A Red Kite passed high over Stanpit this morning, seemingly heading towards the Isle of Wight. Meanwhile, more settled were: 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover and 35 Dunlin; a drake Pintail and 48 Brent Goose. In addition, there were 10 Ringed Plover returned from elsewhere. With respect to passerines, there were fairly late singles of Reed Warbler and Tree Pipit on site, as well as 18 Chiffchaff and 5 Goldcrest. At least 2 Redwing arrived for the winter, while outbound were 120 Meadow Pipit, 18 alba Wagtail, 3 Siskin, 60 Linnet, 4 Reed Bunting and a Swallow. To wrap-up: a Grey Wagtail was again on the sandspit, 10 Common Scoter – all but one west – moved by; 7 Jay were on the Long Field; and the feeders at the Hide attracted their first Coal Tit.
On another fantastic, Indian-Summer’s day, Chiffchaff put in a good show with around 35 birds being logged, mostly from Hengistbury, where 2 Firecrest, 7 Goldcrest and 3 Blackcap were also present. Meanwhile, a late Willow Warbler was on Wick and a couple of Bullfinch hung-out along the riverside path. Wader-wise, a Greenshank, a Grey Plover and 7 Dunlin were in Stanpit Bight, while a look from Fisherman’s Bank saw 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 13 Black-tailed Godwit. The evening build-up of Pied Wagtail on Crouch Hill probably got to fifty; a drake Tufted Duck was about; and at least 2 Kingfisher were around.
Saturday, October 16th, 7:45-11:30am
Autumn Migration over Land and Sea at Hengistbury Head
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Someone will no doubt correct this statement, but the first Redwing of the season – three birds – were about Wick this morning, along with 12 Chiffchaff, 8 Blackcap and a Bullfinch. Meanwhile, a Wheatear was on the beach adjacent to the Barn Field. Overhead, the best was singles of Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail, but also a Grey Wagtail, 9 Redpoll and unspecified numbers of Goldfinch, Linnet and Meadow Pipit. Moving to the sea, a Great Northern Diver and a Barnacle Goose passed east, around 30 Common Scoter lingered, and two each of Sandwich Tern and Razorbill were noted. To finish, at dawn, a total of 9 Cattle Egret left their roost, as did 37 Little Egret; while the evening at Stanpit came up with: 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, two adult Common Gull, 4 Pintail, 44 Brent Goose, including at least three birds of the year, and around fifty, pre-roosting Pied Wagtail.
Wednesday, November 10th, 7:30-8:30pm
Unravelling the Mysteries of Bird Migration – Dr Ieuan Evans, Director of Engagement for the BTO
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There was a little bit of migration over Hengistbury this morning, with the numbers including: a Brambling, 2 Chaffinch, 20 Siskin, 120 Linnet, 130 Goldfinch, 2 Grey Wagtail, 14 alba Wagtail, 85 Meadow Pipit, 18 Swallow and 7 Jay. Meanwhile, in the bushes, there were: 2 Firecrest – those by the Double Bends – 18 Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, half-a-dozen Goldcrest and a Coal Tit; with at least 25 Pied Wagtail settled on the tip of the sandspit. Stanpit hosted some quality, in the form of a first-calendar-year Little Gull of South Marsh, a Merlin north and an adult, male White Wagtail on Crouch Hill; also 2 Pintail and 30 Brent Goose there. Mudeford Quay had a moment, when a dark-phase Arctic Skua passed east this evening, while a Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe were on the water. There is little wader news, save for four each of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit about the sandspit, a Golden Plover east and a heard-only Grey Plover. To finish a reasonable day, 3 Mediterranean Gull, a second-calendar-year Common Gull and a drake Tufted Duck were returned.
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It was a lovely, sunny day with a little high cloud and a light northerly breeze, though definitely a bit cooler than of late for the first couple of hours. Overhead passage involved much the same species as yesterday but in much smaller numbers, with the addition of a Great White Egret moving through the harbour and 4 Pale-bellied Brent Goose flying into the Solent. Heading east at Hengistbury were 435 Linnet, 265 Goldfinch, 135 Meadow Pipit, 67 Skylark, 85 Alba Wagtail, 36 Siskin plus a further five over Wick, 11 Redpoll, 7 Brambling and just 26 Swallow. Waders on the move were 6 Golden Plover east and 3 Sanderling arriving, with a total of 17 Turnstone noted on the Flats and the Sandspit. Stonechat were much in evidence on top of the Head with at least 47 logged, although most appeared to move on quite quickly. Passerine totals for the whole area included 65 Chiffchaff, 25 Goldcrest, 4 Firecrest and 5 Blackcap. On the other side of the harbour, a Curlew Sandpiper was at Stanpit this morning, as well as 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot and singles of Greenshank and Grey Plover; the wildfowl there included 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Pintail and a Shoveler, whilst the Brent Goose flock increased to 35.
Today proved to be excellent for visible migration at Hengistbury. Highlights were a male Hen Harrier heading north and 3 Marsh Harrier, comprising two juveniles west and a lingering adult male, as well as a Woodlark moving east. Some of the best counts of the autumn for other species, also heading east over Hengistbury, included 63 Skylark, 860 Alba Wagtail, 1,200 Meadow Pipit, 1,600 Linnet, 1,500 Goldfinch,135 Chaffinch, 24 Brambling, 93 Siskin, 19 Redpoll and 73 Reed Bunting. Two Firecrest in the Wood and 2 Avocet flying west were the only other records from that side of the Harbour. Today was the monthly WeBS count in the Harbour and selected better totals were 507 Wigeon, 220 Coot, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 52 Dunlin, 17 Ringed Plover and an excellent 32 Turnstone. Singles of Greenshank and Grey Plover were also logged and two juveniles were with 13 Brent Goose. Finally, a vocal flock of least 100 Alba Wagtails at Stanpit this evening must have been quite a spectacle.
Once the early fog cleared, it was a bright, fairly sunny day with a light north-north-easterly breeze. Today’s post begins with Stanpit where, although not counted, Wigeon seem to be increasing again after a recent decline in numbers. They were joined by a Garganey, a Pintail and a Tufted Duck in the Bight, while 40 Lapwing were about the Marsh and 4 Skylark, 2 Whinchat and 8 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. Twelve Chiffchaff were in North Scrubs, where there was also a good candidate for Siberian Chiffchaff, but it was not heard to call. It was hardly surprising that, after several good days, there were fewer birds moving over Hengistbury and Wick, but coasting east were 350 Meadow Pipit, 110 Goldfinch, 90 Alba Wagtail, 60 Linnet, 43 Siskin, 12 Swallow, 20 House Martinand 11 Skylark. A Grey Wagtail was on the Lily Pond and a further three travelled east. Grounded birds including a further 40 Chiffchaff, a Firecrest, 8 Goldcrest and 8 Jay. The flock of feeding gulls was still close inshore at the eastern end of the Head, but numbers have now dropped to perhaps 500-600 individuals. The majority are Black-headed, with about 12 Mediterranean Gull and relatively few larger gull species. A Wheatear was on the Sandspit, where wader totals were 56 Ringed Plover, 68 Dunlin and singles of Knot and Sanderling. Finally, 3 Brent Goose headed west at sea and a Shoveler was on Holloway’s Dock.
Overcast skies and a light north-easterly wind meant that visible migration was the main feature of the morning with a good variety of birds moving mainly east. Combined totals from Hengistbury and Wick were 415 Meadow Pipit, 895 Swallow, 720 House Martin, 960 Goldfinch, 1,070 Linnet, 96 Siskin, 68 Alba Wagtail, singles of Grey and Yellow Wagtail and 69 Reed Bunting. Goldeneye have become scarce locally in recent years, so one flying south out of the harbour was a good record. Going in the opposite direction were 3 Shelduck, while 3 Gadwall headed west and 2 Egyptian Goose circuited the harbour before disappearing inland. Once again, the sea hosted an impressive flock of feeding gulls, although numbers were slightly down on yesterday but, apart from 22 Razorbill, it only seemed to contain a few Mediterranean Gull and the odd Common Gull, with two second-winter birds of the latter also inside the harbour. A visit to the Sandspit notched up 76 Dunlin, 54 ringed Plover and 6 Turnstone with the only other wader news being 2 Golden Plover east over the Head and 3 Snipe. Two Common Tern were off the beach huts and a rather odd-looking, ‘Commic’ Tern arrived over the Barn Field (see photos above). Totals of 36 Stonechat, 19 Goldcrest and 55 Chiffchaff were also returned from Hengistbury and Wick. A young Hobby put on a good display over the Barn Field, a Peregrine flew over and 4 Buzzard were soaring to the north-east of the area. The only record from Stanpit was of 10 Brent Goose, with a further four heading west at sea.
A thick mist descended over the area shortly after dawn. Although it receded from time to time, it persisted until late morning, so viewing conditions were often difficult. Much attention was focused on the sea, where a large feeding flock of gulls, estimated conservatively at 1,200 birds, attracted at least 5 Kittiwake, 26 Mediterranean Gull including a few overflying the harbour, 7 Common Gull, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 4 Razorbill, 35 Sandwich and a Common Tern. There was the best movement so far this autumn of Common Scoter and Brent Goose, with totals of 58 and 80 west respectively, plus a further 12 of the latter at Stanpit, and a modest 35 Gannet. Also at the eastern end of Hengistbury were 24 Snipe and a fairly early returning Jack Snipe. The misty conditions did not completely curtail overhead passage, with 270 Meadow Pipit, 280 Swallow, 470 House Martin and 3 Grey Wagtail moving south-west, and 2 Mistle Thrush flying towards the Sandspit. Grounded birds at Hengistbury included a Tree Pipit, 2 Wheatear, 2 Reed Warbler, 30 Chiffchaff, 15 Goldcrest and a Brambling heading west. On the Stanpit side of the harbour, 4 redhead Goosander, 2 Pintail and 4 Gadwall were the best of the wildfowl. Two Little Grebe were in Parky Meade Rail and a Greenshank was present.
A pleasant sunny morning with a brisk westerly breeze, veering to north-west later in the morning, resulted in a good selection of visible migrants over Hengistbury, the best of which was a Lapland Bunting heading into the wind. Moving in the same direction were 730 House Martin, 425 Swallow, a fairly late Sand Martin, 1,500 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 215 Alba Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail, 28 Skylark, 75 Chaffinch, 520 Linnet, 320 Goldfinch, 35 Siskin, the first 2 Redpoll of the autumn and 34 Reed Bunting. There was an obvious influx of Stonechat at Hengistbury, with 47 logged, as well as 16 Jay and, including Wick, totals of 2 Wheatear, 6 Blackcap and 60 Chiffchaff. Uncounted numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were on the Sandspit, where there was at least 1 Knot. Other waders noted flying over were 2 Golden Plover and a Green Sandpiper. The sea was quiet; a Common Scoter travelled east, while moving in the opposite direction were a Red-throated Diver, 36 Mediterranean Gull and 8 Common Gull, with a few of the latter two species choosing also to go through the harbour. Raptors were well represented, the pick being a distant White-tailed Eagle, presumably from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme, and singles of Red Kite and Peregrine. At Stanpit, there was a good count of 3 Whinchat at Crouch Hill, while a pair of Tufted Duck and 7 Brent Goose were about the Marsh, and a total of 12 Pintail flew over. Finally, 7 Egyptian Goose were seen both settled and flying around the harbour.
A Whinchat on Crouch Hill this morning, where there were also 8 Wheatear, was a nice record; while the nearby scrape held 2 Snipe and a Gadwall. Also around the marsh, four each of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, plus a pair of Shoveler. Elsewhere, around 13 Siskin and 2 Grey Wagtail moved over, with at least 30 Chiffchaff about the northern parts of the recording area. There were no returns from Hengistbury itself, but presumably more were around.
The Curlew Sandpiper remained on the sandspit, where 32 Ringed Plover and 70 Dunlin were also present. Meanwhile, an Avocet, 3 Greenshank, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit. The best of the settled passerines was a Reed Warbler on Wick, with at least 17 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and 2 Wheatear also around. Overhead, 6 Siskin, 120 Meadow Pipit, 50 alba Wagtail and 100 Swallow headed out; while, late in the day, 16 Kittiwake went east past Mudeford Quay. Earlier, 3 Mediterranean Gull moved west, when a female-type Common Scoter was resting on the water. Of mammal interest, a Grey Seal was off the quay.
In calmer conditions to yesterday, there were plenty of birds around this morning. Let’s start with, of all things, Jay. As many as thirty were mobile around Hengistbury and Wick, including a flock of thirteen birds, and certainly caught the eye. Most numerous, however, were Meadow Pipit with 680 logged heading into the south-westerly wind from the end of the head. The figure is significantly lower than the real total that must have moved through, as the passage was on a broad front and impossible to quantify from one spot. Also over, a Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail; plus 3 Crossbill, 2 Siskin and small numbers of Linnet, Goldfinch, Swallow and Skylark. Meanwhile a minimum of 50 Chiffchaff were settled, along with an exceptional, for the date, number of 5 Willow Warbler, along with a few Blackcap and Goldcrest, as well as 4 Wheatear. Roosting waders on the sandspit held singles of Curlew Sandpiper and Knot, 3 Sanderling, 60 Dunlin and 40 Ringed Plover, while Stanpit hosted 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and 36 Black-tailed Godwit. The sea was very quiet, but did produce a Great Skua, with a Golden Plover and 5 Brent Goose noted arriving; also an Arctic Tern west.
The day was dominated by a southerly blow that backed forty-five degrees to the east for an hour so around 4:00, before veering just to the west of south. As such, nearly all of the post comes from Mudeford Quay, where the biggest surprise was a very late Little Ringed Plover passing west with 3 Dunlin. Also during that watch, which spanned 07:00 to 09:30, 5 Common Gull, 13 Mediterranean Gull, a drake Common Scoter and 7 Brent Goose, all west, with around 50 Meadow Pipit and the same number of Swallow battling the wind. Meanwhile, a Merlin lingered, hunting over the water, and 50 Turnstone – a good, local number – were about. An hour’s attempt during the afternoon, produced just a single Mediterranean Gull, however. From elsewhere, 7 Chiffchaff and a Peregrine were seen from Wick.
The weather was far more accommodating today, when a Little Stint was seen from Fisherman’s Bank and 4 Curlew Sandpiper were on the sandspit. Also about were: 3 Greenshank, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin. The best of the passerines was a Yellow Wagtail on Central Marsh, with 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a site-total of 30 Chiffchaff. A pair of Brent Goose at Stanpit was new-in, where the Pintail, a juvenile Peregrine and 3 Common Gull were also logged.