Sightings for the March 2013.

March 31st

Red-necked Grebe Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe – Alan Hayden

Another quiet day was significantly enlivened by the discovery, from the first of the three RSPB bird-boats, of a Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage inside the harbour. However, the excitement was tempered a little when it was realised the bird was slightly oiled, a condition that no doubt explained its confiding nature. Hopefully though, the staining is not severe enough to cause lasting damage, with the bird last being seen leaving the harbour through The Run. The ongoing cold saw to it that many of the 50 or so Chiffchaff spread across the area were again having to ground-feed in the open, while a White Wagtail, 16 Wheatear, a Sand Martin and 2 Redwing were also logged as migrants. The sea came up with 3 Common Scoter east and 3 Great Crested Grebe on it; with the only wader count of the day involving 56 Black-tailed Godwit around Parky Meade Rail. A total of 6 Mediterranean Gull was turned in and the apparently paired Peregrine were once again present. There is now just one morning left to salvage something from what has been a so far largely disappointing four day break.

Tides April 1st: H01:10 H04:30 L08:20 H13:15 H17:00 L20:55

March 30th

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
Adult male Marsh Harrier from two days ago, the 28th – Jimmy Main
Although records for the species are ever increasing, an individual in this plumage is still incredibly rare in the area. In fact, many regulars have never had the privilege.

Nothing much changed in terms of the weather and it was Stanpit in the afternoon that makes this post. In addition to a Merlin and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, there was an increase of Spotted Redshank to three birds, as well as a Little Ringed Plover, a Ruff, a Jack Snipe, 24 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Turnstone, 28 Ringed Plover and 36 Dunlin. Moving to Hengistbury, where it was nothing short of dire, the sea was the best, producing: a Black-throated Diver that was initially settled before heading into The Solent, 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Tufted Duck, 19 Pintail and 3 Wigeon, all east, plus a prospecting Fulmar. Passerines were very sparse - in fact Stanpit held the best Wheatear count of 11 birds, those to complement the five on the head - while singles of Redpoll, Redwing and Blackcap make up the rest! The number of Brent Goose using the harbour seems to be notching up steadily, 250 being today’s count, and a Raven went over Wick. If anyone is on Hengistbury tomorrow and comes across a pale green notebook, could you please contact the website. Although many may say it contains a good degree of fiction, the owner would appreciate it back. 

March 29th

Chiffchaff Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff - recently arrived, note the pollen stains around the bill base  – Alan Hayden

There was a certain air of inevitability that today would be poor, particularly as it was a non-work day following a decent previous twenty-four hours. In terms of passerines, the best were a Ring Ouzel in the North Scrubs very briefly, a Black Redstart around the Coastguards for a little longer and at least 2 Siskin over, plus a trickle of arriving Meadow Pipits and 10+ Wheatear. There were some highlights, however; namely a pair of Whooper Swan that were seen from Hengistbury as they headed north towards the Avon Valley, a Slavonian Grebe off the Long Groyne and a female Marsh Harrier hunting over Wick in the afternoon. During the morning, the sea saw a light passage of Common Gull, mostly first-winter birds, as well as 2 Red-throated Diver, 2 diver sp., 2 Sandwich Tern and 20 Common Scoter, nearly all east. Otherwise, it’s just a Raven over Hengistbury and 20 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as 5 Greylag Goose and a Canada Goose, on Priory Marsh that are worth a mention . To conclude, an update on the colour-ringed Brent Gooseat Stanpit on 20th of this month: the bird was ringed in The Netherlands in 2001 and has been seen in that country on a further fifteen occasions over the years. 

March 28th

Dunlin on Stanpit today – Alan Hayden

It felt quite a bit warmer this morning in the spring sunshine .  However it's difficult to know where to begin as there was so much on the move today.  Most of the Hengistbury sightings come from a three hours vigil from the Coastguards.  An Osprey, the second of the year, moved north-east just before 9am then less than five minutes had passed when another Osprey appeared and headed towards the Solent.  Some time later a Short-eared Owl came in off the sea and moved north.  Two 'firsts' for the year were Garganey and Tree Pipit.  The Garganey, two birds in fact, moved west at sea and appeared to land.  It was another big day for Meadow Pipit with 2750 logged, also 430 Wood Pigeon, 180 Starling, 73 Linnet, 63 alba Wagtail, 47 Chaffinch, 9 Siskin, 1 Grey Wagtail and 1 Water Pipit.  There was also some movement over the sea with 36 Common Gull east and 31 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Great Northern Diver and 1 Red-throated Diver west.  Grounded migrants included a Ring Ouzel on the Solent Meads golf course and a male Black Redstart which arrived at the Coastguards with 5 Wheatear.  The total for Wheatear was 21 with another 18 on Stanpit while 42 Chiffchaff were about Hengistbury with another ten on Stanpit, also 2 Willow Warbler and 4 Sand Martin.  This afternoon a full adult male Marsh Harrier was quartering Central Marsh and Priory Marsh before it headed off high to the east.  A Firecrest was between the scout hut and Stanpit Scrubs briefly and the Water Pipit was by Crouch Hill.  Waders today included the Spotted Redshank, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 7 Grey Plover.  To round up 2 Egyptian Geese headed north and a pair of Pintail circled the harbour.

March 27th

Wheatear Wheatear
Male and female Wheatear on Stanpit today – Alan Hayden

With just an occasional hint of sunshine today a few raptors took to the air.  The best was the first Red Kite of the year which passed high over Stanpit around lunch time, also 4 Common Buzzard were over Wick Fields while a little later a Merlin was causing panic over the marsh. A Little Ringed Plover was an early arrival over Wick while other migrants included 60 Wheatear between Crouch Hill and the Information Centre on Stanpit, just two of these on Wick, also 64 Chiffchaff again on Stanpit with six on Wick, 3 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler and 1 Sand Martin.  Counts from Stanpit included 196 Brent Geese, 95 Dunlin, 25 Ringed Plover, 15 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit.  By late afternoon there were 2 Spotted Redshank on East Marsh.  To round up a female Pintail was in Stanpit Bight and just a single Redwing was in the 'Bobolink' field.

 Of interest, an Otter was seen on the river this afternoon.

March 26th

Spotted Redshank
The wintering Spotted Redshank on East Marsh today – Alan Hayden

An early morning visit to Stanpit saw the first Ring Ouzel of the year head north.  Stanpit also held most of the few migrants that were around with 25 Wheatear plus another five on Hengistbury/Wick, a couple of Willow Warbler, 2 Sand Martin and 36 Chiffchaff, also seventeen of these on Wick.  As has been reported from other coastal sites most of these Chiffchaff were desperately feeding on the ground in small groups.  Inevitably given the weather a few wintering birds remain with 2 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing on Stanpit and the Water Pipit and at least 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit also present while Wick held 4 Redwing.  A Goshawk first seen being mobbed by corvids over the East Batters at Hengistbury just before 8am was reported by the information services as heading north fifteen minutes later. To round up a female Merlin passed over Wick, 2 Raven were over the wood and the Spotted Redshank was still on East Marsh.

March 25th

Black Redstart
The wintering Black Redstart feeding on the groynes this morning – Alan Hayden

It's hard to believe but it actually felt colder this morning as the wind had moved round to the north-east. Despite this one or two migrants were found including the first Swallow and Willow Warbler of the year. The Swallow which was perched a few feet from the road by Barn Bight occasionally hawked for insects but was clearly struggling in the unwelcoming conditions. Another bird was seen over Stanpit later.  The Willow Warbler was in the North Scrubs; also on Stanpit were 12 Chiffchaff and 22 Wheatear with another seven of these on Hengistbury while 4 Sand Martin were seen.  The sea was watched on a couple of occasions with a single Arctic Skua being the highlight although a movement of 68 Common Gull was of local significance. A reasonable number of divers was also logged; of these five were unidentified, the others being 8 Red-throated, 2 Black-throated and 2 Great Northern.  All these birds moved east as did 2 Grey Plover and 6 Golden Plover, the latter over Stanpit. A large Peregrine put the waders to flight on Stanpit where the numbers were 144 Dunlin, 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 29 Ringed Plover, 3 Grey Plover and the Spotted Redshank.  The Little Ringed Plover was also still present on the edge of East Marsh.  Other 'regulars' included the Water Pipit on Stanpit and the Black Redstart on Hengistbury.

March 24th

With the Osprey being the group’s long-standing icon, the first of the year is always a bit of an event. This afternoon, around 2:30, one appeared over the harbour and lingered for at least 15-minutes before heading off to the east. Otherwise, on a day that was again dominated by a bitter easterly wind, interest was sparse - although one suspects there was more to be seen than actually was. A hint of this came from two Ring Ouzel reports, both from gardens barely 100m outside of the recording area, one in Wren Close, Mudeford, the other close to Harbour Road. Within limits, however, the Wheatear tally for both sides exceeded 30 birds, Chiffchaff seemed thinner on the ground than yesterday and a lone Sand Martin braved it over Stanpit, along with a Redwing and a Grey Wagtail. A couple of Avocet on the marsh were new, but the other waders were more expected and included: the Spotted Redshank, 12 Grey Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, those seen to arrive from the west, 20 Ringed Plover and 113 Dunlin. Elsewhere, the Nuthatch was in the Wood and a Raven passed over there. 

March 23rd

Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover on East Marsh – Alan Hayden
Wheatear – Alan Hayden

It was a grey and dismal day with an easterly wind that chilled to the bone. That said, there were birds checking-in for the summer. The Wheatear figure for the area as a whole is probably at least seventy, with the main concentrations being East Marsh, Stanpit, and the Barn Field Hengistbury. A Black Redstart that suddenly appeared with a few of these at the end of the head could well have been a different bird to the wintering individual, while Meadow Pipit trickled in all morning, reaching a figure of 300 or so, along with 14 alba Wagtail, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Fieldfare and a heard-only Redwing. On the deck, Chiffchaff were in most places, not least the gorse on Hengistbury, of which most bushes were ‘hweeting’, but Stanpit also held birds some of which were feeding boldly along the path edges. Other birds that were clearly on the move included: 2 Sanderling, the first of the year, on the sandspit; a Golden Plover east over Stanpit; 200 or so Woodpigeon, one large flock travelling well out at sea; 65 Common Scoter and around 15 Sandwich Tern. At Stanpit, what was presumably the same Little Ringed Plover as yesterday spent most of its time on East Marsh, where a Water Pipit was with a ‘carpet’ of Meadow Pipit and 2 littoralis Rock Pipit. A seeming pair of Peregrine, but the female is very young, capitalised on the migrants and the Common Scoter was again ridiculously obliging in Barn Bight. Also, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall about the place, plus a Raven and the Nuthatch in the Wood. To round this up, the commoner waders came to 18 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 26 Ringed Plover, all around Stanpit Bight.

March 22nd

Despite the forecasters predicting not a dry moment in the day, the rain didn’t actually set in until after 11:00. Early on, a couple of Velvet Scoter were seen from Mudeford Quay and may have been lingering, while a Little Ringed Plover, 3 Wheatear and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit were on Stanpit. There was quite movement of birds during the morning: for example, over 2200 Meadow Pipit, 25 alba Wagtail, 35 Goldfinch and 3 Sand Martin inbound, as well as three following Merlin - two of those over Coastguards and one over the quay. Also logged was marked easterly passage of ducks and waders, with most of the following numbers from two hours at the Coastguards, but complemented by figures from Mudeford Quay: 7 Eider, 4 Goldeneye, 5 Pochard, 19 Common Scoter, 38 Shoveler, 37 Pintail, 43 Teal, 15 Mallard, 2 Golden Plover, 63 Grey Plover, 8 Knot, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit and 36 Dunlin. In addition, the first 2 Arctic Skua of the spring passed by, one of them settling adjacent to a breeding-plumaged Red-necked Grebe for a brief period, as well as 3 Red-throated Diver, a Kittiwake, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Fulmar, 3 Razorbill and 101 Gannet. An 90-minute session from the quay this afternoon could add just 21 Sandwich Tern, a Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 2 Common Scoter and 10 Gannet to the day’s list. Meanwhile, a couple of sinensis Cormorant were feeding in The Run.

March 21st

Before the almost incessant rain set in, there was some evidence of passerine migration - the Barred Warbler Bush in the Barn Field held a Yellowhammer and a Brambling, and 3 Firecrest, 40 Goldcrest and 15 Chiffchaff were in the Wood. Around the same time, over on Stanpit, an in-harbour Purple Sandpiper was something of a major event. With an easterly wind driving the rain, the southernmost Beach Hut offered the only sea-facing shelter, and from there: 4 Velvet Scoter, a Little Gull, a Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Sandwich Tern, 5 Fulmar and 14 Gannet were all seen heading east; while an adult Yellow-legged Gull was lingering. The drake Common Scoter was again in Barn Bight and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit was at Stanpit, where an Avocet, 15 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 7 Ringed Plover and 56 Dunlin were counted.

March 20th

Common Scoter
Common Scoter – Alan Hayden
Sorry for the photographic overload on this bird, but one inside the harbour,
so consequently so well captured on memory card is a bit of a novelty
Kestrel on Hengistbury – Clinton Whale

There was a slight unblockage of arriving birds today, not least an early Whimbrel on Stanpit; but Wheatear do continue to disappoint with only birds four and five of the season on Hengistbury and Wick respectively. However, an hour-and-a-half on Crouch Hill saw some overhead movement, as 275 Meadow Pipit, 15 alba Wagtail, 8 Siskin, 26 Goldfinch, 39 Linnet and 22 Chaffinch headed inland, while 118 Woodpigeon, 38 Jackdaw and 16 Rook moved east. Also a high-flying Buzzard and Little Ringed Plover incoming, plus the Spotted Redshank, 31 Grey Plover, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit and 85 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit in the morning, but most of the latter three species had departed by lunchtime. Meanwhile, the marsh hosted another cracking Scandinavian Rock Pipit and the Black Redstart, the Nuthatch and a pair of Raven were in the usual spots on Hengistbury. In addition to a Sandwich Tern inside the harbour, the drake Common Scoter performed well, a flock of 10 Tufted Duck were seen on both sides, 2 Shoveler and a Pintail, all drakes, were settled and a further brace of scoter were on the sea. The pale brent was not around, but a colour-ringed dark bird was and details are currently being sought.

March 19th

Common Scoter Common Scoter
Common Scoter in Barn Bight – Alan Hayden
..and this is the time of year when Shelduck start to gather at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

After a very foggy start, migrants were few-and-far-between. For example, a single Wheatear on the Barn Field, a White Wagtail and 2 Water Pipit at Stanpit, one each of the latter on Priory Marsh and Central Marsh, plus a mere handful of Chiffchaff. Interestingly, Water Rail cropped up in some strange places, not least two in the North Scrubs at Stanpit and three very obvious birds on Wick - newly arrived birds, perhaps? The Common Scoter was again in Barn Bight, where it was yesterday but was carelessly omitted from the report, a Yellow-legged Gull was on the sandspit and 2 Red-breasted Merganser were just offshore there. Moving back to Stanpit, one littoralis Rock Pipit was with the Central Marsh Water Pipit, while 30 Grey Plover, 13 Turnstone and a pair of Pintail were logged. Of mammal interest, a live(!) Mole was seen in the Wood close to the Double Bends. 

Omission: the pale-bellied Brent Goose was again at Stanpit

March 18th

Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Pale-bellied Brent Goose
Pale-bellied Brent Goose – Chris Chapleo

Other than a few Chiffchaff and a Blackcap, most of those in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, there were no migrant passerines around today. However, a Black-throated Diver, 3 Red-throated Diver and 3 Sparrowhawk passed Hengistbury, the latter all east; while the Black Redstart and 16 Purple Sandpiper were turned in from the eastern end of the head and the pale-bellied Brent Goose was at Stanpit all day. Also around the marsh, the Spotted Redshank, 29 Grey Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Turnstone, 19 Ringed Plover and a dwindling 128 Dunlin, as well as 2 Mediterranean Gull and a Peregrine over. 

March 17th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper – Clinton Whale

It was another largely damp morning, although there were some opportunities to get out into the field. The report of the day involves a Common Scoter inside the harbour at Barn Bight - a pretty unusual sight to say the least - while the bird of the day was a pale-bellied Brent Goose on Stanpit. Hengistbury produced a single Wheatear, on the West Field, and a steady overhead passage of Meadow Pipit, 850 being the estimate and most of those in the hour after 9:45. Offshore, 4 Mediterranean Gull were logged, a Red-throated Diver moved east and two further scoter were settled, as was a Great Crested Grebe. On the groynes, the Purple Sandpiper numbered fifteen. 

March 16th

For long periods of the day hail and heavy rain dominated, which coupled with an element east in the mainly southerly wind meant that Mudeford Quay was the only option early on. Incredibly, even in the harshest conditions, Meadow Pipit were trickling in. Presumably, the weather on the French coast had seemed reasonable for the crossing, but somewhere on the way over most birds must have hit real problems. Of those that did make it, around seventy came over the quay. Offshore it was quiet, with just 10 Pintail east, 2 Fulmar, a Tufted Duck, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Sandwich Tern, both of those pristine adults so certain arrivees, and a single Red-breasted Merganser making the notebooks. Meanwhile, up to 30 Purple Sandpiper were pushed-off Avon Beach to the sandspit in varying sized flocks. For a time during the morning, there was a window of clear weather and a walk round Hengistbury produced the bird of the day, in the form of an adult Little Gull lingering off the Long Groyne. Also 3 Mediterranean Gull in the same area, while the walk back across Wick added 4 Chiffchaff, a Peregrine, 2 Raven and 4 Jackdaw to the day’s list.

March 15th

Chaffinch – David Williams
Goldcrest   Green Woodpecker
Goldcrest & Green Woodpecker – Alan Crockard & Clinton Whale

Overnight rain took a grip, which coupled with a brisk southerly wind meant seawatching seemed the best early option. The numbers from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay were pretty similar, with aggregates coming to: 2 Red-throated Diver, one in each direction, 3 Red-breasted Merganser that settled briefly before returning west, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 18 Common Scoter west, plus the four regular birds on the water. In addition, a Guillemot was in The Run, while the watch from the huts amassed 20+ Purple Sandpiper and the Black Redstart. Meanwhile, a few Mediterranean Gull travelled through and a Peregrine headed out towards the island. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was again faithful to Fisherman’s Bank, along with 212 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover and 17 Black-tailed Godwit turned in from there. 

March 14th

It was another fine, spring day, which produced the season’s first Wheatear - a single male on Hengistbury - as well as a Sand Martin, 20+ Chiffchaff, one in song and one grey bird, and the odd Blackcap. Somewhat on the converse, a flock of 46 Redwing headed north over Wick, with 3 Siskin and a Redpoll also being recorded about the area. At Stanpit, a different Water Pipit to yesterday was in the same location and  in the company of a single Scandinavian Rock Pipit. Wildfowl are possibly on the move, e.g.  another good local count of 15 Shoveler, as well as a redhead Goosander on the river, 7 Pintail and a Great Crested Grebe. A species definitely on-the-go, however, is Mediterranean Gull, with at least fifty eastbound over Hengistbury and Wick this morning in varying flock sizes. Back to Stanpit, where an adult Yellow-legged Gull during lunch was a nice record, as was a Knot,; those complementing the Spotted Redshank, 3 Ruff and up to 500 Black-tailed Godwit that were commuting to-and-from the Avon Valley. The day’s remaining interest came from 3 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit, the regular 4 Common Scoter off there and a Peregrine over. Please check back to yesterday for a couple of omissions. 

March 13th

Curlew – Clinton Whale

With a turn for the better in the weather this morning, some early spring migration kicked-in. In addition to a Little Ringed Plover on South Marsh, the northern part of Stanpit held up to 40 Chiffchaff and the first Blackcap of the year, the latter in sub-song. Also presumed to be new-in was a Water Pipit in fine breeding plumage close to the Visitor’s Centre, where of 4 Rock Pipit there two were certain littoralis. A ringtail Hen Harrier was an unexpected highlight as it travelled west to east over Hengistbury and the sandspit, while also on the move were Lapwing with 17 birds in-off and north. To continue on the spring theme, a Nuthatch was in song in Smithy’s Field and Dartford Warbler were conspicuous in a few locations on Hengistbury. Also on the head, the Black Redstart and a couple of Raven over the Wood. Moving back to Stanpit, there was something of a wildfowl influx as 14 Shoveler, 6 Pintail and 4 Gadwall were logged, those to complement 3 Tufted Duck on the sea off Mudeford Quay at lunchtime. To conclude, the day’s wader numbers came to: the Spotted Redshank, 31 Grey Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 54 Black-tailed Godwit, but most of those headed off into the Valley, a Turnstone, 7 Ringed Plover and 310 Dunlin. 

Omissions: a Firecrest was on Hengistbury and the Brent Goose at Stanpit peaked at 343 birds.

March 12th

A few more Chiffchaff seemed to be around the area today, although it is possible they may have arrived at weekend - a total of five was reckoned, spread across Hengistbury, Wick and Stanpit. Also at the latter site, a Scandinavian Rock Pipit was between the Visitor’s Centre and Crouch, while 3 Redwing and a Siskin were in the North Scrubs. The pick of the waders on the marsh was a Jack Snipe, but also 22 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 28 Black-tailed Godwit there, as well as 6 Purple Sandpiper seen from Mudeford Quay. From Hengistbury, the Black Redstart was turned in and a Peregrine went over the HHC.

March 11th

Snowy Hengistbury Cattle in Snow
Some scenes of today's snow – Richard Cordery

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that today’s easterly blast was perhaps one of the coldest experienced for many years in the area, which coupled with grit like snow made it rather more than uncomfortable at times. Nevertheless, Hengistbury was worked this morning  and came up with some bits-and-pieces that might be expected in such conditions. For example, a Woodlark flew across Solent Meads golf course towards Wick, while a Golden Plover travelled east at sea. Also over the water and east, a Little Gull, an Eider, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Fulmar and 2 Razorbill. Meanwhile, the Shag were counted and came to 28 birds visible from the Beach Huts. The Black Redstart was again in the same area, a Firecrest showed in the Wood and 3 Linnet were by the Hiker Cafe. This afternoon at Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, 6 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 8 Ringed Plover and 235 Dunlin were all turned in from Fisherman’s Bank, as were a couple of adult Mediterranean Gull.

March 10th

Ringed Plover and Dunlin
A Ringed Plover and some Dunlin sitting out the tide – Clinton Whale

Sand Martin arrived on the scene today - one over Mudeford Quay and three lingering by Parky Meade Rail - as well as a couple of Sandwich Tern off the quay, where the drake Common Scoter could again be seen taking advantage of the ready supply of crabs in The Run. On Hengistbury, a couple of Chiffchaff were in the Wood, so almost certainly migrants, 2 Redwing were on the Long Field, a Fieldfare was by the HHC and the Black Redstart remained towards the end of the head. Otherwise, it’s just a pair of Greylag Goose west to remark upon. 

March 9th

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker – David Williams
...and a selection of Oystercatcher ages  – Alan Crockard

A morning of light wind and varying degrees of mist brought on the first significant arrival of spring migrants. Flocks of Meadow Pipit and ones-and-twos of alba Wagtail, all those seen well being confirmed as pied, were arriving over Hengistbury until around 10:00, when it quietened down a little. In all, 320 of the former and 27 of the latter were counted respectively, as well as 2 Brambling, 4 Siskin, 32 Chaffinch, 2 Collared Dove, 8 Jackdaw and 36 Mediterranen Gull, the last two mentioned species all heading east. On Stanpit, a White Wagtail was settled on Crouch Hill, while a Spoonbill went high to the east over Whitepits, a Firecrest was showing well in the Wood and singles of Sandwich Tern, quite possibly the same bird, were seen from Mudeford Quay and the Coastguards. Just like last Saturday, the drake Common Scoter was feeding in The Run, with a further seven of those out on the sea, ditto 10 Great Crested Grebe, and a Red-throated Diver went into The Solent. To round up, a Peregine had latched onto the incoming passerine opportunity, 2 Redwing passed over, Rook were active in the Nursery, a Gadwall was in Barn Bight and there was a good count of 25 Shelduck at Stanpit, along with 25 Grey Plover and 120 Black-tailed Godwit. 

Additional news: a Fieldfare was on Wick.

March 8th

Coal Tit
Coal Tit – David Williams

The only news on a mild but damp day is of 3 Redwing and 4 Mediterranean Gull from Wick.

March 7th

During a day of almost constant rain or drizzle, the only report comes from Fisherman’s Bank in the afternoon, when the Spotted Redshank, 22 Grey Plover and a pair of Pintail were present.

March 6th

Robin  – David Williams
Mute Swan
Displaying cob Mute Swan – Hugh Goldsmith

There was a good bit of large wildfowl interest to be had today. Firstly, a couple of adult Bewick’s Swan were seen from Wick as headed down the Stour, but were lost to view over the Priory Marsh area where they may well have come down. Then, a pair of Barnacle Goose headed east through the harbour, being seen from Stanpit, where 208 Brent Goose and a couple of Pintail were settled. Signs of spring came courtesy of 4 Brambling that passed north over Stanpit, along with 33 Chaffinch, while seven vocal, adult Mediterranean Gull were logged at Wick, including three pairs that came up off the driving range there. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, 30 Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit were the pick of the waders. 

March 5th

Male Siskin on Hengistbury – David Willams

It was a really spring-like day that saw Mute Swan in display and spurred many resident passerines into song. In addition, a Rook was scouting on Hengistbury, where there was a Siskin, as well as some vocal Cetti’s Warbler and a couple of showy Water Rail. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank again obliged, along with 26 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 25 Ringed Plover. 

March 4th

During a further day of easterly winds, there was something of goose selection about the area. A Barnacle Goose was seen from both Stanpit and Hengistbury - at the latter site in the company of brents - and a pale-bellied Brent Goose was on the marsh, presumably also consorting with its darker bellied cousins. At the end of the head, the Black Redstart was present once more, while a Raven was again the Wood and a Grey Wagtail was on Wick water meadows. In addition to a good local count of 26 Pintail at Stanpit, there was a Jack Snipe on South Marsh, the Spotted Redshank, 28 Grey Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit 4 Turnstone, 32 Ringed Plover and 345 Dunlin.

March 3rd

Wigeon at Stanpit this morning – Clinton Whale

After a few days’ respite, it was back to bracing easterly winds, which were not pleasant for either the last WeBS count of the season or the RSPB harbour bird-boat. Consequently, there is not too much to report, with the best being a female Merlin north across Stanpit this afternoon and the Black Redstart on Hengistbury. A further of the latter was a fraction outside of the recording area, just west of the former Point House Cafe, but was seen heading towards where it may be genuinely eligible for a mention. At sea, 3 Red-throated Diver were logged, two west and one in the opposite direction, while 5 Common Scoter were settled. At Stanpit, 22 Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and a fine total of 45 Turnstone were present, with a Raven on the cliffs at Hengistbury making the remaining interest.

March 2nd

Common ScoterCommon Scoter
Drake Common Scoter in The Run this morning - certainly the best ever photos of this species taken in the area – Alan Crockard

Given that all game shooting seasons are closed, it was something of a surprise to see an early morning exodous of duck over the harbour from the Avon Valley, with the birds then settling on the sea, albeit it restlessly. This event, coupled with last night's activity, may suggest that the fast-falling water levels in the valley are giving a hint that it’s time to move on? In all, at least 500 Wigeon, 84 Pintail, 16 Shoveler and a number of Gadwall were involved. The sea was also reasonably interesting in terms of the more expected species - 4 Eider and Red-breasted Merganser were involved, as well as 3 Great Northern Diver, two of them east, 9 Red-throated Diver, five west and three east, 5 unidentified diver and a Mediterranean Gull, plus 4 Common Scoter, not including the drake photographed above, and a Great Crested Grebe lingering - these the aggregates from Hengistbury and Mudeford Quay. Also on the head, a couple of Firecrest in the Wood, the regular female Black Redstart and 3 Purple Sandpiper.

Additional news: the Red-throated Diver with the misshapen neck was seen in flight over the harbour from Fisherman's Bank.

March 1st

A Red-throated Diver that was in The Run early on then flew into the harbour, exhibiting a strangely cricked neck as it did so, meaning it could well have been a sickly bird; meanwhile, a Great Northern Diver was on the sea off Hengistbury. There was also some interest towards the end of the day, when a Slavonian Grebe was turned in from Mudeford Quay and at least 30 Mediterranean Gull, including a flock of twenty-three calling birds, came over the Ship in Distress towards the roost. Also around that time, 18 Pintail and 55 Wigeon headed west past the quay, while a further 220 Wigeon and 6 Common Scoter were settled on the calm water. Waders at Stanpit included: the Spotted Redshank, 33 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and 95 Black-tailed Godwit; and 2 Raven and 2 Gadwall were about the area.

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