Sightings for December 2009

December 31st

The year closed on something of a high, when 4 Bewick's Swan, 3 adults and a youngster, arrived from the north and settled at Stanpit this morning. The attraction was obviously the flooded and largely inaccessible marsh; however, as soon as the tide started to ebb and the walkways became passable the birds pushed off westward. In addition to the swans, it would seem other species have perhaps been moving around as a result of colder weather elsewhere in the country. For example, a group of 3 Black Redstart were on Stanpit Marsh late in the morning, these to complement the incumbent Fisherman's Bank bird that was also seen, a Chiffchaff was about the end of Argyle Road and there were 2 Spotted Redshank around the marsh. At sea, a Black-throated Diver and a Red-throated Diver moved east and west respectively, while several Gannet feeding distantly in Poole Bay were the first records for a couple of weeks at least. To conclude 2009, two of the presumably three Avocet were on East Marsh, as were 18 Grey Plover and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, and a Kingfisher was by the HHC.

Additional news: a pair of Blackcap were along Fisherman's Bank.

December 30th

More rain meant it wasn't until late in the morning that observers could get out there. The resultant thin-pickings included: a female Bullfinch in Wick Fields and a Red-throated Diver east past Whitepits; while Fisherman's Bank came up with the 3 Avocet, an impressive 40 or so Snipe on a flooded East Marsh, 7 Grey Plover and a Kingfisher.

December 29th

Almost a total wash-out, as rain set in for the entire day. Nevertheless, the Black Redstart was noted on a couple of occasions on Fisherman's Bank, anywhere between Argyle Road and the northern end of Stanpit Creek. Other than 2 Turnstone by Mudeford Quay though, it's just common birds in strange locations to remark upon. A lone Brent Goose was sat in the middle of an empty and wet West Field, while a cock Pheasant just about made it across The Run to peck around in Mudeford Quay car park. For those of you following the Southbourne grebe numbers, yesterday's calm sea allowed 130 to be counted.

December 28th

The return of frost and a lessening of the wind made field conditions slightly more enjoyable today. Late in the morning, the Fisherman's Bank Black Redstart was showing well just left of the entrance that is close to Tutton's Well. Meanwhile, activity in the Avon Valley no doubt accounted for the 120 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit, as well as the many Wigeon and Pintail sitting it out on the sea. Also, 8 Shoveler, 12 Shelduck and 3 Pintail inside the harbour, where a couple of female-type Goldeneye spent some time off the Point of their namesake. The Avocet now seem to be a double act and were again off Argyle Road, while 20+ Grey Plover, some Bar-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 13 Ringed Plover and over 200 Dunlin were also noted around Stanpit Bight.

Additional news just in from Hengistbury, where the Treecreeper, a Redwing and a Coal Tit were in the Wood.

More: a female Bullfinch was by the HHC in the morning and a Grey Wagtail was by the Rusty Boat in the evening.

December 27th

In similar conditions to yesterday, Hengistbury hosted a nice selection of woodland birds this morning. The more notable were single Bullfinch and Redpoll by the HHC and in the Nursery respectively, as well as a Firecrest, the Treecreeper and 2 Coal Tit in the Wood. Also recorded on the head, were lone Fieldfare and Redwing. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was heard a few times from Fisherman's Bank and at least 25 Grey Plover are now about South and East Marshes.

Additional news: there were actually three each of Redpoll and Redwing on Hengistbury, as well as an unidentified owl, presumably an 'eared' type, in the bushes on the Salt Hurns.

December 26th

With some early rain and a south-westerly breeze, it was a rather uninspiring morning. The main event was a brief period around 10:10, when something in the order of 600 Black-tailed Godwit appeared over Stanpit and then headed purposefully for Poole Harbour. These were, no doubt, some of the birds from the Avon Valley and had been unsettled by the Boxing Day shoot. The sandspit was pretty quiet, with the only waders being a single Purple Sandpiper and 12 Turnstone, while a Red-breasted Merganser and 12 or so Common Scoter moved past at sea. On Stanpit, there were a minimum of 18 Grey Plover, but probably a few more, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 215 Dunlin, 35 Ringed Plover, a drake Pintail, 4 Shoveler and 77 Brent Goose.

December 25th

A stunningly clear and pleasant Christmas Day. From Whitepits, a Great Northern Diver passed by and 70 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea. At Stanpit, at least 6 Grey Plover were on East Marsh and a drake Pintail was in Stanpit Bight.

December 24th

A day of frequent and sometimes heavy showers resulted in rather limited field activity. However, Fisherman's Bank again produced the 3 Avocet in their usual spot on the tip of South Marsh, as well as 15 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, just one Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe, around 40 Dunlin and probably 200+ Dunlin, but these were well scattered, hence the uncertainty. A pair of Gadwall was also in the harbour, but only 30 or so Brent Goose appeared to be present. Outside of the recording area, in the valley, the Black-tailed Godwit flock has moved slightly south to just below the causeway and is now in Dorset. From the double bends, around 1200 were visible this afternoon. Also lots of dabbling duck on the floods there.

December 23rd

Rain that fell in the small hours froze immediately and transformed the entire area into a skating rink. It wasn't actually possible to walk on the main path at Hengistbury, instead the grass verges had to be trod. It's also understood that Noddy Train services were seriously disrupted. An attempt to dig out yesterday's bunting on the sandspit was cut somewhat short, when the only observer received a phone call from his wife letting him know he had her set of car keys as well as his - and she needed to get to work!! Just prior to that drama, however, an adult Yellow-legged Gull had been seen in Holloway's Dock. Slightly later in the morning, a single Avocet was off Fisherman's Bank, as well as a notable, by recent standards that is, 12 Grey Plover; along with the regular 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Ringed Plover, 2 pairs of Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 2 of them drakes, 2 Shelduck and 70 or so Brent Goose. Much later in the day, around 40 Wigeon were seen to arrive from the east and enter the harbour over Mudeford Quay.

December 22nd

Once the fog lifted some time around mid-morning, it turned into quite a reasonable day weather-wise. The best undoubtedly came from an adult Snow Bunting that was on the sandspit in front of Hut 467 for a while, just before lunch. Almost as impressive, however, was a flock of 18 Golden Plover that appeared to come to roost at Stanpit late in the afternoon. Other than these pieces of interest, it's only 2 Red-throated Diver and 4 Common Scoter that can offer any further news from inside the area. Meanwhile, just to the west, a total of 175 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea between the Bistro On The Beach and Boscombe Pier.

Additional news: 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 65 Brent Goose were at Stanpit.

December 21st

On what is the shortest day of the year, an icy start gave way to very cold and miserable rain that persisted from mid-morning right through to nightfall. Consequently, all the news comes from Argyle Road around lunchtime, where the female-type Black Redstart again showed briefly amongst the dinghies that are stored adjacent to the slip. Also from there, 2 of the Avocet on their preferred spot off the tip of South Marsh, 5 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 40 Black-tailed Godwit, which is quite a jump by recent standards, 90 or so Brent Goose and a Grey Wagtail. Just outside the area, but of definite interest, are the eastern Poole Bay Great Crested Grebe, which peaked at 103 birds near Boscombe Pier on 18th, reducing slightly to between 80-90 over the weekend.

December 20th

With the end of the year in sight, it was nice to add an extra species to what is a numerically poor list. A Black-necked Grebe on the sea just off Hengistbury makes it 211 for the period, but still 11 short of this date 12-months ago. Little else was seen over the water, however - just a Great Northern Diver and 2 Red-breasted Merganser, in fact. It was the month's WeBS Sunday, but before the numbers the passerine oddities: a Fieldfare took a strange route of from the HHC towards the head; the Treecreeper was heard in the Wood and a Grey Wagtail was on the Argyle Road slip. Wader-wise, the main interest came from: the Spotted Redshank, 3 Avocet, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Grey Plover; but also 20 Snipe, mostly on Priory Marsh, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Ringed Plover, in excess of 200 Dunlin and 148 Redshank. The best of the waterfowl were 3 drake Shoveler in Stanpit Bight, while 373 Wigeon, 148 Teal and 87 Brent Goose were also counted. A total of 16 Little Grebe, including 11 in Barn Bight, was above average, but Mute Swan and Coot at 19 and 169 respectively are way down on what should be expected.

December 19th

Although yesterday's wind had largely died down, it was still pretty cold this morning. However, the only indication of birds displaced from elsewhere came from: around 25 Redwing and a few Song Thrush off the head at dawn, 5 Tufted Duck and 12 Pochard over the harbour, 4 Snipe over the Barn Field and 14 Lapwing arriving over the sea. Another species moving over the water was Great Crested Grebe, as 10 passed the Beach Huts, presumably on their way to join the Southborne flock, which today exceed 30 birds. Also logged were: 3 Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, 3 Shelduck, 5 Gadwall and 15 Common Scoter. Little else from Hengistbury though, other than a few Linnet heard over the sandspit. At Stanpit, the 2 Avocet spent most of the day off Fisherman's Bank, from where 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover were also noted.

Additional news: a group of 3 brownhead Goldeneye were in Barn Bight for part of the morning, at least.

December 18th

None of the snow reached this far, but the north-easterly wind certainly did! Nevertheless, Hengistbury was quite well watched for almost the entirety of the morning, with the later shift faring better than the first. The best was a Velvet Scoter that came out of The Solent and settled on the water with some Common Scoter, before heading off eastward again. Lapwing are traditionally one of the first species to flee the cold; so, given the weather further along the south coast, 87 arriving over the water in varying sized flocks, the largest numbering 35 birds, were no real surprise. Other records across the two watches comprised: a Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, a diver sp., a drake Pochard, 12 Teal, 12 Common Scoter, 2 Kittiwake west, 46 Common Gull, these mainly east, a Curlew, a Guillemot and 6 unidentified auks. Also at the end of the head were 3 Purple Sandpiper, while the Wood held 2 Redpoll, the Treecreeper, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and briefly 4 Raven. A female Black Redstart by the Argyle Road slip this afternoon was a bonus; also 2 Grey Wagtail there, with a further bird by the Rusty Boat, and a Mistle Thrush on the Recreation Ground. There are still over 200 Dunlin using the harbour and, from Mudeford Quay, it could be seen that the Bar-tailed Godwit flock has now crept up to 9 birds, along with 20 or so Ringed Plover. Finally, the comedy award of day goes to a cock Pheasant that was strutting around the seaside car park on Mudeford Quay during the afternoon!

December 17th

With the temperature dropping ahead of the forecast cold snap, Stanpit was given a go this morning. From the northern end of Grimmery Bank, at least 2 Bearded Tit were heard, but it wasn't certain if they were in the Priory Reeds or across the river on Wick. Also 3 Pochard in that area, while Central Marsh was holding many Meadow Pipit and above average numbers of Rock Pipit, leaving one wondering if the latter are Scandinavian birds moving in ahead of the weather. At lunchtime, the Fisherman's Bank routine turned up 2 Avocet, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as 58 Brent Goose and a single Shelduck. By the early afternoon, an easterly wind had come about making if feel even colder, and with snow currently sweeping across the country there could be some displaced birds around tomorrow.

December 16th

Despite it being cold, damp and thoroughly miserable, there was a fair bit of field activity throughout the day. Once more, it was Fisherman's Bank that provided the most interest, with 2 Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Snipe around 80 Dunlin and 16 Ringed Plover counted over lunchtime; while the information services mention 5 Jack Snipe from Stanpit - a pretty good number by contemporary standards, so any further details would be very welcome. Earlier in the day, a 2-hour seawatch from Hengistbury was hard work, producing just 4 Red-throated Diver, a Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe, 6 Common Gull, 90 Wigeon and 3 Teal, along with a Grey Wagtail on the beach.

Additional news: at least 2 Bullfinch were by the HHC in the morning.

December 15th

Fisherman's Bank put in another varied show today, with 3 Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Snipe, 12 Ringed Plover and around 180 Dunlin all being seen from there over lunchtime. Additionally, 3 Shoveler, 2 of them drakes, were in Stanpit Bight, 8 Little Grebe were spread across the harbour and a Grey Wagtail was on the newly repaired Argyle Road slip. The only news from Hengistbury involves 36 Brent Goose arriving from the Poole Harbour roost this morning, while from just outside the area, an update on the Southborne Great Crested Grebe shows they recently peaked at 47 birds on 4th.

December 14th

As the early frost thawed, the day turned out to be reasonably pleasant, although a slightly chilly wind could have been a little kinder. Morning visits to Stanpit and Wick resulted in some finch interest - the former hosted a Brambling on the edge of the golf course, with the latter returning 2 Redpoll and 8 Siskin. There was also a Chiffchaff on Wick, around the pond at the village end of the fields, and a vocal Water Rail by the Wooden Bridge, while a Fieldfare was consorting with 3 Jay on Stanpit. Later in the day, the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman's Bank, as were a Grey Plover, 27 Ringed Plover and at least 210 Dunlin. Please check back to yesterday as several reports were received overnight.

December 13th

The only news today is of 11 Great Crested Grebe on the sea at the western limit of the recording area.

Additional news: a seawatch from Hengistbury was largely quiet, but did produce a close Black-throated Diver and a Red-throated Diver, plus 4 distant, large swans that looked very interesting, but they frustratingly decided to stop and sit on the water before getting within range! At Stanpit, 3 Avocet were again present, along with 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover and 100 Dunlin in Stanpit Bight, while a drake Gadwall was in Parky Meade Rail. To finish, the Spotted Redshank appeared on the information services.

December 12th

A fairly unremarkable Saturday morning, when, as is usual for the winter months, the sea received most of the attention. With a chilly northerly wind blowing, the Gully and the Beach Huts provided some welcome shelter and between them produced: a Black-throated Diver, 13 Red-throated Diver, including a flock of 7, 3 unidentified divers, 8 Great Crested Grebe, 6 of these moving east together, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Pintail, 2 Gadwall and 2 auk sp. Meanwhile, a total of 200 Wigeon and 6 Shoveler were also milling around on the water. A small number of Goldfinch, around 40 or so, plus singles of Siskin, Redpoll and Linnet, moved east over the top of Hengistbury, while a Raven was above the Nursery. Elsewhere, at least 3 Chiffchaff were about the Wick Fields and waders on the sandspit numbered 15 Turnstone, 37 Dunlin and 29 Ringed Plover. Finally, thanks to Terry Bond for a really entertaining talk about the Isles of Scilly yesterday evening, which was capped off nicely by a calling Tawny Owl around the HHC.

December 11th

A walk around Stanpit this afternoon revealed there are actually relatively few birds on the marsh. While the attraction of the flooded Avon Valley no doubt accounts for many of the Wigeon, a paltry 30 Brent Goose on Priory Marsh is less explicable. In fact, there was little else on Priory, save for a single Grey Wagtail, a Kingfisher and a gathering of Coot. In Stanpit Bight, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Shoveler and 6 Black-tailed Godwit were present, along with 203 Dunlin and 29 Ringed Plover.

December 10th

Couples of Avocet were at Holloway's Dock and Priory Marsh this morning, the latter per the information services, thereby suggesting there could be 4 birds in total. Once just a passage migrant, the last 2-3 years have seen very small numbers of this species tending to winter in the area. Also now a regular winterer, but courtesy of just one bird, is Spotted Redshank, while a Water Pipit again on Priory Marsh is a notable late year record. Both these reports are also via the services. On Hengistbury, a single Firecrest was seen in the Wood, but little else there. Meanwhile, from Fisherman's Bank, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, a Snipe, 94 Dunlin, a Shelduck, 88 Redshank and 12 Curlew were counted.

December 9th

There is a little more to report today, when Hengistbury received a welcome visit. In Holloway's Dock, an Avocet showed very well indeed, while a further two birds from Fisherman's Bank suggests there are still a trio in the area. Also from the head, a Golden Plover and Brambling over, plus a Great Northern Diver on the sea close off the Beach Huts. In the Wood, Firecrest still outnumber Goldcrest, with 3-to-2 being the numbers today; also the Treecreeper, 3 Coal Tit and a notable 80 Long-tailed Tit in that area. Back to Fisherman's Bank, where the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 14 Dunlin were logged, as well as a couple of Shelduck.

December 8th

The site is being kept alive by pretty much one observer right now, whose efforts from Fisherman's Bank are very much appreciated. This morning, a couple of Avocet were on view, as were 5 Grey Plover, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, at least 25 Black-tailed Godwit and over 30 Dunlin. Otherwise, it's just an adult Mediterranean Gull resting on the grass at Mudeford Quay over lunch, plus an information services report of Water Pipit and Spotted Redshank on Stanpit, to pad out the post.

Omission: there was some evidence of a light finch movement over Wick Fields in the morning, as 5 Brambling, 40 Goldfinch and a few Linnet all moved east. In Barn Bight, there was a settled Great Crested Grebe.

December 7th

Wind, rain and almost constant high water made serious attempts at birding nigh on impossible today. However, before Stanpit once again disappeared, it was possible to see a Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and 30 Dunlin from Fisherman's Bank. A single Turnstone went past Mudeford Quay, from where the information services reported 12 Purple Sandpiper.

December 6th

Early rain and wind resulted in fairly limited activity this morning, but singles of Firecrest and Goldcrest, as well as the Treecreeper, were between the Double Bends in the Wood. This afternoon, a Chiffchaff was by the Purewell Stream at Stanpit and an Avocet was seen from South Marsh. Once again, some of the Coot preferred the sea to the harbour, with 12 or so off Mudeford Quay.

December 5th

It was a fairly routine December Saturday for those who turned out. At sea, 12 Red-throated Diver, the same number of Common Scoter, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Pintail moved by, while wildfowl disturbed by shooting in the Avon Valley included 28 Pintail, 8 Shoveler and 70 Wigeon, all of which eventually settled on the water. Despite the relatively calm conditions, there was barely a hint of ongoing migration, save for 2 Redpoll, 7 Siskin, 2 Redwing and 3 Fieldfare, as well as 8 Raven over Hengistbury. In the Wood, at least 3 Firecrest remain, a Chiffchaff was by the HHC and 43 Canada Goose appeared to have roosted in the harbour. Over on Stanpit, the Avocet count was again 3 birds, along with a Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 66 Brent Goose and 35 Dunlin. The information services also report the Spotted Redshank.

Additional news: the Treecreeper was again seen in the Wood on Hengistbury.

December 4th

Rather welcomingly, both sides of the harbour received coverage during the morning, when a Black Redstart, presumably a wintering bird, was present on the sandspit; while the Wood held 3 Redpoll, 2 Firecrest, these just behind the Nursery, and a Coal Tit. A Tufted Duck flew through the harbour, but 5 Shoveler, including 3 drakes, were settled around Stanpit, where there was also 2 Avocet, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 60 or so Ringed Plover and over 130 Dunlin. Fisherman's Bank again hosted a Kingfisher and a Raven passed over there, a Great Crested Grebe was on the water at sea and the information services reported a Water Pipit from Stanpit.

December 3rd

In a biting north-westerly wind, it was down to Fisherman's Bank to make the only returns for the day. From there, the Spotted Redshank and 3 Avocet could be seen, along with 140 Dunlin and 31 Brent Goose.

December 2nd

There was a reasonable selection of duck on view from Hengistbury this morning, including 3 Tufted Duck, a duck and 2 drakes, and a drake Shoveler in Stanpit Bight, as well as 5 Gadwall on the river. The Avocet could also be seen amongst a good number of distant Dunlin, while a Great Crested Grebe, 6 Little Grebe and a Kingfisher were around Barn Bight. Later, from Mudeford Quay, 3 Red-throated Diver were seen passing by. Just outside the recording area, on the sea off Southborne, the winter Great Crested Grebe flock is building up nicely, with 30 birds present yesterday.

December 1st

The temperature dropped overnight and it was one-below-zero even on the shores of the harbour at first-light, with ice persisting until midday at least. At sea, another day of calm water made it possible to pick out a Slavonian Grebe drifting south past Mudeford Quay late this morning, but equally notable was a flock of 35 Coot out beyond The Run! Great Crested Grebe were also moving around, with a flock of 5 east then west past Hengistbury, then a single west and a settled bird in Barn Bight. A Black Redstart in the newly created Waterloo Bank nature area was presumably the same as the bird seen close to there on Saturday, and will hopefully remain in that area throughout the winter. An hour at Hengistbury early in the day suggested there is still some on-going finch migration, as 100+ Goldfinch, 20 Linnet and 10 Chaffinch were logged; meanwhile, a Fieldfare went north off the head, likewise 4 Redwing over Fisherman's Bank. An Avocet was in Stanpit Creek at lunchtime, as were 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover, while much earlier a couple of Kingfisher were not particularly tolerant of each other about the end of Argyll Road. Finally, a flock of 300 Starling west over the Stanpit recreation ground at dawn was interesting and matches a similar number seen heading towards Mudeford a couple of evenings ago. If you know of a roost in the area, please do contact us.

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