Sightings for April 2004

April 30th

On a day of limited birding activity a female Marsh Harrier spent a few minutes hunting over Stanpit before heading east around lunchtime. The only other report received was also from Stanpit when an early morning visit produced 3 Hobby flying north. Waders on the Marsh included 250 Dunlin, 46 Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Sanderling and 1 Grey Plover. A male Merlin was seen briefly on Crouch Hill this evening

April 29th

After a couple of sparse days, Hengistbury turned in some good birds. The best was probably a Wood Warbler seen briefly in Double Dykes. Supporting this were at least 8 Whinchat, 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Garden Warbler and 2 Redstart, scattered across the head. A Firecrest and Lesser Whitethroat were both heard in song. Commoner, decked passerines included 80 Willow Warbler, 75 Wheatear, including a flock of 10 in off, and 40 Blackcap. It is worthy to note, the dunes around the end of the head held many of these grounded birds, having headed for the first available cover after struggling against a north-easterly wind. Overhead, 30 Swift and 5 Yellow Wagtail headed north. Despite an unfavourable wind direction, sea-watching could be classified as above average. Notables included 3 Velvet Scoter east, along with an Arctic Skua, while 27 Common, 7 Little and 5 Arctic Tern moved west. Also on the move were 120 Dunlin, 52 Sanderling, 12 Whimbrel and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, all going east. The harbour itself held over 500 Dunlin this morning, but most had left by late morning, also 7 Knot seen. A total of 7 Reed Warbler were singing around Stanpit and a Dartford Warbler appeared to be carrying nesting material.

April 28th

The sensational weather forecast of last night deterred most people from setting the early alarm. As it was, there was no more than a light northerly wind and a few drops of water. So, disappointingly, no reports have been received, other than 7 Little Tern feeding off Mudeford Quay early this morning.

April 27th

The quality of migrants seen away from Hengistbury this morning provide a strong indication that the head could have been exceptional, unfortunately, it was not watched. A light northerly breeze and the threat of rain obviously sent birds down. At 07:30 a group of 6 Wheatear came in off at Mudeford Quay, briefly perching on the railings before disappearing inland. Stanpit, however, was far more interesting: a female Pied Flycatcher was in Smithy's Field and a Spotted Flycatcher was in the North Scrubs, as were 2 singing Lesser Whitethroat and a Garden Warbler. At one time, the fence bordering Priory Marsh sported 9 Whinchat. In 90 minutes 70 Swift went north, a good number for what is only late April, also 50 Swallow and 30 House Martin. Waders are starting to provide variety again with 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot and 1 Sanderling the best, along with 200+ Dunlin and 26 Black-tailed Godwit. This evening there was a single Whimbrel, 1 Cuckoo and still small numbers of Swallow, House Martin and Swift moving through.

April 26th

A fine day which befitted the quality, albeit low quantity, of records received. In the early morning on Hengistbury a Serin was seen dropping into trees on the Batters and briefly viewed perching. The information services reported it again just before lunch, along with a male Ring Ouzel on the Barn Field. Just after dawn, a singing Grasshopper Warbler was actually showing itself at the north end of Wick Fields and a Lesser Whitethroat was in the recently famous clump by the driving range.

April 25th

A grossly underwatched day, with the area suffering from some observer absenteeism. Having said that, conditions similar to yesterday suggest little was missed. There was, however, a male Ring Ouzel on the Barn Field; it's conceivable this is the week long staying bird, having avoided observation for the last 2 days. Only other interest from Hengistbury was a Gadwall in Barn Bight. Stanpit is on the brink of the main wader passage, there were 2 Knot and a Greenshank off Fisherman's Bank this morning; and, in the afternoon, there were still 15 Bar-tailed Godwit along with 25 Black-tailed in Stanpit Bight; both species are sporting some outstandingly plumaged individuals. A single Turnstone was a new bird, as were 20 Ringed Plover, but the Dunlin still number 80 or so. Only 5 Whimbrel were noted during the afternoon and 2 Wheatear were just north of Crouch Hill.

24th April

The day was far too nice to expect a major fall of birds, nevertheless, the gorgeous conditions made for a very pleasant morning on Hengistbury, once the fly irritation was finally avoided by heading for the high ground. They definitely seem worse this year. Migrants were present, but in small numbers; 2 Swift were seen, no doubt the advance party for many more over the next couple of weeks, while a pristine male Whinchat on the Barn Field was the year's first for most. 3 Redstart were seen, 1 male by Double Dykes and females on the Batters and in the Wood; Wheatear were relatively sparse, only around 10 on the head this morning; however, Yellow Wagtail were well represented with at least 9 flyover birds. Another relatively surprising overhead record was Redpoll, while a Grasshopper Warbler reeled briefly in the Warden's garden. Also heard, was 1 of the Red-legged Partridge, on the top of the head. Will they settle down? Jackdaw records in the south of the harbour are becoming more frequent, 2 passed east this morning; also increasing are Mediterranean Gull, an adult pair left the area and headed west over the HHC. Wader movement is still light, a total of 10 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, which were seen arriving and then in Holloway's Dock, and 1 Grey Plover was the morning's sum total. The was sea devoid of interest, other than 2 Red-throated Diver seen from the Coastguards. Around lunchtime, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing along Wick Ditch and another 2 Mediterranean Gull, this time 2 second-summers, went over. As usual, the afternoon attention switched to Stanpit, where a flock of 15 Bar-tailed Godwit suggest that wader passage may, in fact, be about to pick-up. A Knot was with them and 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 on East Marsh and 1 in Parky Meade Rail, were seen; but Black-tailed Godwit have reduced to 5 and the Dunlin number just 80. Migrants on the ground were 5 Yellow Wagtail around the ponies, before they stampeded off East Marsh, also a couple of Wheatear in the same area. An almost pure albino Black-headed Gull off the tip of South Marsh caused some initial concern. Some reports have now been received for yesterday, so please check back.

April 23rd

While there were plenty of birds around the HHC early morning, only the ringing team was present, trapping a total of 30 or so birds. General numbers were estimated at 50 Willow Warbler and 20 Chiffchaff, while more interest came courtesy of a singing Lesser Whitethroat and a male Redstart. Mid-afternoon, Wick held 9 Wheatear, a reminder of the morning's unobserved passage, and 1 Yellow Wagtail.

April 22nd

A night of clear skies with cloud descending just after dawn, made for another good fall on Hengistbury. Common migrants were again around in large numbers, but firstly mention must be made of yet another Serin sighting. This time the bird was picked up high in flight and seen landing close to Double Dykes, an attempt to re-locate resulted in it being flushed from the bracken. Conceivably, this may be a lingering, but elusive, individual. It was another good Grasshopper Warbler day, with 10 reeling birds noted, how many silent females are there? A Lesser Whitethroat on the Common was the first of this sparse breeder to the area. Mainstream counts totalled: 200+ Willow Warbler, 80+ Wheatear, 60 Chiffchaff, 25+ Blackcap, 11 Redstart, 8 Sedge Warbler, 1 Cuckoo and 1 Garden Warbler. Overflying migrants were 350 Linnet, 300 Swallow, 200 Meadow Pipit, 100 House Martin, 70 Goldfinch and 4 Yellow Wagtail, all north. A group of 6 Avocet left the harbour over the Black House early morning and both Ring Ouzel were seen, although not together, on the Barn Field, as were the pair of Red-legged Partridge. Seawatching was not up to yesterday's high standards, but did notch up 16 Whimbrel, 16 Common Scoter, 20 Common Tern, 6 Kittiwake, 3 Little Tern and 1 Black-throated Diver in breeding attire. 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adults and a first-winter, headed west through the harbour together. Around lunchtime, a flock of 8 Whimbrel left Stanpit and headed north up the valley; the marsh held at least 16 Wheatear during the later part of the day and 1 Common Sandpiper. Winter remnants included 3 Wigeon and 2 Brent Goose. Just before dusk, some late reports were received from Wick, where there were 26 Wheatear, a singing Reed Warbler and a Coal Tit.

April 21st

I wasn't expecting any reports today in view of the unfavourable weather; however, a strong southerly and mirky conditions are always a good bet for a seawatch, and today's brave pair were well rewarded. The first skuas of the spring came through today, with 7 Great Skua strangely heading west. Tern were also moving and were counted at 15 Common Tern and 6 Arctic Tern, also 40 Gannet, 12 Common Scoter, 12 Kittiwake, 5 Fulmar, 1 Great-northern Diver and 1 Guillemot. The Ring Ouzel saga continues with the male on the Barn Field being joined by a female. In the words of the observer, "could the improbable happen?" Extremely unlikely, I would think. Later on at Stanpit, there was the rather macabre sight of 4 drake Mallard attempting to mate with a duck, who they probably just drowned in their frenzy. A flock of 21 Whimbrel left the harbour north, there is obviously good feeding in the valley and the birds are stocking up before continuing east. Finally, 2 Wheatear were seen. Even later, at Wick, 70 Swallow moved low at last light and 4 Jackdaw were noted.

April 20th

The almost complete lack of wind this morning meant the insects were a real nuisance on Hengistbury, consequently, most birding was done from the top of the head or by the sea. The best record was of an Eider flock comprising 24 birds, that initially passed west before returning slightly later and heading into the Solent. A pair of Mediterranean Gull were also seen. The male Ring Ouzel is around for an unprecedented fourth day, still on the Barn Field between the "barred warbler" bush and Double Dykes; also 2 Wheatear in the same area. Whimbrel around the area, included 4 north from Priory Marsh, 10 on Blackberry Point, 3 on the beach and 2 over the head. A Greenshank was heard from Hengistbury and 3 Grey-lag Goose arrived from the south-west. Click here to see a great new photo.

April 19th

A glorious start to the day, but by lunchtime rain appeared, only to clear later. The Wick clump still holds 2 Redstart, 1 male and 1 female, and the male Ring Ouzel was on the Barn Field right throughout the day. It seems that some of Saturday's arrivals are lingering, what else remains in that blackthorn clump? At least 5 Wheatear were also on the Barn Field from mid-morning onwards. Whitethroat are definitely building up to assume their status of common breeder in the area, over 20 singing males were noted today. This evening, on Stanpit, 16 Whimbrel appeared just before sundown; slightly earlier, a Dartford Warbler was seen, along with 4 Wheatear and 5 Snipe; and a Common Sandpiper was on Grimmery Bank, by the smalll pond. Black-tailed Godwit were estimated at around 65 birds. The Treecreeper at Two Riversmeet was again seen, in the poplars by the Civic Offices, this is quite a significant local, possible breeder.

April 18th

An early visit to Wick Fields showed the clump to contain almost the same birds, in the same places, as yesterday. The 4 Redstart were seen before the rain set in. It seems little left overnight, but a lot more Whitethroat have arrived. The Subalpine Warbler wasn't reported today but given the poor weather it's hardly surprising. There was just one Grasshopper Warbler on Wick Fields heard from the path adjacent to the reedbed midway between the wooden bridge and the kissing gate. The male Ring Ousel was still on the Barn Field but only 2 Wheatear were noted. Although the inclement weather reduced birding to a minimum this morning it's interesting to note that four species that eluded all the bird race competitors yesterday were seen today - a Red-legged Partridge was on the Barn Field, a Greenshank was heard from Stanpit, a Red-breasted Merganser moved west at sea and 5 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes. The sea was disappointingly quiet with only 4 Common Scoter and the merganser worthy of comment. Two Whimbrel flushed by a dog walker from the beach also headed west. Stanpit in the afternoon held 7 Whimbrel, 2 Wheatear and a feeding flock of 50 Linnet.

April 17th

Prolonged overnight rain which ceased in the small hours gave hope for a good race day. The competitors were rewarded with a total of 111 species between the 3 teams; the winners notching up 102, well-beating the runners-up who had a "5% rule adjusted" total of 93. Top bird was a male Subalpine Warbler in Wick Fields, found just after lunch by CHOG's chairman, Alan Hayden. Alan's field visits are fairly infrequent these days, but always seem to coincide with good birds, his next planned outing will be announced in advance! This is the group's fourth record, the last being around 1993 time. Although elusive for long periods, the bird was seen well by a few. The particular clump of bushes holding the rarity also contained a Nightingale and 4 Redstart, 3 of them males. Another Nightingale was around the Sea Scout hut at Stanpit just after dawn, and a further Redstart was on Hengistbury. Not to be outdone, the head produced a flyover Serin mid-morning, seen moving over the top of the head towards Wick. Shortly afterwards, a male Pied Flycatcher made the same trip, while a female was settled in the Wood. For the second week running, a male Ring Ouzel spent a few hours feeding up and showing well, this time on the Barn Field. There was a definite Grasshopper Warbler influx with at least 7 reeling birds recorded across the area. A pair of Bearded Tit were seen on a couple of occasions in and over the HHC reeds. Other migrants included 120 Willow Warbler, 60+ Wheatear, including a flock of 17 seen arriving, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Tree Pipit, 2 Little Tern and 1 Grey Wagtail; a Rook was circling the area seemingly wondering where to go next. New arrivers for the year were a Cuckoo, heard twice and seen briefly over the Common, also a Garden Warbler around Stanpit golf course. Bird races always produce owl records and, before light, both Tawny Owl and Little Owl made it onto lists. Seawatching, although generally poor today, did yield 2 Velvet Scoter, 9 Common Scoter, 1 Kittiwake, 1 Razorbill and summer-plumaged Red-throated and Great-northern Diver. Wader highlights were over 50 Whimbrel throughout the course of the day, including an impressive flock of 27 over Priory Marsh, 2 Little Ringed Plover over Hengistbury, 2 Sanderling in Stanpit Bight and a Turnstone from Mudeford Quay. A couple of Water Pipit were also on Priory Marsh, and a Treecreeper was nearby in trees around Two Riversmeet car park. Uncommon gulls in the area were 3 Mediterranean Gull and a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull.

April 16th

Tomorrow sees a 3 team race taking place in the harbour and some of today's specialities will be sorely hoped for. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, something of an enigma in the area, was in trees north of Stanpit golf course late this morning; while a Spotted Redshank was in the harbour before leaving west. Both these species can only be dreamt about for a big day. Little Tern arrived today, 5 left high over Double Dykes this morning and 1 was seen from Stanpit, where another Nightingale was heard, this time just behind the warden's caravan, also a Redstart. As yesterday, a calling Greenshank toured the harbour, and 5 Lapwing leaving south and a Rook over the Wood were notable records. Incoming migrants on Hengistbury and Wick included a Grasshopper Warbler by the Nursery, around 50 phylloscs , mostly Willow Warbler, 47 Swallow, 9 Blackcap, 9 singing Whitethroat and 7 Wheatear. A Hobby was seen from Wick over the Christchurch gasometer and a total of 6 Gadwall were seen, 4 on the river and 2 in Barn Bight. Waders on Stanpit included at least 16 Whimbrel, 85 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling and 1 Grey Plover. Due to tomorrow's event and the subsequent socialising, the update may be very late, if at all. Late again, but a singing Tree Pipit was on the top of the head.

April 15th

A real miscellany of good quality. This is turning into a notable spring. Nightingale are barely annual, so a bird singing briefly in the clump of bushes by the Civic Offices at Two Riversmeet was a welcome addition to the group's year list. On the same theme, other newcomers were 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 in the last gorse patch on South Marsh, 1 on Crouch Hill and 1 on Wick close to Solent Meads golf course kiosk; the other debutante was a Greenshank, calling as it toured the harbour. A Little Ringed Plover was heard and seen from both Stanpit and Wick as it arrived overhead, also over was 1 Siskin and a Raven on the top of the head. 3 Ring Ouzel were seen, 1 male on Wick and 2 females in the North Scrubs, Stanpit. A remarkable 6, possibly 7, Mediterranean Gull were around, these included 1 pair of full adults and 2 pairs of adult and second-year birds. Just 1 Whitethroat was recorded, but this is a bird carrying nesting material, despite only arriving in the last day or so. A Common Tern passed swiftly through the harbour , 4 Tufted Duck were around all day and 4 Whimbrel were noted. Feeding passerines were estimated at 80+ phylloscs on Hengistbury, the vast majority Willow Warbler, and 35 of the same species were in Smithy's Field, a Yellow Wagtail was on Wick driving range, but only 1 Wheatear today. Passing north were 400 Meadow Pipit, 200 Linnet and 7 Yellow Wagtail, while 120 Linnet were flocking on Crouch Hill. A Mistle Thrush was by Wick Driving range and the 2 Red-legged Partridge were flushed close to the Barn Field. This evening, a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull were attempting to take newly hatched Mallard duckling on Priory Marsh. Some late news, a Tree Pipit was seen displaying on the top of the head.

April 14th

A clear early start, which quickly gave way to cloud. There are still good numbers of migrants using Hengistbury, but the highlight was a Serin over the HHC towards the head just before 6:00 this morning. The bird was almost certainly present yesterday, but the initial observer was commendably cautious. The only new bird for the year was a male Pied Flycatcher seen in flight over Wick Hams. Phylloscs are still flowing through, over 100 Willow Warbler and 40 Chiffchaff were estimated today; other warbler genus are also becoming more obvious, today Blackcap numbered 17, Reed Warbler 5 and Whitethroat 2. Other migrants included 11 House Martin, 14 Swallow, 7 Wheatear, 2 Redstart and 1 Yellow Wagtail. At least 8 Whimbrel were seen and 3 adult Mediterranean Gull, while 5 Common Scoter moved east at sea. Meanwhile, the Barn Field Red-legged Partridge were being stalked by a Fox. The Water Pipit are back on Priory Marsh, 11 birds seen today, along with 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Reed Warbler, and a Bearded Tit was in reeds by the rusty boat. There is also a Sanderling around Stanpit Bight, apparently having been there for 2 weeks. A Ruff was flushed from Stanpit this morning and a Dartford Warbler was also present around the marsh, this is late for this species to be that side of the harbour. By late afternoon, the whole area was covered in a swirling sea mist which brought the temperature down several degrees.

April 13th

To add to yesterday's array of quality records, there are a few extra snippets of interest, please check back to the end of the summary. Today saw another cloudy start with a slight, but cold, northerly wind, which again brought good numbers of migrants to Hengistbury early on. Willow Warbler were again plentiful with over 270 birds noted, as were Wheatear with another high day count of 51, Chiffchaff were estimated at 40 and there were 2 Redstart, 1 in Wick Ditch and 1 on the Common, 2 Tree Pipit were also heard. 6 Siskin passed over the end of the head, there were 8 Blackcap in the Wood, 4 Swallow over the harbour, but still just 1 Reed Warbler around the HHC; and a single Whitethroat was on Wick Fields. A Little Ringed Plover was heard and seen arriving, other waders reported from the head included 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Whimbrel. The regular Little Gull was present and a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull moved west through the harbour; while a drake Pochard and 2 Gadwall added wildfowl interest. The Red-legged Partridge pair were on the Barn Field and Peregrine was seen overhead. This afternoon, just after 1:00, Stanpit produced another Osprey very high and moving north-west over Two Riversmeet, almost immediately a Buzzard went over at similar height and bearing. There were also 12 Blackcap and 5 Wheatear around the marsh, along with 3 Whimbrel and a single Grey Plover. In the evening, a Sanderling was on the sandspit, by groyne S12.

April 12th

High cloud and almost no wind produced a real mixed bag; in fact, if it hadn't been for Saturday, today would have been considered exceptional. Starting with the specialities: 3 Firecrest were present, 2 towards the end of the head where the rhododendron has been cleared and 1 by the double bends; 2 Crossbill passed north very high and 1 Little Ringed Plover was heard arriving in the area. Wildfowl were well represented by 7 Tufted Duck, 2 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall in the harbour, and a Velvet Scoter moving by east at sea. Also mobile over the sea was the spring's first Common Tern and 6 Common Scoter, while a sitting Razorbill was easy to pick out on the millpond surface. From Hengistbury, the first-winter Little Gull could be seen for most of the morning, hawking over various parts of Stanpit, click here for photos. This is a different bird to the one a week or so ago, that individual was very pink-flushed causing the tail shape to be well studied. An Mediterranean Gull was heard frequently before being pinned down as an adult just off the HHC. Commoner migrants were reckoned to total 300 Meadow Pipit, 100 Linnet and 60 Goldfinch north, and, on the ground, 120 Willow Warbler, 40 Wheatear, 35 Chiffchaff and 4 Redstart. There was a marked increase in House Martin, with at least 9 birds seen today. Less expected migrants included 2 Coal Tit and 3 lost Jackdaw wheeling over the sandspit. Late afternoon, a Common Sandpiper was on the riverbank at Priory Marsh. Earlier in the afternoon, there were 9 Wheatear on Stanpit and the wader selection is becoming more varied with 5 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Turnstone and 1 Sanderling, joining the seemingly ever-present 90 or so Black-tailed Godwit. There are still 3 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh, but the count of 4 Wigeon is a sure sign of winter backing off.

Some late items of interest. Around the Blackhouse in the afternoon, there were 2 singing male Black Redstart and a further 15 Wheater, giving a Hengistbury total of 55 birds for the day. On Stanpit a male Ring Ouzel was in the golf course hedge over the corner of Priory Marsh, a Merlin was seen around the rusty boat and a Treecreeper was in trees around 2 Riversmeet car park.

April 11th

Clear skies throughout the night saw off a repeat of yesterday's bonanza. In comparison, the head seemed deathly quiet this morning, but did produce a Yellowhammer calling from bushes in the Barn Field, before heading on to the Batters, then leaving high over Wick; 3 overhead Jackdaw were also an unusual record. The elusive HHC Bearded Tit were seen again today, are these birds breeding? Other unusual, possible breeders include the Red-legged Partridge, however, just 1 was seen today, also a single Great-spotted Woodpecker. At least 1 Heron has left the nest in the Nursery. Common migrants were few and far between, just 5 Wheatear, 1 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Reed Warbler; and only a handful of Willow Warbler. Mid-afternoon at Stanpit was fruitful with an Osprey seen arriving over the harbour and heading north up the Avon Valley; also a large, young Peregrine over the golf course and an abientinus type Chiffchaff singing and calling in the North Scrubs. Slightly later, a first-winter Little Gull was resting on East Marsh, a Yellow Wagtail passed over Stanpit Scrubs, a Whimbrel arrived in Stanpit Bight and counted birds numbered 91 Black-tailed Godwit and 57 Shelduck.

April 10th

The variables lined up nicely to produce a large fall, as proven by the well witnessed coming together of a harbour regular and a stray bramble shoot. Seriously though, clear conditions for most of the night and the approach of rain from the north, which arrived in the early hours, forced down flocks of Willow Warbler. An estimated 750 birds were around Hengistbury. Between 8:00 and 8:30 literally hundreds were seen moving from the head, into Double Dykes and on to Wick Ditch. Chiffchaff were in the definite minority, but did include 1 abientinus bird. Overhead was just as spectacular, with an estimated 2000 Meadow Pipit passing over throughout the day. A male Ring Ouzel, initially seen in company with a Starling over the Barn Field, descended into Wick Ditch then fed for an hour or so on the pitch and putt course. Other migrants included: 31 Wheatear around the head in the morning and a further 40 newly arrived birds on the sandspit late afternoon: 11 Redstart, most on the Barn Field later in the morning; 12 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Coal Tit; noted flyovers were 9 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit. A good record from Wick was a Green Sandpiper around the small pools there. New birds for the year were 2 Sedge Warbler around the HHC and a very early Swift over the Point House Cafe, while a Reed Warbler was the first since the isolated February record. More Whimbrel were seen with 9 birds passing off Double Dykes. Hirundine passage was not particularly remarkable, just 50 Swallow and 2 House Martin. Stanpit this afternoon held 17 Wheatear, and 2 Yellow Wagtail were feeding on Priory Marsh. This is one of the peak times for Mediterranean Gull, so the presence of 4 - 2 adults, 1 second-winter and 1 first-winter - was not a surprise. Brent Goose stand at a mere 5 and most Wigeon have checked out. 3 Peregrine were seen and 1 Gadwall just about merits a mention. A pair of Red-legged Partridge are now in reisdence on the Barn Field, prompting hopes of breeding.

April 9th

A very clear morning with a very light frost and a chilly north-easterly wind made today something of an anticlimax. The best 2 birds on Hengistbury were elsewhere common woodland species: firstly, a Bullfinch was calling in high flight over the Batters; while mid-morning, a confused Coal Tit, wondering where to go next, was calling furiously from the tops of the foliage at the end of the head. Another Bullfinch was seen over Wick Fields. More conventional migrants included 50 or so Willow Warbler, 6 Wheatear, 3 Blackcap and a single male Redstart, the latter rapidly moving past the HHC just after dawn. Only other bird of note was a Mediterranean Gull flying upriver. Stanpit provided some late afternoon to dusk interest with a first-winter Little Gull over Priory Marsh then in Mother Siller's Channel, and a Water Pipit on South Marsh. While earlier, 2 Peregrine and 1 Merlin were seen from Priory Marsh. Black-tailed Godwit were counted at 130. The information services report 2 Whimbrel, 1 Reed Warbler and 1 Little-ringed Plover from Stanpit in the morning.

April 8th

A drop in the wind and the migration blockage of the last few days was breached, with significant numbers of new arrivals around the harbour today. Starting with the highlights: a Serin was seen and heard on half a dozen occasions around the end of the head, and briefly perched on the wooden fence; a Tree Sparrow was on the HHC fence at dawn; a male Ring Ouzel was on the driving range slightly later; and a Short-eared Owl left the area high, with a large attendance of gulls, mid-morning. The first Yellow Wagtail were encountered this morning, 2 over Wick and 2 over the head; allso new for the year were 2 Whimbrel which arrived on Stanpit. Willow Warbler arrived en masse, over 200 were around Wick Fields at first light, but these moved on quickly as only 50 or so were present a couple of hours later; a further 150 were spread across Hengistbury, also 100 Chiffchaff and 10 Blackcap. The best of the overhead movement were 5 Rook and single Yellowhammer, Bullfinch and Tree Pipit north; while the mainstream comprised 350 Linnet, 250 Meadow Pipit, 25 Goldfinch and 8 Swallow. Other common migrants included 25 Wheatear, most on the Barn Field but some on Wick, and 21 Sandwich Tern passed at sea. This afternoon, a large gathering of pipit on Priory Marsh contained at least 3 Water Pipit.

April 7th

Conditions seemed a little more favourable with the wind dropping slightly and clearer skies; but, in general, things were still quiet. Both the main areas of the harbour were covered during the morning with Stanpit fairing slightly better, producing the year's first Hobby. Also overhead were 3 Brambling north and a single Yellowhammer. Migrants in the bushes included: 3 male Blackcap and 3 Willow Warbler, also 10 Chiffchaff, although the latter may not be new arrivals. There was also a notable Redshank count, 96 birds the total, but now only 7 Brent Goose. A Bar-tailed Godwit and adult Yellow-legged Gull were seen in the harbour from Mudeford Quay this morning. Hengistbury's contribution comprises, 7 Common Scoter east, just 1 Purple Sandpiper and 1 Wheatear. A band of 4 Jay in the woodland was unusual for the time of year. Some late afternoon interest was provided by a pair of calling Mediterranean Gull entering the harbour over Mudeford Quay. There are also information services reports of 6 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh, and Whimbrel and Knot from Stanpit.

April 6th

In spite of my pessimism yesterday, one regular commendably ventured out, see previous day's report for details. Today was a slight improvement with a singing Willow Warbler and a few similarly behaving Chiffchaff on Wick. A seawatch produced 2 Rook in off and north, 10 Common Scoter west, and 2 Gannet and 1 Red-breasted Merganser east. A single Wheatear was on the top of the head and a single Great-crested Grebe was in the harbour. Late morning at Stanpit saw 6 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh, 5 in breeding plumage, and 6 Sandwich Tern around the marsh.

April 5th

Given the recent and current condition, it was not surprising that reports were sparse. Hengistbury produced just 8 Chiffchaff, 2 Great-crested Grebe off the Nursery, 4 Turnstone on the sandspit and 3 Gannet moving west offshore.

April 4th

The atrocious overnight conditions and the continuing, strong south-westerly wind put paid to any significant migrant arrival. The only newcomers were a single Wheatear on Stanpit's East Marsh and a Swallow over Priory Marsh. However, Chiffchaff seem to be on territory everywhere, with any area of suitable habitat echoing to the monotonous song. As the wintering birds leave, Stanpit wader numbers are dropping away; only 50 Dunlin, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstone and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit were counted today, but there are still at least 5 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh. There were also 50 or so Brent Goose, presumably birds from further west stopping off. The colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit seen yesterday was ringed as a chick in Iceland in July 2002, click here and go to Bird 3 for full life history details. In the late afternoon, a Jack Snipe was viewable on the reedy fringes opposite the Barn on Hengistbury.

April 3rd

After the good run of mid-week days, it was a typical Saturday. That is, poor weather and few birds! Only real noted migration was 110 Brent Goose and 45 Common Gull, the latter nearly all first-winter birds, east; while 9 Common Scoter went west and a further 7 east; also a Buzzard was escorted off the head by a pack of Herring Gull. Other seabirds included 3 Fulmar, 3 Razorbill, 2 Gannet and 1 Guillemot. Overhead was also poor, just 50 or so Meadow Pipit and negligible numbers of Linnet, however, 2 Swallow were seen coming in off. There are still 5 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes, along with 3 Turnstone. Holloway's Dock held 85 Black-tailed Godwit, including the same colour-ringed bird as last Saturday. Details are still being sought, ring combination is: left leg above knee, yellow; right leg above knee, pale green over red.

April 2nd

Given the amount of birders out, myself included, there is very little to report. The best bird is probably a Ruff on Priory Marsh this afternoon, while the flock of 6 Great-crested Grebe were still together in the harbour. This morning saw at least 90 Brent Goose enter the harbour over Double Dykes and 5 Sandwich Tern were off Hengistbury this afternoon. A couple of 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker were seen there this morning.

April 1st

The weather turned overnight, with some heavy, pre-dawn rain then cloud cover throughout the day. Nevertheless, there was lots to be seen; so, in no particular order, here goes. Just after dawn, there was a flurry of birds moving off the head and passing the HHC, these included 1 Firecrest, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 12 Goldcrest and 25 Chiffchaff, also seen from there were 6 Fieldfare descending into the Wick area. A further 20 Chiffchaff and 8 Goldcrest were scattered elsewhere on Hengistbury. A sizeable overhead migration was recorded, all northbound; and totalling: 1300 Meadow Pipit, 210 Linnet, 12 Golden Plover, 8 Brambling, 1 female Ring Ouzel and 1 Siskin, while 3 Reed Bunting in off the sea are definitely worth a mention. The only new bird for the year was a single Whitethroat. Off the Beach Huts an easterly movement was taking place with 17 Common Scoter, 4 Ringed Plover, 4 Fulmar, 4 Eider, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Gannet recorded. 15 Auk sp. went west, as did 2 Red-throated Diver, with another going east. Perhaps the most remarkable sighting of the day was a flock of 6 Great-crested Grebe in the harbour, just off the Nursery. A wet, evening visit to Stanpit produced 12 Sandwich Tern, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and the Knot.

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