Sightings for June 2004
Similar weather has prevailed for the last few days, that is a brisk south-westerly wind with the skies partially clouded; however, the last day of the dreaded month threw up some real entertainment. Following on from Saturday's woodland surprise on Hengistbury, 2 Nuthatch accompanied a family party of Great Tit in the Wood. The spectacle prompting a local twitch! A Siskin north over the Common was also unexpected. The sea provided some highlights with a Great Skua west past the Beach Huts, the superbly plumaged Great-northern Diver off Double Dykes and an Eider east. More routine were 12 Gannet west, 5 Common Scoter, 4 east and 1 west, and 2 Auk sp. west. Large waders were moving, with 11 Curlew west, and 5 Whimbrel and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit east.
Some interesting snippets from Stanpit this morning, where an adult Little Ringed Plover was flushed from Mother Siller's Channel and a Common Sandpiper was in Stanpit Bight. It wasn't only Stanpit that provided local quality, Barn Bight weighed in with a pair of Tufted Duck. A couple of strange records involve 2 adult Kittiwake circling high over the harbour, while, on Hengistbury, a Reed Warbler was singing from the top of a conifer in the Nursery! From a blustery top of the head, 386 Mute Swan were counted in the traditional build up of non-breeding birds. This evening a single Bar-tailed Godwit was off the tip of South Marsh.
Very similar conditions to how yesterday finished, that is a strong westerly wind with medium cloud cover. The Great-northern Diver was again on the sea off Hengistbury, the exact location wasn't mentioned in the report, but presumably it's still best to look from Whitepits. Stanpit again held very little, but there were 1 each of Black- and Bar-tailed Godwit around Stanpit Bight, along with over 80 Lapwing and 20+ Little Egret. Sadly, it seems we have a loss, as today there were only 6 (5+1) Shelduck young.
The forecast south-westerly didn't get going until late morning, so an early morning watch from the Beach Huts was nothing short of futile. In the harbour, the best by far was a Greenshank mixed amongst the Redshank in Stanpit Bight, also 2 Black-tailed Godwit there. By lunchtime though, things were considerably less interesting, just the 7 Shelduck duckling to hold the attention.
Of course the sea presented the best option this morning, however, the easterly wind drove the rain into the Beach Huts, which provide little shelter in those conditions. Nevertheless, the half dozen or so observers dug out some reasonable birds; the best being a Black Tern heading into the Solent with a small group of Common Tern, also good was a distant Arctic Skua seen on a couple of occasions. More routine counts covered 56 Sandwich Tern east, 24 Common Scoter, 20 Common Tern and 3 Little Tern; a couple of Fulmar passed by, as did a single Auk sp., while there was a constant presence of milling Gannet and small goups of Curlew returned west. On the way to the seawatch, a real surprise by the double bends was a juvenile Treecreeper. Throughout the morning, 95 Swift were seen heading into the wind, some apparently out to sea and, finally, the 4 "orphaned" Shelduck are still doing well in Barn Bight. Some interesting records have been appended to yesterday's report.
The bitter memories of 1990, 1996 and 1998 are still there. Being a Manchester City follower, one looks to the national team to give that feeling of triumph. The wait goes on... Anyway, back to normality, there was at least 1 Storm Petrel off the Beach Huts today, being seen morning and afternoon, as well as an Arctic Skua before lunch. Also moving on the sea were 8 Little Tern and 2 Whimbrel. On the subject of waders, there was an exceptional June selection on Stanpit late morning. These included 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, 2 Knot, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Sanderling and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit; most were in breeding plumage, suggesting they are early returnees. It seems another Shelduck brood has hatched, as 7 tiny duckling were seen today, this makes it 4 broods this season. A Lesser Whitethroat in the Ranger's garden on Hengistbury may have been a migrant, as might Cuckoo seen on the Barn Field and Stanpit, the latter being seen off by Meadow Pipit.
Omissions from the original posting include: a total of 51 Little Egret seen from Fisherman's Bank in the morning, of this number 30 were actually roosting in the Nursery; and a juvenile Mistle Thrush on the Barn Field.
After an expectant 48 hours, the sea delivered the goods with an estimated 15 Storm Petrel off Hengistbury this morning, bringing the harbour year list to 185 species. Most moved west past the Beach Huts, but around 5 were lingering off the Long Groyne, with a couple coming in very close indeed. This afternoon, from the Beach Huts, a further 7 were seen going west; also 1 Great Skua west and 1 Manx Shearwater east. Other birds this morning included 41 Common Tern and 3 Gannet, all these heading west. It now seems 2 pairs of Swallow are nesting in the barn this year.
The very strong south-westerly blew throughout the night, but the sea gave little reward this morning. In a 2 hour watch from 8:00, the following were recorded moving west: 80 Gannet, made up of small flocks leaving the Solent; 25 Common Tern, 20 Little Tern, 9 Kittiwake and 1 Auk sp.; while 2 Fulmar went in the opposite direction. Moving in varied directions were parties of Swift, numbering 46 birds in total. This afternoon, Stanpit held its normal selection of non-breeding birds, but just 6 Lapwing seen today. The wind looks set to continue, so, tommorow, after 36 hours of up channel blow, there is real potential.
After a reasonably comfortable evening yesterday, despite the early scare, all eyes are now on Thursday. Back to the present, today Stanpit held 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Sanderling, all seen from Fisherman's Bank this morning. As were 8 Curlew and the 6+1 Shelduck brood. Right now, the wind is building up from the south-west and there is a seawatch going on tomorrow!
Some flickers of interest today. Not least, a Great-northern Diver, in breeding plumage, that has now spent 3 days off the eastern part of Hengistbury. Post-breeding dispersal is already underway, borne out by a Kingfisher around Fisherman's Bank this morning. The only certain migrant wader at Stanpit was a single Dunlin; other interest there included the Canada Goose and a Fox being closely accompanied by a Moorhen across the exposed mud in Parky Meade Rail.
Desperate stuff now. The only bird of local interest was a Canada Goose on South Marsh, Stanpit.
The normal Saturday routine of loitering around the HHC and drinking coffee was rewarded with a Little Ringed Plover heard arriving over the Broadway. Later, what could be best described as a 2 hour sit in the sun by the Beach Huts, produced around 20 Gannet, 1 Fulmar, 2 Curlew high east and 1 Auk sp. Over 80 Swift moved though the area this morning, mainly heading west, while a pair of Swallow have now taken up residence in the barn. The 4 Shelduck duckling are still in Barn Bight. No adult birds have been seen with them for over a week now.
Still quite breezy with partial cloud cover and even a threat of rain. Not much to report, but a Raven went low north of East Marsh this morning, flushing the growing deceit of Lapwing, which is now around 125 birds. Otherwise, the only other news is that the Stanpit Shelduck crèche is still intact, and a Cuckoo on the marsh this evening..
All's well in Portugal, the result was all that mattered. Closer to home, Stanpit was slightly better than would be expected, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling and an eclipsing drake Shoveler made the records this morning.
Back to a more normal June day with the only interesting waders being 3 Dunlin in Stanpit Bight. We are approaching the peak season for Little Egret: this morning 29 were counted from Fisherman's Bank, but the total is probably higher as several are usually in the harbour behind Mudeford Quay. Non-breeding Shelduck are estimated to number 50, while the 7 Stanpit youngsters were all still present and correct. Harping back to yesterday, the Gadwall young are now confirmed as the first successful breeding record for the area. A few years ago, eggs were laid in a nest on Priory Marsh, but these were soon washed out by a spring tide.
Some very interesting "stoppage time" reports have been received for last night, please check back to yesterday. Meanwhile, today, Stanpit held a nice little gang of wader comprising: 1 breeding plumaged Knot, 1 first-summer Grey Plover and 6 adult Dunlin; all were present throughout the day. Failed or non-breeding Curlew are returning, with 8 birds counted. The mixed Shelduck brood holds firm at 7, 1 older bird and 6 younger.
Despite last night's gut wrencher, some fascinating records for today, not least a non-birders description of a bird closely matching a White Stork, seen on East Marsh from Fisherman's Bank. The best confirmed sighting, however, relates to what may be the first harbour breeding of Gadwall. This evening, a drake and 2 duck were with a couple of quite well developed young in Barn Bight. The 4 Shelduck duckling were in the same area, apparently fending for themselves as no accompanying adults are to be seen. At least 3 Nightjar were seen on the top of the head, 1 definite male and 2 other birds, but not until well after 10:00. This isolated population never seem to start churring until quite late, perhaps because of the lack of territory competition.
Another day of high pressure starting with almost no wind, however, a breeze picked up as time went on. Only birds to note were 6 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover. Given the impending sporting clash, I can't imagine any further birding taking place today. After saying that, while reaching into the fridge for a pre-match beer, a Raven, in heavy moult, was seen entering the harbour airspace over Stanpit.
Despite it being June, it was good to be back in the harbour after a 2 week trip abroad. Thanks again to Ian for minding the site so well, never easy at this time of year. The highlight of a beach walk at Hengistbury this morning was a Little Gull that appeared to enter the harbour, also around 400 Gannet feeding distantly offshore. A small Swift movement was evident with 40 birds moving west, also 3 House Martin and 2 Swallow, while a pair of Swallow are closely inspecting the barn. A Hobby also went west along the head and, this afternoon, over 30 Swift were feeding high over Stanpit Bight. There seems to have been 3 Shelduck hatches so far, the group of 7 duckling, which includes 1 older bird, is still around Stanpit; and 4 others were seemingly unattended by adults in Barn Bight. There are 2 Lesser Whitethroat territories around Wick.
A Peregrine creating havoc amongst the Lapwing flock on Stanpit was the only sighting of note this morning.
A Little Ringed Plover flew around Stanpit this morning; the bird was calling but never settled. There were still 76 Lapwing present, also 3 Curlew, 2 Dunlin and 1 Ringed Plover. On Priory Marsh a Grey Wagtail was seen.
A Turtle Dove headed north over Priory Marsh this morning just to prove that the odd migrant can still be found. The highlight of an hour's sea watching was 4 Whimbrel moving west - otherwise there were 15 Sandwich Tern, 3 Common Tern, Kittiwake, Guillemot and a few lingering Gannet.
With the exception of 4 Ringed Plover on Blackberry Point there is nothing to report today.
Normally Lapwing start returning to the marsh by the end of June or in early July so a count of 75 on Stanpit this morning possibly gives cause for concern. Yesterday's waders had moved on with the exception of the Black-tailed Godwit and a lone Curlew. A Nightjar was churring on Hengistbury between 21:45 and 22:15, while a Dartford Warbler was singing at 21:40!
A 1st year Little Gull on Blackberry Point this morning provided a spark of interest and showed that birds are still on the move. There were also a few more waders - 10 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Sanderling - feeding at low tide. A bizarre record was of a Gannet heading downriver, seen from a boat off Grimmery Bank, and going out to sea over the head.
The combination of the fine weather and the time of year makes birding a thankless task at the moment although a Great Northern Diver heading out of the harbour over Wick and the golf course was bit of a surprise this morning. 4 Swift also moved west. On Stanpit the number of Lapwing has increased to 23, also present were 3 Sanderling and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. A Nightjar was heard and seen briefly again on Hengistbury in the evening.
On Stanpit this morning there were just 6 Ringed Plover and 2 Sanderling. This evening a pair of Shoveler was on the marsh. Two of the adult Shelduck had 7 young in their charge, one was about two weeks older than the others - possibly a creche arrangement?
There seemed to have been a complete clear out of waders on Stanpit this morning. Only a couple of Redshank were present with no small waders. Rather worryingly, 21 Lapwing were on the Marsh - an unusual sight at this time of year. Hopefully these were non-breeders as opposed to failed breeders! At sea were 70 Gannet and 4 Manx Shearwater. An evening visit to Hengistbury confirmed the presence of at least one pair of Nightjar on the top of the head. The male was heard and seen at 9:45pm.
Evidence that migration hasn't quite finished was provided by 2 Turtle Dove today; the first headed north along the beach huts and the second was by Barn Bight. At sea 150 Gannet were counted, some lingering just offshore but the majority slowly drifting east - also on the move were 16 Manx Shearwater, 7 Kittiwake and 1 Great Crested Grebe west plus 22 Sanderling, 9 Common Scoter and 1 Great Northern Diver east.
Probably the quietest month in the harbour predictably got off to a slow start this morning with the only report being of a flock of 35 Black-tailed Godwit commuting between Stanpit and Holloway's Dock on the high tide. After lunch a lone Black-tailed Godwit remained on Stanpit and there were just 7 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Sanderling. Disappointingly, of the nine Shelduck young first reported a couple of days ago only six could be found today. On a more positive note there are 2 pairs of Mute Swan in the Harbour with broods of 3 and 5 respectively.