Sightings for March 2011

March 31st

A blasting westerly wind and the constant threat of rain meant limited activity, but it's not reckoned there was much out there to be missed. The only report so far comes from the sea this morning, when an hour's effort resulted in 10 Fulmar, including a flock of 4, 6 Gannet and a Sandwich Tern, all west, while 45 Brent Goose moved up-channel.

Additional news: from Stanpit, where a Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Plover and 8 Bar-tailed Godwit were present.

March 30th

Drizzle for most of night and throughout the day meant there were few new arrivals, but a Green Sandpiper, seemingly flushed from Wick Hams by 3 incoming Grey Heron, is certainly worthy of note. Actually, the sea probably saw the most in terms of migration, as 78 Brent Goose headed high to the east, while 3 Kittiwake and 29 Common Scoter moved in the opposite direction. Otherwise from Hengistbury, it was just: a Brambling, a Redpoll and 3 Siskin over; a Firecrest, 8 Goldcrest, 3 Willow Warbler, 16 Chiffchaff and a Wheatear settled; 3 Purple Sandpiper on the Groynes; and a couple of young Peregrine checking out the place. On the other side, the regular Fisherman's Bank census turned in: 13 Turnstone, a Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 104 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 of these seen to leave east, 33 Dunlin and 42 Brent Goose. Meanwhile, as it's quiet, it seems a good time to remark that over the last couple of weeks there has been a huge departure in adult gulls, most markedly Black-headed Gull, from thousands pre-roosting at Stanpit to now just a few hundred.

March 29th

Following on from a late report for yesterday, it really is turning into a good spring for Black Redstart, with today seeing a further three birds - two on the Wick Fields and one by the Coastguards. Also on Wick, a couple of text book breeding-plumage Water Pipit in the field adjacent to the Wooden Bridge, while two individuals seen slightly later on Priory Marsh could well have been the same. Meanwhile, 10 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler and 2 Blackcap were singing in the fields, and a Redpoll, a Redwing, 14 Sand Martin and 2 Mediterranean Gull passed over. On Hengistbury itself, the best Wheatear count was 10, a Little Ringed Plover and 3 Swallow moved over, the sea saw 50 Brent Goose travelling east, up to 4 male Dartford Warbler were logged, two of them certainly paired up, and the comedy Tufted Duck was with Mallard close to The Hiker. At Fisherman's Bank, there were one, but possibly 2, Spotted Redshank, as well as 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, 120 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover, 50 Dunlin, 55 Brent Goose, 4 Shoveler and 12 Shelduck. Over the last two or three days at Stanpit, a pair of Magpie have been constructing a fairly impressive structure using mainly material from an adjacent nest of a related species. This evening, there were a couple of bemused looking Carrion Crow wondering just where last year's home had disappeared to.

March 28th

Male Stonechat - Darren Hughes
...and some record shots of a Stone Curlew over the Barn Field - Darren Hughes

It was a week ago today that a Stone Curlew flew over in the dark, but at midday this Tuesday, one about Hengistbury was a little more obliging; being seen a couple of times from the Barn Field as it ranged between Warren Hill and Whitepits before appearing to head out to sea. Earlier, in identical conditions to yesterday, a Woodlark went over the end of the head, while Little Ringed Plover passed over there and Stanpit, where a Yellow Wagtail also overflew. In the main, however, it was quiet with the most noteworthy passage involving corvids and pigeons - 165 Woodpigeon, 9 Stock Dove, 2 Raven, 7 Rook and 4 Jackdaw - all north-east. Also, moving in the same general direction, 5 Redpoll, 31 Linnet, 2 Swallow and 162 Meadow Pipit. On the deck, 14 Wheatear were on the Barn Field and 2 Firecrest, 2 Goldcrest, 16 Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warbler were all east of the Wood. Stanpit was again fairly routine, with the return from there comprising: a Spotted Redshank, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 40 Dunlin and 54 Brent Goose. These in addition to 102 Black-tailed Godwit, a number that has been reasonably constant over the last week and one that contains several very smartly plumaged adults. Interestingly, there are now no colour-ringed individuals present and one wonders whether the previous, mainly drab congregation was a different set of birds that have moved on and been replaced?

Additional news: a Black Redstart was by the Barn.

March 27th

A pair of Mediterranean Gull - the left-hand bird in second summer plumage - Alan Hayden
...and Willow Warbler on Wick - Bob Moore

Today's best was an adult Little Gull, presumably the same individual that has been on-and-off in the lower Avon Valley for a couple of weeks now, on the Stanpit recreation ground just after 7:00 this morning. Otherwise, on another fine day, there was a modest scattering of migrants about Hengistbury and Wick. The exception being 12 Goldcrest at the eastern end of the head, which is a pretty reasonable number for the spring, and a gathering of 43 of the day's 45 Wheatear on the Barn Field. The rest, meanwhile, came to 20 Chiffchaff, 10 Willow Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 3 Sandwich Tern and 20 Sand Martin, although lingering birds of the latter are now becoming difficult to separate from those passing through. To finish on that side of the area, a single Great Crested Grebe was on the sea. Inside the harbour, there were few surprises, as: 13 Mediterranean Gull, a Spotted Redshank, 6 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 110 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover, 5 Pintail, 21 Shelduck and 41 Brent Goose were counted.

March 26th

Black Redstart - Alan Hayden
Chiffchaff - Alan Hayden
Meadow Pipit - Alan Hayden
Wheatear - Alan Hayden

For those of you who attended the Christchurch Borough Council walk at Stanpit, some of today's photos, all taken on Wick Field during the time we were out, may give a better view of a few of the birds we saw.

With the overnight mist quickly burning away to a strong sun and up to 12 newly-arrived Willow Warbler singing on Wick this morning, it really did feel like spring. Also on the fields, a Black Redstart, this in the Bobolink Field, 56 Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcap, while a Tree Sparrow was by the Double Dykes very briefly and a few more of the warblers were dotted around the suitable areas of Stanpit. Meadow Pipit came through in numbers; for example, several hundred passed low over Hengistbury before 10:00, then up to 200 carpeted Wick and Stanpit during the afternoon. Meanwhile, other migrant interest for the day comprised: 36 Wheatear across the three main sites, including 11 on the sandspit; 4 Redpoll and 25 Linnet north; and 3 Jackdaw and a Rook westward. A single Purple Sandpiper was also on the sandspit and a good count of 18 Turnstone was made on the inner shore there; also a Spotted Redshank, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, the Knot and 3 Grey Plover logged from Stanpit. To wrap up, a fine looking Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh, a Peregrine hunted briefly and the drake Tufted Duck was still around.

March 25th

Mute Swan - Dave Cooke

An even nicer day than yesterday, thanks mainly to the almost complete lack of wind. Meadow Pipit movement was still evident, however, with 380 north this morning, while finches were also incoming - 7 Redpoll, 35 Linnet and a Goldfinch - being the total over Hengistbury. Also going through, 75 Sand Martin, a Swallow, 3 Rook and 12 Mediterranean Gull. Priory Marsh held most of the quality, with 2 Bearded Tit in the Great Spires and 2 Water Pipit in the north-east corner, but a Little Ringed Plover did pass over Crouch Hill. Meanwhile, over 10 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were about the golf course embankment, but, other than a White Wagtail by the Coastguards, there was little else in the way of settled passerines on site. From Fisherman's Bank, both the Spotted Redshank could be seen to contain hints of breeding plumage, ditto some of the 134 Black-tailed Godwit; also 2 Grey Plover, 86 Dunlin and 5 Pintail from there, plus a Peregrine over.

March 24th

The male Kestrel that frequents the Barn Field - Alan Hayden

On another fine day, there were a decent number of migrants in or over the area, with the vast majority of the returns coming from Hengistbury. Final figures are: a male Black Redstart by Saint Nicholas' Church; 66 Wheatear, including 36 on the Barn Field at 11:00; 80+ Chiffchaff, most of these off the head past the HHC very early on; 1260 Meadow Pipit, with a pulse of 400 birds in the 5-minutes prior to 11:00; 31 alba Wagtail, 2 Blackcap, 55 Sand Martin, 2 Swallow, 116 Linnet, 2 Siskin, a Redpoll and 4 Sandwich Tern. Meanwhile, birds settling into the area to hopefully increase their numbers, included 19 Shelduck, some of these displaying in Stanpit Bight and hopefully on course to put right a couple of blank years, as well as a singing Mistle Thrush in the Wood and nest-building Jay, Magpie, Linnet, Greenfinch and Stonechat. Wildfowl interest came from the 'pet' Tufted Duck, a female Red-breasted Merganser that settled inside the harbour off the Black House, a Shoveler, 3 Pintail, these now all ducks, and 101 Brent Goose. To conclude, on the gull and wader front, and mainly from Fisherman's Bank, there were: 2 Mediterranean Gull, the 2 Spotted Redshank, the Knot, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Grey Plover, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ringed Plover and 91 Dunlin.

March 23rd

Wheatear on the Barn Field today - Alan Hayden
Black-tailed Godwit on Stanpit - Alan Crockard

The glorious spring weather of the last couple of days is likely to remain with us for the next few days with the high pressure now well established. Coupled with light winds, conditions are almost ideal for migrants and today saw a real mix. The first House Martin of the year passed over the harbour, also singles of Swallow, Woodlark and Brambling. It was easily the best day so far for Wheatear with 16 around Hengistbury and 4 on Priory Marsh this morning, then after lunch, at least 20 birds still on the Barn Field. There were 390 Meadow Pipit today plus 14 Linnet and 5 Skylark all moving north; also 11 Sand Martin around the area. On Priory Marsh, 5 Water Pipit and 2 Bearded Tit were present, plus a Jack Snipe and, later in the morning, 2 Little Ringed Plover; also a singing Willow Warbler near Ribs Marine. On Wick Fields a Blackcap was singing by the Driving Range, a Fieldfare was behind the HHC, 2 Mistle Thrush were present and 11 Chiffchaff were around. The Spotted Redshank and the Knot remained faithful to Stanpit, also 130 Black-tailed Godwit, 102 Brent Geese, 72 Dunlin, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Sandwich Tern and 4 each of Pintail and Grey Plover, while 16 Turnstone were on the Mudeford Sandspit. A few other snippets, in no particular order, were a Common Buzzard that passed north over Whitepits, a pair of Bullfinch which flew towards Wick from the Stanpit Golf Course, a Great Crested Grebe on the sea and 7 Mediterranean Gull today, two of which went west at sea. Finally, there was a pair of Blackcap in North Scrubs this evening.

Check back to yesterday for a significant late report.

March 22nd

On another fine day things were a little bit quieter with just 78 Meadow Pipit and a Redpoll north, plus 11 Chiffchaff and 2 Wheatear grounded. There were also at least 5 Sand Martin prospecting the cliffs. At sea, a Black-throated Diver initially on the water moved off west, a Razorbill was off Double Dykes and there was a Fulmar off the Coastguards, while 5 Greylag Geese headed south over the Barn Field. From Mudeford Quay, 4 Common Scoter, 3 Great Crested Grebe and a Tufted Duck were seen. The Knot was again on Stanpit, together with 102 Brent Geese, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover, 4 Pintail, 2 Turnstone and just 2 Ringed Plover. Finally, this afternoon, a breeding -plumaged Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh and a Buzzard passed over there.

Late news: at 7:50 last night, a Stone Curlew was calling over the Two Riversmeet Leisure Centre.

March 21st

a record shot of Sandwich Tern on Stanpit today - Alan Hayden
Wigeon - Alan Hayden

On a glorious first day of spring with high pressure in place and very little wind, the harbour enjoyed the best movement of birds of the spring so far. The first Swallow of the year moved over Hengistbury; also a Woodlark, a Merlin and 3 Brambling, plus 720 Meadow Pipit, 31 alba Wagtail, 25 Chaffinch, 15 Siskin, 9 Linnet, 2 Redpoll and a Little Ringed Plover. A Black Redstart was by the Natterjack Pond, also a White Wagtail there, while elsewhere there were 19 Chiffchaff, 9 Sand Martin, 4 Wheatear, 2 on each side of the harbour, a Firecrest and a singing Blackcap in the wood. Meanwhile, on Stanpit, a Bearded Tit was on Central Marsh and 7 Linnet were on Crouch Hill. At least 7 Sandwich Tern were in the harbour today, with another 3 moving by at sea. Both Green Sandpiper and Golden Plover were about Stanpit and the Knot was still in Holloways Dock. Counts from Stanpit were 98 Brent Geese, 88 Black-tailed Godwit, 77 Dunlin, 11 Shelduck, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover, 4 Grey Plover and 4 Pintail. To round up, 3 Mediterranean Gull arrived from the west, a Razorbill and 2 Guillemot were on the sea and the Tufted Duck was still present.

March 20th

The moon was at its closest to earth in 18-years making last night's full moon bigger and
brighter than normal. Scientists predicted it would appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per
cent brighter than a typical full moon, when at its peak Photo - Alan Crockard

There was another Black Redstart this morning, a female around the cattle pens by the Barn. Apart from that, migrants were hard to come by with just a dozen Chiffchaff around the area and a Sand Martin by the Coastguards. A Knot was in Holloway's Dock, while in the high tide roost at Stanpit there were 104 Black-tailed Godwit, 99 Brent Geese, 50 Dunlin, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover, 7 Pintail, 2 Grey Plover, a Turnstone, a pair of Shoveler and the Spotted Redshank. Mediterranean Gull today included: 2 adults over Hengistbury and a second winter on Stanpit this morning; then 6 adults in the pre-roost this afternoon. Back to Hengistbury and earlier in the day, when 7 Greylag Geese headed south-west, a Peregrine went north and a Raven was off the cliffs.

March 19th

Drake Tufted Duck - Chris Chapleo
...and another distant look at the Ring-billed Gull - Alan Hayden

Firstly, a word of apology about the lack of an update for yesterday - it was a case of forgetting to hit the Send button before rushing out for the AGM! Please do check back however, as there was a bit of excitement after dark. Back to today, when totally clear overnight skies meant there was quite a frost this morning, but this soon cleared as the sun took charge and made for a pretty decent day throughout. The best of the spring migrant action was a male Black Redstart in the locale of the Coastguards; but otherwise, the rest was made up of: at least 6 singing Chiffchaff around Wick, up to 6 lingering Sand Martin, a couple of Sandwich Tern over the Barn Field, a few flocks of incoming Meadow Pipit, 9 wandering Jackdaw and 2 Rook. To raise the interest a little, the Ring-billed Gull was again in Stanpit Bight this afternoon, but most of the time remained distant on Blackberry Point, and 2 Bearded Tit were in the reedbed adjacent to Tutton's Well. Meanwhile, the drake Tufted Duck that has taken up with the local Mallard is turning up in all sorts of strange places, not least on the small pools in the grounds of the HHC! At Stanpit, the very low afternoon tide made things difficult and meant that only: one Spotted Redshank, 5 Turnstone, 6 Ringed Plover, 86 Black-tailed Godwit, 90 or so Dunlin, 9 Mediterranean Gull, 7 Pintail and 101 Brent Goose were turned in. Finally, thanks to all members who attended last night, but mainly to Alan Crockard who gave an impressive multimedia presentation on the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

March 18th

More rain put most people off today, but there were a good number of pipits settled around the Priory Marsh area of Stanpit, including 4 Water Pipit and 150 Meadow Pipit; while 160 more of the latter headed generally north, most of these in a single flock.

Additional news: the year's first Tawny Owl was hooting outside the HHC last night, much to the delight of the back row at the AGM!

Knot - Alan Hayden

March 17th

A morning of varied visibility made things difficult at times, but there were a few bit-and-pieces around. Woodcock records are normally only associated with November or the extreme cold, so one accidentally flushed from between the Driving Range and the Wooden Bridge on Wick this morning was a real bonus. Also about Wick, 6 Redwing and 8 Chiffchaff. Moving slightly east, a Wheatear was on the Barn Field and a further Redwing was on Warren Hill, while a Knot and 63 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway's Dock, and the sandspit hosted 9 Turnstone.

Additional news: from Fisherman's Bank, there were 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover, 94 Black-tailed Godwit, these potentially additional to the Hengistbury birds, around 120 Dunlin, 3 Pintail, 101 Brent Goose and 4 Mediterranean Gull.

March 16th

An uncomfortable north wind, fog and resultant poor visibility slowed things down a bit this morning. Nevertheless, the season's first Willow Warbler, a bird attempting to sing in Double Dykes, was recorded; as well as 2 Black Redstart at the end of the head and a mid-morning arrival of up to 18 Stonechat on Hengistbury. Also, a total of 19 Chiffchaff crossing to Wick Fields, 88 Meadow Pipit north and a Golden Plover over, while the Barn Field saw singles of Fieldfare and Redwing, as well as 2 Redpoll. On Stanpit, a Little Ringed Plover was heard a couple of times around Priory Marsh, where there were around 20 alba Wagtail, two of the White, and some apparent evidence of Goldfinch passage with 28 seen moving over. The sea was largely quiet, but did manage to provide 3 Gannet and 19 Common Gull east, 2 Tufted Duck west and a Great Crested Grebe on the water. Early in the day, a Shoveler and 2 Greylag Goose were about the area, then later, from Fisherman's Bank, the 2 Spotted Redshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 19 Black-tailed Godwit, 96 Dunlin, 9 Pintail and 111 Brent Goose were counted.

Additional news: a Blackcap was singing by the village pond at Wick, a couple of Mistle Thrush passed over the fields and the now resident drake Tufted Duck was still hanging around with Mallard.

March 15th

Golden Plover on Solent Meads this morning - Chris Chapleo

There were a few migrants around today, the best being a Yellow Wagtail over Crouch Hill - this is the earliest ever harbour date for the species, beating the previous one, on 16th March 1998, by just one day. Another Little Ringed Plover was on Priory Marsh, 2 Sandwich Tern flew into the harbour, 16 Chiffchaff were between Wick Fields and the Nursery, while 2 Wheatear and 2 Sand Martin were seen. There is clearly some wader movement underway as a very confiding Golden Plover rested on Solent Meads Golf Course for a time this morning before moving on; and then later Stanpit held 7 newly arrived Knot and Grey Plover had increased to 13 birds. This evening, the adult Ring-billed Gull was again on Stanpit, also present was the Spotted Redshank, 108 Brent Geese, 19 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Pintail and 5 Turnstone, while 9 Mediterranean Gull were seen. To round up, a Great Crested Grebe was in the harbour and a Bullfinch was on Wick Fields.

Correction: 2 Scaup and a Pochard were in the harbour.

March 14th

Firstly, an update on the recent, resident goodies. The adult Ring-billed Gull was off South Marsh again from around 4:00 tonight, while the Little Stint had earlier been in Stanpit Bight, as was one of the Spotted Redshank, and 2 Water Pipit were on Priory Marsh. A stiff and chilly south-easterly wind didn't halt the on-going trickle of arriving migrants: for example, at least 7 Wheatear, six of them on Hengistbury were logged, along with 3 Firecrest, two behind the Nursery and one in Double Dykes, 3 Yellowhammer, two by the Barn and one in-off, 9 Goldcrest and 15 Chiffchaff between Double Dykes and the Wood, 2 Sandwich Tern east at sea and, during a 2-hour period, a Sand Martin, 3 Skylark, 146 Meadow Pipit, 6 Pied Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail and a White Wagtail over, plus one of the latter settled on Priory Marsh. Meanwhile, a Little Ringed Plover was at Stanpit, but soon disappeared into a ditch on East Marsh, and over on Wick some novelty was provided by a Ring-necked Parakeet. At sea, the best was undoubtedly 3 Velvet Scoter west, but also 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Mediterranean Gull, 16 Common Gull and 2 Common Scoter, all east. Before moving over the river to Stanpit, the best-of-the-rest from Hengistbury and Wick: where the fields turned up 2 Bullfinch today, as well as a Fieldfare and 15 Redwing, plus a Canada Goose over; while the Wood hosted a singing Treecreeper, far from a familiar sound in the area, and a Coal Tit. Finally, in addition to the drake Red-breasted Merganser inside the harbour, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 146 Dunlin, 9 Pintail and 107 Brent Goose were counted in and around Stanpit Bight.

March 13th

The adult Ring-billed Gull was back on-site this afternoon, this time just beyond the last of the gorse on South Marsh, where it was photographed and those results should appear in the next day or so. A Little Ringed Plover was disturbed from Priory Marsh and then seemed to leave the area, while yesterday's Wheatear remained on Crouch Hill this morning, when another was on the Barn Field, Hengistbury. Also a few more Chiffchaff dotted about, including a singer in the North Scrubs, as well as a male Stonechat at Stanpit and a Bullfinch in the Wick Fields, at the Driving Range end. Otherwise, it was all fairly routine and comprised: a pair of young Raven over the harbour; the drake Red-breasted Merganser in the harbour off Mudeford Quay; at least 10 Redwing still in the North Scrubs; and 22 Mediterranean Gull, 8 Grey Plover, 8 Pintail and 113 Brent Goose around Stanpit Bight.

March 12th

Ring-billed Gull - Alan Hayden
Wheatear on Crouch Hill - Alan Hayden

The best for the day came late in the afternoon when an adult Ring-billed Gull was found on South Marsh; also in the same area, an adult Little Gull and at least 20 Mediterranean Gull, 16 of them adults. The strong wind, which varied from south-west to south-east and back again, didn't bring in a whole load of migrants, but the first Wheatear of the season was on Crouch Hill; while singles of Sand Martin and Linnet came in-off at Hengistbury, where a handful of Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Siskin, as well as 4 Rook, passed over. A Chiffchaff at the end of the head, with a few Goldcrest, was also likely a traveller, whereas a couple more of the former around Stanpit golf course were probably remaining from earlier in the year. There were a couple of sawbill records for the day - a female Goosander upriver towards the Stour and a drake Red-breasted Merganser inside the harbour - with other wildfowl 'interest' coming from a couple of Greylag Goose. A good number of Redwing were on-site: for example 25 on Wick and 10 on Stanpit recreation ground; and Redpoll were heard around the Ironstone Quarry. A token effort at the sea was made from the Coastguards, where 11 Common Scoter, a Fulmar, 4 Gadwall and an up-channel Curlew were logged. Finally, the waders at Stanpit included 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 7 Grey Plover and 11 Snipe.

March 11th

Little Ringed Plover - Alan Hayden
...and Little Egret - Alan Hayden

When all's said and done, there was a pretty decent selection to be seen about the area today. Priory Marsh hosted the year's first Little Ringed Plover throughout, as well as a Water Pipit that at times posed on the boardwalk along side a clear-cut Scandinavian Rock Pipit, while a slightly less distinct littoralis was nearby alongside Parky Meade Rail. Just after 9:00, a Red Kite soared its way slowly east over The Priory, at times being joined by one of the local Buzzard. Meanwhile, on Hengistbury, there was a marked and refreshing increase in Stonechat numbers - with up to 7 birds on site, but crucially 3 males, the first since the cold snap of December! Moving back to Stanpit, where the Little Stint and 2 Spotted Redshank were again seen from Fisherman's Bank, as were 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover, 158 Dunlin, 102 Black-tailed Godwit and an identical number of Brent Goose. A Red-breasted Merganser was inside the harbour, while a Red-throated Diver moved past Mudeford Quay; also a Peregrine over Wick, plus singles of Redwing and Mistle Thrush in the North Scrubs. To close, the evening Mediterranean Gull count in Stanpit Bight was 12 - 10 adults and 2 second-winters.

March 10th

Skylark coming to seed in Whitepits car park - Alan Hayden

A continuing and strong westerly wind made birding less than pleasant in pretty much all areas today, not least Hengistbury, which remains almost totally 'chat-less', save for 1-2 Stonechat. At Stanpit, a nice pink and grey Rock Pipit along the southern edge of Parky Meade Rail seems a Scandinavian certainty, but that's about it for passerines on that side of the harbour as well. The ratio of adult to sub-adult Mediterranean Gull swung a bit today - seven of 22 birds still being in second-winter plumage, but presumably old enough to try and form pairs, which is no doubt why there are so many along the south coast right now. Meanwhile, the waders and fowl were logged at: 6 Grey Plover, 6 Turnstone, 99 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Ringed Plover, 135 Dunlin, 2 Pintail and dead-on 150 Brent Goose.

March 9th

Adult Mediterranean Gull - Alan Hayden

The day started with drizzle and a westerly wind, but despite Hengistbury being checked out there are no early spring migrants to report. Maybe tomorrow? At Stanpit, everything was pretty much present and correct, including: the Little Stint, the 2 Spotted Redshank, now 8 Grey Plover, 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, one of these a limping bird so quite distinctive, 39 Ringed Plover and 140 or so Dunlin. Also, at similar times of the day, 103 Black-tailed Godwit were off Fisherman's Bank, while 67 were in Holloway's Dock, so a total of 170 is quite possible. Another good Mediterranean Gull presence, for Christchurch that is, was a figure of 28, all adults, save for 3 second-winter birds. At least 4 Cetti's Warbler were heard from Stanpit, but some of these were presumably across the river, a couple of Redwing passed over Wick, a presumed migrant Curlew vocally inspected Mudeford Quay this evening, the day's Pintail count peaked at 9 and 21 Little Grebe were between the HHC and Parky Meade Rail.

March 8th

Grey Plover tucking in - Alan Hayden

Apologies for this rather rushed post, but time is short this evening. At Stanpit in the afternoon, the Little Stint was still mixing in with the Dunlin, while a Knot, 2 Grey Plover, a Spotted Redshank, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Turnstone and 22 Mediterranean Gull, 19 of them adults, were also present. Earlier, a Water Pipit had been logged, along with a Tufted Duck, 10 Pintail, 16 Little Grebe on the river and 2 Canada Goose. Meanwhile, over on Wick, a small medley of winter thrushes included 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing.

March 7th

Little Stint in Stanpit Bight - Alan Hayden
...and alongside a Dunlin - Alan Hayden
One of the seven colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit recorded this winter - Alan Hayden
This bird was first ringed, but only with a standard BTO type, at Seaton Marshes, Devon, in February 2006. Then, in December of last year, it was re-trapped and fitted with colour rings. Information from the Axe Ringing Group, who are refreshingly responsive to enquiries.
...and Firecrest behind the Nursery - Darren Hughes

The Little Stint headed another reasonable selection of waders at Stanpit, which also included a Spotted Redshank, a Golden Plover, a Knot, 4 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and 92 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as similar numbers of Dunlin to yesterday. Overhead, the reduced wind gave rise to the first spring arrival of Meadow Pipit, as 46 were incoming and north over Stanpit; but a Firecrest behind the Nursery on Hengistbury may well have been left over from the winter, ditto a couple of Linnet and 5 Goldcrest on Stanpit, while 11 Redwing on Stanpit certainly were. To complete the picture for the day: a Tufted Duck toured the harbour with some Mallard; the Pintail numbered 8 birds; 12 Mediterranean Gull were on site and the Brent Goose were counted at 134.

March 6th

If it hadn't been the final WeBS count of the season to urge the surveyors out into the field, the biting easterly wind would probably have resulted in fewer reports than were actually enjoyed for the day. The Little Stint was again present throughout, this morning in Stanpit Creek and this afternoon in Stanpit Bight, as were a Knot, a Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and 156 Dunlin. Black-tailed Godwit were more spread, however, with the day's figure reckoned to be 116 birds, while most of the 41 Ringed Plover and 27 Turnstone were on the sandspit or Mudeford Quay. The best of the wildfowl was the recently arrived female Goldeneye, but also 5 Shoveler and 12 Pintail, as well as 5 Greylag Goose seen incoming with a couple of Brent Goose, which themselves came to 131. Meanwhile, the final Wigeon tally was surprisingly high at 382, along with 102 Teal and 151 Coot. The morning saw a few Redwing in the Wick Fields and during the afternoon at least 11 Mediterranean Gull, three of them colour-ringed, were logged from Crouch Hill.

Additional news: a Firecrest and 4 Goldcrest were on Wick Fields.

March 5th

A cold, gloomy day brightened by lunch, but despite a fair amount of coverage and the exception of the Little Stint in Stanpit Creek, the results are best described as average. The best of the other waders was a Knot, with support coming from a Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Turnstone across the area and 22 Ringed Plover, but Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit were not counted. A female Tufted Duck was in Mother Siller's Channel during the morning high and a duck Red-breasted Merganser was also inside the harbour, but the sea produced just a further merganser and a single Razorbill in 60-minutes! On Stanpit, a Water Pipit was mixed in with Meadow Pipit around the Rusty Boat, but also occasionally on Priory Marsh, while other passerines included 3 Redpoll and a Coal Tit on Hengistbury, plus an aggregate of 9 Redwing from various spots. The only other minor interest came from: a Kingfisher along Fisherman's Bank, 3 Mediterranean Gull, a Great Crested Grebe off Goldeneye Point and 105 Brent Goose on South Marsh, nine of the latter still discernible as young birds.

March 4th

Although I can't vouch for the weather in the early part of the day, as I only returned to Christchurch at lunchtime, by the mid-afternoon it was very pleasant indeed on Stanpit. From Fisherman's Bank, the Little Stint and solitary Avocet could both be seen from the slip, while the total Mediterranean Gull count across the harbour was 17 birds - 12 breeding-plumage adults, 3 of the same age but not so advanced and 2 second-winter individuals. A number of sightings over the last week are of colour-ringed birds, but none have so far come close enough to allow characters to be read. A female Goldeneye in the main channel was the first for a few days at least; also 13 Pintail, 4 of them drakes, 20 Shelduck and 119 Brent Goose. To wrap up, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit were tallied at 144 and 104 respectively.

Additional news: a single Linnet was on the deck at Stanpit.

March 3rd

Two more shots of the Glaucous Gull - Jimmy Main (top), Alan Hayden (below)

On a fine but bitterly cold morning, the Glaucous Gull was on the mud between South Marsh and Blackberry Point for a short time. Around lunchtime, however, it flew north rather purposefully and was lost to view over the Priory. The Little Stint was also still present opposite Fisherman's Bank for most of the day. Elsewhere on the marsh were 2 Spotted Redshank, an Avocet, a Knot, a Turnstone, 170 Dunlin, 70 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Pintail and 12 Shelduck; while the Mudeford Sandspit held a further 19 Turnstone and 23 Ringed Plover. There was a Water Pipit on Stanpit and a Yellowhammer overhead, and on Hengistbury 5 Redpoll were below the Ironstone Quarry with both Raven and Rook over the Nursery. The Mediterranean Gull count today was 6 birds, 5 adults and a second-winter.

March 2nd

Long distance record shots of the Glaucous Gull - Alan Hayden

An adult Glaucous Gull found on Blackberry Point this afternoon is only the second record of this species in the last ten years, the previous one being a bird over Mudeford Quay in January 2009. Earlier, the Little Stint was in Stanpit Bight with c120 Dunlin, while also around the marsh were 140 Brent Geese, 108 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Pintail, 5 Shoveler and 1 Spotted Redshank. On Hengistbury, there was a Firecrest in the Wood, while from the cliff top 2 Peregrine were seen. Also from there: 15 Common Scoter, 5 Gannet, 4 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill, 7 unidentified auk, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and a Pintail, all moved west, with a single Red-throated Diver east. Meanwhile, just 3 Mediterranean Gull, all first-winter, were seen from Hengistbury.

March 1st

On a fairly raw day, due mainly to a keen northerly wind, the first Bearded Tit of 2011, two birds, were in the reedbed adjacent to the Sea Scout hut; while the only other passerine of note was a Water Pipit on the grassy area near Stanpit Scrubs. There were still reasonable numbers of Wigeon around the harbour with 280 on Stanpit and 48 in Barn Bight; with other counts coming to 143 Brent Geese, 102 Black-tailed Godwit, 76 Redshank, 75 Dunlin, 32 Ringed Plover, 21 Turnstone on the Mudeford Sandspit, 13 Pintail, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Mediterranean Gull, 5 adults and 3 second-winter birds and the 2 Spotted Redshank. A Raven passed over Hengistbury, while at sea just 2 Common Scoter moved east with a drake Red-breasted Merganser west.

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