Sightings for February 2010

February 28th

Another very wet day, with Stanpit producing most of the limited interest. A Scandinavian Rock Pipit was between the Visitor's Centre and Crouch Hill, while 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover and 5 Pintail were around Stanpit Bight, where at least 5 Mediterranean Gull arrived to bathe late in the afternoon. The only other report concerns a couple of Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage off Mudeford Quay. Regarding the trip to south-west London mentioned yesterday, some probably enjoyed it more than others!

February 27th

Heavy downpours in the early hours deterred most of the remaining regulars not on their travels to Stamford Bridge and beyond. The pick of the day's small collection of sightings was a rather distant Great Skua heading west, with two Red-breasted Merganser heading the same way, and a Red-throated Diver going nowhere. In the woods, both the Treecreeper and the Firecrest were encountered, and 4 Redwing added a little interest. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was around the Hiker area, and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew upriver behind the HHC - good numbers of this species have been seen at Coward's Marsh in recent days. Finally, thanks to Mike Mockler for an excellent talk on "Brazil - The Pantanal and more" last night.

February 26th

An irritating westerly wind made field conditions difficult throughout the day, meaning the only reports are of 2 Grey Plover and 5+ Snipe from Fisherman's Bank, along with estimates of 200 Dunlin, 50 Brent Goose, 100 Redshank and 100 Lapwing. Yesterday did actually come up with some reports, so please do check back.

Records of Otter are still filtering into the site. Yesterday at 8:20, a single animal was fishing close to the riverbank just opposite Priory Quay. This spot is virtually in Clay Pool itself, so the sighting may represent the first in recent times of one inside the recording area. From the various and frequent reports over the last few weeks, it seems there may be a lone individual, presumably a male, favouring the above-described area, while the family seems to prefer to stay a few hundred yards upstream around the Tuckton Bridge area.

Omission: the Spotted Redshank was in Stanpit Creek.

Additional news: a Black-throated Diver was seen from Hengistbury.

February 25th

More appalling weather effectively put paid to any chances of reports for the day.

Additional news: between the downpours, an hour was managed at Stanpit, where there were 14 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 26 Black-tailed Godwit that arrived from elsewhere, 14 Ringed Plover and around 120 Dunlin. A trio of adult Mediterranean Gull flew in to join the main throng of Black-headed Gull on South Marsh, while 56 Brent Goose were on East Marsh and the loner was on North Marsh.

February 24th

Relatively speaking, the weather was rather pleasant today, helped significantly by a shift in the wind to the south. The best record was an adult pair of Yellow-legged Gull on Solent Meads golf course early on the morning, but a Brambling and 2 Siskin over Stanpit, and a Water Pipit in the company of Meadow Pipit on Priory Marsh, all came a close second. It's almost the time of year when species such as Blackcap and Chiffchaff fall between the status of winterers or early migrants, but it would seem most likely that singles of each in the North Scrubs and by Stanpit golf course respectively are still in the former category. Numbers of commoner waders being seen from Fisherman's Bank are currently a little on the low side, but this may be explained by the current attraction of Priory Marsh for Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. Nevertheless, the bank turned in: 9 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a good count of 36 Ringed Plover, 6 Snipe, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 120 or so Dunlin; as well as 4 Shoveler arriving from the Valley, 6 Little Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe out in the harbour and 14 Brent Goose on the saltmarsh.

Omission: a couple of Mediterranean Gull were seen from Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: the year's first Fulmar was seen off the Beach Huts.

February 23rd

On the basis that the weather, constant rain and a cold easterly wind, was worse than yesterday, it was rather a nice surprise to receive any reports at all. From Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime, there were 36 Snipe, 8 Grey Plover, 6 Ringed Plover and 2 Little Grebe, while earlier 12 Redwing were around the golf course end of the North Scrubs and 13 Brent Goose were on East Marsh.

February 22nd

No doubt due to the cold, morning rain, the only news so far is of a Red-breasted Merganser fishing just off Mudeford Quay, as well as 20 or so Common Scoter past there, plus an adult Mediterranean Gull in Stanpit Creek. Of interest for those who follow ringing recoveries, the colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit seen at Stanpit on 14th was fitted out in November 1998 at Farlington Marshes, Hampshire. The bird, a male, was an adult at that time and has since been recorded a further 74 times in the Portsmouth/Langstone/Chichester Harbours complex, but also in the Avon Valley north of Ringwood in March 2007. Just outside the area, it seems as if the Southbourne winter grebe bonanza has come to an end, with recent counts numbering 39, 6 and then zero.

February 21st

A pretty grotty day with sleety rain a feature for most of the morning, but that didn't prevent a few hours being spent on Stanpit, where there was a Water Pipit just west of the Bailey Bridge along with at least 8 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, while a couple more littoralis candidates were on North Marsh. In addition to a good total of 25 Bar-tailed Godwit, there were once again many Snipe out in the open, in particular on East Marsh, where 39 were counted from Crouch Hill. Also from there: the Spotted Redshank, 9 Grey Plover, a single Turnstone, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 120+ Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, 8 Pintail, 2 of them drakes, and 3 Shelduck. To finish up on the north side of the harbour: an impressive flock of 54 Redwing was feeding on the edge of the recreation ground that borders the North Scrubs; a Black Redstart was on Fisherman's Bank; a couple of Water Rail were in the Parky Meade Rail area; a Great Crested Grebe passed over west; Stonechat are becoming more obvious around the Rusty Boat; and a measly total of 10 Brent Goose included the lone individual that remains faithful to North Marsh. The best on Hengistbury were 4 Purple Sandpiper, a species that has been surprisingly absent for most of the year, and a single Common Scoter by at sea. On Wick, a locally notable flock of Curlew, 26 in all, ended up on the South Paddock.

Mammal news from just outside the area: the Otter family has again been seen on The Stour over the weekend.

February 20th

The cold overnight temperatures saw some of the shallower pools on Stanpit ice over, which seemed to push Snipe out into the open - a total of 62 counted from Crouch Hill on East and North Marshes. Priory Marsh was less affected and held at least 1 Water Pipit, as well as a Mediterranean Gull and 50 or so Dunlin, while Cetti's Warbler and Reed Bunting were in good voice, and a Chiffchaff was in the reeds bordering Parky Meade Rail. It was hoped that the clear skies may produce a raptor for the day, but the observers on Hengistbury had to make do with wandering corvids instead. A couple of Jackdaw came in-off high, a Rook headed south and a Raven passed north. Also from the head, a Mistle Thrush was about Warren Hill, 7 Red-throated Diver moved east at sea, the Spotted Redshank was heard from the HHC and a Dartford Warbler was active around the Ironstone Quarry. The remaining miscellany for the day comprises of: Redwing, at least 15, again in the North Scrubs, with a further bird or birds by the Barn; 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipit and the lone Brent Goose on North Marsh; 2 Goldeneye and 11 Little Grebe in the harbour; 7 Pintail and a Shoveler on Stanpit; 4 Gadwall settled in Barn Bight; a Great Crested Grebe in Stanpit Creek and a Kingfisher by the HHC.

Additional news: 16 Bar-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit.

February 19th

A pleasant day of little wind and clear skies, but little field activity. In the morning, a couple of Dartford Warbler were seen on the Long Field, Hengistbury, and a Grey Wagtail and a Jackdaw passed over Wick. Early in the afternoon, at least 3 likely-looking Scandinavian Rock Pipit were on North Marsh, where the apparently ostracised Brent Goose continues to keep itself-to-itself, and 17 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Turnstone were the more interesting of the waders around Stanpit Bight.

February 18th

Much less to report today, which was full of drizzle and occasional heavier rain. Around mid-afternoon, some really dark clouds fooled the gulls into a roost routine and 15 Mediterranean Gull, 5 of them first-winter birds, joined a couple of adults already on Stanpit. Also, one of the Black Redstart and a Kingfisher from Fisherman's Bank, plus a few Redwing loitering around the recreation ground. Slightly later, the Spotted Redshank was recorded for the day, as were 15 Bar-tailed Godwit and at least 4 Grey Plover.

February 17th

A really fine day, but quite chilly with it. Around 9:30 this morning, an adult Little Gull was feeding just feet off the Argyle Road slipway, but it didn't hang around long, thereby denying an opportunity for some crippling photographs. A good look around Stanpit and its pipits produced 11 candidates, some more convincing than others, for Scandinavian Rock Pipit. Intriguingly, the best looking of them, close to the Visitor's Centre, was sporting a ring. What wouldn't one give to know where in Europe that was placed! Priory Marsh again hosted a Ruff, as well as 70 Dunlin; while 3 calling Mediterranean Gull passed over and a surprising 3 Blackcap were in the North Scrubs. Towards dusk, the Spotted Redshank was on East Marsh, visible from Argyle Road, from where 13 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover, a couple of hundred Dunlin, 12 Pintail and 20 Shelduck could also be seen. Finally, the Bittern from yesterday was just outside of the official recording area, in a spot just upstream from Tuckton Bridge. A nice record, nonetheless.

February 16th

Photographs received of a Bittern presumably relate to a bird seen in the harbour today, but further details as to exact location are being sought. In fact, photographing anything must have been a bit of an achievement given the almost constant drizzle throughout! Fisherman's Bank again hosted Avocet, the first since the 11th, but just one bird; while on the afternoon low tide 17 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 36 Black-tailed Godwit and 260 or so Dunlin were also noted from there. Meanwhile, 20 Redwing and 5 Song Thrush are still hanging around in the North Scrubs.

February 15th

There is a remarkable amount to write about for a February Monday. Ruff were reported from two sites today - a singleton on Priory Marsh this morning and two from Fisherman's Bank this afternoon - meaning there could well be 3 birds involved. Also about Priory Marsh was a Jack Snipe that was spotted by looking down from the golf course footpath, 5 likely Scandinavian Rock Pipit and a Blackcap. A short, early look at the sea produced a Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver and 5 Gannet east, as well as 15 or more Great Crested Grebe on the water. On the subject of grebes, the Southbourne gathering now seems to be falling away, with a 'mere' 68 being seen from there today. The previously mentioned Fisherman's Bank session also turned in the Spotted Redshank, a good count of 22 Grey Plover, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, at least 75 Black-tailed Godwit, 29 Ringed Plover and 200ish Dunlin. Both Goldeneye and Pintail numbers dropped by one, to three, the usual brown-head birds, and fourteen respectively; 7 Gadwall were in Barn Bight and 9 Canada Goose departed for the valley. Tomorrow's high water is a spring, so wellies will be essential at Stanpit.

February 14th

A fine start to the day encouraged at least 2 Cetti's Warbler into song at Stanpit, as well as the season's first Reed Bunting. Also recorded early on were a Black Redstart and 3 Mediterranean Gull, two of them first-winter birds, from Fisherman's Bank. As the day progressed, the cloud took over, but there was still plenty to see around Stanpit. The Spotted Redshank spent most of the afternoon in Stanpit Creek, while 2 more Mediterranean Gull, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Ringed Plover, up to 70 Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Ringed Plover, around 230 Dunlin and 15 Pintail were spread around Stanpit Bight. In addition, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull went east and a party of 15 Black-tailed Godwit headed north. The 3 brown-head Goldeneye have been joined by an adult drake and, as yesterday, a Raven moved off inland. A count of the Brent Goose gaggle came to 53, but there is also a forlorn looking individual that has been hanging around by itself on North Marsh for a couple of days now. Finally, one of the settled Black-tailed Godwit was colour-ringed and details will be posted as soon as they are received.

February 13th

From the shelter of the last beach hut, in a bitterly cold north-east wind, the sea turned in quite a bit of interest, although most of it was frustratingly distant. The pick-of-the-list was a Red-necked Grebe, but not thought to be the recent in-harbour bird, which passed west. Also moving past were 33 Red-throated Diver east, while 12 headed west, so a minimum of 21 birds; along with 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 13 Gannet east, 2 Great Crested Grebe, a Common Scoter, 2 Pintail and a Wigeon. Out on the horizon, there was a steady easterly passage of auks, with at least 140 logged but not identified, but 5 closer Razorbill could be assigned a name. Improving on yesterday's single bird, Fisherman's Bank produced 2 Black Redstart, one at each end, as well as the Spotted Redshank and 2 Grey Plover. Back on Hengistbury: a Mediterranean Gull was on the HHC mudbar, 3 Redwing and a Coal Tit were in the Wood, a Peregrine was seen on a couple of occasions, the 3 Goldeneye were in Barn Bight and a Raven moved off north.

February 12th

Although Stanpit was walked around this afternoon, including Priory Marsh, it was Fisherman's Bank that provided nearly all the interest. After a blank couple of weeks, one of the Black Redstart was seen on a couple of occasions around the Argyle Road slip, as were 2 Mediterranean Gull; while mid-morning, the Spotted Redshank was down towards the Mudeford Sailing Club barge. Much further out in the harbour, the 3 brown-head Goldeneye were again logged and 15 Pintail were loafing around by Blackberry Point. The remaining interest from the bank concerns singles of Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover and a Kingfisher. The only thing that Stanpit can add to the day's tally is a few Redwing in the North Scrubs and a pair of Stonechat, quite scarce of late, by the Rusty Boat.

Omission: a number of Canada Goose were heard leaving the harbour this morning with 4 Greylag Goose among them. Also, a Peregrine over Stanpit and 25 or so Great Crested Grebe on the sea off the head.

February 11th

Not too much to report, but some interest nonetheless. At lunchtime, a flock of 9 Goosander and 26 Pintail suddenly appeared over Stanpit golf course heading north, while a Sanderling and 5 Turnstone were on the harbour side of Mudeford Quay, and an adult Mediterranean Gull in almost complete breeding attire was off Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: in the late afternoon, 2 Ruff, just 1 Avocet, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, a good number of 164 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, around 260 Dunlin and 26 Shelduck were all noted from Fisherman's Bank; while a few hundred metres outside of the recording area, a ringtail Hen Harrier was over fields by the Stoney Lane roundabout.

February 10th

There was a little more field activity today but not really anything new to report although a Common Seal in the river behind the HHC brightened up an otherwise uneventful early morning walk for one of the regulars. On Stanpit around 20 Redwing remain at the north end together with singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, while another 2 Redwing were on Wick. One of the Avocet was on Grimmery this morning and then later either that or a different bird was opposite Fisherman's Bank. The Spotted Redshank was also present plus 250 Dunlin, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Snipe and one each of Knot, Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwit. It's worth checking through the large numbers of Black-headed Gull currently using the harbour as another 3 Mediterranean Gull were found amongst them today. The 3 brown-headed Goldeneye were still present, also 11 Pintail and 2 Shoveler. To round up, a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight, a Great Crested Grebe was off the Beach Huts and 2 Raven were seen.

Check back to yesterday for a couple of items of late news.

February 9th

Today saw the return of bitterly cold weather, brought on by a biting north-easterly wind, which is forecast to remain with us for the rest of the week. Hence, Fisherman's Bank will no doubt receive more coverage than usual. From there today were just 3 Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, a good count of 280 Dunlin plus 27 Ringed Plover, 7 Snipe, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover and 3 pairs of Pintail. A Golden Plover was with the Lapwing flock when it took flight over Stanpit as a Peregrine moved through and a Great Crested Grebe was on the river behind the HHC.

This morning the information services reported 4 Water Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit and a Ruff on Priory Marsh.

Late news: The Red-necked Grebe showed well behind the lifeboat station around lunchtime and 6 Redpoll were seen by the HHC.

February 8th

All the regulars were present and correct today: namely, the 6 Avocet back together off Fisherman's Bank, from where the Spotted Redshank could be seen working the fringe of East Marsh; and the Red-necked Grebe was in the normal spot just north of Holloway's Dock, Hengistbury. Fisherman's Bank also chipped in with an adult Mediterranean Gull, 6 Pintail, 2 of them drakes, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, singles of Grey Plover and Turnstone, 20 Ringed Plover and an increase of Dunlin to around 320 birds. After yesterday's alarm about the apparent lack of Cetti's Warbler at Stanpit, it was nice to hear of one calling around Priory Marsh, where 2 Chiffchaff, the first since the cold, were also recorded; as well as a Shoveler. A brief look at the sea saw a Red-throated Diver and 2 Common Scoter from the head, while 224 Great Crested Grebe were just outside the confines of the area off Southbourne. The only other news concerns a Peregrine, which have been relatively scarce this winter, over Stanpit.

February 7th

A windless morning made picking out the Red-necked Grebe relatively easy on the calm water. As yesterday, it started the morning close to Mudeford Quay, but as river traffic increased pushed back towards Holloway's Dock. A mill pond like sea also allowed over 150 Great Crested Grebe to be counted from Double Dykes, while a female Scaup was seen in flight on a couple of occasions and a Great Northern Diver, 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter and 4 Gadwall all moved purposefully past. The mild weather encouraged many birds into song - the most welcome, after the cold start to the year, being a couple of Cetti's Warbler in the Wick area, but the traditional sites at Stanpit remain worryingly quiet. Also vocal around the Wick Fields, where singles of Bullfinch, Mediterranean Gull and Jackdaw were logged visually, were a Skylark and 4 Song Thrush, The best of the month's WeBS count included 4 Avocet, but also 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 18 Ringed Plover, 282 Dunlin and 92 Redshank; with the waterfowl made up of a Goldeneye, a good number of 621 Wigeon, 197 Teal, 170 Coot, 15 Shelduck and 3 Pintail. At Hengistbury, a startled Water Rail flew 6-7 meters out over the river, dived into the water and was not seen to reappear, but presumably made it to cover beneath the surface. Finally, around 25 Redwing were at Stanpit in the Old Depot Site.

February 6th

By lunchtime, the early cloud gave way resulting in clear blue skies for the remainder of the day. The Red-necked Grebe was again inside the harbour; at one point it was just off Mudeford Quay, but was more often than not around the ferry jetty. Also at least 1 Goldeneye off Rushy Piece. The sea produced a Black-throated Diver east, 2 Red-throated Diver west, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Scoter and a fishing flock of 35 Shag. There are no reports from Stanpit, but a single Avocet in Holloway's Dock during the morning could well have been the 'missing' bird. Meanwhile, a few Redwing were in the Nursery, a Mistle Thrush moved east along Hengistbury, Redpoll were heard from the Wood, a further adult Mediterranean Gull and a single Black-tailed Godwit were on the HHC bar, at least 10 Little Grebe were spread across the harbour and a single Canada Goose was around.

February 5th

A spring-like day that, for a change, made it a pleasure to get out. The Red-necked Grebe was again present and early this afternoon was kipping amongst mooring buoys just off the sandspit Noddy Train Terminus; also the 3 Goldeneye still in the harbour. Around the same time, 5 adult Mediterranean Gull were with a few hundred Black-headed Gull in Stanpit Bight, where there were also 15 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Turnstone. A couple of looks at the Avocet confirmed only 5 birds present, so perhaps we have lost one, but the Spotted Redshank is still safe and sound. Also at Stanpit, a pair of Gadwall, around 200 Dunlin, 90 Brent Goose, 15 Ringed Plover and 12 Shelduck; while the leaf litter just north of the Visitors Centre is still appealing to Redwing, with 25 or so grubbing around there.

February 4th

A Red-necked Grebe, found this morning and remaining inside the harbour all day, was a nice surprise given how quiet it's been of late. Although initially quite close, the bird then seemed to favour the main navigation channel north of Holloway's Dock and could be viewed from the shore there or Mudeford Quay. The attention the water received also produced 3 Goldeneye, a female and 2 first-winter drakes, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. After a couple of blank days, Fisherman's Bank was again visited and turned up the 6 regular Avocet, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover, 5 Pintail, 3 of them drakes, around 120 Brent Goose and 4 Shelduck.

February 3rd

Unfortunately, there are no reports for the day.

February 2nd

There is little to report for the day. For example, 3 Avocet from Argyle Road, 15 Turnstone at Mudeford Quay and 40+ Lesser Black-backed Gull on South Marsh. Actually, the gull count would have featured on even the busiest of days, as it's a significant number for the area.

February 1st

After another night of heavy frost, there isn't too much new to report. The exception perhaps being a count of 123 Brent Goose on East Marsh, which is a number far in excess of recent averages. Also on Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, the 6 Avocet, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, c300 Dunlin, 11 Pintail, including 5 pairs, 3 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and 19 Shelduck. To conclude a rather short post, a morning trip to Hengistbury saw a Red-throated Diver past and 2 Raven over.

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