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Sightings for Month: March 2023

March 31st

Osprey – Scott Usher

Pale-bellied Brent Goose – Scott Usher

Given the area was blasted with a 60km/h+, westerly wind for much of the day and that incoming Osprey rarely stop to fish; it would seem likely a bird, which did so around 16:00, may have arrived at least a day or so beforehand. Meanwhile, the two pale-bellied Brent Goose were still around, as were nineteen regulation birds – perhaps a travelling party on a refuel, the two bound for Svalbard and the nineteen going further on into Siberia? The best from the sea came late in the afternoon, when a flock of 11 Kittiwake passed west – all 2cy, other than one adult – while totals from then and the morning come to: two additional Kittiwake, a Guillemot, 13 Sandwich Tern, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 9 Common Gull and 20 Gannet. The tip of the sandspit again hosted some Purple Sandpiper – twelve, viewable from Mudeford Quay – and 70 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit, where 2 Wheatear were by the Rusty Boat.

March 30th

Two pale-bellied Brent Goose, sandwiched by two dark-bellied – Leo Pyke

A couple of passing Willow Warbler were singing today, while Blackcap song on Hengistbury was the first of the season there; with Firecrest also seen there and in the North Scrubs. Meanwhile, airborne and incoming were: a Siskin, modest numbers of Meadow Pipit and Linnet, plus ones and twos of Swallow and Sand Martin. The highlight, however, being an accompanying Merlin. Again, there were Purple Sandpiper midway along the sandspit and Stanpit hosted 2 Grey Plover, 19 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Dunlin. Also on the marsh, the two photographed hrota Brent Goose with eighteen bernicla. Moving to the sea, a 2.5-hour look came up with 11 Common Scoter, 8 Sandwich Tern, 12 Gannet, 6 Mediterranean Gull and 32 Common Gull. Rounding up, there were 3 Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight and it is now strongly suspected the Peregrine are, this year, nesting on the tower of the Priory, where the female is likely sitting.

March 29th

This male Great Spotted Woodpecker has been showing well from the hide – Alan Crockard

After some quiet few days, the sea produced a little interest this morning, when a drake Garganey, in the company of Common Scoter, and a Great Skua, all passed to the east. Also, at least one Sandwich Tern lingering, 5 Mediterranean Gull and a trickle of Swallow in-off. The sandspit also held the pick of the waders – 6 Purple Sandpiper by the café – while 7 Grey Plover, 74 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 37 Turnstone were either there or at Stanpit. Also inside the harbour, 6 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 28 Brent Goose, a Great Crested Grebe and a further 4 Mediterranean Gull. To finish, a Wheatear was on the end of the sandspit, two travelling Chiffchaff were on Hengistbury and the on-site raptor return is of single Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Peregrine.

March 28th

It was a grey, damp and cold day, when most of the news comes from the Beach Huts and involves: 11 Common Scoter, 30 Brent Goose and 2 Mediterranean Gull, all east; 4 Sandwich Tern, a Fulmar, a Kittiwake, a Common Gull and 5 Gannet, all west; plus, a single Purple Sandpiper. Meanwhile, a nice total of 120 Black-tailed Godwit was in Holloway’s Dock, who could have imagined that when it was an unfenced piece of open water; and the pair of Peregrine remain – seemingly looking to nest on the Priory tower itself this season, but we hope to confirm over the next few days.

March 27th

The pair of Peregrine – Paul Turton

Grey Plover – Scott Usher

It was described as, ‘another quiet day,’ with departing winter visitors – namely a Redpoll over the Batters and 3 Redwing at Wick – perhaps providing the most interest. That said, a Yellow Wagtail descending on to Priory Marsh, possibly negates the previous remark. Other passerines included a Firecrest on Hengistbury, along with 10 Chiffchaff. Meanwhile, the sea gave up just 21 Common Scoter, sixteen east and five west, a couple of Sandwich Tern and a Common Gull; with the site-wide Mediterranean Gull estimate being fifteen. Moving to Stanpit Bight – the pick there being: at least one Grey Plover, again 60 or so Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Brent Goose. Of course, the Peregrine were about.

March 26th

Mediterranean Gull in the morning gloom over the Long Field – Peter Boardman

The early morning on Wick held some interest, with a couple of transient Redwing by the Viewing Platform, a Willow Warbler, a pair of Bullfinch and a valley-bound Marsh Harrier. Later, at Stanpit, there were 4 Grey Plover amongst sixty or so Black-tailed Godwit and around 30 Dunlin, along with 26 Brent Goose, an in-song Blackcap and some now, set-up Chiffchaff territories. Around 4 Mediterranean Gull were returned, as well as a 3cy Common Gull settled on East Marsh.

March 25th

Jay are now nest-building about the area – Alan Crockard

The wind continued and, again, there isn’t too much to type about. A couple of Firecrest were in the Wood and the fenced area at the end of the sandspit held 2 Wheatear, while, close by, there were 4 Ringed Plover and 11 Dunlin on the groynes. Despite a good look-at, the sea came up with just 2 Common Scoter and 6 Common Gull; with the overall-site total of over-flying Mediterranean Gull nudging ten. On Wick, the Buzzard continues to linger, presumably a youngster now driven out of the Avon Valley by the breeding adults; at Stanpit, there was a Grey Plover, 123 Black-tailed Godwit and a dwindling, twenty-two Brent Goose; and 2 Great Crested Grebe were in Barn Bight.

March 24th

Blue Tit – Alan Crockard

On a very blustery day, there is little to report. There were 2 Willow Warbler in song on Wick, the same number of Wheatear on the Barn Field and a Sandwich Tern passed the Beach Huts. Meanwhile, at least 4 Mediterranean Gull headed east and the Priory Peregrine pair showed definite evidence of a breeding attempt being underway.

March 23rd

This morning saw the culmination of a joint project, initiated by CHOG and partnered by BCP, the Friends of Stanpit Marsh and Bournemouth Water, via the South West Lakes Trust, to source and place thirty-three new buoys around wildlife-sensitive areas of the harbour. 

Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight – Peter Boardman

Again, there isn’t too much to write about. The sea was actually watched for most of the morning, but produced just a Red-throated Diver, 4 Common Scoter, a Fulmar and 2 Common Gull, all west; while 6 Mediterranean Gull went the other way. The few incoming migrants on site included a Willow Warbler on Wick, a Sand Martin over the Run and a couple of Chiffchaff by the Lily Pond. The final bits and pieces are headed by 15 Purple Sandpiper on the end of the sandspit, with a Common Buzzard lingering about Wick, a Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight and the pair of Peregrine on the Priory.

March 22nd

A quiet seawatch is probably, actually the best for the day and involved: a Sandwich Tern, 3 Kittiwake, a Fulmar, 5 Common Scoter and a Gannet, all to the west. That said, a clear arrival of Goldcrest across Hengistbury – at least 20 birds – plus a Redpoll and Grey Wagtail over, comes a close second. Meanwhile, up to 20 Chiffchaff were about – five now seeming to be on territory – and a pair of Bullfinch was on Wick. Stanpit was light on birds, just half-a-dozen Mediterranean Gull and 51 Brent Goose to mention; and, to finish, both Peregrine remain in residence.

March 21st

Black-tailed Godwit – Simon Coupe

There is precious little to type about for day. Just a Peregrine on the Priory, 4 Brent Goose in the strange location of the Salt Hurns and around 30 Black-tailed Godwit in Barn Bight.

March 20th

There isn’t much to mention today, perhaps the best being 25+ Snipe still on the Salt Hurns. The sea, over a couple of hours, produced 11 Common Scoter, 5 Gannet and 3 Common Gull, all west, while a Great Crested Grebe was inside the harbour. It almost goes without saying now, but the Peregrine couple are still holding court.

March 19th

Female Marsh Harrier – Scott Usher

Cetti’s Warbler – Dave Miller

…and a fine photo of a Song Thrush – Peter Boardman

The pre-dawn arrivers for an Alpine Swift bonanza had to wait until 9:30 for their first reward of just a single bird. It was nice to see some old-county faces putting in that effort and respect for digging it out. Thereafter, until 12:30, there were four or five other brief encounters. (Of interest, and out of area, two were about the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth at dusk tonight.) The same period on Two Riversmeet Meadow drew a blank for the assembled several, but a Bittern was seen in the reeds on the Wick side of the river from there, as well as a Cattle Egret going to roost. Throughout the day, with most eyes to the sky, it was inevitable raptors would be seen – a couple of Red Kite, the Peregrine pair and at least four individual Marsh Harrier. Before moving to the more-expected stuff, an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the HHC mudbar late in the day is a nice March record, as was a Fieldfare in the North Scrubs before heading north. Actually, also good for the date was a Willow Warbler bordering Priory Marsh, with the Chiffchaff day-total approaching fifty across Stanpit and Wick, and a singing Blackcap by the Purewell Stream. Around 25 Mediterranean Gull passed through to the east, while a Common Gull was also logged, along with 70 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Dunlin, 74 Brent Goose and a stand-out ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit. Finally, please check back to yesterday for a revision of the swift photo montage.

March 18th

A selection of images of the 5 Alpine Swift – Scott Usher

Scott Usher

Alan Hayden

Scott Usher

Scott Usher

Given it’s the weekend and reasonable weather, there is very little to write about. In fact, just a Wheatear on Crouch Hill, plus a Sand Martin and Red Ki…..

That was 17:34, when news broke of six swifts being watched from just outside the recording area in the Riverslea Estate. A series of frantic messages ensued and a distant photo confirmed the unthinkable – they were Alpine Swift. A number of TV football match viewings and social engagements were abruptly interrupted, with Two Riversmeet Meadow being the destination. Thereon followed, the most incredible experience of 5 Alpine Swift feeding at head height until around 18:25, when, in an instant, they all disappeared in the fading light. Surely, they must have roosted somewhere locally – the Priory perhaps? While the five were being watched here, there was a bird over Bournemouth – possibly one of the original six? Is such a flock the largest ever recorded in the UK?

Oh yes, the Sand Martin and Red Kite were over Stanpit.

March 17th

Drake Garganey (left) and likewise Teal – Scott Usher

Chiffchaff – Dave Miller

…and Devil’s Purse, the egg case of a skate – Peter Boardman

The highlights of the day were a drake Garganey discovered on Central Marsh this afternoon, and a Little Ringed Plover and 9 Golden Plover, flocks of six and three, in over Stanpit during the morning. Meanwhile, there had been a clear, overnight influx of Chiffchaff – up to thirty-five on across Hengistbury and Wick, with an unspecified number around the north of the area – the Wheatear total was eight and a female Blackcap was on Wick. A small number of Redwing was again present – three in the Nursery and one in the No Dogs Field – a Grey Wagtail headed south and, as has now become expected in March, a Red Kite passed over. Holloway’s Dock hosted a nice count of 104 Black-tailed Godwit, a Bullfinch was on Wick the pair of Peregrine remained around the Priory. To finish, the sea, which produced: 2 Common Scoter, 10 Brent Goose and 10 Mediterranean Gull, all east; plus, a Great Crested Grebe.

March 16th

Wheatear – Jeremy Mayes

Black-tailed Godwit, moulting into breeding plumage – Derek Hopkins

White-tailed Eagle – Leo Pyke

A day of intermittent sunshine saw at least 6 Wheatear about the area, but mainly on Hengistbury, plus a singing Chiffchaff, a couple of Firecrest and a Sandwich Tern. Meanwhile, 15 Mediterranean Gull travelled east and 2 Redwing lingered on the Barn Field. A look at the sea, from the Beach Huts, yielded a Kittiwake, 6 Common Gull and 2 Great Crested Grebe, all west, along with 30 Common Scoter, mostly east. Of breeding interest: the first 2 Grey Heron chicks hatched around a week ago: the Peregrine are a racing certainty for the Priory; and a Skylark sang over Stanpit. To finish, a bit of a mish-mash: a White-tailed Eagle went west around 07:35; a pair of Gadwall and a Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour; and 9 Pintail and 57 Black-tailed Godwit were counted.

March 15th

There were 7 Cetti’s Warbler in song about Wick this morning – Peter Boardman

Also now part of the soundscape, Greenfinch – Alan Crockard

The first Wheatear of the season made landfall today – five between Whitepits and the end of the head this morning – with the latter spot also hosting 3 Chiffchaff, which were certainly new-in birds, as well as a singing Firecrest. Meanwhile, at least a further 2 ‘chiff’ and a male Blackcap were on Wick, with other signs of movement coming from 6 alba Wagtail in-off; plus 3 Mediterranean Gull, 11 Meadow Pipit and 7 Linnet, all likewise airborne. A groyne close to the Beach House café held a fine total of 34 Purple Sandpiper, while 28 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway’s Dock. Rounding up: a Redwing was in the Stunted Oaks; a minimum of 2 Bullfinch was on Wick; 80 Brent Goose and 9 Shelduck were at Stanpit; and the pair of Peregrine remain.

March 14th

Still something of a scarcity actually within the record area, Buzzard – Dave Miller

It’s all a few days behind schedule, but the first trans-Saharan migrant of the year, a Sand Martin, zipped over Central Marsh this morning. Meanwhile, a White Wagtail was on Crouch Hill and a Grey Wagtail went over Holloway’s Dock. Raptors were also moving around – a Merlin at Hengistbury the best – but also a White-tailed Eagle incoming from the Isle of Wight, a high-flying Marsh Harrier and a visiting Buzzard. Birds which will soon be exiting, if not already, included: the pale-bellied Brent Goose with around ninety dark-bellied ‘brents’ a littoralis-looking Rock Pipit and 4 Shoveler, all at Stanpit; plus 14 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit and 2 Redwing on Wick. The sea was quieter than yesterday – the best there being a Red-throated Diver and 14 Mediterranean Gull east, and a settled Great Crested Grebe. To finish, the Peregrine pair were around and 6 Gadwall were about.

March 13th

Pale-bellied Brent Goose at sea – Leo Pyke

A strong south-westerly wind picked up overnight and, as a consequence, the sea was watched for three hours this morning. The best was a very early Whimbrel travelling in quite the unexpected direction of west and a pale-bellied Brent Goose that settled on the water for around thirty minutes before heading off likewise. Also notable were various gulls seemingly on the move – 56 Common Gull, 17 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 117 Herring Gull west, plus 17 Mediterranean Gull east. Meanwhile, as back-up, 9 Kittiwake, 4 Fulmar, a Common Scoter, 5 Gannet and 2 Razorbill make up the numbers, along with 2 Grey Plover in-off. The only other news is of 4 Purple Sandpiper on the end of the sandspit, viewed from Mudeford Quay, and 15 Black-tailed Godwit heading inland over Stanpit.

March 12th

Since colonising the UK in the late ’60s, Mediterranean Gull are definitely our most handsome of the family – Scott Usher (upper) & Ian Wigley

A nice example of ‘Scandinavian’, race littoralis, Rock Pipit – Scott Usher

During a morning of fine weather, a Blackcap was in song in the North Scrubs, while a Bullfinch sang on Wick. More signs of the coming season came from a few Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and Linnet on Crouch Hill, plus 10 Mediterranean Gull. The winter residents are still with us, however, and most notably 24 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit and a couple of Redwing in the North Scrubs. Also, per the WeBS counters, on their last outing of the season: 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Ringed Plover and 52 Dunlin; 156 Brent Goose, 2 Gadwall, 8 Shelduck, 117 Teal and 843 Wigeon; a single(!) Coot and 3 Common Gull. The Priory continues to host its Peregrine pair.

March 11th

On a cold, damp day with a nasty breeze, the only report is of a Chiffchaff on Wick.

March 10th

This Pale-bellied Brent Goose, race hrota, was at Stanpit yesterday – Jackie Smith

There isn’t too much to mention today, although Stanpit held up to thirty Linnet, all presumably new-in; plus, a Bullfinch and a handful each of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail. Meanwhile, a Chiffchaff remained by the Pod and there were 3 Redwing in the North Scrubs. The peak return for Black-tailed Godwit was 170, those about the marsh, with 6 Ringed Plover and 120 Dunlin using the sandspit. To finish, at least 5 Mediterranean Gull were around, a female Marsh Harrier was logged and the Priory pair of Peregrine were again interacting heavily.

March 9th

Black-tailed Godwit – David Faulkner

Wigeon – David Faulkner

On another wet day, the Peregrine remained around the Priory and a female-type Marsh Harrier was at Stanpit. The conditions, however, didn’t deter a Redpoll from singing in the Wood and a Chiffchaff on Wick; also in the Wood, a Fieldfare and 3 Redwing, with a further five of the latter in the North Scrubs. The sea yielded just a Red-throated Diver, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a couple of Gannet; while Stanpit hosted 100+ Black-tailed Godwit and 110 Brent Goose. To finish with the birds, Wigeon were again heading into the Valley after dark – heard frequently for an hour over Two Riversmeet. To finish the post, a Grey Seal was was just upstream of the Clay Pool, in the Stour, this morning.

March 8th

The only news from a day dominated by drizzle is of both Peregrine again on the Priory.

March 7th

Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit yesterday – Alan Hayden

It was a dreary day with drizzle persisting for most of the morning, although it brightened up briefly in the afternoon. The light north-easterly wind meant it felt quite cold. All today’s sightings come from Hengistbury, where a Yellowhammer that flew along the Sandspit was a pleasant surprise. Other passerines included a Chiffchaff, a Lesser Redpoll and at least one Firecrest in the Wood, together with two Redwing. A couple of hours watching the sea from the beach huts was fairly slow, with singles of Red-breasted Merganser, Red-throated Diver and Gannet heading west, as did 2 Brent Goose. Three Mediterranean Gull and 8 Common Gull headed in the opposite direction, while a Great Crested Grebe and a Common Scoter lingered offshore. A Peregrine soaring high to the west of the Needles may have been one of the pair that was around the Priory at lunchtime. Finally, 6 Mediterranean Gull were on the old Pitch and Putt field near the HHC.

March 6th

Red Kite, high over Wick – Dave Miller

There was a hint of raptor movement this morning, when a male Marsh Harrier passed west at sea and a Red Kite headed north over Wick. Sticking with the sea, where an unidentified diver east, 4 Common Scoter – three of those likewise east – and a settled Great Crested Grebe were also logged. There seemed to be a small influx of Redwing – the North Scrubs hosting seven and a couple in the Wood; with a Siskin over there and a Treecreeper in it. To finish, the best of the birds around Stanpit Bight, namely: 13 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Ringed Plover and 275 Dunlin; 6 Shelduck and 2 Gadwall; 9 Common Gull; and a Peregrine.

March 5th

The only news for the day is of a Chiffchaff by the Purewell Stream.

March 4th

The highlight of a quiet day was an Osprey soaring high over Wick at 07:30, before drifting north. Otherwise, it’s just 2 Redwing and a Chiffchaff on the fields there to mention.

March 3rd

Redwing – Jackie Smith

Black-tailed Godwit – Peter Boardman

During a morning of sunshine, the incoming Linnet and Pied Wagtail around Crouch Hill numbered twelve and ten respectively; while the Peregrine pair on the Priory carried-on their courtship. Pintail continue to surprise – a flock of fifty-two appeared from the Avon Valley, forty of them heading south out to sea, but twelve settling on it. Wader-wise, there were 12 Grey Plover at Stanpit and perhaps as many as 88 Black-tailed Godwit about the area – forty-two on the marsh and forty-six in Holloway’s Dock, at roughly the same time. Meanwhile, the sandspit returned the bulk of the ‘smalls’, but the only definite numbers were 3 Ringed Plover and 80 Dunlin; although a mixed flock of 150 was returned. To round up: at least one Redwing was again by the Purewell Stream; 47 Brent Goose and 10 Shelduck were inside the harbour; and a Marsh Harrier was logged.

March 2nd

Two, newly-arrived male Blackcap – Jackie Smith

It really does look as if male Peregrine, VA, and his mate are going to go for it again this year on the Priory – we would welcome as many reports and observations as possible. Meanwhile, to prove Spring is definitely here, 9 Linnet and 8 Pied Wagtail were on Crouch Hill, as well as two male Blackcap feeding on the berries around the Purewell Stream. In seasonal contrast, however, still at least one Redwing doing the same. To finish, there were 2 Marsh Harrier together over Wick.

March 1st

Water Rail – Peter Boardman

There is little to mention today. During the morning, 4 Redwing were in the Nursery; while, 3 Gannet and 2 Great Crested Grebe were at sea. Later on, an adult female Marsh Harrier was seen from Stanpit, as were 6 Grey Plover and a day-total of 7 Pintail.


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