Sightings for February 2011

February 28th

There were one or good birds around today. A Little Stint, initially found in Stanpit Bight, eventually moved to Stanpit Creek, where it was watched from Fisherman's Bank. Earlier, a Lapland Bunting was seen flying low over Solent Meads; also 4 Siskin and 2 Redpoll over Hengistbury. The sea was again quiet, with just a drake Goldeneye and 3 Common Scoter west, 9 Great Crested Grebe east and a Razorbill on the water. Back to Stanpit, where the 2 Spotted Redshank were still present, plus 108 Black-tailed Godwit, 70 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 8 Pintail, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. The only Mediterranean Gull seen today were 2 adult birds high over Fisherman's Bank. Finally, there is a slight improvement in the Stonechat numbers to report, with 2 female birds on Hengistbury this morning.

February 27th

There wasn't too much field activity today, although both sides of the harbour received visits. An Avocet put in an appearance on Stanpit, but other than that, just 137 Brent Geese and 11 Pintail were counted. An adult Mediterranean Gull was in the pre-roost this afternoon, while earlier, two birds had been seen over Hengistbury. On Wick, there were 7 Redpoll and a Raven passed over, while the drake Tufted Duck was again by the HHC. Finally, a Chiffchaff was in the golf course bank on Stanpit and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the North Scrubs.

Late news: there were 12 Purple Sandpiper and 4 Rock Pipit around the groynes today.

February 26th

The sea was watched this morning for about an hour with very little reward - probably due to a shift in the wind the north-west. For the records, there were just 6 Shoveler, 3 Red-throated Diver, 3 Fulmar, 3 Shelduck and 2 Common Scoter all west, with another Red-throated Diver east. On Stanpit, a Ruff was still present, together with 138 Brent Geese, 109 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Pintail and 3 Shoveler. Elsewhere, 9 Curlew were by the Wooden Bridge on Wick and the drake Tufted Duck was by the HHC, while 2 Raven, 2 Jackdaw and 3 Redwing moved overhead.

February 25th

A Sand Martin, probably the first genuine spring migrant of the year, flew north over Stanpit this morning. This is easily the earliest date ever for this species in the harbour - the previous early date being 5th March in 1997 and 2008. Other than that there was little change from the last few days, however, with 2 each of Spotted Redshank and Ruff on Stanpit, as well as 144 Brent Geese, 146 Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Turnstone, 19 Grey Plover, 11 Pintail and 10 Bar-tailed Godwit around the harbour. Just 4 Mediterranean Gull were present today, 3 adults and a second-winter. The only report from Hengistbury is of a drake Tufted Duck over the river.

Please check back to yesterday for late news.

February 24th

There was a vast improvement in the weather today with temperatures in double figures and spring-like conditions making it feel quite warm. A Red Kite circling high over the Stanpit golf course before drifting off north-east was a welcome addition to the year list. On Hengistbury, a 90-minute seawatch from the cliffs saw significant numbers of gulls on the move and a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe on the sea. The counts, with all birds heading east, were: 430 Herring Gull, 275 Black-headed Gull, 65 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 49 Mediterranean Gull including a single flock of 43, 21 Common Gull, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Common Scoter and 2 Gadwall. Meanwhile, a further 39 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea off Double Dykes. Another first of the year was a Yellowhammer that passed over Hengistbury. On the Great Spires mudbar, therewere both first- and second-winter Mediterranean Gull, while between there and the HHC 18 Little Grebe were on the river. The Spotted Redshank was still present, as well as: 200 Dunlin, 118 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Pintail, 9 Ringed Plover, 9 Grey Plover, 7 Shelduck and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit. Finally, up to 4 Cetti's Warbler were in song today, possibly 3 on Wick and one in Great Spires but more worryingly Stonechat are still scarce with just one female on Hengistbury.

Late news: a Golden Plover was with the Lapwing flock on East Marsh late afternoon.

February 23rd

Mediterranean Gull at Mudeford Quay today - Alan Hayden

Another morning of constant rain meant that there was no field activity this morning. When the rain eventually eased off after lunch a brief visit to Mudeford Quay found an adult Mediterranean Gull there. A late afternoon visit to Fisherman's Bank produced 160 Black-tailed Godwit, 140 Brent Geese and 8 Grey Plover.

February 22nd

Wigeon at Stanpit - Alan Hayden

On another murky day in the harbour the best was probably a Goosander seen from Stanpit this morning, also a female Tufted Duck off Blackberry and 11 Pintail in Stanpit Bight. On the opposite side of the harbour, 4 Mediterranean Gull, all adults, were on the HHC mudbar, together with 25 Dunlin and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. Later, 7 Mediterranean Gull, 6 adults and a second-winter, were on Stanpit. The Spotted Redshank was again present, plus an Avocet, 170 Black-tailed Godwit, 164 Dunlin, 146 Brent Geese, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Grey Plover and 6 Canada Geese.

February 21st

This morning's heavy rain put paid to any field activity until after lunch when the only report received was of 9 Pintail visible through the murk from Fisherman's Bank.

February 20th

Stoat on Crouch Hill today - Peter Clarke

On a fine but rather chilly morning, a Sandwich Tern was rather unexpected - the bird flew upriver before heading west over Wick. The Spotted Redshank was on East Marsh, while elsewhere there were 90 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Ringed Plover, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Pintail and a Turnstone; also 25 Snipe on Priory Marsh. Wick Fields held 9 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare and a Redpoll. Another 3 Redwing were in North Scrubs and both Water Pipit and Grey Wagtail were on Priory Marsh. To round up, 4 Greylag Geese passed over the harbour, a Raven moved south and 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were seen.

February 19th

Green Woodpecker - Alan Hayden

Another high tide saw much of Stanpit under water this morning, in fact both East and South Marshes were almost completely submerged. The birds were very restless with around 300 Dunlin and 30 Ringed Plover foraging on the remaining bits of dry land, also a flock of 52 Snipe airborne over Crouch Hill while 3 Pintail and an adult Mediterranean Gull found conditions much more to their liking. Meanwhile, another Pintail, a drake, was on Wick Hams. There are still a few winter thrushes in the area with 11 Redwing and 2 Fieldfare over Wick Fields, where 7 Curlew and 7 Black-tailed Godwit were by the Wooden Bridge, while a Raven passed over the harbour heading south. An afternoon visit to Stanpit, when the tide had dropped off, found 5 Mediterranean Gull, a Ruff and the Spotted Redshank, together with 142 Brent Geese, 94 Black-tailed Godwit, including 4 colour-ringed individuals, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Pintail; also a Water Pipit by the Visitor Centre. Finally, thanks go to Ian Lewis for yesterday evening's very enjoyable talk on Tibet.

February 18th

Jay - Alan Hayden

Not much has really changed over the past week, but the high spring tide did push birds that are sometime less obvious into more open areas this morning. For example, a total of 45 Snipe on East Marsh is more than would be visible under normal water levels. Also, a good count of 28 Rock Pipit between Stanpit Scrubs and Crouch Hill, while singles of Spotted Redshank were in Stanpit Creek and on Central Marsh, and 120 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Mediterranean Gull and 7 Pintail were also around the marsh. On the sandspit, by the ferry jetty, there was a nice gathering of 29 Turnstone and a couple of Purple Sandpiper were on groyne S12. The sea was largely quiet, with just a Red-throated Diver and 45 Great Crested Grebe off Double Dykes.

Additional news: at lunchtime, 8 Ringed Plover were seen from Argyll Road and the Black-headed Gull in the harbour were estimated at 1500.

February 17th

Purple Sandpiper by the Black House - Colin Raymond
Redwing in the North Scrubs - Alan Hayden

On a fine, clear day, but with a stiff wind that made it feel quite cold at times, there were a few snippets of interest. Green Sandpiper are never common in winter, so one this morning at Stanpit is a nice record. Also there, the 2 Spotted Redshank, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Pintail and 6 Redwing, the latter in the North Scrubs. On the opposite side of the harbour, a single Purple Sandpiper was by the Black House, while other counts from across the area came to 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 290 Dunlin and a single Kingfisher.

February 16th

Adult Mediterranean Gull acquiring breeding plumage - Alan Hayden

There is far more to write about today, thanks to at least two visits to Stanpit. One, which involved overlooking Priory Marsh for a couple of hours, produced a Merlin north, plus 2 Ruff and a Spotted Redshank on Priory itself. A further Spotted Redshank was seen around Stanpit Bight, where there were also 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover, 6 Pintail and an adult Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere, there was a total of just over 200 Black-tailed Godwit, a Treecreeper was again by the entrance to RIBS Marine and a Peregrine headed over Wick towards Southbourne.

Additional news: a Siskin was heard over Stanpit golf course.

February 15th

Back to rain today, meaning there is nothing so far to report, but there are some minor additions to yesterday.

February 14th

On a much fairer day, most areas received at least one visit, but with fairly scant return. In fact, it wasn't until just before dusk that 4 Ruff could be seen from Fisherman's Bank, along with the Spotted Redshank, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 77 Black-tailed Godwit, around 280 Dunlin and 129 Brent Goose. Earlier, a trip along the sandspit had found 9 Turnstone and a Grey Plover by the Noddy Train Terminus, while 10 Pintail were also inside the harbour. The only Mediterranean Gull records come from Wick, where 3 overflew, as did 2 Raven and 7 Redwing.

Additional news: the vegetation around Stanpit golf course held a Blackcap, 2-3 Chiffchaff and 5 Goldcrest.

February 13th

It literally rained all day and the only reason there are any reports is thanks to the indomitable WeBS counters, who stuck to their task despite the dreadful conditions! Before the numbers of wildfowl and waders, however, let's mention a Water Pipit on Stanpit between the Visitor's Centre and Crouch Hill, as well as a Peregrine settled on East Marsh and the outcast Brent Goose again on the lawn at Mudeford Quay. Over the last week or so, it has been reckoned that duck numbers are thinning out and today's counts backed that up, with just 266 Wigeon and 66 Teal making it onto the national database. Coot have also reduced to 254, but the Pintail do remain steady at 10 or so. The best of the waders was the Spotted Redshank hunkered down on East Marsh, while the commoner species came to 15 Grey Plover, 2 Turnstone, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 253 Dunlin.

February 12th

Waxwing - Roger Howell

There was a marked improvement in the weather and with it a definite increase in field outings and subsequent reports. Although all areas were visited, Stanpit came out best with 4 Waxwing fly-catching for a while at the golf course end of the North Scrubs, plus a couple of Chiffchaff about that area. Elsewhere on the marsh, a Water Pipit, a Spotted Redshank, a Ruff and 5 Avocet were logged, as well as 13 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull and 143 Brent Goose. The early morning on Wick saw something of a thrush contrast, as up to 7 Song Thrush were in full voice while 35 Redwing and 6 Fieldfare fed on the grazed fields. Also around Wick, a female Blackcap along Roebury Lane, a Grey Wagtail by the Wooden Bridge and 2 Raven over. The sea off Hengistbury was very quiet, but 2 Redpoll overflew the Natterjack Pond and a drake Tufted Duck was in Barn Bight. Meanwhile, Rook made it onto the year-list courtesy of a single bird over Stanpit and one of the small, recently formed rookeries at Burton being just about viewable from the top of the head. Finally, those not already mentioned, but all on site today, included: a further 5 and 2 of Redwing and Mediterranean Gull respectively, 7 Pintail, a Kingfisher and 3-400 Lapwing, as well as singing Skylark and Rock Pipit giving a hint of spring.

February 11th

On another day of poor weather, there is almost next-to-nothing to mention. Fisherman's Bank saw 3 Avocet and a pair of Pintail, while 3 Mediterranean Gull were at Mudeford Quay, where a lone Brent Goose seems to have taken up temporary residence on the lawn to right of the approach road.

February 10th

Incessant drizzle until the mid-afternoon, inevitably resulted in very little field activity. At lunchtime, a drake Red-breasted Merganser was inside the harbour off the Lifeboat Station, while later on 6 Avocet, 7 Grey Plover and around 100 Brent Goose were seen from Fisherman's Bank. To conclude, a Spotted Redshank was settled on Priory Marsh late in the day, before being disturbed and relocating to Stanpit Creek.

February 9th

A Black Redstart, the first of the year, was on the main path at Stanpit near Parky Meade Rail this morning, while on Wick 7 Waxwing flew towards the HHC, where a Brambling had been seen earlier. Also on Wick were 3 Fieldfare and 18 Redwing. Another 11 Redwing were on Stanpit, where a Water Pipit was near the Visitor Centre and a Treecreeper was in the scrub adjacent to RIBS Marine. A three-quarters of an hour watch from Double Dykes found the sea much quieter than of late with just 186 auks, mainly Razorbill, and 6 Red-throated Diver logged, all east. The Spotted Redshank and 10 Avocet were on Stanpit, plus 340 Dunlin, 94 Black-tailed Godwit, 32 Ringed Plover, 16 Grey Plover and 8 Bar-tailed Godwit. The Brent Geese seem to be on the increase with 135 today, also 17 Shelduck and 11 Pintail, including the drake in Barn Bight. Amongst the pre-roost of gulls on Stanpit were 6 Mediterranean Gull, a second-winter and five adults. Finally, 2 Raven were logged.

February 8th

Following an overnight frost, the harbour was shrouded in mist until around 9:00; thereafter we enjoyed a spring-like day. After a few days absence, the Spotted Redshank reappeared, while the Avocet count increased to nine. On Hengistbury, 35 Black-tailed Godwit were spread between Wick Hams, the Salt Hurns and Holloway's Dock, also 4 Turnstone were on the harbour shore. A drake and 2 female Goldeneye were off Rushy Piece and a drake Pintail was in Barn Bight; a further 9 Pintail were in Stanpit Bight, also 15 Shelduck and 129 Brent Geese on the marsh. On Wick, there were 2 Redpoll, a Mistle Thrush and a Redwing, with 4 more of the latter on Stanpit; also 2 Coal Tit there. The Mediterranean Gull count on Stanpit today was 10 of which nine were adults and the other a second-winter bird, Little Grebe numbers remain high with 26 counted. Finally, this afternoo,n the Peregrine was over Stanpit and singles of Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit, together with 2 Grey Plover, were seen from Fisherman's Bank.

February 7th

A flock of 42 Waxwing, possibly the Purewell birds, passed over Two Riversmeet this morning. Earlier, off Mudeford Quay, there were still plenty of birds around with 85 Gannet, 60 Common Gull, 55 Kittiwake, 6 Red-throated Diver and 4 Fulmar all west, while a Great Northern Diver and a further 3 Red-throated Diver went east; also from there 2 Purple Sandpiper and 18 Turnstone. Stanpit, which was visited this afternoon, didn't turn up any surprises, the numbers being: 225 Dunlin, 124 Brent Geese, 90 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Pintail, 8 Avocet, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Kingfisher. In the pre-roost, there were 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult birds and a first-winter. Finally, a drake Red-breasted Merganser was inside the harbour and the Peregrine made its usual visit.

February 6th

The biggest surprise of the day came courtesy of a Woodcock that flew over the HHC at lunchtime and seemed to come down in first field on Wick. Also a Firecrest in that area, as well as another in the Wood, and up to 55 Redwing spread from there across to the Wick Fields. The continuing south-westerly meant the sea was once again very fruitful, coming up with: 75 Red-throated Diver, 3 Black-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, a Great Skua, 660 Common Gull, 415 Kittiwake, 2300 auks, the split of birds close enough for certain identification being around 60:40 in favour of Razorbill, but surprisingly only 100 or so Gannet. All of the movement was west and recorded between 8:00 and 12:00. Also from Hengistbury, a single Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit and 2 Red-breasted Merganser past. A couple of visits to Stanpit in the afternoon determined the harbour was not stacked full of storm driven gulls. In fact, the pre-roost contained pretty much expected numbers, such as 5 Mediterranean Gull, 23 Common Gull and 160 Lesser Black-backed Gull; while the waders were topped by a Ruff, 9 Avocet and a single Bar-tailed Godwit, plus 110 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Ringed Plover and 200+ Dunlin; with other interest coming from a Goldeneye in Barn Bight and 7-9 Pintail in Stanpit Bight.

February 5th

As the south-westerly blow continued, the shelter of the Beach Huts were very welcome during a 2.5 hour seawatch, which commenced at 8:00 and saw masses of birds piling west out of Christchurch Bay. Most numerous were auks, with two, timed counts suggesting at least 5000 birds passed by. Interestingly, out of a relatively small sample that were specifically identified, there seemed to be an even split of Razorbill and Guillemot. Also plentiful were Kittiwake and Common Gull, with estimates of 200 and 350 respectively, as well as 350 Gannet, 10 Fulmar, 8 Red-throated Diver, an unidentified diver, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Red-breasted Merganser. To finish with the sea, if the numbers of the more expected winter seabirds hadn't been so spectacular, then a February Sandwich Tern would have been mentioned much earlier in this post. The only other interest for the day came from 6 or so Redpoll around Holloway's Dock and a drake Pintail in Barn Bight. Just outside the area, the Purewell Waxwing exceeded 60 for most of the day.

Omission: a Peregrine also went by at sea.

February 4th

This Dunlin , with a strangely marked pale face, has been around for a couple of weeks - Jimmy Main

On a day that was dominated by a westerly gale and drizzle, the only news relates to a Treecreeper in Smithy's Field. On a more general note about Christchurch, there were still 40+ Waxwing in the Purewell/Normandy Drive area.

February 3rd

Waxwing - Alan Hayden
Although just a single Waxwing was inside the recording area today, this bird was actually one of 40 or so just 100m away at Purewell surgery. Please click here for more photos.

Firstly, apologies the lack of update last night, but our host experienced some technical difficulties that were only fixed this morning. For the first time this winter, parts of Christchurch, in particular Purewell, were treated to their first properly settled Waxwing, at least 40 in all; but unfortunately just a single bird chose to come down within the true recording area - on Ashtree Meadow at 1:00 this afternoon. Even so, other parts of Stanpit proved they are still holding interest, with a Water Pipit and Chiffchaff both seen, as well as the Spotted Redshank, now 13 Avocet and 15 Mediterranean Gull. Meanwhile, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Grey Plover, 17 Ringed Plover, 310 Dunlin and 14 Pintail were counted; and two each of Linnet and Jackdaw were good early year records for the site.

Additional news: a group of 13 Waxwing were perched in the North Scrubs at Stanpit for short while.

Additional news: a Kittiwake was inside the harbour.

February 2nd

A male Merlin, the first of the year, was on South Marsh, Stanpit, this morning, while 8 Pintail but just a single Avocet were seen at lunch. However, the rest of the news comes from the sea, across a 60-minute spell prior to 9:15. During that time, at least 3000 auks, again seemingly all Razorbill, passed west; as did 3 Red-throated Diver, 24 Kittiwake and 95 Gannet, these greatly reduced from the last couple of days. Meanwhile, a total of 425 Cormorant appeared over the top of Hengistbury and headed out into Poole Bay.

February 1st

Kingfisher around Grimmery Bank - Jimmy Main

As a result of some drizzle that rolled in at 9:00, opportunities at sea were rather limited this morning; but in the preceding 45-minutes a Great Skua, 370 Gannet and 425 auk, all those identified being Razorbill, drifted west. Also, 49 Great Crested Grebe on the water between Double Dykes and the Long Groyne, while a single Raven passed over. At Stanpit, a couple of Firecrest were almost certainly recently arrived, one by the Visitor's Centre and one on Ashtree Meadow, where a couple of Chiffchaff were attracted to a pile of dung. There is little else to mention, however, other than all 12 Avocet and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit in Stanpit Creek at dusk. As we enter the second month of the New Year, just a quick reminder that your subscription may be overdue.

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