Sightings for June 2007
Late last night, a number of the Saturday regulars could be seen stepping to the beat of such "classics" as Club Tropicana, and the like, at The George in Christchurch; where there were some very interesting moves indeed! Inevitably, despite impassioned promises of attendance, the normal early morning congregation failed to materialise, and it wasn't until lunchtime that Hengistbury received any coverage. A four-hour seawatch from 11:45 saw a continual presence of circuiting Storm Petrel from the Beach Huts. The most on a single scan was 8 birds and, as yesterday, naked eye viewing was possible on occasion. The last few days have seen what is considered to be an early return passage of Common Tern - 44 today; but a single Arctic Tern heading along the sandspit toward Mudeford Quay is even more remarkable for June. Most of the former passed in twos, prompting speculation they may actually be pairs that have recently failed to raise their chicks. All remaining records, other than a constant lingering of over 50 Gannet, involve birds heading purposefully west. These comprised: a pale adult Arctic Skua, 6 Common Scoter, 4 Fulmar, 1 Kittiwake, 1 Guillemot, a Shearwater sp. and a Curlew.
Additional news: a morning visit to Hengistbury resulted in a Storm Petrel estimate of 40-55 birds, made up of sightings of 60 west and 20 east; also a/some Little Tern feeding close offshore.
A fairly strong south-westerly brought on another Storm Petrel show this morning, after the early rain had been blown through. A total of 35-40 were estimated, the largest simultaneous count being 17, while 10+ were constantly on show. Some were visible to the naked eye from the Beach Huts and with the conditions looking set to continue overnight, there should be good viewing and photographic opportunities tomorrow. The supporting cast comprised a single Balearic Shearwater and 10 Manx Shearwater west, as well as 3 Arctic Skua lingering in The Solent. A count of 37 Common Tern also moved west, along with 35 Gannet and a Kittiwake. There was some returning wader interest, made up of a Common Sandpiper on the sandspit groynes and a Greenshank, still in breeding-plumage, from Fisherman's Bank, where the 3, almost fully-grown Shelduck were also visible.
Only report is of a juvenile Green Woodpecker on Wick Fields in the early afternoon.
Additional news: a party of 3 Treecreeper were around Two Riversmeet car park, presumably a dispersing local family, and a Hobby was over Priory Marsh.
Stanpit benefited from a couple of visits today, where some seasonal interest was provided by a drake Wigeon. Our old friend, the limping Yellow-legged Gull was seen for the second time this month, while a soaring Peregrine was enough to flush 11 Curlew off the marshes.
A quiet day with little to report birdwise, other than very small numbers of Sandwich Tern and Gannet off the Beach Huts. The most interest comes from a Roe Deer in the HHC grounds.
It was deceivingly dry for the first couple of hours of daylight, but the westerly gusts soon changed that. Nevertheless, the wind direction made for good shelter at the Beach Huts. Around 20-30 Storm Petrel were circuiting in Christchurch Bay, with a maximum of 14 being seen at one time. Birds were actually coming in very close and seemed to do more so as the weather worsened. The conditions also encouraged 45 Common Tern to feed offshore, and this brought in 2 Arctic Skua, which also hung around, often settling on the water. Further quality came from a single Balearic Shearwater heading west, while the more mundane comprised 18 Common Scoter, 14 east and a quartet west, and around 120 distant Gannet.
The rain from last night could not be moved on by the day's south-easterly breeze. This resulted in absolutely no field activity, other than a brief trip to the Argyll Road slip and Mudeford Quay, the area's only two watchpoints that offer car-bound birding. From the latter site, a party of 11 Curlew were seen leaving the harbour and heading eastwards, bucking the trend of the last week.
In a light westerly wind and scattered cloud, there was another Storm Petrel presence off Hengistbury this morning. At least 10, but possibly 20, were feeding in tight, fairly distant circuits, best viewed from the Gully. Unlike the days of the bigger numbers in May, when birds were almost exclusively heading westwards, there was clear evidence of lingering on this occasion. An adult, pale-phase Arctic Skua appeared over the Long Groyne, made a token attempt at beating up a Herring Gull, then headed towards the mass of yachts that were circumnavigating the Isle of Wight in the annual race. To complete the picture at sea, 13 Curlew coasted west and 5 Common Tern were hanging around off the head; while much further out, 2 Grey Heron headed down the channel. From 5:00 to 10:00, a total of 51 Swift moved into the wind, with other interest coming from a Hobby and 2 Mediterranean Gull over Wick, and a Collared Dove and Cuckoo by the HHC. A check of the Little Grebe family on the Ironstone Quarry confirmed the considerable success of the parents, as 4 juveniles are now almost fully grown and feeding themselves.
It's open to debate whether a couple of breeding-plumaged Dunlin on Stanpit this afternoon were late northerly travellers or early returners. Little else on the marsh, other than the continuing count of 3 Shelduck duckling, but news was received of a couple of Kingfisher sightings, pretty good for June, a week or so ago around Parky Meade Rail. Just recently on Wick, including today, there has been a party of 3 Green Woodpecker - an adult female and two juveniles.
It was down to the sea again today, with the pick being 5 Manx Shearwater passing relatively closely as they headed into The Solent; also an unidentified sp. of the same genus going west. In all, the 75-minute watch produced little else; for example, 12 Common Scoter, groups of 7 and 5, 5 Common Tern, 15 Gannet and a Curlew westwards. At least with today being the summer solstice, the corner has been turned and the dawn of the autumn migration edges slowly closer.
A couple of Balearic Shearwater eventually made it this far west, being seen from the Beach Huts between 8:30 and 9:30 this morning; also a single Manx Shearwater. During the same spell, there was also a small westerly movement of more common seabirds, including: 10 Guillemot, 1 group of 8; 9 Common Tern, 1 group of 4; and 3 Kittwake, a Fulmar and 15 Gannet; while a first-summer Bar-tailed Godwit also headed in the same direction.
Additional news: a party of 3 Mediterranean Gull over the north-westerly extreme of the area comprised an adult pair and a juvenile.
Again, barely anything to really talk about, save for the season's first juvenile Black-headed Gull on South Marsh, Stanpit, this morning. The origin of the bird would most likely be one of the local colonies at Poole Harbour, Keyhaven or the Ringwood lakes complex. A slight increase of Little Egret to just over 20 birds was detected - perhaps some of these, like the gulls, are also local fledglings that have just left the nest. Final "interest" comes from 6 Curlew on the marsh.
A constant south-westerly breeze throughout the day suggested the sea might have been good. Unfortunately, no trips were made into the field on either side of the harbour.
With the winding dropping away overnight and taking on a more westerly vector, there was little to encourage yesterday's seawatchers onto Hengistbury. Consequently, Stanpit received the attention on the morning flood tide. The most welcome sight was the return of Limpy, the familiar Yellow-legged Gull, seen in flight, but with the characteristically drooping leg, over Crouch Hill. This is "his" first appearance in the harbour since 24th September last year. Also a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull passing over towards the east and a Common Tern heading north. At least 45 Lapwing were about the area, as were half a dozen Curlew and a few Redshank. The only Shelduck brood of the year remains at 3, with the youngsters now looking large enough to have a good chance of making it, and a Cuckoo was in the North Scrubs. A lone Greylag Goose pranced around Blackberry, then made a terrible racket on the HHC bar; while to complete the junk wildfowl, a Black Swan has now joined the increasing and ready-to-moult Mute Swan assembly. This afternoon saw the release into the harbour of a juvenile Cormorant that had walked into a Sopley garden this morning!
Additional news: a juvenile Kingfisher was on the boardwalk behind the HHC.
In a moderate south-west breeze, the sea received attention from 5:00 to 10:00 this morning. The best was a Red-throated Diver east into The Solent, while the return Curlew passage is already underway with a total of 8 birds heading the opposite direction. Other bits of interest had no real direction and included 111 Gannet, a Razorbill, 5 Common Tern, 2 Little Tern, 3 Fulmar, 12 Common Scoter and a Great-crested Grebe on the sea. A party of 3 Dunlin arrived from the west, spent a short time in the harbour and then headed back again. Meanwhile, at least 3 late arriving Swift were noted. A Cuckoo was commuting between Double Dykes and Wick, where there was an Adder showing in the field closest to the HHC and a good number of juvenile Whitethroat in the Bobolink Field.
After two weeks away, the only material to work with is a few Gannet and Sandwich Tern off Hengistbury. Tomorrow is another day, however.
A Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight this morning was a good summer record. Other than that just 5 Swift passed over and 2 Cuckoo were seen, 1 on the Barn Field and 1 on Wick. The Cuckoo have become noticeably less vocal in the last few days.
Additional news: the earlier comment about the silence of Cuckoo was ignored by a female "bubbling" loudly about the Barn Field in the evening, also 6 Common Tern over there.
A Quail was inadvertently flushed in the 'Bobolink' field on Wick this morning. Although the bird appeared to drop into cover in the same field it could not be relocated.
The only report received so far today is from Stanpit, where it is interesting to note that returning wader numbers are already building up with more than 40 Lapwing, 6 Redshank and 4 Curlew on the marsh this morning. Hopefully, these are non-breeding birds as opposed to failed breeders.
Today's highlight was an unseasonal Woodlark, a species never common in the harbour. The bird, first seen on Wick at 4:30, reappeared about four hours later, also on Wick, before it moved to the golf course, where it was still present mid-morning. A count of 51 Swift was made this morning, while 15 Curlew moved west. The sea was generally quiet with 14 Common Tern east, while heading west were 2 Kittiwake, 1 Fulmar and 1 Razorbill. Finally, a total of 5 Mediterranean Gull were noted.
The only report received so far today is from Stanpit this morning, where a recently arrived Reed Warbler was singing in North Scrubs. There was also a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit present.
Check back to yesterday for some late news.
There was a hint of late migration this morning with a Redstart around the Double Dykes and a Yellow Wagtail overhead; also 27 Swift passed through. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull went south-west, while 5 Bar-tailed Godwit left the harbour heading in the same direction.
Late news: a late Whimbrel was seen over Wick Fields today.
A Hobby seen coming in over Double Dykes this morning was hunting over the Wick reedbed a little later. The Cuckoo was also still vocal in that area. On Stanpit, there were 8 Black-tailed Godwit, the first for some time, while less welcome were 18 Canada Geese off the tip of South Marsh.
Check back to yesterday for some late news.
On another day of poor coverage the only report received so far is of a Mediterranean Gull over the harbour this morning.
Late news: The Nightjar were seen again this evening, just after 9:30, over Warren Hill. Over Wick this morning 4 Mediterranean Gull were seen together, 2 adults and 2 first-summer birds; also 1 Red-legged Partridge on the Driving Range.
On another fine day there is very little to report. The highlight was probably the report of 2 Mediterranean Gull high over Wick Fields around lunchtime. Apart from that, there were just 6 Ringed Plover in Barn Bight. Of non-birding interest there was the unusual sight of a Roe Deer on the Salt Hurns. while closeby a Fox with 2 cubs was seen.
With no reports received today it's perhaps opportune to make one or two comments on the breeding season. Dartford Warbler, in particular, appear to have fared much better in 2007 than last year, when there was precious little evidence of breeding. Throughout spring, birds have been on territory with some success it would appear judging by the above photo of a juvenile bird taken recently on Hengistbury. Song Thrush is another species thatis increasing in numbers, with an estimated 12 pairs on the Hengistbury side of the harbour. Finally, there are many juvenile Stonechat around the Head and two family parties of Lesser Whitethroat have recently been seen on Wick Fields.
Additional news: a pair of Nightjar were seen on the head at dusk. The male was first heard on the Batters behind the Nursery, but for the next half-hour the bird ranged widely over both Warren Hill East and West. At one point, the female was seen in flight as the male 'churred' a short distance away.
Migrants were still straggling through today with 62 Swift and 5 Spotted Flycatcher, all seen in the first two hours after dawn. One Spotted Flycatcher was being harassed by a Hobby, but fortunately it escaped. At a much more civilised hour, a Yellowhammer was heard calling on Wick; there were also 2 Cuckoo there, with another one on the Barn Field. From the Beach Huts, 2 Great Northern Diver and 1 Kittiwake were seen, and a flock of 40 or so Common Tern was feeding offshore. Waders today included 9 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank and a Grey Plover. A total of 8 Mediterranean Gull were seen, including one party of 4 over Barn Bight.
On another fine morning, a walk over Wick produced 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gull, a single Grey Wagtail and 2 Cuckoo; also in the vicinity were 2 Red-legged Partridge, the first report for some time. On Mudeford Quay a family party of Mistle Thrush, 2 adults and 2 recently fledged birds indicate successful local breeding.
On a glorious June morning with virtually no wind and a flat sea, it is perhaps surprising to report the presence of Storm Petrel off the beach huts, 5 birds in fact; also seen from there, all moving west, were more than 20 Gannet, 14 Common Scoter, 2 Fulmar and a Kittiwake. On the beach were 3 Sanderling, while up to 15 Common Tern were feeding off the groynes. On the Barn Field, a Mistle Thrush was present and a pair of Cuckoo gave an uncharacteristically showy display. On Stanpit, 4 small duck heading high to the east were considered by the observer to be Garganey. There was also a late Whimbrel on East Marsh.
Sparse coverage indeed today, resulting in a post that even the description, mediocre, may be an exaggeration. It is already the "dead month", however. The highlight was a Mediterranean Gull and Rook over Wick Fields, with a Jackdaw on the Barn. Given there's little else to remark upon, it is probably an opportune moment to mention that the increased Jackdaw presence across most of the area continues. Once considered notable, during the last month or so they have changed status dramatically. Whether this is temporary or permanent, time will tell. A few Swift were seen trickling in and 2 Curlew were on East Marsh. A trip to the end of the sandspit this afternoon saw no waders attempting to breed in the recently purpose-fenced area, but Pied Wagtail had managed to find a quiet spot in which to raise young and Meadow Pipit were attempting in some dunes that will surely be trampled.