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Sightings for Month: December 2023

December 31st

Looking over Priory Marsh – Henk Nieuwenhuis

There isn’t much to write about for the final post of the website’s 23cy. Inside the harbour this morning were: 12 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Ringed Plover, 230 Dunlin, 5 Pintail and 21 Brent Goose; while, late in the day, there were 6 Purple Sandpiper on the tip of the sandspit, viewable from Mudeford Quay. Earlier, the quay had seen a Common Scoter, 2 Razorbill, 15 auk spp. and a light passage of Gannet. To finish, a Buzzard was again about Wick. Happy New Year!

December 30th

Great Northern Diver from yesterday – Scott Usher

At 09:10 this morning, a White-tailed Eagle was seen from Wick, as it flew low over Priory Marsh; while 2 Chiffchaff were about the fields. Red-throated Diver again headed west at sea – fifteen birds in total – as well as 7 Kittiwake, a Mediterranean Gull, 11 Common Gull, 95 auk spp., a notable 51 Pintail, 11 Shoveler and a Teal; plus 40 Gannet offshore – some of those very close to the old Point House Café site. Elsewhere, 2 Redwing were by Holloway’s Dock and 10 Pintail, 4 Shoveler and a Shelduck were inside the harbour.

December 29th

Before moving to the sea, some dawn reports – a Woodcock came up from the Long Field, 21 Cattle Egret came out of roost and a Redpoll headed over. Now the water and all to the west unless otherwise mentioned: around 40 Red-throated Diver were logged, but a ‘few’ settled, as well as 2 Black-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver; 16 Kittiwake, a Mediterranean Gull and 56 Common Gull; 30 Gannet; plus, 30 Pintail, 4 Shoveler, 3 Teal and a Brent Goose. In addition, a female Marsh Harrier headed towards the Isle of Wight and a Purple Sandpiper was on the groynes.

December 28th

Red-throated Diver passing the sandspit – Scott Usher

Goldcrest on Wick – Livi Almond

1cy Common Gull – Scott Usher

It was a little quieter at sea today – the totals over a three-hour watch from the Beach Huts being: 3 Red-throated Diver, 20 Kittiwake, 17 Common Gull, 155 Gannet, 195 auks, 10 Pintail and 3 Wigeon, all west; plus, around 20 Common Scoter settled. Otherwise, it’s just 8 Grey Plover, 3 Pintail and 48 Brent Goose at Stanpit, the Buzzard on Wick and a Dorset-ringed, so presumably of Priory heritage, Peregrine.

Black-throated Diver – Matthew Barfield

Red-throated Diver – Matthew Barfield

Fulmar – Matthew Barfield

…and Razorbill – Matthew Barfield

Before the afternoon deluge set in and while the gusting wind was still largely south, the sea was watched for three hours from the Beach Huts, starting just after 8:00. An adult Little Gull appeared from Christchurch Bay and then drifted back the same way and 3 Black-throated Diver and 11 Red-throated Diver headed west, with three of the latter settled. Also westbound went: a Fulmar, 12 Kittiwake – just one of those a 1cy bird, 3 Mediterranean Gull – all adults, 20 Common Gull – mostly adults but the other two plumages also seen, 20 Pintail, 13 Wigeon, 2 Shelduck and 10 Brent Goose. Meanwhile, there was a constant presence of Gannet and a down-channel movement of auks, which was reckoned to be around 200 birds during the watch period – of the sixty or so of those identified, four were Razorbill, the remainder Guillemot. Mistle Thrush has the status of scarce within the recording area, so two on Wick were nice, where a Buzzard was logged and, to finish, an adult male Marsh Harrier was returned from Stanpit.

December 26th

Cormorant – Alan Crockard

Although the recent wind had abated this morning, a good number of birds at sea was dominated by Gannet – in total, 235 west. Also in the same direction: 3 Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, 26 Red-throated Diver, 9 Razorbill, 7 Guillemot and 65 auk spp.. Meanwhile, a Purple Sandpiper was on the sandspit groynes. Inside the harbour, there was a nice total of 98 Brent Goose – the most of those for some time; as well as 5 Marsh Harrier – an adult male, two 1cy males and two females; and a Kingfisher along Grimmery Bank.

December 25th

The morning high tide. Looking across the harbour from the top of Hengistbury and the Salt Hurns – Alan Crockard

A Happy Christmas!

The only report from an inundated harbour is of a female Marsh Harrier early on.

December 24th

On a blustery Christmas Eve, there were some great dusk counts from Stanpit – the best being 136 Rook on South Marsh, but 16 Common Gull in Stanpit Bight and 154 Teal on East Marsh also notable. Additionally, 12 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, three pairs of Pintail and Shoveler, 22 Brent Goose and a Kingfisher, that in Mother Siller’s Channel, were about the marsh. All the other news comes from the sea – the best being: a Fulmar, 6 Kittiwake, a Mediterranean Gull, 27 Common Gull, 2 Red-throated Diver, 25 Common Scoter, 105 Gannet, 6 Razorbill, 4 Guillemot, 40 auk spp. and a Great Crested Grebe.

A very Happy Christmas to everyone reading!

Brent Goose: two adults and one 1cy (right) – note the pale tips to the wing feathers, giving a chevron effect – Alan Crockard

The early morning saw sixty-three egrets come out of the roost – of those identified, 26 were Cattle Egret and 25 were Little Egret. This, in stark contrast to yesterday evening and tonight, when nineteen and twenty-seven respectively were counted going in – meaning birds presumably arrive in the dark. The sea produced a nice total of 33 Kittiwake, as well as a Fulmar, a Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Sandwich Tern, 68 Common Gull, eighty-six auks and 5 Pintail; almost exclusively west. At Stanpit, there were 80 Brent Goose, 2 Chiffchaff on Grimmery Bank and at least 4 Marsh Harrier visited.

December 22nd

Curlew – Alan Crockard

There was a little more at sea this morning, including: a Black-throated Diver, 8 Red-throated Diver – three of those settled, 3 Kittiwake, a Mediterranean Gull, 30 Common Gull, 20 Common Scoter, 5 Pintail, 3 Shelduck, 2 Brent Goose, a Great Crested Grebe and 45 auks – reckoned to be a 50:50 Guillemot-Razorbill split. Meanwhile, a Purple Sandpiper was on the groynes, and the recent run of winter thrushes on Hengistbury continued with 2 Fieldfare and 30 Redwing. In other news, at least 3 Marsh Harrier used the area and 9 Cattle Egret went to roost.

December 21st

On a day dominated by a northerly wind, a flock of at least thirty Snipe at Stanpit is probably the most notable record; while, 2 Red-throated Diver, 19 Common Scoter, a Razorbill, seven unidentified auks and 12 Gannet were at sea. Otherwise, it’s just a female-type Marsh Harrier to mention.

December 20th

Greylag Goose – Dave Miller

Greenfinch – Alan Crockard

…and Chiffchaff in the reeds at Stanpit – Dave Miller

There is a bit more news today and starting at Mudeford Quay, where 5 Purple Sandpiper and a Mediterranean Gull were seen. Meanwhile, at Stanpit, there was a good total of 17 Grey Plover, as well as 150 Dunlin and 21 Brent Goose. Early on at sea, Gannet were plentiful – 240 reckoned – plus a good December record of Fulmar, along with: a Great Northern Diver, 10 Red-throated Diver, mostly east, 7 Razorbill, 5 Guillemot, 31 auk spp., fourteen settled Common Scoter, twelve westbound Pintail and 2 Great Crested Grebe. Winter thrushes were again reasonably represented – 2 Fieldfare and 84 Redwing returned from Hengistbury – with the day’s other news involving a cream-crowned Marsh Harrier. Of mammal interest, the Grey Seal was again about the Run.

December 19th

The only report from a pretty wet day is of a cluster 4 Chiffchaff in a single bush, along Roebury Lane.

December 18th

Other than 12 Cattle Egret going to roost and a day-total of 3 Marsh Harrier, all the news comes from the morning and the sea. From the Beach Huts: 3 Red-throated Diver and a Brent Goose headed east; 3 Mediterranean Gull, two each of Razorbill and Guillemot, plus five auk spp., went west; and 22 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe were settled, as were over 300 Wigeon and 14 Shoveler.

December 17th

Teal – Clinton Whale

There were some good counts from today’s WeBS – most notably, 21 Grey Plover and 353 Dunlin – but also a Bar-tailed Godwit, 320 Black-tailed Godwit and 76 Ringed Plover; as well as 62 Brent Goose, 5 Shoveler, 95 Teal and 959 Wigeon. Conversely, where were the Coot – just nine logged! Meanwhile, a quiet sea was headed by: a Red-throated Diver, two unidentified divers, 18 Common Scoter, 4 Guillemot, a Razorbill, seven auks that couldn’t be named and 8 Common Gull; with a Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. The only other news is of a single Marsh Harrier.

December 16th

The day was overcast with a light south-westerly breeze. The early drizzle stopped before the start of the members’ walk at Hengistbury, where wildfowl were much in evidence with at least 400 Wigeon, 30 Pintail, 19 Shoveler, 6 Eider, including two drakes, and about 30 Common Scoter, all either settled or moving through. Three Great Northern Diver were also logged, together with a total of 27 Red-throated Diver moving in both directions. A Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot were on the sea close inshore and three distant Auk headed east. Two Golden Plover arrived from the east and a lone Purple Sandpiper was off the east end of the Head. The Wood held 2 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing and 3 Firecrest, while 4 Little Grebe were in Barn Bight. Waders at Stanpit included 49 Brent Goose, 3 Snipe, 3 Grey Plover and a mixed roosting flock of 150-200 Dunlin and Ringed Plover. There were 96 Brent Goose, with a further twenty flying mainly east at sea.

December 15th

Cetti’s Warbler – Alan Crockard

All the news comes from Mudeford Quay, where a 1cy Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gull could be seen inside the harbour; while, as is becoming a norm, there were rafts of dabbling duck offshore. Current thinking is these are birds feeding nocturnally in the Avon Valley, as calls are frequently heard over Christchurch during the first and last hours of darkness. Of mammal interest, as yesterday, there was a Grey Seal lingering about the Run.

December 14th

The sea was lively this morning – all from the Beach Huts, unless otherwise mentioned. A couple of Velvet Scoter were on the water, before leaving west; 4 Eider were also settled, seen from Mudeford Quay, with a further bird east; an adult Little Gull lingered and 39 Common Gull travelled west; a Black-throated Diver, 5 Great Northern Diver and 27 Red-throated Diver were logged; a pale-bellied Brent Goose headed towards the Solent and 3 Pintail went the opposite way; 6 Guillemot and 3 Razorbill headed west; and, likewise, 9 Knot and 6 Grey Plover. Also, from the huts, 4 Purple Sandpiper. The day’s other news is of 23 Redwing over Hengistbury and 9 Cattle Egret leaving the roost.

December 13th

Kingfisher by the Wooden Bridge – Dave Miller

Pied Wagtail on the sandspit – Dave Miller

The last couple of days have seen something of a Redwing influx – in addition to 157 incoming over Hengistbury early on, throughout the morning flocks were noted over greater Christchurch. Also over the head, 2 Brambling, 2 Redpoll, 4 Siskin and a Bullfinch. Just after dawn, a Goosander again headed inland, so presumably roosted in the area; with 2 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 59 Common Scoter, 66 Wigeon and 17 Common Gull – all travelling – and 2 Purple Sandpiper, all seen from the Beach Huts. To finish, 6 Marsh Harrier used the area.

December 12th

An adult Caspian Gull was on the roof of the Mudeford Quay lifeboat station, before quickly moving on. Meanwhile, the sea produced a reasonable number of divers – a Black-throated Diver, 2 Great Norther Diver and 6 Red-throated Diver – as well as 22 Common Scoter and thirteen passing Brent Goose; with a Goosander headed north through the harbour. Early morning in the Wood saw a decent number of Redwing, 22, and a Fieldfare; while 2 Firecrest and a Treecreeper were also about there. To finish, 5 Purple Sandpiper were logged from Mudeford Quay.

December 11th

Pale-bellied Brent Goose – Jackie Smith

Ringed Plover on the sandspit – Adrian Simmons

…and wouldn’t it be great to know where this Goldcrest, in the North Scrubs, got its ring. The other side of the North Sea is a distinct possibility – Alan Crockard

A pale-bellied Brent Goose, amongst thirty-seven regulation birds at Stanpit, is the only news – save for at least 2 Grey Plover there and around 20 Ringed Plover on the sandspit.

December 10th

On a day when there seemed to be a lot more rain and wind around than expected, all the news comes from the sea and, with the exception of a Great Northern Diver on the water off Mudeford Quay, from the Beach Huts. The most notable was a flight of 105 Gannet to the west, but also a Red-throated Diver, 25 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe.

December 9th

Female Marsh Harrier – Scott Usher

There is not much at all to mention – save from an adult Little Gull off Mudeford Quay for a while and at least one Marsh Harrier inside the harbour.

December 8th

It was nice to have a day with some sunshine and zero precipitation – that said, there isn’t too much to post. The fine-looking, male Black Redstart showed well throughout the day, around the calving pen adjacent to the HHVC. Meanwhile, the sea came up with 2 Red-throated Diver, one of them settled, 6 Common Scoter and an adult Kittiwake. Over on Stanpit, there were 8 Grey Plover, 360 Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Ringed Plover and 85 Dunlin, as well as a drake Pintail and 32 Brent Goose; and a single Purple Sandpiper was on the sandspit. This evening, 13 Cattle Egret and 21 Little Egret went to roost. At this rate, the more-recent colonisers may well start to outnumber the more established.

December 7th

The only news from a complete wash-out of a day is of a single Marsh Harrier, from Wick.

December 6th

Female Marsh Harrier – Alan Crockard

Not unexpectedly, but sadly all-too-brief, a Waxwing put in an appearance this morning – by Two Riversmeet leisure centre, before heading off towards Christchurch itself. Meanwhile, the male Black Redstart was again by the HHVC and, this afternoon, a Black-throated Diver and 2 Red-throated Diver showed well in the Run. The other good record for the day, particularly for the time of year, was a Green Sandpiper on Wick water meadows. A definite four, but possibly six, Marsh Harrier used the area; 2 Shoveler were inside the harbour; and 8 Common Scoter and 3 Great Crested Grebe were returned from the sea.

December 5th

Black Redstart – Dave Miller

Great Crested Grebe inside the harbour – Dave Miller

What was presumably last week’s Black Redstart – an adult male – was around the HHVC this morning; as was a Blackcap. Singles of Glossy Ibis and Great White Egret headed north, the former early on and the latter during the afternoon, and a Spoonbill passed east at sea. Also on or over the water: 5 Red-throated Diver, two settled, 50 Common Scoter lingering, 10 Pintail, a Shelduck, 5 Brent Goose, 2 Razorbill, 25 Gannet and 4 Great Crested Grebe; with a further grebe inside the harbour. To finish, the Marsh Harrier total was six birds and over 200 Dunlin were at Stanpit.

December 4th

Blackbird – David Faulkner

On another wetter-than-forecast day, there is not much to write about. A Red-throated Diver was settled on the relatively calm waters off the sandspit, as were 25 Common Scoter, while two passing Red-throated Diver from the Beach Huts are presumed to be the two unidentified divers seen from Mudeford Quay; while a Mediterranean Gull headed west. The quay also came up with a nice record, for any time of year in the area, of 2 Grey Wagtail on the BCP slipway. At Stanpit, there were probably 3 Marsh Harrier seen and, of mammal interest, a Grey Seal was in the channel through the harbour. To finish, Kingfisher were returned from Wick and by the Bailey Bridge.

December 3rd

Adult Common Gull – Scott Usher

Long-tailed Tit – David Faulkner

Bar-tailed Godwit – Scott Usher

Starting at dawn and the commute from overnight feeding in the Avon Valley contained the expected Wigeon and Snipe, but also a flock of 15 Pintail. An hour or so later, 2 Cattle Egret spent a short while feeding on the Recreation Ground – immediately adjacent to the Sea Scout Hut. Also, during the morning, at Stanpit: 3 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, two settled Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 70 Brent Goose and a Common Gull; with a 1cy Mediterranean Gull coming to roost later on. Also from the morning, the best at sea, from the Beach Huts was: a Great Northern Diver, 8 Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 45 Common Scoter, a Razorbill, another auk, singles of Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull, a couple of Teal mixed in with the scoter and 2 Gannet.

December 2nd

Although the forecast suggested an hour or so of ‘mist’, to clear by 10:00, it was thick fog throughout. A skein of around 40 Barnacle Goose headed east, very low, along the Beach at Hengistbury – presumably, disorientated by the conditions. Meanwhile, a single Avocet was in Holloway’s Dock and 4 Chiffchaff, plus the Buzzard, were on Wick. Late on, a flock of fifty or so Lapwing arrived from the north; while the day-total for Marsh Harrier was nine.

December 1st

Dartford Warbler – immediately adjacent to a public path – Dave Miller

Great White Egret – Peter Boardman

It was a bitterly cold day – the air temperature barely getting above 3C and a cruel, northerly breeze. Nonetheless, Firecrest and Chiffchaff were active – a single of the former in the Wood and three of the latter along Roebury Lane. The wildfowl highlight, and a definite sign of the conditions, was a flock of 5 Pochard – three of them drakes – seen to arrive. Meanwhile, a Great Northern Diver was settled off Mudeford Quay and an Eider was off the Beach Huts, with 27 Common Scoter and 7 Great Crested Grebe also offshore. Passing, however, were a Black-throated Diver, 8 Red-throated Diver, 3 Razorbill and 15 Brent Goose. To finish: a Great White Egret came in from the east and spent some time in Holloway’s Dock; a Peregrine was on the Priory and the Buzzard was again on Wick; and a Kingfisher was around Wick Hams.

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