Sightings for November 2005
The promise of milder weather materialised at last today but unfortunately the strengthening south-westerly wind brought rain this afternoon. Only Stanpit was visited with very little change to report although Grey Plover had increased to 24 and Ringed Plover to 12. There were still no Lapwing in the harbour today; it's now about a week since there were any. They tend to commute between the harbour and the Avon Valley but Sunday's webscount found very few in the Valley. The birds seem to have moved on ahead of last weekend's Arctic blast!
After a frosty start it was another fine day and at times felt quite warm in the sunshine. On Stanpit there was a slight increase in numbers with 350 Dunlin, 216 Brent Geese, 125 Redshank and 36 Black-tailed Godwit mainly on East Marsh at high tide. Both Grey and Ringed Plover remain low with 13 and 4 respectively; also roosting on the edge of Stanpit Bight amongst the numerous Wigeon were 4 duck Shoveler. A Peregrine high over the harbour heading towards Mudeford caused the usual panic around lunchtime.
Very first thing, it felt very slightly warmer - but as the morning progressed, the temperature certainly dropped. After yesterday's relative excitement, Stanpit was pretty mundane. The best were 2 Bullfinch in the North Scrubs and a single Knot around Stanpit Bight. The Brent Goose numbers were similar to yesterday, but held only the more expected. The Grey Plover seem to be reducing daily, with just 9 counted this morning. The Dunlin totalled around 200 and the Black-tailed Godwit 15. A Kingfisher was seen darting across East Marsh.
Still no break in the recent, overnight sub-zero temperatures and this seemed to bring in wildfowl. The best, although not a full species, was an adult pale-bellied Brent Goose (race hrota ). Hrota breeds in Greenland and Spitzbergen, with wintering populations in the north-east, Ireland and Denmark. The bird was originally alone on Blackberry Point, before joining the main gaggle, where it was initially greeted with hostility. Also noteworthy was a group of 15 Pochard that circled the area, before heading upriver, as did a single Tufted Duck. A further highlight was an immature Marsh Harrier seen over Wick Fields, while equally unusual was a late finch movement over Hengistbury. This comprised 108 Chaffinch, 83 Goldfinch, 14 Siskin, 11 Brambling and 9 Bullfinch. There were also at least 2 settled Bullfinch in Wick Fields throughout the day, also 3 Redwing and a Fieldfare. Continuing their recent good showing, at least 2 Bearded Tit were heard about East Marsh on Stanpit. On the sandspit, there were 3 Purple Sandpiper and 6 Turnstone on groyne S5; while at sea, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill, 32 auk sp. and 3 diver sp. headed east. It was also the monthly WeBS count and this turned in some exceptionally high totals, not least Wigeon with 758 birds across the recording area. Meanwhile, "normal" Brent Goose numbered 197 and still contain a very good ratio of first-winter birds - 68 in the gaggle this morning. In contrast, Black-tailed Godwit are still low, just 17 counted, as are Curlew with a paltry 8 birds. Before the grind of the regulars, a single Little Grebe, 13 Grey Plover, 1 Shelduck, 3 Shoveler, 2 Common Gull and 2 Kingfisher kept the interest. Finally, to complete the picture, other totals included: 357 Coot, 160 Dunlin, 110 Teal, 92 Redshank, 60 Mute Swan, 43 Oystercatcher and 14 Snipe.
Not much of a weather change, so it was "remarkably" cold on Hengistbury this morning. Those that made the effort should perhaps have stayed at home in the warm. From the HHC, just a Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare raised the tempo, while the subsequent seawatch rates in the top flight of non-events. In a 90 minute spell a Great-northern Diver and diver sp. passed by, also a close in Razorbill, a handful of auk sp., a single Gannet, 4 Common Scoter and a departing Pintail. After their exceptional autumn, Bullfinch continue to linger, 3 were on Wick Fields all day and a single bird was in the North Scrubs on Stanpit around lunchtime. A couple of wintering Chiffchaff were also on Wick Fields and an adult male Peregrine was overhead. Back on Stanpit, where 3 Fieldfare were a nice sighting in the North Scrubs; also a Kingfisher recorded. Earlier in the day, the information services reported a Jack Snipe and a Water Pipit.
This afternoon, as the northerly wind cut across the Stanpit tundra, there was only little to report. The highlight was the appearance of 2 Knot between South Marsh and Blackberry Point. Other than these, it was a drake Pintail in Stanpit Bight, along with 3 Shelduck, 200 Dunlin and 18 Grey Plover, but just 2 Ringed Plover. The poor Black-tailed Godwit presence continues, just 9 on the marsh today. The Brent Goose gaggle was out on the extremes of Central Marsh, so was not counted, but could be heard.
The harbour received much better coverage in slightly milder conditions this morning. Just after dawn the birds leaving the Nursery roost rather surprisingly included 14 Crossbill; also counted were 238 Greenfinch, 560 Wood Pigeon and 51 Stock Dove. The improvement in the weather also brought about some late passerine movement with 21 Redwing, 5 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrush and a Yellowhammer heading north-west and 88 Goldfinch, 32 Siskin and 6 Redpoll moving south-east whilst a Bullfinch was in the bushes by the HHC. At sea 76 auk and 1 diver species moved east; all of these birds being too distant to identify. The birds on Stanpit were put to flight by 2 Peregrine; numbers were estimated as 900 Lapwing, 350 Dunlin, 26 Grey Plover and 5 Gadwall. Two Raven did a circuit of the harbour before heading back north. A late morning walk found 4 Purple Sandpiper and 5 Turnstone on the Mudeford Sandspit. Finally a Kingfisher was opposite Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime.
The cold weather seems to have deterred the usual birders from venturing into the field hence there is very little to report. Similar numbers of birds were present on Stanpit today with the only additions being the presence of 3 Shoveler in Parky Mead.
The lingering fog which made for a cold start had cleared by lunchtime giving way to quite a pleasant sunny afternoon. Once again only Stanpit was visited both morning and afternoon. Counts included 425 Wigeon, 370 Dunlin, 18 Grey Plover and 14 Black-tailed Godwit; also the pre-roost gathering of gulls on the tip of South Marsh held 15 Common Gull. A single Redwing was in Stanpit Scrubs and the Dartford Warbler was on Crouch Hill.
After another frosty start it was a fine sunny day in the harbour although the slight northerly breeze made it feel quite chilly at times. The only records received today were from Stanpit where there was an impressive flock of 140 Redshank gathered in Stanpit Bight this morning; also present were 40 Dunlin, 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Grey Plover and 9 Ringed Plover.
An equally cold day that was even quieter than yesterday. The duck interest continued, but in reduced numbers - 9 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck and 1 Pochard seen. There were even less finches, just 11Brambling and 6 Siskin over the head, and 2 Bullfinch on Wick. Only other interest was a Mistle Thrush on Wick Fields. Lastly, apologies for the errors on the photos yesterday - after 20+ years of birding, I still seem to be incapable of separating a pipit from a thrush!
This morning saw a heavy frost on Hengistbury, an indication of how cold it was. Having said that, with the absence of any wind-chill, it wasn't too unpleasant; although a Robin at the HHC obviously thought differently, as it promptly jumped in through an open car door! It was a day for diving duck with some good local totals: Pochard led, with 22 zapping around the harbour, while Tufted Duck were between 6 and 8. Pintail headed the dabblers, as 22 seemed to head north, perhaps the Avon Valley winter flock is now gathering. Also exceptional for the area were 27 Shoveler settled around Stanpit this afternoon, but 15 Gadwall in the morning is not too shabby either. A brief overhead passage just after dawn included a heard flock of Crossbill, 6 Redpoll, 3 Brambling and 1 Song Thrush, and there were 5 Bullfinch settled in Wick Fields. There were 3 Purple Sandpiper on groynes below the Point House Café, also 2 Golden Plover on Stanpit and 10+ Black-tailed Godwit arrived over Barn Bight, and a single Bearded Tit was seen in flight around Brewer's Creek. The Razorbill was again close in off the Sandspit and 2 Common Scoter headed west. Stanpit is literally teeming with birds, and this afternoon they were spread all over, deterring any counting. A single Jack Snipe was seen, along with 5+ Common Gull, but there were also at least 6 seen over Hengistbury, and a Dartford Warbler was on the cleared gorse on Crouch Hill. Kingfisher numbers seem to be up, with over 4 birds seen. Throughout the day, many Water Rail were squealing in most available habitat, perhaps suggesting a recent influx. There may be something much bigger and browner in there with them.
Another cold one that never really got warm. Things are quietening down, but at least 4 Bearded Tit were seen and even photographed on Stanpit. Stephen must be congratulated for getting a shot of this incredibly elusive species. Also a female Bullfinch and Grey Wagtail on the marsh today. The highlight on Hengistbury was a Firecrest in the Wood, while Wick had 2 Crossbill and 4 Bullfinch over. The only other migrant finch record was a heard Brambling. A couple of Purple Sandpiper were on the Sandspit, and a Kingfisher and 2 Tufted Duck were in Barn Bight.
A crystal clear night, during which the mercury sank fast. The last couple of days have probably seen the last of the big autumn action and it's interesting to contrast with last year, when things had died off over two weeks earlier. In the cold this morning, just a handful of birds moved over. Although 4 flocks of Stock Dove, totalling 175 birds in all, is a really good count. Finches were almost non-existent, just 6 Bullfinch, 5 Brambling and 5 Redpoll made the records, but a Grey Wagtail over Hengistbury was the first there for a while. The day's best two birds were a Black Redstart on Wick Fields and an Avocet on Stanpit, seen from Hengistbury. A good presence of Tufted Duck is no doubt related to the temperatures; this morning 6 were in Barn Bight, but this had risen to 9 by the afternoon. Even better though, were a group of 6 Pochard resting on the sea. There was also a Kingfisher and Great-crested Grebe in that area. Records from the Sandspit this afternoon include 4 Purple Sandpiper on S3, until they were flushed by a helicopter! There was also an excellent count of 36 Turnstone and a Razorbill feeding on the sea just 20 metres out. Pheasant are, right now, very conspicuous, especially on the old Pitch and Putt area.
A strange day that started as being quite mild, but suddenly chilled in the mid-morning as a northerly wind got up. A small movement of finches over Hengistbury was headed by 2 Crossbill, which settled briefly in a bush by the HHC, before being seen off by the resident Robin, who also took on several Redpoll. As well as 7 Bullfinch, a total, 320 Chaffinch, 275 Goldfinch, 35 Redpoll and 27 Siskin were counted. One of the 2 Peregrine seen this morning, a large female bird, spooked the Stanpit Lapwing, allowing an estimate of 1200 to be made, also 17 Grey Plover and 2 Golden Plover. A Firecrest was the highlight of the Wood, while at sea a Red-breasted Merganser went east, 2 Common Scoter west, and 1 Great-crested Grebe and 1 Razorbill were on the water. The 2 Brewer's Creek Bearded Tit were again seen and a Kingfisher was around Barn Bight.
A complete contrast in the weather today with a dull drizzly start. The Short-eared Owl was accidently flushed from its regular field on Wick around mid-morning and a Little Owl was calling from deep within a bush nearby. In a hedge near the driving range there were 2 Bullfinch whilst 10 Siskin and 5 Redpoll were milling around. Overhead both Brambling and Great Spotted Woodpecker were noted. On Stanpit the Brent Goose flock numbered 144 whilst other counts included 350 Wigeon, 40 Teal and 2 Shoveler plus 15 Dunlin, 14 Black-tailed Godwit and just 6 Ringed Plover. A Peregrine was seen over Priory Marsh. A walk over Wick this afternoon saw the Short-eared Owl being mobbed by corvids high over the reedbed as it drifted towards Stanpit.
Of late, it has been so mild, one tends to forget about something called chill, but today was a stark reminder! The conditions were near identical to yesterday, so hopes of a similar finch bonanza were not misplaced, but it didn't happen. Instead, it was left to Woodpigeon to salvage the morning, with a massive 41000 moving south-west over the area. Some of the flocks were so high they were invisible until the bird's underparts caught the sun. This only happened as the birds were going away, so many were probably missed. A total of 1500 Stock Dove were also estimated. A Snow Bunting was the pick of the smaller migrants, heard roving the head at least twice, but never seen. The same could be said of a Yellowhammer. The Wood held some minor interest in a Firecrest and Coal Tit, while a Blackcap was feeding on apples in Wick Fields and the now regular 2 Bearded Tit were seen in the reeds by Brewer's Creek. As often happens in a north wind, wildfowl and waders start to appear. Today saw 2 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard and 12 Pintail, as well as 58 Dunlin, 11 Knot and 6 Golden Plover, all west. The finch count was: 200 Chaffinch, 200 Greenfinch, in contrast to none yesterday, 150 Goldfinch, 45 Redpoll, 35 Siskin, 5 Brambling and 4 Bullfinch.
Weather-wise, it at last felt like November. Clear skies and a northerly wind saw to that. The complete lack of cloud meant it was ideal for pigeon movement, the only unknown was, were there any left to move? It seems there were, as 16000 passed west. The vast majority in a constant string moving directly over the centre of the harbour. Also included was a high percentage of Stock Dove, 1200 in total, however, many of these moved in tight, single species flocks. The watch period was dawn to 11:00 and the highlights were: a Richard's Pipit seen flying the length of the head; 20 Hawfinch, including a flock of 16 and then 3 birds that teamed up with some Crossbill and perched on the conifers in the Nursery; 23 Crossbill, 18 Bullfinch and 2 Yellowhammer. Also remarkable, was an apparent Sparrowhawk passage, between 18 and 22 were recorded, including a kettle of 9 soaring over Hengistbury at one time; also 2 Merlin and 3 Buzzard west. Meanwhile, a total of 4 individual Peregine couldn't believe their luck as the pigeon trundled by. The Grey Phalarope was on Priory Marsh for at least the morning, but is probably still there. Also seen on Stanpit were 3 Yellow-legged Gull off South Marsh, the Wigeon numbered a very healthy 500+ and the Brent Goose turned in at 140, also 4 Shoveler. A group of 4 Golden Plover were seen to arrive and the constantly airborne Lapwing flock contained 2 Ruff. A couple of Kingfisher were seen, one looking towards the HHC, the other by Purewell Stream, where there was also a Grey Wagtail. Small numbers of moving finches were resting in the North Scrubs, also 2 Chiffchaff. Back to Hengistbury and the morning's migration, which was a good one. Firstly thrushes, with 69 Redwing, 56 Song Thrush and 18 Fieldfare going north. Gulls were also seen on the move to the west, some of them very high; these included 270 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 130 Common Gull, 6 Mediterranean Gull and 1 Little Gull. Now the daily routine, but with some notable numbers - 820 Chaffinch, 530 Starling, 420 Goldfinch, 385 Brambling, 230 Linnet, 149 Siskin, 135 Skylark, 126 Redpoll, 36 House Sparrow and 31 Reed Bunting. The omission of Greenfinch is not a mistake, where were they?
Additional news: 12 Bearded Tit were recorded, 2 by Brewer's Creek and 10 in the HHC reeds.
Firstly thanks to John Hamilton for a fascinating and appetite whetting talk on the birds and mammals of Tanzania at a well-attended HHC last night. Today, as dawn broke, the wind was a chilly south-west, but in the first hour or so the breeze lightened. There was a reasonable passerine passage and full numbers will follow in a later update. However, casual observations suggested Brambling and Bullfinch were again giving a good showing. The highlights were 2 Lapland Bunting west over the Long Field and a flock of 26 Crossbill over the Double Dykes. Replacing last Saturday's unfortunate individual, there was another first-winter Grey Phalarope on Stanpit, this time on Priory Pools. It's certainly worth looking closely at the photos - how often do you see the legs of a Grey Phalarope? Interesting colour! There also appears to be some slight oiling on at least the left flank of the bird. Of further interest, this is not the bird that was seen just north of the recording area, on Coward's Marsh, earlier this week. Back to the south side of the area and a seawatch produced just 8 Common Scoter. Better though, was a Bearded Tit in the reeds around Barn Bight and a single Fieldfare in Wick Ditch. A Peregrine was soaring, motionless, in the updraft from the head for over 5 minutes early on, while 15 Black-tailed Godwit over Stanpit is the biggest count for a few weeks. After a quite sensational game in Geneva, who can wait for June next year..
Additional news: the missing finch counts comprised - 315 Chaffinch, 270 Greenfinch, 230 Goldfinch, 125 Linnet, 41 Brambling, 32 Siskin, 21 Redpoll and 18 Bullfinch.
With the wind still gusting from the south-west, it was another day for seawatching. Despite being extremely quiet for the first hour, things picked up significantly as a juvenile Sabine's Gull came in very close to the Beach Huts and gave an excellent show for the three lucky observers. The bird then continued on its way west. After this, there was a little more activity, a total of 25 Little Gull passed by, as did 7 Kittiwake, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great-northern Diver, 1 Pintail and 1 Common Scoter. A Mediterranean Gull of unreported age was also seen; and a Red-throated Diver and a Razorbill were on the water.
Despite some overhead migration at other sites, today was very slow, just 5 Brambling and 3 Redwing noted; and this was with A1 grade coverage on Hengistbury. Apart from a couple of Bearded Tit in the HHC reeds, all the remaining interest comes from the sea. A total of 4 Velvet Scoter moved west, a single bird early on, then 3 together at 11:15. A Red-breasted Merganser count of 14 birds was, locally, excellent, as was 63 Common Gull west; while 2 Tufted Duck were also out of the ordinary. The best of the rest is a Little Gull, then 26 Brent Goose, 12 Gannet, 7 Kittiwake, 9 Common Scoter and 3 Great-crested Grebe. A Peregrine was also seen on a few occasions.
The temperature had dropped quite a bit overnight, but, nonetheless, it is still uncharacteristically mild for the date. An early start for one individual, after being awoken by his young daughter, produced a "kewicking" Tawny Owl at from Two Riversmeet. After that, it was round to Hengistbury, where a Short-eared Owl was watched coming in off the sea, with a large escort of gulls. Around 45 minutes later, the same or another gave very good views by the Ironstone Quarry. A small visible migration was noted, small numbers of finches, including 10+ Brambling, 9 Redoll and 6 Siskin, were accompanied by around 10 Redwing and 1200 Woodpigeon. Also overhead, 2 Peregrine and Merlin, and 5 Pintail.
Additional news: a Hen Harrier went through Stanpit late morning, also 3 Grey Plover and a Little Grebe. On Hengistbury, there were 2 Purple Sandpiper on groyne S5 and Black Swan in Barn Bight. The way the British list is being restructured, perhaps we can year tick it.
As a southerly wind picked up, there were another 2 Leach's Petrel recorded. The first bird, at 08:35, was seen off the Beach Huts and then from Mudeford Quay, as it headed west. A second passed the Beach Huts, in the same direction, around 15 minutes later. Also seen from the two locations were a Little Gull, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, a late Sandwich Tern, a diver sp. and at least 5 Kittiwake; all headed west, save for 2 of the Kittiwake and a single Gannet. In total, the sea was watched from 07:30 to 10:00. Some counts received from Stanpit are very welcome and include 400 Lapwing, 350 Wigeon, 127 Brent Goose and a single Grey Plover. Most of these birds were concentrated around Stanpit Bight and East Marsh.
The bird of the day, or perhaps the autumn, was a Red-necked Phalarope, watched for well over 5 minutes off the Beach Huts at just after 8:00 this morning. This is the first record for over 10 years and congratulations go to the finder. In much calmer and drier conditions than yesterday, there was a modest overhead passage that contained some items of quality. Continuing their almost unprecedented migration over the area, another 3 Hawfinch passed through, as did 2 Woodlark, 15 Crossbill, 9 Bullfinch, with another 2 grounded in the Long Field, and 2 Yellowhammer. Movement was generally to the south-west with numbers of the more expected species starting to dwindle. More figures follow at the end of the report. Other above average records on Hengistbury include a Black Redstart around the Long Groyne, a Short-eared Owl over the Batters and a Firecrest in the Wood, also 3 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap. At sea, 2 Little Gull and a Red-throated Diver moved west; and a Peregrine flushed 3 Golden Plover, 6 Grey Plover and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit off Stanpit, 5 Pintail were also seen to leave from there and a Great-crested Grebe was in the harbour. An early shower decked some thrushes with 1 Ring Ouzel among 91 Redwing, 28 Song Thrush and 11 Fieldfare. Finally, a lone Swallow moved with 1900 Woodpigeon, 430 Chaffinch, 270 Greenfinch, 210 Goldfinch, 180 Linnet, 134 Stock Dove, 100 Skylark, 70 Meadow Pipit, 46 Brambling, 46 Siskin and 5 Redpoll.
The expected atrocious weather arrived overnight and gave rise to a day of almost constant sea coverage. From the Beach Huts, between 7:15 and 9:45, 3 Leach's Petrel gave reasonable views, although some directions of, "it's over a wave now," may need improving. Also a Grey Phalarope flying west, but actually moving east, while being pursued up The Solent by a Kittiwake. In fact, the early total of 9 Kittiwake contained some aggressive individuals with another giving a petrel some attention. These lost birds also received some ominous interest from the offshore large gulls. Gannet are still largely absent, just 3 seen this morning, also 1 breeding plumaged Great-northern Diver, 3 Shelduck and 10 Common Scoter, all west. On the way to a later watch, a Grey Phalarope was seen fluttering over the flooded SSSI by Barn Bight and a male Yellowhammer was in the Long Field. Then, at sea, between 11:30 and 12:30, there were a further 4 to 6 Leach's Petrel, with two together being briefly harassed by 2 Arctic Skua. Also a Storm Petrel seen very close in. On the water, there was a Slavonian Grebe, a great local record, and 2 Great-crested Grebe; and a single Purple Sandpiper was on the rocks. A total of 24 Kittiwake passed by, along with a Mediterranean Gull, 2 Red-throated Diver and a Great-northern Diver. Around the same time, a Red-throated Diver was seen off Whitepits, so may have been one of the same; and earlier, a first-winter Little Gull had been off Mudeford Quay. The final session of the day, from 3:30 to 4:30 on Mudeford Quay, saw 2 Great Skua heading west. Please check back to yesterday for some additional items.
Additional news: a Greenshank was on Stanpit during the afternoon.
The weather was forecast to be dry overnight with almost continual rain setting in by mid-morning. In reality, it drizzled overnight and remained dry all day! For the first couple of hours there was almost no wind, but by mid-morning a light south-westerly had picked up. This meant that, early on, birds were moving randomly and very high, but later the passage was much lower and to the west. It was the day of the Brambling, a total of 475 were counted, many passing below the top of the head and affording excellent views in the bright sunlight. Also seen, but nowhere near so well, were 5 Woodlark and 1 Snow Bunting, the latter with Brambling, heading south. Other quality came from 27 Crossbill and 25 Bullfinch, while 2 male Ring Ouzel perched obligingly on a holly bush on the Batters, a total of 4 were recorded in the day. At dawn, Redwing and Fieldfare moved off north-west, 210 and 36 respectively; but Song Thrush were lazier in their exit and numbered 160. A Yellow-browed Warbler was heard in the Wood and 2 Firecrest were seen. The Grey Phalarope was on Stanpit, but at 10:23 was sadly despatched by a Sparrowhawk. Equally violent was a Great Black-backed Gull that spent 10 minutes drowning a Shag off the Beach Huts; also 3 Purple Sandpiper there. There was a definite migration of Sparrowhawk, with at least 9 being presumed travellers, including a kettle of 5 rising above the end of the head before moving off. Echoes of Cape May! On the mid-level, just below the top of the head, there was a Black Redstart and a late Wheatear; and from the top, a Great-northern Diver and 26 Common Scoter were logged. Woodpigeon were a mere 5500, most heading south-west, along with 290 Stock Dove. On Stanpit this afternoon, there were no American gulls, but a Greenshank was a good late year record, also 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, c50 Dunlin and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. The Brent Goose totalled 143, still many juveniles, also recorded were 5 Shoveler, 1 Pintail, 1 Little Grebe and 4 Common Gull. Finally, back to the morning and the remaining visible migration totals over Hengistbury - 580 Chaffinch, 580 Starling, 360 Goldfinch, 310 Greenfinch, 86 Linnet, a low number for the date, 80 Meadow Pipit, 78 Redpoll, 65 alba Wagtail, 56 Siskin, 28 Rook, 21 Jackdaw, 19 Reed Bunting and 12 House Sparrow. The site is normally reserved for birds, but a migration of 45 Red Admiral and 2 Painted Lady, in November, is worthy of remark.
Additional news: this afternoon, a couple of Black-throated Diver flew low over Wick Fields, then headed east. Also 11 Bullfinch and 1 Firecrest in the fields.
The fourth of November, a classic date for Woodpigeon. So a total of 35000 south/south-west over the harbour this morning was not that much of a surprise. What is amazing is that this follows around 125000 birds over Dorset during the preceding 7 days. Somewhere this winter there are going to be a lot of birds. There were also 730 Stock Dove mixed in with the mass of columbae. Late in the morning, the Grey Phalarope was re-found around Stanpit Bight and a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard near the Ironstone Quarry on Hengistbury. A couple of Fircrest were showing well by the Double Bends for most of the day; while in the morning, 3 Short-eared Owl, 2 together over Hengistbury and 1 high over Stanpit were recorded, as were 3 Merlin. Meanwhile, at sea, a Peregrine was chasing what may have been a petrel. For 90 minutes just after dawn, it was another overhead migration frenzy. Normally birds follow the east-west lie of Hengistbury, meaning wherever you are they are likely to pass over you. Today, however, they were moving south over the head, so many were potentially missed. Firstly the goodies, another 4 Hawfinch, 47 Crossbill, with more heard over Stanpit and 77 Bullfinch, the largest group numbering 15, headed the cast. Of the finches, Chaffinch topped the list with 1800, then 870 Greenfinch, 520 Goldfinch, 347 Brambling, 340 Linnet, 180 Siskin and 145 Redpoll. Other totals were 220 Skylark, 145 Meadow Pipit, 112 Jackdaw, 98 Starling, 78 alba Wagtail and 34 Reed Bunting. More conventionally, thrushes moved north-west over Wick and included 230 Redwing, 85 Song Thrush, 27 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrush and 1 Ring Ouzel. Of local interest, 5 Greylag Goose were also recorded.
Additional news: there were 4 Purple Sandpiper by groyne S9 in the morning.
Some tumultuous seas off Hengistbury (see photo below) inspired a marathon 6 hour seawatch this morning. Incredibly, it wasn't until the final hour that something happened, as a Leach's Petrel spent 15 minutes off the Beach Huts, before drifting east. A lesson in persistence. A further 3 hours put in from Mudeford Quay this afternoon were equally uneventful. However, a subsequent walk out onto a very wet Stanpit produced a Grey Phalarope on floods by the Warden's Caravan. The bird showed well and allowed some excellent photos to be taken. Unbelievably, during 8 hours of seawatching, no Gannet were recorded. What did make the records were 1 Arctic Tern, a small skua, possibly a Long-tailed Skua, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 17 Brent Goose west. In the later spell, a Common Tern was seen, while in the harbour there was another Arctic Tern sighting. Other interest was a late Whimbrel on Stanpit this afternoon and 27 Redwing over Hengistbury this morning.
For the two fortunate to be out this morning, it was truly the experience of a lifetime. The harbour is traditionally a no-go area for migrating thrushes, however, today, an absolute minimum of 17000 Redwing passed east. At first, it wasn't readily apparent what was going on, as lashing rain and a south-westerly meant that 90 minutes were spent gazing at the sea. Suddenly though, a flock of around 1000 birds appeared in front of the Beach Huts, low over the water. At that point, despite the dreadful conditions, the intrepid duo went "over the top", where literally thousands of birds were going over to the east. Back at the HHC, the area was littered with grounded birds. Looking along Wick Ditch, birds were feeding and bathing in puddles; and as the fields were entered, an estimated 2000, along with 11 Ring Ouzel, exploded from the bushes. Later in the morning, 7000 went west over Stanpit golf course in just a 45 minute spell! Slightly north of the recording area, there were more flocks spread all over Christchurch. This shatters, by far, any previous day totals. The previous highest have been in the distant past, during cold weather movements, but none were anywhere near this magnitude. How many more birds went through while the sea was being watched will never be known. Amongst this amazing event, it's easy to forget the remaining quality. A Snow Bunting was mixed in with one of the large flocks, as were 3 Hawfinch that settled in trees at Two Riversmeet. Also included were 350 Song Thrush, 77 Brambling, 60 Fieldfare, a further 3 Ring Ouzel and 65 Siskin; and a further highlight was a male Hen Harrier heading north over the harbour. In fact, the seawatch wasn't bad, with Storm Petrel heading the list; also Arctic Skua, 4 Little Gull, 5 Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Kittiwake. Along the sandspit, there was a single Wheatear, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 22 Turnstone and 20 Dunlin. A couple of Swallow went over Wick Fields, where, this afternoon, there were 2 Green Sandpiper, not bad for November, and a Short-eared Owl. Also later in the day was a Golden Plover over Stanpit. Finally, back to the morning, when there were 2 Firecrest and 6 Coal Tit in the Wood on Hengistbury, and 17 Pintail left and 4 Shelduck arrived.
The traditional month of the pigeon started with 17000 Woodpigeon heading south-east, most taking a line north of the recording area. Given the distance the birds were at, it is possible that many were missed and picking out doves was nigh on impossible. A vantagepoint in Highcliffe may have yielded greater numbers. After several years of heading the south coast pigeon counts, we were beaten again today. Last week it was Durlston, while today it was Portland, who totalled over 35000! The finch passage was hugely down on yesterday, even allowing for the less proficient observers, myself included. Although Brambling, Siskin, Redpoll and Bullfinch were all represented, they were all in small numbers. Even the commoner species, such as Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch, were coming through in ones and twos, rather than in sizeable flocks. A variety of thrushes were headed by 5 Ring Ouzel, some seen very well indeed, 14 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare and 2 Mistle Thrush; as usual, all left to the north-west over Wick Fields. Another late Wheatear was on the sandspit, where there were also 3 Purple Sandpiper and 5 Turnstone around groynes S11 and S12. A Whinchat was reported from the Barn Field, while 2 Pheasant on the roof of the Barn itself must have made for a strange sight. A couple of Peregrine were seen today, one a very large juvenile; also 2 Raven and 8 Jackdaw over the head. In the Wood, 5 Chiffchaff were present and over on Stanpit a group of 4 Shoveler, 2 pairs, remain.