Sightings for June 2013
It’s not often that we carry moth news on this site, but in the complete absence of anything of ornithological interest we’re very pleased to make an exception. Last night, a trapping session in the dunes by the Long Groyne yielded some hoped-for specialities - namely Sand Dart, Shore Wainscot and Anerastia lotella. In addition, there was a first-for-Hengistbury in the shape of a Festoon, but incredibly there was a further specimen of this in the trap at the Barn this morning!
It was a low-key day in terms of birders out in the field, but also in terms of reports. However, after their traditional spring absence, a Kingfisher was back on-site, while 2 Common Sandpiper and Whimbrel were seen from both Hengistbury and Stanpit, and a Greenshank was at the latter site. Between 8-12 Mediterranean Gull were logged and at least 18 Common Scoter were off the Coastguards.
It was a still day that started with
lingering rain, then turned finer as a breeze
got up but reverted to drizzle later. After
yesterday’s first juvenile gulls, Sandwich
Tern matched them this morning with one
youngster on-site. Also, 2 Whimbrel and 2
Greenshank in the harbour, the latter being
quite mobile and seen at a number of
locations; as well as a couple of Little Tern
and 8 Mediterranean Gull, two of those passing
straight through east. In Wick Hams, a Bearded
Tit was heard calling and a Great Crested
Grebe was in Barn Bight.
The waders at Stanpit were headed by 6 Knot, a species that was almost unrecorded on the northbound spring passage, as well as now 2 Greenshank. Of local interest, the first juvenile Black-headed Gull were on-site, presumably from the nearby colonies, and a first-summer Common Gull was on the end of the sandspit. Otherwise, it’s just a Shoveler and 2 Tufted Duck to remark upon.
Green Hairstreak on the Batters – Chris Dresh
There was more than a hint of southbound waders about the place this morning, as 2 Green Sandpiper and 3 Common Sandpiper were seen at Stanpit, along with the Greenshank that is on-site for its third day now. In addition, 3 Whimbrel moved past Mudeford Quay, from where 8 Common Tern, 80+ Common Scoter and 2 Mediterranean Gull were logged. Meanwhile, a flock of 4 Gadwall that came in over there were also seen at Stanpit, where they joined 7 birds already in the harbour.
The only news for today is that yesterday’s Greenshank was still at Stanpit during morning, as were a Common Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin - the first of those for a while - and 2 Little Tern.
There were some unexpected moments of interest around Stanpit this morning: for example, a Turtle Dove seen flying across Priory Marsh; a female Redstart around the edge of the golf course; and a Cuckoo. In addition, after an almost complete absence of Sedge Warbler for the spring, there were thought to be 6 birds about Priory Marsh, but these were calling and sub-singing rather than attempting to hold a territory. A Greenshank and a single Black-tailed Godwit were also less-than-expected, while 25 Lapwing, 11 Redshank and 2 Curlew were perhaps more so. To finish on the marsh, there were 2 Mediterranean Gull, Skylark feeding young on Speller's Point and all 12 Shelduck offspring. Meanwhile, a quiet sea could conjure up just 9 Little Tern from Mudeford Quay.
What a difference a 45-degree shift in the wind can make, when after yesterday’s shearwater bonanza there were absolutely non-recorded this morning. In fact, the change in vector from south-west to west meant there was very little at all to be seen. The best from Hengistbury was a Great Skua that flew around a bit before sitting on the water for the rest of the morning, but there was a feeding frenzy of seabirds visible only as specks above the horizon at the southern extremity of Poole Bay. Otherwise, it was just small groups of Swift travelling ahead of the weather that made the notebooks.
The day started to drizzle and a fierce south-westerly wind, but while the former quickly gave up the latter persisted throughout and brought a good deal of seabird activity with it. This morning, between 6:30 and 10:45, combined watches from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts, produced: a Roseate Tern into the harbour through The Run, as well as 3 Little Tern and 18 Common Tern, those generally west; a total of 68 Manx Shearwater, all west; 2 Pomarine Skua that headed out of The Solent together, plus two individuals of Arctic Skua; as well as 22 Fulmar, 20+ Common Scoter, 5 Razorbill and 6 Guillemot. Then, late in the afternoon, from the area around the Long Groyne, a Balearic Shearwater was with up to 80 Manx Shearwater, which appeared to be lingering in Poole Bay, and a Great Skua passed westward. Meanwhile, smaller numbers of Manx Shearwater were still visible from Mudeford Quay, including 3 birds barely 100m out.
Little Egret – Ali Germain
It may be that Bearded Tit have furtively
managed to breed in the area again, with two
independent reports of activity this morning.
On the Hengistbury side, 3 juveniles were
seen, while at Stanpit ‘a lot’ could be heard
around the same nest-site as last year. Also
at Stanpit, singles of Little Ringed Plover
and Ringed Plover circuiting the marsh, a
Teal, 4 Gadwall, 4 Curlew and 22 Lapwing.
Mudeford Quay was also slightly livelier than
of late, with 9 Little Tern, over 50 Common
Tern and 30+ Common Scoter west, plus 8
Great Spotted Woodpecker – Ali Germain
An entirely windless day produced pretty much next-to-nothing. In fact, only 12 Common Scoter moving past Hengistbury make the post; but there are now many, almost ready-to-fledge, Sand Martin sticking their heads out of burrows in the colony at the end of the head.
Reed Bunting during the cloudier part of the day – Clinton Whale
It was a rather strange day that varied from summer like skies to mirky humidity and then back again. At Stanpit, a party of 3 drake Teal was seen, so making one wonder if they were the same individuals that were present around a week ago. On Hengistbury, an adult Yellow-legged Gull was on the southern end of the sandspit and 2 Mediterranean Gull passed west, while a juvenile Mistle Thrush was by the HHC. In addition, a Great Crested Grebe was in the harbour and the 12 Shelduck young look as if they have now just about made it.
Once more, there were Arctic Skua in the waters off Hengistbury, with single birds being reported from Mudeford Quay and the Beach. In addition, 2 Little Tern, 35 Common Tern and a Fulmar moved east, while a Whimbrel left the harbour over The Run.
Stonechat – Clinton Whale
Small Heath – Clinton Whale
The forecast all day deluge never really materialised - instead there was some on-and-off, rather feeble drizzle - and the wind dropped away significantly. Nevertheless, there were reckoned to be 5 Arctic Skua lingering around the offshore Sandwich Tern gathering, with two pale birds seen from Mudeford Quay and three dark individuals logged by the Long Groyne. Also, for the third day in succession, Roseate Tern was recorded - this time, a single bird west past the Beach Huts. In addition, 9 Kittiwake, a Common Tern, a Fulmar, at least 16 Common Scoter and 5 Curlew were over the water. Meanwhile, the only news away from the sea involved a pair of Gadwall at Stanpit.
The wind gathered a pace overnight and brought with it hopes of more shearwaters and even some petrels off Hengistbury today. However, as it turned out, it was all a bit of a disappointment. A Roseate Tern that fed with Sandwich Tern was almost constantly visible throughout a 3-hour watch from The Gulley, but otherwise it was just 2 Arctic Skua and a single Manx Shearwater to break to relative mediocrity. Hardly worth a mention, but they’ll get one to fill out the post, were 32 Common Scoter, 2 Fulmar, 4 Sanderling, 3 Razorbill and a Guillemot.
With the wind being a little lighter than yesterday, it was more about quality than quantity this morning; but there were some significant moments. A couple of Roseate Tern spent up to an hour feeding with Sandwich Tern just off the Beach Huts, where they were so close they could be heard to alarm call as an Arctic Skua came in for an inspection of events. Just prior to that, a brace of fully-spooned Pomarine Skua cruised out of The Solent and headed purposefully east, but they couldn’t resist setting about a Great Black-backed Gull on the way. Another sizeable gathering of Sandwich Tern was enough to encourage at least 2 Arctic Skua to linger throughout - both dark birds that were up-and-down from the water - but the frequency of the sightings could easily mean more individuals were present. Also recorded on the watches from the huts and Mudeford Quay were: 27 Manx Shearwater, a flock of around 20 east and 4+3 west; 14 Little Tern, up to 10 Common Tern, 4 Kittiwake and 2 Razorbill; 36 Sanderling and a Curlew passing; and up to 30 Common Scoter, including a flock of six birds - one of them a duck Shoveler. The only other news concerns a Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight and the suggestion of some new Blackcap as there was more song than might be expected of late.
The very strong westerly wind continued throughout the night, so giving rise to seawatches from Mudeford Quay, the Gully, the Beach and the Beach Huts. Inevitably, there is going to be some amount of duplication, but from information and timings received the following numbers may not be too far off the mark. A Pomarine Skua was seen from the Beach, while at least 4 Arctic Skua were busy harrying the 400+ Sandwich Tern, 20+ Little Tern and 25 Common Tern that moved west. In addition, a single Balearic Shearwater was amongst up to 60 Manx Shearwater logged, most of the latter from the Hengistbury sites. To complement, over 100 Gannet, 6 Kittiwake, 11 Fulmar and 32 Common Scoter make it on to the post, as well as 10 or so Swift in-off. This afternoon, things had quietened down, but a Little Ringed Plover past the quay and seeming to land on the sandspit was an unexpected record. Meanwhile, 8 Little Tern and 2 Mediterranean Gull were noted, as were 3 Little Egret and a Grey Heron apparently arriving from the Isle of Wight. To wrap up, a Harbour Porpoise seen from the Gully is a really decent mammal record for the area.
Omission: a Brent Goose went east past
Although this morning's weather wasn't quite
as bad as forecast, field activity was limited
to a 3-hour sea watch from Mudeford Quay. A
Brent Goose west was an odd sighting for June,
but otherwise just one each of Fulmar and
Mediterranean Gull, plus 25 Gannet were
logged. Two groups of small waders around the
sandspit were 20 Sanderling and 2 Dunlin.
Check back to yesterday for late news.
Mudeford Quay was the centre of attention today as patchy drizzle and fog persisted until mid-afternoon. During the morning 8 Manx Shearwater lingered and an Arctic Skua harassed the terns off there; then, around lunchtime, 3 Balearic Shearwater moved east. The afternoon session produced another Arctic Skua that settled on the sea just off The Run, but the highlight was a Pomarine Skua that went east sparring with a Herring Gull. Around 70 Gannet were logged during the day, plus 2 Kittiwake and a Fulmar, all these west; also 2 Mediterranean Gull, one first-summer and one second-summer. The only other report was of a Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight.
Late news: an evening visit to Stanpit found 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, plus 6 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Black-tailed Godwit.
On a slightly cooler morning, a summer-plumaged Grey Plover on Stanpit was the probably the pick; also singles of Turnstone and Curlew were present and 2 Ringed Plover were in Holloway's Dock. A couple of Little Tern moved west through the harbour as 9 Mediterranean Gull travelled in the opposite direction. The Sandwich Tern count was 63 this morning, while two each of Wigeon and Gadwall remained in Stanpit Bight. The good news is that the Shelduck and Mute Swan broods are still thriving with 12 and 7 respectively.
The only reports received today were from Stanpit, where the number of Sandwich Tern in the harbour has increased to 125, surely a total unprecedented for the time of year; also around in higher numbers than would be expected were Lapwing with 28. Other than that, just 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Wigeon were on the marsh.
Despite clear, blue skies at dawn, until the sun warmed things through, a northerly wind of some strength made for a chilly start. As a result, the shelter of the Coastguards was sought, which was very pleasant but not particularly endowed with interest. Early on, there were at least 200 Herring Gull feeding offshore, along with 20+ Gannet and 3 Fulmar, but these fizzled away leaving just a presence of Sandwich Tern with 4 or 5 Common Tern. Meanwhile, a Cuckoo, the first for a week or so, flew across Roebury Lane, a Peregrine was over Wick Fields, Swift trickled in off the sea, on which just over 20 Common Scoter were settled, and there was the odd Mediterranean Gull recorded.
Plover on the sandspit today –
One often wonders whether birds at this time
of the year may be of the Arctic breeding
tundrae race, but from a relatively uniformed
point of view it doesn't look as if these two
individuals represent very good candidates....
The last week or so has seen a perhaps unexpected variety of duck, not more so than today when a couple of redhead Goosander headed north upriver and two drake Wigeon were settled off Blackberry Point. In addition, two drake Shoveler slept away the afternoon in Stanpit Bight and 5 Gadwall were logged. The weather this morning was something of a mixed bag, when a fine start gave way to steady rain and more than the odd clap of thunder. Before that, however, a couple of first-summer Little Gull were seen to head into the Avon Valley, while 59 Swift and 18 Swallow also travelled inland, and a Yellow Wagtail was on Priory Marsh. A Greenshank was at Stanpit, along with 5 Sanderling, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Ringed Plover, as well as at least one Mediterranean Gull and a high count of 92 loafing Sandwich Terns.
At present, the day’s only news is of 4 Little Tern briefly at Stanpit, where 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Curlew were present.
Additional news: a couple of Spotted Flycatcher were on Wick and a Wheatear was on the Barn Field this morning, while a Fulmar was seen above the Long Field.
Whitethroat – Jimmy Main
The Needles in sunlight – Alan Hayden
There was another mixed bag of minor, late-spring interest this morning, when 2 Arctic Skua moved west past Mudeford Quay with what were presumably the same individuals then seen mixing it with terns south of Hengistbury. Meanwhile, a male Bullfinch by the HHC raises the annual question of where exactly may they breed within or adjacent to the area? A good selection of waders at Stanpit comprised: a Greenshank, a Grey Plover, 7 Sanderling, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 41 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin, while a Little Stint moved east at sea in the company of a further 23 Sanderling. Around the Nursery, a Garden Warbler sang and 2 Spotted Flycatcher moved through, with the outstanding miscellany for the day coming from: 2 Kittiwake, 3 Common Scoter and 20 Gannet at sea, 4 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall about the area, 111 Swift and 36 House Martin incoming, 10 Canada Goose north and 7 Mediterranean Gull over.
Male Nightjar on Hengistbury last night – Alan Hayden
...and the corresponding sunset – Alan Hayden
Weather-wise, it’s starting to feel as if summer has arrived but there still seems to be a tail end of migration going on. A couple of Eider passed east by Mudeford Quay this morning, while in-harbour, presumed northbound waders, viewed from Fisherman’s Bank, included 2 Avocet, a Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling and 6 Ringed Plover; but 2 Curlew and 4 Redshank may have been on a return journey. At lunchtime, the day’s Shoveler count peaked with 14 birds in Stanpit Bight.
It was another fine day with some elements
that were slightly out-of-the-ordinary. For
example, four species of less-than-expected
duck for the month were seen, all in groups of
three and namely: Teal, all drakes, Tufted
Duck, Shoveler and Gadwall. Also of interest
were 2 Bearded Tit in Wick Hams and a Coal Tit
in the Wood, the latter only a sporadic
breeder on Hengistbury, whereas the former is
still a bit of an enigma around the area.
Meanwhile, a modicum of late wader passage
came from a Common Sandpiper on the sandspit
and a flock of 9 Whimbrel east over the marsh,
which also saw at least thirty, seemingly
aimless Mediterranean Gull passing by. Please
check back to yesterday for some additional
Some of the 40 or so Sanderling
that were on the sandspit yesterday evening
– Clinton Whale
On a fine and largely cloudless day, the highlight was a female Honey Buzzard that passed north over the harbour at around 10:25 with an escort of local Carrion Crow. Earlier, a Turtle Dove headed over the HHC towards Stanpit and at least 8 Spotted Flycatcher were in the Wick area. Inside the harbour, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 9 Ringed Plover were presumably late northbound birds, but singles of Redshank and Curlew were most likely individuals that may have given up on breeding for the season. Also for the day, a couple of Mediterranean Gull west, a Peregrine over and the Great Crested Grebe again in Barn Bight.
Additional news: a couple of sub-adult Little Gull were on the sea off Hengistbury, where 7 Mediterranean Gull, 12 Gannet and 12 Tufted Duck were also recorded.
Spotted Flycatcher – Leo Pyke
Back in the depths of winter, when a social arrangement is made for June 1st, one feels relatively safe that nothing spectacular may be missed. That, coupled with a strong northerly wind, bouts of hayfever and, in some cases, touches of laziness, meant there was no early coverage of Hengistbury from the Saturday regulars - and what a mistake that may have been! All this is said in the context of the massive fall of Spotted Flycatcher on Portland early this morning, when over 700 birds were logged! In this day and age, given the species’ marked decline, that was indeed a truly remarkable event and one of which we are extremely envious. By around 9:30, the late-risers were choking on their coffee as the news came in and made something of an effort to catch up with the action. As it was, a total in excess of 50 birds was reckoned, with forty-four of them seen moving through the Wood, but what might have happened in the first hours of daylight will provide rhetoric for many years to come. Otherwise though, the head could produce just a handful of House Martin and Swift. At Stanpit, there were 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, a Curlew and 4 Dunlin, as well as a couple of Shoveler and 22 Sandwich Tern.