Sightings for May 2003

May 31st

The day started warm but an increasing easterly wind kept temperatures cool as the morning wore on. Things looked promising early on as a group of 14 Whimbrel moved east past Hengistbury, but, unfortunately, things didn't really get going after that; although a Great-northern Diver moving west is a very late record. Small numbers of Swift, Swallow and House Martin are still passing through, but the resident Sand Martin colony is well down from last year. Wader numbers on Stanpit are reducing, the rising tide this morning saw just 21 Dunlin, 7 Sanderling and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, along with 10 Sandwich Tern and 1 Common Tern. A little later, 6 Whimbrel and 2 more Bar-tailed Godwit arrived. There was evidence of Grey Heron post-breeding dispersal with several groups of bird flying through, including a siege of 3 adults out to sea. By this evening, Stanpit had been deserted by the migrant waders.

May 30th

Another glorious day with a refreshing southerly. This morning on Stanpit saw 50 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Sanderling. Sandwich Tern are slightly down at 12 birds, but the sick Canada Goose was joined by 2 others. Shelduck breeding was confirmed with a brood of 10 duckling off Fisherman's Bank. By this afternoon, the Sanderling total had risen to 14 birds.

Tides 31st May: H00:58 L05:06 H10:10 H13:34 L17:20 H22:24

May 29th

Weatherwise, one of the best days of the year so far. The Stanpit collection numbered 1 Little Stint, 70 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Turnstone. Also seen there were 15 Sandwich Tern and 2 Common Tern, while 3 drake Shoveler toured the harbour. There were reports from Hengistbury today with a Bearded Tit being seen in the HHC reeds, 2 Sanderling by the Beach Huts, 1 Hobby over and a single Red-legged Partridge in the Barn Field. Wader numbers remained constant into the evening on Stanpit, where a Cuckoo was been harassed by Reed Warbler .

May 28th

The day started with a lingering mist which cleared by mid-morning. On Stanpit at that time were 85 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. There were also 22 Sandwich Tern. By this evening the Whimbrel had gone, but new arrivals were 1 Little Stint, 1 Sanderling, 1 Grey Plover and a further 4 Bar-tailed Godwit. A pair of Cuckoo were busy agitating the nesting passerines and 4 Lapwing were very vocal over the marsh, probably non-breeders from the Avon Valley. In the evening, Nightjar were heard and then seen adjacent to the Ironstone Quarry on Hengistbury.

May 27th

The harbour was completely shrouded in dense mist for the entirety of the day making distance birding almost impossible. Only reports are from Stanpit where 155 Dunlin 16 Sanderling, 6 Ringed Plover and 19 Sandwich Tern were recorded, along with a lone Wheatear on South Marsh. An evening visit produced a good record of Arctic Tern and an increase to 22 Sanderling. The injured Canada Goose is still nursing itself around Stanpit Bight.

May 26th

Stanpit was again the focus of attention in an effort to catch travelling waders. On this morning's falling tide the highlight was a through flying flock of 5 birds which comprised 3 Sanderling and 2 Little Stint. More settled birds were 135 Dunlin, 9 Sanderling, 6 Knot and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit. On the tip of South Marsh there were 2 flava Wagtail, 1 Blue-headed and 1 Yellow. The total on the late afternoon rising tide was 110 Dunlin, the same 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, just 5 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel and 1 Ringed Plover. A Hobby briefly visited the marsh and picked off an unfortunate Starling and there was a female Wheatear on Crouch Hill.

May 25th

Stanpit attracted more passing waders today, best being a summer-plumaged Little Stint which stayed around until at least 6:00pm. There were also 162 Dunlin, 8 Sanderling, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot and 1 Whimbrel present at various times throughout the day. Best time to view tomorrow will be late afternoon as the rising tide pushes the birds into Stanpit Bight. This afternoon a Hobby was hunting over Stanpit and there were 2 pair of Tufted Duck in Barn Bight, with a pair being seen this morning in Parky Meade Rail.

May 24th

An eventual drop in the wind strength and the number of birds present in the harbour yesterday raised hopes for a good day, however, it was something of an anticlimax as nearly all the waders had moved on. Early morning, there were around 50 Dunlin around Stanpit, these were joined by 7 Black-tailed Godwit and, a little later, 7 Ringed Plover; but by lunchtime most had left leaving just a handful of Dunlin and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit. There was, however, a sizeable group of 27 Sanderling on the beach by groyne S2. Other evidence of migration came in the way of at least 75 Swallow and 40 House Martin north, 4 Wheatear on Hengistbury and a Hobby over Stanpit. A Buzzard also passed east over the marsh, an unusual record at this time of year, as was an adult Kittiwake with the gulls around the HHC sandbar. The 2 drake Wigeon remain in Barn Bight and a pair of Tufted Duck were on Parky Meade Rail. It is estimated there are 2, possibly 4, Lesser Whitethroat holding territories in the Wick Fields area and the male Bearded Tit was seen carrying nesting material into the HHC reeds. A final visit to Stanpit produced 150 Dunlin which flew over and inspected the area, decided not to settle and passed on north. Shortly afterwards a Little Ringed Plover and 7 Whimbrel did likewise.

May 23rd

As well as a superb, pink-flushed Roseate Tern on the mud off the tip of South Marsh, Stanpit was today crawling with waders. During the morning, a total of 520 Dunlin, 8 Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover, 3 Sanderling and 2 Barwit were counted. There were also 22 Sandwich Tern around the same area. Passerine migrants included 1 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs and 3 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, there were also 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the Wood on Hengistbury. There was a definite hirundine movement north over the area, with at least 40 each of Swallow and House Martin as well as 2 Swift passing through. A Hobby was over Mudeford village. Also in the mornign, on the beach by Double Dykes 5 Sanderling were present and 5 Turnstone wereon the sandspit. By this afternoon, waders had reduced slightly overall, but the Sanderling count had risen to 8 and 3 Turnstone, all in stunning plumage, were new in; also new were 2 Little Tern. Finally, another Hobby appeared over East Marsh and proceeded to eat its recently acquired prey, presumably a Dunlin, while still on the wing. At least 1 Cuckoo is still around.

May 22nd

It almost goes without saying that conditions were overcast with a strong south-westerly. There was good coverage on Stanpit this morning with the best bird being a Blue-headed flava Wagtail which may have come down in the Priory Marsh area. After the week's dearth wader numbers picked up today. Initially there were 12 Dunlin on the exposed mud in Stanpit Bight, but throughout the morning small groups arrived and briefly settled before continuing north-east. At least 100 birds were counted along with 11 Ringed Plover. Other waders were 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Turnstone and 10 arriving Whimbrel. There were also a couple of surprise passerines in the form of a Redstart in Smithy's Field and a Garden Warbler in the North Scrubs. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was in Stanpit Bight and an adult Yellow-legged Gull on Priory Marsh. A Cuckoo is still present.

May 21st

A five hour session at Stanpit this morning resulted in 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Wheatear and a rather desperate Dunlin which spent most of the time calling in the vain hope of locating some colleagues. The main purpose of the visit was a breeding bird survey and early estimations suggest that Reed Warbler and Bunting are slightly down this year; however, a pair of Gadwall on Priory Marsh may be attempting to nest, which would be a significant harbour record. Jackdaw are rare birds in the area, so 25 at various places around Stanpit is certainly noteworthy.

May 20th

A bright start to the day but the wind direction remain unchanged. Only reports are from Fisherman's Bank this morning, where 92 Shelduck, 3 Dunlin, 2 Common Tern, 1 Sandwich Tern and 1 Cuckoo were recorded. There was a flurry of excitement later in the day as 2 Roseate Tern passed west through the harbour in the afternoon, while the Bar-tailed Godwit count increased to 3 and there was an identical number of Wheatear. The lack of waders, given the date, is almost unprecedented.

May 19th

These are sparse times as an even stronger wind again discouraged any takers, so, unfortunately, there is nothing to report.

May 18th

Strong southerly winds and the constant threat of rain meant that almost no birding was done in the harbour today. A brief scan from Fisherman's Bank this afternoon produced just 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Redshank. No other waders could be seen in the harbour. Off Hengistbury this evening, an Arctic Skua was haranguing the Sandwich Tern.

May 17th

In a moderate southerly seawatching was always the best option and didn't disappoint as birds were plentiful. It was one of those rare occasions on a Hengistbury seawatch when there was always something to look at. The totals from a 3 hour watch from the Beach Huts were: 125 Gannet, mostly immature birds, 30 Fulmar, 40 Auk sp., mainly Guillemot, 15 Kittiwake, 1 summer plumaged Great-northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Little Gull and 1 Manx Shearwater. Most of the movement was westerly, but around 50 Common Tern and 30 Sandwich Tern were fishing offshore. Hirundine arrival was still apparent with 30 Swift and lesser numbers of Swallow and House Martin arriving from the south. Other birds of interest on the head included: 2 Bearded Tit in the HHC reeds, surely they are breeding; 17 Sanderling and 1 Purple Sandpiper on the Sandspit; 2 Whimbrel and 1 Knot into the harbour; 40 Dunlin around Barn Bight and later 25 arriving from the Solent;while 2 Hobby passed over north. The 2 Red-legged Partridge continue their tour of the locale, this time loitering around one of the toilet blocks on the Sandspit. By mid-afternoon the wind had strengthened and veered west. A post-match visit to Stanpit showed it to be almost devoid of waders, just 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Redshank being present.

May 16th

A constant overnight drizzle had turned to steady rain by daylight. The only interest in the harbour were the 2 drake Wigeon remaining faithful to Barn Bight, a single Whimbrel on Holloway's Dock and a party of 4 Swift heading south, perhaps to escape the conditions. Of exotic interest, the 2 Black Swan are still in the harbour.

May 15th

As may be expected towards the end of the migration period, birds are few and far between. Today saw a Spotted Flycatcher in Wick Ditch and a lone Wheatear on the Barn Field, Hengistbury; and a flock of 19 Black-tailed Godwit circled the harbour before continuing east. The 2 Red-legged Partridge are still present on the head, but they seem to have moved to the area above the Long Groyne. At a surprising wader venue, 38 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover were on the beach by Double Dykes.

May 14th

The best bird today was a Turtle Dove on the Batters at Hengistbury this morning. There was very little else in terms of migrants however with just Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and a few Swallow moving. The high tide roost on the Mudeford Sandspit held just 25 Dunlin. On Stanpit were 52 Shelduck, 34 Oystercatcher, 109 Dunlin, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sandwich Tern and 1 Whimbrel. The Cuckoo was also still on Crouch Hill.

May 13th

The only report received today was from Hengistbury where 7 Swift and a few hirundines moved through the Harbour mid-morning.

May 12th

On Stanpit this morning were 75 Dunlin, 16 Black-tailed and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, just 1 Whimbrel, 35 Oystercatcher and 2 Ringed Plover; also 24 Sandwich Tern, 2 Common Tern and 1 Little Tern. The 2 drake Wigeon are still commuting between Stanpit and Barn Bight and the Canada Goose was on East Marsh. A Cuckoo was seen on Crouch Hill.

May 11th

Despite the early morning rain and low cloud there were no grounded migrants on Hengistbury this morning. On Stanpit today waders included 4 Whimbrel, 44 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling, 4 Ringed Plover, 15 Black-tailed and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit together with a Common Sandpiper on Priory Marsh; also seen were 15 Sandwich and 2 Common Tern. This afternoon there were 2 Wheatear and a Cuckoo on Stanpit.

May 10th

The south-westerly breeze made seawatching the best option this morning. On the move were 50 Gannet, 30 auk including 10 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill, 2 Kittiwake, 1 Fulmar, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-throated Diver, 21 Sanderling, 1 Turnstone, 30 Common Tern, 10 Sandwich Tern and 2 Little Tern. There was also 1 Purple Sandpiper still present and just 1 Swift came in off the sea. On Stanpit today were 5 Whimbrel, 12 Black-tailed and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 36 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover.

A late item of news from yesterday - the information services reported a White Stork north over Hengistbury at 1pm.

May 9th

A beautiful start to the day which later clouded, but with a moderate south-westerly throughout. On Hengistbury, there were 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the Wood and 2 Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub. The 2 Gadwall are still in Barn Bight and a good harbour record was a skein of 9 Greylag Goose heading south. This afternoon Stanpit was again quiet with just a flyover Hobby and 8 Black-tailed Godwit being the birds of note. We await double figures of Dunlin! A group of 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 adults and 1 juvenile, were probably the birds breeding on Bridge Street.

May 8th

There was a definite influx of Spotted Flycatcher today with 9 birds being present in the Wood on Hengistbury, but, as per the rest of the week, other migrants were sparse. On the sea, 1 Pomarine Skua passed distantly offshore, a Whimbrel went east and around 20 each of Common and Sandwich Tern were feeding off the head . Another 14 Whimbrel arrived in the harbour during the morning, as did 35 Black-tailed Godwit. More unseasonal birds today in the
form of a Buzzard high west over the harbour while the 2 Wigeon in Barn Bight were joined by a Great-crested Grebe.

May 7th

Despite similar weather to yesterday, there did seem to be a migrant arrival, albeit small. In the Wood on Hengistbury there was 1 Spotted Flycatcher and a slight increase in Willow Warbler, while 2 Wheatear were on the Barn Field. Over on Stanpit, there is a marked increase in the numbers of Reed Warbler and Whitethroat, also there the Lesser Whitehroat was singing from the caravan end of North Scrubs. Wader totals around the harbour are still well below average with 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Dunlin and 6 Whimbrel being the total on Stanpit, and a Common Sandpiper was in Barn Bight. There are some unseasonal duck in the harbour as Barn Bight held a pair each of Tufted Duck and Gadwall as well as 2 drake Wigeon. A late afternoon visit to Stanpit produced a high count of 77 Shelduck, 11 Sandwich Tern, 2 Common Tern, 1 Little Tern and a surprise Kingfisher.

May 6th

The disappointment of what should be one of the birding weeks of the year continued today as migrants were indeed few and far between. Undoubted best was an Osprey heading north-west over Two Riversmeet at 11:10 this morning. Prior to that, Hengistbury had been watched since 5:00 and this period yielded just 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Turtle Dove, 1 Whinchat and 1 Wheatear. A strange record was of a Bullfinch in the garden of the Ranger's Cottage. A first-summer Little Gull was seen to arrive in the harbour, as were 22 Dunlin, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and a lone Greenshank. A Hobby was seen overhead and 62 Sandwich Tern were noted around the recording area. Stanpit this evening was quiet despite the falling tide, only noteworthy birds being 4 Whimbrel and 1 Yellow Wagtail.

May 5th

Again migration was non-existent as the winds continued from the south-west. 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Garden Warbler around Wick Fields had probably arrived some days earlier as that area has not been recently watched. Seawatching was also poor just a few Gannet and commic Tern, but there were 3 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. Stanpit is relatively quiet with just 10 Dunlin, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Tern, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone and 1 Black-tailed Godwit being reported. A Hobby was also recorded from there.

May 4th

Clear overnight skies and a stiff south-easterly wind meant that migration was likely to be slow, consequently, the only noteworthy birds were the year's first Turtle Dove arriving over the Beach Hut and a Hobby over Whitepits. Seawatching produced a total of 1 Pomarine Skua, 5 Arctic Skua, 1 Shearwater sp., 30 Common Scoter, 12 Fulmar, 5 Brent Goose and a few Gannet, and commic Tern. A flock of waders arriving over the Barn Field contained 4 species - 16 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot and 1 Grey Plover, while 6 Black-tailed Godwit were around the harbour. An afternoon visit to Stanpit provided a Lesser Whitethroat in the North Scrubs, while around Stanpit Bight there were 8 Whimbrel, a few Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Grey Plover. There are still 4 drake Wigeon around the harbour, 3 in Barrn Bight and 1 on Stanpit.

May 3rd

Once again in the breezy conditions, seawatching was the main attraction. The undoubted stars of the show were 5 Pomarine Skua which approached Hengistbury high from the east before settling on the water. Ten minutes later they hesitatingly lifted off and came even closer to the Beach Huts before slowly disappearing to the west. The supporting cast was not insignificant, comprising 1, possibly 2, Storm Petrel and 1 Red-throated Diver west, 2 Arctic Skua, 2 Roseate Tern and 2 Common Scoter east, also 1 Guillemot and 1 auk sp. were seen. Other birds on the sea throughout the day were 50+ commic Tern, 40 Little Tern, 5 Gannet, 3 Common Scoter and 1 Kittiwake. Given the conditions, land based migrants were not surprisingly scarce, however, a Hobby went over the HHC early morning, while at least 6 Wheatear were in the harbour. Wader variety is starting to increase with the following being present across the harbour, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Whimbrel, 8 Sanderling, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Purple Sandpiper,1 Turnstone and 1 Ringed Plover. Gull interest was maintained with 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult and 1 first-summer, also the now familiar and slowly healing, but still limping, Yellow-legged Gull was seen. The first Lesser Whitethroat of the year was singing in the North Scrubs on Stanpit this afternoon and an amazingly late 4 drake Wigeon are still in the area.

May 2nd

Given the strength of the wind it was yet another day for seawatching. Off Mudeford soon after dawn there were 40 Little Tern, also 1 Fulmar and 10 Common Scoter passed by east, 2 Gannet moved west and 4 Turnstone were on the spit. The most productive session was off the beach huts between 7:45 and 9:30 when 4 Arctic Skua ( 2 light-phase and 2 dark-phase ) were seen. Moving east were 35 Gannet, 10 Fulmar and 8 Common Scoter while another 12 Common Scoter, 2 Kittiwake and more than 40 Sandwich Tern headed west. A mid-afternoon seawatch rather disappointingly produced just 4 Gannet and 2 Fulmar.

May 1st

Seawatching was again the major activity and was fairly rewarding, the best bird being a Roseate Tern west past the Beach Huts. Also seen from there were 3 Arctic Skua, all dark birds, 2 west and 1 east: along with 78 Gannet, 16 Fulmar, 12 Guillemot, 4 Little Tern and 2 Kittiwake, all went west, while 20 Common Scoter headed east. The only passerine presence was 2 Yellow Wagtail heard overhead.

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