Sightings for July 2010

July 31st

Some largely unforecast morning drizzle somewhat scuppered the day for the weekenders, with things only really clearing up when it was perhaps too late. After yesterday's 'informed' comment about Shelduck, it seems the species set out to deliberately embarrass this morning, as two apparent families - of 10 and 11 birds - toured the area for an hour or so. Other duck present were at least 8 Shoveler and Teal, while 32 Common Scoter, 25 west and 7 east, went by at sea; as did 3 Fulmar. There is little to report in terms of waders, just singles of Greenshank and Common Sandpiper, plus a handful of Dunlin, in fact. To wrap up, at least two recently fledged Sparrowhawk were making their first, but obviously naïve, hunting sorties around Hengistbury.

July 30th

By recent standards, there was a relatively modest Willow Warbler count this morning, just 25 from all areas, along with a few Whitethroat. Ringing, however, resulted in at least 50 birds, 20 of them Sedge Warbler and 15 Reed Warbler. The best waders were 6 Avocet, seen from Hengistbury, during the morning; as well as 11 Whimbrel, 9 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and 99 Dunlin throughout the day at Stanpit. An afternoon roost of Black-headed Gull on South Marsh contained an adult Mediterranean Gull and 24 Sandwich Tern, while around Blackberry Point there were in excess of 800 large gulls, roughly split as 50:40:10 between Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull. Finally, all the Shelduck have now departed across the North Sea for their moult, apart from a single juvenile, first reported on Monday, which was presumably reared not far from here. Sadly, after being an ever-present, this is the second year in succession that none have bred within Christchurch Harbour.

Additional news: a Kingfisher was the by the HHC.

July 29th

Wick was given some scrutiny this morning and came up with a Pied Flycatcher by the Wooden Bridge and a Tree Pipit over, while at Stanpit a couple of Garden Warbler were in the golf course sycamores. Other warbler numbers from the two sites are made up of 135 Willow Warbler and 32 Sedge Warbler. A total of 38 Grey Heron moved to the west, including a siege of 12 young birds that came down the Valley before turning to coast. Also moving, in a similar direction, were 95 Swift, 42 Common Tern and 12 Mediterranean Gull, all juveniles save for a second-summer individual. The pick of the waders were a Green Sandpiper flushed by a dog-walker from Speller's Point and 3 Little Ringed Plover leaving over Hengistbury. Meanwhile, 2 Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, at least 13 Whimbrel, 7 Common Sandpiper, 80+ Dunlin and 100 Lapwing were inside the harbour; as were a further 8 Mediterranean Gull, four of them juveniles, and 9 Common Tern late this afternoon, when a Hobby also made a hunting trip.

July 28th

The northern area of Stanpit held a decent number of birds this morning - the best being 3 Redstart and a Garden Warbler around the golf course, while the more numerous were 51 Willow Warbler, 30 Sedge Warbler and 8 Blackcap, but the only real oddity was a Treecreeper in Smithy's Field. The Mediterranean Gull figures were interesting and indicate a clear dispersal of juveniles from further east, whether they originate from the UK or further afield in the Low Countries seems to remain uncertain, however. Out of a total of 17 birds today, 16 of them were juveniles passing through, including a party of five that settled for a while on South Marsh. Also on the move westward, were 58 Common Tern through the harbour and 110 Sand Martin. Singles of Teal and Shoveler suggest wildfowl are on the return to their wintering locations, likewise the second Kingfisher of the week. In terms of waders, the Dunlin peaked at 125, with the remainder made up of 2 Greenshank, 13 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper and a Black-tailed Godwit. Also on site, 16 Curlew, 16 Redshank, 40 Lapwing and 64 Oystercatcher, although as the season moves on we'll start to mention these less.

July 27th

A little quieter today, with very few passerines about, so it's straight to the wader numbers around Stanpit Bight and Creek. Dunlin peaked at 118 in the morning, but had reduced to 80 or so by late afternoon, when there were singles of Turnstone and Ringed Plover. Meanwhile, Whimbrel held at around 15 all day, but a Greenshank and 3 Common Sandpiper were only seen on the early visit. The later sojourn also saw two each of juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and Mediterranean Gull; as well as a brief, westerly movement of 25 Common Tern and the first two young Sandwich Tern of the year, one of them seemingly barely fledged - quite how it made it to Christchurch being something of a surprise.

Finally, thanks to those who responded to the recent nest puzzle - the majority opinion seems to favour Linnet.

July 26th

A north-westerly breeze, muggy conditions and five-and-a-half hours at Stanpit this morning produced quite a haul of birds. Migrant passerines were again obvious with a Redstart on the golf course fence, as well as 45 Sedge Warbler, 38 Willow Warbler and 14 Whitethroat scattered about. Quality, however, came from: an Osprey that headed directly south, high, just after 8:30; a total of 7 Avocet, five that went straight through west and two that circled for a while before heading in the same direction, those also seen from Double Dykes; 5 Arctic Tern amongst a westerly movement of over 100 Common Tern passing through the harbour; a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Pochard from upriver; and 2 Green Sandpiper and the first returning Snipe on Priory Marsh. Also on the move were 395 Swift and 170 Sand Martin to the west, while 3 Greenshank, 8 Common Sandpiper, a Knot, a Turnstone, 11 Whimbrel, 15 Black-tailed Godwit and 147 Dunlin were all inside the harbour at one stage or another. Remaining interest about the marsh came from 11 Mediterranean Gull, a Hobby, a Peregrine, and a Kingfisher, as well as 47 Gannet east off Hengistbury.

July 25th

All the news comes from Stanpit, which received morning and late afternoon visits. During the first attempt, the best was a Hobby over the car park and a Brent Goose that appeared from the west and circled briefly. The wader detail seemed fairly consistent throughout the day, however, and comprised: a Turnstone, 2 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, at least 12 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 133 Dunlin, including the first juvenile birds reported this season, and 35 Redshank. After yesterday's bonanza, Mediterranean Gull numbers returned to more expected levels with a first-summer and probably two juveniles around the marsh.

July 24th

An impressive 33 Mediterranean Gull were in the high tide gull roost on East Marsh this morning with another 2 birds opposite the HHC on Grimmery; then, later in the morning, 30 of these birds, or possibly different birds, were on the Driving Range at the far end of Wick. Most of the birds were adults. This is probably a record harbour count of grounded birds, although higher numbers have been recorded on passage in recent years. Also in the gull roost were 3 Common Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull. Staying with Stanpit, both Knot and Greenshank were present, together with 14 Whimbrel. On Hengistbury, there was further evidence of return passerine migration today with around 70 birds trapped and ringed, over 30 of which were Sedge Warbler; full details on the Ringing page. The first 3 'autumn' Willow Warbler were also logged. The sea was again very quiet with just 12 Common Tern, 11 Gannet, 2 Whimbrel and 2 Common Scoter.

July 23rd

A Grasshopper Warbler on the Long Field and 11 Sedge Warbler around the HHC this morning were clear evidence that return migration is underway. On the move also were 135 Swift east over Hengistbury, while 9 Mediterranean Gull, 7 of which were juveniles and 14 Whimbrel went west. Yesterday's 3 Knot left Stanpit to the east; but waders remaining were 78 Dunlin, 73 Lapwing, 9 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, 1 Greenshank and 1 Common Sandpiper.

July 22nd

The only new birds today were 3 Knot seen from Fisherman's Bank, also the Dunlin flock has increased to 68. Other wader numbers were 56 Redshank, 47 Lapwing, 8 Curlew, 6 Whimbrel and singles of Common Sandpiper and Greenshank.

Late news from Hengistbury: an afternoon report of 2 Mediterranean Gull, 1adult and 1 juvenile moulting to first-winter. Also, following on from yesterday's photo, at least 15 Purple Hairstreak were in the oaks adjacent to the Nursery.

July 21st

There was quite a bit of variety today with the pick being a Nuthatch and 2 Treecreeper in the trees adjacent to Ribs Marine, also 2 Crossbill over Stanpit. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, possibly indicative of local breeding, and 2 juvenile Mediterranean Gull were in Stanpit Bight. A Green Sandpiper was heard, while singles of Knot and Greenshank were present; also 63 Redshank, 50 Lapwing, 16 Curlew, 11 Dunlin, 7 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Common Sandpiper. From Hengistbury, a seawatch from Double Dykes produced a flock of 42 Common Scoter, which split with 25 heading east and the remainder west; also a small westerly movement of 45 Common Tern.

July 20th

The Yellow-legged Gull was still present this morning by the Bailey Bridge on Stanpit. Of more local interest perhaps was a Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill. Waders were counted as 38 Dunlin, 18 Curlew and 8 Whimbrel.

Late news: An Arctic Skua moved east past Hengistbury this morning.

July 19th

On a fine morning with a gentle south-easterly breeze, the best bird was an adult Yellow-legged Gull which was on the HHC mudbar. On Stanpit, both Little Ringed Plover and Tufted Duck were overhead, while a Hobby and 2 Peregrine also visited the harbour. Wader numbers were 25 Dunlin, 14 Whimbrel and 4 Common Sandpiper, also another 2 Whimbrel on the beach at Hengistbury. Needless to say, but the sea had little to offer, just 3 Common Scoter west with 11 Gannet and 7 Common Tern east, and another 9 of the latter were around Stanpit.

July 18th

The only report received today is from Hengistbury, where 5 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight and 3 Whimbrel were around the harbour.

July 17th

An early morning seawatch, 5:30am to be exact, from Mudeford Quay found a few birds on the move despite the wind dropping off. The best heading west were 2 Arctic Skua, one of which was harrassing the tern flock just offshore. Also seen were 59 'commic' Tern, 40 Swift, 3 Gannet and 2 Sanderling, all west, plus a couple of dozen lingering Sandwich Tern. A little later from Hengistbury, there was another Arctic Skua and an adult Mediterranean Gull, both moving east, while 28 Sandwich Tern, 8 Gannet, 8 Common Tern and 1 Common Scoter went west. Staying with Hengistbury, a Green Sandpiper was on Wick Hams, a Greenshank was in Brewer's Creek and 2 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight; also 48 Redshank and 30 Dunlin there. The highlight on Stanpit was a fly-over flock of 7 Crossbill, which flew towards Hengistbury. Waders on Stanpit were 65 Dunlin, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Green Sandpiper and one each of Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit and Greenshank; also present was an adult and 3 juvenile Mediterranean Gull. Finally, a Peregrine passed over the harbour.

Late news: A Hobby was over Wick at 6pm.

July 16th

There was no let up in the wind today, but a couple of brief seawatches from the clifftop and Whitepits produced just a few lingering Gannet and Sandwich Tern. Opposite Fisherman's Bank, amongst the Lapwing and Curlew, were 9 Dunlin and 6 Whimbrel.

July 15th

The wind, which was stronger if anything today, moved round to the south-west producing seemingly ideal conditions for seawatching. Hence, the sea was covered for most of the morning, but a pale phase Arctic Skua heading into The Solent was the pick of what was a disappointing watch. Also seen was another distant shearwater and an adult Mediterranean Gull, both moving west. The more routine numbers were 12 Gannet west and 23 east, 8 Common Tern west and 2 east, 4 Kittiwake and 29 Sandwich Tern west. A couple of Swift came in off, while 2 Whimbrel were around Holloway's Dock. From Fisherman's Bank, there was just a single Common Sandpiper, as well as 55 Lapwing, 8 Curlew, 7 Dunlin and 6 Whimbrel.

Check back to yesterday for some late news.

July 14th

Early rain, combined with strong southerly winds, made the sea the best option this morning. The highlights were a Great Skua and 2 Arctic Skua, seen from the beach below the cliff, while a little earlier 2 shearwater, seen from the Beach Huts, were too distant to be identified. Also logged were: 6 Common Tern, 3 Kittiwake, 2 Little Tern and 2 Common Scoter, all these birds moving west; and another 24 Common Scoter headed into The Solent together with 55 Gannet. During the morning, a kite-surfer spent more than half an hour in Stanpit Bight disturbing the roosting birds amongst which were 40 Dunlin, 7 Common Sandpiper and 4 Whimbrel. An afternoon visit to Stanpit increased the Common Sandpiper count to 22, also 3 Greenshank were present. Of non-birding interest 3 Hummingbird Hawkmoth were seen today, 2 on Hengistbury and 1 on Stanpit.

Late news: 3 Spoonbill left the harbour at 6:30am heading over Wick and out to sea.

July 13th

From Fisherman's Bank today the Greenshank was still present together with 70 Lapwing, 35 Dunlin, 17 Redshank, 11 Curlew, 8 Whimbrel and 1 Common Sandpiper, also an adult Mediterranean Gull and 18 Sandwich Tern were in the high tide roost on East Marsh.

July 12th

The pick of the day was probably a Wood Sandpiper on Central Marsh this morning, although a Treecreeper in North Scrubs was also a good local record. Also around Stanpit were: 34 Dunlin, 12 Common Sandpiper, 6 Whimbrel and a Greenshank, plus 65 Lapwing, 32 Redshank and 14 Curlew. Little Egret numbers also continue to increase with a minimum of 23 on East Marsh and a further 3 on Hengistbury. On Wick, a Hobby was hawking insects over the Wooden Bridge and a pair of Tufted Duck were seen. An afternoon visit to the Mudeford Sandspit found 2 Sanderling on the beach.

July 11th

An overall quiet day, but an unseasonable Brent Goose leaving the harbour to the south-west brightened things up a little during the morning. On Stanpit, in the afternoon, if a juvenile Mediterranean Gull had been present on South Marsh, there would have been a clean sweep of ages - nevertheless, 2 adults, 2 second-summers and a first-summer were all appreciated. Otherwise, it's just 4 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper and 14 Dunlin to remark upon.

July 10th

Thankfully, Stanpit was given a couple of visits this morning, as around 8:30 the southerly wind rolled in a mist that reduced visibility on Hengistbury to almost zero. In the hour before that, however, there was little to suggest that event made any practical difference, with only 6 Common Scoter, a Mediterranean Gull and 4 Mallard being recorded at sea. Anyhow, back to the marsh, which saw: a Sanderling, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel, 13 Dunlin, a Gadwall, 110 Lapwing, 30 Redshank and 22 Curlew, as well as a Weasel on Crouch Hill. As the photos suggest, please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

July 9th

Hengistbury was given a good bash this morning, but other than 11 Little Egret, in groups of 9 and 2, leaving southwards out to sea and 2 Whimbrel in Holloway's Dock there was little else of note. At Whitepits, however, a party of 3 Great Crested Grebe that appeared from inland and settled on the sea is more than a reasonable record for the month. Meanwhile, the best at Fisherman's Bank was made up of a Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Common Sandpiper and 3 Whimbrel, with the more routine coming from 5 Curlew, 4 Redshank and 62 Lapwing.

Additional news: a Mediterranean Gull was at Stanpit in the evening.

July 8th

Most of the news comes from the morning, as the customary lunchtime session was somewhat curtailed by a sea mist that suddenly rolled in over Hengistbury and obscured much of Stanpit Bight. Common Sandpiper were again a feature, with at least 15 spread around the marsh, including one that alighted on Crouch Hill. Also, the first 3 returning Dunlin, all still sporting black bellies, 3 first-summer Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Whimbrel, as well as 50 or so Lapwing, 20 Curlew and 12 Redshank. A couple of Common Tern with an accompanying juvenile were about Stanpit, as was a similarly aged Mediterranean Gull and a lone Greylag Goose.

July 7th

A strengthening, overnight blow from the south-west and some early drizzle prompted a stomp to the Beach Huts this morning, but a 2-hour watch produced just: 26 Common Scoter, 17 west and 9 east, a Fulmar, a Guillemot, 12 Common Tern and 95 Gannet, all west; while from the area of the Coastguards, a further 45 Common Tern were logged. It seemed that most of yesterday's Common Sandpiper had moved on, but there were 3 in Barn Bight and a Whimbrel was in Holloway's Dock. Meanwhile, three more of the latter were in Stanpit Bight and14 Curlew, 31 Redshank and up to 50 Lapwing were counted from Fisherman's Bank. Also, a second-summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull off there. Normally, a record of eight Grey Heron on East Marsh is commonplace, but the fact they were all adults could be argued as being slightly out of the ordinary.

July 6th

There were Common Sandpiper at the top end of Stanpit Creek all day, with the peak being 9 birds early on, but still at least 6 present at lunchtime. Also seen from the Argyle Road slip were a Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit that flew in from the north, 10+ Curlew, 39 Redshank and around 70 Lapwing.

Additional news: an adult Roseate Tern flew south from the harbour over the western end of Hengistbury around 12:30, while the year's first juvenile Mediterranean Gull was inside the harbour and an adult was at sea.

July 5th

The wind dropped away significantly overnight and made for a pretty dull 90-minute seawatch at Whitepits from 7:00 onwards, where the best were 14 Common Scoter and a passing Whimbrel, all west. There was a good selection of waders at Stanpit, however, comprising: a Spotted Redshank west; 2 Green Sandpiper up from Central Marsh and down onto East Marsh; 5 Common Sandpiper around Speller's Point; a Greenshank in Stanpit Creek for most of the day; 14 passing to the west and 2 settled Black-tailed Godwit; 4 Whimbrel, 18 Curlew, 25 Redshank and 86 Lapwing. A couple of very young Common Tern also overflew the area, perhaps having just fledged from further up the Avon Valley, and the number of juvenile Black-headed Gull on site continues to build.

July 4th

Although the sea wasn't looked at in anger during the day, a west-south-westerly wind that seemed to gather strength throughout the day could make it a worthwhile exercise tomorrow. Back to today, however, and the wader variety is slowly gathering pace. On Stanpit, a first-summer Knot was an interesting bird plumage-wise, while a maximum of 3 Whimbrel were there, a Greenshank was opposite the HHC and 2 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight. A brief look offshore did produce 10 or so feeding Gannet and 4 Common Tern heading west; and inside the harbour a first-summer Mediterranean Gull of the 'black-headed variety' was in Stanpit Bight.

Additional news: the wind actually encouraged a late afternoon seawatch, which produced a Balearic Shearwater lingering in Poole Bay, as well as quite a gathering of Gannet and terns.

July 3rd

On another quiet Saturday, a Hobby was over Wick Fields in the morning, while a Whimbrel and Curlew circled together before leaving east. At sea, the best was 4 Common Scoter to the east, and of breeding interest the Ironstone Quarry Little Grebe currently have three young.

Additional news just received of a further two hour seawatch, which included: 2 Little Tern, 9 Common Tern, over 60 Sandwich Tern, 3 Common Scoter, 28 Gannet, a Curlew and a couple of Swift.

July 2nd

A Wood Sandpiper was again recorded today, this time off Fisherman's Bank in the morning, when there was also a Greenshank and 2 Whimbrel. By lunch, presumably the same Greenshank had moved to Stanpit Bight, along with a Common Sandpiper, 7 Curlew, around 10 Redshank and 60+ Lapwing. The only other interest came from an adult pair of Mediterranean Gull, west over Crouch Hill, with a scruffy first-summer bird trying to hang on with them.

July 1st

Around 7:45 this morning, a Sparrowhawk passed over Central Marsh and amongst the birds it flushed was a Wood Sandpiper, which ultimately headed off northwards. Other longer distance migrant waders on site, included one, but possibly two, Greenshank and 2 Whimbrel, while the summering Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Curlew and over 50 Lapwing were also around. In addition to a smart second-summer Mediterranean Gull over Crouch Hill, the first juvenile Black-headed Gull were about the harbour, as were 4 Gadwall.

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