Lymington-Hurst Birds In March

April in the Lymington-Hurst area was all about visible migration, with spring county record day totals for Meadow Pipit, Arctic Skua and Dunlin all being broken. Although real rarities were hard to come by, the overall variety and numbers during the month ensured there was never a dull moment.

Sea-watching provided most of the highlights, starting with SSE winds on 1st and a good passage of duck including 440 Common Scoters, 66 Teal, 28 Shoveler, 16 Gadwall and three Tufted Ducks, as well as the first Arctic Skua and five each of Common Tern and Little Gull. The following day saw 200 Brents, 23 Wigeon, four Red-throated Divers and the first spring Green Sandpiper go through. Over 150 Sandwich Terns (1st-3rd) was a good early passage and a Little Tern (2nd-3rd) was the first in the UK and the earliest Hampshire record for over 30 years. Single Great Skuas on 11th and 12th were followed by a Velvet Scoter on 13th. SE winds on 16th produced another six Velvet Scoters, as well as a pair of Long-tailed Ducks, two Little Gulls, another Great Skua and three Razorbills. Waders got going from 24th-27th with a total of 735 Bar-tailed Godwits, 750 Dunlin, 32 Sanderling and ten Greenshank. The peak day passage of over 650 Dunlin on 27th is a new spring county record, with 375 settling on the marshes later that day showing how a large proportion of migrant waders often use the West Solent as a feeding stop-over. Other sea-watching highlights around this time included a Black-throated Diver and a flock of 12 Velvet Scoters (25th), a summer plumage male Long-tailed Duck and a Great Skua (26th), the first Black Tern (27th) and up to 13 Razorbills (28th), including a flock of 10 which is the largest group recorded in Hampshire. However, the icing on the cake was a second-summer Pomarine Skua moving east through The Solent on the evening of 26th
that was seen from a front garden!

Visible passerine migration really got going during a period of settled weather and light N/NE winds mid-month. Totals for 8th-13th included 4075 Meadow Pipits, 600 Linnets, 35 Goldfinch, 15 Pied/White Wagtails and two Tree Pipits moving north, with Meadow Pipits peaking at a spring county record 1825 on 10th, correlating nicely with 2000 at Christchurch Harbour and 1500 at Portland the same day. The first Swifts were not noted until 26th but the following day 135 moved north.

Summer visitors arrived in force, and it's turning into a good spring for many land bird migrants. Notably early was the first Sedge Warbler (3rd), although in contrast Whitethroats arrived late but suddenly, with the first on 16th followed by 25 on 22nd. A Firecrest was seen sharing a bush with a newly arrived Blackcap (3rd). Yellow Wagtails arrived in good numbers, with 21 passing north during the month, while a total of five Redstarts was seen. However, the most welcome arrival was Grasshopper Warbler, with a total of seven during the month between 13th and 22nd including a peak of four reeling around the marsh on the latter date, correlating with 10 each at Hengistbury and Portland the same day. Better looking was a cracking male Greenland Wheatear which posed nicely for photos (26th).

Waterbird counts produced maxima of 180 Teal, 140 Blackwits, 100 Mallard, 70 Shelduck, 60 Shoveler, 46 Mute Swans, 45 Golden Plovers, 37 Turnstones, 28 Moorhens, 15 Coots, 12 Gadwall, 12 Little Egrets, ten RBMergansers, eight Tufted Ducks and six GCGrebes, with just nine Wigeon and two Pintail (an early departure). A first-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose (3rd) was certainly more wild than the Cackling Canada Goose that popped up briefly with the resident Canada Geese (4th). Two Speckled Teal were also local escapes (16th). Small numbers of wandering Greylag Geese were probably Avon Valley birds, with a group of four noted sitting on the sea (26th). A flock of 11 Snipe seen departing high to the NE at dusk (11th) were doubtless heading back to their breeding grounds, while Whimbrel on the ground peaked at 106 on 24th.

Raptors were hard to come by, with up to three Peregrines and nine Buzzards regularly noted but only a single Hobby (27th). Little, Barn and Tawny Owl were all recorded as usual.

Other sightings included up to six Water Pipits and six Spotted Redshanks lingering long enough to moult into their stunning summer plumages. An adult Yellow-legged Gull (8th) was unusual for the time of year but a damaged leg had no doubt hindered its return south.
Ravens were noted on 9th (two), 11th, 22nd and 26th.

Other wildlife included an immature Common Seal seen catching a Garfish (24th) and an Adder that was unfortunately found dying after being run over by a car (27th).

Other's Lymington-Hurst Birds From April

Highlights that were not seen by the individual leader included the first April Balearic
Shearwater for the county, single Barnacle Goose, Marsh Harrier and
Whinchat, and a new Hampshire spring day record of 29 Arctic Skuas.

Information supplied by Russell Wynn.

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