Sightings for the February 2013.

February 28th

There were more observers out today, meaning there is a little more to report than of late. At Stanpit, a Merlin headed north during the morning, as did 110 Black-tailed Godwit that came from the south side of the harbour at least. Around the Visitor’s Centre, there were 3 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, one of them particularly good-looking, while a couple of Bullfinch were in the North Scrubs, along with a Grey Wagtail that was perched on the top of a gorse bush for a period of time! Elsewhere on the marsh, the Spotted Redshank was about, plus 27 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 48 Ringed Plover and around 260 Dunlin. On the Hengistbury side, the Nuthatch was in the Wood, and a Pochard and 2 Pintail circled the harbour.

February 27th

By far the most significant event of the day was the appearance of blue sky some time in the afternoon! This, after an absence of almost two weeks. All of this was too late in the day however, and the morning produced just a couple of Firecrest on Hengistbury by the Double Bends, a pair of Raven over there and a Grey Wagtail heading west above Stanpit. 

February 26th

If possible, it felt even more cold, damp and miserable than of late. The only news to hand is of an optimistic Cetti's Warbler in song and a Raven in the Nursery. 

February 25th

A fine shot of a drake Teal recently – Jimmy Main

Hengistbury produced most of its winter specialities this morming, when a total of 8 Purple Sandpiper were on groyne S9 the Black Redstart was on a groyne at the end of the head and a Firecrest was in the eastern part of the Wood, where the Nuthatch was again present. A count of 340 Dunlin was a good return from Fisherman’s Bank later in the day, with 55 Ringed Plover, 19 Grey Plover and 11 Bar-tailed Godwit also inside the harbour.

February 24th

With the weather continuing to be largely off-putting, plus the presence of an elusive aythya duck at Blashford, there was little field activity around Christchurch today. A Bullfinch was heard on Wick during the morning, while a couple of Turnstone low over the Bobolink Field there made for a strange sight, and a Chiffchaff was in the Wood on Hengistbury. At dusk, a few hundred of the 1500+ Black-tailed Godwit that are still ensconced in the Avon Valley piled into the harbour.

February 23rd

Again it was cold! The net result of a circuit through the Wood and returning via the Beach on Hengsistbury was a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight and a couple of Raven on the cliff edge. Meanwhile, a 90-minute seawatch from the Double Dykes was enlivened by 7 Red-throated Diver - a flock of five and a singleton west, plus a further lone bird east - and a Razorbill. A brief look from the Argyle Road slip this afternoon produced the Spotted Redshank.

February 22nd

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker on Wick – Clinton Whale

We won't bore you with the weather details, as they were the same as the last several days. What is relatively surprising, however, is how dead the sea is; for example, not a single diver in 90-minutes this morning, when the only fragments of interest were a Great Crested Grebe, 4 Common Scoter and 2 Shelduck! The Wood produced one of the wintering Firecrest and 2 Redwing were about the Barn Field for a short time. Over on Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank and 18 Grey Plover were seen from Fisherman's Bank, as was a Kingfisher. 

February 21st

Other than an individual with canine duties, the relentless easterly wind kept everyone else indoors today. Consequently, it's just 2 Bullfinch and 6 Redwing on Wick that can make a contribution to the post. 

February 20th

Pintail – Lorne Bissell

With the wind continuing to chill from the south-east, it was only the relative shelter of Fisherman's Bank that saw any activity today. From there, the Spotted Redshank, 15 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Turnstone were turned in, as well as a pair of Pintail and 5 Shoveler.

February 19th

Oystercatcher – Alan Hayden
Stonechat – Alan Hayden

Other than a Jack Snipe that came up from alongside the path on South Marsh, Stanpit, all the day’s news comes from Hengistbury. The female-type Black Redstart was again in its favoured spot on the cliff at the end of the head, while the Nuthatch and a Chiffchaff were in the Wood. The latter is quite interesting as it’s a species not normally encountered in winter in that locale, so could actually be an early traveller. To round up, a couple of Rook passed over and with the number of recent records it could be that last year’s breeding first for the area is about to be repeated. 

February 18th

Brent Goose
Brent Goose – Alan Hayden

A cold south-easterly wind that set in yesterday afternoon made things more than uncomfortable about most parts of the area today. On Hengistbury, the current regulars were all present and correct, that is the Black Redstart, 2 Firecrest, one of them in song briefly, and the Nuthatch. Otherwise, it was quiet, with just a single Red-throated Diver, 7 Common Scoter and 2 Guillemot on the sea. Waders counts from Stanpit came to: the Spotted Redshank, 28 Grey Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 60 Ringed Plover and an estimated 260 Dunlin. Meanwhile, 196 Brent Goose spent the day on-site and 7 Shelduck arrived early on.

Additional news: a Marsh Harrier was seen on Wick early in the day.

February 17th

barnacle goose
Barnacle Goose on East Marsh – Alan Hayden
green woodpecker
Green Woodpecker – Alan Crockard

It was another fantastic, spring-like day that produced a nice surprise late on, when a rather furtive Barnacle Goose was found on East Marsh, Stanpit. The bird was keeping itself-to-itself and spent much of its time obscured in one of the numerous ditches that transect the area. Earlier, a Firecrest and the Black Redstart had been seen on Hengistbury, while the Brent Goose were counted at 205.

February 16th

Skylark – Clinton Whale
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit – Alan Hayden

During another day of fine weather, there was the merest hint of bird movement. For example, a Skylark in off the sea at Hengistbury, where there was perhaps a light easterly passage of Greenfinch, as well as 4 Siskin plus a handful of Linnet and Goldfinch over. Gulls and corvids were also conspicuous with seven each of Mediterranean Gull and Jackdaw logged during the morning, as were 4 Raven, while at least 2 Rook appeared to be checking out the Nursery. More in keeping with the season, however, were a Firecrest and the Nuthatch in the Wood, 4 Red-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver on the sea, a couple of Purple Sandpiper on the groynes and 2 Red-breasted Merganser east.  At Stanpit in the afternoon, 25 Grey Plover and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit were present amongst good numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, and up to 2 Mediterranean Gull were in the pre-roost. 

February 15th

Bittern Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Bittern and Short-eared Owl – Jimmy Main
All of these images are from last month, but only just received. However, they are more than worthy of an airing, even after the event.

The best came early on, when 2 or 3 Water Pipit were on Stanpit, seeming to favour Grimmery Marsh, and a Marsh Harrier was seen from the Wooden Bridge on Wick. Also at Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, 20 Grey Plover and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, while the 2 Goldeneye were again in the harbour. In the fair conditions, Dartford Warbler were in song on Hengistbury, where 4 Raven passed over and 2 Canada Goose were logged. 

February 14th

The improvement in the weather, i.e. the cessation of a cold wind and barely any rain, saw more people out in the field. At Stanpit, a Waxing was seen but there are no further details, while 2 Water Pipit, a Merlin and 3 Chiffchaff were also turned in from around the marsh. The Spotted Redshank was on North Marsh early in the day, with other waders logged from Fisherman’s Bank coming to 27 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 65 Ringed Plover and 360 Dunlin. Also at Stanpit, a Kingfisher by the Visitor’s Centre.

February 13th

There were thin picking again today in fairly miserable, cold and damp conditions. From Mudeford Quay early on, there was a Red-throated Diver, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 7 Turnstone; while Fisherman’s Bank, throughout the day, came up with the Spotted Redshank, 17 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and 255 Dunlin. This afternoon, there were 2 Mediterranean Gull on the inner harbour shore of the quay.

February 12th

There is very little to report today, save for the Black Redstart on Hengistbury and a single Dunlin in the uncharacteristic location of Wick Meadows.

February 11th

Another cold and damp day that was even punctuated with some afternoon snow showers saw a surprising number of divers move past Hengistbury early on. A total of 11 Red-throated Diver moved largely west, including a flock of five birds, while they were met head on by a party of 4 Great Northern Diver, it's not often one sees those travelling as a group. Otherwise, it was just a Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Common Scoter, 4 Great Crested Grebe and 6 Gannet to report from the water. Also from Hengistbury, the Black Redstart was at the end of the head, over which 3 Siskin passed, and 2 Firecrest were in the Wood. Only a single Goldeneye could be seen inside the harbour, where 11 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 32 Ringed Plover and 145 Dunlin were counted from Fisherman's Bank.

February 10th

Torrential rain for the greater part of the day meant that anything other than car-bound birding was, quite simply, out of the question. As a consequence, today’s WeBS count had to be cancelled before it even started. Not surprisingly, the only news concerns Mudeford Quay, from where up to 20 Purple Sandpiper and a Great Crested Grebe were noted.

February 9th

A dawn vigil of the Nursery saw 25 Little Egret leave for the adjacent valleys, but unfortunately nothing larger came out with them. Constant drizzle in temperatures barely above freezing made subsequent birding uncomfortable, but a Long-tailed Duck was seen moving west from the Coastguards and a Merlin was at Stanpit. Also at Stanpit were 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Redwing and two pairs of Stonechat, the latter a decent winter record for the area, while a Siskin went over Wick. Other than the previously mentioned duck, the sea was quiet with just a single Red-throated Diver, up to 10 Common Scoter and a few auks worth a mention. Elsewhere, the 2 Goldeneye were off Rushy Piece first thing and the dodgy Tufted Duck was tagging along with the Mallard.

February 8th

After roosting in the Nursery last night, the Great White Egret overflew Crouch Hill, Stanpit, a fraction after 7:15 this morning and headed north over the recreation ground. Later, a few minutes before 3:00, the 2 Waxwing were seen over the Rusty Boat and seemed to head towards Christchurch Quay. To round up the quality, a Jack Snipe came up from the northern part of Stanpit and the Spotted Redshank was logged. Otherwise, it’s just a Grey Wagtail and 2 Gadwall to remark upon.

February 7th

dartford warbler
Dartford Warbler seen in song on Hengistbury – Alan Crockard

Yesterday’s Waxwing, but just two of them, were seen from both Wick and Stanpit as they flew across the river towards the latter site early this morning. There were no subsequent reports, however. At dusk though, a Great White Egret flew downriver, seen from Wick, and is assumed to have roosted in the Nursery on Hengistbury. The pick of the waders was a Jack Snipe at Stanpit, where a Golden Plover coming into breeding plumage overflew, and the Spotted Redshank, 13 Grey Plover, 5 Turnstone, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 47 Ringed Plover and 265 Dunlin were also present.  Of passerine interest, at least 2 Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch were about the marsh, while 2 Mediterranean Gull were the only other things out-of-the-ordinary.

February 6th

The highlight of the day was some mobile Waxwing – 3 birds, all adults and possibly those from Sopley last weekend – around the Two Riversmeet car park. Between 12:30 and 3:00ish, the flock was seen on three occasions, but could be difficult. On Hengistbury, the Black Redstart was again on the cliff in the locale of the Gully, while the Spotted Redshank was at Stanpit along with 11 Grey Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 52 Ringed Plover and 335 Dunlin. Elsewhere, the 2 Goldeneye were in the harbour and a couple of Raven passed over. 

February 5th

With the wind just as biting as yesterday, it’s a wonder there were any excursions into the field. However, Hengistbury again turned up the Black Redstart, plus a Kingfisher in Wick Hams and a Cetti’s Warbler in song by the HHC. On Stanpit, some waders were counted from Fisherman’s Bank, including 8 Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 56 Ringed Plover.

February 4th

Despite clear skies, a chilly westerly breeze made it less than pleasant in the field today. Nevertheless, there were some decent waders counts from Stanpit; for example, 330 Dunlin and 45 Ringed Plover, as well as 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and the Spotted Redshank, but only 2 Grey Plover. On the other side, the Black Redstart was again on the cliffs at the eastern end of the head, while the 2 Goldeneye were near their namesake point and the Nuthatch was in the Wood. Elsewhere, a Peregrine was seen from Wick Hams and 179 Brent Goose made the daylight visit to the harbour.

February 3rd

The low tide at Stanpit this morning attracted a newly arrived flock of 3 Knot, while 3 Ruff flew over in the direction of the Avon Valley to presumably join the several of their brethren already there. In addition, the Spotted Redshank and 15 Grey Plover were settled and a locally sizeable flock of 15-20 Shoveler also headed to the valley, as did 4 Pintail. On Hengistbury, a Firecrest and the Nuthatch remain faithful to the Wood, where a Raven was lingering. The only other interest for the day comes from a male Peregrine and a Grey Wagtail, both at Stanpit.

February 2nd

Razorbill – Andy Wragg
'Oiled' seabirds, such as this Razorbill that was picked up in Bournemouth, are currently being found on beaches around the area. The contanimating chemical is not actually oil, but is just as lethal. If you find any affected birds, please call Mike Meeks on 07884 226540, who is successfully restoring birds to health at his sanctuary in Ringwood
Nuthatch in the Wood – Alan Hayden

A Firecrest was the best from Hengistbury this morning, when the Nuthatch was showing well in the Wood. At Stanpit, high water once again hampered wader observations, but 2 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 80 Dunlin were spread about the marsh. Meanwhile, 4 Mediterranean Gull, three adults and a second-winter, flew upriver and 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Rock Pipit, one of them a Scandinavian type, 3 Redwing and a Grey Wagtail were logged. Also, a Kingfisher about Stanpit.

February 1st

Drizzle for most of the morning hampered field activity, so the only report is of 4 Red-throated Diver past Mudeford Quay. Please note an error in yesterday's post, in that there was actually only a single Spotted Redshank present.

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