Sightings for June 2008

June 30th

Two groups of Crossbill overflew the harbour this morning; a flock of four birds flew north then a little later seven birds went west. The Wood on Hengistbury still held Nuthatch and possibly 2 Marsh Tit, also Great Spotted Woodpecker, another one near the HHC and two further birds on Stanpit. In Barn Bight, there were 8 Common Sandpiper, while on Stanpit waders were still hard to find with just 7 Curlew and 1 Black-tailed Godwit. The first-summer Little Gull was in the Black-headed Gull roost at high tide. Finally, another Raven was seen heading west.

June 29th

Despite conditions being similar to yesterday, there was no sign of any Storm Petrel off Hengistbury this morning, just 6 Common Tern and 2 Curlew west and a few Gannet heading east. Raven haven't been seen around the harbour for some time, so 3 birds heading low along the coast in a south-westerly direction were noteworthy. Both the Marsh Tit and the Nuthatch were again in the Wood and the first-summer Little Gull remains on Stanpit. To round up, 6 Swift were seen and 5 House Martin were over Wick Fields.

June 28th

On a much better day in terms of the weather, there were a minimum of 8 Storm Petrel lingering off the Beach Huts this morning. Otherwise, the sea was quiet, with just an adult Mediterranean Gull, 40 Gannet, 12 Common Tern, 4 Common Scoter and 2 Kittiwake moving west. Both the Marsh Tit and the Nuthatch were again in the Wood on Hengistbury, at one point being on view in the same tree! Just 2 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight and the first-summer Little Gull was on South Marsh, while a group of 5 breeding-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock were a splendid sight.

June 27th

A damp start with overcast skies provided a complete contrast to the last few days of sunshine. This, coupled with a strong south-westerly, meant that the sea was the best option this morning. Off the Beach Huts, 4 Storm Petrel moved slowly west, also 1 Roseate Tern, 4 Common Tern and a Great Crested Grebe, with around 40 Gannet lingering and a Little Tern east. The Nuthatch was again in the Wood and 4 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight. On Stanpit, the first-summer Little Gull was present together with 3 Curlew, while another 3 Curlew left the harbour heading west.

Late news: On Stanpit this evening, there were 3 Dunlin, 3 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Turnstone, plus 44 Lapwing all on South Marsh; also present 2 Black Swan.

June 26th

On a quite amazing day, one could have been forgiven for thinking that they were in Denny Wood rather than Christchurch Harbour, as an incredible number of locally rare woodland species were recorded! A Marsh Tit, presumably the same bird as the one seen last week, was by the Nursery, while a little further into the Wood the first Nuthatch since September last year was found, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the same area. A little earlier, the first Crossbill of the year, 5 birds in fact, flew west over Wick Fields. At the north end of Stanpit, in Smithy's Field, a Treecreeper, also new for the year, was present together with a Firecrest, the first June record of this species for some time. The first-summer Little Gull was just off South Marsh, also present on Stanpit were 9 Curlew, 2 Dunlin, 1 Turnstone and, in Mother Siller's Channel, a female Shoveler.

Check back to yesterday for some updated seawatching numbers.

Late news: An Avocet left the harbour through The Run just after 11am.

June 25th

A noticeable shift in wind direction to a strengthening south-westerly produced a few things of interest today. A single Storm Petrel moved slowly west past the Beach Huts, also 24 Manx Shearwater, 8 Common Scoter, 57 Sandwich Tern, 11 Common Tern, 7 Curlew, 3 Kittiwake, 1 Arctic Skua and 4 Fulmar, plus 85 Gannet. Earlier, a group of 5 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight were clearly new arrivals. On Stanpit, the first-summer Little Gull was in its usual spot, while the Turnstone and half a dozen Curlew were still present.

Late news: on Stanpit this evening, a Common Sandpiper was in Mother Siller's Channel and 3 Dunlin were off South Marsh.

June 24th

As the fine weather continued, things remained quiet in the harbour with very little movement. A couple of dozen Gannet were fishing aimlessly off the cliffs, while 2 Common Tern moved east and a Curlew went west. The count of returning Redshank has now reached 28, while yesterday 15 Curlew were around Stanpit. The recently fledged Dartford Warbler brood were showing well this morning by the Ironstone Quarry, where the two juvenile Little Grebe are now almost fully grown; and much in evidence on both the Barn Field and Wick Fields are young Stonechat, hopefully a sign of a successful breeding season. Check back to yesterday for additional news.

Incidentally, the last few days has seen an emergence of Azure Damselflies.

June 23rd

The first-summer Little Gull was on the mud off South Marsh again this morning. A juvenile Black-headed Gull on the sand bar opposite Mudeford Quay was the first seen in the harbour this year, while yesterday's report of the demise of the Shelduck brood was a little premature as three were being shepherded around Stanpit Bight today.

Late news: A Hobby moved east over Stanpit this afternoon. Also, the juvenile Black-headed Gull was seen yesterday on the green on Mudeford Quay.

Additional news: A Water Rail was heard singing on Grimmery Bank.

June 22nd

An overnight increase in the wind, to quite a forceful south-westerly, inspired a couple of hour's seawatching this morning. The best was undoubtedly a drake Garganey moving west in the company of 6 Common Scoter, but little else, other than 8 Guillemot. Late in the afternoon, an adult Mediterranean Gull was over Wick Fields and a Peregrine moved over Stanpit towards The Priory. Unfortunately, it has been recently reported that the Shelduck brood is down to just one, from a total of eight.

June 21st

Overnight drizzle made for a rather damp morning, but a first-summer Common Tern over the HHC brightened up the start. This age of bird is far from common, in fact positively rare, in the area. At sea, over a 2-hour spell, a total of 14 Manx Shearwater passed distantly by, 10 west and 4 east; also from the Beach Huts, 2 Common Scoter, a Guillemot and an unidentified auk. The Little Gull remains inside the harbour, where it was joined by a Turnstone and up to 8 Dunlin. Around 5 Curlew were settled, while at least 4 moved west. Oddities about Hengistbury, included singles of Jackdaw, Collared Dove and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

June 20th

Compelling stuff indeed! A single Dunlin on the HHC bar heads the cast, while the group of Redshank in Barn Bight increased to 16, and 70 Lapwing and 5 Curlew were on Stanpit. To complete the excitement, the Mute Swan were counted at 284.

Additional news: a Little Tern was off Mudeford Quay in the morning, along with 20 Common Tern.

June 19th

Thankfully, the Little Gull was seen this morning, meaning there is at least something of note to write about; although, a breeding-plumaged Turnstone, also on the tip of South Marsh, is perhaps just as interesting for the date. The commoner, more local waders continue to trickle back - for example, a flock of 12 Redshank in Barn Bight and 4 Curlew on Stanpit. Despite the wind, the sea was deathly quiet, with just a dozen or so Gannet reported.

June 18th

The recent fine run of wandering woodland species continued with the second record of Marsh Tit for the week. This time, a bird seen close the Ironstone Quarry on Hengistbury. Two records in a year in modern times is something of significance indeed. There was also an out-of-place Bullfinch at the end of the head and at least 3 Coal Tit in the Nursery. The overnight south-westerly brought in 5 Manx Shearwater west past the Beach Huts, along with 2 Kittiwake, 2 Fulmar, 2 Guillemot, 45 Gannet, 3 Curlew and a Ringed Plover.

Additional news: the Little Gull was again at Stanpit tonight, while the Lapwing gathering had increased to 52 birds.

June 17th

The Little Gull was again in its favoured spot, just off South Marsh, this morning, while 80 Swift and a single Curlew moved east past Hengistbury. The highlight of an otherwise quiet day was a Hobby terrorising the Sand Martin along the cliffs.

June 16th

Very little to report for the day, although both Hengistbury and Stanpit did receive visits. From the head, at least 25 Swift moved over the Coastguards, as did 2 House Martin, while a Cuckoo was around the HHC. Meanwhile, the only waders on the marsh were failed local breeders, in the shape of: 27 Lapwing, 4 Curlew and a few Redshank. The Shelduck family was again off Fisherman's Bank and is still holding steady at 7.

For an Odonata update, please click here

June 15th

With the wind dropping away completely overnight, the planned trip to the Beach Huts was hastily changed to a Stanpit visit to check for late waders and interesting terns. As it was, there were none; however, something of a local 'mega' was turned up - a Marsh Tit in the bizarre location of the last area of gorse on South Marsh! The bird was watched for 20-30 minutes as it slowly moved from clump to clump along the eastern edge of Mother Siller's Channel. Unfortunately, once it reached the denser vegetation of Crouch Hill, it was lost completely, thwarting three local twitchers by only a matter of minutes. Between 1963 and 1992, there were around 30 records; then none until 2002, when a visiting American birder on Hengistbury casually proclaimed, "I've got some kind of Chickadee here!" Since, there have been just 4 further records, including today's, so the species has massive value for contemporary listers. If you're wondering why so much has been said about one bird, that's because, other than the Little Gull and a Peregrine, there was nothing else about the marsh to remark upon. Meanwhile, a family party of Goldcrest were up on the Two Riversmeet golf course, suggesting they have bred in the conifers there, while the Shelduck brood has lost one and is down to 7. Of interest, a Little Gull seen and photographed at Pennington last Wednesday, the 11th, by one of the regulars, looks suspiciously like the Stanpit bird, which may explain its recent, temporary absence.

June 14th

A Roseate Tern that spent a fair while around Stanpit Bight this morning, frustratingly kept its distance making it very difficult to photograph. Also in the same area, at least half a dozen Common Tern and the first-summer Little Gull. The late wader trickle continued, with 8 each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover off South Marsh, along with a single non-breeding plumaged Knot and the contrastingly attired Bar-tailed Godwit: while another 'behind-the-pace' individual was a male Whinchat in the Bobolink Field on Wick. A drive down the M3 from Heathrow just after dawn saw a marked westerly passage of Swift, so around 100 or so over Priory Marsh was little surprise. Slightly later, 12 House Martin over Wick suggested that species may also been having a collective wander. To wrap up, a couple of Mistle Thrush that briefly toured Hengistbury appeared, from the views experienced, to be juveniles. By late-afternoon, a brisk south-westerly had got up - petrels tomorrow, maybe?

June 13th

On Stanpit this morning the presence of 2 Knot, clearly new birds, proves that waders are still straggling through, also a Dunlin there. The first-summer Little Gull was also in the usual spot and 2 Hobby were overhead. On Hengistbury, 15 Common Tern and a few Sandwich Tern were feeding just offshore, while a Curlew moved west. Finally, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the Barn towards Wick.

Of interest just north of the harbour, a (or the) White Stork was high over Coward's Marsh this morning, drifting south.

June 12th

The first-summer Little Gull reappeared this afternoon in its usual spot on the mud just off the tip of South Marsh, where there were also 5 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 2 Curlew. The season's first Shelduck family was in Stanpit Bight, where the 2 adults were shepherding 8 recently fledged young. Check back to yesterday for news of Nightjar and bats.

June 11th

This morning a female Serin was seen behind the Barn, but then flew off strongly west. However, a couple of hour later two birds, both male and female, were in the "Barred Warbler" copse, although they were quite secretive and not very vocal. At least 200 Swift moved north over the harbour, while 10 Sanderling, 3 Curlew and a Whimbrel headed west. On Stanpit, there were 3 Ringed Plover plus one each of Dunlin, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit; also 7 Sanderling on the Mudeford Sandspit this afternoon. To round up, also seen today were 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, a Hobby and a Cuckoo, while a dozen Common Tern were offshore.

Late news: a late evening visit to Hengistbury found just one Nightjar not far from the Ironstone Quarry. On the quarry pond the 2 juvenile Little Grebe were present along with the 2 adults. The use of a bat detector identified at least one Lesser Horseshoe Bat, as well as several Pipistrelles and one other species yet to be absolutely identified.

June 10th

A visit to Stanpit this morning found nothing more exciting than a pair of Shoveler just off South Marsh and 2 drake Tufted Duck in Mother Siller's Channel. The Lapwing numbered 24, mostly on the HHC mudbar, where the summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit was still present. Otherwiese, the marsh held just 3 Curlew and a Dunlin, with the Cuckoo on Speller's Point.

June 9th

On a glorious summer morning there isn't too much to report. Rather oddly for the time of year, two groups of Gadwall circled the harbour, the first flock of 6 birds headed east and then a further 19 birds moved over the Barn Field in a south-westerly direction. A couple of adult Mediterranean Gull also headed south-west. There were 9 Lapwing over East Marsh and the lone Bar-tailed Godwit was on the HHC mudbar.

June 8th

After yesterday's excitement, it was back to reality today with very little to report. Both Hobby and Cuckoo were seen over Wick Fields, while 9 Swift and 4 House Martin moved over the Barn Field. At sea, there were just 43 Common Scoter east and 9 Gannet lingering. The HHC mudbar again held half a dozen Lapwing, possibly failed breeders or non-breeding birds.

June 7th

A male Serin was singing on Hengistbury this morning, firstly from the "Barred Warbler" bush and then later from the tamarisks near the Barn. It flew off strongly east at one point, but then reappeared in full song a few minutes later. There was also a Spotted Flycatcher in the tamarisks, while 25 Swift and 2 House Martin moved north. A Marsh Harrier was seen from Stanpit heading west to east, also Hobby and Peregrine over the harbour and 5 Common Buzzard soaring to the north. The only bird of note from a brief sea watch was a Little Gull moving west past the cliff. Mediterranean Gull seen today were 2 south-west over the HHC with another bird arriving in the harbour. Finally, a Curlew headed north over Wick Fields.

Early evening update: the male Serin was singing from a dead tree in the most westerly field on Wick.

Late evening update: There were no further sightings of the Serin but Cuckoo and Hobby were on Wick while 5 Whimbrel headed south-west. The Bar-tailed Godwit was off South Marsh and 2 Mediterranean Gull were over Stanpit.

June 6th

On a quiet day, it was nice to receive some breeding bird updates. After yesterday's statement about Dartford Warbler, it was encouraging to hear of a further singing bird by the Ironstone Quarry, where the Little Grebe are still in possession of two chicks. A couple of Great-spotted Woodpecker were by the Nursery, but it's not known whether they constituted a pair, or were wandering birds from the Stanpit family. Meanwhile, a census of vocal males across Hengistbury and Wick produced: 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 12 Chiffchaff, 16 Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap and 2 Cetti's Warbler, while a Cuckoo was again on the head, perhaps choosing its next victim. Moving to migrants, which are now few and far between; however, 3 late House Martin were over the Batters and the same number of Ringed Plover departed east over Fisherman's Bank. Early in the day, a drake Gadwall was in Barn Bight, 2 Mediterranean Gull arrived over Whitepits, a Curlew was on Stanpit and a Peregrine moved over Wick. Finally, a Black Swan has now joined the increasing Mute Swan.

Additional news: the Little Gull and Bar-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit this evening, as were 3 Dunlin.

June 5th

The appearance of 4 fledgling Dartford Warbler by the Natterjack Pond was possibly the highlight of the day. In fact, it is suspected this is the only breeding pair on Hengistbury at the moment - a marked reduction from the normal 4-5 - with the reasons, so far, being unclear. Most of the remaining activity came from the sea, where 5 Mediterranean Gull passed by, as did 62 Common Scoter, with 46 Common Tern moving east. A Cuckoo was again on the Long Field, while, inside the harbour, only the lingering Bar-tailed Godwit could be found. However, in The Run, the herd of Mute Swan, gathering to summer and moult, was certainly increasing in numbers.

June 4th

Some much needed excitement this morning, when, at around 8:50, a White Stork appeared over the harbour. Some quick phone calls allowed the bird to be bagged from outside the area, at both Friar's Cliff and Highcliffe, as it drifted slowly east. This was only CHOG's second record for the species - both having being found by the Southworths when on Hengistbury. Not too much else on the head, other than 9 Sanderling briefly on the beach by the Double Dykes, a pair of adult Mediterranean Gull heading towards Poole along the coast, a single Guillemot west at sea and a Cuckoo on Wick Hams. The chaos at Stanpit caused by the stork saw 25 Black-tailed Godwit in the air, but these soon left and, later, just a Bar-tailed Godwit and Curlew were on South Marsh, as was a drake Shoveler, while a single Jackdaw was around Crouch Hill. A late afternoon walk around Stanpit saw 2 Cuckoo, both males, on Crouch Hill, 3 Ringed Plover in the bight and a juvenile, leucistic House Sparrow by the recreation ground. To finish up, a report of some gross disturbance as a helicopter landed on Priory Marsh. In fact, this is not the first time this has happened, with the aircraft, G-FCUM, having being noted several times previously. A quick search on Google sees the registration belonging to Solent Projects Ltd. - whoever they are?

June 3rd

Even given the fact that incessant rain hampered any serious field trips, it really is starting to wind down for the summer. For example, just a single flock of 17 Common Tern west past Mudeford Quay this morning and the Little Gull at Stanpit in the afternoon making the news. There were no migrant waders at all recorded today.

Update: a slight improvement this evening with singles of Bar-tailed Godwit, Cuckoo and Gadwall being turned in from Stanpit.

June 2nd

An almost predictably quiet day, with the Little Gull checking out Holloway's Dock, away from its normal Stanpit refuge, being the highlight. Other than that, it's just a Cuckoo about the Barn and Long Fields, 6 Common Tern and a Guillemot at sea, plus a passing Canada Goose, to remark upon.

June 1st

The start of the new month saw just a sole observer at Hengistbury early today and, during a quiet hour, the only reward was a flock of 30 Black-tailed Godwit that came in from the west and went down onto Stanpit. However, they didn't stop for long, as a slightly later visit to the marsh produced just 2 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Lapwing and a Redshank. A latish Whinchat was on Wick for most of the day, while at least one newly arrived Reed Warbler was suspected by the Wooden Bridge and a Hobby passed north over Crouch Hill. A Peregrine also terrorised Stanpit for a short time, where a Gadwall was in the bight and a Cuckoo flushed from Crouch Hill. Finally, that or another Cuckoo was also recorded on Wick, in the Bobolink Field.

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