Sightings for December 2011

December 31st

An extremely mild day, before which the overnight temperature barely dropped below 10C, saw another decent wader selection. On the sandspit, there was a minimum of 13 Purple Sandpiper, ten of these logged from Mudeford Quay, while a Ruff and 5 Golden Plover were off Fisherman's Bank, as were 2 Spotted Redshank. However, singles of the latter were also seen, at similar times to the Stanpit birds, in Barn Bight and Holloway's Dock, so it may be there are more than two in the area right now. Also at Stanpit, a Knot, 17 Grey Plover, uncounted Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 150 or so Dunlin and an estimated 1000 Lapwing. On Hengistbury, the Snow Bunting was again about the end of the head and Redwing could be heard in the Wood, but that's about it for the land there. At sea, the combined tally from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay comes to 2 Red-throated Diver, one west and one settled, a Great Northern Diver to the east and a Red-breasted Merganser, a second-winter Mediterranean Gull, 2 Great Crested Grebe, a Razorbill and 30 Gannet, all west. To round up a year of 225 species, the highest total since 1996, there were: 14 Pintail and a Shelduck at Stanpit, where around 100 Canada Goose roosted; a couple of Raven over; a Kingfisher around Crouch Hill; and a fine count of 13 Little Grebe from the HHC slip. The other remarkable point about this year has been the increased quality and quantity of photographs submitted to the website by the established names, and some new ones - thanks to them all and we look forward to even more during 2012.

December 30th

First-winter (top) and second-winter Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit recently - Jimmy Main

An extremely mild day, which was made to feel even warmer due to the lack of any real wind. Unfortunately, the reports are few and far between, but do involve the male Snow Bunting that was on Hengistbury between the Long Groyne and the Gully. Otherwise, there is just a Red-throated Diver, a Gannet and a Great Crested Grebe, all west, plus a Razorbill on the water, to show for an hour or so of looking at the sea. So, to the final use of this year's tide-tables before they're consigned to the re-cycling...

December 29th

A cold north-westerly wind and frequent showers meant that Stanpit was visited just long enough to count 36 Grey Plover in the Bight on the morning low tide. After that, other than a Kingfisher again in Central Marsh, the rest of the day's news comes from Mudeford Quay, but equates to just a Peregrine and a Guillemot over a 90-minute period.

December 28th

Golden Plover at Stanpit - Alan Hayden
...and the East Marsh wader roost - Alan Hayden

A day of westerly wind and occasional, heavy showers was brightened by the discovery of a male Snow Bunting at the southern tip of the sandspit for a while mid-morning, before it disappeared around the end of the head towards the Long Groyne. At Stanpit, there has definitely been an influx of Golden Plover with a certain eleven birds settled all day, but possibly as many as fifteen in flight during the morning. A winter gathering such as this is reasonably significant for the site. Other waders at Stanpit included a Spotted Redshank, 18 Grey Plover, a Turnstone, 49 Ringed Plover and 230 Dunlin, but the godwits weren't counted. Also a Shoveler and 7 Pintail still present. Early in the day, around 20 Redwing were on Hengistbury and a Mistle Thrush overflew the Stanpit car park in the mid-afternoon. This evening, before the gull roost was scattered by a Sparrowhawk, there were 3 Mediterranean Gull, two second-winters and an adult, and 3 Common Gull amongst the 1500 or so Black-headed Gull. Throughout the day, the sea was very poor with 30 or so lingering Gannet being the only birds of note.

Additional news: a very confiding Razorbill was in Barn Bight.

December 27th

Some greyish looking Rock Pipit on the salt marsh at Stanpit - Alan Hayden
Note: the lower bird is a different individual to that in the top two shots
...and as a record shot, the two Ruff on East Marsh - Alan Hayden

Another mild and relatively windless day, which saw a few species even attempt a bit of song. The 4 Barnacle Goose roosted overnight, but were quite detached from the other wild and feral geese in the harbour, and took flight high to the west at pretty much the first signs of human activity this morning. Meanwhile, 199 Brent Goose were counted and 95 Canada Goose moved from their roost in Stanpit Creek towards Priory Marsh. This is the first season ever that Canada Goose have seemingly taken up residence within Christchurch Harbour, after previously having the status of late-summer 'rooster'. On a brighter note, the first settled Golden Plover of the winter was with the 550 or so Lapwing, while the 2 Ruff, a Spotted Redshank, a Knot, 19 Grey Plover, 8 Turnstone, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Ringed Plover and 200 Dunlin were also around the Stanpit Bight area. Other miscellany for the day comes courtesy of: an adult Mediterranean Gull on the river by the HHC, 7 Pintail, a Shelduck and a Shoveler, a Kingfisher quite faithful to Central Marsh and 2 Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight.

Additional news: there were 6 Golden Plover at Stanpit late in the day.

December 26th

Four Barnacle Goose on Stanpit this afternoon - Dave Cooke
...and Brent Goose - Alan Hayden

The day started to quite a brisk westerly wind, but that had dropped away significantly by lunchtime. This afternoon, a gaggle of 4 Barnacle Goose on Stanpit make for a very intriguing record, particularly as this species is not one that presently occurs as a resident, local feral. After some enquiries, it is understood there are also now forty or so further west in the county on The Fleet. Meanwhile, in terms of other wildfowl, the best Pintail figure was eleven along with 280 Brent Goose and a single Shelduck. Stanpit continues to host a really good selection of waders, but seemingly never all on view at the same time, so the peaks for the day are: a Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff, a Knot, 24 Grey Plover, 13 Turnstone, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 55 Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Ringed Plover and 220 Dunlin; with the best airborne Snipe wisp made up of 30 or so birds. Last for this post, but by no means least for the date, is a flock of 11 Linnet on Stanpit at the southern end of the North Scrubs.

Additional news: a Common Scoter and a Razorbill were seen from Mudeford Quay, and a further Razorbill was in Barn Bight.

December 25th

Adult Mediterranean Gull on East Marsh today - Alan Hayden
...and Bar-tailed Godwit , also at Stanpit - Jimmy Main

Today saw probably the most number of individual contributions for the month, which were all very welcome. The Marsh Harrier was seen from Wick as it was still getting light, also 2 Chiffchaff about the fields; while a Water Pipit was by the Visitor's Centre on Stanpit, a Ruff was on the marsh and an adult Mediterranean Gull, never a given in the winter, was on East Marsh later in the day. Also from Stanpit, 33 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 30 Ringed Plover, 168 Dunlin, 9 Pintail, over 250 Brent Goose and 70 Canada Goose, those leaving shortly after dawn. A brief look at the sea from the Beach Huts came up with 3 Kittiwake, a Common Scoter, 2 Gannet and 12 auks head west, as well as a Guillemot settled on the water. Inside the harbour, there was a Great Crested Grebe and 8 Rock Pipit, the latter on Stanpit.

Additional news: there were 4 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit, three at the end and four on groyne S7, as well as a fine total of 41 Turnstone. Also, a Kingfisher was around Barn Bight.

December 24th

Black-headed Gull , with ring - Joe Murphy

In terms of conditions and birds, what a contrast to this date last year, when in the midst of the cold snap waxwing, woodlark, bittern and marsh harrier were all recorded! In much, much milder weather, the sea was watched for the entire morning, but the phrase 'uneventful' probably sums it up the best. In addition to a trickle of bi-directional auks, just half a dozen each of Red-throated Diver and Great Crested Grebe were logged, as well as 15 Brent Goose and 11 Gannet. At least 4 Redpoll were about the end of Hengistbury and there was a Treecreeper in the Wood, while a Bullfinch, 2 Redwing and up to 3 Chiffchaff were on Wick. Stanpit once again produced an excellent Snipe estimate, around 100 today; as well as a similar number of Redshank, which is a notable local count for the species. To conclude, a Peregrine hunted the Lapwing and Kingfisher were seen by the HHC and from the Wooden Bridge.

December 23rd

A couple more shots of yesterday's Egyptian Goose - Jimmy Main

Other than a dry hour immediately after dawn, the day was something of a write-off thanks to varying degrees of rain. When it was still possible to bird outside of a car, a 30-minute look at the sea from the Natterjack Pond produced 2 Red-throated Diver, 4 Kittiwake, a Razorbill and 2 Wigeon, all west, and 2 Brent Goose east; while inside the harbour, there was a single Great Crested Grebe and 6 Little Grebe. This afternoon, from the Argyle Road slip, at least 150 Snipe were airborne over East Marsh for 5-minutes. What caused them to take flight is something of a mystery, however, as all other wildfowl and waders in the immediate area remained totally unperturbed.

December 22nd

Three Egyptian Goose at Stanpit this morning - Darren Hughes
...and a Black-tailed Godwit also at Stanpit - Joe Murphy

The morning of the winter solstice was something of a 'scorcher', with temperatures sitting around 12C and making it a little uncomfortable for those who had wrapped up for conditions a little cooler. Three Egyptian Goose at Stanpit briefly were a predicted harbour-tick for a few, in that with the recent establishment of a small, resident population south of the Avon Causeway it is inevitable that birds will occasionally wander a little south. In terms of genuine quality, the Marsh Harrier was seen from both Stanpit and Wick fairly early in the day, with the former site also hosting singles of Water Pipit and Spotted Redshank. Other waders, listed in order of local interest, included: an Avocet, a Knot, 22 Grey Plover, 21 Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Black-tailed Godwit and 27 Ringed Plover; while 14 Pintail were still about the marsh. A couple of Chiffchaff and a Kingfisher were on Wick, a Red-throated Diver and 3 Great Crested Grebe were returned from Mudeford Quay, and pairs of Raven were logged over Stanpit and Wick.

December 21st

Kestrel - Joe Murphy

For the last couple of days, when the sea hasn't been watched, other sites in Dorset have experienced decent numbers of Red-throated Diver on the move, so hopes were high for Hengistbury this morning. As it happened, it was all a bit of an anticlimax with just two west and two east during the morning, plus one from Mudeford Quay at lunch. However, there were a few other bits-and-pieces at sea, nearly all west and including: a Great Skua, 2 drake Eider, 2 Pintail, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 67 Kittiwake, 9 Razorbill and 7 Gannet. Meanwhile, at least 6 Great Crested Grebe and a further Razorbill were settled. On Stanpit, after another few blank days, the Marsh Harrier was again present, likewise a Spotted Redshank, while 5 Avocet, 31 Grey Plover, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 140 Dunlin, 14 Pintail, 2 Shoveler and a Gadwall were also logged there. Back to Hengistbury, namely the Wood, which contained a Firecrest, a Bullfinch and a Treecreeper, along with 16 Redwing and 7 Fieldfare over, plus five unseasonable Linnet on the adjacent Salt Hurns.

December 20th

Little Egret at Stanpit today - Joe Murphy

With the exception of the sandspit, where there were 3 Purple Sandpiper and 15 Turnstone, and the Wood that hosted a Treecreeper, most of the news comes from Stanpit. The Avocet numbers either genuinely fluctuate or birds hide themselves away, as the best for the day was three, but also a Ruff, 2 Knot, 22 Grey Plover, a further 12 Turnstone, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 31 Ringed Plover and around 200 Dunlin. Meanwhile, as the Lapwing took to the air their number was estimated to be 700 or so, 2 Shelduck and 8 Pintail were present, and a Kingfisher was up and down Stanpit Creek until lunchtime at least. On the river there were 3 Great Crested Grebe with a further two in The Run off Mudeford Quay.

December 19th

Pintail - Jimmy Main

Weather-wise, the day started brightly enough but by late morning constant rain had set in. The only significant numbers come from Stanpit, where an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Red-breasted Merganser were less than expected, and include: 5 Avocet, 5 Knot, 7 Grey Plover, 4 Turnstone, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and 42 Black-tailed Godwit.

December 18th

Kingfisher - Joe Murphy

On the third WeBS count of the season, the best was 2 Jack Snipe, one in the North Scrubs and one on Grimmery Point, but only three regular Snipe! Actually, that fact tends to illustrate how the numbers on a given day can be affected by tide and other factors; for example, the low water allowed an impressive 316 Teal to be logged, while other figures for the morning, included: 332 Brent Goose, 765 Wigeon, 14 Pintail, a Shoveler, 10 Shelduck, 3 Avocet, 16 Grey Plover, a Turnstone, a Knot, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 154 Black-tailed Godwit, 56 Ringed Plover and 320 Dunlin, as well as 2 Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail, 304 Coot and 86 Canada Goose. The only non-waterbird news for the day comes courtesy of a Fieldfare, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Redpoll and a Peregrine from Wick.

December 17th

The Avocet at Stanpit yesterday - Jimmy Main
Sparrowhawk - Joe Murphy

Although not as cold as yesterday, the westerly wind still had an edge to it. Starting with Wick: a Bullfinch was again by the central path and there were a total of 3 Chiffchaff, a couple in Wick Ditch and one by the Wooden Bridge, 3 Fieldfare and 20 Redwing. Meanwhile, a couple of hours was spent by the Coastguards, mainly watching the sea, but also noting a movement of 30 or so Goldfinch and 3 Linnet, with a further Bullfinch also being heard from there. The best over the water was a Sandwich Tern east and Red-throated Diver west, as well as 3 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Pintail, 2 Shelduck and 15 Black-tailed Godwit all seen to head in the latter direction. At Stanpit, just 3 Avocet could be located, but there were 2 Knot, 28 Grey Plover, a Turnstone, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 43 Black-tailed Godwit, 218 Dunlin and 13 Pintail.

Additional news: there were actually 7 Avocet and 4 Knot at Stanpit, as well as an adult male Peregrine and 2 Great Crested Grebe.

December 16th

Reed Bunting - David Williams

The wind swung to the north overnight and made it feel nothing less than bitter in just about all parts of the recording area. From Wick, the Marsh Harrier was seen to head towards the valley over the Priory at 09:10, while a Bullfinch was with an ever-increasing congregation of Greenfinch on the fields there. At Stanpit, there were once again 6 Avocet, but possibly more, roosting amongst the waders on East Marsh, as well as a Knot that was slightly detached from the main group and more intent of feeding than sleeping, plus a Spotted Redshank. On the north-east fringe of Crouch Hill, a single Water Pipit was present amongst the Rock Pipit, some of those looking a little Nordic perhaps, while 7 Shoveler, 11 Pintail and 2 Great Crested Grebe were also logged on the marsh.

December 15th

Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit yesterday - Chris Chapleo

In similar conditions to yesterday, albeit without quite so many showers, a female Merlin at Stanpit and a couple of Treecreeper around the birches in the North Scrubs are the best records for the day, as well as a Chiffchaff nearby on the golf course embankment. Around Stanpit Bight, there were peaks of 3 Avocet, 6 Knot, 28 Grey Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit and 40 Ringed Plover, while a Spotted Redshank and 40 Black-tailed Godwit were returned from Fisherman's Bank. At lunchtime, a Peregrine was alarming many of the birds and at one point around 2000 Lapwing were estimated to be hanging in a cloud high above the harbour. Also, 14 Pintail at Stanpit and a Razorbill west past Mudeford Quay.

December 14th

Jay - Joe Murphy

The cold north-westerly wind persisted and brought with it a mixed bag of clear skies and heavy showers. For the first time in a week or so, the sandspit was visited and produced a flyover Siskin, which is not a bad record for the date, as well as a minimum of 9 Purple Sandpiper on groyne S9. Slightly later, at lunchtime, a flock of at least 15 flew across The Run from the Avon Beach area and took up on the rocks directly opposite Mudeford Quay. Of course, duplication is a possibility, but there could quite easily be in excess of 25 birds about the area at the moment. Meanwhile, Avocet look to be moving in, with three at Stanpit yesterday increasing to six this morning, when a Spotted Redshank, a Knot and 37 Grey Plover, these much improved in numbers since the weekend, were also around. A few glimpses at the sea suggested not much was happening with just a Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and a Mediterranean Gull west, a Common Scoter east and a lingering Gannet for the day's records. To conclude, the Pintail at Stanpit now number 12, a couple of Shelduck were new-in there and a Great Crested Grebe spent its second day at the strange location of Stanpit Creek off Fisherman's Bank.

We have also just heard that 'Greens of Parkstone' will be closing down early next year due to retirment. This has been a prime source of optical equipment over the years for CHOG members, so if you were looking to purchase something soon now's the time to make the trip over there.

December 13th

Skylark - Joe Murphy

After a night of very strong westerly wind, the sea was watched from Mudeford Quay a number of times throughout the day, but managed to contribute just singles of Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver west. Meanwhile, 5 Purple Sandpiper were on the rocks at the tip of the sandspit.

Additional news: there were 3 Avocet at Stanpit.

December 12th

Green Woodpecker - Joe Murphy
Stonechat - Mark Murfin

After a quiet few moments at Mudeford Quay, where just singles of Mediterranean Gull, Red-breasted Merganser and Common Scoter were logged, Stanpit was given a go. At least 2 Water Pipit were again alongside the patch to the Visitor's Centre and consorting with around 8 Rock Pipit that could well have journeyed equally as far to reach us. Meanwhile, the Marsh Harrier was about Priory Marsh, as were once more 90 Canada Goose. Elsewhere about the marsh, there were 9 Pintail, 24 Grey Plover, 55 Ringed Plover and 123 Dunlin, as well as most of the other usual suspects. On a relatively routine day, it seems opportune to mention a colour-ringed Black-headed Gull that was on Mudeford Quay last week - a bird that was seen in exactly the same spot in November 2009 after being ringed as an adult in Denmark during March of the previous year.

Additional news: the Wood held a Firecrest, a Chiffchaff, a Bullfinch and 7 Redwing, while a Spotted Redshank was on the Salt Hurns.

December 11th

Spotted Redshank - Alan Hayden
Pintail - Alan Hayden
...and the Spotted Redshank alongside a - Wigeon Alan Hayden

The forecast was pretty much spot-on, in that the grey cloud meant it barely got light and rain dominated proceedings from early afternoon onwards. The picks of the day were a Goosander that flew around Barn Bight this morning before heading south and at least 17 Purple Sandpiper on the rocks at the end of the sandspit opposite Mudeford Quay. The early morning from the quay saw a steady trickle of Kittiwake moving distantly west, as well as 8 Shelduck, a Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Razorbill, while a further 4 Red-breasted Merganser moved into The Solent and 5 Common Scoter, at least 3 but possibly 5 Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot were settled. Later in the day, up to 27 Turnstone were also seen from there. At Stanpit, the 'headline' waders were singles of Spotted Redshank and Knot, but also 25 Grey Plover, uncounted numbers of both godwits, over 45 Snipe, 25 Ringed Plover and 30 Dunlin. In addition, 8 Pintail were around Stanpit Bight and for the second day in succession a gaggle of 80 Canada Goose spent the day grazing on Priory Marsh.

December 10th

Water Pipit - Jimmy Main
Chaffinch - Joe Murphy

It was easily the coldest night of the season so far, with the temperature dropping below zero even at the sea's edge on Mudeford Quay. After a few days of not being reported, the Marsh Harrier was logged as it quartered Central Marsh and Wick Hams for a short time around 8:30, but once again the ibis was apparently absent. Actually, accounts of its last certain appearance are a little vague, but it was probably around Wednesday. For the second day in succession, a Water Pipit was uncharacteristically confiding adjacent to the path towards the Visitor's Centre and Spotted Redshank were calling frequently amongst the East Marsh wader roost. On Hengistbury, a single Avocet was in Holloway's Dock, while a two hour seawatch produced a first-winter Little Gull, a Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, this settled on the water, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, a Razorbill and 5 Great Crested Grebe. To wrap up, the best-of-the-rest for the day comprised: singles of Chiffchaff on Wick and by Barn Bight; 14 Turnstone on the sandspit, with around four more elsewhere; a pair of Pintail at Stanpit, plus a single drake on Wick Hams; 2 Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight; and Kingfisher turned in from Fisherman's Bank, Mother Siller's Channel, Parky Meade Rail and Wick Hams.

Additional news: a couple of Egyptian Goose left the area over the Beach Huts and at least a further 5 Chiffchaff were on Wick.

December 9th

Second-winter Mediterranean Gull - Jimmy Main

The wind abated severely overnight and the dawn broke to clear skies, but cloud and a northerly breeze set in by mid-afternoon. Both sides of the area were visited today, with 2 Bearded Tit being seen in the Wick Hams reeds, where there was also a Kingfisher, along with 2 Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight. A Redwing came in over Mudeford Quay early on, where the 5 Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe were all visible on the water. The best at Stanpit was a Golden Plover in the morning, while after lunch a Water Pipit was alongside the path to Visitor's Centre and 2 Chiffchaff were in the bushes around the Purewell Stream. Also about the marsh throughout the day, a Mediterranean Gull, 2 Knot, 23 Grey Plover, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 55 Black-tailed Godwit, 84 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover, 16 Pintail and a further Kingfisher. Meanwhile, when the Lapwing took to the air, they could be estimated at 750 or so.

December 8th

Snipe - Joe Murphy

It wasn't long into the morning before the whole area was subjected to frequent showers and a strong westerly wind, which tonight is blowing towards a force seven. Consequently, nearly all the news comes from Mudeford Quay, which saw a steady trickle of Kittiwake throughout the day; for example, 60 in a couple of hours this morning and a 'few per minute' at lunch. Also from the quay, a Great Skua labouring into the wind, as were a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, 3 Common Scoter, a Pintail and a Peregrine, while a couple of Sandwich Tern lingered in The Run and at least one Great Crested Grebe was slightly further offshore. Not surprisingly once the weather had set in, birding elsewhere was nigh on impossible, but an Avocet in Stanpit Creek perhaps heralds the start of our winter 'flock', with 3 Grey Plover and 30 or so Dunlin in the same location.

December 7th

Although the wind had strengthened overnight, its westerly origins didn't promise much. From Mudeford Quay there was, however, a significant movement of Kittiwake into the wind, possibly involving hundreds of birds; also a few auk, of which at least two were Guillemot, moved in the same direction. A couple of Sandwich Tern entered the harbour over The Run, the 3 Great Crested Grebe were still on the water and singles of Tufted Duck and Common Scoter were seen. There was no news on the Glossy Ibis today, but Stanpit held 98 Dunlin, 13 Ringed Plover, 11 Pintail, 8 Grey Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Turnstone.

December 6th

Pied Wagtail on the harbour shore - Joe Murphy

It was a fairly similar day to yesterday, although the wind had eased slightly so it was less cold. On Stanpit the Glossy Ibis was still present and there was at least one Water Pipit on Priory Marsh. With Fisherman's Bank, Stanpit and Mudeford Sandspit receiving coverage, the combined totals for the harbour were: 174 Dunlin, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 23 Ringed Plover, 11 Purple Sandpiper, 11 Turnstone, 5 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and the Spotted Redshank. Off Mudeford Quay, 3 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea and 2 Common Scoter moved east, while a Sandwich Tern was seen from the sandspit. To round up, a dozen Pintail were on Stanpit and 2 Raven passed over Priory Marsh.

December 5th

Bar-tailed Godwit - Joe Murphy

After an icy start, the day was dominated by a cold north-westerly wind and little subsequent field activity. The only reports concern a Red-throated Diver east and 3 Great Crested Grebe on the water from Mudeford Quay this morning, while the bright sunny glare meant that just a Spotted Redshank, 6 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 or so Ringed Plover and 89 Dunlin could be picked out from Fisherman’s Bank at lunchtime.

December 4th

Purple Sandpiper from yesterday - Joe Murphy
...and another shot of the Marsh Harrier - Jimmy Main

A chilly north-westerly wind made for reasonably unpleasant conditions today, but there was a good deal of field activity nonetheless. The Marsh Harrier was seen from both sides of the harbour between 7:30 and 7:45, but solely from Wick during the afternoon, despite some extended waiting at Stanpit; however, the Glossy Ibis was present and correct in the usual spot just beyond the Visitor's Centre. At sea, a Red-necked Grebe and 3 Velvet Scoter passed along the beach at Hengistbury, the former west and the latter east, 15 Kittiwake, 22 Razorbill and 25 auk sp. also moved by and the 5 Common Scoter were settled. Meanwhile, the offshore gull flock looked a little diminished in comparison to this time last week. The rest of the news concerns bits-and-pieces from all corners of the area, including: a Chiffchaff, a Grey Wagtail and 3 Raven from Wick; a Kingfisher and a Mediterranean Gull plus a count of 37 Ringed Plover from Stanpit; and a Redpoll on Hengistbury.

December 3rd

Sandwich Tern - Joe Murphy
Marsh Harrier - Jimmy Main

The Marsh Harrier wasn't reported this morning, but was seen around Stanpit in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the only Glossy Ibis return was a flight view from Hengistbury as it came down on the mud north of the HHC. Also on Hengistbury, a Black Redstart on the cliffs in the Long Groyne area, a couple of Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail. The best Purple Sandpiper count for the day is eight, but there could easily be more in total on the sandspit, where there were 10 Turnstone. After a few days' absence, Sandwich Tern again make the post, with two together lingering off Mudeford Quay and one of them, or another, being seen elsewhere about the area throughout the day. A 3-hour seawatch from the Beach Huts produced at least one Great Skua cruising around the gulls that are currently focussing on the sprat shoal; plus a Red-throated Diver, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 37 Razorbill and 2 Guillemot west; as well as 5 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe more settled. The only area not mentioned so far is Wick, where a couple each of Fieldfare and Redwing were logged.

Omission: some Bearded Tit were again by the HHC and a Siskin was in the Wood.

December 2nd

Sparrowhawk in pursuit of an out-of-shot Snipe - Jimmy Main
...and some of the Canada Goose just waking up - Dave Cooke

Some relatively abnormal disturbance this morning resulted in hundreds of bird departing the area just after dawn, but thankfully most of them returned. Not least, the Marsh Harrier that was alarmed enough to give up on its now established hunting circuit and head off northwards; it was a welcome sight around Priory Marsh again just after lunch. Early on, a drake Goosander was moved out of Parky Meade Rail and appeared to come down into Stanpit Creek, while hundreds of Wigeon and 50+ Teal that pushed out to sea trickled back during the course of the morning, and the drake Tufted Duck flew up and down river a few times. In terms of genuine seabird interest, other than 2 Velvet Scoter west past Mudeford Quay around 1:00, there was little - just the 5 Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe and a close-in Razorbill, in fact - although a tight group of 25 Shag were tucked into the Long Groyne, with 10 or so more also visible from the end of the head. Along the sandspit, only one Purple Sandpiper could be found on the groynes, but the almost windless conditions made it quiet enough to actually hear 12 Turnstone on the inner shore doing exactly what their name dictates. Other wader news comes from Stanpit, where the peaks were 5 Grey Plover, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 85 Black-tailed Godwit, 55 Ringed Plover and 98 Dunlin. The Glossy Ibis was again about the marsh, a Kingfisher zipped along Fisherman's Bank a few times and 62 Canada Goose left after their roost. Finally, a Redwing was on Crouch Hill, with a couple more being heard on Hengistbury, likewise a single Redpoll over the Wood.

December 1st

Little Egret - Alan Crockard

It was all round much calmer than yesterday, with the sea being almost mill pond like at times. Before it was properly light, the Marsh Harrier was up and about, being seen emerging from the reeds on the Wick side of the river at 7:20. An hour or so later, the waders off Fisherman's Bank included both the Spotted Redshank, 16 Grey Plover, 7 Turnstone, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, although I understand Priory Marsh currently holds a lot more of these, 14 Ringed Plover and 190 Dunlin. However, a few minutes later, 16 Grey Plover and a hundred or so Dunlin appeared to leave high to the east over the sandspit. Also early on, a party of 6 Eider, including an adult drake, went east past Mudeford Quay, as did a Black-throated Diver and a Red-breasted Merganser; while a Great Northern Diver, 5 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe were on the water off there throughout the day, and 6 Purple Sandpiper were again viewable across The Run from the quay. Meanwhile, the offshore gull flock remained, but was perhaps a little smaller today, although well above average numbers of Common Gull and Mediterranean could still be seen out to sea. Inside the harbour, there were 8 Pintail and a Kingfisher, with 36 Canada Goose leaving after roosting overnight.

Omission: at least 100 Kittiwake passed west just in front of the horizon and 2 Raven went over Mudeford Quay.

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