Sightings for April 2005
Heavy mist shrouded the whole area for much of the morning. Birds could be heard moving, but relatively few could be seen. It was obvious that a large arrival of Swallow had taken place and this included 1 Red-rumped Swallow that passed low over the old Pitch and Putt Course at 08:45 this morning. Later 600-700 Swallow were seen on wires just north of the recording area, an indicator of the size of the movement. Also involved in the passage were 200 House Martin. Among some good passerine migrants, the most unexpected record of the day is a male Bullfinch in Wick Ditch. This is turning into a great spring for Wood Warbler, at least 3 were recorded today, also: 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 7 Wheatear, 4 Garden Warbler, 25 Willow Warbler and 25 Chiffchaff. Birds passing over were estimated at, 150 Meadow Pipit 12 Tree Pipit and 7 Yellow Wagtail. Little Tern could be heard at sea, but only 4 were actually seen.
Update: Hengistbury actually held 4 Wood Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatcher and 2 Spotted Flycatcher. At one point, all the flycatchers and 1 of the Wood Warbler could be seen in the same tree. Also a Turtle Dove briefly by Holloway's Dock. A Yellow Wagtail was on the deck at the end of the head, a Chiffchaff was on wires in the strange location of the Black House, and 3 Common Sandpiper and 1 Turnstone were on the groynes. At sea, 29 Common Tern and 7 Whimbrel headed east, and a pair of Eider went west in the early evening. An afternoon visit to Stanpit produced 4 Little Gull, 3 adults over high and 1 young bird lingering. Another good record was Green Sandpiper, a single bird calling as it passed through. Waders have definitely increased, as proven by a count of 310 Dunlin. Also present were 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Whimbrel and 45 Black-tailed Godwit. The most talked about birds of the marsh were a group of 3 Bar-headed Goose that circled the area, calling, before settling. I am assured they are unringed and free flying!!
A very still morning with mist descending at dawn and yesterday's comment about future promise, for once, proving correct. Just before 7:00am, as the first Wheatear of the day were arriving on the Barn Field, so did a male Ortolan Bunting. It perched on the cliff top fence for a few minutes before being worried by a terrier and flying to the top of the head. While attempting to relocate the bird, a group of 4 medium sized waders seen flying in the mist turned out to be a trip of 4 Dotterel! They circled the Coastguards area then left towards Stanpit, where they seemed to join with a flock of 50 or so Whimbrel that were leaving northwards. This is the first record for over 10 years. A further 29 Whimbrel were recorded, along with a Little Ringed Plover. A small passerine arrival included a Wood Warbler in the Double Dykes, 5 Grasshopper Warbler and 2 new Lesser Whitethroat. The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was seen making landfall on the Barn Field, there were also 12 Wheatear there and the Nightingale was in the regular spot. Migrant Common Sandpiper have, so far, been sparse, so one in Barn Bight may indicate the start of their passage. Also in that area were 4 feeding Common Tern and a single Canada Goose. At sea, an Arctic Skua was off Double Dykes and, from the Beach Huts, 2 Red-throated Diver were seen heading west, while 17 Eider passed very close in the opposite direction. A second calendar year Mediterranean Gull was also seen and at least 40 Swift and 1 Hobby moved overhead.
Late news from Stanpit: A single Brent Goose is the first recorded in the harbour for around a fortnight. A group of 14 Whimbrel arrived and headed west, and there were a further 2 on the ground; along with 39 Black-tailed Godwit, 100+ Dunlin, 80+ Shelduck and a single Wheatear. A Cuckoo could also be heard over on Wick Fields.
Firstly, apologies for the slip yesterday. Female Nightingale should have read female Redstart! It had been a long day at work. Moving on, best of today was on the sea, where a pair of breeding plumaged Long-tailed Duck passed closeby the Beach Huts. The birds approached from the west, before veering south-east towards the Isle of Wight. Other sea duck seen from there included a westward group of 23 Eider that contained 9 smart drakes; a further 4 Eider, all female, were on the water very close in; and 41 Common Scoter went east. Other quality at sea came with 4 Manx Shearwater and a reasonable tern presence: including 115 Sandwich Tern, most east but some lingering, 46 Common Tern and 36 Little Tern, all east. Passing waders were recorded as 15 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Sanderling. By the Barn, the Nightingale was again vocal and a Garden Warbler was also there. In the air, a couple of Hobby headed north, as did 9 Swift. The forecast for the next few days is looking very promising.
Another relatively quiet day landwise on Hengistbury. At sea, from the top of the head, 2 Pomarine Skua and 1Velvet Scoter were seen heading east. A Nightingale was heard around the Barn and is presumably the same bird lingering from Monday; and a female Redstart was on the path by Holloway's Dock. On the Sandspit, there was a lone Turnstone and few Goldfinch overhead. Other than that, just 27 Wheatear and 3 Swift were noted. A Lesser Whitethroat was singing on Wick, where the Red-legged Partridge was seen again, along with a Jackdaw. Looking across the harbour from the Nursery, the Curlew Sandpiper could be seen on Stanpit.
Nothing to compare with yesterday. Just an hour or so managed before the rain came down heavily this morning. On Hengistbury, just 4 Wheatear were seen to arrive on the Barn Field, a Lesser Whitethroat singing in Wick Ditch was probably a newcomer and phylloscs were estimated at 30 to 40. A seawatch produced the following, all east: 2 Arctic Skua, 10 Gannet, 4 Fulmar, 3 Common Scoter and 3 Razorbill. Also seen from the Beach Huts, were 1 Purple Sandpiper and 1 Sanderling on the groynes. This afternoon, the Curlew Sandpiper was on Stanpit, along with 11 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Black-tailed Godwit and 75 Dunlin.
A big, big day. For once, and rather unfortunately for those concerned, it wasn't the early risers who got lucky. As one regular left the area at 10:00am he reckoned things were just about to happen so called another, who took over and hit the jackpot for the next couple of hours. This was as the mist descended and forced literally hundreds of bird down. The day's totals make locally impressive reading. Wheatear were conservatively estimated at 125 birds, but this is certainly low. At one point, 80 could be seen on the Barn Field, but 45 minutes later only 12 remained. Other big numbers across the Wick Fields and western part of Hengistbury include: 26 Whinchat; 10 Pied Flycatcher, including 4 in one bush on the Batters; 6 Turtle Dove, a figure which is double the annual average of recent years; well over 75 Blackcap and 16 Garden Warbler. It doesn't end there, 2 Nightingale were present, including 1 singing in the Barred Warbler Bush until the early afternoon; also singing was a Wood Warbler in the Wood, with another passing the HHC, and 4 Grasshopper Warbler. At least 6 Lesser Whitethroat were present, along with 2 Cuckoo and 2 Redstart. Another figure reckoned to be low is 250 Willow Warbler, while Chiffchaff were surprisingly high at 45 birds, given the late date. The Yellow Wagtail count numbered 10 birds, most were airborne but a few were on the deck in Wick Fields; also overhead went 7 Tree Pipit, 300 Meadow Pipit and 41 Swift. Swallow were moving all day, hundreds went by this morning, so the day count would reach the low thousands, also 200 House Martin in a 2 hour spell late-morning. Wader of the day is a Spotted Redshank heard in the gloom and the Curlew Sandpiper was still on Stanpit this afternoon. Also there were 3 Whimbrel and 3 Grey Plover, with the Common Sandpiper remaining on Fisherman's Bank. Before all the action this morning, a Tufted Duck was over the HHC, where the Gadwall pair is still present. This afternoon on Wick Fields, there were but a fraction of the earlier birds, but a Raven did head east.
Patchy cloud and a light north-easterly wind produced a real miscellany of birds throughout the day. This afternoon, there was a adult Curlew Sandpiper in partial breeding plumage on Stanpit, an excellent spring record for a species that is traditionally more common in the late summer. A small Grasshopper Warbler influx was noted with two reeling birds in Ashtree Meadows, Stanpit, and one on Hengistbury on the lower Batters. Some of the migrants on Hengistbury gave it more of an autumnal feel this morning, in particular a Siskin over the Beach Huts, but also 1 male Ring Ouzel over the Wood and a Tree Sparrow that probably spent an hour on the end of the head before leaving over the Sandspit. At least 4 Sparrowhawk were seen high and heading purposefully north, suggesting they were migrants. A pair of Rook certainly were, as they were watched far out to sea while they approached from directly south, and a small group of 3 House Sparrow may have been. Birds on the ground included 3 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Yellow Wagtail on Wick and 46 Wheatear spread across there and the head, including birds seen arriving onto the groynes. Also arriving, but en masse, were Swallow; during a 2 hour seawatch every scan produced birds, a total of 350 estimated in that period, however, the passage continued on a broad front all day. Other interest at sea came from 4 Eider, 4 Gadwall, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sanderling, 65 Sandwich Tern, 63 Gannet, 51 Common Scoter, 17 Razorbill, 3 Common Gull and 1 Peregrine, the latter being pursued relentlessly by a Herring Gull, all east. Overhead finch passage was also evident as 87 Goldfinch and 36 Linnet headed into the wind, as did 52 Meadow Pipit. Also seen heading that way were 7 Swift, most over the sea. Remaining interest from Hengistbury comprises: a Greenshank over the HHC, a second calendar year Mediterranean Gull over the Broadway and 4 Shoveler arriving over the Common onto Stanpit; where there were 5 Mediterranean Gull noted, also 4 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. A Common Sandpiper on Fisherman's Bank has habits identical to the wintering bird, so may well be that individual hanging on. This evening, an insect ridden sojourn onto Wick Fields resulted in a Red-legged Partridge, an additional Swift and a pair of Gadwall on the river.
Despite the inclement conditions variety and quality were in abundance today. The third Spoonbill of the year came out of the mist and circled high over Stanpit around lunchtime before drifting off east then shortly afterwards a Serin, heard calling over South Marsh, seemed to be heading north. Back to this morning when heavy rain and a moderate north-easterly breeze produced good seawatching conditions for those foolish enough to venture to the Beach Huts. Once the rain eased it was replaced by dense fog which served to push the birds in even closer. The highlights of a four hour stint from 6:00 to 10:00am were 6 Arctic Skua, including 3 birds together at one point. Most birds were heading east, in particular terns, with 236 Common and 137 Sandwich Tern; 14 Little Tern moved in the opposite direction. Lingering just offshore were 3 Fulmar, whilst 56 Common Scoter, 42 Gannet, 2 Shoveler and a single Red-throated Diver were noted; waders included 93 Whimbrel, 32 Dunlin and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. Finally an adult Little Gull went west; interestingly 16 more Little Gull moved through the harbour from west to east around lunchtime as the weather improved. Predictably passerine movement was neglible although a Wood Warbler singing in the woodland just after dawn had clearly made the effort; also Swallow started appearing through the mist soon after 9:00am with 130 being counted by early afternoon. Another 18 Whimbrel came into Stanpit but only 13 were on the marsh later; a Little Ringed Plover went north whilst 12 Bar-tailed Godwit touched down briefly before leaving in a south-easterly direction. Waders on Stanpit were 104 Dunlin, 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Grey Plover and the regular Bar-tailed Godwit; a first year Mediterranean Gull was also present. On Priory Marsh 2 summer-plumaged Water Pipit were still around whilst 2 Swift and a Peregrine were seen from there.
Evening Update: An afternoon seawatch proved that in the right conditions birds will move all day. In a three hours watch birds were still heading east with 61 Sandwich Tern, 25 Common Tern and 2 Little Tern; also 32 Sandwich Tern were feeding off the Long Groyne. Whimbrel proved difficult moving into and out of the Harbour with a minimum of 18 birds involved.
The easterly wind prompted a direct route to the sea, which proved to be a relatively good decision; however, passerine interest was also reasonable. First the water, where the most frustrating record comes from just after lunch when a group of 3 pale phase skua sp. went east past Hengistbury and disappearing before they could be 'scoped. Earlier on, the passage was almost entirely to the east and comprised, in no particular order: an exceptional 131 Common Scoter, including a group of over 40 birds; 34 Eider, a count that continues an excellent spring for these; also 143 Sandwich Tern, 33 Brent Goose, 14 Whimbrel, 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Velvet Scoter, 26 Gannet, 8 Fulmar, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Curlew, 3 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot, 1 Kittiwake and 2 Common Tern. There was more limited passage to the west, but it did include 1 Red-throated Diver, 16 Gannet and 2 Red-breasted Merganser. A group of 70 small duck wheeling distantly offshore were presumed to be Teal. Also, while seawatching, a second calendar year Mediterranean Gull and 17 Turnstone were seen on the beach and groynes. On Wick Fields, by the wooden bridge, was the year's first Lesser Whitethroat, while a count of 14 Whitethroat in that same area may indicate the start of the main arrival. A male Pied Flycatcher was seen fleetingly by the Nursery, before vapourising into the Wood, 4 Blackcap were also in there, 2 Redstart were on the Batters and 3 Wheatear were in the Barn Field. Best bird of the overhead movement was a Redpoll, also 48 Linnet and 36 Goldfinch. Single Yellow Wagtail and White Wagtail were also noted. This afternoon, a Common Sandpiper was feeding around the Argyll Road slip and 1 Whimbrel headed inland. Again, Swallow seemed plentiful, but were not counted.
Although the morning was misty, the gloom was not particularly high and most birds passed straight over into the light north-easterly wind. Casual observations suggest an arrival of Swallow, but no count was made. Other new arrivals included a male Redstart that was trapped and ringed by the HHC, 2 Garden Warbler in the Wood, 30 Willow Warbler scattered about and 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field. Despite only being watched for 30 minutes, the sea produced a real variety. A drake Eider went east, as did 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 6 Common Scoter, which passed 5 birds going in the other direction. Also heading that way were 1 Red-throated Diver and 2 Fulmar, while a Great-crested Grebe was on the water. From the Beach Huts, 18 Turnstone could be seen on the groynes. Stanpit is still relatively quiet and awaiting the peak of the wader passage. This afternoon, there were just 2 Whimbrel, 2 Grey Plover, 41 Black-tailed Godwit, 85 Dunlin and 11 Ringed Plover. Wigeon presence is now just 2 drakes and a pair of Canada Goose seemed agitated on Priory Marsh. It seems we could be hosting another plastic species as a breeder.
Late news: a male Redstart was on Crouch Hill mid-afternoon and 4 Whimbrel were counted.
A rather pleasant day, the westerly wind being diametrically opposed to that forecast. A hatrick of year birds was headed by a male Serin flying low and to the west over the HHC just after dawn. A Garden Warbler was also seen from there and, a while later, 2 Arctic Tern headed west through the harbour. It was a good day for moving waders: 96 Whimbrel headed north-east inland and 13 were settled around Stanpit; 9 Bar-tailed Godwit went east; and 23 Ringed Plover and 1 Little Ringed Plover were seen to arrive. Black-tailed Godwit numbers are now reduced, 42 being counted, while 2 Purple Sandpiper were on groyne 50 below the Point House Café. Grounded passerines across Hengistbury included 2 Wheatear, 1 male Redstart, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and 16 Willow Warbler. Overhead passage comprised 70 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 1 White Wagtail; and 12 Little Tern were noted heading west. Mediterranean Gull continue to be regular, 7 being the estimate today, 3 adult pairs and 1 second calendar year bird. A pair of Raven were over the head and 2 migrant Rook also passed by, while 3 Buzzard over the area may also have been travelling. Finally, there is still a Red-legged Partridge around, one was seen flying into the wooded area below the Ironstone Quarry.
A reasonable southerly wind was present for most of the day - actually making it quite chilly, despite the sun. Not too much to report. Hengistbury this morning held 22 Willow Warbler and 4 Wheatear. At sea, there was a small passage of tern, with counts of 46 Sandwich Tern and 5 Common Tern east. The Common Scoter total was again good, 74 east being today's tally. Also moving by were 7 Whimbrel east, while 13 were seen to head west. A while later, 13 birds were seen entering the harbour over the Barn Field, presumably the same group after perhaps settling on the top of the head. No doubt, too many dogs for them to stay there for long. A single Manx Shearwater heading east was certainly the best record for the day. This evening, on a chilly Stanpit, there were just 2 Whimbrel and 1 Wheatear. Interestingly, House Sparrow seem to be spreading further into the area, the North Scrubs now playing host to several birds.
By 5:30 this morning the rain that had so certainly been forecast to last all day stopped! In a moderate south-westerly wind, the sea paid dividends throughout a 3 hour watch. Not recorded last spring were Pomarine Skua, but today a group of 4 birds moved distantly east into The Solent, a very welcome record. Slightly earlier, 4 Manx Shearwater had also been seen off the Beach Huts. Totals of other species were impressive and comprised: 178 Sandwich Tern and 6 Fulmar west; while, to the east, went 150 Gannet, 72 Common Scoter, 46 Whimbrel, 15 Eider, continuing the exceptional spring for this sea duck, 1 Grey Plover and 1 commic Tern. There was also a reasonable passerine presence, headed by a singing Pied Flycatcher by the Nursery, also 50+ Willow Warbler, 13 Blackcap and 3 Wheatear. There was a further Pied Flycatcher on Stanpit, this bird was in the North Scrubs around lunchtime. The marsh also held a good number of stop-over Whimbrel - in the morning 17 were seen to arrive and, this afternoon, there were 37 on East Marsh, also 2 Curlew, which will soon be absent. A few House Martin moved north over Priory Marsh and 5 Wigeon remain around Stanpit Bight. Wader numbers are down, but will increase as May approaches; the counts today include 25 or so Black-tailed Godwit, just 28 Dunlin, 22 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit.
After yesterday's good numbers, there were plenty of expectant faces around Hengistbury this morning. Unfortunately, the overnight clear conditions meant that birds did not stop and there were only a handful of new arrivals. Best was a male Whinchat, the year's first, that was on the Long Field before disappearing onto the top of the head. A Firecrest was between the HHC and Double Dykes, 3 Wheatear were on the Barn Field and 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Yellowhammer and 1 White Wagtail moved overhead. The Bearded Tit pair showed briefly in the HHC reeds, the adult pair of Mediterranean Gull were seen on a couple of occasions over Wick Fields and a drake Tufted Duck over the HHC was an excellent April record. Soon after dawn the wind increased and came from the south-east, which, in springtime, is optimal for seawatching. Only casual observation took place, but did yield: both Red-throated Diver and Black-throated Diver in breeding plumage, the former on the water, the latter east; also east went a drake Scaup, 16 Common Scoter, 5 very close Gannet, 2 Eider and 1 Red-breasted Merganser. Whimbrel passage was again evident, with 43 birds in total, including groups of 20 and 14 east at sea, and 7 birds arriving in the harbour. A couple of Curlew were also mixed in. Pairs of Shelduck are currently prospecting for suitable rabbit burrows around Hengistbury and a House Sparrow seemed to be establishing territory around the HHC. By mid-afternoon all the ingredients were in place for a classic seawatch - mid-April with a stiff south-easterly wind and drizzle reducing the offshore visibility. Something was missing however, as in 45 minutes from the dunes at Whitepits, only 3 commic Tern and 1 Fulmar could be recorded. As consolation, a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull passed east along the beach and were followed, a few minutes later, by a first-winter bird.
After a clear night, there was a light mist at dawn: conditions that heralded the best fall of the season so far. During the first few hours of daylight, there was a constant stream of phylloscopus warblers through the pinchpoint by the HHC into Wick Ditch. A total of 520 birds were counted and, given the time of year, the overwhelming majority of these would have been Willow Warbler. Also seen from the same point were 2 Pied Flycatcher heading towards Wick, and Grasshopper Warbler and Little Ringed Plover were heard. Wick Fields held the bird of the day, a singing Nightingale, however, a Tree Sparrow heard and seen over the Long Field comes close. The alarm calls of Sand Martin announced a Merlin from the south, which then soared to gain height and head north. A further 50 Willow Warbler were seen in addition to the flight birds, 14 Blackcap were also counted and a total of 4 Redstart were seen at the end of the head, on the Barn Field and on Wick Fields respectively. Overhead movement was minimal, but a group of 11 Wheatear was notable, also 4 Tree Pipit, 2 Rook seemingly in off the sea and 1 Yellow Wagtail recorded. The Wheatear day total is actually 27, including 9 birds on the Barn Field mid-morning. Waders are starting to pass through, at least 22 Whimbrel were seen to arrive in various sized groups, also a further Little Ringed Plover. Today saw the first real Swallow arrival, over 80 birds counted. While passing migrants have so far been sparse, a male is already establishing territory around the barn and singing from a preferred branch. Also setting up home are Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. Other interest was provided by 4 Eider east into the Solent, a Buzzard over Double Dykes, a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull seen multiple times over the area and 2 Gadwall in Barn Bight. Only news from Stanpit involves 5 straggling Wigeon.
Much quieter than the earlier part of the week, probably due to the pleasant conditions. On Hengistbury this morning, there were an estimated 50 Willow Warbler, along with 12 Wheatear and a handful of Chiffchaff. Blackcap were singing on Wick Fields and the head, with a total of 6 present. Also establishing territory, was a Sedge Warbler behind the HHC. Late morning on Stanpit was also below par for mid-April, a Whimbrel on South Marsh being the best offering. Just before lunch, presumably the same bird was then seen leaving. Only other notes were 8 Grey Plover and a few Teal, however, Brent Goose were absent. The afternoon gave way to a very close electrical storm and constant drizzle, but there was a late and wet visit to Stanpit, where there were 2 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Wigeon on East Marsh. Priory Marsh was tinged with plastic species, including a pair of Pheasant, 2 Canada Goose and 1 Greylag Goose.
This morning was disappointingly quiet with very few migrants, just a few Willow Warbler, a Tree Pipit, 5 House Martin and a Sedge Warbler possibly on territory on Wick. From the Beach Huts a Black-throated Diver was on the sea and an immature Peregrine moved along the cliff. Two Raven flew low over the harbour whilst 3 Mediterranean Gull were seen today. A late morning visit to Stanpit produced a raptor fest - a female Marsh Harrier moved from east to west whilst 16 Buzzard and 6 Sparrowhawk were soaring to the north. Finally an immature Little Gull, the first of the year, was amongst a flock of Black-headed Gull heading over Priory Marsh towards the Avon Valley. A late afternoon visit to the Beach Huts produced 22 Turnstone on groyne S4 and S7 Eider west.
After the overnight rain there was very little evidence of migration, just a single Wheatear on the Barn Field. The best bird of the morning was a Merlin which dashed over the Common harrassing the local Meadow Pipit population. The sea, which, without a breath of wind, was like a millpond and almost bird free - a Sanderling heading east was the only bird of note. Waders in the harbour today were 116 Black-tailed Godwit, 78 Dunlin, 14 Grey Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Knot, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and rather oddly 5 Lapwing were still on the marsh. As one would expect Wigeon numbers have fallen dramatically in the last few days and there were just 3 Brent Geese today but 65 Shelduck remain. This afternoon 22 Turnstone and 3 Purple Sandpiper were off the Beach Huts on groyne S2. The 2 adult Mediterranean Gull flew into Stanpit where there was also a Little Tern off Blackberry.
Almost on cue the first Pied Flycatcher of the spring turned up today; the bird, a stunning male was on Wick just behind the HHC. Another 2 Redstart were on the Common and a Tree Pipit was on Warren Hill. It was a good morning for Willow Warbler with a very conservative estimate of 200 plus, many of which were singing. In all 28 Wheatear were seen including 8 on the Barn Field and 9 on the groynes. Bearded Tit was once again heard calling from the HHC reedbed and 2 Reed Warbler were singing. The 2 adult Mediterranean Gull flew high over Wick heading south and 4 Canada Geese flew low over the Common; another Canada Goose was on the Quarry Pool! The Black-tailed Godwit flock which was feeding in Barn Bight numbered 103.
After some patchy early morning mist we enjoyed a glorious spring day with a reasonable fall of migrants. Highlights included 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 on Stanpit and 1 in Double Dykes and 5 Redstart, 3 in the Barn Field and 2 on Stanpit. Around 120 Willow Warbler were counted, also 47 Blackcap, 20 Chiffchaff and 8 Wheatear whilst overhead were 120 Meadow Pipit and 32 Swallow. A pair of Bearded Tit was on Priory Marsh along with the 3 Water Pipit and 3 White Wagtail. This afternoon on Stanpit 110 Black-tailed Godwit were on East Marsh, a lone Knot was feeding off Blackberry and the Brent Goose flock numbered just 16. Finally an adult Mediterranean Gull was over Wick Hams.
An unfamiliar call in the woodland this morning set the pulses racing but turned out to be an escaped Cockatiel.
There was an improvement in the weather today with a hint of spring sunshine although the wind was still cool. An early Wood Warbler was singing behind the Nursery mid-morning but other migrants were scarce to say the least, just 8 Wheatear, 2 Redstart, a flyover Tree Pipit and a few phylloscs. The first Hobby of the spring headed north over Solent Meads Golf Course and there was a pager report of a Cuckoo on Stanpit. Waders on Stanpit provided a bit more interest this morning as 2 Little Stint flew past Blackberry towards Fisherman's Bank and 3 Common Sandpiper were around Priory Marsh and Purewell Stream. The Black-tailed Godwit flock still numbered just under 100, Grey Plover have increased to 19 and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit were present. Priory Marsh also held 3 Water Pipit. There were 3 Gadwall in Barn Bight, the usual pair plus a lone drake and a Greylag flew south through the harbour. A brief seawatch produced just 15 Eider and a Fulmar moving east. Finally 4 Little Tern and the 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were around Stanpit.
After a slight overnight frost a clear blue sky greeted the early morning birders today but unfortunately the strong and persistent westerly wind made it feel very cold. There were a few migrants around first thing, counts being 25 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 6 Whitethroat, 6 Wheatear, 3 Reed Warbler and a male Redstart. The HHC mudbar held 2 Whimbrel but these birds very quickly headed west. Bearded Tit was once again heard from the HHC reedbed. A female Merlin was seen over Hengistbury and 4 Mediterranean Gull were around the harbour. The Razorbill was still on the sea off the Beach Huts but very little else moving just 11 Common Scoter and 2 Common Tern east and 3 Guillemot west. A pair of Little Grebe appears to be on territory on the quarry pool where they bred successfully last year. On Stanpit there were 95 Black-tailed Godwit, just one each of Knot and Grey Plover and 19 Brent Geese. Check yesterday's sightings for late news.
Without losing any of its strength the wind had moved round to the north-west this morning making it feel much colder. Migration appears to be very much on hold with just 5 Wheatear on the Barn Field and a Yellowhammer overhead. A Bearded Tit heard calling from the HHC reedbed obviously raises the possibility that this species may breed again this year. After reasonable sea watches for a couple of days this morning produced just a single Razorbill on the sea. On the river there were 3 Great Crested Grebe whilst off Grimmery Bank the pair of Gadwall could be seen. From Fisherman's Bank this afternoon 95 Black-tailed Godwit were counted; also present were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Knot.
Late news: An evening visit to Stanpit produced a male Redstart in the North Scrubs by the Information Caravan and 2 Whimbrel on East Marsh.
The strong westerly wind meant there was very little in the way of passerine migration this morning although a few Linnet came in off the sea and the Barn Field held 2 Wheatear. Hence the sea received good coverage from just after dawn until 10am. The first skua of the year, an Arctic, moved rapidly east; also moving in the same direction were 42 Gannet. However most birds were heading west including 2 Red-throated and 1 Black-throated Diver. Tern passage was the best of the year so far with counts of 107 Sandwich, 5 Common and 4 Little Tern, the latter being another addition to the 2005 list. Two further Little Tern were fishing off Mudeford Quay this afternoon. Continuing with this morning 8 Fulmar, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and a Peregrine also moved west whilst Razorbill and Great Crested Grebe were on the sea. A late morning visit to Stanpit produced a Ring Ouzel which, accidentally flushed from Crouch Hill, flew towards Wick. Greenshank on East Marsh and Little Ringed Plover on South Marsh were obviously new arrivals. Other waders counted were 160 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot and 1 Sanderling. A 1st yr Mediterranean Gull was present and 9 Brent Geese were still on the marsh.
A thoroughly unpleasant start to the day due to strengthening south-westerlies and a succession of heavy showers made sea watching the only option this morning. The highlight of a 3 hour vigil was a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe which was on the sea slowly drifting east. This species is locally scarce with only one or two records annually. A distant Scoter flock heading west held 2 Velvet and 11 Common - in all 30 Common Scoter were seen, 20 of which moved west and 10 east. The first Common Tern of the year was also recorded today; in fact 5 were seen, 3 east and 2 west. It was also the best day for Fulmar this year as 27 were logged all moving west; heading in the same direction were 15 Kittiwake, 2 of which were immature, 14 Gannet, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and just 1 Red-throated Diver. Other news today includes an alba wagtail on the Stanpit golf course this morning then, this afternoon, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were off Mudeford Quay and 24 Turnstone were on the sandspit by the Black House.
A cold night, which saw a light frost not far from the recording area. In almost still conditions this morning, migrants were sparse. Definite new birds were 2 Reed Warbler singing from reeds along the western edge of the river, while 2 singing Whitethroat on Hengistbury were also certainly overnight arrivers. Both Peregrine and Merlin were seen over the head, and a single Great-northern Diver west and 2 Fulmar were at sea. Game birds in strange locations always cause amusement, and a Red-legged Partridge on the Sandspit was no exception. Only other migrants were 4 Blackcap, 3 Swallow and 3 Wheatear, and it is worth noting the almost complete absence of phylloscs. The Garganey pair remain at Stanpit; today, they were spotted in Parky Meade Rail just after lunch. Also lingering, is the male Redstart by the Golf Course. On Wick Fields, there was a single Ruff, and around Stanpit Bight, this afternoon, there were 2 Knot, 1 Sanderling and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. An interesting late snippet for Saturday has been added.
Overnight rain and drizzle at dawn heralded a phyllosc arrival. In a three hour period this morning, over 170 Willow Warbler and 50 Chiffchaff were estimated in the woodland on Hengistbury. Less common migrants included, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 in the Nursery and 1 in Double Dykes, both birds were reeling quietly; a female type Black Redstart was on the Beach Huts; and, closeby, a Firecrest was singing at the end of the head. The Sandspit area also saw quite an arrival of Wheatear, over 16 were present, as well as 6 birds elsewhere. Blackcap numbers were also up, perhaps as many as 21 birds today. Later in the morning, the bird of the day was an Osprey seen low over Two Riversmeet, as it headed purposefully north. A seawatch produced just 2 easterly Common Scoter and 1 young Kittiwake west, and a Fulmar was seen from the top of the head. On the beaches, there 3 were 3 Purple Sandpiper and a single Sanderling, while a Mediterranean Gull was also noted. Early on Stanpit, the pair of Garganey were soon located on Priory Marsh, which also held 11 Water Pipit. A Whitethroat was in the gorse on Grimmery Point and a pale Knot was in Stanpit Bight. No Brent Goose were seen today, yesterday did see a lot of moving birds. Similarly, Black-tailed Godwit seem to be down, only 66 could be counted. A male Redstart was on the Golf Course at Stanpit late this afternoon. Referring back to yesterday, the mentioned lame Curlew was seen in a group of 13 birds past Hurst Castle and, later, with 6 birds over Selsey Bill around an hour or so after it had passed Hengistbury.
After yesterday, there was much anticipation, but breakfast in bed would have actually been the better option. In a south-easterly wind, there wasn't much to see on land or sea. A brief morning highlight was a Little Ringed Plover heard three times over the end of the head, but not seen. A pair of Garganey were located on Priory Marsh, where they remained until at least 6:00 this evening, also 5 Canada Goose there and 3 late Snipe over Central Marsh just before dusk. Back to Hengistbury, and, early on, there was a Firecrest in Double Dykes and a Tree Pipit over the Beach Huts. The morning also saw a notable movement of Brent Goose; at least 150 were recorded in relatively high flying skeins, one numbering over 60 birds. Also on the move were Curlew, 14 noted, including 12 in a group that contained an individual with a drooping leg. Was that seen further east later? Other miscellany included a paltry 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field, House Sparrow heard over the end of the head, a pair of Shoveler in Stanpit Bight, 15 Common Scoter at sea and 1 Kittiwake west.
An easterly wind developed overnight and put paid to any large arrival of common passerines. There was, however, ample compensation. Firstly, the week's second record of Spoonbill, as an immature bird arrived off the sea over Double Dykes, then headed strongly north-east. Another duplicate sighting for week was Marsh Harrier, also arriving off the sea. Like yesterday, this was a young male in its first-summer. The bird was first seen from the end of the head, struggling into the wind and being hassled by crows and gulls, before changing tack and heading north over Stanpit, dropping its escort on the way. Meanwhile, the Stanpit crew turned up a cracking drake Garganey resting in Stanpit Bight. This could also be seen from Hengistbury and remained on East Marsh throughout the afternoon. Whitethroat will soon be singing right across the area and today saw the first of the year - a male on Wick Fields. The sea produced unprecedented number of Eider, a total of 42 passed west in separate groups of 16, 2 and 24. This number surpasses the annual average by a long chalk. Also seen at sea was a Peregrine heading out for tired migrants, while a Merlin busied itself chasing incoming pipits. More expected sea passage comprised 21 Common Scoter, 11 Gannet, 4 Teal, 2 Fulmar and 1 Razorbill. Short distance migrants included 3 Yellowhammer about the Barn Field and 3 Rook. Overhead movement was censused at 235 Linnet, 217 Meadow Pipit, 15 alba Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit; and, on the ground, the Wheatear numbered 15 and a Redstart was by Double Dykes. A couple of Ruff were seen on the floods at Wick, along with a Brent Goose, a strange location for the latter. Despite some effort this afternoon, Stanpit failed to deliver anything really significant. The pair of adult Mediterranean Gull continue to be seen and heard, there were 3 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh, and 2 Red-breasted Merganser and a Sanderling in Stanpit Bight. Probably the best watched bird of the day was a small duck on Priory Marsh. There are some strong characteristics of drake Blue-winged Teal, but, alas, some other plumage details that just don't add up, suggesting a hybrid individual.
Late news: a male Bearded Tit was heard in Priory Reeds during the morning, before flying over the river to Wick. Slightly later, it, or another was heard again, on and off, for over an hour.
Another morning of heavy fog, nevertheless, there were birds to be seen. A young male Marsh Harrier was watched quartering Wick Hams and the Barn Field for 15 minutes this morning, no doubt confused by the conditions. Overhead, the year's first 2 Tree Pipit headed north, as did a single Yellow Wagtail and Brambling, and a male Yellowhammer passed over the Barn Field. A definite 'crest and phyllosc arrival was noted, and was headed by 4 Firecrest by the Lily Pond; also 65 Goldcrest, while the warblers reached a total of almost 100, split evenly between the 2 species. This included a group of 12 seen to arrive at the end of the head. A reasonable passage of Meadow Pipit and Linnet, around 1000 and 300 birds respectively, was recorded. At sea, 69 Brent Goose went east and a single Canada Goose headed the same way over the harbour. On the groynes, there were 6 Purple Sandpiper and a Great-crested Grebe was in the harbour. Wick Fields held 4 Golden Plover late in the morning and earlier a Raven had been heard in the mist. As the conditions improved, Stanpit was extremely well watched this afternoon. At least 2 House Martin were over Priory Marsh and a Fieldfare was in the North Scrubs. A pair of adult Mediterranean Gull were seen on 2 occasion, these had also been seen in the morning on Solent Meads Golf Course. On East Marsh, there were 2 Ruff and 1 Knot, and a Common Sandpiper, presumably the wintering bird, was on Fisherman's Bank. There are still Water Pipit around, a couple were on Priory Marsh and, this morning, 1 was grounded by the Natterjack Pond on Hengistbury, along with 2 White Wagtail. Commoner species counts from Stanpit include a new high for the year of 74 Shelduck, while the Black-tailed Godwit exceeded 150. Finally, the first Mallard brood, numbering 7 duckling, was in Wick Spires. Other birds in season included singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap in the North Scrubs. This evening, there was a solitary Ruff on Wick Fields, also a couple of hundred decked Meadow Pipit.