Sightings for March 2010

March 31st

The only report received so far today is from Fisherman's Bank, where there were 58 Black-tailed Godwit and just 12 Dunlin.

March 30th

With today's inclement weather, needless to say there is very little to report. The Spotted Redshank and 60 Black-tailed Godwit were opposite Fisherman's Bank this afternoon. Earlier from Hengistbury, just 3 Common Scoter east and a Peregrine were noted.

March 29th

It was more of the same today with just a few migrants: Stanpit held 9 Chiffchaff, 6 Blackcap and 5 Willow Warbler; whereas on Hengistbury there was just 1 each of Wheatear and Swallow. A brief look at the sea produced 3 Common Scoter and 1 Fulmar east, while 7 Sandwich Tern and 5 Mediterranean Gull moved west over the harbour. From Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Redshank has started its moult into summer plumage; also from there were 68 Black-tailed Godwit, 64 Brent Geese, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin and 3 Grey Plover.

March 28th

On another quiet morning there was just a sprinkling of common migrants with 4 Wheatear, 4 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler and c12 Chiffchaff, many of which were singing. Otherwise, just one each of Raven, Rook and Jackdaw passed over the harbour. On Stanpit, 69 Brent Geese remain, as do 11 Shelduck, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit.

March 27th

The first House Martin of the year was over Hengistbury this morning, but migration is still slow with just 12 Chiffchaff, 7 Wheatear, 6 Sandwich Tern, 3 Swallow, 3 Blackcap and 3 Willow Warbler. A Red-throated Diver moved east past the Beach Huts, as did 6 Mediterranean Gull, 6 Common Scoter and 2 Curlew. Another 5 Mediterranean Gull were in the harbour, where 8 Little Grebe remain. Finally, Raven, Redpoll and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker were all noted.

Late news: at high tide 7 Bar-tailed and 3 Black-tailed Godwit roosted on South Marsh, also there 4 Sandwich Tern.

March 26th

The Marsh Harrier was seen again on a couple of occasions this morning at the western end of Wick by the Wooden Bridge; also over there was a Peregrine. Migrants today were 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Swallow, 2 Wheatear, 2 Sandwich Tern and a Blackcap. On Priory Marsh, 3 Water Pipit, including a summer plumaged bird, were present along with 2 White Wagtail. At high tide, the Spotted Redshank, together with 25 Redshank, was roosting in Barn Bight, while 8 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway's Dock. By lunchtime, however, the Spotted Redshank was back in its favoured spot opposite Fisherman's Bank, along with 47 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Dunlin, while 56 Brent Geese were on East Marsh. To round up, 2 Raven were again on Stanpit and a Grey Wagtail was on Wick.

March 25th

This morning the sallows near the Barn held 3 Willow Warbler, one of which was singing, while on the Barn Field there were 6 Wheatear and 2 Black Redstart. Elsewhere, migrants numbered 9 Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest and just 1 Goldcrest. Before the mist dropped, a few Meadow Pipit and Linnet moved north with counts of 55 and 19 respectively, also 2 Rook. There were also 5 each of Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Tern around the harbour. On Crouch Hill, 2 Raven were made unwelcome by the local corvids so they headed off south-west.

March 24th

On a much better morning than was forecast, the first Sedge Warbler of the year, quite an early record, was singing by the entrance to Priory Marsh. Over on Hengistbury, 2 Tree Sparrow moved over the head and a Yellowhammer headed north, also overhead were 220 Meadow Pipit, 28 Linnet, 4 Swallow, 3 Jackdaw, 1 Rook and 1 Redpoll, all north. The Sand Martin count today was 27 with many of these birds prospecting the cliffs. On the ground were 3 Wheatear, 3 Firecrest, one of which was singing in the Wood, 1 Black Redstart and 16 Chiffchaff. Wildfowl on the move were 5 Canada Geese, 3 Greylag Geese and 3 Tufted Duck, while Stanpit Bight held 5 Pintail and 4 Shoveler. On Stanpit, the waders included 40 Black-tailed Godwit and the Spotted Redshank. To round up, 2 Mediterranean Gull were in Stanpit Bight and another 2 flew north, also 2 Sandwich Tern were seen.

March 23rd

Persistent drizzle reduced field activity to a minimum this morning and the migrant count reflects this with just 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatear and a Sand Martin. A Marsh Harrier was seen for the third day running; initially the bird was perched on the top of a bramble patch in the reedbed just beyond the Wooden Bridge on Wick before it flew off up the Stour. From Fisherman's Bank, there were 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, the Spotted Redshank, 13 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Pintail. Finally, a Grey Wagtail was on Crouch Hill.

March 22nd

Yesterday's springlike weather proved something of a false dawn as a strong southerly wind made it feel quite cold this morning. Hence, there was only a sprinkling of grounded migrants on Hengistbury, with just 7 Chiffchaff, 4 Wheatear and 4 Blackcap, while overhead there were 2 Little Ringed Plover and 8 Linnet. A sea watch off the Beach was reasonably productive with a Great Skua, 62 Common Gull, 14 Mediterranean Gull, 7 Common Scoter, 5 Gannet, 2 Fulmar, 1 Great Northern Diver and 1 Sandwich Tern, all the birds moving east. A Firecrest behind the Nursery was probably the wintering bird, similarly 2 Bullfinch on Wick. Another Marsh Harrier moved over Priory Marsh towards Wick in the morning, while 6 Jackdaw over Hengistbury were something of a novelty. From Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Redshank was in the usual spot, also just 57 Brent Geese, 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Dunlin, 12 Shelduck, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Pintail in Stanpit Bight.

March 21st

The first day of spring and in complete contrast to yesterday we enjoyed a gloriously sunny day. Migrants included 12 Wheatear around Hengistbury, with another 1 on Stanpit, 13 Sand Martin, 5 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap; also 85 Meadow Pipit north. The first Whimbrel of the year, on what is a very early date for this species, was in Barn Bight. Given the conditions it's no surprise that a few raptors were in the air; a female type Marsh Harrier went west, the local Peregrine visited the harbour and 6 Buzzard were to the north. From Stanpit, just 90 Brent Geese were counted, a pair of Tufted Duck was in Parky Meade Rail, the 3 pairs of Pintail were still present and the Spotted Redshank was reported. Finally, another 40 Brent Geese moved east at sea and at least 15 Mediterranean Gull were over the harbour this morning.

March 20th

The weather worsened this morning with a strengthening south-westerly and quite heavy rain, which persisted for most of the day. Despite this, there was some field activity and more surprisingly a few migrants. Around mid-morning, the Barn Field held 8 Wheatear but only 2 Chiffchaff were seen, a further Wheatear was on the Beach below the cliff this afternoon. Off the Beach Huts in poor visibility just a single Fulmar and a Peregrine moved west, also a Great Crested Grebe was on the sea. Earlier, from Mudeford Quay, there were 3 adult Mediterranean Gull and 52 Brent Geese east, along with 3 Common Scoter west. Menawhile, another 2 Mediterranean Gull were over the HHC. Holloway's Dock held 32 Black-tailed Godwit this morning, while a flooded Priory Marsh had 30 Black-tailed Godwit and around 20 Snipe. From Fisherman's Bank in driving rain this afternoon, counts were 188 Wigeon, 135 Brent Geese, 6 Pintail, 5 Snipe, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. Finally, thanks to Mark for an entertaining talk on The Gambia following the AGM yesterday evening.

March 19th

On a fairly dismal morning when the harbour was shrouded in mist, the only report from Hengistbury is of 4 Wheatear on the Barn Field, plus a Firecrest and a Chiffchaff in the wood, and 8 Redwing at the western end of Wick. On Stanpit today, viewed from Fisherman's Bank on a couple of occasions, the Spotted Redshank was still present; also 117 Dunlin, 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Grey Plover, 4 Turnstone and 2 Snipe. The Brent Goose and Shelduck counts were 111 and 12 respectively, while 3 pairs of Pintail were in Stanpit Bight.

March 18th

Migrants continued to trickle through today with another 5 Wheatear, 4 on Hengistbury and 1 on Stanpit Golf Course, also 2 Little Ringed Plover on Priory Marsh, a Firecrest in Smithy's Field and 9 Chiffchaff in the Priory reed bed. Another Chiffchaff was in Double Dykes, 2 Sand Martin moved north over the Barn Field and a Sandwich Tern was off the cliff. Priory Marsh still holds good numbers of Snipe with 61 and a lone Jack Snipe, also a littoralis Rock Pipit there. Finally at Hengistbury, 4 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea off Double Dykes, 24 Brent Geese passed by east and a Raven was in the area.

Late news: the first Swallow of the year headed north over the Barn Field this afternoon.

March 17th

The first Sand Martin of the year moved through this morning; but other than that, just 3 Sandwich Tern west, a Black Redstart on the cliff, a Firecrest by the HHC and 60 Meadow Pipit north were the only evidence of migration. The wintering Firecrest was in the Wood, where a female Bullfinch was also present, while 3 Redwing by the HHC were a reminder of the winter just gone. To round up at Hengistbury, 5 Mediterranean Gull were noted, a Fulmar moved west off the cliff, a Rook headed east and a party of 4 geese, 3 Greylag and a Bar-headed Goose, clearly of dubious origin, also moved east. At lunchtime, another 14 Mediterranean Gull were on Stanpit together with 15 Ringed Plover, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Pintail and a Peregrine.

Late news: there was a Wheatear on Whitepits and a Grey Wagtail on Priory Marsh, also a Sand Martin over there.

March 16th

Spring gathered a little more pace today, with a female Garganey briefly on Priory Marsh, a group of 3 Sandwich Tern on the HHC bar and a couple of Chiffchaff moving through the grounds of the centre; these along with a Wheatear on the Barn Field. Priory Marsh also held a Grey Wagtail and 30 Snipe, while a pair of Pintail headed south over the harbour. In contrast to the spring arrivees, the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman's Bank this evening, as were 2 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover, 165 Dunlin, 6 Pintail and 13 Shelduck. Earlier, at lunchtime, 13 Turnstone and a few Mediterranean Gull were about Mudeford Quay.

March 15th

A wonderfully warm morning, during which Priory Marsh was the place to be. A Red Kite was watched soaring above The Priory for a short time, before a Little Ringed Plover popped up amongst some Dunlin. As it turned out, the plover remained all day - last being seen in the corner adjacent to RIBS Marine. Other notables there included 2 Water Pipit and a pink-hued Scandinavian Rock Pipit, an individual that was something of a classic I'm told; while 120 Meadow Pipit and 21 alba Wagtail passed north over a 2.5 hour period. A Firecrest was in vegetation by the Civic Offices and another was by the Ironstone Quarry on Hengistbury, where there was a Wheatear on the Barn Field and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Wood. The best on Wick was a couple of Bullfinch, a Chiffchaff and 2 Redwing, with a further 11 of the latter still on Stanpit recreation ground. Mediterranean Gull were again all over, the best count being 9 at Mudeford Quay at lunchtime, where there were also 14 Turnstone, but Parky Meade Rail and Fisherman's Bank also turned in a couple each. In addition, the bank provided 3 Grey Plover, 4 Pintail, 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Ringed Plover and around 210 Dunlin for the day's figures. Finally, some seemingly good news after the cold snap in the early part of the year - the weekend saw up to 5 singing male Dartford Warbler, 4 on Hengistbury and 1 on Wick, a number that would be considered good after a mild winter.

March 14th

This morning saw the spring's first 'proper' migrant, i.e. one that has certainly crossed the Sahara, in the form of a Wheatear. Surprisingly, it wasn't in the expected location of the Barn Field or the top of the head, but along Fisherman's Bank during the WeBS count! The rest of the post mainly comprises the numbers from what was the last survey of the winter, but before listing those, the other highlights. A couple of Pochard flew south down the river, a Knot was on Priory Marsh, 24 Redwing were in the North Scrubs and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Sandhills caravan park was no doubt establishing a territory. After recent comments on this site about the winter duck appearing to have dropped in numbers, it was something of a shock to hear that 524 Wigeon and 122 Teal were counted today, while a total of 156 Brent Goose was equally unexpected. However, one species that has largely departed is Coot, with just 15 logged. Other numbers for the day included: 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 33 Snipe, 11 Turnstone, 44 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Ringed Plover, 153 Dunlin, 167 Redshank, 5 Pintail, 31 Shelduck and last, and most certainly least, 4 Canada Goose.

Additional news: a couple of Firecrest were on Hengistbury.

March 13th

Despite the conditions seeming to be favourable here, there wasn't even a hint of any incoming migration this morning. One can only assume things were not quite right for departure on the other side of The Channel. Consequently, most of the time was spent casually scanning the sea from Coastguards, where the best was a Black-throated Diver east, a single Mediterranean Gull, 5 Common Scoter, a Curlew and 2 Canada Goose, all past; while 11 Great Crested Grebe were on the water. A Raven also passed over Hengistbury, at least 2 Dartford Warbler were reasonably conspicuous and 4 Jay were acting territorially by the Nursery.

March 12th

An overnight change in the wind to the north-west made it eminently more pleasurable today. While a total of 22 Mediterranean Gull by Mudeford Quay at lunchtime is likely to be sniggered at by the larger, adjacent harbours and saltmarshes, it probably constitutes a record count for CHOG. All were adults and nearly all were in distinct pairs. Also there, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and 18 Turnstone. Earlier in the day an hour-and-a-half around the Priory Marsh area produced: a Jack Snipe, 42 Common Snipe, 35 alba Wagtail of which one was a certain White Wagtail, 35 Meadow Pipit, a Mistle Thrush over and a Chiffchaff frantically feeding in the reeds by Parky Meade Rail. Meanwhile: there were definite signs of a Blackcap arrival, as 4 birds, 3 of them singing males, were about the northern part of Stanpit; at least 38 Meadow Pipit moved high over northbound; and 9 Redwing headed out of the area. On Hengistbury, the spring's first migrant Linnet went by Coastguards, where there was also 2 Raven. Also on the head, the Treecreeper in the Wood, a single Redwing on the Barn Field and a species of Seal just offshore from Whitepits. After its efforts in keeping the site going for the last couple of weeks, it seems rather unfair to relegate Fisherman's Bank to the final section of the post. Nevertheless, it turned in: the Spotted Redshank, 5 Grey Plover, a further 2 Bar-tailed Godwit that take the day's total to 14, 11 Ringed Plover and 10 Pintail. Finally, Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin flocks were reported from a few locations, so the day estimates are reckoned to be 60 and 200 respectively.

March 11th

No change in the weather and probably even less change in the birds. At lunchtime, Mudeford Quay produced a good count of 15 adult Mediterranean Gull; while throughout the day, Fisherman's Bank saw: the Spotted Redshank, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover, 36 Black-tailed Godwit, several of these now in nice plumage, 10 Ringed Plover, around 200 Dunlin, the 10 Pintail and 17 Shelduck. Early in the day, for no logical reason, a 45-minute seawatch was undertaken from Double Dykes and, not unsurprisingly given the wind direction, came up with absolutely nothing.

March 10th

The wind continues, but despite this Stanpit was given several hours today, with the maximum wader counts from there and Fisherman's Bank combined, coming to: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, a Snipe and around 180 Dunlin; while earlier in the day, the Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 in all, had been roosting inside the harbour from Mudeford Quay. Although it looks as if the marsh is not holding many wildfowl, there are in fact still over 250 Wigeon knocking about, as well as 40 or so Teal, now 10 Pintail and 24 Shelduck. To conclude, 8 adult Mediterranean Gull, 6 of them paired, were loafing in the harbour around Mudeford Quay this evening.

March 9th

Slightly cloudier today, but still just as cold when in the east wind. Other than the suggestion of an influx of Stonechat onto the Barn Field, it's all down to Fisherman's Bank again. At lunchtime, a large-looking Peregrine briefly terrorised the 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover, 10 Ringed Plover, 46 Black-tailed Godwit, 180 Dunlin and a minimum of 7 Mediterranean Gull that were present; while by 5:00 this evening the 8 regular Pintail and the Spotted Redshank had put in an appearance.

March 8th

Near identical conditions to yesterday, but Fisherman's Bank offered some welcome shelter from the wind and the accommodating neap tide left mud exposed for the entirety of the day. The Spotted Redshank remained as faithful as ever to the northern end of Stanpit Creek, while 45 Black-tailed Godwit, at least one of these now looking very handsome, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover, 3 Snipe, 8 Ringed Plover and 190 or so Dunlin were more scattered. The last few days has seen a sharp increase in Shelduck numbers, culminating in 42 today, so hopefully they may return to their status of breeder in the area; also 8 Pintail, 3 of them drakes, still hanging around Stanpit. On the inner shore of Mudeford Quay, there were 11 Turnstone and 2 pairs of Mediterranean Gull, with a further, lone bird off Argyle Road.

March 7th

Clear skies all day were somewhat tempered by a blasting easterly wind that made field condition quite miserable. A Bullfinch over Hengistbury was certainly the best, although the Fieldfare and 9 Redwing were still on Wick, but that's it save for a Great Crested Grebe at sea.

No sooner than the first report had been posted, was news received from Stanpit; where, this morning, there were 3 Mediterranean Gull, all adults, 3 pairs of Pintail, 2 Grey Plover and 25 Black-tailed Godwit.

March 6th

A light, but cold northerly wind brought on the first visible migrants of the year, as 4 Meadow Pipit and 2 alba Wagtail came in-off over Coastguards. Not exactly mind-blowing numbers, but at least it's a start! Also new-in, were 2 or 3 male Stonechat on the top of the head, while other signs of movement included 4 Siskin and a Grey Wagtail overhead, as well as 3 Great Crested Grebe, a Common Scoter and 10 or so Common Gull east at sea. Pipit interest at Stanpit was kept up with a Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and 12 Rock Pipit on the greater part of the marsh, 2 of them being of Scandinavian descent. Meanwhile, winter thrushes were again hanging about the area, with 27 Redwing in the North Scrubs as well as a single Fieldfare and 18 Redwing on Wick Fields. Mediterranean Gull were present all day, but heard as often as seen - 8 at Stanpit, 6 over Hengistbury and 3 off Fisherman's Bank, almost all of them adults - being the total. The latter site also held 20 Black-tailed Godwit, some of them already turning into breeding plumage, and close by the Stanpit car park conifers held a Goldcrest and 2 Coal Tit. Also at Stanpit, a Grey Plover, 35 Snipe and 21 Ringed Plover. Finally, at least 4 Cetti's Warbler were setting up territories - three at Wick and one at Stanpit.

March 5th

An absolutely glorious day, which produced the sight and sound of the year so far. A skein, estimated to number around 50 birds, of Barnacle Goose passed south over Stanpit this morning and appeared to head out to sea. Although there are some feral birds using the Avon Valley, there nothing like these numbers. A really intriguing record to say the least. Otherwise, it was reasonably standard fare and included: the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank, where there were also 22 Snipe, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Ringed Plover, 192 Dunlin and a reasonable count of 31 Shelduck. At least 5 Redwing were in the North Scrubs, while a further bird was on Wick, and a Rook soared high over the harbour this afternoon.

March 4th

Although still reasonably unpleasant, the east wind certainly kinder than yesterday. The date is quite typical for an arrival of Firecrest, so singles in the North Scrubs and close to Two Riversmeet leisure centre were no real surprise; but a calling Greenshank around Priory Marsh was less expected, a mid-April date would have been perhaps more in line with this record. The morning saw 2 Rook east over Hengistbury and a couple of Yellowhammer high over Stanpit, where in general bird numbers seem to be dwindling; for example, just 5-7 Bar-tailed Godwit, a single Grey Plover, far fewer Wigeon and Teal, 13 Brent Goose and 1 Ringed Plover Conversely though, there were probably in excess of 300 Dunlin about the marsh, as well as 22 Shelduck, 8 Pintail and 60 or so Black-tailed Godwit. Meanwhile: the Spotted Redshank remains on site; many of the recent Redwing have moved on - 3 on Wick and 3 in the North Scrubs being the only records today; just one Mediterranean Gull could be picked out in Stanpit Bight this evening; a Kittiwake passed east off Double Dykes; and a Goldcrest was in song on Stanpit golf course.

March 3rd

After two days of calm, a quite nasty easterly wind whipped up overnight. Nevertheless, from the limited shelter of the Beach Huts, there was in fact some interest moving by at sea. For example, the year's first 4 Eider, a Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 5 Mediterranean Gull, 15 Common Gull and 14 Common Scoter all went east; while 2 Red-breasted Merganser headed in the opposite direction. A walk over the top of Hengistbury was also perhaps better than could have been expected, with singles of Yellowhammer, Bullfinch and Redpoll logged, as well as 3 Siskin. In the Wood, a Firecrest and the Treecreeper were again present, and 3 Goldeneye, including an adult drake, returned to the harbour just off Rushy Piece. The only news from Stanpit involves 6 Pintail on East Marsh and a very confiding Water Rail just beyond the Visitor's Centre.

March 2nd

Again, the weather was quite outstanding - mirror calm waters and blue skies - but there was unfortunately very little field activity. What there was all came at lunchtime, when 6 Mediterranean Gull, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit at 6 Pintail were seen at Stanpit, and a Red Admiral butterfly was on the wing there.

March 1st

A gloriously, clear morning that saw some welcome elements of quality to report upon. From the Stanpit golf course, which was just about the only part of the marsh area above water, 2 Crossbill, a female Merlin and 2 Siskin were seen passing over north. Not to be outdone, the Wood on Hengistbury provided a Firecrest, over 4 Goldcrest, possibly representing a small arrival, and the ringed Treecreeper that has been here since last summer. Then, to complete the better-than-average records, a Jack Snipe, in the company of 30 Common Snipe, was seen on the edge of East Marsh from Fisherman's Bank this evening. Also from there: the Spotted Redshank, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 160 Dunlin, 2, but almost certainly more, Mediterranean Gull, 3 pairs of Pintail and a drake Shoveler; while elsewhere on Stanpit, there were 6 Redwing in the North Scrubs, 4 Gadwall about Priory Marsh and a territorial Cetti's Warbler by the Purewell Stream. On the subject of local breeders, it was good to see the pair of Little Grebe back on the Ironstone Quarry for what I reckon will be their fifth season.

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