British_Bird_Food
Welcome to the website of the Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group
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Sightings for the current month

July 7th

Again, very little to report: other than a Treecreeper, always a novelty in the area, in the Wood on Hengistbury and a Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry; while a Whimbrel and 14 Curlew were turned in from Stanpit, and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull entered the harbour over Mudeford Quay. Meanwhile, a strengthening south-westerly wind saw an increase of Gannet in Christchurch Bay as the day wore on. As it’s not overly busy, it seems opportune to mention we are this year plagued with the dreaded green weed on the inter-tidal mud; so meaning the shorter-billed waders are unlikely to find the harbour a very attractive place. It’s OK if you’re a curlew, but not so good if you’re a stint!

Outdoor Meeting – Guided Walk at Holes Bay, Poole
Although this is not until 16th January 2016, the two previous events – Great Bustards on Salisbury Plain and Overnight on Brownsea – which required pre-booking are now full. If you are interested in the Holes Bay event, please email Malcolm Barrett to be sure of a place.

Dorset Wildife Trust – Wild About Hengistbury
An all-day wildlife event at Hengistbury Head on 25th July. As part of the programme, CHOG will be hosting a ringing demonstration and leading a guided walk. All are welcome to attend individual events or the whole series of activities.

Undiscovered Owls – The Sound Approach
£5.00 Discount for CHOG Members

A new publication focussing on all owl species within Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, including the newly described Omani Owl, which author Magnuss Robb discovered whilst writing the book. It also comes with four CDs with sounds of each of the species and sonograms within the book to help learn those sounds. The book is also filled with beautiful illustrations and stunning photos. Please email Ian Southworth to obtain a discount code, which can then be used when placing an order via the Sound Approach website.

Tides July 8th: H02:00 | H05:20 | L09:30 | H12:45 | H17:55 | L22:05

July 6th

Whitethroat
Whitethroat – Tony Adamcik

Another fine day produced CHOG’s second ever Bee-eater - a bird calling this morning over the North Scrubs, while the sky was frustratingly obscured from view by the birch canopy. Elsewhere, an Arctic Skua and 6 Common Tern passed west at sea off Hengistbury, where a Common Sandpiper was also logged. The Lesser Whitethroat was again by the HHC, as was a Kingfisher, and a single Raven was about the area.

Tides July 7th: H01:15 | H04:30 | L08:35 | H13:45 | H17:05 | L21:10

July 5th

The only news of interest we can muster today is singles of Wigeon and Whimbrel at Stanpit, a couple of Common Tern inside the harbour and the 4 Raven.

July 4th

Stanpit hosted a fair bit of interest this morning, not least a Marsh Tit amongst a flock of Coal Tit around Ashtree Meadow. Although records are not annual, the middle of the year is the time they appear the most, as a result of post-breeding dispersal. Also in that area, a Garden Warbler and ‘lots’ of young Chiffchaff, while over 30 Sedge Warbler on Priory Marsh could be the start of their return passage. Close by, in Parky Meade Rail, a Garganey was briefly settled with 3 Shoveler, although the party soon left to the west. A Green Sandpiper also passed over in the same direction, but a Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel were feeding up, 7 Black-tailed Godwit travelled north and 32 Swift west. To round up: a male Bearded Tit was seen on the Wick side; the 4 Raven and a Gadwall were at Stanpit; and 6 Mediterranean Gull - 3 adults, 2 second-summers and a first-summer - were noted.

July 3rd

The morning saw a few more Crossbill pass through the area, when a flock of sixteen headed east over Solent Meads driving range. Over on Stanpit, the mid-summer wader interest continued with a Greenshank, the first Dunlin in over 3 weeks, a flock of 9 Black-tailed Godwit that briefly visited before leaving to the north-east, 29 Redshank and 19 Curlew. A couple of juvenile Bearded Tit were in the Wick reeds, a Peregrine with prey headed over Stanpit and the 4 Raven were again about the marsh. In addition to six adult Mediterranean Gull logged inside the recording area, the Avon Valley is starting to fill with birds - sixty settled yesterday at Ripley and forty-two heading towards the harbour over Coward’s Marsh tonight - so a roost may be building up in Stanpit Bight.

July 2nd

Cloud dominated for much of the day, the sun only properly breaking through late in the afternoon. Much of the news comes from Stanpit, where singles of Whimbrel and Snipe were present, as well as 4 Common Sandpiper; also four juvenile Bearded Tit, the parents assumed to be now raising a second brood, and 2 Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere, a couple of Dartford Warbler were conspicuous on the Long Field, Hengistbury.

July 1st

The only news from the early part of the day concerns a Whimbrel and two adult Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit; while a Little Ringed Plover was calling around there in the evening. 

June 30th

Emperor Dragonfly
Emperor Dragonfly – Hugh Goldsmith

On a scorching day, when the temperature hit the high twenties, there were more southbound waders about the area. The best was a Wood Sandpiper on East Marsh, but also 9 Common Sandpiper in Mother Siller’s Channel, while 2 Greenshank, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Ringed Plover were spread around Stanpit. Meanwhile, a Hobby passed over and three adult Mediterranean Gull, an adult Common Tern and a juvenile Black-headed Gull were noted. The Cuckoo put in another appearance, the 2 Little Grebe were on the Ironstone Quarry and a couple of Raven were logged.


June 29th

The rarest specimen on site today, in Stanpit Creek for a short time, was a first-summer Common Tern. Only a few birds of this age make the journey north from the southern hemisphere, the vast majority staying put until their third calendar-year when they are sufficiently mature to breed. Over the last few days, there has been some Crossbill movement noted over Holland, as well as sites along the south coast of the UK, so a couple of birds over Wick this morning were not altogether a surprise. On a fine, clear day with little wind, there was a hint of return wader passage, namely: a Little Ringed Plover heard a few times over Crouch Hill, 3 Common Sandpiper along the river and a Whimbrel from Fisherman’s Bank, while the Redshank increased to thirty-one. On the converse, one bird that seemingly didn’t attempt to head north, the female Wigeon, remains and was joined by 5 Gadwall and 8 Shelduck. The Cuckoo was again at Stanpit, single Bearded Tit were seen in two distinct locations and the gang of four Raven sat menacingly on posts at the tip of the sandspit.

June 28th

Today's best was a Golden Plover at Stanpit, where the Wigeon remains, along with a Mediterranean Gull and 14 Redshank.

June 27th

What was looking to be another mundane June morning was enlivened significantly at 8:50, when a Honey Buzzard was spotted from Fisherman’s Bank. The bird, a female, was first picked up over the HHC before drifting over Stanpit golf course, eventually gaining height over the marsh, and moving off eastward; all of this over the course of at least 5 minutes. This is only the second June record for the species, the first being just last year. Beforehand, the best had been the female Wigeon in Stanpit Creek and a couple of early-returning Kingfisher - one along the river and one on Fisherman’s Bank. At total of 4 Whimbrel were logged - three north-west and one arriving - and the Common Tern again fished Stanpit Creek, where 11 Redshank were counted. A little later, a party of 4 Raven, three of them young birds, settled on South Marsh and then located to Hengistbury. Of butterfly interest, a Marbled White was on Wick Fields.

June 26th

Whitethroat
Whitethroat
Recently-fledged Whitethroat on Wick – Alan Crockard
Lapwing
Lapwing at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

The morning saw a small movement of ‘curlybills’, when 2 Whimbrel and at least 9 Curlew headed west over Hengistbury. A Lesser Whitethroat in song by the HHC was either a newly-arrived bird or an indication of an incumbent pair second-brooding; meanwhile, a Cuckoo lingers on-site, today on Grimmery Point. A species that certainly doesn’t breed in the area, however, is Nuthatch, but does so close by; so explaining two birds seen heading from Stanpit golf course towards Wick. Elsewhere, there were around 40 Lapwing and 3 Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit, a further three of the latter were seen going east and a Common Tern again fished Stanpit Creek, taking its catch off towards the area of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel. 

Additional news: while the Starling were coming into roost, until 21:30 at least, a female Mandarin was in the company of a drake Mallard on the river

June 25th

Grit Tray
In preparation for the winter, when Bearded Tit change their diet from insects to seeds, a number of grit trays have been prepared. The birds eat grit to aid them in digesting the seeds. Thanks to CHOG member Colin Raymond for producing the trays and to Bournemouth Borough Council for siting them – Hugh Goldsmith

The Starling were again watched coming out of roost, starting around 4:30 and the last birds leaving around 20 minutes later - last night, they had been turning in until at least 22:00 - all of this observed and no doubt committed to memory by a patient Sparrowhawk that will soon have young to feed, if not already. Back to today and a Green Sandpiper west over Hengistbury - a traditional indication of the start of the autumn passage. Also from the head, all west, 2 Little Tern, 4 Common Scoter, a Shoveler and 7 Curlew. A further sign of movement came from a Siskin over Fisherman’s Bank, while a still pristinely-plumaged, adult Mediterranean Gull was in Stanpit Creek and an equally spectacular Bar-tailed Godwit was in Stanpit Bight.

Additional news: all from Hengistbury in the evening, when: an adult Kittiwake and a Curlew headed west; a Gadwall and 2 Mediterranean Gull came from that direction; 12 Gannet fished; 2 Little Grebe were on the Ironstone Quarry; and 2 Nightjar were churring at 22:40.

June 24th

Over the last couple of days, we've been sent a number of photos, and please excuse my ignorance, of creatures that I'm informed are quite rare; either nationally or locally.

Sand Dart Moth
Sand Dart Moth - nationally rare – Hugh Goldsmith
Chrysis Viridula
Chrysis viridula - one of the ruby-tailed wasps – Chris Dresh
Emerald Damselfly
Emerald Damselfly - not often seen in the area, but possibly over-looked – Chris Chapleo
Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Golden-ringed Dragonfly - only previously formally recorded at Hengistbury in 1974
– Hugh Goldsmith

The most impressive avian record of the day was an estimated 2-3000 Starling erupting from a reedbed roost just north of the HHC at 5:00 this morning. That said, 4 Spoonbill east over Wick a couple of hours later come a very close second;  while a Hobby headed in the same direction over there and a Dartford Warbler was again in the suspected breeding spot. Otherwise, it's just 3 Mediterranean Gull, around 6 Common Tern, a Peregrine, 15 Curlew and 12 Redshank to remark upon.

Additional news: a pair of Nightjar were active at dusk on Hengistbury.

June 23rd

One of yesterday’s Brent Goose remained at Stanpit, where a Common Sandpiper was present and 4 Black-tailed Godwit were seen to head west. Also about the marsh, the year’s first juvenile Black-headed Gull, presumably from one of the nearby colonies, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 12 Curlew and 35 Little Egret. To reflect the lack of overall interest, a rare count of Great Black-backed was made and came to 65 birds.

June 22nd

The day after mid-summer and the highlight came from a genuine winter species, i.e. 2 Brent Goose on Blackberry Point this morning. These birds should be a few thousand miles north-east of here by now, on their Siberian breeding grounds. Meanwhile, after a few blank days, the Beach Huts filed a return - the best being 5 Little Tern east; but also 4 Common Tern and 2 Curlew west, plus 5 Gannet fishing aimlessly. Elsewhere, there were 2-3 Common Tern just off the Run. 

Sightings for earlier months can be found in our Sightings Archive.