Sightings for January 2010

January 31st

A heavy overnight frost and clear skies made Stanpit a picture this morning, as well as tempting 2 Marsh Harrier to move over. Firstly, a male that had just entered its third calendar year appeared low over Priory Marsh, gained height over Central Marsh and subsequently pushed off west. Then, just 10-minutes later, a younger bird, but again probably a male, headed directly northwards off Hengistbury. A combination of the high spring water and ice pushed Jack Snipe into the open, at least 2 being seen on the marsh during the early part of the day; in addition to a Ruff that arrived with 250 Black-tailed Godwit from the valley, the Spotted Redshank, 3 Avocet, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Pintail, 2 Shoveler, 19 Shelduck and 55 Brent Goose. Meanwhile, a couple of Redwing were in the North Scrubs. On the other side of the water: a Firecrest was in the Wood and 3 Raven headed over west; 4 Goldeneye, one of then a drake, and a Grey Wagtail were recorded by the HHC; and other notables were made up of 8 Redpoll, 6 Redwing and 16 Little Grebe.

January 30th

Clear blue skies for the entire day and a moderate, but cold, north-westerly wind perhaps gave rise to the small arrival of raptors at Hengistbury this morning. In a 10-minute spell around 10:30, 2 Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard were seen coming in-off the sea and heading inland. Prior to that, however, it had been largely quiet, punctuated only by 4 Red-throated Diver, 8 Great Crested Grebe and a Common Scoter past; while a couple of hundred Wigeon, along with a few Pintail and Shoveler, that were sat on the sea had presumably been displaced from the Avon Valley or elsewhere. Inside the harbour, there were 6 Goldeneye, including 2 full drakes, and 9 Gadwall, but little else of note other than 7 Curlew and several Water Rail around the Wick Fields. A party of 5 Redpoll and 2 Bullfinch by the HHC were worthy of note and the Treecreeper was briefly heard in the Wood.

Additional news: the information services are reporting a Pale-bellied Brent Goose at Stanpit, as well as 6 Avocet and the Spotted Redshank.

January 29th

Gull watching is a relatively low-key activity in the harbour, so it was nice to get a count of 5 Mediterranean Gull, 4 adults and a first-winter, from Mudeford Quay this afternoon. With more coverage, who knows what else might be lurking out there? Particularly as several thousand birds regularly spend the night on the sea off nearby Steamer Point and a great many of these pre-roost bathe inside the area. The day started with a westerly breeze, but by mid-morning this had switched to the north, bringing rain and even a flurry of snow with it. Consequently, activity was fairly limited but did produce: 4 Avocet, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover, a Ringed Plover, c200 Dunlin and 4 Shelduck, all from Fisherman's Bank.

January 28th

It was something of a surprise to learn there are still Redwing hanging around the area. Today, there were 10 or so feeding close to the Stanpit Visitor's Centre, on the recreation ground and in the adjacent leaf litter, along with a single Mistle Thrush. On the marsh itself, there are still 4 Avocet, split as 3 and 1, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Grey Plover, as well as 260 Dunlin, 38 Ringed Plover, 50 Lapwing and 4 Shelduck.

January 27th

A late morning trip to Hengistbury perhaps explained the recent, frequent absences of the Spotted Redshank from Fisherman's Bank, as it was seen on the sandspit before heading off towards Holloway's Dock. Also on the spit, by the Black House, were 16 Turnstone, while 15 Fieldfare had earlier headed north-west off the head. At Stanpit, just 2 Avocet were on show today, as well as 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover, 21 Ringed Plover, 230ish Dunlin and a healthy number of Shelduck, 19 in fact. A single Great Crested Grebe that chose it's spot inside the harbour, around the ferry jetty, was presumably oblivious of the 332 that were sat just outside the area off Southbourne - a number that possibly constitutes a Dorset record.

January 26th

Again, it's all down to Fisherman's Bank, a Black Redstart and 6 Avocet; with the support comprising 11 Grey Plover, 22 Ringed Plover and 210 Dunlin.

Omission: the Spotted Redshank was in Stanpit Creek.

January 25th

As is often the case during the week, all the day's events come from Fisherman's Bank, where at least 1, but quite possibly 2, Black Redstart remain. It seems as if the seventh Avocet hasn't hung around for too long however, as 6 were together in Stanpit Bight at lunchtime and by mid-afternoon the flock had divided and 3 birds moved to Stanpit Creek. The later visit also saw a couple of Yellow-legged Gull in the area. Other birds logged for the day included: 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover, just 2 visible Snipe, but surely plenty more, 18 Ringed Plover, around 220 Dunlin and 1 Shelduck. The recent, relatively clement weather has encouraged much spring-like activity with several resident species attempting song, while the House Sparrow around the Old Council Depot are busy inspecting nest sites in the eaves of the adjacent properties. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

Additional news: on Hengistbury, the Treecreeper was in the Wood, along with a Raven, and 9 Great Crested Grebe were off Coastguards.

January 24th

Another Avocet arrived today, making it now 7 in all. It was interesting to watch the interaction this morning, as 6 birds, presumably the incumbents, fed together in Stanpit Bight whilst the seventh slept. By the afternoon, however, all had teamed up and relocated to Stanpit Creek. The best of an almost windless day produced relatively little at sea, a Velvet Scoter heading east being the best, as well as a Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 23 Common Scoter. Inside the harbour, a drake Pochard was seen throughout the day and there were 3 Goldeneye logged from Fisherman's Bank. On Hengistbury, a single Redpoll and a Kingfisher were noted, while Stanpit turned in 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5+ Grey Plover, 3 Turnstone, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover, 150 Dunlin, 2 Shoveler, 7 Shelduck and a further Kingfisher. Just outside of the area, off Southbourne, the calm waters allowed 196 Great Crested Grebe to be counted.

Additional news: an extra 4 Red-throated Diver were seen off Hengistbury in the morning, as was an adult Mediterranean Gull, while a female Pochard inside the harbour adds to the day's drake record. At 4:45 in the evening, around 1000 Starling were spectacularly flocking over Hengistbury for at least 25-minutes before they went to roost.

January 23rd

There was something of a diver-fest off Hengistbury this morning. A total of 99 Red-throated Diver moved east, all but 9 of them prior to 10:45, with the biggest flock comprising 10 birds. Before that time, just 10 had been recorded heading in the opposite direction, but during the next couple of hours 62 were counted heading back into Poole Bay. Given the bi-directional nature of the movement, it would seem likely the birds were commuting between feeding grounds, with at least 100 individuals being involved. Also seen, were 4 Black-throated Diver, all of these westward, but surprisingly just one Great Northern Diver. A count of 45 Great Crested Grebe to the east was also locally notable; however, there is a suggestion they may have been some of the Southbourne birds disturbed by jet-skis. The offshore breeze resulted in relatively calm seas, allowing groups of settled Common Scoter to be picked out, around 20 in all; while over the water, 4 Kittiwake, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, a Razorbill, 3 Pintail, 2 Shoveler, 2 Gannet and a few unidentified auks were logged. Behind the Beach Huts, in Holloway's Dock, 4 Avocet were putting on a fine show and easily visible without binoculars. Close by, around 8 Redpoll were feeding in the trees and the Wood produced a Firecrest, the Treecreeper, a single Goldcrest and 3 Coal Tit. On Stanpit in the afternoon, a further 2 Avocet presumably complemented the previous 4 to make the usual 6, and the Black Redstart was on the shore by the Argyle Road slip. Other records from that side of the area include 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 120 Dunlin and a disappointing 20 Brent Goose.

January 22nd

Incredibly, during a day of incessant rain, a couple of reports have been received. The window of opportunity to get out in the field must have been measured in minutes - the threat of a soaking certainly put me off this afternoon! The Spotted Redshank has not been particularly co-operative for most of the year to date, so it was nice to hear of it showing in Stanpit Creek again today. Also in that area, the Fisherman's Bank Black Redstart, along with a Redwing; while 4 Avocet were visible on South Marsh and counts of 16 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 120 Dunlin and 2 Shelduck were made. Remaining interest involves a Goldcrest on Stanpit, plus a vocal Water Rail.

January 21st

Thankfully, there is a little more to report today, all of it from Fisherman's Bank. At lunchtime, the Black Redstart was showing well and the 6 Avocet could be seen out on South Marsh. Also, 2 Grey Plover, a couple of sightings of Kingfisher and a young male Peregrine over. Later, a more detailed look at the waders produced 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and 200 or so Dunlin, as well as 7 Shoveler, 4 Pintail and a single Shelduck amongst the many Wigeon on East Marsh; while the pre-roost gathering of gull in Stanpit Bight, which was estimated to number 3500 Black-headed Gull, also contained 2 adult Mediterranean Gull.

January 20th

A day of drizzle and, unfortunately, no reports.

January 19th

The only news for today, which is also additional to yesterday, is of a Tawny Owl calling either side of midnight in the northern portion of Wick Fields.

January 18th

After a clear morning, a bank of sea mist rolled in and pretty much enveloped the whole area. Before that, however, 4 Common Scoter were off Hengistbury and another Dartford Warbler was seen on the head itself. Just 4 Avocet could be seen from Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime, as well as 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover and 86 Dunlin.

January 17th

After yesterday's rain, it was a wonderfully clear and warm morning for the first WeBS count of the decade. Before the numbers, however, the highlights for the day. A Black Redstart remains on Fisherman's Bank and the 6 Avocet were roosting out the high tide on South Marsh; meanwhile, only 2 Goldeneye could be seen inside the harbour, but 27 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Pintail, 8 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall stay faithful to area, as do 7 Redpoll on Hengistbury. Even though the cold spell seems firmly behind us, there are still winter thrushes feeding on the ground at Wick and Stanpit, something that is quite unusual. In all, over 50 Redwing were at the former site, with a further 10-15 on the marsh, along with singles of Fieldfare in both locations. Dartford Warbler records are at a premium right now; so one close to Solent Meads driving range this afternoon was very welcome, while in the Wood at least 1 Goldcrest has hung on. To complete the miscellany, a Peregrine was over Hengistbury, a Great Crested Grebe was off Rushy Piece and a Kingfisher was seen by Mother Siller's Channel. Of the surveyed birds, there was a notable count of Wigeon - 933 birds - which may be a site record. Snipe were also plentiful, their total coming to 94, most of them on Priory Marsh and Central Marsh. Conversely, Brent Goose, Coot and Oystercatcher were well down, just 37, 226 and 5 of each respectively. The rest of the census included: 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 137 Dunlin, 70 Ringed Plover, 191 Teal and 91 Redshank.

Additional news: a Bullfinch was in the North Scrubs and the Spotted Redshank was heard.

January 16th

Incredibly for a Saturday, but due to the quite awful weather and some of the regulars birding elsewhere, there have been no reports received for today. So, it's just left to thank the speaker, Ian Southworth, and the photographers, Alan Hayden and Jean Southworth, for a well-attended and entertaining talk last night.

Update: an hour's seawatch around lunchtime produced a Kittiwake east, plus a Red-throated Diver, 18 Common Scoter and 3 Gannet all west. From Hengistbury, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Pintail could be seen over the harbour.

January 15th

Now that the weather is far less extreme, the bird interest has died down a bit - that's fortunate for the birds themselves, however! A Merlin over Hengistbury was the day's best, with support coming from 3 Pochard and Tufted Duck through, 9 Goldeneye and 8 Little Grebe in Barn Bight, and a couple of Fieldfare over.

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January 14th

There was far less field activity today and that is reflected in the lesser numbers of birds reported. On Fisherman's Bank, a Black Redstart was still present, as were 2 Grey Wagtail, while looking over to the tip of South Marsh, a total of 6 Avocet could be seen. Also from the bank, 23 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover, a few Fieldfare and Redwing by Tutton's Well, 2 Mistle Thrush over and a pair of Pintail. Inside the harbour, just 4 Goldeneye could be located this morning, but there were still more than 40 Redwing in the Wood at Hengistbury, where 2 Raven passed over and the Grey Heron are already becoming quite vocal. Finally, an update on the Southourne Great Crested Grebe, which this week have reduced to 45 birds.

Additional news: a flock of 5 Brambling headed east over Hengistbury and there were actually four pairs of Pintail at Stanpit, plus a few Fieldfare and Redwing.

January 13th

Stanpit was absolutely full of birds this morning, with both thrushes and waders obviously arriving overnight, perhaps displaced by the snow that never quite reached Christchurch. Hopping around all areas of the marsh were 350 Redwing, 300 Fieldfare, 50 Song Thrush and 3 Mistle Thrush - numbers that are quite exceptional for decked birds inside the recording area. Dunlin exceeded the 500 mark and were feeding on every section of saltmarsh, while the Grey Plover presence rose to over 30 birds and the Avocet notched up to 5 individuals. A party of 4 Sanderling with the latter were a slight surprise, as were 2 Knot and a Golden Plover around Stanpit Bight; but the Spotted Redshank, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, over 80 Black-tailed Godwit and 25 Ringed Plover were more expected. In addition to a good count of 45 Skylark and 400 Meadow Pipit on the ground, there was a Blackcap by the golf course and 2 Grey Wagtail were hanging around the Rusty Boat area. The top-duck was a drake Goosander in the northern part of Clay Pool, as well as 9 Goldeneye off Rushy Piece, 2 Tufted Duck on the river, and 8 Pintail, 5 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall elsewhere. Finally, a Peregrine tried its luck in catching a Wigeon for lunch.

Additional news: a Dartford Warbler by the Natterjack Pond on Hengistbury was a welcome sight.

January 12th

Not unsurprisingly, the predicted blizzard failed to materialise. In fact, by the afternoon with temperatures a few degrees above zero, there was little evidence to suggest snow had ever fallen. Nevertheless, a relentless wind made it feel very cold indeed. For those who braved Stanpit this morning, the reward was a Short-eared Owl that appeared to descend into reeds on Central Marsh after being mobbed by crows. A Black Redstart was around the Argyle Road slip, from where just 1 Avocet could be seen, as well as 4 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 25 Dunlin. A figure of 14 Pintail, made up of 7 pairs, off Blackberry Point is relatively good for the area and it was encouraging to hear of at least one Kingfisher still being around after the cold. A quick look out to sea from Double Dykes saw 2 Red-throated Diver and a Turnstone.

January 11th

A grey, damp and chilly day, which was made even more uncomfortable by a south-easterly wind. The sea was given another bash this morning and turned up a Velvet Scoter, first seen as an individual, but then in the company of 6 Common Scoter with whom it set off east. Also, a good number of Red-throated Diver, 21 in all, as well as a Black-throated Diver, a Kittiwake and 17 Gannet east, 17 Guillemot and 12 auk sp. west, and a further 12 Common Scoter on the sea. Meanwhile, 9 Goldeneye, including a drake, 8 Tufted Duck and 3 pairs of Pintail were inside the harbour. In terms of cold weather immigrants, there are still lots of Fieldfare and Redwing in gardens adjoining the area, while the Salt Hurns again held concentrations of these - 35 and 110 being the respective counts from that location. Also at Hengistbury, 6 Redpoll at the end of the head, plus a Coal Tit and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Wood. A Black Redstart was again faithful to Fisherman's Bank, as were 2 Avocet, 12 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, around 20 Snipe, 110 Dunlin and 9 Ringed Plover.

Additional news: a Merlin whizzed over Hengistbury in the morning and the Treecreeper was in the Wood.

January 10th

A 'balmy' night with temperatures hovering around zero, but none of the forecast snow. The general feeling was that numbers of Snipe, Meadow Pipit and Teal have dropped away; hopefully, meaning they found pastures new. Conversely, however, Bittern and Woodcock appeared to be more obvious. The former were recorded at: the normal area about the reed bed along the western edge of the river, just north of the HHC; west over Crouch Hill Stanpit before appearing to come down on Wick; and over Solent Meads golf course car park; in total it seems 3-birds were involved. Meanwhile, Woodcock probably exceeded 5, with birds in various locations on Hengistbury and in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, where there was also a couple of Jack Snipe. It was almost inevitable that Goosander would make an early appearance on the year-list and 2 redhead birds on the river did not disappoint; also a sharp increase in Goldeneye, with 10 birds, including just 1 drake, settled inside the harbour. Yesterday's Tufted Duck flock reduced to 28, while other duck counts were made up of 15 Pochard, 10+ Pintail, 16 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler and 300 Wigeon settled with a further 220 straight through south. The Salt Hurns were again hosting many birds, such as 200 Redwing, 150 Fieldfare, 80 Snipe, a Jack Snipe, 220 Meadow Pipit (300 more of these were at Stanpit) and a Mistle Thrush. Nearby, the Treecreeper is surviving the cold in the Wood. There were probably 2 Black Redstart again on Fisherman's Bank, as well as 4 Avocet off there for a short time, but 2 of these did make an excursion to Holloway's Dock. Other waders present at Stanpit included 12 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 35 Black-tailed Godwit and 200 or so Dunlin. An attempt was made to watch the sea, but this resulted in just 2 Great Northern Diver and a Red-throated Diver. Finally, the Inside Out on BBC1 tomorrow at 7:30pm may be featuring Hengistbury Head and the exceptional cold weather movement of birds experienced there last week.

Omission: there was an interesting flight of 2500 Starling west over Wick Fields at dusk.

January 9th

Despite it only reaching three-below overnight, it actually felt much colder, even out of the wind, than the previous couple of mornings. The Wick Bittern showed a few times during the day in the reeds opposite Grimmery Point, but a further sighting of a bird in Great Spires and then off towards Clay Pool suggests there may be two in the area. Stanpit was once again full of displaced birds, with Snipe, Dunlin, Meadow Pipit, Redshank and Skylark in the strangest of places and sometimes very approachable, but please don't go so close as to flush them. Also, a single Jack Snipe just south of Crouch Hill and a flock of 53 Tufted Duck, an incredible local number, sitting on the water beyond Blackberry Point. On Hengistbury, a Woodcock came up from the Barn Field and circuited for around 2-minutes, before landing in the Long Field, then slightly later did the same thing again. Meanwhile, a further Jack Snipe was in the Salt Hurns, which was also busy with Fieldfare and Redwing, as was the adjacent Wood, where a Firecrest was behind the Nursery. In fact, both the winter thrush species were trickling west overhead throughout the day, with numbers measured in the low hundreds; also a few Mistle Thrush mixed in with them. Linnet are fairly unusual in the area during the winter, so 85 east is certainly worth a mention, as are 4 Bullfinch, including a pair on the Long Field, and a Redpoll at the end of the head. The best duck of the day was a Long-tailed Duck west past the Double Dykes, where 250 Wigeon, 29 Gadwall and 3 Shoveler heading in the same direction were also logged. Meanwhile, inside the harbour, there were 6 Goldeneye, 15 Shoveler, 7 Pintail and 10+ Gadwall, along with 13 Pochard over, but just 6 Brent Goose visited today. Also fleeing the cold were Lapwing, with over a 1000 seen travelling directly south in hope of somewhere warmer, while 2 Golden Plover arrived in off and 8 Grey Plover headed east. To conclude this rather lengthy post: the normal Fisherman's Bank selection of Black Redstart, 3 Avocet and the Spotted Redshank were all present and correct; 10 Red-throated Diver passed at sea; 2 Raven were about; a Great Crested Grebe was on the river; 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, 13 Turnstone, 15 Grey Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit; a Buzzard ventured over Central Marsh; a couple of Peregrine hunted the area and a Kingfisher was at Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: a Woodcock was on Wick Fields in the evening and 4 Rook went over.

January 8th

There was something of a raptor fest at Stanpit today. This morning, 2 Marsh Harrier - a bird described as a second-year male that came in off the sea and an adult female over Wick Reeds - were logged; while at dusk a young bird, reckoned to be a male, tried to hunt but was eventually hassled away north by local crows and gulls. Also in the morning, a Red Kite, a Short-eared Owl and a Buzzard. The Bittern was seen again on a couple of occasions: firstly, but briefly, from Grimmery Bank across the river; then later by looking north from the HHC. Relative to yesterday, there were certainly fewer birds actually on Stanpit - for example, less than 50 Redwing and a handful of Fieldfare. However, both Snipe and Meadow Pipit remained numerous, with the former seeming to be everywhere in Christchurch, in fact. What was on the marsh included: 5 but possibly 10 Jack Snipe; a Woodlark on the ground close to Parky Meade Rail; 4 Mistle Thrush; a Ruff that departed to the Wick area; plus 3 Avocet, 9 Grey Plover, 2 Turnstone, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 48 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Ringed Plover and up to 200 Dunlin. On Fisherman's Bank, a Black Redstart stays put, while a Great Northern Diver and 4 Red-throated Diver went past Mudeford Quay. Finally, the maximum wildfowl counts involve 26 Pochard, 8 Tufted Duck, 20+ Shoveler, 4 Pintail and 4 Gadwall; a Redpoll was over the HHC, 4 Linnet were on North Marsh and a male Peregrine patrolled Wick Fields.

January 7th

The temperatures again plummeted overnight and many more parts of Stanpit froze. These conditions are now becoming critical for the birds. Once more, there were many Fieldfare and Redwing about, not just in the harbour but also in many gardens of houses right across Stanpit and Mudeford, where they attempted to get at what berries remain. It's certain they would appreciate a few apples thrown onto the lawn! From Stanpit, a total of 5000 Redwing, 4500 Fieldfare and 450 Skylark were seen moving generally north-west. Also 350 Skylark decked on Stanpit, while a group of 6 Woodlark settled briefly on the Barn Field, Hengistbury. The latter were also recorded in groups of 7+1 and 4 over Stanpit and the HHC respectively. To finish with the recently arrived passerines, hundreds of Meadow Pipit were feeding just about anywhere they could on Stanpit. Other quality for the day came from: a Bittern in the Wick Reeds north of the HHC at lunchtime - in exactly the same spot as last year; 11 Red-crested Pochard on the river for most of the day, although these are most likely from an inland feral population; 5 Jack Snipe, 3 of which were flushed and chased by a Crow; a Black Redstart on Argyle Road; and a Merlin and 4 Golden Plover over. As might be expected, there were good numbers of duck around or above the area, including: at least 350 Teal, 44 Pochard, 10 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye, 25 Gadwall, 10 Pintail, 13 Shoveler and 2 Shelduck. Also numerous were Black-tailed Godwit, as around 700 came down from the valley and then dispersed in both coastal directions. Conversely, the Lapwing, 650 of them, were heading out directly south; although a further 190 did choose to settle, along with 2 Avocet, 6 Grey Plover 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone and around 70 Dunlin. A Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill is a good record for the marsh; where up to 40 Canada Goose now appear to be roosting, presumably frozen off their normal lake at Bockhampton. To conclude the post, singles of Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were recorded, and a couple of decent notes have been added to Monday's post.

Omission: 3 Mistle Thrush and several Song Thrush were also on Hengistbury.

January 6th

After another bitterly cold night, the snow eventually reached the harbour this morning, although the fall was quite modest. Once the snow stopped, shortly after 11:00, the most spectacular easterly movement of passerines for many years occurred. The vantage point was Mudeford Quay, from where, between 11:30 and 2:00, in excess of 30000 Skylark, 30000 Fieldfare and 8000 Redwing were recorded. Amongst the flocks were 42 Woodlark, 2 Snow Bunting, 300 Meadow Pipit, 25 Reed Bunting, 15 Linnet and a Yellowhammer. Many of the birds were flying low over the parking area or close inshore. There were also many thousands of birds moving much further out at sea, so much so that they couldn't be safely identified. A drake Scaup, 12 Shoveler and 63 Golden Plover also moved east, while 13 Tufted Duck and 8 Pochard entered the harbour over The Run. Earlier, there was evidence of cold weather movement on Stanpit with an impressive local count of 500 Teal, 250 of which were in Parky Meade Rail, also 23 Shoveler, 9 Gadwall and 5 Pochard, plus 200 Snipe around the marsh. North Scrubs held 100 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling and 2 Mistle Thrush, while 2 Bearded Tit and 5 Chiffchaff were in Priory Reeds. On Hengistbury, another 22 Golden Plover passed over Whitepits while on the HHC mudbar there were 250 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Ruff, the latter being on Stanpit later plus 2 Avocet and just 40 Dunlin. Finally, 7 Purple Sandpiper were seen from Mudeford Quay, a Blackcap was on Fisherman's Bank and 45 Canada Geese left the harbour soon after dawn.

Late afternoon update: over Whitepits 800 Fieldfare, 500 Redwing and 160 Skylark between 3pm and 4pm.

January 5th

No doubt as a result of the continuing freeze, diving duck were conspicuous this morning. Firstly, a flock of 13 Tufted Duck went past the HHC; then later, a party of 15 birds over Stanpit comprised 11 Pochard and a further 4 Tufted Duck. In the Wick area, a Fieldfare was over the golf course and 3 Redwing moved over the fields, while 7 Canada Goose moved up river. East Marsh held just 1 Avocet, but in excess of 200 Black-tailed Godwit, plus many Snipe and a few Grey Plover. Also about the marsh, a drake Pintail, 2 Shoveler and 7 Shelduck. Continuing the Southbourne Great Crested Grebe news, over 200 were on the sea off there today.

January 4th

Perhaps a heavier frost than even last night, with dawn temperatures down at four below. Again, the day's activities were centred on Fisherman's Bank, where a Black Redstart and the female Blackcap were seen at the Tutton's Well end. The 3 Avocet were on East Marsh, along with as many as 200 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30+ Snipe, 12 Ringed Plover and around 80 Dunlin. On the water in Stanpit Creek, there was a good count of 145 Teal, as well as 8 Shoveler and 7 Shelduck, while a Kingfisher was also in that area. The only report from elsewhere is of 4 Pochard flying down river past Wick Fields.

Additional news: 2 Jack Snipe and 7 Redwing were at the Salt Hurns on Hengistbury.

Additional news: a Woodcock came up from Smithy's Field, while 70 Golden Plover went west, but 450 Black-tailed Godwit went in a number of directions. Also at Stanpit, a Pochard, 12 Gadwall, a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail.

January 3rd

It is with deep sadness that CHOG has learned of the passing yesterday of Elaine Hardy. For many years, Elaine was General Secretary and then Membership Secretary to the Group and for many of the older members could be regarded as CHOG's true matriarch. Our deepest sympathy goes to her family.

Another clear day that was only slightly chilled by the easterly wind. Other than a Water Pipit on Stanpit around the Bailey Bridge early on, it was again Fisherman's Bank that hosted the most interest. From there, a Greenshank was heard, which is an excellent mid-winter record for the area; also, 2 Black Redstart at the northern end and a female Blackcap sunning itself for at least 20-minutes, while over 15 Redwing were seen frequently moving between gardens in Minterne Road. Looking over to East Marsh, the 3 Avocet could be seen, as could 4 Pintail and 80 Black-tailed Godwit. From the marsh proper, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit and a few Grey Plover were recorded; as well as 22 Shelduck, which is a big increase and may be birds iced-out of the valley, and 12 Shoveler. Crossing the water to Hengistbury and Wick: 3 Redpoll were by Holloway's Dock, a female Bullfinch, a Redwing and 2 Raven were in the Wood, a Fieldfare overflew Wick Fields, 3 brown-head Goldeneye were in Barn Bight, 3 Turnstone were seen from the HHC and a Kingfisher was on Wick Hams.

January 2nd

A Bittern low north over the Stanpit recreation ground was the undoubted highlight of the day. The assumption is the bird may have been secreted in East Marsh after a very cold night, but the high spring tide flooded it out. At least 1 Black Redstart was showing on Fisherman's Bank, while a Buzzard grazed the roofs of the adjacent houses. On Hengistbury, a Firecrest was in the Wood and a pair of Bullfinch were seen a couple of times by the HHC; also 2 Chiffchaff and 3 Redpoll in that area, plus a further 7 of the latter at Holloway's Dock. The sea was watched for just over an hour and produced 18 Red-throated Diver, all but one west, with the largest group numbering 8 birds. Meanwhile, inside the harbour, a drake Goldeneye accompanying a female-type bird was the first adult male individual of the winter. The 3 Avocet were again at Stanpit, as were 5 Grey Plover, 2-3 Turnstone, 2 Shoveler and a Pintail, a Gadwall was on Wick Hams, the Treecreeper was in the Wood and a few Redwing were about the area. Of local interest, a notable 250 Great Grested Grebe, in varying sized flocks, were off Southbourne. Of these, 23 could be claimed as being in the recording area.

Additional news: the Spotted Redshank was seen from Fisherman's Bank in the afternoon and the 3 brownhead Goldeneye were in the harbour.

January 1st

There was, of course, the inevitable first-of-the-year activity during a crisp day that sported a chilly northerly wind. The early part of the morning saw 3 Black Redstart on Fisherman's Bank, mostly around the northern entrance, from where they also commute to North Marsh. Also on the bank, the pair of Blackcap that were first reported yesterday, several sightings of Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail. Looking over to the marsh itself, 3 Avocet, around 20 Grey Plover and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit could be seen; as well as 60+ Snipe, which is a really good, contemporary number and may be the result of a cold weather influx. The best-of-the-rest at Stanpit were 3 brown-head Goldeneye briefly in Stanpit Bight until flushed by 20(!) paddle-boarders, 4 Shoveler, 6 Shelduck and around 200 Dunlin. On the southern side of the area: a Chiffchaff was by the HHC, singles of Bullfinch were at that spot and over Holloway's Dock, 4 Redpoll were also by the dock, 2 Linnet passed over the Barn Field, a Mistle Thrush bizarrely flew the length of the sandspit, a Fieldfare and 11 Redwing moved off, the Treecreeper was in the Wood and a Raven overflew. The choice of a seawatch was a Black-throated Diver, 7 Red-throated Diver, 6 Knot, a Golden Plover; along with 35 Great Crested Grebe, these on the water, a Razorbill, 50 auk sp., a Common Scoter and 30 Gannet. To complete the miscellany, a Gadwall was on Wick Hams, while a Turnstone and 13 Ringed Plover were on the sandspit.

Additional news: the Spotted Redshank was seen from Fisherman's Bank this afternoon and a Chiffchaff was in brambles on Grimmery Point.

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