Sightings for May 2004

May 31st

Most of the active local observers headed towards Acres Down, lured by the seasonal raptor attractions; consequently, the harbour was grossly underwatched. Thankfully though, at least one regular was out on the head today and was rewarded with an adult Mediterranean Gull over Holllway's Dock. Offshore, around 15 Gannet were seen and 2 Fulmar headed west. There were plans for an afternoon visit to Stanpit, but the onset of the rain scuppered these. Vehicular observations from the Argyle Road slipway produced just 3 Black-tailed Godwit overhead to the east and a newly fledged brood of 3 Mute Swan cygnets.

May 30th

Pretty quiet today, the only Hengistbury report being 6 Sanderling on the beach by Double Dykes this morning. Stanpit faired slightly better, 55 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Sanderling being the wader return; and a male Dartford Warbler was on Crouch Hill. After the early afternoon high tide and the Bank Holiday level of disturbance, the waders dramatically reduced; although 6 Black-tailed Godwit did arrive. Just after the showers, 20 or so Dunlin took to the area, while, slightly earlier, 6 Lapwing had headed north. The first Shelduck brood took to the water today with 9 duckling seen this morning, however, by the afternoon, 1 had already been lost.

May 29th

Given the light south-easterly and the late date in May, it was straight to the sea, which started well but tailed off by mid-morning. A total of 11 Manx Shearwater were seen, moving in both directions, while the bulk of 100 or so Gannet went east. Around Fulmar were seen on and off, and 6 Kittiwake, 4 adults and 2 first-summer birds, also passed by. Some wader movement was evident with 20 Sanderling west, 9 Dunlin east and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit entering the harbour.

May 28th

Last night's survey drew a blank, probably due to the breezy conditions. In fact, the whole harbour was a little blank today, just 34 Dunlin to report from Stanpit. The weather, an onshore south-easterly, suggested seawatching may have been the best option.

May 27th

Almost the same conditions as yesterday, but with a couple of highlights. Both came from Stanpit this morning, where a Roseate Tern was seen moving through the harbour, also a Turtle Dove coming from Hengistbury and heading north. Also of interest were a total of 32 House Martin moving north, these birds have not been seen in great numbers this spring. There were good tern counts today, with 21 Little Tern feeding off the Long Groyne on Hengistbury, while over 25 Sandwich Tern were using the harbour. Waders continue to change, 17 Sanderling arrived this morning to join 2 Bar-tailed Godwit; however, by afternoon, the Sanderling had reduced to 2 birds, also a Ringed Plover. The Dunlin were counted at 94 and there were 3 Curlew today, which is notable for May. Also noteworthy, but concerning, were 8 Lapwing seen this evening: hopefully, not an indication of local breeding failure. Hengistbury will be visited this evening in conjunction with the national Nightjar survey.

May 26th

A nice warm day with a light easterly breeze. The Bearded Tit were again seen today, the male perching obligingly on the HHC hedge and calling to the female, which responded, presumably from the nest, deep in one of the reedbeds. Out to sea, 11 Sanderling and 6 Knot moved east, while a single Common Scoter went the opposite way, and around 20 Gannet were noted. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen leaving the head and a Common Sandpiper was on groynes at the end of the head. Harbour waders seen from Hengistbury before lunch included 3 Whimbrel, 2 Curlew and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. A more detailed count took place this afternoon, the totals being: 128 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 7 Sanderling, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover and 1 Turnstone. There were also 30 Sandwich Tern and 4 Common Tern in the harbour.

May 25th

A much duller start than of late, but the day did finish to blue skies. Bearded Tit are long suspected breeders, but rarely confirmed, so a male in display flight over the HHC reedbed this morning added weight to the argument. Other than that, it is really the waders that hold the interest: this morning, a Greenshank was in Barn Bight and Stanpit held 106 Dunlin and 1 Turnstone, while 18 Black-tailed Godwit passed north overhead. By the evening, there were 2 Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, including a colour-ringed bird, and 1 Curlew. A pair of Gadwall were seen in Barn Bight and later off Blackberry Point.

May 24th

Another beautiful morning with almost no wind and the sea off Hengistbury being described as glass like; on which sat a late Great-crested Grebe. Also behind the times was a single Wheatear on the head itself. Other reports from Hengistbury include 11 Common Scoter and a Red-legged Partridge in the Barn Field. When will they provide us with evidence of breeding? The very low harbour tides make even finding waders difficult, however, this morning, an Avocet was seen off Blackberry Point, also 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 70 Dunlin.

May 23rd

As the summer approaches, the birds become fewer. The clear skies over Stanpit this morning were completely devoid of any moving birds. The extremely low tide made wader watching difficult. The only notable records were 2 Black-tailed Godwit in Parky Meade, and 3 Ringed Plover and 1 Grey Plover off South Marsh. By far the best bird of the morning, was an adult Little Gull which flew upriver past the HHC around 8:30. A remarkable record from Wick this afternoon involved a summer-plumaged Black-throated Diver appearing from the east, circling the fields a couple of times, then heading inland up the Avon Valley! A Garden Warbler was in the field adjacent to the HHC. The late afternoon ebbing tide produced a better selection around Stanpit Bight, with 60+ Dunlin, 4 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone, 2 Curlew, 1 Knot, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Grey Plover being seen. Jackdaw, previously difficult to regularly record, despite their close breeding proximity to the area, are now being seen frequently in most of the harbour.

May 22nd

A surprisingly cold start to the day: brought on by the wind which swung from south-west to north-east during the first few hours of the daylight. The later arriving migrants were well represented on Hengistbury with 189 Swift passing generally north-east throughout the morning; 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 in Wick Ditch, 1 in the Wood and 1 one the Common; and a Whinchat on the Barn Field. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was seen on two occasions around the Hungry Hiker Café. The seawatch was short of action, apart from a flock of 5 Eider, including one drake, which moved east and 2 Arctic Tern heading the same way. A group of 17 Sanderling made a brief stop to feed on the shoreline in front of the Beach Huts, before being replaced by a single Common Sandpiper. A couple of the former had also earlier passed east, while one of the latter had been seen arriving over the Common. Also from the Beach Huts were: 50+ Gannet feeding distantly offshore, 3 Whimbrel and 2 Kittiwake. Other birds of interest from Hengistbury included 8 Bar-tailed Godwit in the harbour and a Lapwing heading south. After lunch, Fisherman's Bank 121 Dunlin, but just 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone and 1 Whimbrel. Over the last few days, small groups of Grey Heron, mostly juveniles, have been moving in random directions and breeding Cuckoo are becoming very conspicuous.

May 21st

A reasonably strong north-easterly wind meant that Stanpit wasn't quite so pleasant as of late. Waders are turning over rapidly, this morning's high tide encouraged 80 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover and 5 Sanderling to leave high to the east; the only remainers being 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Turnstone. A brief seawatch from the Beach Huts produced a first-summer Mediterranean Gull and 12 Common Tern, while a Hobby was over Wick Fields. In the evening, Stanpit contained presumably 131 new Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone, while, earlier in the day, a Lapwing had been seen close to Priory Marsh .

May 20th

The only news received so far today is from Stanpit. An early morning visit saw 2 Common Sandpiper flying downriver. At one stage all the small waders left the Harbour - 8 Sanderling, 1 Turnstone and 145 Dunlin all moved off. Black-tailed Godwit were also on the move with 15 heading high south and then a little later 8 birds went north towards the Avon Valley. As the tide rose new birds arrived - 58 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover and 2 Sanderling. This afternoon there were 65 Dunlin, 11 Sanderling, 6 Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstone, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Whimbrel; as well as the unseasonal Curlew and an over-flying Lapwing.

May 19th

The only evidence of passerine migration today was a small movement of Swallow and 2 Whinchat on the Barn Field. From Blackberry Point 17 Common and 3 Arctic Tern were seen moving through the harbour before heading south-west over the Common; 5 Little Gull also passed through. This morning wader numbers were well down on yesterday with just 56 Dunlin, 28 Ringed Plover, 14 Sanderling and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit. By mid-afternoon the numbers had changed again with 144 Dunlin, 17 Sanderling, 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Turnstone and 1 Grey Plover.

May 18th

Another clear blue sky this morning didn't offer much hope of grounded migrants although a couple of Yellow Wagtail over Stanpit indicated that there were still a few stragglers around. On the rising tide there were 120 Dunlin, 9 Bar-tailed and 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 4 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Turnstone and 1 Knot. By mid afternoon the numbers had changed significantly with 208 Dunlin, an impressive 26 Sanderling, 14 Ringed and 4 Grey Plover, 4 Whimbrel and just 1 Turnstone. Late evening, a Nightjar was churring by the Ironstone Quarry and a Little Owl was heard on Wick.

May 17th

More of the same weather today, which encouraged more good coverage. A morning seawatch from Hengistbury produced 1 Great-northern Diver west and 1 Red-throated Diver east, along with a drake Red-breasted Merganser fishing offshore, the latter an excellent late record. A remarkable 14 Purple Sandpiper were still around, 12 on the groynes by the Beach Huts and another couple by the Point House Café. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen to leave the head and 22 Whimbrel departed the harbour. Looking towards Stanpit, 4 Knot and 2 Sanderling could be seen. Before lunch, Stanpit held 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover, 2 Sanderling, 2 Greenshank and 1 Common Sandpiper. By late afternoon, there had been a turnover of waders and the numbers stood at: 165 Dunlin, 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank, 3 Sanderling, 1 Curlew, 1 Common Sandpiper and, saving the best to last, 1 Little Stint. Passerine migrants included 3 Whinchat and a high count of 5 Lesser Whitethroat.

May 16th

Just back from 2 weeks in Beidaihe and Happy Island, China, where the birding can only be described as awesome. As always, thanks to Ian Southworth for deputising while I was away. Today again saw summer-like conditions, suitable for a Golden Oriole in the Nursery on Hengistbury. The bird was initially heard calling from South Marsh, Stanpit, before being seen to leave the head and move over north. Also seen on Hengistbury this morning were the Red-legged Partridge and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Barn Field, 7 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock, as well as 1 Cuckoo and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. There was a reasonably significant movement of Swift over the area in the morning, with over 220 birds going north, also 1 Hobby. Waders at Stanpit throughout the day included 150 Dunlin, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Whimbrel, 6 Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling and 1lingering Curlew. A Tree Pipit heard and seen over the marsh in the evening is, indeed, an interesting record; while, to a lesser degree, were a pair of Shoveler and 3 Lapwing on Priory Marsh. Also seen were Common Tern over Clay Pool and a single Wheatear.

May 15th

There was no sign of the sea mist today as we enjoyed a glorious spring day in the harbour with temperatures probably in the low twenties. Unfortunately migration is grinding to a halt hence there is very little to report - 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Swift and around 20 Swallow were noted. At sea small numbers of Sandwich and Common Tern were milling around and 15 Common Scoter flew west. In Holloway's Dock were 2 Bar-tailed and 2 Black-tailed Godwit and there were also 2 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. A single Whinchat was on Priory Marsh this afternoon. Waders on Stanpit early evening were 135 Dunlin, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover; also 11 Black-tailed Godwit headed north.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin have been seen recently - 8 on the 7th, 5 yesterday and 4 today - off the cliffs from the Pointhouse Cafe.

May 14th

The harbour was again shrouded in mist for much of the morning hence the forecast of wall-to-wall sunshine didn't materialise! Late morning and late afternoon visits to Stanpit produced a good selection of waders - 80 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed and 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Turnstone, 2 Curlew, 2 Sanderling, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 1 Knot.

May 13th

Today's star bird was a Short-eared Owl, which occasionally showed well in flight but spent most of the time settled on the ground on Central Marsh this afternoon. A Wood Warbler singing from the vicinity of the Nursery on Hengistbury this morning is only the fourth harbour record this spring. On Wick both Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were heard; there was another Lesser Whitethroat in North Scrubs together with just one Spotted Flycatcher. The Cuckoo was also still on Crouch Hill. Off the Beach Huts were 40 Sandwich Tern, 10 Common Tern, 12 Common Scoter, 1 Fulmar and 1 Kittiwake. On the groynes were 100 Dunlin and on the beach were 7 Whimbrel, 7 Sanderling and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. Waders at Stanpit today were 92 Dunlin, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank and a summer plumaged Knot. This evening 4 Crossbill headed west over the harbour.

May 12th

Despite many hours sea watching this spring and despite good numbers being reported from most other south coast sites our first Pomarine Skua still eludes us. A couple of hours at the Beach Huts this morning produced 23 Common Tern, 22 Sandwich Tern, 2 Arctic Tern, 18 Whimbrel, 2 Eider and 2 Teal all moving east plus 8 Guillemot and 1 Razorbill heading west. There was also a sizeable flock of Sandwich Tern estimated at around 40 birds feeding off Mudeford Quay. There were 2 Yellow Wagtail past the HHC, 2 Cuckoo (1 on Wick and 1 on Crouch Hill) and also 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 in the woodland at Hengistbury and 2 in the North Scrubs. Waders on Stanpit were just 3 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover and 2 Curlew .

May 11th

A Peregrine over the HHC was the first bird of note this morning. The trickle of migrants continued with both Whinchat and Wheatear on Wick and a further 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field. A very vocal Cuckoo was also on Wick this morning. Around 9am a sea fret blanketed the harbour and unfortunately remained for most of the day hence there are no further reports.

May 10th

It's clear that an influx of Sedge Warbler has occurred over the last couple of days as the SSSI reedbed held at least 6 singing males this morning. There was a Spotted Flycatcher near the Ranger's barn and another 5 in the woodland. A party of 'commic' type terns was feeding off the Beach Huts and slowly moving east; these were mainly Common Tern but there were 2 Arctic Tern amongst them. A further 10 Common Tern were noted making 33 in all. Two flocks of Common Scoter totalling 75 birds and 34 Dunlin also moved east. On the groynes were 2 Common Sandpiper and 4 Purple Sandpiper. Another 2 Common Sandpiper could be seen from Fisherman's Bank and there were 3 off Grimmery this afternoon.. In the harbour were 28 Dunlin, 5 Whimbrel (4 on Stanpit and 1 in Barn Bight), 1 Greenshank and a summer plumaged Grey Plover.

May 9th

A fine and dry morning with low cloud and virtually no wind promised much but delivered very little - the only new birds being a Spotted Flycatcher in the woodland, a Garden Warbler in North Scrubs and a few Swift and Swallow moving through. On Stanpit there were 80 Dunlin, 14 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot in summer plumage and 1 Sanderling plus 16 Sandwich and 2 Common Tern. There are also still 3 Tufted Duck frequenting the Marsh!

May 8th

The morning started well when a Hobby was seen heading north over the HHC at around 7am. With the wind strengthening from the north-west and heavy showers forecast the sea was once again the best option. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was resting on one of the baskets just off the Beach Huts. Between 7:30 and 10am a good selection of species was seen mainly moving east. The list included both dark and pale phase Arctic Skua, a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver, 33 Common Scoter, 20 Gannet, 8 Manx Shearwater, 18 Little Tern and 2 Fulmar. Moving west were 28 Common Tern, 1 Arctic Tern, 5 Razorbill and 11 Guillemot. Small numbers of Whimbrel ( 14 in all ) came in off the sea and a few Swift and Swallow battled their way in. Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Common Sandpiper and a few Dunlin were also noted. On Stanpit this afternoon very few waders were present, just 48 Dunlin, 11 Whimbrel, 5 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Black-tailed and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit.

May 7th

The combination of clear overnight skies and this morning's light westerly winds meant that there was very little in the way of migration today. Even on Stanpit wader numbers were well down with just a dozen Dunlin, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Ringed Plover reported. There were also 13 Little Tern in the harbour. Om Hengistbury, 8 Whimbrel came in off the sea.

May 6th

Although the wind had eased and the sea was much flatter there were still a few birds out there! A Great Skua and a dark phase Arctic Skua both moved east whilst 8 Manx Shearwater headed west. A few Common Tern passed by in a westerly direction and 3 Little Tern lingered off the Beach Huts. There were also 150 Dunlin roosting on the long groyne possibly driven off Stanpit by the very high tide. A Wood Warbler singing in the woodland was the only passerine of note and the Lesser Whitethroat is still on territory in Wick Ditch.

May 5th

The continued unsettled weather with strong winds and frequent heavy showers directed efforts to the sea again this morning. Two distant skuas moved east, one of which was clearly a Great Skua but the other smaller bird defied identification. A much closer pale phase Arctic Skua was also seen plus a summer plumaged Great Northern Diver - both birds heading east. Other movement today included 25 Gannet east, 7 Common Scoter west and 2 east, 2 Fulmar west, 18 Common Tern, 16 Little Tern and 6 Arctic Tern all west and the rather unusual sight of 2 Gadwall west. Waders on the move were 80 Dunlin, 1 Turnstone, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Purple Sandpiper. A Red-legged Partridge was flushed from the top of the Head. On Stanpit there were 5 Little Tern, 2 Greenshank and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit.

May 4th

The strong south-westerlies and torrential rain deterred any of the harbour regulars from venturing out this morning. A brief seawatch from the shelter of the car on Mudeford Quay produced just 12 Little Tern and 1 Common Tern moving west. A couple of Wheatear on Crouch Hill this afternoon proved that despite the weather passerines were still on the move. Waders on Stanpit were 325 Dunlin, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Whimbrel and 2 Greenshank; the latter from Fisherman's Bank where a pair of Tufted Duck were again present. Stanpit also held 7 Sandwich Tern, 3 Common Tern and 1 Little Tern.

May 3rd

Needless to say after a mainly clear night there was no sign of the Woodchat Shrike this morning. In fact migrants generally were few and far between. With the weather quickly deteriorating seawatching appeared to be the best option but even the sea was slow with just a few birds moving - 17 Guillemot plus 25 unidentified auk west, 40 Gannet west, 14 Common Scoter west and 15 east, 11 Common Tern west and 5 east, 57 Dunlin west plus 7 Fulmar and 3 Little Tern east; also 47 Swallow and a single Swift came in off the sea. A late afternoon visit to Stanpit produced a Hobby which was seen arriving high from the south then hawking over Central Marsh before moving north up the Avon Valley. A Raven also passed through the harbour heading towards the Purbecks. Waders included 372 Dunlin, 4 Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Greenshank. Over Priory Marsh this evening were 60 Sand Martin, 10 House Martin and 2 Swallow together with 10 Swift north over the golf course.

May 2nd

The harbour's recent fine run of rarities continued today when a female Woodchat Shrike was on Wick Fields. This is the 4th record of this species for CHOG, the previous ones being in 1983, 1990 and 1996. It was all the more surprising given the lack of common migrants following a fine clear night - just 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat and 1 Grasshopper Warbler were reported. The sea fared little better with 12 Sandwich and 3 Common Tern. Off Fisherman's Bank this morning there was the rather odd record of 7 drake Tufted Duck, also 1 Greenshank there. In the North Scrubs on Stanpit were 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Garden Warbler. Whilst watching the Woodchat an Osprey was seen distantly heading north this afternoon. Waders on Stanpit this evening included 250 Dunlin, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Sanderling.

May 1st

Low cloud and mist over the harbour this morning promised much in the way of migration and so it proved. For the early risers a Wood Warbler was singing on the edge of Wick village just after 6:30am! There were 3 Spotted Flycatcher between Double Dykes and the Rangers cottage and a Whinchat on the Barn Field. The first Turtle Dove of the year came in off the sea and over the Beach Huts mid morning. Estimates of common migrants were 60 Sedge Warbler, 40 phylloscs, 40 Whitethroat, 25 Swift, 14 Wheatear, 12 Blackcap, 7 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Yellow Wagtail. Waders seen arriving were 43 Dunlin, 17 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Whimbrel. The sea was disappointingly quiet although there was some activity with most birds moving east - 17 Kittiwake, 8 Common Scoter, 10 Sandwich Tern, 5 Whimbrel and 3 Common Tern, also 3 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. A male Peregrine visited the Harbour. A late afternoon visit to Stanpit produced 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Garden Warbler in North Scrubs, Dartford Warbler and Cuckoo on Crouch Hill and a single Wheatear on East Marsh. The Dunlin flock numbered 500; also present were 37 bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, 1 summer-plumaged Knot, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank and a Little Tern.

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