Sightings for May 2007

May 31st

The threat of rain held off until well after lunchtime and the sun even made some cameo appearances during the morning. Most of the day's news comes from a series of short seawatches, each curtailed by the south-easterly wind blowing straight into the faces of the observers. Aggregate totals are 20 Storm Petrel west and 2 certainly lingering, a Manx Shearwater that circuited a couple of times, a Fulmar, 4 Common Scoter, 20+ Gannet, 34 Common Tern and 5 Guillemot, 4 of these west and the other into The Solent. The Sanderling continue to hang around; of course, they could be different birds each day, but, of late, the flock size has been constantly around 30, in fact 32 today. A singing male Yellowhammer on the Batters was really interesting, while a male Wheatear on the Barn Field was the only passerine migrant noted. The trio of Shelduck duckling were off East Marsh, Stanpit, late this afternoon, but no migrant waders could be seen.

May 30th

After yesterday's respite, the foul weather returned amidst a gusty south-easterly. One hardy soul braved a walk from Wick to the Beach Huts, arriving there at 7:30 just before the major deluge. The pick was 3 Manx Shearwater and up to 9 Storm Petrel, all heading west, also a flock of 17 Common Scoter, the same number as one on Sunday, and around 20 Gannet. There were also about 10 Common Tern off the sandspit, while 5 more were seen entering the harbour. On Wick, a Cuckoo was seen and 3 Swift went over. A couple of later visits to Stanpit produced just 10 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin and 2 Curlew.

Additional news: a Fulmar was seen from the Beach Huts.

May 29th

Despite the dry conditions and blue skies, the continuing northerly wind persisted, making it quite uncomfortable on Hengistbury this morning. Around 200 Swift were noted overhead with an accompanying Hobby. A single Wheatear was on the Barn Field and the Cuckoo was again vocal on Wick. No news from Stanpit, other than a party of 9 Canada Goose over the golf course and northwards.

May 28th

Last night's pessimism about the merits of seawatching in a northerly was a complete nonsense, as the water actually held quite a bit of interest. At least 10 Storm Petrel were lingering of the Beach Huts, making tight circuits as they picked at the water whilst heading into the wind. This number is potentially low, as there were probably 30 or more sightings, but given that birds were seen doubling back it's best to exercise some caution. A Roseate Tern was with around 40 Common Tern off the Double Dykes and 21 of the latter were seen from the Beach Huts, and contained the rarest bird of the day - a first-summer individual, seen perched and in flight. Common Tern of this age rarely leave the species' African wintering quarters. In fact, some reading this afternoon suggests that only 1% accompany the adult birds on the northern journey. The other hugely notable record, but in this instance for the date rather than the plumage, was a Goldeneye - a female feeding in the calming seas off Mudeford Quay this afternoon. Also at sea, a Little Tern in The Run, 80 Gannet east, 23 Common Scoter and a Whimbrel. The numeric feature of the day was Swift, with an estimated 650 coming in over Hengistbury before lunch and a constant but smaller flow afterwards. The total is almost certainly way too low, as the three observers present spent much time looking at the sea, as opposed to the sky. Remaining interest from the sandspit was provided by an adult Hobby that appeared just in front of the Beach Huts with prey, perched itself on a picnic table and dined al fresco, also 40 Sanderling feeding along the surf. The Wick Cuckoo was heard again and another was over the Salt Hurns, suggesting strongly there is breeding in both locations.

May 27th

It can only be described as a complete wash-out - the biggest surprise being there are actually any records for the day. The deluge started at dawn and continued to dusk, as the wind swung from south-east to north-east and it's set to continue its anti-clockwise rotation throughout the night. Hardly inspiring for the morning, but, no doubt, some ever-hopefuls will be there - if only to get some fresh air. Back to today, when 25 Dunlin left the area, but high to the west, also a Common Sandpiper and 40+ Sanderling sitting it out on the end of the sandspit, viewed from the cars on Mudeford Quay. From there, throughout the day, reasonably close Gannet could be seen and up to 20 Common Tern moved east in the morning. The only other car-bound viewpoint is Argyle Road, and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit were seen on the tip of South Marsh from the slipway, while the remaining 3 Shelduck young were much closer off Fisherman's Bank.

May 26th

A northerly wind with a slight chill encouraged a three hour loaf by the HHC this morning, an exercise that wasn't entirely wasteful. The best was a Great White Egret, CHOG's fifth record, over the harbour and north up the Avon Valley, where it was seen again around 3 hours later over Winkton. Also from the standing spot: 21 Spotted Flycatcher moving off the head and into Wick Fields, a Turtle Dove and Hobby in the same direction, a Great-northern Diver east, 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gull, an arriving Wheatear, an adult male Yellow Wagtail north, 20 or so Swift and a pair of Canada Goose. There were 2 Cuckoo calling on Wick and 2 birds were over the Long Field, giving a possible maximum of 4. After a relatively early breakfast, a brief stroll around the Barn Field saw further singles of Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher, a Common Scoter at sea and 6 incoming House Martin. Waders using Stanpit during the course of the day included: 2-4 Whimbrel, 40+ Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Curlew.

May 25th

It seems to be a good year for Cuckoo, with a bird again calling from Wick Fields throughout the day, along with individuals seen over the Barn Field and adjacent bight. After a poor showing so far, there were 3 Common Sandpiper in the harbour this morning - 2 in Mother Siller's Channel and 1 in Barn Bight. There was again a Spotted Flycatcher by the Barn and a further bird in the Wood, while 4 Wheatear were on the Barn Field, and a Hobby and first-summer Mediterranean Gull passed over Stanpit. A maximum of 63 Dunlin were in the harbour, also 5 Ringed Plover and 1 or 2 Sanderling; but a flock of 14 Turnstone were watched moving out north-eastwards. A total of 7 juvenile Stonechat were on the Barn and Long Fields.

May 24th

This morning saw a swirling, low mist, which did little to aid fieldwork. Only Hengistbury received any real attention, with the best being 2 Spotted Flycatcher around the Barn and a single Wheatear on the Barn Field. The 2 Cuckoo were heard in pretty much the same places as yesterday, and 2 Dunlin and a Curlew were the result of a scan towards Stanpit. A party of 4 Shelduck were in the strange location of the horse paddock at the northern end of Wick Fields.

May 23rd

Another gloriously warm day saw more late arrivers on both Stanpit and Hengistbury. The former produced a Turtle Dove and a Yellow Wagtail, while the latter chipped in with 3 Spotted Flycatcher in the Barred Warbler Bush and 4 Wheatear on the Barn Field. A total of 3 first-summer Mediterranean Gull passed west over Stanpit and 5 Sanderling there had earlier been seen arriving over Barn Bight, where there was a settled Common Sandpiper. Other waders included: 2 Turnstone, 14 Dunlin and the Curlew. Cuckoo were heard on Wick and in the Wood; and the recent Jackdaw invasion extended to Hengistbury with 7 over the Barn Field.

May 22nd

All reports today come from two visits to Stanpit - one in the morning and the other in the late afternoon. The first sortie saw waders represented by 46 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, 7 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. A pair of Greylag Goose headed towards Hengistbury and a female Wheatear was on Crouch Hill. After the lunchtime high tide, things had changed a little; for example, no Ringed Plover and a reduction in Dunlin to 35 birds. An arriving group of 10 large waders comprising 7 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Black-tailed Godwit finally settled on East Marsh, where there was also a Curlew. There was a switch of Wheatear on Crouch Hill, with the afternoon bird being a male, while a Cuckoo calling on Wick had also been heard on the first outing. At least 4 House Martin passed over the marsh northwards and a Garden Warbler was singing intermittently in Stanpit Scrubs. Finally, on the way home, a nice group of c50 Sanderling were seen on the sandspit from Mudeford Quay.

May 21st

The almost constant drizzle and rain seriously impacted any field activity today. The only note of interest from a brief excursion to Wick and Hengistbury is the early returning Curlew feeding inside the harbour. Also worth mentioning are a pair of Oystercatcher, a first-summer bird and an adult, which appear to have a nest on Blackberry Point. The effort looks doomed to failure, due to the extreme likelihood of human disturbance as well as the ever-present gang of large gulls and Crow that hang out there. Any further reports on this would be most welcome, however.

May 20th

After an overnight calming of yesterday's south-westerly to an almost non-existent south-easterly, the most spectacular flyover of the morning came from a low pass of the RAF's only remaining Lancaster bomber. Bird-wise, perhaps the record of the day is a female Grey Wagtail seen feeding on the HHC slip. This species is unusual as a spring migrant, particularly in mid-May. Small numbers of other late migrants continue to pass through, including a Yellow Wagtail over the HHC, a female Redstart on Wick this evening, singing Sedge Warbler in the Barn Field and the North Scrubs, and a total of 14 Wheatear - 10 on the Barn Field, 3 on Wick Fields and 1 on Priory Marsh. Swallow are also still arriving, along with a few Swift. The lingering first-summer Little Gull was in Holloway's Dock, on and off, for most of the morning, while a Mediterranean Gull was heard from the HHC. Wader numbers seem to have reached the level that indicates the spring passage is already behind us. The best today being 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 20 Dunlin and a single Curlew. A breeding bird update: Cuckoo have recently been regularly heard on Stanpit, close to Holloway's Dock and from Wick Fields; there are still 4 Little Grebe chicks on the Ironstone Quarry; and it seems that 2 pairs of Swallow are now taking advantage of the circular cut-out in the Barn's woodwork. The fine weather encouraged a few Buzzard onto the wing to the north of the area and, this evening, one ventured as far south as Wick.

May 19th

A clear day, but with a blustery south-westerly blow. Some early action saw a pair of adult Spoonbill descending into Barn Bight just after 6:00, where they fed actively for the next hour or so before hopping over to Stanpit. They then circled the harbour, looked to leave eastwards, but headed back and appeared to go down again in their original location, but there were no reports later than mid-morning. On the way to the sea, at least 4 Spotted Flycatcher were found - 2 close to the Barn and a further 2 by the Double Bends. The sea produced 5 Storm Petrel west, a Black-throated Diver passing by to the east at very close range and a Great-northern Diver leaving The Solent past The Needles. A Hobby was watched incoming from far out, while over 47 Common Scoter were lingering in various sized flocks. Also recorded were 15 or so Gannet, 3 Fulmar, an adult Kittiwake, 1 Guillemot, 1 Razorbill, 6 Swift and a steady Swallow arrival. The sandspit saw another good gathering of Sanderling, this time around 30 birds, along with 14 Turnstone, 20 Dunlin and 2 Wheatear. There were an additional 9 of these on the Barn Field, also a Whinchat there and a Fulmar overhead! A quick scan from Fisherman's Bank in the early afternoon saw 12 Whimbrel roosting on East Marsh. In keeping with their recent presence on Stanpit, there were 5 Jackdaw on Wick Fields this morning.

Additional news: the Dorset Bird Club website carries an exceptional report of 25 Little Tern on Stanpit.

May 18th

The picks of the day were a Turtle Dove in flight over Holloway's Dock, a single Little Gull settled there and a Spotted Flycatcher in the Wood. Also, something of a Wheatear influx - 7 on the Barn Field, 6 on the sandspit and 2 on Whitepits, giving a day total of 15 birds. With the unsettled weather continuing, the sea again received some attention. However, it could yield just 11 Gannet and 4 Fulmar west, plus a Guillemot on the water; while passing waders were a paltry 2 Dunlin and a Sanderling west, but hirundines continue to arrive with Swallow being the most conspicuous, along with lesser numbers of House Martin. On Stanpit, there were 40 Dunlin and singles of Turnstone, Ringed Plover and Whimbrel. Turning to breeding birds, there are 2 fledged families of Stonechat at Whitepits and, elsewhere on the head, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Blackcap, 8 Whitethroat and at least 1 Cetti's Warbler are holding territories.

Additional news: half a dozen Dunlin were also in Holloway's Dock.

May 17th

Although the sea had calmed down almost completely, at least 2 Storm Petrel headed west, distantly, off the Beach Huts. The two young Little Gull were again in Holloway's Dock, a Cuckoo was heard by there and a drake Tufted Duck headed north up the river, which is no mean record for mid-May. Wheatear continue to pass through, with 5 on the Barn Field today, but little other migrant interest on Hengistbury save for 8 Ringed Plover on the Beach. The burgeoning Shelduck presence on Stanpit reached 55 birds this afternoon, plus 3 duckling; also 12 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel, a very smartly attired Grey Plover and a single Wheatear. Back to the morning seawatch, when 12 Gannet, 4 Fulmar and 1 Guillemot passed west, along with 3 Common Scoter that way and 2 more in the opposite direction.

Additional news: a Cuckoo was on Stanpit in the evening.

May 16th

The hoped for arrival of Spotted Flycatcher came to fruition, of sorts, today. A bird was in the Nursery this morning and a further individual was on Wick Fields tonight, while the only other passerine migrants were 4 Wheatear on the Barn Field. In the morning, 2 Little Gull were in Holloway's Dock and, later, an individual was feeding off the Beach Huts. It's starting to feel as if the recent wader surge has ended abruptly, with just 30 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone and 2 Grey Plover on Stanpit this afternoon, also 9 Redshank, a species that has been recently absent. Good news from the Ironstone Quarry, where there are currently 4 Little Grebe chicks.

May 15th

An early dash to the sea was rewarded with a Great Skua east and an Arctic Skua west, also a good count of 30 Kittiwake heading in that direction. Storm Petrel numbers are dwindling fast, just 2 today from the Beach Huts, but also a Little Gull lingering off there. Other interest on the water included: 20 Gannet and 6 Fulmar west, as well as 3 Guillemot and a Razorbill recorded. It's so far been a poor year for Spotted Flycatcher, so hopefully one in the Wood by the Double Bends will be the first of a few. To conclude, a Grey Plover was in Holloway's Dock.

May 14th

Much quieter at sea today, although it would need to be a good bird to trump the reports of dolphins and a seal off Hengistbury over lunchtime! Best avian contribution came from a Little Gull, along with 2 Kittiwake, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Gannet and a trickle of Swift and hirundines in off. There were just 7 Sanderling and 2 Dunlin by the Beach Huts, and a lone Wheatear. A Cuckoo flushed from the bushes at the end of the head went out over the water, but soon returned. Finally from Hengistbury, one of the Little Grebe was seen on the Ironstone Quarry. The high water levels at Stanpit have forced many waders to move on. This morning, 7 Black-tailed Godwit couldn't even be bothered to land, despite circling the area, as they made their way eastwards; while on the ground were a mere 14 Dunlin and 2 Whimbrel. Another attempt this afternoon was even less successful, the Dunlin down to just a brace, but a Curlew was on East Marsh.

Additional news: a female Yellow Wagtail was on the deck by the HHC and a heavily moulting first-winter/summer Little Gull was over Barn Bight.

May 13th

The recently dominant south-westerlies were replaced by a slightly lighter south-easterly this morning, which brought rain along with it. In these conditions, seawatching from the Beach Huts is testing. Only around 10 Storm Petrel were noted and it was interesting that they seemed more settled in these types of conditions. Also recorded were: an Arctic Skua west, 5 Great-northern Diver, one almost shaving the Beach Huts, and single Fulmar and Gannet. It's been a good few days for Sanderling, culminating with 88 on the sandspit this morning, also 31 Dunlin and a single Ringed Plover. Perhaps the biggest surprises of the day were a couple of reasonable passerine migrants - a Wood Warbler was singing in the rain by the Double Bends on Hengistbury and a male Ring Ouzel was in the North Scrubs on Stanpit. A swing in the wind to the south-west and some very heavy rain over lunchtime put more skuas into The Solent. A call from Hurst at 3:15 about 3 Pomarine Skua heading west was much appreciated as, around an hour later, they were seen from Mudeford Quay. One bird missing its spoons to confirm it was the same party. About the same time, a first-summer Little Gull was resting with Black-headed Gull on Solent Meads Golf Course. The excess of river flood water conspired to largely scupper a late afternoon visit to Stanpit, with the water levels being far higher than anticipated. Nevertheless, 100+ Dunlin were seen briefly before presumably departing, also 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Grey Plover. An earlier visit had produced an estimated 600 small, distant waders out towards Blackberry Point. A late Wigeon, a young drake, was associating with Shelduck, whose young seem to have reduced to 3 from an initial 10; at last, a Cuckoo is now on territory in the North Scrubs and various parts of the marsh were littered with Jackdaw.

Additional news: in the mid-afternoon, there were actually 2 Grey Plover on Stanpit, along with 2 Curlew and 3 Wheatear.

May 12th

It was another bumper morning for Storm Petrel. In a watch from 6:30 to 10:00 off the Beach Huts, a total of 108 were counted heading slowly west. Of course, the question is being asked as to why these birds have such an affinity to the western part of Christchurch Bay? One theory being ventured is the high density of baited lobster pots in relatively shallow and sheltered water. As the bait fragments, it drifts to the surface and offers a convenient food source. Support for the petrels came from around 6 Manx Shearwater and 2 Great-northern Diver west, also an Arctic Skua and a Black-throated Diver east; while singles of Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Razorbill and Guillemot were logged, along with 10 Fulmar and 15 Gannet. Three individual first-summer Little Gull were noted - 1 off the Beach Huts, another in off and then in Holloway's Dock and a further bird over the Double Dykes. The Beach again hosted Sanderling with 40+ being the day's estimate, also a Common Sandpiper, the first of the spring for a few, and 2 Dunlin. A steady arrival of Swallow was in excess of 180 birds, also 40+ Swift and 10-15 House Martin; and a Yellow Wagtail headed over the Barn Field, where there were 3 Wheatear. The neap tide ensured the Stanpit waders kept their distance this afternoon. However, around 300 Dunlin were estimated, with 15 Sanderling and 4 Ringed Plover, all out towards Blackberry Point. At least 8 Whimbrel were across the marsh and there was a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Bight. Very early in the morning, a male Peregrine had been seen heading upriver.

Additional news: a one hour stint from 2:50 to 3:50 this afternoon totalled 52 Storm Petrel - a higher run-rate than during the morning! Also a Razorbill and 3 Fulmar west, and a steady arrival of Swallow.

May 11th

As may have been expected after yesterday's Stormie bonanza, the sea was well watched from various points on Hengistbury. Thankfully, the reporters have put times against most of the records, meaning duplication is unlikely. The watch commenced at 05:30 and went through to 11:30, during which time 45 Storm Petrel were counted moving west. Again, none were seen returning. Divers were also heading in the same direction, with 2 Black-throated Diver and 3 Great-northern Diver recorded. A pale phase Arctic Skua went east and 2 Little Gull were picking the water just offshore, as was an Arctic Tern with 2 Common Tern for comparison. The petrels attracted the attention of a Hobby, as did arriving Swallow, but the falcon was unsuccessful, despite several minutes' effort. To complete the sea details, at least 3 Manx Shearwater went west, 21 Common Scoter were counted along with 2 Whimbrel, 1 Fulmar, 1 Guillemot and 1 Razorbill. There were around 45 Sanderling on the beach with 3 Dunlin, while a dozen Swift were seen coming in. Final details from Hengistbury involve a singing Garden Warbler in the Wood, an equally vocal Lesser Whitethroat by the Ironstone Quarry and 6 Wheatear on the Barn Field. For most of the day, Stanpit held an impressive Dunlin congregation of just over 500 birds. However, despite an hour's detailed grilling on the afternoon flood tide, just 6 Sanderling and 3 Ringed Plover could be found among them. There were also a couple of Whimbrel on North Marsh, the only interesting larger wader present, and 5 Wheatear on Crouch Hill. Finally, a single Storm Petrel was seen from a 10-minute stop at Mudeford Quay, so you don't have to walk to the Beach Huts; and one of the Mistle Thrush that are presumably breeding just off the area in Sandhills Caravan Park was gathering food on the grass bordering the approach road.

May 10th

Hengistbury was certainly the place to be this morning, as large numbers of Storm Petrel, driven into The Solent by yesterday evening's strong south-westerlies, made their way west. A very conservative estimate of the number involved is 160+. Most of the birds were purposefully tracking west, although some lingered briefly. The sea was watched from 7:30am until 12 noon and a scan at anytime produced 5 or 6 birds always moving west; occasionally, groups of 4 or 5 birds were seen. Surprisingly, there was very little else, just a Black-throated Diver west and a Red-throated Diver east, plus 23 Common Tern and 2 Pintail west with 2 Common Scoter also east. A little later in the morning, 17 Little Tern and a Little Gull were feeding off the groynes. There was a steady arrival of Swallow, probably around 500 birds and 25 Swift were noted. Wader migration was also in full swing, although disappointingly Stanpit wasn't visited today. However, an estimated 200 Dunlin could be seen (from Hengistbury) feeding just off South Marsh, also 10 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Ringed Plover and a Grey Plover. Another 75 Sanderling were on the beach at Hengistbury, together with 35 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Dunlin. From Mudeford Quay this afternoon, there was still evidence of wader movement with several small groups of Dunlin totalling 41 birds, plus 4 Sanderling and 2 Common Sandpiper all moving west. Arriving Swift numbered 12, while there was a steady stream of Swallow and 7 Common Tern heading east. Finally, there were just 2 Wheatear today. Check back to yesterday for some late news.

Additional news: a Roseate Tern was off the Beach Huts.

May 9th

The south-westerly blow didn't materialise until much later in the day, but this morning's low cloud cover and intermittent rain produced a few bits of interest. The highlight was a Black Tern roosting on the mud just off the tip of South Marsh, also present was a first-year Little Gull and 2 Little Tern. Later in the day, 8 Little Tern were resting on the mud towards Blackberry Point. At long last there was a reasonable count of Dunlin with 225 this morning, although the number had reduced to 175 by early afternoon; also there were 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel and 2 summer-plumaged Grey Plover. On the groynes off the Beach Huts were 3 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper, while another Common Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank. A 15-minute count of Swallow this morning came to 80 birds, which suggests a day total of many hundreds, particularly as birds were still moving past Mudeford Quay late this afternoon; also 9 Swift were noted with another 27 over later. Finally, there were 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field and 2 Garden Warbler in the Wood.

May 8th

The only report received so far today is of 9 Whimbrel on Stanpit this morning. A couple of half hour sea watches off Mudeford Quay yielded nothing but with the forecast of another south-westerly blow tomorrow sounds promising.

May 7th

The strengthened south-west wind brought about quite a show of Storm Petrel off Hengistbury today, with records extending from 6:30 to 2:00 this afternoon, at least. As is often the case with a constant presence, establishing actual numbers is nigh on impossible. The problem is that every scan produces 3-6 birds working slowly westwards, with none ever being seen moving the opposite way; although, with the wind behind them they may be difficult to see if they were. So the question remains, is it a small number of birds doing a circuit, or is each a different individual? If the former, the total may be around 20, but if the latter, well in excess of 100 would be a reasonable claim! The birds are reasonably distant, but give good telescope views. To put the photographs in perspective, the photographer could not see the birds in the viewfinder, so lined up on a defined seamark and was told when to fire the shutter by fellow observers. It wasn't just petrels, however, at least 8, maybe 10, Arctic Tern were also lingering in the lee offered by the sandspit, while further out 12 Manx Shearwater were seen riding the waves. Then, around 10:30, a group of 25 Little Tern appeared and spent the next hour feeding just in front of the Beach Huts. Also on or over the water throughout the day, 9 Common Scoter, 3 Kittiwake, 3 Guillemot, 1 Brent Goose, a few Common Tern, 30+ Gannet and 15+ Fulmar. The latter two turning in their best numbers for the year. There was probably also the year's best Swallow arrival, as birds constantly made land from the east, right up to 11:30, when things dried up a little. Again, exact counts are difficult, but figures of 10 per minute are not an exaggeration, and spread over at least 4 hours that's approaching 2500 birds. At least 4 Swift were also mixed in with them. Waders also stepped up their game, with a flock of 24 Sanderling of mixed plumages spending some time on the sandspit, also 2 more in a flock of 13 Dunlin that went west, as did 13 Turnstone. A couple of Whimbrel were also feeding up, while 2 more passed east. Stanpit tonight held more of these, in fact, a healthy 62 birds, also 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. The recent Shelduck glut continues, with 67 on the marsh - 68 if you include the first duckling of the season. See yesterday's post for a Shelduck correction.

Additional news: at least 3 Storm Petrel were still the Long Groyne at dusk and 6 Manx Shearwater went east.

May 6th

An overnight swing in the wind, to a brisk south-westerly, pretty much eliminated any hopes of some Sunday morning passerine excitement. The routine was only broken with a call from Hurst, where a sabine's gull was being watched working its way slowly westwards. Sadly, the small, hastily assembled party at the Beach Huts failed to locate it. Birds actually seen during the impromptu watch, included: an adult Kittiwake skirting the groynes, 4 Sanderling, 5 Common Scoter, a Razorbill and a couple of Whimbrel on the beach. There was also a constant arrival of Swallow from the south-east, - these birds, as is nearly always the case, preferring to move into the wind. The Wood held singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap, almost certainly resident, but also a few Willow Warbler and 2 vocal Garden Warbler, one of the latter only narrowly avoiding capture into .jpg format. Only other interest comes from 6 Dunlin in Barn Bight and 5 Wheatear on the adjacent field. There's an extra day this weekend - despite this morning's poor show, it's worth pulling yourself out of bed, you never know…

Additional news: a brood of 10 Shelduck was seen at Stanpit.

May 5th

On another grey morning, there was an early surprise as an Osprey arrived from the west at 6:25, attempted to catch a fish, but failed, and then headed on eastwards. It was also a good day for the second newcomer to the website's photo archive, Wood Warbler. At least 3 were singing in the Wood until quite late this morning, mainly in the area by the Double Bends and a hundred metres or so beyond. Also included in this arrival were Willow Warbler, with up to 15 birds heard throughout the Wood around lunchtime. There was also a Garden Warbler by the Nursery, a Cuckoo by the HHC, 3 Wheatear on the Barn Field and 2 Yellow Wagtail over. The sea produced another Black-throated Diver, along with 16 Common Tern east. Around 6 Mediterranean Gull passed over Hengistbury, 4 adults and 2 first-summers, also an adult pair over Stanpit - all of these came from the west. The wader walk around Stanpit saw 22 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Whimbrel settled and 6 north, 5 Dunlin, a Turnstone and a Greenshank; as well as a Hobby cruising overhead, a Little Tern fishing in Stanpit Bight and 3 Swift north. A Canada Goose arrived noisily over South Marsh and a pair of Greylag Goose skirted the northern perimeter of the area. The day also saw Swallow trickling through consistently.

Additional news: a Grey Plover was on the exposed sand off Mudeford Quay and a further 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adults and a first-summer, went over there.

May 4th

Gloves were needed in the north-easterly breeze this morning, which did little to inspire a large migrant arrival, despite the impressive numbers, I'm told (it's a habit to never read other websites before writing the day's post), that were recorded at Dorset's major headland. It really is a very bitty day to piece together, with nothing being seen in good quantity. At least 3 Garden Warbler were around, 1 in the Nursery and 2 in Wick Ditch, a Lesser Whitethroat sang by the HHC and up to 9 Wheatear were on the Barn Field. There were also Garden Warbler on Stanpit, up to 3 birds in the North Scrubs and Smithy's Field. Movement at sea was all eastwards and comprised a mere: 19 Common Tern, 8 Whimbrel, 2 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Swift and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull. The highlight, however, was a Black-throated Diver also heading into The Solent. Wader numbers on Stanpit varied throughout the day, from 80 birds this morning, the Bar-tailed Godwit had reduced to just 23 this afternoon; also 12 Whimbrel, 6 Dunlin, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, and breeding-plumaged individuals of Grey Plover and Turnstone. Half a dozen Common Tern were loafing inside the harbour and 12 Jackdaw were on East Marsh, while 4 Rook passed over north. There were also 3 Lapwing on East Marsh, presumably birds that have not yet found mates elsewhere and juvenile Heron are now showing about the area. At least 2 pairs of vocal Mediterranean Gull were over Barn Bight/Wick Fields mid-afternoon and a Dartford Warbler was carrying food close to the Barn.

May 3rd

In spite of the north-easterly wind, the morning was described as "excellent," being headlined by a male Serin that flew around the HHC area and then headed along Wick Fields. At sea, the year's first Pomarine Skua and Black Tern were recorded, as 2 of each headed into The Solent, giving good views as they did so. A Little Ringed Plover was seen to arrive, while 8 Purple Sandpiper and 7 Sanderling moved up the sandspit, and 36 Bar-tailed Godwit and 37 Whimbrel headed east. A Firecrest singing at the end of the head was a new bird, as were many of the day's sylvia warblers. Over 40 Whitethroat were considered to be new in, also 53 Blackcap, mainly male birds, and 14 Garden Warbler. Other migrants about or over Hengistbury included: singles of Turtle Dove, Hobby and Cuckoo, 3 Redstart, 2 at the end of the head and 1 on the Batters, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 5 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. Also off Hengistbury, 33 Common Tern and 9 Mediterranean Gull, with a further 2 at Stanpit, where there were 60-70 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Cuckoo. A 90-minute seawatch from the Beach Huts tonight was not without reward - a Great Skua, a first-summer Little Gull, 2 Arctic Tern, 2 Razorbill and a Brent Goose on the water, being the benefits. Presumably, the Sparrowhawk in the Wood now have young as a bird was seen carrying prey in that direction.

Additional news: a skein of 4 Greylag Goose arrived over the harbour from Southborne in the early evening.

May 2nd

The major highlight of the day was a Black Kite seen from Wick over Purewell village at 8:45 this morning, an individual that constitutes the fourth CHOG record. The attention was grabbed by 2 Buzzard that were rising at an unusually early hour, but the reason became clear as the kite was mobbed by the territorial pair, before drifting off north-eastwards. Although the number of settled Bar-tailed Godwit has dropped to around 40 birds, an impressive flock of 120 were seen heading inland over Two Riversmeet at 2:00 this afternoon. At least 5 Arctic Tern passed Hengistbury in the morning, also a Manx Shearwater, Mediterranean Gull, a Common Gull, a Pintail, 47 Common Tern (the spring's best count!), 69 Whimbrel, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 15 Gannet - all east. A Peregrine also went that way, while 7 Yellow Wagtail headed north, a Spotted Flycatcher was seen and there were 5 Wheatear on the Barn Field. Like their tern namesake, Common Sandpiper have been incredibly sparse, so one on the sandspit with a couple of Turnstone was most welcome. There was also a Turnstone about Stanpit. The stuttering hirundine passage continues with a trickle of Swallow, along with 40 Swift, seen heading east prior to 10:30 this morning and, to round things off, a Little Tern was fishing off Mudeford Quay in the afternoon.

May 1st

It's really the in-harbour presence of Bar-tailed Godwit that features again. Mid-morning, there were 77 roosting on South Marsh with 1 Dunlin. By this evening, the count had reduced to 55 feeding birds but, by then, 19 Dunlin, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 1 Greenshank were also in the area, along with 5 Shoveler, 3 drakes and 2 ducks. A morning seawatch was largely uneventful, with the best being single Arctic Skua and Hobby east, also 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Whimbrel, 12 Gannet, 12 Swallow, a Swift and 4 Common Tern passing by eastwards. Cuckoo were seen by Holloway's Dock and heard on Wick, where there was a Yellow Wagtail over and 2 Greylag Goose noted. Wheatear were today present as 3 birds on the Barn Field and one on Crouch Hill. By the late afternoon, a brisk south-easterly had got up and inspired a 45 minute spell from Mudeford Quay. There were Poms in Christchurch Bay, with 8 on the water off Hurst, but unfortunately they were not seen from as far west as Christchurch itself. The only consolation was a first-winter Mediterranean Gull east and 4 Brent Goose bobbing about in the breakers at the end of the sandspit; while a Mistle Thrush gathering food alongside the quay's approach road would have been a useful stakeout for the weekend just past.

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