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Welcome to the website of the Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group

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Welcome to the website of the Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group

Recent daily sightings


All three juveniles have now left the nest and are active around the rooves of the Priory, making short test flights and sometimes sparring with each other. The adults are still bringing food and there is a real commotion when it arrives.

The three juveniles – Paul Turton


The male bird, which carries a blue ring with the letters VA, was hatched in 2018 on the Bournemouth College clock tower, Lansdowne, and has been frequently recorded around Christchurch ever since.

The nest is not on the tower itself, so the Priory is able to continue its tower tours and fly flags from there. As such, we would like to thank the staff at the Priory for their sensitivity and understanding as we worked with them to determine if breeding was actually taking place and to locate the actual nest site.

If you do go and take a look – the north-facing side of the tower is the best place to check-out – please do respect the grounds of the Priory and any events taking place there, however.

CHOG members can follow the family’s progress in a Photo Diary on CHOG Online. Date of publication of the sixth instalment: 16th July.

July 6th

 Bittern – thought to be an adult, but any other comments would be welcome – Linda Smith (upper) & Aspen Stobart

During the morning, there was the quite incredible sight of a Bittern occasionally wandering around on the mud on the western side of the river, opposite Grimmery Bank. There has probably never been a July record in the area for the species. Also seen around Stanpit, a Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel and a Black-tailed Godwit; as well as 5 Water Rail, one of them a juvenile.

July 5th

Greenshank – Alan Hayden

…and there are now a few Gatekeeper on the wing – Peter Boardman

Stanpit was a bit more-lively today, with the best being an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper and 2 Whimbrel. The support, meanwhile, came from a surprise of two, very small Shelduck ducklings, a Wigeon, the Tufted Duck, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 19 Curlew. On the other side of the area, the Garden Warbler was still in song in the Nursery and 150 Swift passed to the south.

July 4th

Stonechat – Alan Crockard

As the seemingly, constant south-westerly wind picked up again, all the news comes from Stanpit. During the morning, a Roseate Tern passed through west and a Great White Egret went over north; while the afternoon added just singles of Whimbrel and Dunlin.

July 3rd

Dartford Warbler on Hengistbury breed alongside the metalled, heavily trodden pathways – Alan Crockard

Likewise, Linnet – Alan Crockard

Most of the news comes from Stanpit in the late afternoon, when the Mediterranean Gull in the South Marsh roost gradually built-up to around thirty birds. Also there, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, six adult Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Curlew. Earlier, a single Common Tern was with the Sandwich Tern off the sandspit.

July 2nd

Manx Shearwater were a feature of the day – between 08:00 and 11:00, a total of 67, heading west, were seen from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay; while thirty minutes in the afternoon produced a further eleven from the former site. Also offshore, 8 Common Tern, 35 Sandwich Tern and 2 Mediterranean Gull. After yesterday’s bumper day for waders and the like, Stanpit was pretty dismal – a single Whimbrel being the best of the morning flood tide – but a Common Sandpiper was on the sandspit.

July 1st

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover – Scott Usher

A flock of 16 Common Sandpiper – Scott Usher

Whimbrel – Jackie Smith

Marsh Harrier – Alan Hayden

…and a particularly brutish-looking, and presumably sickly, Yellow-legged Gull – Jackie Smith

No sooner than June passes and the birds are back. Waders, in particular, provided the interest with: a juvenile Little Ringed Plover and a Green Sandpiper in Stanpit Creek; a total of 18 Common Sandpiper about the marsh; a Greenshank on the HHC mudbar; 2 Whimbrel and a Black-tailed Godwit around Stanpit Bight; and site-aggregates of 24 Redshank and 7 Curlew. Over on Hengistbury, a singing Garden Warbler in the Nursery was something of a surprise and may have been there for a couple of days now. Meanwhile, a Marsh Harrier came from the north and did a couple of circuits before returning; with the rest of the news involving: a Yellow-legged Gull and up to 10 Mediterranean Gull inside the harbour; plus a Wigeon, 5 Shelduck and a Tufted Duck, the latter the regular drake.

June 30th

The first, juvenile Black-headed Gull (bottom left) arrived in the area today and rested with it elders, plus a couple of Mediterranean Gull – Jackie Smith

Golden-ringed Dragonfly – Barrie Taylor

…and Marbled White – Jackie Smith

The only bird news, concerns a couple of Lesser Whitethroat at Stanpit today – one on Crouch Hill and the other in the North Scrubs. Moving to butterflies: of four skippers seen at Hengistbury, two of them were confirmed as Essex Skipper; also the first Purple Hairstreak on the wing there; while 2 Marbled White were at Stanpit.

June 29th

There are plenty of Ringlet now on the wing around Hengistbury – Peter Boardman

There were more waders of interest today, all at Stanpit, including; a Little Ringed Plover, a Green Sandpiper and 5 Common Sandpiper. Also, a Cattle Egret north over there and 4 Gadwall. Meanwhile, during the morning, the three Priory Peregrine chicks were putting on a good show.

June 28th

Common Sandpiper – Scott Usher

Small Copper – Peter Boardman

Today saw the start of the longer-distance waders making their way back south through the area – namely, 3 Whimbrel west over Hengistbury this morning and a Common Sandpiper settled in Parky Meade Rail this evening; when around 25 Lapwing were also at Stanpit. Offshore, a 2cy Kittiwake on the sea was a really good return for the month, while a Mediterranean Gull of the same age plus an adult, as well as 2 Common Tern, were also over the water; with around 50 Sandwich Tern either there or resting in Holloway’s Dock. To finish:  a Firecrest was singing by the Double Bends; a Wigeon was settled on the marsh; a further Common Tern passed south; and a Buzzard could be seen circling over the Priory.

June 27th

Lesser Whitethroat – Jackie Smith

As is their wont in the area, Lesser Whitethroat, after brief song period on arrival, invariably raise their young in secrecy. A very vocal and showy juvenile, unexpectedly in the same spot on Crouch Hill as a singing bird earlier in the season, a testament to that. Meanwhile, also at Stanpit, a pristine adult Mediterranean Gull, 8 Curlew, 2 Redshank and 2 Lapwing.

June 26th

A pair of Wigeon on South Marsh – the drake presumably starting to eclipse – Scott Usher

Some Song Thrush are now well into their second brood – Scott Usher

The stand-out moment for the day, if not the month, was a pair of Wigeon at Stanpit. Although single birds have summered, or partially so, to see a couple at this time of the year is quite something. Also from the marsh, this evening, a Green Sandpiper, on a journey from its east European breeding areas, was in Mother Siller’s Channel. Elsewhere, a 40-minute look at the sea from Mudeford Quay, finishing at 09:40, produced 60 Sandwich Tern, generally west, and 4 Gannet.

June 25th

Other than a very successful Peregrine day at the Priory, when over a hundred people dropped by and the birds performed impeccably, there is nothing to report.

June 24th

The only news for the post comes from Mudeford Quay, where two adult Mediterranean Gull and 3 Turnstone arrived from the east, while 6 Swift passed west.

June 23rd

There was no news received for today.

June 22nd

Mediterranean Gull – Peter Boardman

Little Grebe – Peter Boardman

Five Mediterranean Gull were logged on this very warm day – four south over Wick and one offshore; with 2 Swift heading west over the Long Field. Meanwhile, the Ironstone Quarry now hosts the traditional, late-breeding pair of Little Grebe – presumably timing their activity to coincide with odonata nymphs, or the like – but no mention of yesterday’s shelduck there, meaning they have moved their family on somewhere.

Omission, a Green Sandpiper was on Wick water meadows around 07:15.

June 21st

Tonight’s author can’t recall Shelduck breeding around the Ironstone Quarry before – Peter Boardman

Thanks to a visit to Hengistbury, there is a little more to write about tonight. In addition to the ten, photographed Shelduck, there was a further pair; a high count of 302 Mute Swan was managed; and what is presumably the same, half-tame drake Tufted Duck was with Mallard. There was another nice, offshore presence of Common Tern – nineteen in total, most of them lingering – as well as 12 Sandwich Tern and a Gannet. Meanwhile, a second-calendar-year Mediterranean Gull and 3 Swift passed east. To finish with the news, a male Firecrest was in the Wood and a family of Dartford Warbler, three of them fledglings, was on the top of the head. Finally, a point of detail – rather than continuing with calendar-year terminology in long hand, the convention of 1cy, 2cy, 3cy etc. will now be used.

June 20th

Black-tailed Skimmer – Peter Boardman

There is no bird news, but of lepidopteral interest the first Marbled White butterfly of the season was on Hengistbury today; as were 10 Painted Lady – perhaps signalling the start of an immigration.

June 19th

Small Skipper – Peter Boardman

Cinnabar Moth – Peter Boardman

The only new is of a Roseate Tern off the Long Groyne this morning; when, further out, there was a gathering of at least 50 Common Tern.

June 18th

Emperor Dragonfly ‘ovipositing’ on Hengistbury – Peter Boardman

Male Blue-tailed Damselfly – Peter Boardman

There is no bird news from the harbour today, but many thanks to all those who attended the outdoor meeting at Pig Bush in the New Forest this morning.

June 17th

Gannet, just out from the Run – Alan Crockard

As is occasionally the case, most often in June, there is nothing to report.

June 16th

Juvenile Cormorant – Alan Crockard

Blue-tailed Damselfly – Peter Boardman

The caterpillar of Oak Eggar moth – about 70mm in length – Peter Boardman

There was a Roseate Tern at Stanpit in the morning, but there are no further details. Meanwhile, Goldcrest were back in song – one in the North Scrubs and a particularly loud individual in the Stanpit car park – also Blackcap and Chiffchaff making their presence known again, after a quiet week or so. A Cuckoo was also about the marsh, as were 3 Curlew and 12 Lapwing.

June 15th

Nightjar – Steve Davies

Four-spotted Chaser – Peter Boardman

The only news from an even warmer day is of 2 Mediterranean Gull south over Mudeford Quay.

June 14th

Peregrine Falcon chicks on the Priory – Susie Dalby
After these fantastic shots, we’ll now only post those showing notable events in the birds’ natural progression. If you want to showcase other images, the Priory Peregrines Facebook group is open to all.

What is believed to be the first Golden Ringed Dragonfly to be photographed in the recording area – Peter Boardman

On a glorious day of sunshine, there is no news to report upon.

June 13th

Two of the Priory Peregrine chicks have left the nest – Jackie Smith

There is no news for the day of birds inside the recording area, but of those viewable from within – two of the three Peregrine chicks have left the nest and can be seen clambering around the rooves of the Priory.

June 12th

Sand Martin, feeding young on the Hengistbury cliffs – Alan Crockard

A Garden Warbler in song on Wick this morning was a real surprise, while a Firecrest doing the same in the Nursery was more expected.

June 11th

A fine shot of the usually skulking Cetti’s Warbler – Alan Crockard

There was an excellent count of 85 Common Scoter heading towards the Solent off Mudeford Quay between 8:00 and 9:00 this morning – including one flock of seventy birds.

June 10th

Long-tailed Tit, not long out of the nest – Alan Crockard

Shelduck – Peter Boardman

Peregrine – Roger Tidball

Today’s Mediterranean Gull total was eleven – six eastbound over Wick and five heading inland over Stanpit car park – all vocal. Of breeding news, or perhaps in the case of the continuously singing Lesser Whitethraot on Wick, not, a Kestrel brood in the area fledged.

June 9th

Whimbrel – Peter Boardman

A Great White Egret flew west over Stanpit this morning, while four adult Mediterranean Gull headed in the opposite direction. Elsewhere, there wasn’t much going on today, although a Whimbrel in Holloway’s Dock was a bit of a surprise, as was a House Martin around Wick. Otherwise, it’s just a Ringed Plover at the former site and a Bullfinch at the latter to mention.

June 8th

Large Skipper – Peter Boardman

All the news comes from the sea, where an unseasonable Red-throated Diver headed east and 4 Common Scoter lingered. Also, 9 Common Tern, 20 Sandwich Tern and 25 Gannet – all fishing aimlessly. Meanwhile, a flock of 7 Sanderling pass the watchpoint as they travelled north.

June 7th

Spoonbill – Leo Pyke

Another decent candidate for tundrae Ringed Plover – Alan Hayden

A Spoonbill was around for much of the day – seen late morning in Mother Siller’s Channel, then this evening in Holloway’s Dock before leaving to the south east. Also at the latter site, another tundrae Ringed Plover candidate and a Dunlin. Meanwhile, at least 12 Common Tern were offshore with around 35 Sandwich Tern.

June 6th

The unexpected, late-Spring trickle of eastbound Mediterranean Gull continued today, when an hour-long, late-afternoon visit to Stanpit heard and saw five birds – two adult pairs and an accompanying second-calendar-year. In addition, a further four adults and a third-calendar-year were more aimless. There was a little bit of wader passage with a Sanderling and thirteen, presumed high-Arctic, Dunlin resting at Stanpit; while a Curlew and at least 12 Lapwing were back there. A female Bullfinch was on Wick, where both the Lesser Whitethroat and the Cuckoo were again relentless in their song – the latter also venturing a circuit Speller’s Point, however. The final notables for the day, all at Stanpit, are: 4 Gadwall, just one Sandwich Tern and a for-the-records count of 134 Mute Swan.

June 5th

A seawatch from Mudeford Quay this morning produced 4 Little Tern resting on the exposed sandbar; as well as 3 Common Tern, 6 Mediterranean Gull, 30 Sanderling and 3 Dunlin. Elsewhere, the Lesser Whitethroat continues to sing on the Driving Range and there was a gathering of 96 Carrion Crow on the mud in Stanpit Creek.

June 4th

The only news from a very quiet day is of 4 Mediterranean Gull – all eastbound adults – and the Cuckoo; all seen from Wick.

June 3rd

Speckled Wood – Peter Boardman

This afternoon, there were two, rather dark-looking Ringed Plover in Holloway’s Dock; suggesting, particularly given the date for migrant birds, tundrae race individuals – on their way to the very far north. Earlier, there were two, singing Lesser Whitethroat on Wick – one in the normal spot and the other in the middle point of the fields; while the Cuckoo sang throughout.

June 2nd

Small Copper – Peter Boardman

As expected for June, Stanpit doesn’t hold many visible birds. The best today being: singles of Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and a Curlew; the Cuckoo; 2 Mediterranean Gull to the south-west; and a Peregrine. Meanwhile, the Lesser Whitethroat was again in song on Wick.

June 1st

Holly Blue – Peter Boardman

There were more briefly stopping waders today – the best being a Little Stint, but also 2 Sanderling, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 50 Dunlin and a Curlew. Also, an over-flying, vocal Mediterranean Gull; as well as a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 House Martin and 8 Swift, all incoming. Meanwhile, the Cuckoo was again heard around Wick, where a male and juvenile Bullfinch were also logged.

May 31st

Rock Pipit – Peter Boardman

Large Red Damselfly at the Lily Pond – Peter Boardman

…and Fox in Holloway’s Dock – Peter Boardman

A Roseate Tern put in a brief appearance at Stanpit this morning, as did two second-calendar-year Little Gull. Equally transient through the marsh were: an Avocet, a Knot, 30 Back-tailed Godwit and 30 Dunlin. Meanwhile, a Cattle Egret headed south over Wick Fields. As is now the norm, both the Cuckoo and the Lesser Whitethroat were in song around the fields

May 30th

To quote a recent BBC weather forecast, ‘it’s still disappointingly cold for the time of year;’ today thanks to a brisk, westerly breeze. Nonetheless, there were some fly-over surprises: firstly, a couple of Glossy Ibis passed north at 07:40; then, late in the afternoon, two parties of calling Mediterranean Gull – four and two – headed very purposely east, which is strange for the date, when it would be more likely to encounter birds returning from the breeding areas rather than travelling to them. The tail-end of the wader passage saw 3 Grey Plover and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit taking a break from their journey to the Arctic; while a Curlew and 8 Lapwing have probably tried-but-failed more locally. Meanwhile, the Cuckoo sang throughout from the reeds on the western side of the River.

May 29th

Once again, all the news comes from Wick – where, today, a Hobby soared over high – with the Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat being as per yesterday.

May 28th

The day’s only news comes from Wick, where the Cuckoo was about and the Lesser Whitethroat continues to sing on the Driving Range.

May 27th

Hairy Dragonfly – Peter Boardman

Other than the regular Cuckoo, the only news for the day is of a female-type Golden Oriole that came up from the Riversmeet Meadow embankment and headed towards the Priory.

May 26th

Despite the fact that June is almost upon us, it would seem a few birds are still tricking in – the traditional Whitethroat territory adjacent to the Pod being occupied for the first time this season today. Meanwhile, the Cuckoo continues to entertain; but the only other interest came from 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Lapwing around Stanpit Bight.

May 25th

Reed Warbler – Peter Boardman

The sea was given a watch this morning, when: a Great Northern Diver passed west and a Fulmar, 2 Common Tern, 50 Sandwich Tern and 45 Gannet were offshore; while a mixed wader flock of 15 Sanderling, a Dunlin and a Turnstone passed. Other waders included: a Common Sandpiper on the sandspit, a Whimbrel in-off over Mudeford Quay that was later seen at Stanpit and a lone Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock. To finish with the birds, at least 3 Mediterranean Gull were about, as was the Cuckoo, and the Brent Goose remained. Of mammal interest, a Grey Seal was in the Run.

May 24th

Lapwing and Mute Swan – Susie Dalby

The Cuckoo was all over the place throughout the day, but Stanpit probably gives the best chance of encountering him. Also on the marsh, unseasonable singles of Brent Goose and Curlew; while, more expectedly, the Lesser Whitethroat continues to sing around the Driving Range. Of breeding interest, a brood of Water Rail was recently camera-trapped and there is one, but possibly two, female Oystercatcher currently sitting on on the marsh.

Barn Owl Cam

The CHOG-sponsored Barn Owl camera, managed by Paul Turton and Jackie Smith, streams live during the breeding season. Click here to view.

2021 Report

Birds of Christchurch Harbour 2021
Out now. Free for members.
Details of how to join.

Annual Reports USB

The Birds of Christchurch Harbour 1956 to 2021

Over 60 years of CHOG annual reports on searchable USB

Out now
Only £15 + £1.25 P&P
Learn more here

Tide Times

Tide times at the mouth of Christchurch Harbour.
Wick end is about
half an hour later.

Harbour Map

Our interactive harbour map helps you to identify locations around the harbour and gives some useful pointers.

Harbour Slideshow

See the best of some recent rarities in our Harbour Slideshow

Social Media