Sightings for March 2003

March 31st

It was another absolutely glorious spring day in the Harbour but once again migrants were few and far between. The Barn Field held just 4 Wheatear and about a dozen Chiffchaff and a singing Blackcap were noted in the woodland. The partial albino Stonechat was still present on the Common. A few Sand Martin were seen and 1 Sandwich Tern moved east past Double Dykes. There were 2 pairs of Shoveler and a female Tufted Duck in Barn Bight.

March 30th

Despite reports of good falls of common migrants from other local headlands very little was seen on Hengistbury this morning - just 2 Swallow, 7 Sand Martin, 1 Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaff. Throughout the afternoon groups of Meadow Pipit were passing overhead. Just after lunch, 2 Willow Warbler were in Wick Fields and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull was over there. Slightly later, 3 Sandwich Tern were in the harbour just off The Hut café. Around 5ish on Priory Marsh, there were 5 Little Ringed Plover, 15 Water Pipit and a Swallow. The North Scrubs were quiet, save for a Willow Warbler.

March 29th

A heavy covering of fog brought a complete halt to the migration of the previous days. Despite some hard work, Hengistbury produced only 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adults and 1 first-year, 4 Shoveler and 1 Siskin. Although the Wood held 3 Firecrest, 1 singing Blackcap plus several Chiffchaff and Goldcrests, these all probably arrived earlier in the week. Strange birds seen today were a partial albino Stonechat and a complete albino Black-headed Gull, the latter initially raising the pulse rate. A Red-throated Diver was on the sea, 2 Sandwich Tern were heard and there were 18 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock. On Stanpit, there were 220 Wigeon, 37 Black-tailed Godwit and 33 Brent Goose.

March 28th

A sea mist with very little wind prevailed throughout today before turning to showers this evening. Off Fisherman's Bank the drake Garganey was still present with Teal and there were around 25 Black-tailed Godwit there, along with similar numbers in Holloway's Dock. This morning Hengistbury was relatively quiet, just 30 or so Chiffchaff and 2 female Wheatear, the first of the spring, on the Barn Field. Both Grey and Yellow Wagtail were over Stanpit this afternoon.

March 27th

With similar conditions to yesterday but perhaps a slightly stronger wind, there was another good selection of birds in the harbour. Highlights were a male Ring Ouzel perched high in a tree in Smithy's Field around 9:30am, an early Cuckoo calling from the Batters on Hengistbury this morning, while a drake Garganey and an Avocet spent the afternoon off Fisherman's Bank. A single Yellowhammer on Wick was also a good harbour record and during the morning 2 Ruff were seen from Stanpit arriving in the harbour. Commoner migrants on or over Hengistbury totalled 250+ Meadow Pipit, 50+ Linnet, 11 Wheatear, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler and 1 singing Blackcap. In Stanpit Bight a first year Mediterranean Gull was seen and 24 Black-tailed Godwit were counted. Of other interest on Stanpit were 3 Water Pipit, 2 Pintail, 2 Shoveler and 4 Turnstone. It was fascinating to compare yesterday's totals with those of Portland, the species and numbers were almost identical.

March 26th

Last night was largely clear but with an offshore mist. These conditions gave rise to the best migration of the spring so far. Hengistbury experienced a fall of Wheatear this morning with 57 birds being seen, along with a male Black Redstart by the Coastguards. A quality bird for the harbour was an easterly moving Woodlark over the head. An impressive northerly passerine movement included 2 early Tree Pipit and 1 Yellow Wagtail; also 1100 Meadow Pipit, 220 Linnet, 35 Goldfinch, 11 White Wagtail and 2 Water Pipit. A corvid passage went east with 2 Raven, 7 Jackdaw and 2 Rook being seen. Siskin and Redpoll were also heard overhead. In the Wood, there were over 40 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler and 2 Firecrest. Finally, 3 Sandwich Tern went by on the sea and a Fieldfare was calling at the end of the head. On Stanpit this evening, there were no Wheatear suggesting birds had very quickly moved on after their initial landfall. Birds seen on Stanpit included 245 Wigeon, 32 Brent Goose, these are now reducing, 25+ Sand Martin over Priory Marsh, 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Tufted Duck flew through the harbour. After dark on Stanpit, a Little Owl was heard and Snipe were calling and flying from all areas of the marsh, perhaps numbering 50 birds. There are still around 50 Black-tailed Godwit in the harbour.

March 25th

A dense overnight fog seemed to trigger a significant arrival of Sand Martin and Chiffchaff. Around 40 of the former were over Priory Marsh this evening and 11 were around the head this morning, while the latter weighed in with over 20 birds in the area around Smithy's Field on Stanpit. A female Blackcap was also present in the same area. Still no large Wheatear arrival though, just 4 birds were on Hengistbury this morning. This evening there were 2 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh.

March 24th

Despite clear blue skies a few hundred metres inland, the harbour was shrouded in a light sea mist for most of the day. On Hengistbury this morning there was a Black Redstart on Warren Hill with a Swallow over there. In the woodland, 2 Firecrest and at least 6 very vocal Chiffchaff were present. Wheatear were again light with only 2 or 3 birds being seen. Over the weekend, a Grey Wagtail was seen carrying nest material in the Priory Marsh area, perhaps indicating breeding in or close to the recording area.

March 23th

A mild south-easterly put a bit of a chill on an otherwise fine day. Most unusual bird today was Red-legged Partridge flushed late afternoon from the top of the head beyond the Ironstone Quarry. Although a strange record, one was present on Wick at around the same time last year. Another good record was a pair of Pochard in Parky Meade Rail and a Grey Wagtail was over Priory Marsh. From Stanpit Golf Course a Peregrine could be seen perched on the pylons just north of the bypass bridge. Migration was fairly light, however, 20+ Chiffchaff showed something had moved; apart from those just 10 Sand Martin and 1 Wheatear were noted. Holloway's Dock is currently still playing host to Black-tailed Godwit with 25 or so being present today, while 6 Turnstone were around the Beach Huts.

March 22nd

Migration is still nothing more than a trickle although the first Swallow of the year was recorded today - there were two in fact over the golf course at Stanpit this afternoon. On the Head this morning there were just 4 Sand Martin, a dozen Chiffchaff and a small passage of Meadow Pipit (c400) and Linnet. There were 10 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes and more than 40 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock. A Black Redstart was at Wick Meads. At Stanpit there was a Little Ringed Plover, 1 Water Pipit, 5 Chiffchaff, 33 Black-tailed Godwit, 250 Wigeon, just 62 Brent Geese and 2 Shoveler. A seasonally unusual record was of a Great-spotted Woodpecker on Hengistbury.

March 21st

More light spring migration today with 3 Wheatear in the Barn Field on Hengistbury, 5+ Chiffchaff singing and calling around the head and 2 Sand Martin in off the sea. A single Raven was seen today, over the last month this species has become almost regular in the harbour and breeding in the Avon Valley is suspected. A count of birds on Stanpit this morning totalled 217 Wigeon, 68 Shelduck, 59 Teal, 54 Brent Goose and 9 Black-tailed Godwits, the latter rising to over 40 by the evening. At least 2 pairs of Jay are attempting to breed in the area - in the Wood on Hengistbury and on the Council Depot on Stanpit. Heathland birds on Hengistbury, including Dartford Warbler and Stonechat, appear to be establishing territories in above average numbers.

March 20th

Another fine day with an interesting selection of birds. Early morning 38 Black-tailed Godwit were off Fisherman's Bank and later in the morning Hengistbury held 15 Chiffchaff and 6 Wheatear. It was a good day for corvids with 2 Raven seen over the Nursery and 2 Rook elsewhere on the head. Another harbour oddity was a Bullfinch over Wick Fields. This evening, amongst the 40 or so Meadow Pipit on Priory Marsh, were 1 definite and 1 probable Water Pipit, as well as a Scandinavian Rock Pipit. The Black Swan is still in the harbour along with a Canada Goose. This evening saw an incredibly low tide in the harbour with many acres of mud being exposed.

March 19th

A glorious day that started with a hint of frost. Another Garganey was seen today, this time a drake in Barn Bight, and a Little Ringed Plover was heard flying over there. A light Meadow Pipit and alba Wagtail passage was also evident, a total of 8 Wheatear were on the head and 2 Rook went over. On Stanpit, a Kingfisher was a surprise given the seaon, while more expected were 1 singing Chiffchaff and a small Linnet presence. Winter birds remain at 200 Dunlin, 130 Brent Goose, 95 Redshank, 50 Shelduck, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Pintail, 1 Jack Snipe and 1 drake Shoveler. Finally, a Grey-lag Goose overflew the harbour and appeared to come down on Clay Pool.

March 18th

Not much to report from the harbour today. However, a Fieldfare in Wick Fields was a good spring record; also a few Chiffchaff around there. On Stanpit there was a Ruff and a Scandinavain Rock Pipit.

March 17th

The wind had died down almost completely, making the harbour a much nicer place to be. East Marsh on Stanpit provided 3 Garganey - the genuine article this time - in the form of 2 drakes and a duck. Other birds noted in that area were 130 Brent Goose, 52 Shelduck and an unseasonal Grey Wagtail, along with 3 Chiffchaff in the North Scrubs. An adult Mediterranean Gull was also reported from Stanpit. The morning on Hengistbury saw the first Linnet of the spring for that site and there were 6 Wheatear plus a single on Wick Fields. Also at Hengistbury were 1 Black Redstart, 2 Redpoll and 2 Blackcap; and a Jack Snipe was flushed from Wick Hams. At the eastern extremity of the recording area, 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the groyne by the Point House Cafe. A Black Swan was seen in the harbour today.

March 16th

A fine morning, but still the easterly wind. Most birding was done on Stanpit, where 3 Avocet spent the day in Barn Bight. Also seen were 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler and 1 Wheatear. A Common Buzard passed low over East Marsh causing brief alarm amongst the duck and waders. Around the nothern end of the marsh, at least 10 White Wagtail were feeding with 30 or so Pied. On Hengistbury, more Wheatear were present with at least 9 being noted. Also 2 Turnstone on the groynes and a Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock. Information received today suggests that yesterday's aberrant Teal has been in the harbour since the end of last month.

March 15th

The wind had died down overnight, but then picked up again during the morning. Today was one of confusion with a small duck in Barn Bight causing identification problems. It was basically a very pale individual with some plumage characteristics of Garganey, the species to which it was initially aligned. However, after some further scrutiny doubts were raised and eventually the bird was seen in flight with Teal. The size appeared identical to Teal and it is now assumed to be a leucisitic bird of this species, despite showing no Teal plumage features at all. Other birds seen from Hengistbury were an adult Mediterranean Gull in flight over Wick Field, 4 Wheatear and 2 Sand Martin. By mid-morning a small pipit passage was underway, with around 100 Meadow Pipit going north. Arrivals and departures from the harbour included 10 Black-tailed Godwit in and 1 Shoveler out. On Stanpit 131 Brent Goose, around 400 Wigraon, 2 Shoveler, 1Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit were seen.

March 14th

The east wind persisted and seemed to get even colder. Best birds in a quiet day were 3 Ruff in Stanpit Bight during the afternoon. Also recorded there were 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Gadwall, 1 Shoveler, 1 Sand Martin and a Sparrowhawk. In the morning, a single Wheatear and a few Sand Martin were around Hengistbury; and a Buzzard was also seen over the head. The final indoor meeting of the winter was well attended and thanks go to Dave Smith for an informed talk about the birds of Cape May.

March 13th

A cold easterly wind largely curtailed any continuation of yesterday's passage. On Stanpit, however, there were 9 Chiffchaff, along with 3 adult Meditteranean Gull and 1 male Merlin. The colour ringed Brent Goose was again seen in the harbour.

March 12th

The dawn broke into a glorious day which, unfortunately, turned to cloud and wind during the course of the morning. First light saw the normal exodus of roosting birds from the harbour towards the Avon Valley feeding grounds. Among the more numerous gulls and pigeons were 21 Little Egret and 8 Black-tailed Godwit; 2 Jackdaw were also over Stanpit at that time. On Hengistbury, the first Wheatear eventually put in an appearance with a total of 3 birds seen at various points around the head. Today also saw the first obvious pipit passage of the spring, a total of 50 Meadow heading north. Another sign of movement was the arrival of 3 Knot and 1 Golden Plover into the harbour. Other new birds included 4 Sand Martin overhead and 3 Chiffchaff in the woodland. Raven were again sighted as 3 birds headed high east; a Buzzard was low over the Common, startling the local Crows before heading back up the valley, and 9 Common Scoter were on the sea. On Stanpit this afternoon, there were 2 Jack Snipe, 1 Water Pipit, 1 Wheatear, 80+ alba Wagtail, 4 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Snipe and 3 Chiffchaff.

March 11th

The wind had dropped today but was replaced with rain for most of the morning. Despite this, Stanpit received good coverage throughout. In the morning, 1 Brambling and 2 Siskin were in bushes in Smithy's Field, while a pair of Jay appear to be breeding there. Priory Marsh held an interesting selection of pipits; 4 Water Pipit and 3 Scandinavian race Rock Pipit were present, one of the latter appearing very pink indeed. To clinch the identification look for the pure white tail sides shown by Water Pipit. Also over Priory was a male Yellowhammer heading towards Wick. More Sand Martin arrived today with 5 being seen over Stanpit. This afternoon, there was a notable selection of gulls with 2 adult summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull, 1 adult Kittiwake and the regular third-winter Yellow-legged Gull all being seen around Stanpit Bight. 2 Jack Snipe came up from Central Marsh and a total of 93 Black-tailed Godwit were counted. Other totals were 300+ Wigeon, 130 Brent Goose, 2 Shoveler and 1 Grey Plover.

March 10th

More of the same wind today along with mirky visibility just offshore. A morning seawatch from Hengistbury was largely quiet, excepting a twenty minute spell which saw a notable westerly movement of birds, including 2 Velvet Scoter and 3 Eider. Also counted were 35 Auk, 30 Kittiwake, 16 Gannet and 11 Common Scoter. On the groynes, the Purple Sandpiper group has increased to 8 birds, while the woodland experienced a small fall of 50 Goldcrest and 2 Firecrest. In the afternoon, 2 Sand Martin were over Stanpit.

March 9th

Very similar weather to yesterday, but a better selection of birds. On Stanpit this morning, a female Scaup rested for a couple of hours in Parky Meade Rail before departing just after 9:00. The first Sand Martin were seen today with at least 6 around the marsh. There are still 2 Jack Snipe in Central Marsh, with a Merlin also passing over there. Something of a harbour scarcity in recent years, a Peregrine was briefly seen hunting waders before disappearing over to Hengistbury. Wildfowl were estimated at 150 Wigeon, 110 Brent Goose, 4 Shoveler and 4 Gadwall; while 11 Canada Goose, a noteworthy site record, were also present.

March 8th

A strong south-westerly seemed to make seawatching the best option this morning, however, as it turned out, there were more CHOG members than birds. At one point, at least 9 pairs of eyes scoured an almost deserted seascape. Best bird was in fact a Redpoll over the trees right at the end of the head. Other than that, seabirds numbered 25 Common Scoter, some extremely close inshore, 1 Great-northern Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Fulmar, 1 Razorbill and 1 Guillemot; while at least 3 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes. Only other birds of note were 2 Black-tailed Godwit in Barn Bight.

March 7th

A wet, windy and cold morning which saw the first true summer visitor, in the form of a Sandwich Tern on the grass with the Black-headed Gull at Mudeford Quay this morning. On Hengistbury, 2 Firecrest and 2 Jay were seen in the Wood; while 10 Common Scoter were on the sea and 3 Fulmar passed west. A Grey Wagtail was around the HHC and an above average 25 Redshank were in Holloway's Dock. Details for the colour ringed Brent Goose seen in the harbour in December and February have just been received. The bird was ringed in the Taimyr Delta, Siberia, on July 11, 1989 as an adult male. It has been re-sighted 76 times since, all in the Dutch Waddensea area except for one French sighting and now this UK record.

March 6th

A ring-tailed Hen Harrier skirted the north end of Stanpit this morning - it was being mobbed by a couple of Common Buzzard as it headed east. On Hengistbury a Jack Snipe was flushed from the top of the Head, just 50yds east of the Coastguards. Off the beach huts 10 Common Scoter were on the sea and 3 Purple Sandpiper were on one of the groynes towards the Mudeford Sandspit. Wildfowl counts on Stanpit today - 155 Brent Goose, 322 Wigeon, 101 Teal, 40 Shelduck and 4 Shoveler; also there was a singing Chiffchaff. However there was still no sign of that elusive Wheatear - maybe tomorrow!

March 5th

There was no sign of the Ruff on Priory Marsh this morning in conditions which weren't conducive to pleasant birding with a stiff southerly breeze and the constant threat of rain. The Cetti's Warblers weren't deterred however with at least 3 birds singing. The Brent Goose flock still numbers around 150 and there are still plenty of Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck on the Marsh. Around 300 Dunlin were on Blackberry but the Grey Plover seem to have moved on.

March 4th

The day started with low lying cloud completely shrouding the harbour. Once this had cleared showers followed and, not surprisingly, little birding was managed. However, 2 Ruff seen on Priory Pools were new birds and a Chiffchaff was singing in the same area, this probably a wintering bird rather than a true migrant. On flooded Central and Priory Marshes, high numbers of Teal were present along with a few Black-tailed Godwit. Borough Council sponsored breeding bird surveys are now underway on both sides of the harbour and many of the commoner species were in good song on Stanpit this morning.

March 3rd

A remarkable sighting today was a Grey Partridge flushed from the top of Hengistbury and seen flying low over the Batters. The last record for the harbour was from the Common during the foot and mouth closure a couple of years ago. Going further back, in the 60's, prior to the Broadway development, this species was commonplace. Also on Hengistbury today, continuing the recent trend, were 2 Raven on the ground around Warren Hill, while just 2 Firecrest were noted and 1 Brambling passed overhead. On Stanpit this morning, the Dunlin were counted at 350 along with 158 Brent Goose, 19 Snipe and 9 Ringed Plover.

March 2nd

Today saw the final Harbour WeBS count of the winter - numbers included 8 Little Egret, 12 Little Grebe, 158 Brent Geese, 1 Pintail, 473 Wigeon, 147 Teal, 1 Shoveler, 127 Coot, 2 Water Rail, 250 Dunlin, 9 Grey Plover, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 29 Snipe. The Water Pipit and 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit were also still present on Priory Marsh. A Woodlark, an excellent record for the Harbour, flew over Stanpit heading east. Peregrine, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff were also noted on Stanpit this morning.

March 1st

An influx of Firecrest occurred this morning with at least eight birds being found near the Nursery. There was also 1 Chiffchaff and a Yellowhammer flew over towards Wick. Up to 16 Common Scoter were on the sea and 37 Common Gull were noted moving east. The female Goldeneye remains in Barn Bight. Three Raven were seen today, 2 over the golf course on Stanpit and a third bird seen from the beach huts flying towards Highcliffe. The Water Pipit and 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit were on Central Marsh adjacent to North Scrubs, along with at least 5 Jack Snipe there.

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