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Sightings for Month: December 2021

December 31st

There is very little to report from the ultimate day of 2021, when temperatures exceeded 13C! The best were a Firecrest in the Wood and a Red-throated Diver east; but also a Razorbill on the sea and 2 Kingfisher at Wick Hams.

December 30th

One of twenty-two Turnstone on the sandspit today – Clinton Whale

Great Black-backed Gull – Clinton Whale

It was another very mild day, although the strong, south-westerly wind made it feel less so. In-harbour Mediterranean Gull have been something of a rarity recently, so one at Stanpit today was more than welcome. Also about the marsh: 9 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Ringed Plover, 55 Dunlin and 3 Pintail – two drakes and a duck; but just 4 Brent Goose! Meanwhile a further 23 Ringed Plover and 126 Dunlin were on the sandspit, as was a Purple Sandpiper on groyne S9. The sea produced, mainly west: 4 Red-throated Diver, 25 Kittiwake, 5 Common Gull, 2 Fulmar, 13 Razorbill, 7 Guillemot, 9 auk spp., a Pintail, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 6 Common Gull; as well as at least thirty-five, lingering Gannet. The day’s Kingfisher news is of one by the Bailey Bridge.

December 29th

Purple Sandpiper – Clinton Whale

Lapwing – Clinton Whale

On a really mild day, which saw 7 Song Thrush doing as their name suggests on Wick, a Glossy Ibis was feeding well on a flooded North Marsh. Even more notable, however, was a Scandinavian Herring Gull seen at Mudeford Quay – the observer didn’t state ‘showing characteristics of’ – so a pure argentatus-race individual, a real rarity this far west, would probably constitute the first record for the group. Also from the quay, a first-calendar-year Yellow-legged Gull and 8 Common Scoter settled offshore. Meanwhile, a seawatch from the Beach Huts produced: a Black-throated Diver east, 8 Red-throated Diver, a clear movement of Pintail – forty-one in total, thirty of them west – 4 Kittiwake, 9 Guillemot, 8 Razorbill, 5 auk spp. and around 20 Gannet. To round up: a Redpoll over the HHC is a nice mid-winter record; a male and female-type Marsh Harrier were about, as was at least one Peregrine; a pair of Shoveler were on Stanpit; just one Purple Sandpiper was on the sandspit; and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight.

December 28th

It’s another quiet day in terms of reports, but a male Merlin hunting Wick Water Meadows for a short time this morning was nice. Also on Wick, a female Bullfinch along Roebury Lane. At sea, there was a reasonable Gannet presence – twenty in ten-minutes past the Long Groyne, for example – and Kingfisher were seen on Wick and about the Salt Hurns.

December 27th

It was a day punctuated with heavy rain, but which saw some decent wader numbers returned from Stanpit; including 140 Lapwing – a good contemporary count, but sobering to compare with the regular 1500+ barely a couple of decades ago. Additionally, a couple of Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 75 Black-tailed Godwit, 52 Ringed Plover and 159 Dunlin were logged. Other than those, however, it’s just a pair of Shoveler and a Kingfisher, all on the marsh, to report upon.

December 26th

Common Gull – Scott Usher

Goosander – Scott Usher

…and a Song Thrush, which were in voice again today – Clinton Whale

I’ve not been local today, so I’m not sure what the weather has been like; but here is the day’s bird news. A couple of Chiffchaff were by the Viewing Platform on Wick this morning, while the redhead Goosander was again in Stanpit Bight. Also about the marsh, 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 180 Dunlin and a couple of Common Gull. Otherwise, it’s just the adult male Marsh Harrier and a Kingfisher, that by the Rusty Boat, to remark upon.

December 25th

Robin – Clinton Whale

This morning, the male and a female-type Marsh Harrier were on Wick, while a male Peregrine flew from the Priory and briefly landed on Crouch Hill. The only other news is of a Kingfisher by the Viewing Platform.

December 24th

Goosander – Clinton Whale

…and a brief glimpse of the sun today – Clinton Whale

A redhead Goosander was in Stanpit Bight this morning, as were 5 Grey Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 41 Black-tailed Godwit and 72 Dunlin; plus a Tufted Duck and 3 Brent Goose. On the subject of the latter, we seem to have lost our winter flock that always exceeded 100 birds! The only other news, before the rain set it, is of two Marsh Harrier – the adult male and a female-type.

December 23rd

Most of the day’s records come from a mirky, morning seawatch – the best being singles of Sandwich Tern and Fulmar – but also: a Black-throated Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, a Mediterranean Gull, 4 Common Gull, 4 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill and 3 Common Scoter. The male Marsh Harrier and a definite female were about, while a Firecrest was in the Wood and a Grey Plover, plus around 50 Black-tailed Godwit, were logged in the afternoon at Stanpit.

December 22nd

Some of 10 Ringed Plover on the sandspit this morning – Clinton Whale

After being on the Recreation Ground first thing, the Bean Goose moved over to Priory Marsh – with the last report from there coming in just before lunch. One piece of information not mentioned yesterday is that, if accepted by the Dorset Records Panel, this would be the 331st species for the recording area. Also around Stanpit, a Water Pipit and a redhead Goosander, as well as: an Avocet, a Grey Plover, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 24 Ringed Plover. Again, the sea was watched from the Beach Huts and yielded: 5 Red-throated Diver, an unidentified diver, 2 Kittiwake, 3 Common Gull, 7 Razorbill, 6 Guillemot, 14 Brent Goose and 13 Gannet; generally east. Elsewhere: a couple of Firecrest were in the Wood; 14 Snipe were visible on the Salt Hurns; and the male plus a female-type Marsh Harrier were about.

December 21st

Bean Goose – David Faulkner

Bean Goose – Scott Usher

Bean Goose – Alan Hayden (upper) & Jackie Smith

Since formal recording began in Christchurch Harbour, with the formation of CHOG in 1956, there has never been a Bean Goose. So, one that spent some time this morning and into the afternoon in the strange location of Stanpit Recreation Ground, after first being on Riversmeet Meadow and then going to the saltmarsh by the Rusty Boat, was a very welcome sight for the harbour-listers. The primary designation of the recreation ground is for dog-walking and many thanks go to those owners who managed their pets in such a way to avoid the bird. You really do have our appreciation! Despite all this excitement, the only other news involves Marsh Harrier, which increased to three today – the regular male and two female-types – the latter hunting together over Central Marsh at one point.

December 20th

Some of the seventy or so Lapwing about the area today – Clinton Whale

Although the sea is currently getting a good degree of attention, let’s start with the other stuff for a change. It now seems almost certain there are two Marsh Harrier using the area – the adult male now being joined by a cream-crowned bird; a Firecrest was in the Nursery; 28 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit; and a Bullfinch was on Wick. Now the news from the Beach Huts, with a Pochard west being the undoubted highlight; but also, in the same direction: 9 Red-throated Diver and a dopping of 10 Shelduck. Meanwhile, there was a clear, uncharacteristic – for the time of year – movement of birds to the east, including: a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, a Tufted Duck, 2 Kittiwake, 9 Mediterranean Gull, 28 Common Gull, 3 Common Scoter, 8 Razorbill, 11 Guillemot, fifteen auk spp., a Great Crested Grebe, 6 Brent Goose and the best part of 18 Gannet. Of mammal interest, a pod of 6 Bottle-nosed Dolphin were seen from Mudeford Quay late in the morning.

December 19th

Yellowhammer – Leo Pyke

Jay – Clinton Whale

Yellowhammer are a very scarce, if not rare, bird to the area; so one today by the HHC was a really nice surprise. The usual encounters are during the autumn migration season – so one in December is even more notable. Perhaps the first in this month of modern times? Definitely a photo-first for the area, however. The sea quietened down a lot today, with just 2 Red-throated Diver being logged, for example. Also: a Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Common Scoter west; plus 6 Razorbill, 3 Guillemot and a single Common Gull. It was WeBS day and the best of the waders were: 11 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 27 Ringed Plover and 122 Dunlin. The pick of the wildfowl came from 14 Shoveler, a really good local count, and 2 Pintail, but also 745 Wigeon and 77 Teal. Notable absentees were Brent Goose and Coot – just one and thirteen respectively – very low numbers against the norm. Wrapping up, a female-type Marsh Harrier was seen at Wick Hams and at least 3 Kingfisher were about.

December 18th

Red-throated Diver – Matthew Barfield

Great Northern Diver – Matthew Barfield

A White-tailed Eagle drifted west over the area late this morning, when Stanpit produced: a Merlin, a Water Pipit – that on South Marsh – 4 Grey Plover, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, a Pintail and a Shoveler. The sea again produced all three divers; 3 Black-throated Diver, two east and one settled; a Great Northern Diver, east; and 20 Red-throated Diver, in various directions. Additionally, 3 Eider headed east, as did 27 Brent Goose; while 9 Kittiwake, a Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Gull, 23 Razorbill, 9 Guillemot and 24 auk spp. were logged. The best in the Wood was actually one, but probably two, Treecreeper, as well as 2 Firecrest; with Wick contributing a Chiffchaff and two female Bullfinch. To finish, a female-type Marsh Harrier – the first of those for some time – was over Priory Marsh this afternoon and, as always, the adult male was around. Of mammal interest, four Bottle-nosed Dolphin were seen a couple of times from the end of the head.

December 17th

It was a day of few reports. Highlights of a brief sea watch from Hengistbury in late morning were 2 Red-throated Diver and 5 Shoveler heading east, as well as 15 Kittiwake in a large group of gulls offshore which gradually dispersed. The only other news was of the Marsh Harrier flying over Wick Water Meadows.

December 16th

Pintail – Clinton Whale

The day’s only news comes from Stanpit Bight, from where 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, a Pintail and a Kingfisher were returned.

December 15th

Bar-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale

…and a nice comparison with these two Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale

A not too dissimilar day to yesterday, but perhaps a few more birds. At sea: 28 Red-throated Diver, including a flock of eight, headed west, as did 6 Common Scoter, 9 Brent Goose, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a Guillemot; with 2 Black-throated Diver, two ‘red-throats’, a Sandwich Tern, a Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Common Scoter and a Guillemot heading towards the Solent. Meanwhile, a Razorbill was settled. At Stanpit, there were 5 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit; plus, a Kingfisher. To finish: the Marsh Harrier spent some time perched on Wick Hams; a couple of Firecrest and a Bullfinch were in the Wood; and a Peregrine was about. Of mammal interest, a Grey Seal was offshore.

December 14th

There is currently some pool- and ditch-restoration work, in conjunction with BCP and part-funded by CHOG, taking place on Priory Marsh

A morning look-out from Fisherman’s Bank produced some nice birds. The best of the waders was a Greenshank, a real winter rarity here; as well as 6 Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Ringed Plover and 85 Dunlin. Another notable winter record was a Sandwich Tern, but also a first-calendar-year Yellow-legged Gull, 3 Mediterranean Gull and 18 Common Gull. Meanwhile, 7 Pintail and a Tufted Duck were amongst the Wigeon. The only news from elsewhere is of a Blackcap on Wick, another good bird for the month.

December 13th

Greenfinch – Clinton Whale

Meadow Pipit – Clinton Whale

Again, it was the sea that got most of the attention and produced, all west: 2 Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, 11 Red-throated Diver, 2 Pintail and a Shelduck. Somewhat more aimless, however, were a further 3 Red-throated Diver, a Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Gull, 4 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill, 6 auk spp., a couple of Great Crested Grebe and a lone Gannet. It was much of the same elsewhere, with 2 Firecrest in the Wood and the Marsh Harrier about Wick Hams; while two each of Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit, along with a flock of 41 Greenfinch.

December 12th

Kingfisher – Clinton Whale

Rainbow from Stanpit – Clinton Whale

In a south-westerly breeze, there was a modicum of activity at sea this morning – the best being: a Black-throated Diver and 9 Red-throated Diver west, with a further of the latter east; but also, all west, an unidentified diver, 6 Kittiwake, a Mediterranean Gull, 2 Razorbill, a Guillemot, 2 auk spp., 3 Common Scoter and 2 Common Gull. Also, eleven, settled Common Scoter. Today’s Firecrest total in the Wood came to three, while Wick held a single Chiffchaff and 3 Redwing. At Stanpit, the waders included a Grey Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwit, with couple of Kingfisher, at least, about there.

December 11th

A morning count of waders from Stanpit included: 6 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 29 Ringed Plover and 112 Dunlin. Meanwhile, from Hengistbury, 3 Red-throated Diver were on the water, along with 15 Razorbill, 4 Pintail, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe; with a Spoonbill, a first-winter Kittiwake and 7 Guillemot passing west, and a further 6 Common Scoter east. In the bushes, a couple of Firecrest and three late Chiffchaff were in the Wood, while 2 Bullfinch were on Wick. To finish: an additional 7 Pintail and a drake Tufted Duck were inside the harbour; the Marsh Harrier was again around Wick Hams; and at least 2 Kingfisher were along the northern shores of the head.

December 10th

The day’s only reports relate to a Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 15 Black-tailed Godwit around Stanpit Bight, as well as a drake Pintail and a Kingfisher there.

December 9th

Great Northern Diver – Leo Pyke

Purple Sandpiper – Mike Kirby

Again, the sea got most of the day’s attention and came up with: a Velvet Scoter, a redhead Goosander, all three divers – a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 2 Red-throated Diver – a Mediterranean Gull, a Common Gull, 2 Common Scoter, a Wigeon, 5 Razorbill and three unidentified auks, all west; plus 3 Common Scoter and 5 Gannet lingering. Early on, there was the season’s best count of Fieldfare – fourteen on Wick – plus 2 Chiffchaff and 4 Bullfinch there. Meanwhile, a Firecrest was in the Wood. The waders at Stanpit were headed by a Grey Plover, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Ringed Plover and 48 Dunlin; with the Marsh Harrier and 6 Pintail also about the marsh. Moving back to the Hengistbury side, a couple of Purple Sandpiper were on the end of the sandspit, 2 Tufted Duck were in Barn Bight and at least 3 Kingfisher were around.

December 8th

The best of a morning seawatch was a couple of medium-sized grebes, which passed west off the Beach Huts, along with: 3 Red-throated Diver, 21 Razorbill, 7 Guillemot, 12 auk spp., 3 Great Crested Grebe and a lone Brent Goose. Meanwhile, an unidentified diver was settled, as were 2 Common Scoter and a further ‘great crest’. This afternoon, the male Marsh Harrier hunted at Stanpit, where a Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover and up to 100 Dunlin were present. To finish, a duck Shoveler and a Kingfisher were also about the marsh.

December 7th

A gale-force, southerly blow made sea-watching difficult this morning, but some reasonable counts were achieved – namely: 2 Red-throated Diver, 56 Kittiwake, 7 Razorbill, 5 Guillemot, 4 Common Gull, 8 Wigeon and 2 Brent Goose; all west. Plus, some milling Gannet – around twenty – and 2 Common Scoter east. Later in the day, a/the Snow Bunting was seen from Mudeford Quay in the fenced area at the tip of the sandspit, while 10 Purple Sandpiper were also logged from that spot.

December 6th

Red-throated Diver – Leo Pyke

Kittiwake – Leo Pyke

Grey Plover – Clinton Whale

An element of south in the wind brought, by local standards, masses of birds close to shore. This morning, from the Beach Huts, the following totals were reached, all west: 21 Red-throated Diver, 186 Kittiwake, 17 Common Gull, 82 Razorbill, 57 Guillemot, 107 auk spp., 41 Gannet and an unseasonable Fulmar; plus 5 Common Scoter on the water. Meanwhile, Stanpit saw 2 Grey Plover, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 31 Ringed Plover and 75 Dunlin; with the post completed by the Marsh Harrier again about Wick Hams.

December 5th

Courtesy of a brisk northerly wind, it was again very cold to be out. As a consequence, there are only three records received for the day. The Snow Bunting was on the Beach below Coastguards; a redhead Goosander was off Mudeford Quay; and a Peregrine was about Hengistbury.

December 4th

Snow Bunting – Mark Taylor

Carrion Crow – Michael Poczapsky

Peregrine – Jackie Smith

The cold, westerly wind made for a quiet morning, when: a Red-throated Dover and 2 Common Gull headed west past the Beach Huts; along with 8 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and 12 auk spp. from there; as well as four arriving Brent Goose from the east and the same number of settled Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile, Wick hosted two each of Chiffchaff and Bullfinch, as well as a Grey Wagtail, and a Peregrine was on the Priory. Early this afternoon, the Snow Bunting was at the base of the end of the head, before moving towards the Long Groyne.

December 3rd

Apologies for the Snow Bunting overload, but it is a rather nice bird – Peter Boardman (upper) & Leo Pyke

It was a mild, grey and windless day that held interest – mostly on the southern side of the area. The Snow Bunting frequented the end of the head, the Marsh Harrier was seen hunting Wick Hams and 7 Purple Sandpiper were at the tip of the sandspit. Quite unusual, however, was a flock of 200 Cormorant that arrived in the harbour and then proceeded to feed above the Flats – there must have been quite a shoal of fish to attract them in. On the same theme, way offshore, there has been a huge feeding-flock of gulls for the last week or so – but too distant to pick-out anything more than the occasional Gannet. Before moving ‘inland’, the sea also offered: nine, passing Red-throated Diver, 6 Common Scoter, 2 Razorbill, 4 Guillemot, thirteen ‘unidentifieds’ and 9 Great Crested Grebe. At Stanpit, there were: 8 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Ringed Plover and 85 Dunlin; as well as 3 Pintail, 2 Shelduck and 2 Tufted Duck.

December 2nd

There was barely a cloud in the sky throughout the day, but a chilly breeze was a reminder we’re now in the ultimate month of the year. A low-tide visit to Stanpit this afternoon produced some nice, for the season, numbers of small waders – 56 Ringed Plover and 126 Dunlin – plus, on the larger side, 5 Grey Plover and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. Earlier in the day, the Marsh Harrier, 3 Tufted Duck and 4 Little Grebe were all in or around Barn Bight; and, tonight, 3 Cattle Egret went to roost with 8 Little Egret.

December 1st

Snow Bunting – Peter Boardman (upper) & Clinton Whale

The Red-necked Grebe that has been in Christchurch Bay for the last couple of days, this morning drifted close enough to Mudeford Quay to make it onto the area’s year list. Also seen at sea: 3 Kittiwake off Whitepits; a Red-throated Diver, 11 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill, thirty-three of either and 7 Gannet west; plus a settled Red-throated Diver, along with 6 Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile, the Snow Bunting ranged along the Beach, ending up by groyne S9 at sunset. A reasonable showing of waders at Stanpit included: a Knot, 6 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Ringed Plover and 35 Dunlin; with the more-interesting wildfowl on the marsh represent by at least two drake Tufted Duck, a female Shoveler, three drake Pintail and 4 Gadwall. Elsewhere, a single Purple Sandpiper was on the sandspit and at least one Kingfisher was about.


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