Sightings for September 2013

September 30th

An overcast morning with a continuing easterly wind produced a haul of birds that even surpassed Saturday. Before diving into the numbers, it’s probably best to cover the quality. What was presumably the Great White Egret from yesterday was seen to leave the Nursery roost, before settling at various points around the area for a few minutes and finally lingering for some time on East Marsh. Given the numbers in the country at the moment, a Yellow-browed Warbler was almost expected, so one on the Lower Batters was no real surprise; while 5 Spoonbill headed west over Hengistbury and 4 Crossbill moved east amongst the mass of other stuff still to be listed. Talking of which, the Meadow Pipit total reached a remarkable 14500 birds, along with 8 Tree Pipit, 930 alba Wagtail, 27 Yellow Wagtail, 14 Grey Wagtail, 6500 Swallow, 2100 House Martin, 270 Linnet, 62 Siskin, a Redpoll and 38 Reed Bunting, plus a couple of parasitic Merlin and a Hobby, all east; also, the first 5 Redwing and 58 Song Thrush north-west. It wasn’t just passerines, however, as 12 Golden Plover, 5 Knot, 16 Ringed Plover, 106 Pintail, 16 Shoveler, 63 Teal,135 Wigeon, 48 Common Gull and 85 Lesser Black-backed Gull also travelled - the waders east, the fowl and gulls west. In addition: 3 Avocet and a further 4 Golden Plover were settled inside the harbour; at one point, Holloway’s Dock held a large egret, an unlikely 8 Green Sandpiper and 8 Greenshank; and 43 Snipe were randomly shooting overhead. The best on the deck were a Ring Ouzel up from the top of the head and a Grasshopper Warbler in the Salt Hurns, but also a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, a Whinchat, 2 Wheatear, 7 Reed Warbler, 3 Sedge Warbler, 200 Chiffchaff and 20 Goldcrest.

Additional news: a Nightjar was around the Coastguards at 19:30 tonight.

September 29th

Oystercatcher – Clinton Whale
Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher – Ali Germain
Kestrel – Ali Germain

In the continuing easterly wind, there were again plenty of birds about the area. Just before 12:00, a Great White Egret moved east over the harbour, while slightly earlier a male Ring Ouzel has been feeding on rowan berries in the North Scrubs, where a Turtle Dove and a Marsh Tit, something of a local rarity, were also present briefly. Overhead migration was on a broad front from west to east, with the morning totals from three notebooks reckoned to be: 1870 Meadow Pipit, 590 alba Wagtail, 13 Grey Wagtail, 18 Yellow Wagtail, 7860 Swallow, 3500 House Martin, a Sand Martin, 260 Linnet, 20 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, a Song Thrush and 6 Skylark. Meanwhile, at least 3 Spotted Flycatcher were turned in from the North Scrubs, with other grounded migrants across the site including: a Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warbler, 50+ Chiffchaff, a Whinchat and 6 Wheatear. The first WeBS count of the season saw to it that waders and waterfowl were well examined - the figures being: 2 Jack Snipe on Priory Marsh, an arriving Golden Plover, the Spotted Redshank, 11 Greenshank in Holloway’s Dock, 7 Grey Plover, a Knot, 2 Sanderling, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Turnstone, 40+ Snipe, 16 Ringed Plover and 35 Dunlin, amongst the more routine fare; as well as 12 Pintail, 15 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 363 Wigeon, that a high count for the month, 77 Teal, a Tufted Duck, 2 Shelduck, 2 Common Scoter off the quay, 24 Brent Goose and 111 Canada Goose, the latter hanging around for a good deal of the morning. The remaining miscellany is made up from: a Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry, singles of Hobby and Peregrine over, 2 Bearded Tit, 2 Raven and a small pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphin off Whitepits. 

September 28th

For the visible-migration aficionados, it was massively impressive during the first two hours of daylight at the eastern tip of Hengistbury as low cloud and strong easterly wind funnelled thousands of birds into a low, narrow stream. At times, it was risky to use optics as the reduced field of view meant that flocks of over one hundred strong could easily be missed. The final tally, all into the wind, until 10:30 came to: 6300 Meadow Pipit, this possibly a site record, 760 alba Wagtail, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail, 4500 Swallow, 480 House Martin, a Skylark, 95 Linnet, 23 Siskin, 10 Goldfinch and a Redpoll. Nearly all of these were before 9:00, at which point steady rain commenced and largely killed the passage. Meanwhile, from the same point, the sea came up with a couple of Manx Shearwater and 10 Mediterranean Gull west, as well as 3 Common Tern, 6 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 10 Common Scoter, 12 Brent Goose, 9 Sandwich Tern and a Guillemot, those in a mixture of directions. Also at the end of the head, the first 3 Purple Sandpiper of the winter. Elsewhere, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and a Willow Warbler were in the Wood and a Tree Pipit was in the Bobolink Field.

September 27th

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting – Alan Hayden

The wind turned to the east and the birds came with it. The undoubted best was a Black Kite that passed over Two Riversmeet car park at around 11:00, before circling a couple of times and eventually heading north-west towards St Catherine’s Hill. Meanwhile, presumably the same Pectoral Sandpiper as yesterday was seen briefly at Stanpit as it left South Marsh and crossed the harbour towards Holloway’s Dock, and a Lapland Bunting passed east over Hengistbury. Also moving into the wind over the head were: 930 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 10 Yellow Wagtail, 9 Grey Wagtail, 220 alba Wagtail, 5600 Swallow, 2200 House Martin, 520 Linnet, the first movement of those this autumn, 86 Siskin and 70 Goldfinch; while 3 Hobby accompanied, including a juvenile that appeared to come out of roost from the Nursery. Wildfowl were prevalent - in addition to 36 Brent Goose inside the harbour, five of them a family group, there were 26 Pintail and mid-winter numbers, i.e. hundreds, of Wigeon - but birds were also moving west at sea, over which 86 Pintail, 320 Wigeon, 53 Teal, 15 Shoveler and 43 Brent were logged; with 7 Eider, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 17 Common Scoter heading in the opposite direction. Waders at Hengistbury were made up of: 2 Ruff, one of which alighted onto the Long Groyne, 15 Greenshank, twelve of them in Holloway’s Dock, 16 Grey Plover, 5 Sanderling and 33 Turnstone. At the same time at Stanpit, there was a Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 5 Sanderling, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Ringed Plover and 80 Dunlin. To start closing this down, a Firecrest was on the head, 2 Whinchat and 15 Wheatear were across the area, and there was small influx of Stonechat at Stanpit. Finally, the corvid interest came from 2 Raven and a couple of the curiously increasing Rook.

September 26th

In mirky conditions, it was a cracking day for waders inside the harbour - the best being a Pectoral Sandpiper low over Central Marsh, but unfortunately not relocated. In addition, a Green Sandpiper and a Jack Snipe were around Priory Marsh, a Ruff was in Stanpit Bight and a Spotted Redshank was in Mother Siller’s Channel; while a Curlew Sandpiper, 5 Grey Plover, 14 Knot, a Greenshank, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Black-tailed Godwit and 48 Snipe were also turned in from Stanpit. The poor visibility gave rise to plenty of grounded wildfowl, including: an impressive 31 Pintail resting up off Blackberry Point, a Garganey that seemed to leave the area with a few Wigeon; 3 Tufted Duck over; at least 21 Brent that came and went; 9 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall and in excess of 70 Teal. Hengistbury is not thought to have been visited, so all the passerine migrant numbers come from Stanpit, where a Spotted Flycatcher, a Garden Warbler, 30 Blackcap, 35 Chiffchaff and 6 Sedge Warbler were returned, nearly all from the North Scrubs. Overhead passage was not particularly spectacular, although at one point 1000+ House Martin swarmed over the area; with a few uncertain flocks of Swallow, 600 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit and12 Yellow Wagtail also passing over. 

Additional news: late in the evening, a Little Owl was around the Horse Paddock on Wick.

September 25th

After a quiet previous day, things picked up a lot more this morning particularly over Hengistbury, where a Yellowhammer, a Redpoll, 43 Siskin, 59 Reed Bunting, 6 Yellow Wagtail, plus a further four at Stanpit, 14 Grey Wagtail, 111 alba Wagtail, 1250 Meadow Pipit and 1700 Swallow all travelled east. In addition, 25 Song Thrush came off the head to the north-west and 2 Mistle Thrush were settled in the Nursery for some time, as was a Buzzard. Also on the deck, mostly across Hengistbury, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, a Whinchat, a Wheatear, 7 Whitethroat, 75 Blackcap and 215 Chiffchaff. At Stanpit, there was a fine collection of waders, including: a Jack Snipe, a Spotted Redshank, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Avocet, 3 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 6 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin and a Snipe; while a flock of 10 birds that left the area comprised a Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Sanderling and 6 Knot. The final piece of real interest for the day came courtesy of a Garganey with the Teal in Barn Bight, but also 2 Pintail, 7 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and 5 Greylag Goose logged on-site. 

September 24th

There is very little to report upon today. A couple of Yellow Wagtail left the HHC roost, while a Whinchat was on-site as well as a handful of Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. Other than that, a Brent Goose was seen to arrive and a couple of Greenshank were in Barn Bight.

September 23rd

After a vague forecast of south-easterly winds, hopes were high for some real action this morning; but as it was the best were 2 Spoonbill that passed by to the west. A movement of 2200 Swallow would normally be considered something of an event, but after yesterday’s numbers then it was almost a disappointment. One thing that is consistent, however, is the low ratio of House Martin - 110 today - although they could, hopefully, be still to come. To complete the moving birds, there were 220 Meadow Pipit and 5 Yellow Wagtail, with the only settled migrant being a single Wheatear on Stanpit. Offshore, the pick was a lingering Arctic Skua, with a lone Common Tern, 12 Brent Goose and 26 Common Scoter, all west, while 7 Sanderling skirted the shore. Inside the harbour, there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, a Spotted Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 3 Grey Plover, one still in nice plumage, 2 Knot, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Black-tailed Godwit, plus an ‘impressive’ one Dunlin! The only other wader report concerned 5 Snipe seen to arrive, as did wildfowl in the shape of 4 Pintail, 5 Tufted Duck and 4 Greylag Goose.

September 22nd

Chiffchaff – Jean Southworth
...and a nicely marked Wheatear – Clinton Whale

The area was suffocated by heavy fog for the first 2-hours of daylight making it all seem rather birdless, although the Wryneck did show well on the Barn Field during that time. However, around 8:45, the fog cleared abruptly and a torrent of Swallow ensued. For the next 90-minutes, what were described as ‘biblical proportions’ passed over the sea off Mudeford Quay resulting in an estimated 18000 birds, while at least 10000 moved inside the harbour and over the Barn Field. After that, things slowed a little, but a further 6000 individuals were reckoned up until 12:00 - so resulting in a day-total in excess of 34000, as there was still a light passage going on in the afternoon. Throughout all of this, there were House Martin around, but in the minority numbers-wise and most of them lingering to feed rather than travelling - the figure for those being 2-3000 birds. Meadow Pipit were also mixed up in the overhead mayhem, their calls being constant, but trying to get to grips with actual numbers was difficult, although a count of five-hundred over Stanpit was made. Also over, the first Tree Sparrow of the year, from Stanpit to Wick, and a couple of Grey Wagtail, with all movement generally to the south or south-west, the exception being an inbound Golden Plover. There was no shortage of birds on the ground either - at least 100 Chiffchaff on Hengistbury, as well as a Willow Warbler, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, those on Crouch Hill, and a Snipe that was decked by the fog on the Long Field. To conclude, a Pintail circuited and a Kingfisher was by the HHC. 

Additional news: a Red-throated Diver went past Mudeford Quay.

September 21st

Whimbrel – Alan Crockard
Great Black-backed Gull
Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull with colour ring – Olly Frampton
Mudeford Quay is a rather cosmopolitan place right now. As well as this Great Black-backed Gull, Green N51, which was ringed in the nest in Normandy this summer, there is a Black-headed Gull, White E5VT, also ringed as a chick, but in Holland last year. In addition, ‘Stockholm Museum’ was read from a metal ringed Black-headed Gull this morning. If you see any of these birds taking advantage of the various bits of fast food or excess crab bait that are fed to them, please report the sighting to CHOG and we’ll the forward details on.

The day broke to a south-westerly wind and threatened to yield another good passage of Meadow Pipit. However, after a brief pulse of 320 birds, they abruptly petered out. On the other hand, Swallow seemed to be trickling through for most of the morning and on a relatively broad front, so making the 920 counted between the HHC and the Coastguards perhaps not a particularly representative figure for the true number of birds travelling. Also over, a single House Martin, 15 Yellow Wagtail, 11 Grey Wagtail and 16 alba Wagtail. The best birds for the day were: a Spoonbill in-off the sea over Mudeford Quay, an Arctic Skua chasing Sandwich Tern in Christchurch Bay; and the Ruff, 3 Curlew Sandpiper and a Spotted Redshank at Stanpit; although 3 Brent Goose that inspected the area, likewise an identical number of Shelduck, are also worthy of mention for the date. Other waders at Stanpit included: 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and around 15 Dunlin. Meanwhile, the one-legged Redshank that has been around for a few weeks is still hopping around and 9 Knot, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Turnstone and 4 Snipe passed straight through. Singles of Peregrine, a small male, and a Shoveler were about the area; while Mediterranean Gull have recently reverted to their more familiar status of notable - none seen for a week in fact - meaning three logged today, a first-winter and 2 adults, were a bit of an event.

September 20th

It was a good day for overhead passage on Hengistbury, but before getting into the details let’s cover the quality. On the Barn Field, the Wryneck once again put in an appearance, while what was presumably yesterday’s Arctic Tern patrolled off Mudeford Quay. In addition, a Garganey was amongst a small incoming of wildfowl on Stanpit, where there was a Curlew Sandpiper, the female Ruff and a Spotted Redshank, with a further two of the former being seen on the sandspit. Airborne travellers were plentiful and comprised: 1800 Swallow, 1000 House Martin, 870 Meadow Pipit, 6 Tree Pipit, 49 alba Wagtail, 14 Grey Wagtail, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 47 Siskin and 85 Reed Bunting. Meanwhile, it was not too shabby on the ground, where two latish Willow Warbler were with the 150+ Chiffchaff on-site, as well as: a Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Redstart, 2 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 41 Whitethroat, that representing a definite influx of birds after several days of single figures, 90 Blackcap, 3 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear and 7 Sedge Warbler; the vast majority of these on the head. Other waders for the day included: a Greenshank, 3 Sanderling, 2 Knot, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 20 or so Dunlin; with 14 Bar-tailed Godwit and 110 Dunlin seen to leave north-east. As mentioned earlier, there were a few duck around - for example, 2 Shoveler, 4 Pintail and 6 Gadwall - 3 Bearded Tit were by the HHC and 2 Raven passed over. 

Additional news: there were actually 8 Greenshank at Stanpit, along with a Whimbrel.

September 19th

It’s difficult to know where to start today, but why not the sea? Singles of Arctic Tern were reported throughout the day from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay, but just one bird may have been involved; while another moved west past the Gully in the company of a few Common Tern. Also over the water throughout the day, at least one Arctic Skua, a Little Tern, the first 2 Brent Goose of the ‘winter’, 75 Sandwich Tern, 19 Common Scoter and 5 Teal, while 4 Pintail and 20 Teal passed over Priory Marsh. From the Coastguards, a decent passage of Meadow Pipit comprised 2300 birds all west, plus 910 Swallow, 56 alba Wagtail, an opportunistic Merlin and 3 Chaffinch. Meanwhile, aggregate totals of wagtails from all areas of come to 42 Yellow Wagtail and 14 Grey Wagtail. On the deck, there was a clear influx of Chiffchaff and although the only figures received come to just over sixty, there were uncounted areas holding birds meaning the day-total should be much higher. In addition, a Willow Warbler was around Priory Marsh and a Grasshopper Warbler was on Wick, with other notables comprising a Whinchat and 3 Wheatear, as well as 3 Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler. The pick of the waders on Stanpit were a very small Ruff, so actually a reeve, 3 Curlew Sandpiper and a fine count of 11 Greenshank; along with a Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Snipe, with a few Sanderling turned in from the seashores. The final miscellany comes courtesy of 3-4 Bearded Tit and Hobby from Priory Marsh, a Raven, a Kingfisher and 23 Bottle-nosed Dolphin off Hengistbury.

Of interest just outside the recording area, a Grey Phalarope was offshore the RNLI look-out on Avon Beach early this morning. 

September 18th

Stonechat on Hengistbury – Clinton Whale
Bar- and Black-tailed Godwit
A good comparison of the upperwing differences of Bar-tailed Godwit (left)
and Black-tailed Godwit  – Alan Crockard

Despite the morning wind being from the north and bringing showers with it, there were several moments of interest on the sea. Mudeford Quay probably scored the best with two very late Little Tern, a Little Gull, a Black Tern and 3 Balearic Shearwater, while a further five of shearwater were seen from the Beach Huts, along with a Razorbill. Also over the water, a Kestrel purposefully east and a Hobby that eventually made land over Avon Beach. A good variety of waders was to be had throughout the day, the best being a Little Ringed Plover over the HHC early on and at least 2 Curlew Sandpiper about the area, but also a Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, a Knot, 4 Sanderling, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 67 Dunlin, all at Stanpit. From the eastern point of Hengistbury, a modest overhead passage comprising a Tree Pipit, 410 Meadow Pipit, 10 Yellow Wagtail, 260 Swallow and a vanguard couple of Siskin was logged. Meanwhile, grounded birds around the Barn and Long Fields included the Wryneck, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whinchat and a Wheatear. To complete the picture, 9 Raven went over the head. 

September 17th

The long-staying Wryneck was still on the Barn Field this morning; the bird was in its favoured bramble patch adjacent to the Barred Warbler Bush. The only migrants noted were singles of Whinchat and Wheatear plus around a dozen Chiffchaff. A further 22 Chiffchaff were in the North Scrubs on Stanpit, also 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Redstart, 1 Garden Warbler and 6 Blackcap. The sea, which was disappointing, was watched from both Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts. From the latter, an Arctic Skua west was the only sighting of note, while from the quay just singles of Red-throated Diver and Arctic Tern were logged.

Additional news: a Razorbill and 4 Common Scoter were also at sea.

September 16th

Another effort was put into the sea this morning, with watches from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts. Both sites had their moments - juveniles of Black Tern and Arctic Tern, both in The Run from the quay, and a Little Gull and a lone Balearic Shearwater from the huts. Otherwise, the only other interest came from the latter site in the form of 275 Sandwich Tern west and a Hobby in-off. As the tide dropped off during the afternoon, the peak wader counts at Stanpit for the day were had and included: 7 Curlew Sandpiper, a Grey Plover, 3 Knot, 5 Greenshank, a Whimbrel, 14 Sanderling, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 39 Ringed Plover and 147 Dunlin, while 112 Sandwich Tern dozed inside the harbour. Overhead passage was almost non-existent, save for a few hirundines and 2 Yellow Wagtail, but 14 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat and at least 3 Goldcrest were settled. The Raven count for the day came to 6 birds. 

September 15th

Two juvenile Wheatear on Stanpit – Alan CrockardKingfisher
...and one of two juvenile Kingfisher
that were caught in the same net on Hengistbury – Alan Hayden

A cloudless night saw to it that the ice warning indicator was flashing during the drive down The Broadway at 6:30 this morning, although it was a barmier 5C at the HHC. However, after just a couple of hours cloud had set in along with a strong westerly wind, meaning overhead migration was then somewhat limited. Nevertheless, 900 Swallow, 80 House Martin and 5 Sand Martin were estimated, as well as low hundreds of Meadow Pipit. After a roost that exceeded 30 birds, that being the total ringed at dusk in the HHC reedbed, at least that many Yellow Wagtail were visually logged this morning, plus a couple of Grey Wagtail. A reasonable presence of Chiffchaff was reckoned to consist of 180 birds across western Hengistbury and Wick, but other migrants were more modest in number and included 19 Wheatear, 4 Whinchat, a Redstart, 27 Blackcap and 6 Whitethroat. With the forecast weather all expectation was on the sea, which before the onset of the wind and rain provided: 7 Balearic Shearwater and a young Kittiwake west; a Manx Shearwater that skirted The Run; and a juvenile Little Gull that was seen on a couple of occasions from Mudeford Quay. However, after the storm really set in, just 2 Fulmar were seen over the subsequent couple of hours. The only significant wader report for the day was 7 Greenshank in Holloway’s Dock, while much earlier 69 Little Egret and 15 Rook left the Nursery Roost, with 43 Canada Goose also leaving their current overnight quarters inside the harbour. Last, but far from least, the Wryneck was again on the Barn Field.

Additional news: a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was seen from Mudeford Quay.

September 14th

Chiffchaff – Alan Hayden
Gannet – Alan Hayden

The morning air felt quite chilly, thanks mainly to clear, overnight skies and a northerly wind. Although it was once again quiet in terms of common migrants, there was a good deal of quality to be had all over the site and throughout the whole day. In the early morning, a Great White Egret flew up river, being seen from Wick, and eventually heading into the Avon Valley; the Wryneck was once again on the Barn Field; a total of 43 Balearic Shearwater, as well as a Black Tern and a Little Gull, were seen from the end of the head, all before lunch; an eclipsing drake Garganey was at Stanpit all day, along with 3 Curlew Sandpiper and a Ruff; and, late in the afternoon, a Roseate Tern was sitting on a buoy off Mudeford Quay. Meanwhile, the number of commoner waders inside the harbour now seems to be more expected for the date - today including: 2 Grey Plover, 8 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 24 Sanderling, 10 Turnstone, a Whimbrel, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 29 Ringed Plover and 87 Dunlin. During the morning, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit and hirundines were all on the move, but figures are not yet returned; while settled birds came to: 34 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Whitethroat, 20 Blackcap, 2 Sedge Warbler, 35 Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warbler. The travelling passerines and hirundines attracted fast-flying raptors, with Hobby being seen on 4 occasions across the period this post covers, along with a juvenile Kestrel that came in-off the sea and several Sparrowhawk. To finish up: a Guillemot off Mudeford Quay was the first auk to be recorded for a couple of weeks; a few Raven were lingering; a Little Grebe was on the Ironstone Quarry; 3 Shoveler were at Stanpit and 7 Common Scoter passed at sea. There was no congregation of terns in Christchurch Bay this evening. 

September 13th

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden
Greenshank – Alan Hayden
Knot & Ringed Plover
Knot and Ringed Plover – Alan Hayden

Observations of 230 Dunlin moving west past Mudeford Quay last night suggested there may be an influx of waders and today at Stanpit proved that to be the case. Grey Plover can be pretty scarce here on autumn passage, so a decent looking adult bird was nice to see. In addition, throughout the day, inside the harbour there were: 5 Curlew Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover, 22 Sanderling, 2 Knot, a Whimbrel, 10 Turnstone, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Ringed Plover and 120+ Dunlin. A maximum of 11 Greenshank was also recorded, most of those on the Salt Hurns at Hengistbury, and with Snipe, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Lapwing in the mix that makes a total of 18 species for the day. A Spoonbill was on South Marsh for a while in the morning, but headed off to the west, and the Wryneck showed briefly before the heavy rain. This evening, a sizeable gathering of Sandwich Tern and Common Tern off Mudeford Quay contained one or two juvenile Little Gull, a similarly aged Kittiwake, an Arctic Tern and an interesting looking, but distant, marsh tern that will hopefully be there tomorrow. Passerines were few and far between, but 17 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Grey Wagtail passed over, most of the 14 Wheatear were on the sandspit, 3 Whinchat were on the Long Field and 15 Chiffchaff, 6 Whitethroat and 2 Blackcap were also on-site. Hirundine passage never really got going, with just handfuls of Swallow and martins seeming to be on the move. 

September 12th

Herring Gull
Herring Gull, possibly biting off more than it can chew – Ali Germain
Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler, normally a bit of a skulker – Alan Hayden

The greater part of the morning was entirely windless and overcast with grey cloud, but things did brighten up during the afternoon. The early conditions conspired to attract a good number of hirundines to the multitude of insects that were on the wing, with an estimated 2000 House Martin and 300 Swallow being involved, as well as the odd Sand Martin or two. Other than the Wryneck that was again on the Barn Field and a Spotted Redshank in Brewer’s Creek, the bird-of-the-day was a Nightjar, which was accidentally flushed from the Salt Hurns before taking refuge in the massive thicket there. The rest is fairly unremarkable and involves: 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Wheatear, several Yellow Wagtail and 2 Grey Wagtail, mainly on or over Hengistbury; a Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 4 Sanderling, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Ringed Plover and 36 Dunlin, mostly from Fisherman’s Bank; a Fulmar and 2 Common Scoter at sea; and 3 Shoveler inside the harbour. 

September 11th

Adult Hobby keeping a close eye on the photographer – Alan Hayden

The early part of the day was dominated by mackerel skies and a north-westerly wind, which saw the first real Meadow Pipit movement of the autumn. At total of 370 birds moved generally into the blow, along with 560 Swallow and much lesser numbers of House Martin and Sand Martin. All of this was exploited by at least one Hobby that was seen on a number of occasions from Wick and Hengistbury. Other than the aerial passage, however, it was largely quiet with just 35 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail, 4 Tree Pipit, a Lesser Whitethroat, around 75 Chiffchaff, 6 Wheatear and five or so Sedge Warbler being the sum total of the commoner migrants. Meanwhile, the Wryneck showed for a while in the Barn Field close to the Barred Warbler Bush, a Raven was over the sandspit, 5 Common Scoter moved at sea and a Tufted Duck arrived, as did 4 Snipe. 

September 10th

Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler, a species that is difficult enough to see - let alone photograph!
Actually, this bird seemed to react to the whirring (reeling?) sound of the
camera's rapid shot mode and come even closer – Alan Hayden

A sunny day saw the wind work its way clockwise from west to north-east, where tonight it remains. On Hengistbury, there were 2 Wryneck - the Barn Field bird, which was particularly accommodating for an hour at least, and a presumed new individual found in the Nursery. Also on the western section of the head, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Redstart, a Whinchat, 52 phylloscs, nearly all Chiffchaff, and 18 Wheatear. Of general note, the last two days have seen a big clear-out of Whitethroat with less than five birds reckoned today; while on the converse, Meadow Pipit are far more conspicuous and probably the reason behind the presence of a Merlin early this morning. Also over, up to 40 Yellow Wagtail, most of those leaving local roosts and heading on their way, 3 Grey Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit. At Stanpit, a varied selection of waders included: a Curlew Sandpiper, a Spotted Redshank, a Knot, 3 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Ringed Plover and 26 Dunlin. Meanwhile, a Shelduck was on Blackberry Point, the Wigeon are now up to eighty-seven and a Shoveler was with the also increasing Teal in Stanpit Bight. A couple of Raven left the Wood and headed towards Bournemouth and a Kingfisher was in Wick Hams. 

September 9th

Sparrowhawk – Alan Hayden
Whimbrel – Clinton Whale

Dawn showers and a brisk southerly wind encouraged an early seawatch, but as it turned out the less said the better. In fact, the best moment came on the walk to the Beach Huts, when a young Tawny Owl was heard in the Wood. Those that stayed close to the Barn Field fared better, however, and came up with: the Wryneck, a Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Whinchat, 25 phylloscopous warbler - most of them Chiffchaff with the odd Willow Warbler mixed in - and 20 Whitethroat. Airborne passage was limited, with just handfuls of Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Swallow and House Martin worth a mention. The afternoon at Stanpit turned up a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, as well as a Ruff that had perhaps been seen earlier over Wick. Also on the marsh, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, a Little Stint, 5 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel and 3 Greenshank, while six latish Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight. To finish up, singles of Peregrine and Kingfisher were logged, a pair of Gadwall were on-site and, for the records, the 2-hour seawatch yielded 3 Common Scoter. 

Additional news: in the evening, there was a group of 12 Mediterranean Gull of a gamut of ages off Mudeford Quay. Also there, 64 Lapwing west - forty-four and twenty.

September 8th

Wryneck – Chris Dresh
Garden Warbler
Garden Warbler fuelling up on elderberries – Alan Hayden

The day was punctuated with heavy showers throughout, but did provide more on-going interest. For the fourth day in succession, an Osprey was recorded - this time heading south-east over the sandspit - and the Wryneck was in the Barn Field, seeming to prefer the area immediately adjacent to the Barn itself. Meanwhile, a Roseate Tern was in the high tide roost at Stanpit and early in the day a party of 7 Goosander flew upriver. In general, however, it was quite hard work although birds were around. For example, in addition to singles of Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat, there 70 Whitethroat, 50 Chiffchaff and 5 Willow Warbler about Wick and the western part of Hengistbury. At least 30 Yellow Wagtail again roosted by the HHC and hirundines on the move over a two period were estimated at 300 Swallow, 60 House Martin and 30 Sand Martin, all to the south-east. The pick of the waders was a Ruff on the HHC mudbar, but also 2 Knot, a Whimbrel, 5 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 27 Dunlin settled around the area, while a further 4 Bar-tailed Godwit moved at sea. Talking of which, with the exception of an unidentified diver and a single Common Scoter, the water was desperately quiet during the morning, but in the afternoon it perked up a bit with sixty or so Common Tern feeding alongside 20 Sandwich Tern, several Gannet and 3 Mediterranean Gull in Christchurch Bay. A Great Crested Grebe was again on the river, as were 2 Little Grebe, while the supposed pair put in another cameo on the Ironstone Quarry. The Brewer’s Creek Water Rail brood is now reckoned to be three-strong and a Hobby passed over Wick. 

September 7th

Arctic Skua
Arctic Skua off Mudeford Quay  – Alan Hayden
Roseate Tern
...and Roseate Tern likewise, both from last night - Alan Hayden

There were 2 Osprey this morning: the first, seen from Mudeford Quay, passed high west around 7:00; then an hour or so later a second bird fished above Stanpit Bight for around ten minutes before heading north with its catch.  Off the quay a large flock of mainly Sandwich Tern attracted the attention of at least 2 Arctic Skua, but also present were two each of Little Tern and Arctic Tern, plus a single Black Tern; another of the latter was inside the harbour. Staying with the quay, there was the unusual sight of a distant Grey Heron slowly moving west, also a Fulmar from there and 2 Raven passed overhead, while 5 Turnstone and 2 Common Sandpiper were around the sandspit. Another Common Sandpiper was inside the harbour and a Knot was on the HHC sandbar. On Hengistbury, the Wryneck was commuting between the Long and Barn Fields but few common migrants were logged with just 2 Whinchat, a Redstart, a Garden Warbler and a Goldcrest, probably the first of the autumn.  Another first for the season was a Merlin seen over Wick Meadows.  Later, a couple of Garganey moved north over Stanpit, where waders present included a Curlew Sandpiper, 8 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank, also a Little Tern there.

September 6th

Mute Swan
Mute Swan – Ali Germain

After overnight rain, a rich food source off Mudeford Quay saw good numbers and terns over the sea throughout the day. Early on, a flock of 3 Black Tern, all juveniles, picked at the surface with Black-headed Gull just off Avon Beach, where they were briefly joined by an young Arctic Tern. Also, 3 Arctic Skua were present for the morning, when two of the Black Tern were seen to leave west, as well as a couple of Fulmar. This afternoon, the remaining Black Tern was ever-present, while the Arctic Skua had increased to four birds, which at times could be seen sitting together on the water. In addition, there were 2 Roseate Tern, 5 Arctic Tern, a Little Tern, 30+ Common Tern, a juvenile Kittiwake and 8 Mediterranean Gull. For completeness on the water, the maximum Sandwich Tern estimate was 150 birds and 2 Eider passed, along with 5 Common Scoter, 36 Pintail, 5 Gadwall, 47 Wigeon and 36 Pintail. Meanwhile, 19 Sanderling were on the sandspit and 5 Greenshank and 6 Knot were seen from Hengistbury. Away from the sea, there was plenty of other interest, including a Wryneck on the Long Field and an Osprey that appeared to head off west, with that or another seen shortly later over the Coastguards. Amongst the phylloscs on-site was a Wood Warbler, that by the Lily Pond, also a Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, 4 Whinchat and 5 Wheatear settled, plus 31 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit over. Stanpit was hard work for much of the day, the best numbers being: 2 Greenshank, a Knot, a Whimbrel, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover, 34 Dunlin and 14 Teal. To finish up on the birds, a very young Water Rail was seen in Brewer’s Creek, a spot where breeding has never previously been known, and rather frustratingly what is presumably the ‘semi-p’ that has been touring Dorset now seems to have passed us by and ended up in Hants! Of butterfly interest, several Clouded Yellow and masses of Small White were again seen. Please check back to yesterday for some fairly comprehensive additional news. 

September 5th

One of the Wryneck on the Barn Field this morning – Paul Wilkins
...and Sanderling at Stanpit recently – Alan Crockard

On another scorching day with temperatures more befitting of a month or two earlier, there was something of a Wryneck frenzy on Hengistbury this morning, when two but quite probably three birds were in the area where the Barn and Long Fields meet. The conditions also made way for the enigmatic September Swift - a lone bird over Hengistbury - while in excess of 50 Yellow Wagtail left the HHC roost and 6 Tree Pipit moved over. Hirundines are starting to build in numbers - 700 Swallow and 80 House Martin heading east; but grounded passerines were a little thinner with 7 Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Garden Warbler and 80 or so Whitethroat being the reported numbers. At Stanpit, an Avocet was a new bird that joined the Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank and 21 Ringed Plover. To wrap up, the remaining notables were: a Raven over the HHC and Bearded Tit heard in the adjacent reeds; 48 Wigeon about the area; and at least 3 Mediterranean Gull.

Additional news: the afternoon at Stanpit was not without its moments, not least at around 15:30 when an Osprey made a couple of plunges into the harbour before drifting off eastwards. Amongst the roosting terns and gulls, there were single adults of Roseate Tern, Arctic Tern and Mediterranean Gull, as well as a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Also, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 7 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 22 Dunlin and a hunting Peregrine. In the two hours prior to 18:00, an estimated 2-3000 hirundines passed over, 90% of them Swallow.

September 4th

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit yesterday – Alan Hayden

For the first couple of hours of daylight at least, the area was blanketed in fog and birding was generally quiet. However, once things had cleared, there were bits-and-pieces to be seen. The best was a Nightingale in the dead elder bush on the southern edge of the Bobolink field; while between there and the Barn Field the following were also logged: 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, 9 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 60+ Whitethroat, 50+ Blackcap, 12 Sedge Warbler and 6 Reed Warbler, as well as 31 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit. Other interest came from a couple of Mediterranean Gull, a Greenshank and 6 Whimbrel west. Stanpit was once again holding some tern interest, with a Black Tern late in the morning and a couple of Roseate Tern during the afternoon; also a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper about the marsh. 

Additional news: the evening stint at Stanpit produced: a Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover, 17 Dunlin, a Pintail and 2 Shoveler.

September 3rd

Curlew Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
The three juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Stanpit last night – Alan Hayden
Spotted Redshank
...and the Spotted Redshank that is still there tonight – Alan Hayden

Business as usual is probably the best way to describe the birds on what was a scorching day weather-wise. Between them, this morning, Hengistbury and Wick produced 5 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, over 40 Blackcap, 30 Whitethroat, 2 Redstart and 2 Wheatear, with a further three of those on Stanpit. In addition, at least 10 Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit passed over. The waders at Stanpit were also largely unchanged, with the young Spotted Redshank still being on-site, as well as 5 Sanderling, 7 Knot, a Greenshank, a 4 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover and 27 Dunlin. Other than all of this, there were around 5 Mediterranean Gull spread across the area. Of butterfly interest, 5 Clouded Yellow were seen at Stanpit.

Additional news: a couple of Bar-tailed Godwit were present at Stanpit and six further Black-tailed Godwit arrived.

September 2nd

Sandwich Tern
Juvenile Sandwich Tern – Alan Crockard

Let’s start with the seemingly mundane, but nevertheless quite a phenomena locally. Over the last few weeks, Rook, which is a notable bird for the area, have been observed heading towards the Nursery to roost, an area that is traditionally the domain of Carrion Crow, and tonight culminated in a total of 23 birds arriving over Stanpit. The evening on the marsh also saw 3 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, along with what was presumably the same Spotted Redshank as last yesterday, 2 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover and 16 Dunlin. As the season wears on, the lack of a consistent small wader flock is still a topic of some consternation! On Wick, the Wryneck was again present on the path between the two fields, while a Hobby passed over, as did 15 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail and 5 Tree Pipit; and between there and the Wood, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Whinchat and 2 Lesser Whitethroat were the best of the decked migrants. 

September 1st

Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher – Mark Andrews
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail – Hugh Goldsmith
Garden Warbler
Garden Warbler – Chris Chapleo

After going absent during the later part of yesterday, the Wryneck reappeared in the original spot this morning, when it stayed for a couple of hours before heading off towards the hedge along the northern edge of Solent Meads golf course, in which it could not be relocated. Next best was a Pied Flycatcher that was actually caught in a reedbed net, a species not often seen in-the-hand at Christchurch and consequently attracting a good degree of interest amongst those loitering about the HHC. Other migrants on-site included: a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 5 Whinchat and 3 Wheatear; as well as eleven settled Yellow Wagtail on Wick water meadows, a further nine over, a Grey Wagtail likewise and 6 Tree Pipit. The late afternoon at Stanpit was not without interest, not least the juvenile Black Tern resting on Blackberry Point and a similarly aged Spotted Redshank in Stanpit Bight. In addition, there were 5 Knot, 5 Sanderling, a Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 44 Dunlin. A party of 6 Shoveler were resting up inside the harbour, while three also passed straight through, and the Wigeon now look to be well in excess of 20 birds. Following yesterday’s bonanza, there were only 2 Raven to be had this morning, but the Little Grebe intrigue continues with a couple of adults now being on the Ironstone Quarry. Finally, an annual report update: this is now back from the printers and is being distributed this week. As always, it is a truly excellent piece of work and the group is indebted to Leo Pyke for the many, many hours she puts into producing such a fine publication. 

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