west - only one, a Great Northern could be positively identified. There was a Razorbill in Barn Bight but unfortunately it was an oiled bird. On Stanpit the Dunlin flock numbered 310 whilst there were 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Ringed Plover and 31 Grey Plover. Around lunchtime 6 grey geese, probably Greylags headed high north over Stanpit. The number of Shelduck has increased to nine, 2 Shoveler were on East Marsh and the 3 Goldeneye were off Blackberry Point. A Peregrine flew south over the harbour, a Kingfisher was seen on the main river, the Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the woodland on Hengistbury and 3 wintering Chiffchaff were around the North Scrubs.
The mild weather continued and so did Stanpit's recent run of good birds as, just before lunch, the information services reported a Black Brant, the form of Brent Goose that normally winters around the Pacific, on the river off Grimmery Bank. The bird was looked for this afternoon and successfully re-found. In recent weeks the Brent Goose gaggle has frequented the Central Marsh/Grimmery area, so, assuming the bird remains, that's probably the best area to look. If the goose hadn't arrived, the headline birds were going to be 2 Bullfinch seen flying into the Nursery on Hengistbury early this morning. The head was quite well watched, with the sea producing a group of 3 Red-throated Diver moving east, a total of 17 Common Scoter, 3 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot and 5 unidentified auks. The Red-necked Grebe remains with us, as do the 3 Goldeneye; and there are at least now 7 Little Grebe around the river. To tidy up the Stanpit records, the Grey Plover number remain high at 27 birds, a single Bar-tailed Godwit was seen and a Chiffchaff was calling in the North Scrubs. Finally, a Kingfisher was around Hengistbury this morning.
A much milder day with just a hint of a south-west wind, but this didn't prevent a Great Skua from flying west past Hengistbury this morning. The bird afforded excellent views as it flew at head height to the fortunate observer on the top of the head. Also moving at sea were 1 Red-throated Diver, 12 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot, all were heading west; while on the sea were 3 Gadwall, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Teal. The wintering Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the Wood and a Chiffchaff was by the Ranger's Cottage. Stanpit chipped in with 2 Ruff this morning, the birds were seen feeding on East Marsh. Other counts from Stanpit this include 240 Dunlin, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 32 Grey Plover, 20 Ringed Plover and 3 Goldeneye. During the morning, the Red-necked Grebe spent most of its time in Barn Bight, but by late afternoon had returned to its more customary spot. After a slow start the Little Grebe numbers are picking up, there were at least 5 on the river around Parky Meade Rail this afternoon. Interestingly, the marsh held just 40 Brent Goose before lunch, but this increased to 60 later in the day, including 2 first-winters and the colour-ringed "8C". 3 Chiffchaff, including a singing bird, were around Purewell Stream. At dusk, a further 60 Black-tailed Godwit arrived on Stanpit from the north.
The day started to a slight easterly wind, which picked through the morning and was accompanied with a steady drizzle. The cold weather to the east has definitely started to push birds towards us, there were several traditional "cold weather movement" species seen today. 3 Fieldfare flew east over the old depot site at Stanpit and another was calling over Wick Fields; a Redwing was also settled in the fields and 2 more went east over the Common at Hengistbury. There is a marked increase in the numbers of Lapwing, with countless birds being seen over the Lower Avon Valley; while a couple of Golden Plover arrived in the harbour off the sea. Wildfowl were moving on the sea with 20 Wigeon, 15 Shoveler and 10 Pintail heading into the wind, 5 Pintail also overflew the harbour from the Valley. Also seen at sea were 7 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Diver and 1 Grey Plover. The Red-necked Grebe remains settled on the river despite the weekend disturbance; and the Goldeneye have increased to 3, a female type bird joining the original pair. Stanpit was also watched mainly around Priory Marsh, where there was 1 Water Pipit and 1 Grey Wagtail. There were also 3 Chiffchaff noted, 1 in the North Scrubs, 1 at the entrance to Two Riversmeet and 1 by the Golf Course.
Stanpit was watched for around an hour and a half mid-morning with the highlights being: a Peregrine that sat on Blackberry Point for around an hour causing concern amongst the assembled waders; also a Jack Snipe, presumably in the Central Marsh area. The Bar-tailed Godwit presence has now returned to 2 birds and Grey Plover were counted at 25, this species is certainly becoming more numerous. Another increasing winter visitor is Chiffchaff, 2 were seen today but there are undoubtedly more about. A trip around the marsh at low tide this afternoon saw the Red-necked Grebe, quite close to Grimmery Bank where it was giving photo opportunities, even spending more than 5 seconds above water. The Brent Goose gaggle was today 60 birds, but with just 1 first-winter. The adult colour-ringed bird "8C" was again present.
On the first day of the New Year, the harbour was birded intently through the morning. The overnight rain stopped an hour before dawn, but the moderate northerly wind persisted. A friendly bird race took place, resulting in a combined total of 85 species being recorded in the area, highlights as follows. Before first light, a Tawny Owl was hooting in the Wick area. The Red-necked Grebe in its normal spot, where 2 Goldeneye, including 1 drake, could also be seen. Early morning viewing from Fisherman's Bank turned up 3 Ruff on East Marsh and a striking adult Yellow-legged Gull; slightly later, a single Golden Plover was picked out in the wheeling Lapwing as they received the attention of a Merlin. A Redwing settled with the Blackbird on the Hengistbury pitch and putt course was a real bonus. The sea was reasonable in its return with 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 west, the other settled, 15+ Common Scoter and 1 Fulmar, the latter constituting a good early year record. Viewing upstream from Priory Marsh allowed at least 1 of the 2 Town Bridge Mandarin to be seen, 1 or 2 Water Pipit were also on the flooded marsh. The dabbling duck were well represented with over 15 Pintail, 8 Shoveler and 7 Gadwall being noted. Chiffchaff were in the North Scrubs and by the HHC, Kingfisher was also by the HHC, the Common Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit was in Stanpit Bight and an alba Pied Wagtail was in Stanpit Scrubs.