Sightings for March 2009

March 31st

A couple of Little Ringed Plover, one of them sporting some uncharacteristically bright legs, spent a fair portion of the day on South Marsh in the company of 18 Ringed Plover. In fact, Stanpit hosted a nice selection of early spring waders, not least an impressive 17 Turnstone on the gravel just beyond the gorse limit, as well as the Spotted Redshank, the Ruff, the Avocet, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Dunlin. While the birds can get anywhere in Stanpit Bight, it is still Fisherman's Bank on the low tide that provides the best opportunity for the Avocet, Ruff and Spotted Redshank. The Red-breasted Merganser continues to favour an area off Mudeford Quay, a drake Shoveler rested briefly in the afternoon and 76 Brent Goose were on East Marsh, but Wigeon and Teal are now starting to drift away for the summer. Despite some low cloud and light drizzle, Hengistbury was pretty quiet in the morning, with just 11 Swallow, 7 Wheatear and a Chiffchaff worth mentioning, although Sand Martin are now building up around the cliffs. It's April tomorrow - that's when it all happens!

Additional news: a pair of Greylag Goose were stood on a shingle bank in The Run!

March 30th

As the wind dropped, Willow Warbler put in their expected appearance this morning, as over 20 were reckoned at Hengistbury and 7 were singing about Stanpit, where there were also 9 Chiffchaff. Meanwhile, hirundines came through in the largest numbers so far - estimates being 60 Sand Martin and 17 Swallow during the course of the morning. Raptors were also mobile and included a male Merlin and female Marsh Harrier, north and west respectively. Although Priory Marsh, save for a lone Canada Goose, was fairly quiet, a couple of White Wagtail were on the adjacent golf course, while 6 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill and 7 more were on Hengistbury. To complete the movers, at least 8 Mediterranean Gull and a single Jackdaw passed through. On Stanpit, 2 Rock Pipit were on Central Marsh and the waders, in approximate order of interest, numbered: the Spotted Redshank, the Avocet, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 39 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin. The Brent Goose amounted to 61, but a count of 64 Shelduck is a marked increase. Finally, a Peacock butterfly was on the wing and please check back to yesterday for some further news.

March 29th

A real selection of moderate interest today making it hard to know where and when to start, so why not Fisherman's Bank this evening? A Ruff in the company of 120 Redshank is certainly a new bird, as is an additional Bar-tailed Godwit making it 2 in all, and a female Pintail; but the Avocet and Spotted Redshank have, of course, been around for some time. Back to the early morning, when a Green Sandpiper was heard from the HHC and thought to be in the general area of Central Marsh, plus a female Yellowhammer off the head and over Wick Fields. Slightly later, from a local perspective came perhaps the highlight of the day - a Nuthatch calling in the Barn garden and then heading over the Common towards the Wood! However, more expected for the date at Hengistbury were: 10 Wheatear on the Barn Field, around 12 Chiffchaff, a Blackcap, 4 Mediterranean Gull, up to 10 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow; while 5 Wheatear were still present tonight. As the tide fell, Stanpit revealed 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin; also 88 Brent Goose still on site and a party of 30 Canada Goose headed thankfully south late this afternoon.

Additional news: an Osprey headed north over the harbour at 11:35 and Peregrine hunted the area at midday.

March 28th

The cold north-westerly breeze pretty much ruined the Saturday morning on Hengistbury, where 3 Wheatear were the only indication of anything new having arrived. Although, at least one Sand Martin was prospecting the cliffs and 2 Swallow were lingering around the Wick horse paddock. So, it was left to try and drag something from a Coastguards seawatch, but to little avail, other than a very, very distant skua that could not assigned to species; with the rest comprising of 4 Sandwich Tern, 2 Mediterranean Gull, a Kittiwake and 3 Common Scoter. The Carrion/Hooded Crow hybrid was formally recorded for the first time for quite a while, as were 3 Peregrine, a pair and then a young bird in-off, and 2 Raven. At Stanpit, both the Spotted Redshank and Avocet remain, as does the Bar-tailed Godwit and 30 Black-tailed Godwit. A count of 40 Shelduck was turned in and 2 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill.

March 27th

It's probably waders at Stanpit that provided the most interest today. In addition to the Avocet from the Argyle Road slip this morning, a lunchtime visit produced a Bar-tailed Godwit, the first for some weeks, 13 Ringed Plover and 27 Black-tailed Godwit, but just 2 Dunlin. Not to be outdone, however, Hengistbury managed 2 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit. Sandwich Tern may well now be 'in', with 4 roosting in the harbour and 5 at sea, where 6 Common Scoter were also logged. Meanwhile, hirundines are still slow to arrive, as just a single Sand Martin was in the area, but a few Swallow were feeding out of the wind in the Wick horse paddock. To complete the day, Stanpit also held 2 Wheatear, around 75 Brent Goose and 20 or so Shelduck.

March 26th

Another blustery morning with a few spots of rain didn't bode well, but a few birds were on the move. The pick of these was a Brambling overhead, also a White Wagtail and 320 Meadow Pipit. The Firecrest was still at the eastern end of the Wood, while 14 Chiffchaff and 3 Wheatear were around the head. The sea was quieter than yesterday with just 26 Gannet and 2 Kittiwake west, also 7 Fulmar, 5 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Tern and a Guillemot were offshore. Finally, 2 Peregrine were hunting off the cliffs and 9 Turnstone passed Mudeford Quay.

Evening update: Off Fisherman's Bank this afternoon the Avocet and Spotted Redshank were present and 4 Sandwich Tern were in the harbour.

March 25th

Again, little migration in the continuing cold wind; although a Buzzard coming off Hengistbury early in the morning was an intriguing record. Also, Siskin and Repoll heard, with a Firecrest in the company of 10 Goldcrest at the end of the head. From the shelter of the Beach Huts, the sea received two-and-a-half hour's worth of attention and headlined with a Great Skua east, which was backed up by a Fulmar, a Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Red-throated Diver, 3 Greylag Goose and 6 Sandwich Tern. While more routine were: 9 Kittiwake, 9 Gannet, 17 Common Gull and a Razorbill, all of these east as well. A notable 4 Peregrine were logged - 2 hunting over the sea, plus another couple causing a terrible commotion in the Nursery, which also put up birds from Stanpit allowing the Avocet to make the day-list. Afternoon visits to the marsh were particularly quiet and add just a male Wheatear and 106 Brent Goose to the post.

March 24th

Of course, while considered mundane elsewhere, Treecreeper is a notable record for the area - so one in the North Scrubs this lunchtime certainly gets bird-of-the-day status. Meanwhile, the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank and a littoralis Rock Pipit around Stanpit Bight may generate a little wider interest. Also from Fisherman's Bank: the Avocet, 4 Dunlin and 7 Black-tailed Godwit, but there were 25 more of these in Barn Bight; and on Stanpit, there were over 34 Shelduck, 2 Sandwich Tern and a single Grey Plover. Hengistbury was slow-going in terms of migrants; for example, just singles of Wheatear and Sandwich Tern, as well as 7 Chiffchaff, but 3 Swallow and 2 Mediterranean Gull over did offer some compensation.

March 23rd

The strengthening of a north-westerly wind realistically killed off any hopes of a good morning. A female Merlin north was the best, along with 16 Chiffchaff by the HHC at dawn, a Siskin over and 6 Wheatear. A couple of Peregrine were hunting at sea, where one caught sight of an incoming passerine, which is more than the two observers at the Beach Huts actually managed! Against the odds there was some passing interest, including: a Black-throated Diver west and 2 Red-throated Diver east; as well as 2 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Sandwich Tern and 16 Common Scoter. At lunchtime, the Avocet that arrived yesterday was still off Fisherman's Bank, in the company of the Spotted Redshank, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Canada Goose, 112 Brent Goose and 2 Dunlin.

March 22nd

A duck Garganey, in the company of a drake Shoveler, was seen briefly from Fisherman's Bank this morning, where an Avocet was watched arriving and then spent the whole day in the same area. Also, the Spotted Redshank on East Marsh, 26 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Grey Plover. The first 'in-harbour' Sandwich Tern was seen checking-in over the Barn Field and 4 Rook headed east over there. Of 5 Mediterranean Gull early on, a party of four adults were bucking the trend and moving west, while 5+ Chiffchaff were dotted about and 2 Sand Martin overflew. On Stanpit, the Brent Goose peaked at 120 and on the Ironstone Quarry the Little Grebe now have a nest.

Additional news: the Red-breasted Merganser was in the harbour close to Mudeford Quay.

March 21st

Once the sun had burnt away the light, early frost, it was an exceptionally pleasant morning, when at least 2, but probably 3, Black Redstart were recorded. A couple of were seen briefly by the Coastguards early on, but then a later bird that lingered briefly on the old pitch and putt course could well have been another. Of 4 Redpoll by the Holloway's Dock, one appeared to be exceptionally pale, but under close scrutiny was found to have a dark rump. From a boat in the harbour, a Sanderling was seen with a few Dunlin on Blackberry Point, while 4 Purple Sandpiper were along the sandspit and 10 Turnstone fed on Speller's Point. Despite the accommodating conditions, overhead movement was not prolific, but did include: 385 Meadow Pipit, 6 alba Wagtail, 96 Wood Pigeon, 18 Goldfinch, 16 Linnet and 20 Sand Martin; as well as the strange sight of 2 Rook heading out to sea. Over 28 Wheatear were reckoned, mainly on the Barn Field, and between 7-10 Chiffchaff were also noted. Off the end of the head, 6 Sandwich Tern moved past, as did a Fulmar, 11 Common Gull and 2 Mediterranean Gull, with two more of the latter inside the harbour. Other snippets of local interest involve: a Dartford Warbler by the Natterjack ponds; a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the Wood; around 10 Little Grebe, all in non-breeding plumage, remaining on the river; and a now regular Peregrine patrolling the airspace. Finally, some thanks. Firstly, to Shaun Robson for a fine talk about north-west India at the HHC last night. Hopefully, not CHOG's last-ever event at that venue! Secondly, to Barry Childs, Peter Fenning, Darren Hughes and Eddie Lewis for their help in launching and siting the tern island this morning. As always, we would like to acknowledge Bournemouth & West Hants Water for their continued support on this project, which is now in its third year.

March 20th

At almost exactly the same time as yesterday, i.e. 10:00, another Red Kite was over the area. On this occasion, the bird was seen from Hengistbury above the North Scrubs, from where it headed northwards towards the valley. Slightly later, hopes were raised over Wick Fields, but the source of alarm was soon established to be a wandering Buzzard. A drake Tufted Duck appeared quite settled in Barn Bight and a Firecrest was at the end of the head, where 5 Redpoll were feeding in the alders alongside Holloway's Dock. The Spotted Redshank was, of course, recorded a few times during the day and the drake Red-breasted Merganser again made the report as it fished above the Flats. The sea was watched for just 30-minutes, but the result suggested that had more time been available it would have been quite productive. In addition to 2 Red-throated Diver, a Fulmar and 3 Mediterranean Gull, 12 Common Gull, 5 Gannet and 2 Guillemot were logged. In general, the overhead movement was slow and included just: 211 Meadow Pipit, 31 Linnet, 2 Sand Martin, a lone Wheatear, 3 Jackdaw and a Siskin. A visit to Priory Marsh gave the impression that, other than the pair of Grey Wagtail, the recent pipit and wagtail interest is on the wane; so to wrap up, some routine figures from elsewhere on Stanpit: 90 Brent Goose, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Dunlin and 2 Ringed Plover.

Additional news: a couple of Raven were over the Nursery.

March 19th

Probably the warmest day of the year so far and no doubt the reason that 2 Red Kite decided to make their way east. The first was picked up apparently heading south down the Avon Valley, but by the time it was over the centre of the harbour another was in view. It's not sure where the second came from, but the timing of a text from Poole suggests it may have passed over there slightly earlier. After skirting the sandspit, both then continued on their way low over Mudeford, attracting the attention of gulls and factory tea-breakers alike. As all this was happening, a female-type Marsh Harrier came in high off the sea and headed directly north; and earlier, a pair of Bearded Tit had showed to almost point-blank range in the area of the HHC. The year's first Swallow, along with 16 Sand Martin, passed quickly over Priory Marsh, where there was again a Water Pipit, a littoralis Rock Pipit and a Mistle Thrush. Around 11 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were in the bushes about Stanpit, while 5 Mediterranean Gull, 219 Meadow Pipit and 42 Linnet passed over. On the Barn Field, there was a peak of 30 Wheatear, but little else to report from Hengistbury. Wader-wise, the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman's Bank, as well as 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin and 5 Ringed Plover. The best of the waterfowl were a pair of Tufted Duck on the river for most of the day, with 130 Brent Goose and 14 Shelduck being counted.

March 18th

Although it was a pretty good morning for incoming migrants on Hengistbury, it was the late afternoon at Stanpit that stole the show. Just after 4:00, a first-winter Ring-billed Gull was seen on South Marsh, but when the whole gull flock took up, whirled around and resettled, the bird could not be relocated. Other Stanpit highlights included a Merlin for the third day in succession, tonight chasing Dunlin, also the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank and 3 Mediterranean Gull. Now, back to the early part of the day on Hengistbury, when over 88 Wheatear and 5 Chiffchaff were recorded; as well as a Little Ringed Plover, 470 Meadow Pipit, 46 Linnet, 29 alba Wagtail, including 1 certain White Wagtail and a single Sand Martin, in-off; while coasting birds included a Rook and 2 Siskin. Still little at sea, other than 2 Fulmar and a Sandwich Tern, with interest elsewhere on the head coming from 5 Gadwall, a Raven, a Peregrine and 22 Black-tailed Godwit. Priory Marsh held at least 1 Water Pipit, plus a littoralis Rock Pipit, and the pairs of Mistle Thrush and Grey Wagtail were again present. To finish up, some counts from Stanpit: 31 Shelduck and around 100 Brent Goose, mostly on East Marsh, 21 Dunlin, 13 Ringed Plover and 4 Turnstone.

March 17th

Another day of clear skies and light easterly breeze saw a quiet morning on Hengistbury, save for 12 Wheatear - 9 on the Barn Field and 3 on the golf course - a single Chiffchaff and a trickle of arriving Meadow Pipit. For the third day in succession, Priory Marsh received some detailed attention with visits at lunchtime and in the late afternoon - neither of which could produce a pipit of any more interest than 50 or so Meadow Pipit. The second visit did see a Merlin hunting the area, then crossing the river to try its luck over Wick, and a single White Wagtail among the 30 Pied Wagtail. A further siting of Mistle Thrush in that locale suggests breeding may be taking place close by and the same is probably true for a pair of Grey Wagtail; while a female Dartford Warbler on the Long Field may indicate another pair on Hengistbury. There was an impressive return of 50 Shelduck on Stanpit during the afternoon, this representing a definite influx; also the Spotted Redshank, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Ringed Plover and 13 Dunlin there. Finally, from Wick, it's 3 Mediterranean Gull, 3 singing Chiffchaff and an overflying Peregrine to report upon.

Additional news: 5 Purple Sandpiper and 12 Turnstone were on the sandspit.

March 16th

While Hengistbury was relatively short on traditional spring migrants, it did host something of an easterly finch passage, including: 32 Chaffinch, 19 Linnet, 16 Goldfinch and 7 Siskin; also a single Yellowhammer and Redwing - all seen from the end of the head. Perhaps more expected, however, were 210 Meadow Pipit, along with 23 alba Wagtail, 2 of them definite White Wagtail, and 4 Sand Martin, all moving north. Other incomers numbered 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Wheatear and a Blackcap, with 3 Sandwich Tern and 2 Mediterranean Gull moving by offshore. Finally for the south side of the area, a Raven was over the Wood and a Grey Plover was heard on Stanpit. From Fisherman's Bank, at least 3 of 8 Black-tailed Godwit were starting to look very smart, but the converse can be said of the Spotted Redshank as it still wears full winter dress. Also, 19 Shelduck from that spot. In the late afternoon, Priory Marsh was given another grilling and eventually produced a Water Pipit, in addition to a littoralis Rock Pipit, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail among 60 Pied Wagtail and up to 150 Meadow Pipit. A couple of 2 Mistle Thrush over make a nice record, as well as 9 Jackdaw and a Peregrine.

Additional news: the Red-breasted Merganser was off Blackberry Point at lunchtime.

March 15th

The Priory Marsh pipits were good value today, but a combination of viewing into bright sunlight and their preference for the longer vegetation made getting to grips with all of them quite difficult. Nevertheless, out of the dozen or so Rock/Water types that were present, firm identification of 1 Water Pipit and 1 littoralis Rock Pipit was managed. Also there, around 50 Meadow Pipit and a few alba Wagtail, all seeming to be Pied. From 7:00 to 9:30, Hengistbury was devoid of migrants, but later visits to the hinterlands of Wick and Stanpit suggested there had been some arrivers. Around 25 Chiffchaff were recorded, as well as 3 Blackcap, some of these birds half-heartedly attempting a song or two. However, one species in full voice was Cetti's Warbler, with up to 6 territories being created on Wick. An equally vocal Nuthatch, heard from the northern Wick Fields, was the first for the year; as was a Merlin watched soaring from Priory Marsh. In fact, the blue skies and light breeze tempted many raptors onto the wing over the Avon Valley, including: 2 Peregrine, 5 Sparrowhawk and over 20 Buzzard. A midday visit to Hengistbury was slightly more productive and yielded 2 Sand Martin, a Redpoll and a singing Dartford Warbler. Meanwhile, Stanpit held: 3 Wheatear on East Marsh; the Spotted Redshank in Stanpit Bight; a single Grey Plover and 7 Ringed Plover; as well as 140 Brent Goose and 31 Shelduck. To finish, other bits and pieces throughout the day involved 6 Mediterranean Gull, a single Raven and 3 Jackdaw.

March 14th

The morning's light south-westerly breeze saw the Wheatear piling in. Exactly on 8:30 the first were seen on the Barn Field, with 3 more pitching in by the Coastguards just a couple of minutes later. In all, at least 30, of both sexes, passed through or stopped on site - the biggest concentrations being 17 in one scan of the Barn Field and up to 5 lingering on East Marsh. At sea, a single Sandwich Tern east was the year's first, but there were no other seabirds of note. However, interest was maintained by small groups of arriving Meadow Pipit - around 75 in total - and a handful of Pied Wagtail. Also, a single Sand Martin past the HHC, plus 5 Jackdaw and 2 Rook over, while the first Wick Field held around 5 Chiffchaff early on. The drake Red-breasted Merganser was seen at various points in the harbour, from the HHC to Mudeford Quay, and a Peregrine tried its luck with the incoming migrants. This afternoon, the North Scrubs held a further 5+ Chiffchaff, as well as a seemingly settled group of 4 Redwing. Earlier, the information services had reported 1 Firecrest and a littoralis Rock Pipit on Stanpit. With the weather being forecast as fine for the next few days, a continued arrival of spring migrants is certainly hoped for.

Additional news: 2 Firecrest were in the North Scrubs and 350 Wigeon were counted around Stanpit Bight.

March 13th

Not before time, a Sand Martin was recorded today - a single bird seemingly arriving over the sandspit. Conversely, a few winter finches were logged, including 4 Redpoll by Holloway's Dock and 2 Siskin over the western part of Hengistbury. In total, 3 Mediterranean Gull were seen in the morning, also a Raven over the Wood and 14 Turnstone on the sandspit. The Spotted Redshank was in the usual place opposite the Argyle Road slip, where there were also 5 Black-tailed Godwit, of which at least 2 were coming into breeding plumage. Wildfowl novelty was provided by a Greylag Goose that settled on Wick Fields for a short while and a female Wigeon on East Marsh that looked to be made up of a fair quantity of Chiloe Wigeon genes.

Additional news: at Stanpit, late in the afternoon, there was a single Firecrest and 2 Chiffchaff in the North Scrubs, where 3 Sand Martin were feeding overhead. Also, 25 Black-tailed Godwit seen to arrive, as well as 4 Snipe.

March 12th

Still slow going, although 3 Firecrest, 2 of them singing males, at the end of the head this morning were almost certainly new in. These, along with the information services reporting at least two remaining at Stanpit, mean there are probably more of this species in the recording area than Goldcrest right now! There were also 7 Chiffchaff dotted about Hengistbury, suggesting an influx of these too; but the only visible arrival came in the shape of a Grey Wagtail in-off. In addition, a Redwing passed through, as did a couple of Mediterranean Gull and 3 Jackdaw, plus singles of Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter travelling at sea. Meanwhile, the pick of the day's counts from Fisherman's Bank and Stanpit-proper included: the Spotted Redshank, a Snipe, a Black-tailed Godwit, 188 Brent Goose, 40 or so Dunlin, 100+ Redshank and 25 Shelduck; while, this evening, a Rook and 5 Linnet went over the Recreation Ground.

March 11th

As the day's main observer put it, 'there was a nice selection of winter birds about!' - this despite seemingly perfect conditions for some migrant arrivals. In fact, a single Chiffchaff, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Jackdaw and 2 Siskin, all from Hengistbury, were the only hint of seasonal movement. Offshore, a female Eider sat on the water and a Kittiwake went west; while the Wood held a Coal Tit, a couple of Raven toured and 6 Turnstone were recorded. The customary late-afternoon scan from Fisherman's Bank saw the Spotted Redshank plus 44 Dunlin, with other snippets for the day involving 3 Gadwall and 3 Canada Goose.

March 10th

At least 2 of the Firecrest showed well again today - not just in the spot described yesterday, but also adjacent to where the tarmac path meets the golf course. Also a very vocal Siskin perched about that spot this afternoon and a Chiffchaff flycatching on the Old Depot site behind the La Nautica development. Things picked up a little in terms of wildfowl: this evening, the drake Red-breasted Merganser was well into freshwater and fishing successfully in the river by Parky Meade Rail; a group of 3 drake Shoveler were off Fisherman's Bank; 3 Pintail were with the Wigeon around Blackberry Point; and of 17 Shelduck present, 11 preferred Parky Meade Rail. Meanwhile, a pair of Canada Goose were thankfully very flighty! The Spotted Redshank was again faithful to Fisherman's Bank, from where 42 Dunlin were counted.

March 9th

A further day of bluster from the north-west that predictably produced another migrant blank. However, today's photographer, inspired by late news of a Firecrest calling in the North Scrubs yesterday, ventured out and was rewarded with some outstanding shots. As it happens, despite them disappearing for almost the entire weekend, there are still 3 birds present. To view, enter the marsh via the northern kissing gate and the birds get either side of the Purewell Stream, favouring the holly and other evergreen bushes. Meanwhile, other interest came from a drake Red-breasted Merganser in the unlikely spot of the river upstream from the HHC! Also, the Spotted Redshank and 67 Dunlin from Fisherman's Bank, and 2 Kittiwake east past the Beach Huts. It is encouraging to hear of 3 singing Cetti's Warbler on along Wick Hams, as a cold winter can inflict losses on this species. In addition to the Firecrest, there is other news from yesterday - please check below.

March 8th

Overnight, the wind developed into a rather unpleasant westerly, which made things colder than the morning sunshine suggested. Given this, plus the general lack of birds, it's difficult to be too enthusiastic about the day's events - in fact, a Chiffchaff in reeds by Parky Meade Rail, is probably the best of the post! Although Hengistbury was attended, it delivered nothing, while Stanpit Bight turned in just 2 Ringed Plover, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Common Gull, 150 Brent Goose and 60 Dunlin. Also on the marsh, 3 Rock Pipit that were disturbed from the Scandinavian quarter. For the year-listers who may still need Jackdaw, there was a fair bit of tumbling going on over Purewell and Christchurch, easily visible from within the recording area. To conclude, of colour-ringing interest, news has just been received of a Pied Wagtail that was seen on 15th February on Stanpit, which was actually ringed at East Kilbride, Glasgow, during August or September of 2007.

Additional news: a Firecrest was heard in the North Scrubs and 9 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit groyne S2, with 4 Ringed Plover nearby.

March 7th

In fairly settled conditions, the Saturday crew hoped to notch up at least one species of sub-Saharan migrant; but the reality was somewhat disappointing. A single alba Wagtail in-off, a Siskin over the HHC, 5 Linnet and 7 Jackdaw, 5 west and 2 east, were all that could be logged in terms of passerine movers; while 5 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult pairs and a singleton, headed east past Hengistbury. Also at sea, 3 drake Common Scoter that lingered for a while, 2 Red-throated Diver west, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, two of them west, and 2 Great Crested Grebe on the water. All Dartford Warbler records, including today's from the Batters, will be gratefully received until their status this spring has been fully established. Meanwhile, a Stock Dove was displaying over the Wood.

Additional news: the Short-eared Owl was watched for 10 minutes over Hollway's Dock at 4:15, as it was mobbed by Herring Gull.

March 6th

The fifteen minutes around 3:30 this afternoon saw a Short-eared Owl tour a greater part of the recording area. It was initially picked up alarming Wigeon over the centre of the harbour, but then headed towards Central Marsh, where it hunted briefly, then Smithy's Field, before gaining height with gulls, crows and even a Greenfinch in frantic pursuit over Stanpit village. It soon turned, however; traversing Fisherman's Bank and the sandspit, losing height as it did so, and subsequently hunted the Salterns when it was lost from view. The period after lunch also produced the Spotted Redshank in Stanpit Bight and an adult Mediterranean Gull on the HHC bar. In the morning, 'twos' of Chiffchaff were on Hengistbury and in the Great Spires reeds, while over 100 Meadow Pipit were on Priory Marsh and small numbers of Pied Wagtail seemed to be just about everywhere. The clear night appears to have emptied the North Scrubs of its recent interest; but throughout the day, fine examples of littoralis (Scandinavian) Rock Pipit were seen on Priory Marsh and close to Grimmery Point, with one even showing a hint of a pink tinge when seen close to. The latter area also held at least 3 other, but not such distinct, individuals. Finally, 3 Redpoll were settled and feeding on Hengistbury.

March 5th

On a wet morning, as the precipitation varied between rain and sleet, the only record involved a Mediterranean Gull in the main car park at Hengistbury. The day brightened up around lunchtime and a late afternoon visit to the North Scrubs saw 2 Firecrest and a Peregrine over. It's also good to see House Sparrow back on the increase, with pairs already setting up home in eaves on Argyle Road.

Additional news: a pair of Mistle Thrush were on Stanpit recreation ground this afternoon.

March 4th

A couple of Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest off the head and into Wick Ditch early on, plus 7 Linnet over, suggested a small arrival might get underway; however, save for subsequent singles of Redpoll and Redwing, that was pretty much it. On Stanpit, in the North Scrubs, 2 Firecrest again showed well at lunchtime and 2 Mediterranean Gull passed over there. Earlier, the Spotted Redshank was by Fisherman's Bank, where counts of 151 Dunlin and 134 Brent Goose were made, and the presence of 2 young Raven about Central Marsh was enough to flush out 28 Snipe. Back on Hengistbury and some breeding updates: there are in fact 2 pairs of Grey Heron using the Nursery; 2 sets of Jay were pair bonding in the Wood, plus activity from Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker; while a Dartford Warbler was conspicuous on the Barn Field.

March 3rd

A fine start to the day saw the year's first Wheatear on the Barn Field, but it soon moved on and eluded those who wanted to 'list' what was quite an early bird by local standards. Also this morning, a total of 25 Black-tailed Godwit in the area. Then, by early afternoon, the wind and rain had set in, thereby scuppering any further activity.

March 2nd

There was an unexpected frost over the northern section of the recording area this morning, but that didn't move the Firecrest on from the North Scrubs. In fact, it was confirmed there are 3 - a male and 2 females - as well as 2 Chiffchaff in the same spot. Rook were clearly on the move with 12 heading east, all but one in a flock of 11; while also travelling and new for the year were singles of Yellowhammer and Siskin over Priory Marsh. On the deck on Priory, there were 86 Meadow Pipit, as well as the fine example of a Scandinavian Rock Pipit and 3 Grey Wagtail. Little to report from elsewhere though, other than 2 Raven over the HHC and 240 Dunlin, 20 Shelduck and 4 Black-tailed Godwit from Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: 4 Mediterranean Gull, all adults, passed over Stanpit.

March 1st

A surprise for the day came fairly late in the afternoon, when a Short-eared Owl toured the top of Hengistbury. Presumably, as the bird seemed to try and linger before eventually departing high to the east, it had been disturbed from a daytime roost. Also of interest from that side of the harbour were 3 Linnet on the sandspit - although it has to be assumed these were from the small party that were wintering there, rather than migrant birds. The 2 Firecrest continued to show really well at the northern end of the North Scrubs and Priory Marsh again hosted a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, as well as around 50 each of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail. Despite the caution yesterday, the WeBS count turned up some real interest: a party of 5 Knot were seen from South Marsh heading towards Blackberry Point; 3 Tufted Duck were in Parky Meade Rail; a drake Red-breasted Merganser was in the harbour just off the Mudeford Quay slip; at one time 39 Black-tailed Godwit were present, but most left north towards the floods of the valley; 32 Turnstone, mainly on the sandspit, is a reasonable figure; while 10 Ringed Plover, 3 Shoveler and the Spotted Redshank complete the better records. The remainder, in order of numbers, included: 389 Wigeon, 157 Brent Goose, 156 Redshank, 154 Dunlin, 100 Teal, 22 Shelduck and a declining 70 Coot, along with just 2(!) Lapwing and the same of Snipe.

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