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Sightings for Month: April 2024

April 24th

Within hours of suspicion of the location of a Ringed Plover nest, the BCP Countryside team had this anti-predator cage in place – Jamie (BCP)

It was quiet in terms of newly arrived passerines – around 20 Willow Warbler being the only return in that respect; but a bird that has been singing for several days now in the Barn Field is of interest, as it’s been at least a couple of decades since any breeding attempt was made. Continuing the theme of potential of warbler breeding, it’s reckoned a minimum of 12 Whitethroat are now holding territory on Hengistbury. At sea: two passing flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit came to around thirty birds, a Common Tern headed west, 25 Common Scoter were noted, and a trickle of incoming Swallow and Sand Martin took place. Whimbrel were around – perhaps fourteen – and a Common Sandpiper was on the sandspit groynes, with a small number of resting Dunlin and Ringed Plover. To finish, the first in-harbour Common Tern of the year was over South Marsh.

April 23rd

The White-tailed Eagle again loafed on Blackberry Point from early on until at least 10:00; while all the other news comes from Wick and involves: a Great White Egret north, 3 Willow Warbler, a Bullfinch in the No Dogs Field and around thirty, recently arrived Swallow feeding in the shelter of the Clay Pool.

April 22nd

The White-tailed Eagle was around from pre-dawn until 10:20 – Karyn Cuglietta

There’s not much incoming news to cover for the post; but the lack of quantity is made up for by relative quality. A Short-eared Owl went over just before 08:30 and, earlier, a Grasshopper Warbler had been reeling by the HHC. Otherwise, it’s just 3 Whimbrel arriving, a Peregrine and G818 to mention.

April 21st

It was another reasonable day of spring migration – although if one looks back just a decade ago, the numbers of birds is greatly reduced. For example, 26 Wheatear – seventeen on Barn Field – is nowadays considered good, with twenty or so Willow Warbler in the same vein. Meanwhile, variety came from a Yellow Wagtail and 2 Swift over Crouch Hill, a Whinchat about Stanpit all day and a Lesser Whitethroat at Whitepits. Keeping with ‘lesser-whites’, there are now potentially three males now holding territory across the area. Moving to waders, and it was interesting to see how long travelling birds stayed before moving on: a Greenshank dropped in from high, slept a bit, then left ninety minutes later; while a party of 6 Whimbrel, also seen to arrive, spent their forty-five minutes feeding before shipping out. Today’s White-tailed Eagle activity was G818 fishing and eating at Stanpit from around 07:30 to 09:10.

April 20th

There is very little for this post. A couple of Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat were about Wick, and Crouch Hill held a single Wheatear. Stanpit Bight, on a very low tide, provides the rest – 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, 10 Dunlin and a drake Gadwall; with a House Martin, not easy to encounter here in spring, passing over.

April 19th

White-tailed Eagle – Scott Usher

Although no great numbers, there was a nice selection of incoming passerines. A male Pied Flycatcher spent much of the day in, or adjacent to, the Stunted Oaks; 3 Grasshopper Warbler reeled for a while – two by the Natterjack Pond and one by the HHC; and a new-in Lesser Whitethroat rattled on the Barn Field. In addition, there was an arrival of Wheatear – although there is no definitive total, the known numbers are ten on the aforementioned field, six on the Old Pitch-and-Putt Course and the same number on Crouch Hill – as well as at least 15 Willow Warbler in song about the place and a small increase in Whitethroat. On the wing, the first Swift of the season came in over Mudeford Quay and there was a light passage of Swallow. Meanwhile, passing-through waders were represented by: 4 Common Sandpiper – three on the sandspit and one on Priory Marsh; 10 Whimbrel – nine inside the harbour and one at sea; and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, plus 65 Dunlin, around Stanpit Bight. Just after 09:00, gull chaos broke out as an Osprey passed through and a White-tailed Eagle commenced an hour-or-so-long stay – hovering, impressively, low over the water for minutes at a time. Earlier, a Great White Egret had spent some time on South Marsh, before heading inland; and, to finish, the sea produced an eastbound Red-throated Diver and twelve, settled Common Scoter.

April 18th

Common Lizard – Robin Harley

Green Hairstreak – Clinton Whale

There were a couple of highlights from Wick, this morning; namely, a Bearded Tit by the HHC and a Pied Flycatcher along the central path. Meanwhile, a surprise at Stanpit was a Bullfinch by the Purewell Stream. More expected, however, was the pair by the Viewing Platform; with other passerine interest involving a 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a singing Willow Warbler on the Batters. The only other news is of the spring’s first Greenshank, in Stanpit Bight.

April 17th

One of two Yellow Wagtail on Crouch Hill, briefly – Clinton Whale

..and the area saw an influx of Whitethroat – Alan Crockard

In addition to the 2 Yellow Wagtail, Crouch Hill also hosted a White Wagtail and a Wheatear; while a male Redstart was along Roebury Lane. Migrant waders were represented by a Common Sandpiper from Mudeford Quay and 9 Whimbrel at Stanpit. Meanwhile, 9 Mediterranean Gull passed west and the 2 Brent Goose, plus a few Wigeon, remain.

April 16th

Reed Warbler – Alan Crockard

…and some Gannet were very close off Double Dykes – Adrian Simmons

Again, there is little to write about and, what there is, is all from Stanpit. There was the biggest gathering of Sandwich Tern so far – twenty in Stanpit Bight, 7 Whimbrel – five of them overflying, a steady stream of Mediterranean Gull and 2 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. To finish the short post, eagle G818, which frequented the harbour for spells during the winter, has now taken a trip over the Channel to France.

April 15th

Large Red Damselfly at the shelter of the Lily Pond – Clinton Whale

It was an unpleasantly, blustery day and, as a consequence, reports are few. A Common Tern, 31 Purple Sandpiper and 3 Wheatear were seen from Mudeford Quay; while a further 3 Wheatear were on the Barn Field.

April 14th

Song Thrush – Alan Crockard

Lesser Whitethroat – Mark Taylor

News of the day is, without doubt, the presence of a breeding pair of Ringed Plover in the CHOG-funded fenced area on the sandspit. Due to increasingly frequent storm damage – it’s a constant programme of work – membership of CHOG will help us in this and other projects around the Christchurch area. Please do think about joining… In other news, as they say, there was an incoming of Wheatear – at least 34 birds – with concentrations in the aforementioned area and the in-construction Long Groyne. To complement, a gathering of 3 Whinchat at the eastern end of the Batters was quite notable; while Swallow pulsed through from time to time and 18 Mediterranean Gull were logged. At least fifty, mostly in breeding plumage, Dunlin at Stanpit would seem to be an indication of the start of the wader passage; with a Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel there. Meanwhile, the 2 Brent Goose and around 20 Wigeon remain.

April 13th

Lesser Whitethroat – Jackie Smith

Orange Tip – Ian Wigley

There is a good variety to write about for this post. A Hooded Crow was at Stanpit early on, where an Osprey visited around midday, and what is presumably the same Lesser Whitethroat has returned for his third season. Meanwhile, the highlights at sea were a Great Skua, a Little Gull, a Little Tern, a Black-throated Diver and a good count of 16 Red-throated Diver – all from the Beach Huts. Inside the harbour, Redshank is currently by far the dominant wader numerically, perhaps fifty still around, but there were also: a resting Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Whimbrel, the same number of Ringed Plover, and a couple each of Snipe and Curlew; with the sandspit playing host to 25 Purple Sandpiper. Across the area, there were more Whitethroat today, as well a 4 Wheatear, overhead Tree Pipit and Redpoll, an uncounted passage of Mediterranean Gull and a trickle of incoming Swallow. Winter is now fading fast from the memory – just 2 Brent Goose, 5 Teal and twenty or so Wigeon, serving as a reminder.

April 12th

Other than news from Wick, which hosted a Willow Warbler and 2 Bullfinch, all other is indirect and largely lacking in detail. A Corn Bunting was on Riversmeet Meadow early on, but presumably only briefly, and a Grasshopper Warbler, a Whinchat and a Common Sandpiper were elsewhere at Stanpit. Meanwhile, a more obliging Redstart was on the Long Field, Hengistbury. This afternoon, an Osprey caught a fish and then headed inland.

April 11th

Orange Tip – Jackie Smith

Great Spotted Woodpecker – Roger Tidball

There was a definite, overnight incoming of passerines – the pick being a Grasshopper Warbler in song and a Redstart, both by the HHC, but only early on – with the commoner ‘new-ins’ reckoned to be 17 Willow Warbler, 28 Blackcap, 12 Chiffchaff and a handful of Whitethroat; plus, twenty-two, seen-to-arrive Swallow. Meanwhile, the Mediterranean Gull total was 153, almost exclusively east, and 3 Great White Egret also passed through, ditto a Whimbrel. There was also some settled wader interest at Stanpit – namely a Ruff and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit – while 13 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit. Back to the sea and a little bit of variety, including: 2 Common Tern, 3 Eider, a Red-throated Diver, 11 Common Scoter, a Guillemot, 8 Common Gull and Peregrine, mostly eastbound. To round it up, Wick saw 5 Bullfinch – three by the Viewing Platform and two by the Wooden Bridge – and a trio of Gadwall popped up around the place.

April 10th

Linnet – Dave Miller

Wren – Dave Miller

Save for a Nightingale, a really premium species in this day and age, singing gently in the North Scrubs this morning, it’s another unremarkable post. Perhaps the next biggest event was a Shelduck influx – seventeen over Stanpit being the highest return, but twelve settled there were possibly additional. Otherwise, in no particular order, the site saw: 4 Willow Warbler, twenty over-flying Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Mediterranean Gull and a Great Crested Grebe.

April 9th

As the westerly wind continued unabated, it was extremely slim pickings today. The best was a House Martin over Central Marsh – a species not easy to catch-up with in spring as they pass over on their journey inland. Otherwise, it was just a few Swallow and new Whitethroat on Wick to give a hint of some arrival. The sea was even quieter – only 8 Mediterranean Gull, a Fulmar, 6 Sandwich Tern, 8 Gannet and the usual Common Scoter flock logged.

April 8th

Adult male Ring Ouzel – first seen briefly by the HHC in the early morning – Adrian Simmons (upper) – and then more settled in the afternoon – Mike Gibbons

Bird of a windy and, late on, wet day was, no doubt, the photographed Ring Ouzel, which showed well in the afternoon in the No Dogs Field. The morning saw a nice passage of Mediterranean Gull with bulk figures coming from over Wick and offshore from the Beach Huts – the aggregate in excess of 250 individuals. Meanwhile, firsts for the year came from a Little Ringed Plover over Holloway’s Dock and a Sedge Warbler singing reluctantly by the Wick Water Meadows. Other migrant passerines about the place included: a Wheatear and 7 Willow Warbler, while there are now 2 Whitethroat in voice on the Long Field. To finish: the sea saw 3 Red-throated Diver and 34 Common Scoter, west, 17 Common Gull, two eastbound Gadwall and a presence of 12 Sandwich Tern; with a male Bullfinch on the central path on Wick.

April 7th

Two of the three Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight today – Lee Pitts

As is often the case, an early start garners the best at sea – singles of Arctic Tern and Little Tern; but for the few hours after that, it was just 2 Kittiwake, 4 Fulmar and the Common Scoter flock. In general, in terms of migrant, the morning on Hengistbury, for the record-attendance outdoor meeting, was reasonably quiet – just a Wheater on the Barn Field, a couple of in-harbour Sandwich Tern and a Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry. The afternoon at Stanpit was quite lively, however. As the tide ebbed, over 120 Mediterranean Gull picked-up and left to the west; while 5 Whimbrel did the same, but in the more-expected, easterly direction – rapidly gaining height for the next leg of their journey. Also from the marsh, a nice record of 3 Great White Egret passing through to the east, with male and female of Wheatear on Crouch Hill.

April 6th

Dartford Warbler – Olivia Almond

Cetti’s Warbler – Alan Crockard

As the wind picked up from the south, there was a remarkable record of a Storm Petrel – CHOG’s first ever for April – off the Beach Huts this morning. A little later, a Hoopoe was seen in flight over Wick Fields, but could not be re-found in the recording area. It has, however, since been seen from and photographed in gardens around Wick village. Other notables for the day were a couple of singing Reed Warbler, the season’s first, and a Merlin over the North Paddock. Back to the sea, and singles of all three divers – Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver – as well as at least 50 Mediterranean Gull, 26 Sandwich Tern and the 20-strong Common Scoter flock.

April 5th

Blackcap – Alan Crockard

Swallow and Sandwich Tern were conspicuous by their arrival today – a total of twenty-one of the former, plus 2 Sand Martin, seen coming in-off, with a trickle reported from other areas; while over 30 Sandwich Tern were westbound or about. Passerine-wise, there was male Wheatear on Crouch Hill and up to 10 Willow Warbler around, but nothing else obviously newly-arrived. The early April wader lull, when the wintering birds have left and the longer-distance migrants have yet to arrive, was underlined by figures of just 18 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin at Stanpit – although there were 4 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit. Remaining wildfowl included: the offshore Common Scoter gathering of around twenty-five; along with 2 Brent Goose, 42 Wigeon and 6 Teal inside the harbour. The sea also saw half-a-dozen each of passing Common Scoter and Wigeon, as well as a Fulmar and 15 Gannet. To wrap up: the Mediterranean Gull return was eight; a Bullfinch was by the Viewing Platform and a Great Crested Grebe was in Barn Bight.

April 4th

Chiffchaff – Alan Crockard

It was another reasonably quiet day, with nearly all the news coming from Hengistbury. The first Whitethroat of the season was on the Long Field, while a total of 7 Willow Warbler was logged, plus a single Wheatear. A Little Gull flew through the harbour, with the sea contributing 2 Red-throated Diver, eight eastbound Mediterranean Gull and a 23-strong Common Scoter gathering. This afternoon, there were 7 Chiffchaff, all in full song and within 20m of each other – possibly a disagreement between the incumbents and the new arrivers?

April 3rd

Peregrine on the Priory – David J Faulkner

Skylark at Hengistbury – David J Faulkner

The day remained mostly overcast after some overnight showers, with a brisk south-westerly wind. The sea received attention from both Hengistbury and Mudeford Quay, with the former site producing an Arctic Skua, a Fulmar and 10 Sandwich Tern east, as well as a Red-throated Diver and just a handful of Gannet. The Common Scoter flock was still present and numbered 23 today. At Mudeford Quay, 24 Purple Sandpiper were seen on the Sandspit, while 20 Turnstone flew through the Run, a Shelduck arrived from the east and a Brent Goose headed west. The pick of the passerines was a female Yellowhammer over Hengistbury, where 11 Chiffchaff and 8 Willow Warbler around the HHC area, with a further two of the latter at Wick. A Peregrine was again on Christchurch Priory, a single Wheatear was on the Barn Field at Hengistbury, and a Grey Seal was close inshore off the beach huts.

April 2nd

It was a lovely, sunny morning with a light west-southwesterly wind, but the rain set in from mid-afternoon. There was little evidence of birds on the move, with just 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warbler moving off Hengistbury, while 3 Blackcap were singing near the HHC, and 2 Wheatear appeared briefly on the Barn Field. At Stanpit, a Great White Egret near the Iron Boat didn’t linger long before moving on, 51 Wigeon and the lone Brent Goose remain in the Bight, plus the Dunlin flock was down to about 20 birds. Two Common Gull were present, but fewer Mediterranean Gull were seen – only about 30 today – mostly passing through the Harbour. The sea off Hengistbury could only muster a Red-breasted Merganser east, a Red-throated Diver on the sea and the usual flock of 20-odd Common Scoter offshore, with a further nine east. This afternoon, 14 Purple Sandpiper were around the Sandspit and 21 Redshank were in Holloway’s Dock. The only other reports were of a Peregrine on the Priory, 2 Sparrowhawk west, a Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight and a Bullfinch on Wick.

April 1st

Gulls in breeding plumage can be really smart. Pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gull (upper) and Mediterranean Gull – Scott Usher

As well as passing through, Linnet are now setting up territories across the area – a singing male – Peter Boardman

…and male Blackcap – Scott Usher

There is a little from each of the three main sites – Hengistbury, Stanpit and Wick – for the post. Starting with the marsh – 250 Black-tailed Godwit visited from the Avon Valley for around thirty minutes, while singles of Brent Goose and Pintail were logged, as were a Skylark and 2 Pied Wagtail feeding up on Crouch Hill. The head saw a Merlin and 9 Greylag Goose pass east, as well as a Redwing and 5 Siskin from there. Wick, meanwhile, contributed to the area-wide total of 9 Willow Warbler. To finish, 25 Purple Sandpiper remain on the sandspit – today at the southern end.


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