Sightings for January 2007

January 31st

It was a similar story this morning, with the drake Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Goldeneye and 2 Little Grebe present, and the Great Spotted Woodpecker again in the Wood. On the Mudeford Sandspit, between groynes S10 & S12, were 10 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Sanderling, 1 Grey Plover, 22 Ringed Plover and 53 Dunlin, while 40 Turnstone left the harbour. After lunch at low tide, between Blackberry Point and Stanpit Bight, waders numbered 37 Dunlin, 18 Ringed Plover, 10 Grey Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. A good harbour record was the sight of 2 Rook over Fisherman's Bank this afternoon.

Additional news: A Tawny Owl was reported from Stanpit. The bird was in one of the small trees below the golf course at 4pm.

January 30th

A pleasantly mild morning, albeit very grey and overcast, failed to generate much interest. The drake Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Goldeneye and a Great Crested Grebe were all present. The wader roost on the sandspit contained 58 Dunlin, 41 Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone and 2 Grey Plover. Finally, the Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard in the Wood. Check back to yesterday for some late news.

January 29th

After yesterday's blank day the harbour received good coverage this morning, with most of the effort directed at Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank put in its first appearance of the year. The bird was on East Marsh for much of the morning. Also on Stanpit, were 7 Rock Pipit of the litoralis race. There was a suggestion of disturbance in the Avon Valley as 470 Wigeon, 226 Pintail and 11 Shoveler were counted overhead heading south and out to sea. Staying with wildfowl, the Wigeon flock has reduced considerably with only 370 birds today, also on the Marsh were 119 Brent Geese and a single drake Shoveler. On Hengistbury, the Firecrest was in the Nursery and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the Wood. At the northern end of Stanpit, a Grey Wagtail and 2 Chiffchaff were seen, while 7 Redwing flew north. Waders today were 53 Dunlin, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Grey Plover, 7 Ringed Plover, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and, rather bizarrely, 4 Turnstone feeding on Central Marsh, while the Mudeford Sandspit held a further 18 Turnstone. Wintering birds in the main harbour included 5 Goldeneye, the regular drake Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Little Grebe and 1 Great Crested Grebe.

Additional news: the Firecrest, Nuthatch and Treecreeper were still in the Wood on
Hengistbury this afternoon.

January 28th

Unfortunately, no reports have yet been received today.

January 27th

A fine sunny day brought a welcome return to mild temperatures. However, coverage was left to a couple of the Saturday stalwarts on Hengistbury, where Nuthatch, Firecrest and Chiffchaff were all in the wood. There was a suggestion of finch movement with birds coming in off the sea, with 30 Chaffinch, 25 Linnet and 10 Goldfinch being noted. Only 3 Goldeneye were seen today, along with 4 Purple Sandpiper.

January 26th

The only birder activity in the harbour today was on Hengistbury, where the Firecrest was still in the Wood this afternoon. A drake Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Goldeneye were off the Nursery, while the Kingfisher was in its usual haunt around Barn Bight.

January 25th

The first Bearded Tit of the year was heard 'pinging' by the wooden bridge on Wick Fields this morning; also seen from there was the Peregrine on the south facing side of the Priory Tower. In the wood on Hengistbury both Firecrest and Coal Tit were present. From Stanpit 6 Goldeneye and 2 Great Crested Grebe could be seen today. The Brent Goose numbered 120, while there were 36 Dunlin, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit and just a single Turnstone. A Kingfisher was by the Rusty Boat and 2 Raven headed north-east.

Check back to yesterday for some late Stanpit news.

January 24th

Today's highlight was the presence of a first-winter Little Gull on Mudeford Quay literally "coming to bread", as one of the locals fed the resident Mute Swan population. A later attempt to re-enact the scene clearly produced the wrong result! On Hengistbury earlier, the female Goldeneye was just off the Nursery, together with 2 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Little Grebe, while 2 Ringed Plover and a Black-tailed Godwit were in Barn Bight. A further 6 Ringed Plover were on the harbour shore and 3 Turnstone were on the beach. A brief sea watch produced just 8 Common Scoter east.

Late news: on Stanpit there was a Yellowhammer and 2 Linnet, both species unusual at this time of year. On the river, were 5 Goldeneye, 1 drake and 3 Great Crested Grebe, while 10 Shoveler flushed from Priory Reeds left the harbour heading east. A lone Sanderling was with the Dunlin flock; also 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and 9 Grey Plover were present.

January 23rd

On another fine but bitterly cold day, the only report received so far is from Hengistbury, where the drake Goldeneye was still in Barn Bight, together with a drake Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Great Crested Grebe.

Check back to yesterday for some late news.

January 22nd

'Winter' duly arrived today, with a bitter north-easterly wind producing plummeting temperatures. Hence, coverage was scarce, although both sides of the harbour were visited. The first drake Goldeneye since the turn of the year joined the regular female in Barn Bight; also there were 3 Great Crested and 2 Little Grebe. A seawatch produced no more than 2 Kittiwake east. On Stanpit this afternoon, the Brent Geese totalled 114, while wader numbers remain low with just 18 Dunlin, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. The only other sighting of note was of a Buzzard soaring over Wick just after lunch.

Additional news: A Red-necked Grebe was in Barn Bight, possibly the bird that put in an appearance before Christmas?

January 21st

The brisk wind that approached north-west-west held an uncomfortable chill, but this didn't deter visits to both Hengistbury and Stanpit. On the sandspit, today's Purple Sandpiper count was two - the birds together on the sand between groynes S7 and S8. A drake Tufted Duck that spent the day inside the harbour was recorded from both sites, firstly off Blackberry Point and latterly in Stanpit Bight. Kittiwake only ever enter the harbour when they are in difficulty and, fortunately, it's been a few years since an internal sighting. Sadly, this changed today, as an oiled, adult bird was desperately preening its damaged breast feathers on South Marsh. The area where the Purewell Stream goes under the footpath by Stanpit Golf Course has been good for Chiffchaff this winter, with up to 5 birds present, but only 1 could be seen in a brief look this afternoon. At least 7 Bar-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit and 5 Great-crested Grebe, the Goldeneye and 2 Little Grebe were in Barn Bight. The ebbing spring tide was obviously bringing lots of small fish out of the harbour, as over 700 Black-headed Gull were hanging in the wind over The Run and picking them off. From Mudeford Quay, there were around 8 Turnstone visible on the tip of the sandspit.

Additional news: an hour's seawatch from the Beach Huts yielded 3 Pintail, a drake and two duck, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and a Guillemot, all west.

January 20th

A poorly attended Saturday morning, but, nevertheless, there are some birds to talk about. A Firecrest was in the Wood, favouring the holly adjacent to the second of the bends; also a Coal Tit, the first of the year, seen in the Nursery, and a Chiffchaff and the Nuthatch heard about the same area. The high morning tide encouraged waders to roost on the sandspit and the group of 60 Dunlin and 40 Ringed Plover held a single Purple Sandpiper. The sea was poor, despite some effort, with just 4 Guillemot, 1 Razorbill, 1 Gannet and 1 Common Scoter being the sum total. The Goldeneye was again in Barn Bight, as were 4 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Little Grebe, while a Kingfisher hunted between Holloway's Dock and the Salt Hurns. Finally, thanks to Russell Wynn for last night's talk, which was another great success.

January 19th

The most noteworthy record today was a Chiffchaff in the Wood on Hengistbury, where winter sightings are actually not that common. The Nuthatch was also again logged there and a Raven was heard overhead. The female Goldeneye was in Barn Bight, along with a Little Grebe and a Kingfisher. A further Kingfisher went upriver past the HHC, as did 30 Dunlin.

Additional news: there were single Purple Sandpiper on groynes S7 and S11; also a Sanderling, 8 Turnstone, 55 Ringed Plover and 25 Dunlin on the sandspit. A 30 minute look at the sea produced a Common Scoter east and a Razorbill the other way.

Further news from Stanpit. An adult Mediterranean Gull was in Stanpit Bight, while 2 female Goldeneye were seen, 1 in the harbour and the other a little further upriver. Also, a drake Gadwall, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and 60 or so Brent Goose.

Late news: a Little Owl was heard from Solent Meads Golf Course car park prior to the evening meeting.

January 18th

In some of the strongest winds for probably a number of years, a trip was made to the Beach Huts. Upon arrival, a Fulmar, the year's first, and a Razorbill on the water raised hopes. However, the ensuing 75 minutes added just 2 Razorbill and a Common Scoter west; while on the groynes halfway along the sandspit, there were half a dozen Purple Sandpiper.

January 17th

The quite grim conditions that prevailed for most of the day kept just about everyone indoors. As a result, it's those disheartening words of , "nothing to report." In fact, tomorrow's forecast is equally gruesome, but if a dash to the Beach Huts can be made, there must surely be some kind of reward.

Late news: 2 Razorbill and a Guillemot were in The Run at lunchtime.

January 16th

Thin pickings from a wet morning comprised just single Kingfisher upriver past the HHC. Late in the afternoon, a visit to Stanpit saw 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, but absolutely no small waders, despite the tide being low. Wigeon and Brent Goose were also sparse, but 1500 Black-headed Gull and 15 Common Gull were counted in the pre-roost gathering.

January 15th

A surprising amount to report for a Monday. So, starting with the notables: a Little Gull went west past the Beach Huts this morning; there were 3-5 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit, groynes S1 and S9 among the favoured sites; the Nuthatch was in the Wood; and 5 Chiffchaff were in the hedge bordering Smithy's Field. The seawatch also featured 3 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great-northern Diver, 8 Kittiwake and 3 auk sp. west, while 5 Common Scoter, the first of the year, headed into The Solent. A single Guillemot grazed the groynes and a party of 5 Pintail left high to the south-east and eventually seemed to head towards the Isle of Wight. Also exiting were 9 Grey Plover over the Common. A Snipe was in the strange location of Holloway's Dock and a single Black-tailed Godwit was on Wick Hams. There were 8 Turnstone on the sandspit and 14 Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit. Finally, Barn Bight contained a female-type Goldeneye, and two each of Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe.

January 14th

The Douglas Trophy was brought to Christchurch for the next 12 months by the CHOG birdrace team, who scraped a narrow one species victory over a formidable Poole based side. Of the six competing teams, the final placings were: 119 to 118 to 116. Our thanks and regards to all who organised and took part. During a day of almost clear blue skies, the best bird was a Redpoll over Wick Fields this morning, also a couple of Raven north and a Peregrine over there. Raven were also heard over Hengistbury and a female-type Goldenye was seen flying upriver. In addition to this, it was the monthly WeBS count day, with the pick of the numbers being a Sanderling, 2 Purple Sandpiper and 3 Turnstone on the sandspit; also 63 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin across the area, with the majority being on the aforementioned site. Meanwhile, in terms of waders, Stanpit was disappointing, holding just 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a measly 168 Lapwing. This distribution is probably due to the neap tides, which mean the currently high water levels do not sufficiently contract to expose any mud. Early this afternoon, it was strange to see a few hundred Wigeon on the sea off Hengistbury; however, it later became clear this was due to gross, dog disturbance at Stanpit. In total, 448 Wigeon had earlier been counted, along with 119 Brent Goose, 149 Teal, 295 Coot, 121 Redshank, just 51 Mallard, 25 Oystercatcher, 10 Shelduck and a remarkably low figure of 6 Snipe, despite a blog into Central Marsh. Kingfisher were noted on 4 occasions throughout the day - at Stanpit, Fisherman's Bank and by the Wooden Bridge on Wick.

January 13th

Before heading west in search of glory, the CHOG birdrace team made a token visit to the harbour and heard a Little Owl calling on Wick at 4:45am! On Hengistbury, where the Nuthatch was still in the wood, a sea watch produced just 2 Kittiwake heading west, while Barn Bight held 2 Great Crested and 1 Little Grebe. A single Goldeneye also flew upriver. On Stanpit, 110 Brent Geese were present together with 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 40+ Ringed Plover. A little later, wildfowl began arriving from the direction of the Avon valley; these were mainly Wigeon, around 300, but also a few Teal.

January 12th

The wind continued unabated this morning, but thankfully there was no rain. The Nuthatch was again in the Wood, along with the year's first recorded Great-spotted Woodpecker. From Mudeford Quay late this afternoon, a couple of Purple Sandpiper could be seen on the end of the sandspit, while 26 Turnstone and around 40 Dunlin entered the harbour via The Run. Also in the afternoon, an exhausted Guillemot was beached close to the Point House Cafe, attracting the attention of some large gulls before escaping toward the Long Groyne. Birders in the harbour will be sparse tomorrow, as the Saturday regulars are representing CHOG in the Dorset Bird Race. Consequently, any reports will be gratefully received.

January 11th

The persistent strong winds presumably deterred any observers from visiting the harbour today, with no reports received.

Additional news: a seawatch produced a first-winter Mediterranean Gull and 4 Kittiwake.

January 10th

A respite in the weather led to a few more sightings today. The sea produced all three divers, with 3 Red-throated Diver, and single Black-throated Diver and Great-northern Diver heading slowly east, settling off Milford en-route, also an unidentified diver species, a Guillemot and an adult Gannet (scarce of late), with two Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. A small grebe (Slavonian or Black-necked) was frustratingly not assigned to species. Barn Bight held a female Goldeneye, 3 or 4 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Little Grebe, and a couple of Kingfisher, whilst in the Wood the Nuthatch and Treecreeper were again consorting in the area just beyond the double bends this morning.

January 9th

No reports have been received so far from within the harbour confines. However, the group of Little Egret by the River Avon, south of the Christchurch bypass and just outside the recording area, has increased to 51 birds.

January 8th

Although anticipated a few weeks ago, more in hope than in expectation, a unique harbour double occurred this morning with Nuthatch and Treecreeper appearing not just on the same day, but on the same branch in the Wood! Two Firecrest close by added to the spectacle. At sea, what was described as a "diabolical" seawatch still produced some quality, with the only sighting being an adult Little Gull moving slowly to the west. A Purple Sandpiper on the groynes was the only other sighting of note.

Late news: the Little Owl was once again calling from the foot of the Driving Range on Wick at around 8.15pm.

January 7th

All the three sites within the recording area received a visit today. At Stanpit, there was at least 1 Chiffchaff by Smithy's Field and a couple of Raven, the first for a while, overflew Priory Marsh having arrived from the north. A trip to the Beach Huts on Hengistbury produced a single Purple Sandpiper, as well as 3 Razorbill and a Gannet west. The latter have become very scarce off the area of late. Barn Bight held it's normal quota, namely 4 Little Grebe, single Great-crested Grebe and a Kingfisher. To complete the site tour, a Dartford Warbler was on Wick, along with 3 Stonechat, another bird with reduced recent numbers.

Additional news: late in the morning, there were 3 Sanderling, mixed in with 30+ Ringed Plover, on the sandspit. Also a Kingfisher around Rushy Piece.

January 6th

There was a deceptive break in the rain at dawn, which encouraged an optimistic walk to the Beach Huts. By the time they were reached, the weather had turned again and it was a case of four, rather forlorn individuals attempting to use rain soaked optics in the face of a southerly blow. The net result being a single auk during a 60 minute soaking. This means the only definite birds for the day are a drake Pochard in Barn Bight, not to be sneered at in January, with 3 Little Grebe also there.

January 5th

A reasonably well covered day that saw the Whitethroat appear again by the Wooden Bridge on Wick Fields. This is only Dorset's second winter record for the species. There was a vast improvement at sea today, headed by: 7 Red-throated Diver, 6 east and 1 west, and 1 Great-northern Diver, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Common Scoter and 1 Razorbill west, with a further of the latter on the sea. A single, breeding plumaged Dunlin also passed by west. There was a really good count of 14 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit around midday, along with 45 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover and a Dunlin in that area. The regular Nuthatch and Firecrest were seen in the Wood, and a Kingfisher was by Barn Bight.

January 4th

A morning trip to Stanpit saw some additions to the area's year-list, namely: a Grey Wagtail on the Two Riversmeet Car Park; a Jack Snipe flushed by a Fox on Central Marsh; a Golden Plover with the airborne Lapwing flock and a couple of distant Rook in flight to the north of the area. Meanwhile, over on Hengistbury, a total of 8 Purple Sandpiper midway along the sandspit were also first-timers. The best of the rest saw a Bullfinch in Smithy's Field, Stanpit, and 4 Redwing up from the woodland at the end of the head. The Nuthatch was again in the Wood, but in a blustery, west wind, the sea was totally deserted. Inside the harbour, Kingfisher and Great-crested Grebe were in the Barn Bight area.

January 3rd

A very low key day with the only report being of 16 Turnstone east past Mudeford Quay this afternoon.

January 2nd

Again, it was the Wood that held most of the interest with both the wintering Firecrest and Nuthatch being seen this morning. Also around during the early spell were a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight, along with Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe. After lunch, a Stanpit visit saw 11 Grey Plover and 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, also 18 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover and 8 Shelduck. Well after dark tonight, there was a Little Owl calling from the end of the Wick Driving Range.

Additional news: there was a single Linnet over Wick Fields in the morning.

January 1st

The overnight deluge ceased abruptly at dawn and gave way to a day of clear blue skies, but there was still an irritating westerly wind. This morning saw the Nuthatch on Hengistbury firmly onto the group's year-list, so those that bagged it today are now hoping it soon moves on. A Yellowhammer on Wick, at the end of the Driving Range, is another valuable January record, so were a Bullfinch and Chiffchaff close to the HHC. Other than these, it was pretty mundane stuff with last night's excesses limiting time in the field. On the sandspit, there were 40+ Ringed Plover, over 20 Dunlin and 3 Grey Plover, while single Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe were in Barn Bight. Later on in the day, Stanpit held 95 Black-tailed Godwit, 32 Ringed Plover, 15 Grey Plover and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, also 500 or so Lapwing, 130 Brent Goose and a reasonable, but uncounted, number of Dunlin. It's not often that Collared Dove are formally recorded, so for posterity, there were 15 at the entrance to Stanpit this afternoon. A total of 3 Kingfisher were noted over the course of the day, a couple of Wick Fields and one at Barn Bight. If you're planning some DIY work shortly, there is a wreck of timber along the shoreline, extending from Hengistbury to at least as far as Hurst Spit.

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