Sightings for February 2005

February 28th

The month closed with the coldest air temperatures of the winter. Minus 3ºC was the reading at Stanpit this morning, meaning even the brackish waters of Stanpit Bight were frozen with most of the waders looking miserably sitting it out on East Marsh. These included the Bar-tailed Godwit, while the Common Sandpiper could be seen along Fisherman's Bank. A group of 4 Goldeneye were drifting up the river around Speller's Point and the Shelduck reached a new maximum of 36.

February 27th

If you are interested in more details of yesterday's pipit location, please check back to a revised posting. Today, in a very cold north wind, the pipit flock had largely dispersed; however, in the lee of the North Scrubs, some birds were on the fringe of Central Marsh. There was 1 Water Pipit present and at least one very interesting littoralis candidate. A further Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh, as were 52 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe and 1 Ruff. The same area is also, uncharacteristically, attracting the Brent Goose - the 60 bird gaggle, including colour-ringed 8C, alternating between there and Central Marsh for most of the morning. A new addition to the year list was 2 Mistle Thrush over Smithy's Field, yesterday one had been seen heading purposefully towards the recording area over the Wick Ferry. The Knot was seen around Stanpit Bight, the Goldeneye, still numbering 8, were in the harbour and a single Goldcrest was in the Wood on Hengistbury. This afternoon, as the tide ebbed, a large male Ruff was seen arriving over Stanpit Village, a good garden bird, while another was in the harbour off Mudeford Quay. The Common Sandpiper was also on that side of the water. Late news: a Woodcock was flushed from the Long Field by the Nursery.

February 26th

Today saw early morning snow showers in a light northerly wind. Stanpit provided the best of the day with 2 Scandinavian littoralis Rock Pipit there this morning. The birds were in a group of around 150 pipit, which also included a single Water Pipit, about the Rusty Boat area. A good total of 6 Ruff were on South Marsh, before heading off in the direction of Wick Fields; and Peregrine was overhead. Two of the most unusual records for the day would be considered mundane elsewhere. A group of 3 Jackdaw over the Beach Huts and a Collared Dove in the Wood, suggest some kind of local displacement. A seawatch was disappointing, the best being a Black-throated Diver west, along with 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Shelduck, 1 Razorbill and 13 Teal, while a single Curlew passed east. This afternoon, Stanpit contributed an adult, breeding-plumaged Mediterranean Gull seen in flight towards the Black House, the Common Sandpiper on Fishermans's Bank, where it has been all day, the Knot and a single Ruff. There were also 7 Pintail, 3 drakes and 4 ducks, and the eight-strong Goldeneye flock, which includes 1 drake, was in the harbour. A Kingfisher was seen on Fisherman's Bank this morning, perched in a tree at the northern end.

Late wader news from a mid-morning sojourn along the Sandspit. There were 2 Purple Sandpiper, 45 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone by groyne S12, while the lonesome Grey Plover had moved slightly, to S11.

February 25th

The usual complement from Fisherman's Bank this morning, with the Common Sandpiper and the Knot both putting in an appearance; while, by the Warden's Caravan, there were over 60 Black-tailed Godwit. On the falling tide this afternoon, a Ruff was in the harbour off Mudeford Quay.

February 24th

Best bird of a quiet day was a Water Pipit on the flooded Wick Fields, in the area by the driving range; also 4 Black-tailed Godwit there. From the convenience of Fisherman's Bank, the 8 Goldeneye were again seen, and the now regular Common Sandpiper and Knot made it into the records.

February 23rd

Given the current and further predicted cold spell, this morning was a chilly disappointment. A Pochard passing over Barn Bight, before heading up river, was the only evidence of something about to happen. Otherwise, it was normal proceedings. The 8 Goldeneye were in the harbour and a Great-crested Grebe was feeding very close in amongst the groynes. A 1 hour seawatch produced a measly 2 Brent Goose and 1 Razorbill west. Finally from Hengistbury, a Kingfisher was seen briefly as it traversed Barn Bight. Later in the morning, 10 Turnstone were seen from Mudeford Quay. By mid-afternoon, this had increased to 17 birds, all around the Black House, also 4 Grey Plover on the beach there.

February 22nd

The wind eventually died down overnight, but light snow showers throughout the day created a real wintry feel. Again, the only so far reported excursion was to Fisherman's Bank. The Common Sandpiper again being noted, along with the Ruff, the latter seen over in Stanpit Bight. A total of 123 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in that area, while the 8 strong Goldeneye flock could be seen out in the harbour. Check back to yesterday for some late news from Stanpit.

February 21st

It is still very cold! Fisherman's Bank provided a clean sweep of the current winter interest. The Common Sandpiper was again on the near shore, around the small jetties, and the Bar-tailed Godwit was sleeping out the high tide on East Marsh. The Ruff numbers seem to be dwindling, just a single bird seen today. The 7 Goldeneye could be seen out in the harbour and at least 17 Turnstone were scattered around. The Grey Plover were counted at 31 birds, but there were probably more hiding away in the grass. The late afternoon saw a small change in events; the Common Sandpiper had moved to the Sandspit, by the Black House, and the Goldeneye had increased by 1 brown-headed bird, to a total of 8, and were diving off the Knoll. Off Fisherman's Bank a small group of 5 Pintail, 2 of them drakes, could be seen from Hengistbury.

Late news: 2 male Bullfinch were around the Warden's Caravan at Stanpit.

February 20th

Still the north wind blows and it's not pleasant. It is soon supposed to veer east and bring even colder weather and, hopefully, some new birds with it. A Siskin seen coming in off the sea this morning at Hengistbury is, perhaps, an early indicator. Elsewhere, it was fairly quiet; the organised walk round Stanpit was enjoyable, but can't be claimed as a major ornithological success. The Knot was again in Stanpit Bight, but most of the larger waders had earlier been moved on by a hunting, adult male Peregrine. A couple of Chiffchaff were around Purewell Stream and a Grey Wagtail was around the Natterjack Pool. Brent Goose were counted at 82 and included colour-ringed 8C. Late afternoon, a Ruff was on the exposed mud off the approach road to Mudeford Quay and 3 Pintail, 1 drake and 2 duck, were dabbling off Blackberry Point.

February 19th

A well recorded day in less than ideal conditions, the north-west wind biting wherever it could. Probably the best record is an unkindness of 6 Raven feeding on the top of the head just after dawn, where they received constant abuse from their smaller cousins. This is particularly intriguing, as shouldn't Raven be doing whatever it is they do at this time of year? On Stanpit, 3 Ruff were seen, 2 on East Marsh and 1 on South Marsh, the Bar-tailed Godwit was roosting with the Dunlin on East Marsh, yesterday's Knot was on Blackberry Point and the Common Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank, where it remained throughout the day. The sea barely deserves a mention, despite the attention it received, although an easterly trickle of Brent Goose served to remind the time of year. There are still 7 Goldeneye in the area; a group of 6 inside the harbour were joined by another, which had initially been on the sea off Mudeford Quay. During the late morning, an interesting pipit on the flooded field by the HHC showed characteristics of Scandinavian Rock Pipit. In the late afternoon, Stanpit and Priory Marsh featured with a total 43 Snipe being an impressive total, also 1 Jack Snipe on the former, while the latter held a Ruff. A single Kingfisher was around Stanpit Bight. Finally, the regular counts, Brent Goose 64, Black-tailed Godwit between 70-100, a high 44 Grey Plover and 39 Ringed Plover.

February 18th

A really pleasant morning soon gave way to an uncomfortably cold wind. From Hengistbury mid-morning, 6 Goldeneye, including the drake, were inside the harbour and 30 Shelduck were counted on Stanpit. A lazy, but warm, drive round Mudeford Quay in the early afternoon saw the Common Sandpiper on the harbour shore by the Lifeboat Station, and 2 Ruff could be seen on an exposed island of sand. Moving onto the Argyll Road slipway and Knot made it onto the year list, with 1 bird in the channel, also 88 Black-tailed Godwit counted by two independent auditors, so the figure is dead on today. Slightly later in the day, 2 Ruff were seen from Fisherman's Bank. Other interesting waders in the harbour included the Bar-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight and 10 Turnstone on Blackberry, while the Grey Plover were recorded as 33 birds. On Priory Marsh, there was just 1 Water Pipit seen today, but 9 Little Grebe on the river is, by far, the highest count of the season and the sort of numbers we should expect. A couple of Chiffchaff were in the same area and a Coal Tit was by the boatyard at Two Riversmeet. The vagrant Hercules was again making a nuisance of itself over the area. What happened to peace and quiet?

February 17th

The very cold night gave way to cloud in the early hours, which made for a much milder morning than expected. Just a brief visit to Stanpit, where there was a single Ruff out on the mud off Blackberry Point, at least 92 Black-tailed Godwit and 55 Brent Goose. A lunchtime visit to Hengistbury was reasonably productive and registered another Goldeneye influx, with 7 birds in the harbour, just 1 being an adult drake. All were then flushed by a low flying Hercules! Continuing the wildfowl interest, 3 Pintail and 2 Gadwall were also noted. On the harbour shore, by the Salt Hurns, there were 14 Tunnstone, while 45 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in Barn Bight. At dusk, Redwing were heard over Two Riversmeet. Some late news: there were 2, maybe 3, Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and a Chiffchaff on the embankment there, and the Common Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank.

February 16th

Despite the continuing cold weather, there were a good variety of reports from the Stanpit area this morning. A limping, adult Yellow-legged Gull on Blackberry Point is presumably Limpy returning again, this time in full maturity. A couple of Grey-lag Goose seen arriving over the Black House and heading south-west were interesting, given the current cold spell. Priory Marsh hosted 2 Water Pipit, while 1 Jack Snipe came up off Central Marsh. There was a Grey Wagtail by the Rusty Boat and a male Peregrine buzzed over Fisherman's Bank. From there, 2 Ruff and 135 Black-tailed Godwit could be seen on East Marsh, also a Kingfisher. A Ruff was also seen over the HHC and, later, on Wick Fields, where several Snipe could be seen in the open, feeding around the slightly iced puddles.

February 15th

More unpleasantness from the weather today, as the cold north-west wind continued throughout. Wick Fields provided some local interest, in the form of a male Bullfinch, also the Bar-tailed Godwit with 7 Black-tailed Godwit. The floods also held a Grey Wagtail. Off Double Dykes, 2 Great-crested Grebe could be seen on the water. From Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime, 4 Ruff could be seen on or just off East Marsh and the Common Sandpiper was again present. Black-tailed Godwit on Stanpit numbered 150 birds.

February 14th

Although the wind had eased this morning it was slightly more northerly hence it was still very cold. On Priory Marsh the call of Bearded Tit was heard with possibly up to three birds involved; there was also 1 Water Pipit present. Elsewhere on Stanpit 3 Ruff were on East Marsh, Grey Plover numbered 31 and Shelduck 26. A drake Pintail alighted in Stanpit Bight briefly before heading north up the Avon valley. The Common Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank and 110 Black-tailed Godwit were counted from there; also 4 Goldeneye off the Avonmouth Hotel and 3 Little Grebe on the river. This afternoon 10 Turnstone were feeding by the Black House on the Mudeford Sandspit. Late news: 2 Chiffchaff were in an ivy covered bush on Fisherman's Bank.

February 13th

A strong north-westerly wind made it feel bitterly cold despite plenty of sunshine today. A Raven over Hengistbury and 3 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes were the highlights on another day of meagre pickings! Black-tailed Godwit were counted as 27 in Holloway's Dock and 25 on Stanpit. The Brent Goose flock of 82 birds included the colour-ringed individual; also present were 25 Grey Plover and 22 Shelduck.

February 12th

"There has to be more to seawatching than Hengistbury," was the phrase of the morning. "Never mind, it's the time of year, it's probably bad everywhere, " was the consolatory reply. Then came news of the albatross off Anglesey! Birds seen here were 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 west and 1 on the water, 15 Dunlin and 1 Gannet west, 2 Goldeneye over the Beach Huts, probably the harbour birds, 2 Razorbill and 1 Great-crested Grebe. In fact, the best records came earlier, with a good total of 43 Little Egret seen leaving the Nursery roost and a Peregrine over Stanpit. During the afternoon, there were 8 Purple Sandpiper on groynes S3 to S5 and 13 Turnstone feeding on the harbour shore by the Noddy Train Terminus.

February 11th

An almost windless day of constant drizzle. The early part of the day was spent watching the sea, where 4 Great-crested Grebe were very, very close off the Beach Huts, there's obviously something attractive there. Another bird also passed by west. From the top of the head, the Goldeneye pair could be seen well down the main navigation channel, 76 Brent Goose were counted on Stanpit and 3 Little Grebe were in Barn Bight. This afternoon, the Goldeneye had been joined by another brown-headed bird. On Wick Fields, there were 112 Black-tailed Godwit, along with 1Ruff, in the normal spot, just south of the River House. This is also turning into the best place to catch up with wintering Grey Wagtail, a single bird there again today. A couple of Chiffchaff were in the scrub and things have taken a massive turn for the better for the 5 cock Pheasant, there are now 6 hens with them!

February 10th

A moderate south-westerly wind accompanied by rain, tempted some to the sea this morning. In a brief watch, 4 Red-throated Diver were seen from the Beach Huts - 2 birds east, 1 west and 1 on the water. A Common Scoter and 2 Razorbill also passed by west and a Great-crested Grebe was in the surf. On the groynes at the end of the head, there were 3 Purple Sandpiper, with a further 4 at the end of the Sandspit.

February 9th

A much better reported day. Stanpit was the venue and on the morning's high tide, 3 Ruff could be seen on East Marsh, while the Bar-tailed Godwit was on the fringes of Stanpit Bight with the Dunlin flock. A Merlin overhead caused havoc amongst the massed waders, in contrast,a couple of Shoveler flew less menacingly towards Priory Marsh. The Common Sandpiper was at the southernmost public area of Fisherman's Bank and the Goldeneye pair were well down the channel, somewhere off the Avonmouth Hotel. A flock of 117 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding left of the path, just past the Warden's Caravan: a total of 26 Shelduck is the highest for a while, Brent Goose numbered 73, Grey Plover 17 and 2 Little Grebe were on the river.

February 8th

Today saw more fog, but, unfortunately, less birding. Only returns are a Pochard over the harbour, 3 Little Grebe in Barn Bight and 9 Shelduck leaving over the Barn Field.

February 7th

A still and misty morning made long distance viewing very difficult. Only reports are from Fisherman's Bank, where the Common Sandpiper was around the boatyard by Mudeford Sailing Club. Also seen from there looking towards East Marsh, were 2 Ruff, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 19 Shelduck.

February 6th

After some heavy rain and southerly winds in the early part of the night, dawn broke to very still conditions. Today was the month's WeBS count, so water birds received detailed scrutiny this morning. All the regulars were present and correct, including the Bar-tailed Godwit, which was first seen yesterday. The 5 Ruff were on East Marsh (how many times has that been written this winter?), the Common Sandpiper was showing well along Fisherman's Bank, 12 Purple Sandpiper were seen on the Sandspit from Mudeford Quay and 2 Jack Snipe came up from Priory and Central Marsh respectively. The former area also hosted 2 Water Pipit and 2 Chiffchaff were flycatching in the bordering reeds. The floods on Wick Fields held 120 Black-tailed Godwit, but a good total of 169 were actually in the area; also up in numbers today were Brent Goose, with 81 birds, including colour-ringed 8C. Before getting into detailed totals for the commoner species, a Dartford Warbler in the last gorse on South Marsh is worth mentioning, as are 2 Great-crested Grebe in the harbour and 2 Kingfisher, one off Fisherman's Bank and the other from Hengistbury. Now some of the nitty-gritty. Lapwing 2400, Wigeon 485, Dunlin 450, Coot 185, Teal 120, Redshank 119, Snipe 69, Ringed Plover 43, Oystercatcher 40, Grey Plover 37, Shelduck 19 and Little Egret a surprising 12.

February 5th

Saturday often brings something of interest, due to the increased numbers of birders in the field. However, today, despite the normal crowd being present, things were pretty dull. Stanpit turned in the best reports with 4 Ruff and 2 Water Pipit, presumably on East Marsh and Priory Marsh respectively. The sea was particularly non-rewarding, 2 Red-throated Diver, 5 Gannet, a few auk and 3 Great-crested Grebe being the only flickers of interest. A stroll along the Sandspit was equally meagre in its return with just a single Grey Plover by groyne S10 recorded. The pair of Goldeneye were in the harbour, just off the Double Bends, 3 Jay were also in that area and 2 Gadwall were in Barn Bight. Late news from Stanpit: a Bar-tailed Godwit was present today.

February 4th

A very, very still day, which resulted in a sea mist lingering throughout. Hengistbury was fairly quiet this morning, just 2 Goldeneye, a presumed pair, being seen in the harbour and 27 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock. On Stanpit this afternoon, common bird numbers seemed much as yesterday, but just 1 Ruff was seen, descending into the channel off Fisherman's Bank. The Brent Goose gaggle of 45 birds contained colour-ringed 8C. Also this afternoon, on the sea off Whitepits, there were 2 Great-crested Grebe and 1 Razorbill. On Wick Fields, there were 25 Black-tailed and 1 Grey Wagtail, also the same 9 Pheasant as yesterday. The shooting season finished on Tuesday, so can someone please let them know its safe to leave the area!

February 3rd

Not much point in mentioning the weather, as nothing much has really changed. The same can be said of Stanpit, which is still holding the interest. Today, 2 Water Pipit could be seen from the Golf Course on Priory Marsh and 5 Ruff were on the mud around East Marsh, as was a drake Pintail. There were 42 Black-tailed Godwit, quite literally, in the North Scrubs, with a further 25 dotted around. Brent Goose were slightly down at 42 birds, but a careful count of the Lapwing produced 2400, making one wonder if the previous estimates have been on the low side? An afternoon trip round Wick Fields, which resonated to spring-like bird song, provided another Ruff, initially alone, but then joined by 48 Black-tailed Godwit. There was a bouquet of 9 Pheasant, 5 cocks and 4 hens - there's one going spare then..

February 2nd

More of the same weather wise, but 2 new birds did creep onto the year list this morning. Firstly, a drake Goosander overflew Double Dykes, circled Stanpit and then left over The Run. Secondly, and reinforcing the winter status of the species, 2 Linnet went over the Common. Other birds of real interest at Hengistbury were an adult Mediterranean Gull and 3 Pochard overhead, and a Peregrine hunting at sea. Meanwhile, on the sea, a Great-northern Diver was off Double Dykes and 2 diver sp. passed distantly by; and, on the very calm waters 10 Razorbill and 6 Guillemot could be seen. Stanpit again provided interest, both before and after lunch. In the early period, East Marsh hosted 5 Ruff, the Common Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank and, in Stanpit Bight, there were 37 Grey Plover and 20 Shelduck. A Kingfisher was also around Fisherman's Bank. This afternoon, the star birds were 3 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and a Dartford Warbler on South Marsh. Brent Goose numbered exactly 60.

February 1st

Disappointing news from Stanpit where vandals, last night, went joyriding in a JCB. The vehicle was on-site to erect a new cattle fence around the area by Smithy's Field, but was broken into and smashed through a gate onto East Marsh, where it was abandoned, but not before the deliberate demolition of the noticeboards by the Warden's Caravan. Back to birds and most areas of the harbour received at least a modicum of attention this morning. Starting on Wick, there was the usual mob of 5 cock Pheasant and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Hengistbury had another overhead Raven record, while there was a single Razorbill on the sea off Double Dykes. On Fisherman's Bank, the Common Sandpiper was again seen, 12 Turnstone were on Blackberry Point and a drake Gadwall was in Stanpit Bight. On the marsh itself, 50 Brent Goose were on Central Marsh, and 20 Shelduck and up to 20 Grey Plover were in Stanpit Bight. Also there, were 30 Black-tailed Godwit, with simultaneous reports of 27 in Barn Bight and 80 along the edge of North Scrubs, giving a total of 137 birds. A surprise afternoon visit to Hengistbury produced a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight and 27 Turnstone on the Sandspit.

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