Sightings for April 2010
The first Hobby of the year came in over the Beach Huts mid morning and headed off north upriver, but apart from that migrants were thin on the ground, just 7 Wheatear, 2 Tree Pipit and a Yellow Wagtail were reported. At sea, a Great Northern Diver east was probably the best, but also east were 14 Common Scoter, 5 Common Gull, 5 Gannet and 3 Fulmar, while 5 Whimbrel, 4 Guillemot, 2 Kittiwake and a Razorbill headed west. On the sandspit, were 3 Sanderling together with 6 Whimbrel and 5 Turnstone; Holloway's Dock held a further 2 Whimbrel with 3 Redshank and 7 Dunlin were on the harbour shore by the ferry jetty. The splendid Spotted Redshank was in its favoured spot opposite Fisherman's Bank with 27 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, another 18 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank and 1 Curlew. Finally the drake Wigeon remains in Barn Bight.
Although the forecast rain didn't really materialise today, the head was shrouded in mist for a time this morning. Despite this, there was just a scattering of migrants with 170 Swallow, 41 Swift, 8 Wheatear, 3 Whinchat, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and a Redstart. Mediterranean Gull were much in evidence with 32 logged at Hengistbury and another 3 off Mudeford Quay later in the day. Waders on the move included 12 Black-tailed Godwit south-west and a Grey Plover and 14 Whimbrel east while another 15 Whimbrel arrived on East Marsh. The Spotted Redshank was still present, also 40 Dunlin, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and just 1 Greenshank. Finally 3 Fulmar were offshore.
A Nightingale singing on Whitepits was the pick of just a handful of migrants today, also 6 Swift, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and a Cuckoo. An hour's watch from the cliff saw a Black-throated Diver west and in the opposite direction a flock of 5 adult Kittiwake, 20 Common Scoter, 12 Common Tern and 5 Whimbrel. Waders included a Green Sandpiper and Greenshank leaving the harbour, while opposite Fisherman's Bank were the Spotted Redshank, 10 Whimbrel, 4 Greenshank, 6 Dunlin, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Curlew. To round up, 55 Sandwich Tern were in the harbour, 9 Mediterranean Gull moved overhead and the local Peregrine made its customary visit. Aditionally, a count of singing birds on Wick this morning produced 15 Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 4 Cetti's Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting and 5 Reed Warbler, also another 20 Reed Warbler were in the HHC reedbed.
Incidentally a Reed Warbler caught today was first ringed at Wick in July 2004 and subsequently recaptured in August '06 and May '09. In fact three of the five Reed Warbler caught so far this spring have been re-traps!
On a fine spring day, surely one of the warmest of the year, migrants birds were once again at a premium, although most of the breeding birds were in full song, particularly Reed Warbler which has shown a noticeable increase in the last couple of days. The only noteworthy arrival was 13 Wheatear scattered around Hengistbury. The Spotted Redshank, now in full summer attire, was opposite Fisherman's Bank with 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Dunlin, 14 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank and 1 Curlew, also 4 Canada Geese. A further 25 Black-tailed Godwit headed south-west over the HHC while the beach at Hengistbury held 8 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling and 1 Whimbrel. A Fulmar was offshore from the Coastguards and 13 Mediterranean Gull, mainly adult birds in pairs, but also a second calendar-year bird, passed over the harbour.
After the weekend's excitement, things quietened down today although a couple of Spoonbill visited the harbour briefly before flying off east. The Subalpine Warbler seems to have moved on as there was no sign of it this morning. Grounded migrants were hard to come by with just 9 Wheatear and 3 Grasshopper Warbler, one of which was on the Long Field and 2 around Crouch Hill; a Cuckoo was also heard on Wick. Overhead, 285 Swallow were logged, also 48 House Martin, 8 Swift and 2 Yellow Wagtail. The Little Ringed Plover was still on Priory Marsh, while other wader numbers, mainly from Fisherman's Bank, were 18 Whimbrel, 14 Dunlin, 8 Redshank, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank; and a further 8 Whimbrel headed north-west. On the beach at Hengistbury were 8 Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Sanderling and 2 Dunlin. A brief seawatch yielded very little, just 5 Common Tern west, a Gannet east and 2 Fulmar offshore. Tern numbers in the harbour today were 45 Sandwich Tern and 7 Common Tern. A Peregrine was seen over Stanpit this morning and 6 Buzzard were over the recreation ground. Finally, the drake Wigeon was in Barn Bight, just 2 Mediterranean Gull were seen and 2 Canada Geese were on Stanpit.
Although for the most part the Subalpine Warbler proved elusive, it occasionally showed well today, remaining faithful to Wick Ditch by the log pile. That apart, and despite a spell of rain in the early hours, there were very few passerine migrants, just 160 Swallow, 15 Wheatear, 4 House Martin and one each of Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler, Swift, Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit. Hence, the sea received most of the attention and produced singles of Velvet Scoter and Arctic Skua, also 83 Dunlin, 78 Common Tern, 47 Sandwich Tern, 23 Whimbrel, 21 Gannet, 18 Common Scoter, 18 Common Gull, 13 Little Tern, 6 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Arctic Tern, 3 unidentified auk, 2 Razorbill, 2 Teal, 1 Kittiwake and 1 Guillemot, all moving east. Heading west was a flock of 5 Great Crested Grebe and a single Brent Goose, also up to 15 Fulmar were seen. Another Fulmar was over Crouch Hill. Priory Marsh held a Little Ringed Plover and a Snipe, while a Common Sandpiper was on the beach. The drake Wigeon remains on Stanpit and 2 Teal were present. Finally, 2 Peregrine were on the cliffs at Hengistbury.
On another fine day, the highlight was a Subalpine Warbler in Wick Ditch found by Mark Andrews mid-afternoon. This is the fifth harbour record and the first since the one on Crouch Hill in spring 2006. Earlier in the day, an Iceland Gull headed east past the Coastguards. In fact, the sea which was watched for most of the morning also produced 2 Arctic Tern, the first of the year plus 83 Sandwich Tern, 47 Common Tern, 25 Whimbrel, 17 Gannet, 4 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Brent Geese, all east. The first Cuckoo of the spring was on Wick, with another one on Stanpit, while other migrants on Hengistbury and Wick were 200 Swallow, 35 Whitethroat, 15 Willow Warbler, 12 Wheatear, 9 Reed Warbler, 7 Sedge Warbler, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Redstart, 2 Swift, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Grasshopper Warbler. On Stanpit, there were 12 Yellow Wagtail, as well as singles of Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, plus rather unusually a Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill. A Green Sandpiper was again briefly on the flooded area near the Wooden Bridge on Wick in the morning. To round up on Stanpit, 4 Teal were on Priory Marsh, 8 Jackdaw were on Crouch Hill and waders were 9 Whimbrel, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank. Finally, this afternoon an impressive count of 850 Herring Gull were around the harbour.
Wader interest continues to notch up, with 2 Spotted Redshank, both in breeding plumage but one of them presumably the regular, off Fisherman's Bank this morning; while support came from a Little Ringed Plover heard around Stanpit, as well as 1, but maybe 2, Greenshank, a Grey Plover, 42 Whimbrel, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 58 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover and an estimated 160 Dunlin. Passerine migrants were not particularly numerous, but did include: a female Pied Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler in Smithy's Field; a reeling Grasshopper Warbler on Stanpit golf course; 4 Reed Warbler and 7 Sedge Warbler singing around the marsh; and aggregate totals from both sides of the harbour of 11 Wheatear, 36 Willow Warbler, around 20 Whitethroat, Wick reckoned to hold at least 8 new songsters, and 25 Blackcap. At least 6 Swift arrived over Hengistbury, which also logged a Redpoll, a House Martin, 3 Oystercatcher and a Raven; at Stanpit, 170 Swallow were counted in 45-minutes, as well as 8 Yellow Wagtail, 75 Linnet and 47 Goldfinch; Wick saw a Common Buzzard head east and a steady passage of Swallow; and a day total of 30 or so Mediterranean Gull, all east, came courtesy of several locations. Inside the harbour, along with a build up of 35 Sandwich Tern, there were 2 Little Tern and 3 Common Tern, and a Canada Goose was on the river briefly.
Around 8:00, there was a sudden and half-decent fall of chats on the top of the head, most of which seemed to end up moving along the sandspit. The best were a couple of Black Redstart, including a stunning male, but also 4 Redstart, all females, and up to 130 Wheatear. The latter were interesting: in that, at 9:30, the Barn Field held just 10, but an hour later this had risen to 47! There was also a Redstart and Garden Warbler on Wick, 2 Grasshopper Warbler on the top of the head, a Lesser Whitethroat on the Long Field, 80 Willow Warbler and 25 Chiffchaff; as well as 7 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, 70 Swallow and 6 House Martin over. A Bar-tailed Godwit seen arriving over the Barn Field suggested these may have starting moving, something that was reinforced by an increase at Stanpit to 12 birds, where there were also 2 Greenshank, a maximum of 26 Whimbrel, a Grey Plover, 50ish Black-tailed Godwit, around 100 Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper; the latter not strictly on the marsh, but on the HHC slip. Common Tern are becoming slightly more obvious, with 5 being noted today, along with 3 Little Tern over the sea, which could only then contribute 2 Fulmar and a Gannet over a 45-minute period. This evening, a Grasshopper Warbler on Wick was sat brazenly in the open, that is until a camera was produced, and a female Redstart was still present.
Additional news: a female Ring Ouzel was heard on the Barn Field, a Lesser Whitethroat was by the HHC and 2 Garden Warbler were in the Wood.
The wind seemed to tour the compass today. From next to nothing at dawn, to north-west by 8:00, to north-east by 10:00 and then south-west by 4:00. Meanwhile, the old CHOG adage of, 'it's never really good two days on run,' came in to play; other than a Nightingale that sang briefly a few times in Wick Ditch, that is, as well as a couple of Little Tern seen around Stanpit Bight during the morning to add to the year-list. On Hengistbury as far as the Long Field and Wick, there were: 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 8 Redstart and 85 Willow Warbler, while an excursion to the end of the head came up with a Wheatear total of just over 50 birds. At this point, it's probably worth a mention that the relative shelter of Wick Fields, provided by the maturing vegetation, is proving to be something of a migrant hot-spot and is well worth a visit for good views of migrants, rather than the rapidly moving dots that are often recorded at Hengistbury. Overhead, three each of Yellow Wagtail were noted at Stanpit and Hengistbury, while the latter site also saw 2 Tufted Duck and 2 Rook. The wader build up at Stanpit continues with 225 Dunlin, a Sanderling, 9 Whimbrel and 6 Ringed Plover mostly new arrivers; along with the Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 41 Black-tailed Godwit.
A cracking, clear morning and a slight overnight north-west breeze brought migrants in by the hundreds. Willow Warbler were the most numerous, with the total logged from the Nursery to the northern fringe of Wick Fields being around the 430 mark. Early on Wick, if one stood by any obvious gap in the vegetation, it was possible to see birds continually hopping across - up to 150 in a 30-minute spell, for example. A female Ring Ouzel was on the Barn Field; and Redstart well represented there and on the Long Field, up to 15 birds, while Whinchat totalled 5, Wheatear in excess of 80 and male Pied Flycatcher were seen in the Barred Warbler Bush and in the Wood. A couple of Grasshopper Warbler reeled - one in the Bobolink Field, the other on the Long Field - and other incomers comprised 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 24 Whitethroat and 16 Blackcap. No attempt was really made to sort out the migrant Chiffchaff from the incumbent territory holders, however. To complete the passerine story, 3 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit and a Rook went over, and this evening a further male Pied Flycatcher was on Wick. Stanpit also contributed with an obvious increase in wader numbers. As well as the Spotted Redshank that must soon be thinking of shipping out, there were newly arrived Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper on Priory Marsh, along with a finely attired Greenshank and 2 Sanderling off Fisherman's Bank. Meanwhile, the Dunlin leapt to 140 birds and 11 Whimbrel, a Curlew, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 38 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Ringed Plover were on site. Hopefully, recording the following - 3 Canada Goose and 2 Greylag Goose - will always remain a bit of a novelty within the area.
Evening update: 3 Spoonbill passed over Wick at just after 7:30 and the fields still held the Pied Flycatcher, 3 Redstart and 'stacks' of phylloscs . Slightly earlier, at 5:30, the Barn Field hosted 27 Wheatear - an astonishing figure for so late in the day and almost certainly pushing the final total to over 110.
A much quieter and stiller morning, but the clear skies still held some interest. A Marsh Harrier low over Wick at 6:30 had possibly roosted on site, before being seen off by a few Carrion Crow. Then, around 9:00, a young Spoonbill passed swiftly high over the harbour to the west. The first Common Tern of the year came in over the Barn Field, where 5 Wheatear were hopping around, as well as a further 3 of these on Stanpit this afternoon. At least 4 Grasshopper Warbler were on Hengistbury/Wick, while a Yellow Wagtail came down with the cattle in the No Dogs field and a Redstart was briefly by the HHC; and, to add to the intrigue, a total of 6 Rook, including a loose flock of 4, passed over east. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank is still with us, along with 3 Grey Plover, up to 20 Whimbrel, a Curlew (it's getting towards the time that these become notable), 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 50 or so Dunlin. The Priory Marsh area saw 4 Gadwall and the information services report the Garganey were still there during the morning. Late in the afternoon, around 20 Blackcap were feeding voraciously in the small blackthorn and ivy clump at the south-east corner of Stanpit golf course.
Omission: the Willow Warbler total for the day was 66 birds.
After a clear night and a light south-westerly, there was a clear arrival of birds this morning. Early on, as well as a female Pied Flycatcher and 3 Redstart, the Wick Fields held many Willow Warbler and Blackcap, but most of these soon moved on. A Grasshopper Warbler on Roebury Lane, close to the cattle shed, hung on well into the morning, however; as did another of the same on Stanpit by the northern kissing gate. In addition to a single Whinchat, Wheatear were around in good numbers on the Barn Field, which at one point held 21 birds, but the final day total, when available, is likely to be far more. There were the best numbers of Swallow for the spring so far, as birds were trickling in on a broad front for most of the morning, along with a few House Martin. Late in the afternoon, one of two Brent Goose on East Marsh was considered to be a pale-bellied bird, despite the bright sunlight hampering the viewing; while on Priory Marsh, the Garganey were present for their seventh day, a Green Sandpiper was heard briefly and up to 20 migrant Pied Wagtail were still feeding up in that area. Back to the morning and a Buzzard that toured Wick conveniently flushed up 40 Dunlin, which is an increase on the numbers of late, with other wader figures, mainly from Fisherman's Bank including the 2 Avocet from yesterday, 20 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Turnstone, 8 Ringed Plover and the Spotted Redshank. To wrap up: it's probably pointless trying to accurately assess Mediterranean Gull numbers, as calling birds seemed to be just about everywhere and anywhere; a Mistle Thrush in the Old Council Depot is worth a mention; and Rook are now being seen so frequently, four today for example, that one starts to wonder if they are merely wanderers from a couple of recently established rookeries in the Burton area, rather than actual migrants.
Full totals for the day's migrants across Hengistbury and Wick, in addition to those already mentioned, have now been received: 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Redstart, 89 Wheatear, 2 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 115 Blackcap, 270 Willow Warbler, 40 Chiffchaff, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit, 230 Swallow, 120 Sand Martin, 25 House Martin, 160 Linnet, 65 Goldfinch, 1 Redpoll and 19 Whimbrel. In addition, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall were logged.
On a fine day, Crouch Hill proved to be an interesting spot this morning, not least for a trickle of visible migration that included the first Swift of the year, as well as: 4 House Martin, 75 Swallow, 8 Yellow Wagtail, a White Wagtail that landed briefly, a Tree Pipit and 110 Meadow Pipit. Also from that spot, a couple of reeling Grasshopper Warbler, but they didn't persist for long, and a Little Ringed Plover that circuited the harbour a few times; while elsewhere on Stanpit there are now 2 singing Reed Warbler. A couple of Green Sandpiper again came up from the Wooden Bridge area on Wick and appeared to head towards Priory Marsh, where a single bird was later seen, so perhaps there were actually 3 in the area? Also still around is the Garganey pair, - either on Priory Marsh itself or sometimes jumping over into the open water of Parky Meade Rail. There was a hint of some wader arrival at Stanpit, with 2 Avocet being out towards Blackberry Point, along with at least 28 Whimbrel and 12 Dunlin; plus, of course, the long-staying Spotted Redshank. Wheatear were also around in reasonable numbers, relative to their previous showing this year that is, with over 15 dotted around the recording area. At sea, the best was easily a Black-throated Diver east, but also 2 Fulmar and 2 Common Scoter, with the rest of the days news being a mixed bag of: 20 or so Mediterranean Gull, a Mistle Thrush by the Civic Offices, a Rook over, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall and a Canada Goose. To conclude this post, mention has to be made of the seemingly high numbers of large gulls that have been in the harbour over the last few days - an estimate this afternoon reckoned there to be at least 500!
Additional news: a Snipe and a pair of Lapwing were on Priory Marsh, and a Peregrine settled on The Priory tower briefly in the evening.
Today certainly saw evidence of some overnight arrivals, even up to the late afternoon when the season's first Reed Warbler was heard in the Great Spires reeds. Earlier though, reeling Grasshopper Warbler were on Wick and in the Barn Field, where there was a male Redstart and a female Ring Ouzel, as well as what was considered to be the male bird first seen on Sunday. A total of 12 Wheatear - 8 on the Barn Field and 4 on West Field - were also freshly in, while 10 or so Whitethroat on the Long Field and 6 Willow Warbler behind the Nursery fell into the same category. Wick continues to hold decent numbers of singing birds, including up to 3 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Willow Warbler, the latter threatening to perhaps breed in the area for the first time in a number of years. There were also some unfamiliar waders to be seen throughout the day, namely 2 Green Sandpiper that came up from the newly cleared creek on Wick, a location that promises to produce something really good, and 2 Greenshank at Stanpit. On Priory Marsh, the pair of Garganey were still present and accommodating from the golf course footpath; while elsewhere at Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 49 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin and 8 or so Teal remain. Finally, a Peregrine was logged over Hengistbury.
For the first time this year, there were more birds than aeroplanes over harbour airspace! Which is OK, unless one is hoping to depart for Israel early on Saturday morning. Fliers that decided to ignore air traffic control regulations, however, included a Turtle Dove north over the harbour, seen from Stanpit, along with 28 Linnet and 66 Meadow Pipit, the latter figure including a flock of 20 over Fisherman's Bank at the relatively late time of 12:45. On Wick, a couple of Yellow Wagtail moved through and the 2 Lesser Whitethroat were again in good voice, as well as being particularly showy; and close by on the Barn Field, there were 4 Wheatear. On Priory Marsh, the 2 Garganey remain, as does a Gadwall, 10 or so Teal and at least 1 White Wagtail, while other passerine migrants about Stanpit included 30+ Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler and 2 Whitethroat. Whimbrel put in a good presence, with the day total approaching 50, including 16 on East Marsh and a flock of 12 moving east, which also carried a single Knot with them. Meanwhile, off Hengistbury, a Sanderling moved east and 2 Turnstone west, but 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 51 Black-tailed Godwit remained sedentary at Stanpit.
When all's said and done, it really was quite desperate for mid-April this morning. There are various theories being offered as to what's going on in terms of the alarmingly low numbers of migrants, but no one really knows the answer. Let's hope they are all merely held up in mainland Europe. Other than a Wheatear by the Visitor's Centre on Stanpit, Wick held the most variety, where seven species of warbler - Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Cetti's Warbler - were all in full song, albeit in low numbers. The pair of Garganey were again obliging on Priory Marsh and a pair of Grey Wagtail are now being seen regularly just north of there in the Waterloo Bank area. Wader-wise, Whimbrel provided some interest, as up to 25 were logged, including moving flocks of 11 and 7, and the Spotted Redshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 25 Black-tailed Godwit were also noted. The sea hardly warrants a mention, but there were 2 Common Scoter seen, while up to 10 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 10 Shelduck and 5 Canada Goose inside the harbour complete the wildfowl picture.
Omission: a Yellow Wagtail was settled on Wick and a Raven passed west.
Again, it was unpleasantly cold this morning - and, again, there were barely any new birds to record. It was therefore very thoughtful of the Garganey pair, after their cameo performance yesterday, to choose one of the more viewable pools on Priory Marsh to pass out the morning. By lunchtime, they had both dozed off; but by the late afternoon had moved further into the marsh to feed. On Wick, the 2 Lesser Whitethroat were still present and possibly joined by a third bird, although the details are not conclusive, but other than a Peregrine overhead there was little else to be seen in the fields. At Stanpit, there were a couple of Whimbrel throughout the day, as well as the Spotted Redshank, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 41 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Wigeon and 5 Mediterranean Gull, while 17 Turnstone and a single Dunlin were on the inner shore of Mudeford Quay. A quiet sea could muster just 4 Whimbrel east, 4 Common Scoter and an unidentified auk, while a single House Martin and 2 Mediterranean Gull were elsewhere on Hengistbury.
In terms of the cold wind, there was no respite this morning as the incumbent north-easterly continued to blow. In spite of this, efforts were made in the field, with perhaps the best being a pair of Garganey briefly in Parky Meade Rail, before they headed off in the general direction of Wick, where they could not be relocated. On Hengistbury, the male Ring Ouzel remained in its favoured spot on the Barn Field, that's just south of the tumuli, while a Grasshopper Warbler on the top of the head was presumed to be new-in. Also freshly arrived was a Lesser Whitethroat on Wick Fields - this to join yesterday's bird, which was again active in the horse paddock at the northern end. There was some reasonable wader interest over Hengistbury, most notably 6 Ruff east, these mixed in with a flock of smaller birds presumed to be Dunlin, and a Little Ringed Plover over the HHC, from where a Spotted Redshank was also heard. Visible, incoming hirundines are noticeably sparse for the date - for example just a single House Martin this morning - with the only other flyovers comprising 2 Yellow Wagtail. The only other passerine migrant noted on the head was a Wheatear, but at sea: 2 Eider, 9 Common Scoter, 4 Whimbrel and 7 Greylag Goose passed by east, with singles of Gannet and Fulmar also being logged. The Mediterranean Gull figure for the day is 8 birds, including a settled pair off Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime, where over 50 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in Stanpit Creek.
A north-easterly wind made it actually quite cold in most parts of the harbour this morning, particularly as the sun seemed to take an age to penetrate the cloud. A total of 3 Spoonbill were seen at Stanpit: two headed off high east just after 7:00; then around 30-minutes later, a second was found on the deck before lifting off towards Hengistbury, where it put on a show for the observers there, sweeping across the Barn Field and leaving to the west. Even more obliging, however, was a fine male Ring Ouzel that seemed faithful to the Barn Field, despite visiting the Batters on a couple of occasions, and was seen by many. A second bird was encountered more typically on Wick, that is calling and seen briefly in flight. Also on Wick, the year's first Lesser Whitethroat, which was an uncharacteristically showy bird in the horse paddock. Meanwhile, Whimbrel also arrived - the first record being a group of 9 at sea, but there were a further 3 seen moving past, as well as up to 5 inside the harbour. The best-of-the-rest for Hengistbury and Wick included: a Fulmar and Red-breasted Merganser by, a Yellow Wagtail, Tree Pipit, 2 Siskin and a Rook over, a Redstart close to Wick driving range, a Wheatear on the Barn Field and a drake Wigeon in Barn Bight. At Stanpit, there were 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and up to 50 Black-tailed Godwit, but just 6 Dunlin; as well as a White Wagtail and now 4 Sedge Warbler on Priory Marsh, while 7 Brent Goose and 2 Shoveler hang on.
It was Grasshopper Warbler that the local year-listers were tracking today, with 2 birds reeling in the early morning by the Wooden Bridge on Wick; then slightly later a further individual was heard on the Long Field. However, the bird of the day had to go unidentified, as a 'chuuing' Bunting (Lapland or Snow) that was independently heard by three observers - two on Wick and one by the Barn - could not actually be seen by any of them. Otherwise, on another pleasant morning, the incoming migrants were fairly standard issue: single Redstart were on Wick and by the Double Dykes, a Tree Pipit went over and 3 Wheatear were on the Barn Field; while other counts from Wick to the Long Field comprised 83 Willow Warbler, 32 Chiffchaff, 31 Blackcap and 7 Whitethroat. A Bearded Tit heard just upriver from the HHC suggests some may still be resident on site, but save for a Redpoll and 12 Mediterranean Gull over, there is little else to report. Finally, thanks to Eddie Lewis, Barry Childs, Peter Fenning and Darren Hughes for their help in putting the tern island back into the water this morning.
Omission: 4 Shoveler, 10 Greylag Goose and 5 Canada Goose were seen from Hengistbury.
Additional news: on Stanpit, there were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin, 24 Shelduck, 15 Sandwich Tern, 1 Wheatear and 4 Jackdaw, while Priory Marsh held 6 lingering Teal and a Grey Wagtail.
Another glorious day that saw a Spoonbill move west at sea and a Tree Sparrow pass over the top of Hengistbury. The fine weather encouraged some good coverage and it was clear a few migrants had arrived overnight or were still arriving throughout the morning. Singing male Whitethroat between from the Long Field and on to Wick Fields were in the order of 6 birds, the Wood itself held around 12 potentially, newly-arrived Blackcap and 2 fine male Redstart were about the Barn Field. Meanwhile, phylloscs were sparse, perhaps as few as 30 in total, as were Wheatear - just 3 on the Barn Field - in what is becoming a desperate spring in terms of numbers of these at coastal migration sites. Perhaps even more marked, however, is the on-going paucity of over-flying Meadow Pipit, a count of 17 in a morning would normally barely warrant a mention, but this spring it's different! Also 3 Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 White Wagtail moving north. Other bits and pieces for Hengistbury included: a female Bullfinch seen from the top of the head, then over the Long Field and then settled in Wick Ditch; a Common Sandpiper on the HHC slipway; a minimum of 3 Rook passing over east, singles of Wigeon and Gadwall in Barn Bight; a Shoveler that toured the harbour; and between 9 to 12 Mediterranean Gull overhead. Of breeding interest, the male Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry is now in full voice and there seems to be 3 pairs of Stock Dove settled in the Wood and Nursery area. Moving over to Stanpit, where a Ring Ouzel passed high over the golf course early on and a Water Pipit was around Purewell Stream in the afternoon. Also on the marsh, but seen from Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 48 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 20 Shelduck, with some of the latter now looking like courting.
While yesterday was the best bird-day of the season, today took the honour for the weather. In fact, it was so fine that many migrants probably went straight over without stopping. Nevertheless, there was a male Pied Flycatcher briefly on the upper Batters, with it or another also being seen behind the Nursery. Sedge Warbler seem to be establishing themselves as the reeds around the HHC and Great Spires, Stanpit, held two each, while a further bird was by the Wooden Bridge on Wick. Other migrants, mostly on Hengistbury, but the figures do also include some from Wick, numbered: a Redstart, 2 Whitethroat, 11 Wheatear, 69 Willow Warbler and 26 Chiffchaff; as well as a Yellow Wagtail, a White Wagtail and 75 Linnet over northbound. Some wildfowl novelty was provided by two, but possibly three, Barnacle Goose that were seen on a couple of occasions about the area, but 2 Shoveler from Hengsitbury were far more authentic. The Mediterranean Gull count for the day approached 25 birds, all of them adult pairs except for a flock of 9 birds aged 2-years and less. Stanpit was again quiet, with nearly all the winter duck having now left, but the waders there included a Sanderling, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin; and a male Wheatear was on Crouch Hill.
As the wind moved to the north-west, lessening as it did, it was undoubtedly the best morning of the spring so far. In order of recording, 'firsts' for the year at Hengistbury were: a male Ring Ouzel off the head and briefly on to Wick at dawn; a male Whitethroat that was uncharacteristically silent in Double Dykes; 3 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit over northbound; and a Common Sandpiper in Holloway's Dock. Also about the head, up to 9 Redstart, with concentrations by the Barn and at the end of the head, 2 Firecrest - birds in Double Dykes and on the Batters, 78 Willow Warbler, 28 Chiffchaff and 16 Blackcap, but again a poor show of Wheatear - just 2 on the Barn Field; while a Redpoll, a Rook and a Grey Wagtail moved over. Other variety from the head comprised: 47 Common Gull and a Sanderling east at sea, 3 Tufted Duck and a Greylag Goose over the harbour, a Coal Tit in the Wood, a Grey Plover calling, 42 Black-Godwit in Holloway's Dock and what looks like a mate for the patient male Swallow at the Barn. The customary scans from Fisherman's Bank throughout the day produced a further Common Sandpiper, the Spotted Redshank and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, and this evening at least 50 Sand Martin were feeding over Priory Marsh.
The only change in the wind this morning was a 90-degree rotation to the south-east, but the strength remained unabated. Not surprisingly, Hengistbury was again just short of dire, with a single Wheatear on the Barn Field and a 10 or so phylloscs in the Wick Ditch being the only birds of note there. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime; and judging by the pace of its moult, if it's still here in a couple of weeks, could look very smart indeed. Also 56 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin, 10 Brent Goose, 5 Shelduck and 6 Mediterranean Gull. To wrap up this rather short April post, a Little Owl was calling around Wick Fields a couple of nights ago.
The Easter weekend concluded with another disappointment, in terms of incoming migrants that is - the brisk, south-westerly wind probably needs to ease considerably before things can pick up. Nevertheless, there was some interest to be had: a Little Ringed Plover was in the company of 9 Dunlin at Stanpit for some time this morning, when a first-summer Little Gull overflew the HHC; while during the afternoon, a Water Pipit, 3 Rock Pipit and a Sedge Warbler were on Priory Marsh. The same period also saw at least 20 Mediterranean Gull about Stanpit, including a party of nine that headed north through the harbour. Again it was the hinterland of Stanpit golf course that held most warblers, with 40 or so Willow Warbler flycatching and singing along the Priory View footpath fence all day, as well as up to 10 Blackcap in the damson and elderberry trees at the south-east corner. Elsewhere, a few Chiffchaff were on Wick, and Hengistbury briefly hosted 10 Wheatear, a percentage of these now female birds. Meanwhile, 40-50 Swallow were seen coming in-off and around a dozen lingered over Priory Marsh. Off Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Redshank, which is rapidly darkening, was again present, as were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 76 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover and 13 Shelduck. From the Beach Huts, a Great Northern Diver, 10 Fulmar and 15 Common Scoter were logged, with other stuff from the head comprising 3 Raven, 3 Greylag Goose and 5 Canada Goose.
Additional news: a female Yellowhammer was in Wick Ditch late morning.
The wind swung almost directly to the west, but other than a couple of obvious highlights the mainstream migration is still a bitter disappointment so far. With only one-day left of the extended weekend, let's keep fingers crossed for tomorrow. Around 9:00, a party of 5 Garganey headed west at sea past the Coastguards; then at 10:30 precisely, an Osprey that was picked up coming in-off, gained height, gathered its bearings and then came directly north over the harbour and away. Actually, it was quite a notable day for incoming raptors with a single Buzzard over Hengistbury presumed to have just come in, while 4 Sparrowhawk certainly arrived from over the water. Further, just-above-average, wildfowl interest came from 4 Tufted Duck and 3 Shoveler over the harbour, where at least 62 Black-tailed Godwit and a lowly 7 Dunlin are still present. A single Siskin went over Hengistbury and 2 Wheatear were on the Barn Field, but just 3 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap, all behind the HHC, plus a trickle of Swallow, were the only other signs of moving birds. To wrap up: pairs of Mediterranean Gull were over the HHC and Crouch Hill; 17 Turnstone were by the ferry jetty on the Sandspit, a Great Crested Grebe was on the water by the Long Groyne; Peregrine were seen over the sea and Priory Marsh; a Water Pipit report was received from the latter site; and it's nice to be able to mention a pair of House Sparrow nesting adjacent to the Barn, a site that is some distance away from the more traditional locations.
Additional news: at Stanpit in the evening, there were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 30 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin from the log, as well as a handful of Willow Warbler and Blackcap in the North Scrubs.
After another night of rain, migrants were again sparse on Hengistbury, where just 2 Wheatear, 7 Chiffchaff and 6 Swallow were logged. However, the story around Stanpit golf course was a lot different, with the year's first Redstart, 50+ Willow Warbler, 30+ Chiffchaff and 30+ Blackcap all feeding actively this morning, while many of the warblers were still doing the same after the lunchtime football. A reasonable number of hirundines were also over Priory Marsh, namely a House Martin, 40 or so Sand Martin and over 30 Swallow; also around 50 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Mediterranean Gull feeding on the marsh itself. Switching back to Hengistbury, and other than 11 Turnstone and 4 Canada Goose, all the remaining news comes from the sea, which produced 2 Mediterranean Gull, a Pintail and 5 Common Scoter all east, as well as a single Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe on the water.
Overnight, the wind veered slightly to the south-east, bringing with it a whole load of rain, but as things dried up during the afternoon there was a slight shift to the west. Activities on Hengistbury were limited to eking out what shelter the Beach Huts could afford, while occasionally scanning out to sea. The highlights were a second calendar-year Little Gull into The Solent and a Black-throated Diver east, while support came from: a Kittiwake and 4 Fulmar west, 8 Gannet east, up to 30 Common Scoter in a mixture of directions, 6 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Canada Goose and 2 Greylag Goose. Meanwhile, there was a clear increase in Sandwich Tern, with at least 10 hanging around off the Sandspit, but a further 11 headed purposefully eastward, and a Peregrine skimmed the waves presumably attempting to seek out an incoming migrant. Some good coverage at Stanpit saw a single White Wagtail on Priory Marsh; as well as the Spotted Redshank, around 115 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 11 Dunlin, 22 Teal and 3 Brent Goose elsewhere on the marsh. The only signs of newly arrived passerines were 3 Blackcap and a Wheatear at Wick, plus 2 Willow Warbler around Stanpit golf course.
Although the commoner migrant totals are still low, a Short-eared Owl moving north-east over the harbour at 7:30 went some way to making amends. After been away for a while, I'm told that today's wind, a brisk south-westerly, was far more comfortable than those of late and could be the reason for a definite arrival of Swallow. In addition to the male at the Barn, who is still patiently singing away on the re-thatching scaffold, a party of 30 or so were feeding over Priory Marsh and a further 50 were counted moving steadily north over a 30-minute period there. Spread across the entire area, there were a few Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap, 40, 8 and 10 being the respective totals; while 2 Firecrest were on Hengistbury, a Siskin overflew and 2 Goldcrest were on Wick; with other miscellaneous travellers, some perhaps moving further than others, including 24 Mediterranean Gull east, 5 Greylag Goose, 4 Canada Goose and 3 Gadwall. Other than 90 Black-tailed Godwit, 105 Redshank and the Spotted Redshank, it's the time of year where most of the wintering waders have already moved on and there is a lull before the Scandinavian and Arctic breeding species and races move through from their more southerly wintering quarters. For example, Fisherman's Bank could muster just 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Dunlin.