Sightings for April 2007

April 30th

Other than a total of 22 Arctic Tern, including a single flock of 21 birds, through the harbour this morning, the month closed fairly quietly. Next best were a lone Turtle Dove over the HHC to Wick and 2 Spotted Flycatcher coming off the head. At least 3 Whinchat and 6 Wheatear were at the western end of Hengistbury, a Grasshopper Warbler was on the Batters, a Garden Warbler was by the HHC and 3 Yellow Wagtail passed over. There were 102 Bar-tailed Godwit resting up around Stanpit, and 6 Knot and 2 Grey Plover were seen to arrive; while passing by without stopping were 19 Common Tern and the same number of Whimbrel. A 45 minute seawatch saw just 7 Common Scoter and throughout the course of the morning 9 Mediterranean Gull were noted.

April 29th

Firstly, the final tally from yesterday, when 108 species were recorded in the area, an identical amount to last year's spring day. The winning team notched 97, with 94 and 92 making up the running. However, one is left questioning the wisdom of trying to track down "specialties" such as introduced partridge and geese, when there is clearly a notable movement of Bar-tailed Godwit taking place at sea. For example, while CHOG recorded less than 100 moving, just a few miles east at Hurst, over 1800 were logged! As might be expected after some 15 hour stints in the field and the subsequent session in the Rising Sun, not too many made it out to Hengistbury this morning. At least 15 Wheatear were dotted across the head, but mainly on the Barn Field, where there was also 3 Whinchat and a Cuckoo close by. A Yellowhammer towards Wick raises questions as to whether the recent spate of records relate to just one bird, or perhaps more. A seawatch produced 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adults and a first-summer, a Red-throated Diver and 2 Fulmar east, with 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Shoveler and 1 Whimbrel heading the other way. On the late afternoon flood tide, 73 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding up at Stanpit, also 20 Whimbrel, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank, but no other migrant waders could be located. There were 3 Little Tern in the harbour, as well as a Common Tern and the 3 Wigeon. Yesterday, which was about the only day in the year when they would be welcome in the area, Canada Goose let themselves down - so one prancing across the mud in Stanpit Bight this afternoon served only to add insult to injury.

Additional news: at dusk, from Fisherman's Bank, there were 3 Mediterranean Gull, an adult pair and a single bird; also still 60+ Bar-tailed Godwit in the harbour and 6 Whimbrel.

April 28th

The glory seekers in the harbour's annual spring birdrace had to work hard for their birds this morning with only a trickle of common migrants available. It was also quite cool in the brisk north-easterly wind until the sun broke through mid-morning. As always on birdraces the sea receives good coverage but it was two non-competitors who turned up the first Manx Shearwater of the year, a group of 5 heading west; moving in the same direction were 2 Fulmar and 2 Red-throated Diver, while heading east were 3 Arctic Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 35 Common Scoter, 14 Gannet, 12 Common Tern and the first Arctic Tern of the spring. A first-year Little Gull settled on the water and up to 20 Mediterranean Gull were recorded today, including one group of 8; also 7 Little Tern were around the harbour. The spring wader passage showed some improvement, in particular Bar-tailed Godwit with 65 east and 17 on Stanpit this morning; by this afternoon, however, there were 130 in the harbour, along with a Knot; also moving east were 40 Whimbrel and 2 Knot. Staying with waders counts from Stanpit were 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Dunlin, 9 Whimbrel, 4 Greenshank, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Sanderling and 1 Knot. A Little Owl was on Stanpit for the early risers while the Peregrine was on the Priory Tower with the only other raptor of note being a Hobby which came in off the sea and headed rapidly north. A total of 75 Swift moved north, Swallow trickled through all day and by this afternoon up to 50 House Martin were feeding around the Priory Tower. There were 2 Cuckoo, 1 on Wick and 1 on Stanpit, 5 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, a White Wagtail by the coastguards while 10 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit and a Bullfinch passed overhead. The 3 Wigeon and 3 Gadwall were still on Stanpit and after lunch 2 Tufted Duck were in Parky Mead. Another 5 Tufted Duck moved north this morning; also seen were 2 drake Shoveler and a Pintail.

Note: a male Dartford Warbler was seen feeding young this morning, hopefully an indicator that this species is recovering in the area after a poor season last year.

April 27th

The first Short-eared Owl of the year was high over Wick Fields, being mobbed by gulls, this morning; also a Little Gull over Wick early on. Hengistbury and Wick held low numbers, but a nice, varied selection of migrants, including: a Redstart on the Long Field; a Whinchat and 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field; and Lesser Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler and Garden Warbler about Wick. Strangely, Smithy's Field held the most volume, with over 20 Blackcap present there. Like passerines, wader quantity is poor, but the selection is not too bad. A couple of Greenshank were off Fisherman's Bank, Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight and on the sandspit, while inside the harbour 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover, a Grey Plover and 32 Dunlin were noted, and at least 35 Whimbrel were using the area. A Fulmar was over the harbour and another went west offshore, also 3 Gannet and a Common Tern east, with another Common Tern inside the harbour and at least 10 Little Tern recorded. A total of 7 Mediterranean Gull were seen over Mudefored Quay in the morning, a group of 6, 4 adults and 2 first-winters, and a lingering first-winter bird. Casual observations on the fringes of the recording area suggest a steady arrival of Swallow throughout the day, also 25 House Martin counted moving over Stanpit. Wildfowl interest that will be sought out tomorrow comprised: the 3 late Wigeon, 3 Gadwall and a Greylag Goose. Finally, a Peregrine was on The Priory tower.

April 26th

Two days ahead of Saturday's local bird race and there were several valuable species on offer this morning, including a gaggle of 5 geese that contained 1 Canada Goose, 2 Greylag Goose and 2 Barnacle Goose! That gang alone could well win the race. Other items of interest included a Snipe in Brewer's Creek, an arriving Little Ringed Plover, a Little Gull and a Common Gull in the harbour, 3 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall, a Hobby over the river and a Common Sandpiper by the HHC. Common migrants were sparse, for example, just 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field, 3 Garden Warbler and 11 Willow Warbler about Hengistbury and Wick, plus 9 Yellow Wagtail and a House Martin over. Stanpit held 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Dunlin, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit a Grey Plover and a Greenshank. Over 26 Whimbrel were also noted, as well as a Peregrine with prey and a collection of 6 Jackdaw were gathering nest material on Wick Fields. Late this afternoon, a courteous call from Hurst telling of approaching Poms saw a few heading for Mudeford Quay, alas to no avail. Although, 3 Little Tern were off there and a steady trickle of Swallow were coming in-off.

April 25th

A very quiet morning on Hengistbury saw just 6 Blackcap and a single Wheatear qualifying as new arrivals. From the Beach Huts, 19 Common Scoter headed east, however, there are no details about the 9 Sanderling that were also noted on the head. On Stanpit, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing in the North Scrubs, while on Hengistbury, a pair of Swallow are again using the Barn. The Spotted Redshank seems to have spent the entire day off Fisherman's Bank, being reported on three separate occasions; also from there, a lone Grey Plover. The highest Black-tailed Godwit count at Stanpit was 23 birds, but Bar-tailed Godwit could not get beyond a singleton. Also a Greenshank in Stanpit Bight and a couple of Wheatear on Central Marsh. Whimbrel were dotted all over the area, with at least 15 individuals being recorded throughout the day.

April 24th

Again, the early murk failed to produce an arrival of significance; although, the first Hobby of the year was a welcome sight as it charged northwards over the river. The Barn Field held much of the initial interest, with a male Whinchat and several Wheatear, along with a few more on Wick that raised the day count to at least 13 birds. There were also 3 Lesser Whitethroat on Hengistbury and, by lunchtime, a Spotted Flycatcher was between the Double Bends in the Wood. A brief seawatch saw only 2 Common Tern, which are amazingly sparse for this date in April, and little else. Another late arriver is Common Sandpiper, however, there were 2 in Barn Bight today and another off Fisherman's Bank. Also from there, the Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, 8 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin. To conclude, 3 Wigeon remain on Stanpit.

News just in from Wick this evening, where there was a hawking Hobby, a singing Garden Warbler showing down to a few feet, a Whinchat and 6 Wheatear.

April 23rd

The mist that had descended overnight raised hopes of a major passerine fall or a feast of coasting seabirds - both of which turned out to be flights of fancy. On the way to the Beach Huts, reeling Grasshopper Warbler were heard in the Barn Field, where there was also a male Ring Ouzel, and by the Ironstone Quarry. Also vocal, was a Garden Warbler in the Wood. Once the huts were reached, a trio of Little Gull east and a few Common Scoter in the first five minutes were a false dawn, as that was just about it for the next hour. Although a Redstart in-off, which settled down in the groynes, helped pass the time. There is a bird race coming up this Saturday, hence a recce along the sandspit that turned up 2 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Sanderling, a Knot and 3 Grey Plover. All of which would have great value on the day; ditto the Spotted Redshank, today being heard from Hengistbury. It was the best morning of the season for arriving Swallow, with 88 noted, also 5 Yellow Wagtail and 3 Wheatear, as well as 9 Whimbrel moving east.

April 22nd

A slight offshore breeze soon died away completely, giving rise to a very uncomfortable insect presence on Hengistbury. What was presumably the same pair of Garganey as yesterday passed by eastwards, but other than 7 Shelduck west, a Razorbill settled on the water and a Peregrine far out, the sea was devoid of any further interest. At least 5 Redstart were on the head, most of them concentrated in the north-west corner of the Barn Field, also 3 Pied Flycatcher there briefly, with additional birds on the Batters and in the Wood; also a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Double Dykes. Meanwhile, there were around 55 scattered Willow Warbler and 7 Blackcap, a male Whinchat was in the Bobolink Field on Wick and 2 more were on Warren Hill. Wick Hams again hosted the Ruff and a migrant Snipe was in the adjacent Brewer's Creek. Wheatear totalled 18: 11 on Stanpit this afternoon and 7 on Hengistbury in the morning; and Mediterranean Gull totted up to 15 airborne and a worn first-winter bird on East Marsh, Stanpit. In the late afternoon, East Marsh and Stanpit Bight were grossly disturbed with, at one time, up to 4 boats and 10 people on the midst of East Marsh itself. As the holiday season approaches, CHOG would urge the relevant authorities to consider how to deal with these issues on areas well within the designated Local Nature Reserve. The scenario caused 9 Whimbrel, a Common Tern and around 20 Sandwich Tern to desert the area, but others were more resilient as they tried to rest up for their long journeys north. These included: 23 adult Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank and 1 Grey Plover. The Spotted Redshank was also hanging around, if it does for much longer then it will make a fine sight. Also still present were the 4 Brent Goose and 3 Wigeon, a duck and 2 drakes. Despite their slightly late arrival, Whitethroat are quickly getting down to business, with a pair seen building a nest today.

Additional news: a Common Sandpiper was seen from the Avonmouth Hotel grounds in the afternoon.

April 21st

After a week in southern Israel, it was back to reality with a bump; but thanks to Mark for covering what has certainly been a busy week. The light south-easterly meant the sea received nearly all the attention early this morning; a strategy that was not altogether wasted as a pair of Garganey, initially with a pair of Common Scoter, passed east, then west and then east again, over a 30 minute period. A party of 8 Little Gull arrived from the west, 5 of them choosing to enter the harbour over the Barn Field, the other 3 carrying on past. The quintet was then seen to leave the harbour, but a couple of hours later a further 6 were on the HHC bar, suggesting a day total of 14 birds. The sea also saw: a trickle of Whimbrel and Common Scoter, 1 Curlew, 1 Common Tern, 7 Little Tern, a Great-northern Diver and 4 first-summer Common Gull west; also a Gannet and 3 Kittiwake east; and 2 Razorbill and a Guillemot settled on the water. The best of the waders was a Ruff on Wick Hams and the Spotted Redshank from Fisherman's Bank - both of these moulting towards breeding plumage - also a Common Sandpiper off the latter site. In Stanpit Bight, there was a Greenshannk, 3 Sanderling and 8 Dunlin, with other in-harbour aggregate totals being 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Whimbrel, 11 of which left north, and 9 Bar-tailed Godwit. A poor day for passerines was headed by a Whinchat on Wick Fields and a singing Garden Warbler in the Wood, while the Wheatear barely scraped past the dozen mark, although 3 of 9 on Crouch Hill this afternoon were of the Greenland race. It was equally slow overhead, with just 2 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, 4 Swift and a handful of incoming Swallow and House Martin to make comment on. A female Pintail briefly toured the area and 3 Gadwall were recorded; with 3 Wigeon and 4 Brent Goose inside the harbour now the only reminder of winter. Of late, It seems a post is incomplete without a Mediterranean Gull tally, somewhere between 6 and 10 being the final estimate for the day.

Addtional news: the DBC website carries a report of a Nightingale in the area.

April 20th

Another glorious day, with another good range of migrants, headed by the second Turtle Dove of the year over Wick Ditch this morning - this species rarely makes an appearance before May. A Ruff in Barn Bight was also out of the ordinary. Migrant totals this morning came in at 47 Willow Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 10 Blackcap, 18 House Martin, 8 Swift, 86 Swallow, 2 Reed Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Redstart, 2 Tree Pipit, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 40 Wheatear and 65 Meadow Pipit north, with 6 Greylags, an immature Mediterranean Gull and 3 Red-legged Partridge rounding up the other odds and ends. At sea, passage to the east included 66 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling, 59 Common Scoter and a Common Tern. This evening on Wick, a Ring Ouzel was in the fields, with a Grasshopper Warbler "reeling" at the foot of the Driving Range and a Mediterranean Gull heard but not seen.

April 19th

More of the same today, with the fair, settled weather allowing migration to continue unhindered. Hengistbury this morning produced 110 Willow Warbler, 10 Whitethroat, 6 Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 18 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler, 14 Wheatear (including a few of the larger, brighter Greenland race), 2 Whinchat, 3 Redstart and a single Pied Flycatcher, with Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin all making a token appearance, along with a Swift. As the season progresses it becomes difficult to distinguish passing birds from the resident population; a couple of both Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler on Wick fall into this category, as (hopefully) do a pair of Bearded Tit by the HHC. 14 Rook passed overhead, Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank were heard, a Whimbrel was seen, 4 Common Tern passed east and entered the harbour for a while, being seen at Stanpit as well, and the Yellowhammer was also seen on both sides of the harbour this morning. Later in the day, Stanpit held 2 Whimbrel, 2 Wheatear and a Greenshank. A couple of late records have been added to yesterday's post.

April 18th

On a bright, sunny morning both sides of the harbour were visited. On Stanpit, pick of the bunch was a Little Gull, with a Greenshank, 9 Whimbrel, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 15 Wheatear, 21 Dunlin, 28 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Swift also seen. Around 70 Swallow had obviously read yesterday's comment! A subsequent visit logged 30 Bar-tailed Godwit. Over on Hengistbury and Wick, the first two Little Tern of the year flew east, with a couple of Whimbrel also passing in the same direction. Numbers of the regular migrants were down on recent days, but there was still a good variety - 50 Willow Warbler, 12 Blackcap, 18 Wheatear and 5 Whitethroat were accompanied by 3 Lesser Whitethroat, a male Ring Ouzel in Wick Fields, with probably the same bird on the Driving Range a little later, 3 Redstart, single Grasshopper Warbler and Pied Flycatcher (the latter near the HHC), 2 Sedge Warbler and a Reed Warbler, with 2 Swift and 15 Swallow over. A Little Grebe was seen on the Ironstone Quarry (although resident, they become harder to see as the season progresses), 2 Gadwall were seen from Barn Bight, and Mistle Thrush and 2 Red-legged Partridge were on the driving range, with (the?) Yellowhammer nearby. This evening, a Grasshopper Warbler was singing on Wick Fields.

Late news: the first Cuckoo of the year was on Crouch Hill, Stanpit, this evening, with 16 Black-tailed and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 37 Dunlin and a Grey Plover on the marsh itself.

Additional news: a Raven and 2 Mediterranean Gull were over Stanpit.

April 17th

A return to more "normal" temperatures today, with the onset of a chilly north-westerly in a cloudy start to the day, but feeling much more pleasant later as the cloud broke and the wind eased. This spring seems to be producing very early records of certain summer visitors, and continuing this theme was a Spotted Flycatcher on Long Field, the earliest since 1987 by a week. Many species, however, in particular the hirundines, seem to be slow off the mark this year; just 20 Swallow trickled in today. Although not as numerous as yesterday, Willow Warbler still weighed in with a respectable 300+ individuals, and 50+ Wheatear and 40+ Blackcap were also good numbers. A couple of Redstart, 10 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit also entered the notebooks. At sea, an easterly passage included 7 Mediterranean Gull, 7 Common Scoter, 3 Razorbill, 1 Red-throated Diver, 5 Gannet, 6 Dunlin and 2 Great Crested Grebe, with 30 Whimbrel and a Greenshank arriving. Finally, an all-too-brief view of an unusual gull seen flying into the Harbour over the Beach Huts was strongly suspected to be a second-summer Ring-billed Gull - one to look out for tomorrow! On Stanpit this evening were 29 Dunlin, 21 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper and 17 Black-tailed Godwit, although the extremely low tide made finding birds tricky on the large area of exposed mud. 7 Wheatear were also seen on Crouch Hill.

April 16th

A definite improvement in numbers today, although the weather remains fair and settled - a sign of changes further afield, perhaps? Phylloscs headed the league tables, with 650 Willow Warbler and 31 Chiffchaff, whilst 122 Wheatear, 93 Blackcap and 31 Redstart were all excellent totals. Good numbers and variety of other migrants included 18 Whitethroat, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Garden Warbler, 5 Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 4 Grasshopper Warbler and the year's first Whinchat. Also seen were 2 Bearded Tit and 2 Red-legged Partridge, 8 Mediterranean Gull, 7 Purple Sandpiper and what is presumably the same female Yellowhammer as noted on several days over the past month. This evening, Stanpit held 33 Dunlin and 19 Black-tailed Godwit, and winter wildfowl retain a toehold with 3 Brent Goose and 3 Wigeon. Check back to yesterday for a late, quality sighting.

April 15th

The fine weather continues unabated, with a few good birds around today. Best of the bunch was a male Serin on Wick, which was briefly perched before flying towards Stanpit - most records of this species are of fly-over birds. The first Turtle Dove of the year (a very early date) was also on Wick, and a male Pied Flycatcher was behind the Nursery. Other birds on Hengistbury and Wick this morning included 75+ Willow Warbler, 42 Blackcap, 2 Sedge and single Reed Warbler, Bullfinch, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtail, single Redstart, Garden Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler, with the majority of these being on Wick; a Rook in Barn Field was another atypically grounded bird. Overhead, 4 Whimbrel headed north, and just 5 Mediterranean Gull were reported today. Over on Stanpit this morning were a much-improved selection of waders, with Little Ringed Plover, 21 Whimbrel, 4 Greenshank, 21 Dunlin, and single Green Sandpiper, Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank. An early Swift, the first of the year, passed over, and passerine interest came from 3 White Wagtail on Priory Marsh, a Grasshopper Warbler in North Scrubs, as well as Tree Pipit, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 6 Sedge Warbler, 61 Willow Warbler and 15 Blackcap. Visiting birders reported an Osprey through the harbour at 1.45pm. This afternoon, a visit to Fishermans Bank added 21 Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Sandpiper to the earlier counts. Please note that yesterday's report now includes additional totals from one observer who was incommunicado (at The Oak) last night.

Postscript - a Barn Owl was seen at dusk, flying from Priory Marsh towards the HHC. Perhaps it will linger, as did the last record of this species.

April 14th

Weather-wise, almost a carbon copy of yesterday, but with fewer birds around, despite the high expectations of the Saturday gang. Yellowhammer and Bullfinch were noted early on by the HHC, with a Grasshopper Warbler nearby and both Reed Warbler (2) and Sedge Warbler (1) in the reeds by the boardwalk. Around 75 Willow Warbler and 20 Chiffchaff were mostly in the woods, where there were also 5 Blackcap, 2 Redstart were seen (on Wick and Barn Field) and Wheatear numbered just 7. The Lesser Whitethroat remained in Wick Ditch, with 5 Common Whitethroat on Wick and around Barn Field. Overhead, 5 Whimbrel arrived, with small numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin, and an uncountable number of Mediterranean Gull, mostly adults, seemed to pass mostly to the east - at least 30 birds are believed to have been involved. An uneventful seawatch produced the long-awaited first Fulmar of the year, a single heading east, plus Razorbill and 16 Common Scoter heading the same way, and 9 Purple Sandpiper and single Sanderling along Mudeford Sandspit. Odds and sods included a Gadwall, 3 Canada Goose and 2 Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight, up to 4 Jay, with 2 Rook and 2 Jackdaw over. From Stanpit, a pair of Shoveler were in the Bight, with a single Gadwall, and 2 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. By lunchtime the temperature had risen considerably, encouraging a couple of Buzzard to soar over Harbour airspace. Finally, an evening stroll over Wick produced a female Ring Ouzel and 2 male Redstart.

Late update: in addition to the above totals were 47 Willow Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Tree Pipit, 56 Swallow, 120 Meadow Pipit, 2 House Martin, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Red-breasted Merganser seen to leave the harbour.

April 13th

On an overcast morning, the birds were slow to start moving, but passage eventually got underway as the temperature rose. A total of 56 Blackcap was quite impressive, with 125 Willow Warbler, 51 Chiffchaff, 47 Swallow, 45+ Sand Martin and 8 Wheatear also counted. Whitethroat are starting to trickle in, with 3 on Wick and 1 by the HHC, where there was also a Lesser Whitethroat. 6 Whimbrel, 4 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit moved overhead, a Pied Flycatcher was singing in the woods, and 5 Redstart, 2 Garden Warbler and a Ring Ouzel make up the remainder of the land-based sightings, with the latter commuting between Wick and the Barn Field. At sea, passage was headlined by two new birds for the year, namely 3 Scaup and an Arctic Skua, with a supporting cast of 21 Common Scoter, a Razorbill, 61 Common Gull (with 6 1st year and an adult Mediterranean Gull in with the flocks), 23 Gannet, 4 Common Tern, 2 Red-throated Diver and a single Black-throated Diver. All birds were heading east. Finally, a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull were seen to enter the harbour over Long Field.

Additional news: the year's first Sedge Warbler was in Wick Ditch this morning.

April 12th

Only average numbers of birds this morning, but these did include a nice mixture. A reeling Grasshopper Warbler was heard from the HHC and 3 singing Whitethroat were on Hengistbury; along with 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a male Redstart, a female Pied Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler. Perhaps the best bird was a breeding-plumaged Water Pipit that came in-off and briefly settled with Rock Pipit by the Coastguards. The year's second Common Tern was recorded, a couple of Common Sandpiper fluttered low across the harbour from Hengistbury to Stanpit, single Golden Plover and Whimbrel were seen to arrive, and the Spotted Redshank was heard. The commoner warblers numbered 65 Willow Warbler, 21 Chiffchaff and 17 Blackcap; while the overhead movement comprised 5 Swallow, 4 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit; also 250 Woodpigeon that were considered to on the move, with one high-flying flock containing a single Collared Dove. There were just 6 Wheatear about the head, also 6 adult Mediterranean Gull over and 3 Canada Goose in Barn Bight. Belated news of the year's first Reed Warbler on the 9th has just been received.

Late news: Totals of 3 Wheatear and 15 Turnstone were counted on Mudeford sandspit this morning.

April 11th

Although slightly quieter than the last day or so, there was still a good showing of migrant passerines. To continue the trend of going straight to the year-firsts, a male Pied Flycatcher was in the Nursery and a Greenshank was heard over Hengistbury. There was another good show of Willow Warbler, with 105+ being the Hengistbury estimate; also 14 Blackcap, a Lesser Whitethroat in the Barn Field and a silent Grasshopper Warbler that showed well in Wick Ditch. Overhead, small numbers of Goldfinch and Linnet were moving, but one starts to get the impression that hirundines are now starting to flow, as 56 Sand Martin, 32 Swallow and 2 House Martin were logged today; also 2 Rook east. The make-up of 9 Mediterranean Gull broke the recent mould of adult dominance, as today's figure included 6 first-summer birds. Bearded Tit were again heard in the HHC reeds and the Spotted Redshank called from Stanpit. Moving over to that side of the area and there is a definite Whimbrel influx to report, with 6 on East Marsh and 1 on South Marsh; also 6 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, and singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit. There was a pair of Tufted Duck on the river and 2 Gadwall, while the winter stragglers numbered 3 Brent Goose, 3 Wigeon and 2 Common Gull. Finishing off with the junk, a pair of Greylag Goose was in Holloway's Dock (where will they turn up next?) and 3 Canada Goose were lowering the tone of Priory Marsh.

Additional news: a further 12 Whimbrel were seen to arrive this evening and a Peregrine hunting over Priory Marsh plucked what appeared to be a Mallard duckling off a pool.

April 10th

It seemed the good weather had been reserved for the extended weekend, as the early skies were nothing but overcast. However, the blue had returned by late morning and went right on through, presenting another scorcher. Lots to write about today, but let's start with the year-firsts. This morning, a Lesser Whitethroat was in Wick Ditch, a Whimbrel flew over the HHC and a Common Sandpiper heard from there was later seen by the slipway. This afternoon, on Stanpit, there were actually 2 Whimbrel on East Marsh and a Garden Warbler in the North Scrubs. Ring Ouzel numbers rose to 5 birds - a single bird was on the Barn Field, while 2 males were together on the Wick "No Dogs" Field. Although these were seen to depart towards Stanpit at 9:25, a couple seen on Crouch Hill in the afternoon were male and female, proving they were not the same. Another good fall of Willow Warbler was enjoyed, with the east Hengistbury/Wick (the Wood was not visited) total approaching 200, along with 15+ Blackcap and a few migrant Chiffchaff. Stanpit also hosted 25 Willow Warbler and 10 Blackcap. Conversely, overhead movement was noted at just 2 Tree Pipit, 16 Swallow and a House Martin. It seems the recent weather across southern Europe is holding many hirundines back. A male Redstart was on the Barn Field and Bearded Tit were again heard in the HHC reeds. The day's Wheatear total is around 30, including 9 on Hengistbury, 4 on Wick and, later in the day, 17 at Stanpit. Meanwhile, there were 12 Mediterranean Gull logged - 8 over Hengistbury and 4 over Wick - all were adults except for an individual in second-winter plumage. At sea, the only note concerns 35 Common Scoter west off the Double Dykes; at Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was still present; but 2 Bar-tailed Godwit from Hengistbury were in breeding plumage, indicating they had just arrived. Today's comedy corner involves a single Red-legged Partridge on Wick and 2 Greylag Goose over Hengistbury.

April 9th

It's difficult to say whether the morning fog that succeeded a light dawn mist, made things better or worse for the early starters. On the upside, there was another good count of grounded passerines - 300 Willow Warbler, 47 Chiffchaff, 13 Blackcap and 14 Wheatear - but, on the contrary, overhead passage was almost nil until things started to clear around 10:30. After that, and well into the afternoon, 6 Tree Pipit, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 400+ Meadow Pipit, 65 Goldfinch and 10 Swallow all moved north. A male Ring Ouzel toured the area: first heard and then seen on the Batters before plunging into Double Dykes, the bird then appeared in the Bobolink Field on Wick and gave quite fantastic views, before appearing to head back to Hengistbury around 5:30 tonight. It's just a shame the regular photographers were away. Also seen on Wick was a White Wagtail this morning. The Spotted Redshank remains on Stanpit and is now exhibiting some dark smudges; also there 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Ringed Plover, 8 Dunlin and 5 of the wintering Bar-tailed Godwit. A skein of 3 Canada Goose were about the area before lunch, while the information services reported a Grasshopper Warbler and 2 Whitethroat on Wick. Please check back to yesterday for some additional snippets of interest.

Additional news: the year's first Reed Warbler was heard at the northern end of Wick Fields.

April 8th

The old Chinese proverb of, "the big one always travels alone," came to fruition today, as a singing male Little Bunting was found amongst a dearth of common migrants on Hengistbury. After some "ticks" were heard in the Double Dykes, there was an unfamiliar song, then the source of the sound was located and the ID clinched. Fortunately, the finder could ask a dog walker to stay put until two others had got onto the bird, before it flicked over the ridge towards the HHC. Around 20 minutes later, relocation came in the field adjacent to the HHC, where the quarry was in the company of a Greenfinch and seen by four more of the regulars. It was last seen heading into the morass of vegetation that is Wick Fields. For the second afternoon in succession, a female Marsh Harrier passed over Stanpit in the afternoon. This time, the bird came straight in off, very high, and continued north. Also seen during that excursion, was a male Merlin interacting with 2 Peregrine over Priory Marsh. As alluded to previously, the morning quantity was poor, with Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Wheatear in single figures, but a reeling Grasshopper Warbler on Wick was new for the year, also the familiar Whitethroat in song there; while a Tree Pipit perched briefly on a fence bordering the Barn Field. Also greatly reduced relative to the last couple of days, were Mediterranean Gull, just half a dozen from Hengistbury; however, Rook held their own, with 8 moving east, although an individual carrying a stick is now adding to the intrigue. A boat trip through the harbour and out to sea saw a definite Sandwich Tern increase, so they may get no further press. To conclude, a Great-crested Grebe was on the river, a Black-tailed Godwit was on the HHC bar and a couple of Swallow passed through.

Errata: there was a really good count of 15 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit this morning.

Additional news: an early evening visit to the sandspit produced 13 Turnstone on the harbour shore by the Noddy Train Terminus; also a Tufted Duck in Barn Bight and still 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field. Earlier, there had been 2 Yellow Wagtail on Wick Fields and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit north over there.

April 7th

This morning saw soccer squad numbers of regulars, plus some not-so-regulars, on Hengistbury; where, after a clear, cold start, the day developed into something of a scorcher. As might be expected, these conditions didn't produce the same numbers as yesterday, but before going into details, a fast-forward to the afternoon, when a female Marsh Harrier was seen soaring north of Stanpit golf course, before gaining a great height and drifting east. Back to the early period and starting with year-firsts: a Common Tern moved east past the Beach Huts and a Yellow Wagtail headed swiftly north. Right from dawn, Mediterranean Gull were vocally obvious and from the many sightings, a firm 16 adults and 1 first-summer can be claimed. It's interesting that most records relate to paired adults moving east. Also moving eastwards were Rook, a total of 6 birds, all individuals, save for 1 in the company of a Carrion Crow! A pair of these were also heading in the same direction. Single Redwing and Song Thrush quickly moved northwards, as did 9 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Swallow. For what is almost the second week of April, hirundines are very sparse indeed. In stark contrast to yesterday, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap numbers could be described as a handful, but Wheatear did contribute with 35 on Hengistbury and 5 on Wick Fields. A brief seawatch saw a Red-throated Diver, 16 Sandwich Tern, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Sanderling moving into The Solent, and 6 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. Bearded Tit were again heard in the HHC reeds, and single Dunlin and Ringed Plover arrived over there. A tidy duck selection was made up of 8 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall and 2 Tufted Duck, while a pair of touring Greylag Goose made one individual very happy. On the subject of wildfowl, the last week has seen an exodus of Brent Goose and Wigeon, both now down to a few stragglers. The Wooden Bridge Whitethroat has now sung, suggesting it may be a first-summer male, the lingering Yellowhammer was seen a couple of times in flight, single Red-legged Partridge were at either end of Wick Fields, and Jay were recorded in the Wood, Wick Fields and by Two Riversmeet.

April 6th

The first morning of a four-day Easter birding frenzy saw Hengistbury reverberating to the song of newly arrived Willow Warbler. In total, 380 were logged on the head itself or funnelling into Wick Ditch by the HHC; also 125 Chiffchaff, the third three-figure count of the spring, 30 Blackcap, 9 Goldcrest and a Firecrest. In a day of almost complete coverage, Hengistbury also produced some new year-birds, namely: a Green Sandpiper in off and north, 2 Redstart, 1 in Double Dykes and 1 in the Nursery, and 3 Tree Pipit. There was also a rather unexpected movement of thrushes, including 1 female Ring Ouzel, 1 Redwing and 10 Song Thrush, all north. Also that way, a male Merlin, 51 Sand Martin and 24 Swallow; while other inbound visible migrants were made up of 1700 Meadow Pipit and 420 Linnet. A singing male Whitethroat by the Double Dykes was a new bird, but a female by the Wooden Bridge on Wick is almost certainly still the wintering bird. Given the number of sightings, it is tricky to estimate Wheatear numbers across the coastal strip, but up to 60 birds is not an unreasonable figure. To fuel the local interest, there was a marked Rook movement, comprising 4 birds purposefully east and 2 in the opposite direction. A day count of 10 Sandwich Tern suggest they are becoming established, as are Sand Martin around the Coastguards. Finally from Hengistbury, 3 Bearded Tit were in the HHC reeds, a Yellowhammer and 8 Mediterranean Gull went over there, a Little Grebe was on the Ironstone Quarry and a male Peregrine was noted. An afternoon trip to Stanpit saw the Spotted Redshank still present, along with 3 newly arrived Bar-tailed Godwit, the latter all in quite stunning plumage. There were also 5 more modestly attired Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Dunlin, with one of these sporting a black belly. Earlier, there had been information services reports of a Serin and 2 Whimbrel on the marsh.

Omission: a Mistle Thrush was on Wick.

April 5th

The reducing wind raised the hopes, but Hengistbury fell well short of expectations, other than a further sighting of what was presumably yesterday's Serin. Today, the bird came up from behind the Barn and headed towards Wick Fields. Common migrant numbers comprised just 15 Chiffchaff, 8 Willow Warbler, 8 Blackcap and 5 Swallow, while 3 Sandwich Tern passed through the harbour and 13 Black-tailed Godwit arrived. The Yellowhammer was again recorded from Hengistbury, as well as 10 adult Mediterranean Gull - 8 of them east in groups 4, 2 and 2, with the outstanding pair drifting over the harbour. Carrying on with their good, recent presence are Mistle Thrush - a single bird on Wick Fields today. A Little Grebe was on Ironstone Quarry, a total of 3 Dunlin were off South Marsh and a lone Black-tailed Godwit was in Barn Bight. Of reptile interest, a Grass Snake was in the Natterjack Pond.

April 4th

Again cold and windswept, but producing a snippet of quality, as a female Serin was seen low over the Barn Field and then appeared to come down behind the Barn itself; but, despite searching, could not be relocated. The recent run of Merlin continues with a female west this morning, also the now expected adult pair of Mediterranean Gull over Hengistbury. At least 11 Wheatear were on the Barn Field and a Yellowhammer was heard around that area. Some evidence of corvid movement came from 2 Rook north, along with 2 Jackdaw wandering about the Hengistbury airspace. There are still very low numbers of Sand Martin around, just 6 lingering and 2 passing rapidly north. To finish off a generally quiet day, a Great-crested Grebe remains in the harbour.

Additional news: to make it a 6 corvid day, 2 Raven passed over southwards at midday.

April 3rd

The wind seemed to have a colder bite this morning, making it hard work on Hengistbury. Despite the breeze, a group of 3 Bearded Tit "pinged" out of the HHC reeds, went over the centre and descended the other side of the building. Other than these, the most interest came from a hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, first seen a week or so ago, but only formally reported today. Migrants were at a premium, just 6 Wheatear on the Barn Field and 7 Sand Martin over; but a Grey Plover was seen to arrive from the west. At least 3 Mediterranean Gull were about Hengistbury, 2 were adults, but the other went by unaged. The remaining notes involve: a couple of Raven over the Beach Huts, a Peregrine over the Coastguards, 4 Shoveler, 2 pairs, off Grimmery Bank and a Great-crested Grebe inside the harbour.

April 2nd

There was a slight reduction in the wind strength this morning, triggering a marked movement of Meadow Pipit. A total of 4200 moved northwards over Stanpit, including a wave of 3500 birds in a 45 minute spell commencing 9:00. Mixed in with them was a star bird - a Woodlark - as well as 270 Linnet and 35 Goldfinch, while 4 high-flying Jay were good candidates for migrants. A male Ring Ouzel was in the North Scrubs for a short time, also a Mistle Thrush and 3 Willow Warbler there. At least 4 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill and a handful of Sand Martin and 2 Swallow moved through. A female Tufted Duck was in Mother Siller's Channel and the pair of Shoveler were on the main Priory Pool. There was a good raptor selection in the area: a female Merlin zipped over the Barn Field, a couple of Peregrine were seen from both the main sites and a Buzzard actually came down onto Wick Fields. Also on the Barn Field were 9 Wheatear, making a day total of 13, and a single Great-crested Grebe was in Barn Bight. A couple of Raven were over the Wood, being hassled by a Sparrowhawk, and Jackdaw were heard in the same area, but not seen. Trying to totalise Mediterranean Gull right now is bordering on guesswork - 2 adult pairs and a first-winter were seen from the head, with further adult pairs from Stanpit and Wick - somewhere between 5 and 9 is probably the best way to leave it. Back to Stanpit and its waders, which today comprised 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. Finally, some novelty from Wick, where a Water Rail was seen grubbing around under a gorse bush in the Bobolink Field and the Red-legged Partridge pair took an excursion out onto the village green.

April 1st

The continuing northerly wind, which is gradually backing east, saw most observers treating themselves to a lie-in this morning. In fact, just two regulars made it to Hengistbury, where a small Meadow Pipit passage of 440 birds was most unexpected, also 3 Wheatear on the Barn Field. More Hengistbury details later as, this afternoon, Stanpit played host to a drake Garganey. The bird was first seen off Blackberry Point associating with Wigeon, but then teamed up with 4 or so Teal in Mother Siller's Channel, before dissolving into thin air. Also on Stanpit, a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull, a Grey Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, half a dozen Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, the Priory Marsh Shoveler pair and 2 Gadwall, plus a Swallow through. A drake Red-breasted Merganser spent the day inside the harbour, as did 2 Great-crested Grebe in Barn Bight. As promised, back to the head and the sea, with the watch being headed by a Black-throated Diver west, along with 3 adult Mediterreanean Gull and a Razorbill, also a Red-throated Diver on the water off Double Dykes. All other movement was west and consisted of: a Red-throated Diver, 12 Common Gull, 12 Gannet, 7 Common Scoter and 3 Red-breasted Merganser.

Additional news: the DBC website reported a Siberian Chiffchaff on Stanpit.

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