Sightings for July 2006

July 31st

Another day with very little to report, the only passerines of note being 2 Garden Warbler and 1 Grasshopper Warbler on Stanpit. Opposite Fisherman's Bank, there were 3 Greenshank and 1 Whimbrel with another 4 Whimbrel in Stanpit Bight. There were also 3 Whimbrel seen from the Hengistbury side together with 14 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Sanderling in Barn Bight. A seawatch produced very little, just a feeding flock of around 30 Gannet and a firsy-year Mediterranean Gull off Double Dykes. This evening on Stanpit there were 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper, and a Great-crested Grebe in the Harbour.

July 30th

The harbour received only limited coverage today. A brief look from Fisherman's Bank this morning found 7 Whimbrel and 2 Greenshank but there appeared to be a total absence of small waders. From Hengistbury 10 Black-tailed Godwit were on the HHC mudbar; also 1 Common Sandpiper there, with another 2 in Barn Bight. Both adult and juvenile Mediterranean Gull moved west over the HHC while a Kingfisher was seen on the river. The CHOG ringers took part in a Hengistbury activity day today and of 50 birds ringed almost two thirds were Sedge Warbler with about half as many Reed Warbler plus just 3 Whitethroat and a single Willow Warbler.

July 29th

It was another glorious start to the day although a stiffening south-westerly made it feel much fresher than of late. Shortly after dawn 3 Wood Sandpiper were seen to arrive, 1 into the SSSI and 2 on Stanpit. The single bird was heard leaving soon afterwards. Other waders seen from the Hengistbury side were a dozen Dunlin in Barn Bight, 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and finally 2 Sanderling flew east off the cliff. A male Redstart was by the HHC and there were 2 sightings of Great Spotted Woodpecker. The sea was very quiet with just 3 juvenile Mediterranean Gull and 2 Common Scoter west. The female Peregrine made one pass overhead causing panic in the Sand Martin colony.

July 28th

A small movement of passerines through Priory Marsh this morning included only the third record of Marsh Tit in the last 10 years or so; almost as impressive was a count of 32 Coal Tit in the bushes at the northern end of Priory Marsh by the boat yard. The supporting cast included 32 Goldcrest, 10 Blackcap, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler and 2 Treecreeper, the latter being another irregular visitor to the harbour. Another half a dozen Willow Warbler were on Wick. Gannet moved west past Hengistbury in good numbers with an estimate of more than 100; also 1 Balearic Shearwater and a single Little Tern, the latter species being quite scarce recently. A Spotted Redshank was heard over the HHC and a Green Sandpiper moved west. The Dunlin count today was 85, while Whimbrel were estimated at 11, with 7 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank and just 3 Black-tailed Godwit. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was on the HHC mudbar together with a Common Gull while a first-year Mediterranean Gull headed west. A female Peregrine put the waders to flight on Stanpit and the male was on the Priory tower. Finally there were 7 Canada Geese today, 5 on the river and the 2 regular birds on East Marsh, also 2 Shoveler in Barn Bight.

July 27th

Today's highlight was a young male Marsh Harrier first seen quartering the HHC reedbed around 8am, then about an hour later it reappeared over Stanpit being mobbed by gulls. Eventually it was 'escorted' out of the harbour by a couple of large gulls and was last seen gaining height and drifting east over Mudeford. Waders were very much on the move this morning in particular Dunlin, an early morning count of 140 on Blackberry Point had reduced to only 40 birds a couple of hours later; with the birds coming and going all morning it is estimated that more than 230 birds were involved. A Knot was seen to arrive while 11 Sanderling moved through without stopping although there were 6 feeding on the mudbar off Mudeford Quay with 2 more on Blackberry. Other numbers were 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Common Sandpiper, 6 Whimbrel, 4 Greenshank, 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper. Passerines included both Turtle Dove and Tree Pipit whilst a Great Spotted Woodpecker was on Hengistbury. The 2 juvenile Great Crested Grebe were again on the river, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight and 3 Shoveler and 2 Teal were noted. Off the sea were 9 Eider and 17 Common Scoter east with 4 Mediterranean Gull west. Finally the Peregrine was on its favourite perch on The Priory tower.

July 26th

The only report received so far today is from Fisherman's Bank this evening. Wader numbers on Stanpit continue to improve with an estimated 125 Dunlin on Blackberry Point accompanied by 15 Sanderling, 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone. There were 5 Whimbrel scattered around the harbour and 4 Greenshank, 2 in Stanpit Bight and 2 opposite Fisherman's Bank. Finally, the 2 Canada Geese were on East Marsh.

July 25th

The returning Dunlin numbers reached the hundred mark today, 104 was the actual count on Blackberry Point this morning with a lone Sanderling in their midst. Other waders on Stanpit on the rising tide included more than 25 Curlew plus 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Snipe, 4 Greenshank and 4 Whimbrel. Out on the river were 16 Shoveler in one group.

Check back to yesterday for some late postings.

July 24th

On a morning which saw the welcome return of the fine hot weather there was plenty to see particularly for the early starters. Soon after dawn a large mixed flock of Gannet and gulls, the former estimated at more than 150 birds, was feeding out in the bay off Double Dykes. Amongst them were 3 Arctic Skua and a single Balearic Shearwater. A couple of hours later a group of 4 Balearic Shearwater moved west very close inshore whilst the single bird lingered for most of the morning. It was also a bumper morning for Mediterranean Gull with 21, mainly juvenile birds, moving west; this count included a single loose flock of 11; 31 Common Tern moved over the harbour in a similar direction. Waders included 3 Avocet and a Little Ringed Plover plus 8 Whimbrel, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit all heading in a westerly direction whilst 5 Common Sandpiper were in Brewer's Creek. There was a Yellow Wagtail on the West Field with 20 Sedge Warbler and 11 Willow Warbler also moving through. Flying north were 3 Greylag Geese while their 2 unwelcome cousins remained on East Marsh. Finally, a Kingfisher was behind the HHC.

An evening visit to Hengistbury found 2 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight and off the sea a single Fulmar, 10 lingering Gannet and 16 Common Scoter heading east.

Late News: Around 9pm 9 Common Sandpiper were seen flying onto Grimmery Bank and another 2 were on South Marsh.

July 23rd

After yesterday's storms the hope that there would be a few arrivals proved to be false optimism with very little evidence of migration, although 2 Ruff heading west over the head was a good record. In Stanpit Bight, more than 40 Dunlin were still present along with 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Snipe and a Greenshank. Another 9 Black-tailed Godwit went west, whilst opposite Fisherman's Bank were 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank and a Turnstone; there was also a Whimbrel in Holloway's Dock. A Common Sandpiper in Mother Sillers' was the unfortunate victim of a Peregrine, which took it in mid channel by knocking it into the water then after a quick about turn it plucked the bird off the surface! An adult and 2 juvenile Great Crested Grebe were feeding just off Blackberry Point and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was seen from Fisherman's Bank. The 2 Canada Geese were on East Marsh and 5 Shoveler were off South Marsh with another one in Parky Meade. Finally, a brief seawatch produced just 2 Common Scoter east.

July 22nd

A little more interest this morning, coming mainly from a Balearic Shearwater that was first seen sitting on the water off the Coastguards, before heading west. Another shearwater seen a short while later, but in the murk, was almost certainly one of the same; also a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and a very close Fulmar seen from that spot. Clear evidence of some passerine movement was presented by a Grasshopper Warbler in the The Nursery, also half a dozen or so phylloscs past the HHC, and Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap in strange places on Wick. A total of 4 Common Sandpiper were in Brewer's Creek, a further bird was over Stanpit, while 4 Whimbrel went east, as did 2 Redshank at sea and an additional Whimbrel was in Holloway's Dock. The Sand Martin numbers are greatly reduced, suggesting a move south for most of the birds, but those that remain attracted a House Martin and some Swallow to feed with them. Game birds haven't had a look in recently, so a hen Pheasant perched on a fence by the Barn Field, with 5 chicks alongside her, is well worth a mention.

July 21st

Other than a couple of Whimbrel in Holloway's Dock, I could almost have written this yesterday, as nothing has really changed, nor indeed has the hot weather. On Stanpit, it was the customary 3 Greenshank, another Whimbrel and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull. Meanwhile, those two remain on South Marsh. The last few days has seen the appearance of juvenile large gulls in the harbour, no doubt recent fledglings from nearby flat roofed buildings, where they contribute heavily to the takings of local car washes.

July 20th

Pretty much the same sort of stuff as the previous few days, including the 2 Canada Goose! More welcome wildfowl were in a group of 7 Shoveler that circled the harbour a few times, briefly settled in Stanpit Bight, but then soon went on eastwards. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was over Hengistbury, while 61 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, the same 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel were around Stanpit Bight. A Peregrine also wreaked panic over the area for a short period this morning.

July 19th

Dunlin numbers surged again today, with 57 on Stanpit this morning, where there was also a Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. A group of 6 commic tern that passed overhead contained a single Arctic Tern, the rest being Common Tern. A couple of adult Mediterranean Gull were on South Marsh during this spell, while a single bird was on East Marsh in the late afternoon. The Shelduck young were paddling around in Stanpit Bight and it seems that 11 of the elder and 5 of the younger are still alive and well. However, other than the parental adults, all other birds have now left for their moult on the Waddenzee. After a few weeks respite, a pair of Canada Goose graced us with an all day presence on South Marsh.

July 18th

No change in the weather to report, with the temperatures still nudging the 30°C mark. An early visit to Hengistbury saw a Grey Wagtail wandering around behind the HHC, also 2 Mediterranean Gull, an adult and first-summer, and 1 Peregrine. On Stanpit, slightly later, a breeding-plumaged Grey Plover was a new bird, but 5 Greenshank together may well have been with us for a week or so. At least 5 Black-tailed Godwit were present, along with 2 Common Sandpiper and 15 Dunlin. A count of 41 Little Egret visible from Stanpit represents an absolute minimum, as there are several favoured spots within the recording that are not viewable from the marsh. Late this afternoon, the information services report 2 adult and 1 juvenile Mediterranean Gull from Stanpit.

July 17th

It seemed even warmer today and probably was. For most of 2006, the year-list has lagged a constant 10 species behind that of 2005; however, the last week has seen the deficit cut to just 6. Today's contributor was a Puffin, watched on the flat sea for 10 minutes from the Coastguards, before 9:00 this morning. Also from there, a Roseate Tern feeding in pretty much the same area as Saturday's sighting, so perhaps there is a lingering bird. A Tree Pipit overhead was an early returner, while a Coal Tit over the HHC is an indication of local, post-breeding dispersal. There was a reasonable movement of waders, headed by a Spotted Redshank, heard but not seen, over the airspace, also a Little Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel and 3 Ringed Plover west, while a single Bar-tailed Godwit was seen to arrive. More settled and dotted around the area were: 25 Dunlin, 6 Common Sandpiper and 4, possibly 6, Greenshank. A group of 4 Shoveler were seen to arrive and the day total of 3 Mediterranean Gull included an adult with accompanying juvenile, the first seen this year, and a first-summer bird. On a sweltering Stanpit, both Linnet and Whitethroat continue to sing, suggesting they are going for a second brood. The moulting, hence flightless, gathering of Mute Swan was counted from the top of the head, from where the tally reached 484. Last Friday's juvenile Stone Curlew, which was colour-ringed, has now been identified as a recent fledgling from a nest near Tidworth on Salisbury Plain.

July 16th

It was probably the hottest day of the year so far, but more than a handful of the regulars made the trip to Hertfordshire to see a very intriguing bird. The few that remained dug out a Redstart in Wick Ditch; and 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 43 Redshank in Barn Bight. A brief look from Fisherman's Bank this evening saw just 1 Common Sandpiper.

July 15th

The Stone Curlew had left by this morning, but some photographs from yesterday show it to have been colour-ringed, so hopefully, more will be heard about this bird. For most of the week it's been returning waders, but today saw some wildfowl coming back, probably hastened by the north-easterly breeze. A total of 9 Shoveler were seen to arrive in off the sea, as was a group of 15 Mallard that certainly behaved like migrant birds. Also between 7 to 9 Tufted Duck were seen leaving the area. A Great-crested Grebe in the main channel was a notable July record, while a Snipe over Stanpit was also good for the month. At sea, a close, but small, feeding flock of Gannet contained a single Roseate Tern, also some Common Tern and the first juvenile Sandwich Tern of the season. Meanwhile, 34 Common Scoter were moving around Bournemouth Bay and 140 Swift and a few House Martin moved into the wind. At one particular instant, there were suddenly around 600 Sand Martin on view, considered to be a mixture of residents and a passing group of travelling birds. Some scans of Stanpit from the top of the head produced: 6 Greenshank, 2 Sanderling and around 50 Dunlin; and 8 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight. A total of 3 first-summer Mediterranean Gull passed over the area, a Great-spotted Woodpecker headed towards the Nursery and the male Peregrine spent its time on the Priory and causing panic over Stanpit.

Additional news: a Lesser Whitethroat was in bushes in the Barn Field and an adult Common Gull was off Double Dykes.

July 14th

Perhaps not as "big" as hoped for, but nevertheless, a harbour lifer for many, was a Stone Curlew that spent the day on East Marsh. The bird was first seen around 10:00 this morning, then on and off during the afternoon, with the last report at 5:20 this evening. There is no reason for it not to be still there. In addition, there were plenty of other new waders, not least 54 Dunlin, this afternoon, all adult birds. A couple of Avocet were also stopping over and braces of Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit were on East Marsh.

Additional news: the Stone Curlew was feeding actively at 8:30 tonight and is colour-ringed. More photos and details to follow. It was still there at 9:20, along with 5 Black-tailed Godwit.

July 13th

Conditions were almost identical to yesterday, but it was far quieter. In Stanpit Bight, there were still 3 Greenshank, 4 Dunlin and 24 Curlew. The male Peregrine was initially sat on The Priory, but then made a tour of the harbour. There is some additional news to yesterday's post.

June 12th

The fine weather of yesterday continued right through today and heralded the year's first Wood Sandpiper - a single bird heard calling over East Marsh this morning. Also making it onto the year list were 4 Crossbill over Parky Meade Rail slightly later. A Little Ringed Plover flew upriver and tried to settle on Grimmery Bank, but drew the attention of a dog. There was a significant influx of Common Sandpiper: a total of 17, including 11 birds sitting on a stranded log in the river off Grimmery Bank, while the other 6 were around Clay Pool. Another good record was a first-summer Little Gull west through the harbour, but perhaps the most impressive sight of the day was a movement of 1230 Sand Martin, all clearly going south-west, between 5:30 and 9:30. The local birds were still feeding around throughout. There was also a notable wader passage west that was watched during a two hour spell from Crouch Hill, where 4 Greenshank, 34 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 23 Curlew and 4 Dunlin were counted. Meanwhile, settled birds in Stanpit Bight included, a further 3 Greenshank, 4 Dunlin and an early Snipe. Two more of the latter were in Parky Meade Rail and 7 Teal also made for a winter theme. Other interest came from a Hobby south, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull, the Peregrine on The Priory and a Lesser Whitethroat in the North Scrubs.

Additional news: a Spotted Redshank passed over the HHC, 5 Rook went west over Priory Marsh and the first returning Kingfisher was at Stanpit.

July 11th

Just an afternoon visit to Stanpit to report on. As the water receded, 4 adult Black-tailed Godwit were in Stanpit Bight, as were 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 1 Dunlin and 14 Curlew. Surely, there's a rare one waiting out there somewhere!

July 10th

Even though the conditions hinted the sea might again be worth it - it wasn't! Just a handful of Gannet and Common Tern to remark upon. Stanpit received morning and afternoon visits, and totals over the two include: a Whimbrel, a Greenshank, 3 Dunlin and a single Common Sandpiper on East Marsh; also 150+ Lapwing and 64 Oystercatcher. Young birds were also obvious, with increased numbers of Meadow Pipit, particularly on Grimmery Bank, while a family party of Whitethroat was in the Grimmery Point gorse and 4 Mallard duckling were under the Iron Bridge. Starling are relatively sparse this year, so over 120 on Crouch Hill is worth a mention. Other news from Hengistbury involves 2 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight.

July 9th

Overnight, the south-westerly wind strengthened and brought some heavy rain that lasted well beyond dawn, but made for a couple of good mid-summer seawatches. A two hour stint at the Beach Huts, from around 7:45, was topped by a pale adult Pomarine Skua moving east, close in; also 2 Storm Petrel, a Great Skua and a Manx Shearwater west. A total of 43 Common Scoter, in flocks of 25 and 18, also headed in that direction, as did 7 Fulmar, 1 Sanderling and single flock of 20 Swift, the latter barely clearing the waves. There was also a single Guillemot on the water. Slightylater, during 30 minutes each side of noon, a Great Skua passed west off the Point House Café, along with 9 Common Scoter, 5 Kittiwake and a single Gadwall. There were reasonable numbers of Gannet and Common Tern offshore throughout. On Stanpit, as the tide ebbed, at least 5 Common Sandpiper became apparent around South Marsh, also a total of 3 Greenshank and 4 Dunlin.

Stop press: at 5:45 this evening, there were 3 Balearic Shearwater lingering off Whitepits.

July 8th

Despite some early coverage, Hengistbury didn't provide too much of interest. A total of 15 Black-tailed Godwit were seen to pitch into Stanpit, while a further 3 headed further inland. A couple of Common Sandpiper were together in Brewer's Creek, before the rising tide pushed them on; and 14 Curlew, 1 Redshank and 2 Ringed Plover left or passed by west. An adult Hobby spent a short while chasing passerines over the Barn Field and at least 4 Mediterranean Gull, 3 adults and 1 first-summer, were seen in flight. A sute of 5 Mallard that approached from the east, spent at least 20 minutes circling the area, but then headed off in the direction from where it had come. Pretty unusual behaviour, which suggests these birds may have been more than just local ferals. On Wick Fields, a single Red-legged Partridge was flushed this morning and a Hobby was over there in the evening.

July 7th

After several still days, the breeze returned in the form of a noticeable south-westerly. Only Hengistbury was visited, with the best being an adult Mediterranean Gull over and a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight. A juvenile Dartford Warbler in the Barn Field was the first for the year; while the Swallow nesting in the Barn have raised 6 young. These represent a fantastic photo opportunity, as they sit on the low fence waiting to be fed. Unfortunately, most of the CHOG photographers are away or otherwise engaged.

July 6th

More wet weather and not too much out of the ordinary to report, although there are some reasonable records from Stanpit, especially a Mistle Thrush, which is quite unusual for the site, this morning. The best of the rest from there include: House Martin overhead, a Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank. From Hengistbury, a Common Sandpiper was on groyne S8 and 2 Common Tern were seen arriving, but the sea could only muster 4 Gannet.

July 5th

A real change in the weather today saw low cloud early on and heavy rain slightly later. Unsurprisingly, reports are sparse. An early riser beat the deluge and saw a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight, as well as confirming the 3 juvenile Little Grebe are still doing well.

Additional news: tonight, there were 3 Greenshank on South Marsh and a Common Sandpiper in Mother Siller's Channel, with a further bird calling from Barn Bight. A total of 6 Common Sandpiper were also in Barn Bight, along with a good total of 25 Redshank.

July 4th

Another scorcher, but with it a new arrival of waders; not least in Barn Bight, where there were 5 Common Sandpiper and 4 Greenshank mid-morning, also 5 early Teal in there. On the exposed HHC bar, 6 Dunlin were also recent arrivers and 1200 Black-headed Gull were commendably counted from there. A report, presumably from Stanpit, produced 2 Ring Plover, more newcomers, also 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Dunlin. There were almost 200 Lapwing about the area today, as well as 22 Curlew on East Marsh and a Little Tern off Blackberry Point. Two broods of Shelduck, 7 and 5, with the latter comprising younger birds, were reported. It's getting difficult to know if all 3 broods are still around. A trio of Mute Swan cygnets were by the HHC, as was a young brood of 9 Mallard. The 2005 report arrived today and will be mailed to members before the weekend.

July 3rd

The heatwave lasts another day, but the light sea breeze makes the harbour one of the more comfortable parts of Christchurch right now. Returning waders continue to pass through: this morning, 6 Black-tailed Godwit on the HHC sandbar were joined by 14 more; and this afternoon, there were 19 birds, 18 in full breeding plumage, resting in Stanpit Bight, all presumably failed breeders just getting back from Iceland. Greenshank were seen at Stanpit and in Barn Bight, where there was also 2 Common Sandpiper. At least 3 Mediterranean Gull were seen from Hengistbury in the morning, also 112 Swift passed over, also 25 or so over Stanpit, as was a Peregrine.

Additional news: at Stanpit this evening, there were just 2 Black-tailed Godwit remaining and a Greenshank on East Marsh, while canoes disturbed a Common Sandpiper from Speller's Point, also a brood of 5 Shelduck. Earlier in the day, off Hengistbury, there were 21 Common Scoter, 100 Gannet and a large, but very distant, feeding flock of terns and gulls.

July 2nd

It didn't really feel any better when I woke up this morning, but ridiculously, since breakfast, I've already had faint thoughts about Euro 2008. I guess it's the same madness that drives you to get out of bed for a Hengistbury seawatch - 50 or so times a year! Not much activity today, it was perhaps too hot, but certainly too disturbed at Stanpit, although, a Whimbrel this morning was the first since the spring passage, also a Black-tailed Godwit present. On the afternoon flood tide, the Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit were off East Marsh; while the two older Shelduck broods of 7 and 6 were both in the Bight itself, but there was no sign of the younger, third brood. All of this was in a 45 minute period, during which Stanpit Bight was traversed by: 5 Canoes, a sailing dinghy, sail registration 1517, and a wading family of four pulling an inflatable.

Additional news: Stanpit was still sweltering well into the evening and produced just a lone Black-tailed Godwit in Mother Siller's Channel, while the Lapwing were estimated to be around 130.

July 1st

It was a day when grown men cried. Given the circumstances, the majority of England players can go home proud of themselves. The first Green Sandpiper of the "autumn" arrived today. A single bird was seen in Parky Meade Rail mid-morning, but earlier what was probably that bird had been seen arriving over the HHC, while a further bird was heard, along with a Greenshank. Also incoming were 18 Black-tailed Godwit, in groups of 12 and 6. Meanwhile, the mid-summer status of Mediterranean Gull seems to be making a step change, as 7 birds, 3 adults and 4 first-summers, passed over the area. Swift trickled west all morning, 230 counted between 5:30 and 9:30, and 14 Common Scoter went the opposite way at sea.

Additional news: just after lunch, there were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank and 5 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit.

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