Sightings for February 2007

February 28th

Already the last day of February, but more importantly, tomorrow is the month we get the first genuine spring migrants. Any day now, certain chats, hirundines and terns can be expected. Back to the present, and a visit to Wick Fields produced a single Grey Wagtail and 10 Curlew on the floods, meanwhile, Barn Bight could muster just 1 Little Grebe.

February 27th

Again news is sparse, other than a welcome report of the Firecrest in the Wood on Hengistbury at 1:45. We have also just received confirmation that Red-legged Partridge did breed around Wick Fields last season.

February 26th

Only news for the day is of a Red-legged Partridge on Wick Fields. Maybe this year, breeding will be proved.

February 25th

The female Ring-necked Duck that spends most of her time on the Stour by Tuckton Bridge strayed just within the recording area today, seen from the path by the House on Stilts. However, popular opinion, albeit arguably unsubstantiated, considers the bird to be of dubious origin. Bearded Tit were again recorded, a single bird over the HHC reeds and, after yesterday's debut, a Red-legged Partridge was on the Wick Driving Range. The strong north-westerly wind hampered the pipit watching on Stanpit; nevertheless, at least 2 littoralis were safely identified in the 5 Rock Pipit around the Rusty Boat. From the shelter of the golf course pines, a Chiffchaff sang, while another fed up on the embankment. The Bar-tailed Godwit have increased by 1 to a dozen birds, but the Dunlin have now doubled to a heady 2 individuals! The same 3 Goldeneye were again in Stanpit Bight and the 200 Brent Goose are starting to look restless, now seeming more intent on chasing off rivals than actually feeding.

24th February

This morning's seawatch was punctuated by 3 of the more follicly challenged regulars actually gathering bottles of Pantene shampoo from along the beach! Despite these distractions, the watch did turn up a total of 12 Mediterranean Gull, all heading east, in groups of 5, 4 and 3. Also 12 Black-headed Gull and 2 Red-throated Diver moving in the same direction. Earlier, a further 2 Mediterranean Gull had been inside the harbour and 3 Raven circled the Nursery, causing some consternation amongst the nest-building Grey Heron. Stanpit also received some attention, where the pipits included a Water Pipit, as well as up to 4 littoralis Rock Pipit. Other interest came from a Ruff on East Marsh and 3 Goldeneye, including the drake, 3 Pintail and 2 Great-crested Grebe in Stanpit Bight. The spring like conditions encouraged Chiffchaff to sing, 3 were heard on Stanpit and another on Wick Fields. The small wader dearth continues, with just single Dunlin and Turnstone recorded, but the 11 Bar-tailed Godwit were present, as were 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and the Brent Goose numbered around 200.

Additional news: Wick turned up another 2 year firsts, with a male Blackcap and a Red-legged Partridge being recorded today.

February 23rd

The seasonal, increasing Mediterranean Gull presence was again evident, with 2 calling adult birds over Fisherman's Bank this morning. Also heard, but in this case not seen, was the Spotted Redshank, somewhere around Central Marsh. Counts from Stanpit proved the regular 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and single Black-tailed Godwit were still present. It's hard to imagine there are several hundred of the latter just a few miles north, see Inside Out, 7:30, BBC tonight. On the Hengistbury side, the Firecrest was in the Wood, but just 1 Goldeneye could be found in Barn Bight.

February 22nd

Heavy rain deterred any excursions into the field today, other than a late afternoon visit to Mudeford Quay, from where a Great-crested Grebe could be seen fishing in The Run.

February 21st

A fine morning encouraged a lot of male singing activity, in particular from Bearded Tit, which were very conspicuous. In fact, birds were heard in three distinct areas - by Priory Marsh stile, in the reeds just upstream from the Bailey Bridge and over on the Wick side of the river. Also prospecting were a couple of showy Dartford Warbler on Hengistbury, while 3 Raven passed east over there. Back to Stanpit, and Scandanavian interest was provided by 8 Rock Pipit, including at least 5 pink ones, spread across Central Marsh and by the Warden's caravan; also 2 Chiffchaff, one a very grey looking individual, by the golf course. Yesterday's Pintail invasion had receded to just 1 bird, however, Shoveler today took over, with 7 individuals in Stanpit Bight. The Peregrine was on the Priory Tower, and Barn Bight hosted 4 Goldeneye, a Great-crested Grebe and a Kingfisher.

February 20th

The year list trundles on, courtesy of an adult female Marsh Harrier being harried by gulls over Wick Fields at 5:30 tonight. An earlier visit to Hengistbury produced the Firecrest in the holly by the second of the bends, as one walks seawards. The sea itself was dire, nothing in a brief 15 minute watch, but a flooded Stanpit Bight contained 4 pairs of Pintail. There were 4 brownhead Goldeneye in Barn Bight, along with a Great-crested Grebe and a Little Grebe, and a Kingfisher was in Wick Hams.

February 19th

The already high water levels, combined with a spring tide, made the bulk of Stanpit off-limits this morning, even for those in wellington boots. In fact, the North Scrubs was the only accessible area. Of 6 littoralis Rock Pipit in the scrubs, 4 were showing pinky breasts as well as other elements of breeding plumage. The Spotted Redshank was also seen from there, as were 2 first-winter Mediterranean Gull. During a very cold boat trip on the river, a couple of Great-crested Grebe were noted from Parky Meade Rail.

February 18th

On a very high morning tide, traversing Stanpit was tricky; however, this did not prevent the Spotted Redshank from again entering the monthly spreadsheet. Other waders recorded there included: 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 20 Dunlin. There were 2 Kingfisher around Central Marsh and a reasonable count of 17 Common Gull, presumably on South Marsh. A group of 3 Goldeneye were in Stanpit Bight, while 3 were also reported from Hengistbury. Also from the head, a single Great-crested Grebe and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

February 17th

Firstly, thanks to Chris Chapleo for battling with a heavy cold and delivering last night's entertainment. This morning was really rather pleasant with a varying, but always gentle, easterly wind. An adult Mediterranean Gull passing west over Barn Bight is likely to be the first of more frequent records as the spring progresses. Early in the morning, 3 Raven moved over westwards and about 45 minutes later 2 birds headed towards the Isle of Wight. An entertaining seawatch, over 90 minutes, included: 9 Red-throated Diver, 5 west and 4 east; as well as 1 Great-northern Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Common Scoter, 8 Brent Goose and 3 Shelduck, all heading into The Solent. A Sanderling also whizzed past the Beach Huts on a couple of occasions. Just after 10:30, something disturbed birds in the Avon Valley, but presumably not shooting, as the inland season finished last month. Mixed in with the few hundred high-flying Wigeon was a Golden Plover and 15-20 Pintail. At dawn, a couple of Shoveler headed upriver and 36 Little Egret were counted leaving the Hengistbury roost. The 5 Goldeneye were in Barn Bight and seem to comprise an adult drake, 3 first-winter drakes and a female; also there a Great-crested Grebe. Finally, the Nuthatch was in the Wood, along with a Great-spotted Woodpecker, and a Greylag Goose was heard from the HHC.

February 16th

Sorry if tonight's report seems a little rushed, but time is short ahead of the meeting this evening. Red-throated Diver have been sparse of late, so 5 west and 1 east past the Beach Huts were appreciated a little more than normal, also a Common Scoter east and a very distant form considered to be a shearwater west, but given the month there is some slight reservation from the observer. Next best (did I really say that!) were 2 Canada Goose on Blackberry Point, while the 5 Goldeneye were just off it. In Barn Bight, there were 3 Great-crested Grebe and 1 Little Grebe, the Peregrine was facing east on The Priory tower and a Kingfisher was around Wick Hams.

February 15th

The pipit zone held around 20 Rock Pipit today and although the bright littoralis wasn't seen, there were a few other less obvious candidates. The comments received about yesterday's individual have been largely positive; but now the record to raise the eyebrows - there was a Water Pipit on Priory Marsh this morning! However, this was in winter-plumage and in no way resembled the bird photographed yesterday. Outside of the anthus interest, the high water levels mean that Stanpit continues to be quiet, a Chiffchaff in the golf course pines and the 11 Bar-tailed Godwit being the other highlights. This afternoon, from Mudeford Quay, 4 Kittiwake were seen heading east, as were 3 Purple Sandpiper. On Hengistbury, there were 3 Little Grebe and 1 Great-crested Grebe in Barn Bight, a couple of Coal Tit in the Wood, 2 Turnstone on the sandspit; while a Kingfisher was seen at several points along the harbour shore. Brent Goose have crept up over the last couple of days, 200+ this morning compared with 187 in the previous 24 hour period, also over 580 Wigeon about the harbour today.

February 14th

Perhaps the most remarkable event of the day was the complete paucity of waders on the afternoon low tide. From Stanpit, just 1 Bar-tailed Godwit could be counted, along with a handful of the expected Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher. There were around 7 Rock Pipit of interesting racial assignment on Central Marsh again, the 5 Goldeneye were off Blackberry Point and a Peregrine was on the tower.

February 13th

Most of the usual suspects were notched up today, including the Firecrest and Nuthatch in the Wood, as well as 5 of the Goldeneye in the uncharacteristic location of Stanpit Bight. There was something of a grebe influx, with 5 Little Grebe and 3 Great-crested Grebe being seen across Barn Bight and in the main river. A 30 minute seawatch produced just 3 Kittiwake west, while a Peregrine was on the east side of the Priory Tower.

February 12th

The early morning wind was from the south-west, but as the day wore on, the direction veered to the north. A hopeful seawatch from the Beach Huts could only muster 11 Kittiwake, but the return journey saw the Firecrest and Treecreeper in the Wood. A morning trip to Mudeford Quay resulted in 2 Purple Sandpiper heading towards Avon Beach; while, this afternoon, a Red-throated Diver passed by there to the west.

February 11th

Not an awful lot to report on today, which saw the morning marred by quite a strong westerly wind and intermittent showers. Nevertheless, a trip was made onto Stanpit, where 9 Bar-tailed Godwit were counted on South Marsh. At least 120 Brent Goose also spent the day on the marsh, as did 4 Dunlin. The only news from Hengistbury is of the Nuthatch in the Wood and the 6 Goldeneye off Rushy Piece again.

February 10th

The morning was a bit of a non-event; so it's probably best to start in the afternoon, between the frequent showers. From Stanpit golf course, the parties of Lapwing that were arriving from the Avon Valley contained the year's first Ruff - a nice group of 6 birds with 2 accompanying Dunlin. The northern section of Central Marsh, just beyond the Rusty Boat, held at least 15 Rock Pipit with many showing Nordic traits. Finally from Stanpit, a Chiffchaff was by the golf course. The best of the morning's seawatch were 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 east and 1 west, but little else. The Nuthatch was in the normal spot, along with a Great-spotted Woodpecker, and 4 Goldeneye were off Rushy Piece. A Peregrine was with prey on the left hand gargoyle late morning and, earlier, a young bird had passed west over the Common. Other local interest comes from a Jay on Fisherman's Bank, a Great-crested Grebe in Barn Bight and 2 Little Grebe in Parky Meade Rail.

February 9th

Cold, damp and fairly unpleasant are probably the best words to describe the present conditions, which are made to feel even worse by an ongoing easterly wind. This morning, on Hengistbury, there was a Chiffchaff on the Common and a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the Wood. On the sandspit, there was a single Grey Plover and 5 Ringed Plover, while 3 Goldeneye were in Barn Bight. The less brave used the shelter of the car at the end of Argyll Road, from where 11 Grey Plover, 27 Dunlin, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Ringed Plover could be seen between South Marsh and Blackberry Point. The Peregrine was again resting on The Priory in the morning.

February 8th

The snow that swept across large parts of the country stopped at least 20 miles short of the south coast, effectively dampening hopes of any local, cold weather movements. There was a clean sweep in the Wood for one observer, with Firecrest, Nuthatch and Treecreeper all making it into the notebook; while Barn Bight contained the 6 Goldeneye, and single Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe.

February 7th

The majority of today's news comes from Hengistbury, where the Firecrest and Nuthatch were both seen, around noon, in the Nursery and Wood respectively. The sandspit hosted a reasonable wader selection, including: 34 Ringed Plover, 13 Dunlin and 2 Grey Plover, the latter on S11; while 11 Turnstone were dotted along the harbour shore. The 6 Goldeneye were again seen, the same number of Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway's Dock and 4 Snipe fed on Wick Hams. On Stanpit, there is a pipit advancing towards breeding plumage, which is considered to be a good example of littoralis (Scandinavian) Rock Pipit. This was up by the Rusty Boat, in much the same area as last week's seven birds. Also on that side of the area were 2 Chiffchaff in Smithy's Field, where it seems at least 3 pair of Song Thrush are already establishing territory, also the regular 11 Bar-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight. A Peregrine was again using The Priory tower, while the male bird was blatantly showing off over Stanpit. Kingfisher were noted in Barn Bight and by the HHC.

February 6th

Although the air temperature was a degree or two cooler than yesterday, today's lack of wind made conditions far more pleasant. Despite this, Stanpit could only muster, in terms of wader interest, the regular 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Black-tailed Godwit. Other than that, it was just 5 Pintail, 3 drakes and 2 ducks, in Stanpit Bight, and a Peregrine swooping on Oystercatcher on Crouch Hill, upon which to remark. Additional news from Hengistbury involves a Firecrest close the the Nursery and 4 Goldeneye in Barn Bight.

February 5th

There was mist and murk at both ends of the day, with the dampness making it uncomfortably cold on Stanpit. A morning visit saw 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, but absolutely no Dunlin. However, this changed by the afternoon, when there were 25 present. Other morning interest included a Chiffchaff in Smithy's Field, along with a Great-spotted Woodpecker, and 3 Pintail in Stanpit Bight. At 12:40, a Peregrine was on the south face of The Priory and, later in the afternoon, the 6 Goldeneye were off Blackberry Point. Please check back to yesterday for some extra news.

February 4th

Firstly, thanks to Ian for standing in over the last couple of weeks. After a frosty start, it was another warm and pleasant day with a slight east wind. On Stanpit, a Bearded Tit was seen this morning, by the stile to Priory Marsh; while, in the afternoon, a single Chiffchaff was flycatching on the golf course Bank. Continuing its run of the last few days, the Spotted Redshank was again recorded, today on South Marsh briefly. The 6 Goldeneye had deserted Barn Bight and were feeding off the Avonmouth Hotel, but a drake Pintail, 1 Great-crested Grebe and 1 Little Grebe were at the former site and, later, the Goldeneye returned. Meanwhile, a male Peregrine made a pass over Stanpit, before heading off towards Mudeford Quay. On Hengistbury, the Wood provided a nice trio of Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great-spotted Woodpecker for one observer, and there were 2 Purple Sandpiper on S11. It was again WeBS count day and fuller details will follow, but early numbers include 32 Black-tailed Godwit remaining from yesterday's invasion and 11 Bar-tailed Godwit around Stanpit Bight.

Selected WeBS totals: Wigeon 458, Coot 266, Teal 141, Brent Goose 132, Redshank 118, Oystercatcher 69, Lapwing 42, Ringed Plover 40, Little Egret 17, Curlew 17, Snipe 9 and Turnstone 1.

Additional news: the Firecrest was seen in the Wood at 8:00 this morning.

February 3rd

After a frosty start we enjoyed a gloriously sunny day, although the biting easterly breeze made it feel quite cold. Firecrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker were all in the woodland by the Nursery. On the Priory Tower, the regular male Peregrine was joined by a female bird this morning; also seen was a Merlin, which dashed over the HHC reedbed, while 2 Raven moved east over the Common. There were 7 Great Crested Grebe today, 5 at sea and 2 in Barn Bight; also in Barn Bight were 3 Gadwall and a Little Grebe, while the 6 Goldeneye were once again off The Knoll. The sea was very quiet with just 1 each of Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter east; also 2 Pintail that left the harbour before returning a short while later. Earlier, a Golden Plover was seen arriving on Stanpit. A flock of 65 Wigeon coming from the north, which headed out to sea, suggested disturbance in the Avon Valley. There was further evidence of this on Stanpit after lunch with the presence of 350 Black-tailed Godwit; also on the Marsh were 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Shoveler, the Spotted Redshank and the first Yellow-legged Gull of the year. Check back to yesterday for some late news.

February 2nd

Another very pleasant spring-like morning produced a good selection of records, with the Spotted Redshank probably the pick of the bunch. The bird was on the Salt Hurns on the Hengistbury side today. In the Wood, Firecrest, Nuthatch and Coal Tit were all present, while 3 Chiffchaff were in the bank below the golf course on Stanpit, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was on Wick. A Tufted Duck joined the regular wildfowl on the river, where there was just 1 Little Grebe. There were possibly 6 Goldeneye today, with the drake and 3 duck off the Nursery, and a further 2 duck towards the Black House. This was confirmed later when 6 were together off The Knoll. The drake Red-breasted Merganser was also by the Avonmouth Hotel. On Stanpit, 117 Brent Geese were on East Marsh and waders numbered 35 Dunlin, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Grey Plover and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. On the sandspit, there were a further 35 Dunlin and 4 Purple Sandpiper. The Peregrine was on the south-facing side of The Priory tower and a Raven passed over the harbour. Reed Bunting were more in evidence today with 6 on the Salt Hurns and 2 on Wick. Finally, the Kingfisher was in its usual haunt, the HHC reedbed.

Additional news: from Wick the Greylag Goose was heard calling again from Christchurch Quay and a Jackdaw flew over while in the evening the Little Owl was in its usual spot.

February 1st

The early morning mist was slow to clear, but eventually visibility improved enough for the late starters to find some birds. There were 5 Goldeneye again today, still only one drake, also the Red-breasted Merganser and a Little Grebe. The 10 Purple Sandpiper were still on the Mudeford Sandspit, together with 60 Dunlin, 25 Ringed Plover and 1 Grey Plover. The only bird of note in the Wood was the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Check back to yesterday for some late news.

Additional news: from Hengistbury this morning, as something disturbed all the birds in the Barn Bight/SSSI area, from where 25 Common Snipe and 1 Jack Snipe took to the air

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