Sightings for November 2011

November 30th

Pied Wagtail - Chris Chapleo

There were some quite astounding numbers of small to medium sized gulls recorded moving west past Hengistbury this morning: for example, across a 90-minute spell, 1500 Common Gull, 200 Mediterranean Gull, 850 Kittiwake and 2500 Black-headed Gull were estimated; while at lunchtime, Common Gull could still be seen from Mudeford Quay drifting west in their hundreds, along with much lesser numbers of Mediterranean Gull. The Kittiwake excepted, which may have been truly on the move, it is suspected that the 'commons' and the 'meds' were moving back to their more regular haunts around Poole Harbour after having their fill amongst a massive feeding flock that has been sat just west of The Needles for a couple of weeks now. Despite the large number of birds leaving it, the very distant flock wasn't actually appearing to get noticeably smaller, so suggesting it could stretch back way over the horizon. To put these numbers into local perspective, the pre-roost gathering of thousands of Black-headed Gull at Stanpit tonight held just 20 and 5 of Common Gull and Mediterranean Gull respectively! Back to the morning, when the sea, viewed from the Beach Huts, also produced: a Grey Phalarope by the Long Groyne; a Pomarine Skua taking its pick of the gulls; an Arctic Skua west; a Red-throated Diver, 70 Gannet, 30 Guillemot and 50 unidentified auks; as well as a Great Northern Diver on the water off Mudeford Quay. What is now becoming the resident Marsh Harrier was seen at various times over Stanpit and Wick between 8:00 and 11:20, then again at Stanpit at 3:15, having been outside of the area at Coward's Marsh at 12:45. Also still around is the Glossy Ibis at Stanpit, where the Water Pipit today numbered three, a Black Redstart was by the Coastguards on Hengistbury, 12 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit and 3 Firecrest, 4 Redpoll and 26 Linnet were in the Wood. The Spotted Redshank was again inside the harbour, as were 19 Grey Plover, and a Golden Plover passed over the head.

Omission: 3 Sandwich Tern were seen from the Beach Huts.

November 29th

The Marsh Harrier yesterday - Jimmy Main

A blasting south-westerly and some pretty heavy showers meant it was all about seawatching from the cars on Mudeford Quay, which was attended almost continuously throughout the day. The pick was a Sooty Shearwater that headed west, as did 2 Velvet Scoter and over 400 Common Gull, the latter in a 2-hour spell early on. At lunch, a Grey Phalarope flew across the run and disappeared behind the tip of the sandspit, but it was seen again briefly later in the afternoon, when 2 Arctic Skua also passed to the west. Much earlier, a fleeting glimpse of a skua was had as it appeared to settle behind a rock on the extreme tip of the sandspit. Given that a few minutes later, a couple of pointer type dogs were stopped in their tracks as they rounded the same rock and then almost immediately hot-footed it back towards their owner, the odds have to be that the bird was a pretty fed up Bonxie! During the course of the day, Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone were frequently commuting between Avon Beach and the sandspit, with minimum estimates for each coming to 20 and 50 respectively. Meanwhile, the regular 4 Common Scoter were around, a Red-throated Diver, 6 Kittiwake and 20 Gannet moved east, and a further 8 Common Scoter, 8 Red-breasted Merganser and 6 Mediterranean Gull went the opposite way.

November 28th

Oystercatcher - Chris Chapleo
...and the Cattle Egret yesterday - Jimmy Main

After some overnight frost and relatively clear skies, there was another hint of harrier movement over Stanpit; namely 2 Hen Harrier, a male west and a ringtail north, plus a Marsh Harrier, this travelling with the male of the former species; also passing through, a Merlin. Meanwhile, the seemingly settled Marsh Harrier again hunted the area and successfully took its breakfast, probably a pipit, early on in the morning. Priory Marsh held 2 Water Pipit, a Grey Wagtail and most of the day's 65 Black-tailed Godwit, while 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank, a Golden Plover, 8 Grey Plover, 8 Turnstone, 16 Ringed Plover and 29 Dunlin were elsewhere about Stanpit. The best of the wildfowl was a Pochard and 6 Pintail, but also 53 Canada Goose, these seeming to be taking a disturbingly more frequent liking to the area. To round up, a couple of Raven went over and a Kingfisher was off Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: 3 Purple Sandpiper were on the tip of the sandspit, visible from Mudeford Quay at times.

Marsh Harrier and some unsuspecting Coot - Chris Dresh

November 27th

The dawn broke to a forceful westerly wind and showers, but this all calmed down throughout the morning and the day ended rather more pleasantly. For the first time since the Cattle Egret first appeared, the Glossy Ibis was reported on-site at the same time, making a nice double for the area. The egret still prefers the Salt Hurns, mainly during the early part of the day, while the ibis is reasonably faithful to Central Marsh but can appear elsewhere. For the third day in succession, so presumably developing a liking for the harbour, a Marsh Harrier hunted for a period from around 9:30 onwards and visited both sides of the river from Wick to Stanpit as it did so. At sea, the mass of gulls was still on the horizon south-east of the Long Groyne, but 250 Kittiwake passed west much closer during the course of an hour this afternoon, and 4 Common Scoter and a Razorbill were on the water, with a Great Northern Diver and a single Gannet also noted. The Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit were logged at seven today and a Sanderling was by the Long Groyne, but only one Turnstone could be located for the WeBS count, which came up with in-harbour totals of: 8 Grey Plover, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit, 48 Black-tailed Godwit, 24 Ringed Plover, 132 Dunlin, 8 Pintail, a Shoveler, 2 Gadwall and a Shelduck. Meanwhile, for those more interested, some of the more routine came to: 792 Wigeon, actually a really good number, 259 Brent Goose, 160 Mute Swan, again a good count for the month, 119 Redshank and 33 Little Egret.

November 26th

Male and female Bearded Tit in Wick Hams yesterday - Joe Murphy
Note how both birds have been ringed, but certainly not at Christchurch

The wind whipped up from the south-west overnight meaning the sea received some attention this morning. However, other than 3 Little Gull from Mudeford Quay early on, it was something of a let down - the full details coming later in the post. Elsewhere, the Cattle Egret was on the Salt Hurns until mid-morning, a Marsh Harrier was again active around Stanpit for some time and 11 Purple Sandpiper were dotted about the Sandspit, five of them roosting on groyne S9. On the walk to the Beach Huts, when it was still mostly dark, at least 6 Redwing were heard, while the open sea could produce just: 3 Red-throated Diver, a first-winter Kittiwake, 4 Mediterranean Gull, the 3 regular Common Scoter, 3 Razorbill, a Guillemot and a Great Crested Grebe. The feeding flock of several hundred gulls, mainly of the large species, that has been around for a couple of weeks, was again distantly offshore and 2890 Black-headed Gull were counted entering the harbour in 30-minutes just after dawn. Actually, in addition to those coming into the harbour a similar number, but arguably more, were heading directly inland over Avon Beach and Steamer Point, meaning the Christchurch Bay roost is likely in the region of 6000 birds. Finally, a Kingfisher was around Mudeford Quay at first light.

November 25th

Grey Heron - Jimmy Main

As the season continues to wind down, the only real migrant interest came from a juvenile Marsh Harrier that hunted both sides of the harbour for 20-minutes or so mid-morning. Otherwise, a Chiffchaff in Wick Ditch excepted, we seem to settling into birds that may be with us for the remainder of the year and beyond. For example: there was a Water Pipit by the Rusty Boat and the Glossy Ibis on Central Marsh; 2 Bearded Tit were in Wick Hams; 12 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit; and, from Mudeford Quay, a Slavonian Grebe was on the water, along with a Great Northern Diver. Meanwhile, a further Great Northern Diver, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and a Great Crest Grebe passed west, and the regular 3 Common Scoter were seen from Hengistbury. Back to Stanpit and a decent Snipe count - 85 as they took to the air, along with a Jack Snipe - as well as 60 Dunlin and 80 early morning Canada Goose.

Additional news: a Sanderling was at Hengistbury.

November 24th

Cattle Egret on the Salt Hurns this morning - Alan Hayden
Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit - Darren Hughes

The year's second Cattle Egret was something of a surprise this morning, as it fed with 4 Little Egret amongst a few cattle in the enclosed area of the Salt Hurns, before picking up and heading over towards Wick. Unfortunately though, we weren't able to make it two good heron-type birds for the day, as the ibis wasn't seen/reported. On the sandspit, which is currently receiving a little more attention than normal due to an elusive lark, there were 14 Purple Sandpiper and a Sanderling, with possibly a further two Purple Sandpiper visible across The Run from Mudeford Quay. Looking out to sea from the quay, a couple of quick squints came up with a Red-throated Diver, 2 Razorbill and 2 Great Crested Grebe, while a flight of hundreds of Black-headed Gull into the harbour at dusk contained at least 9 Mediterranean Gull. In the Wood on Hengistbury, there was a Chiffchaff and half-a-dozen Goldcrest, with Stanpit contributing a Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, around 11 Turnstone, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover and 59 Dunlin, as well as 3 Pintail.

November 23rd

Shore Lark on South Marsh, Stanpit, this morning - Alan Hayden
...and a flight view - Kevin Lane

It was the first day of the month when the conditions have been classic for pigeons, i.e. cold and clear; but given the date it was no wonder that only 750 Woodpigeon and 27 Stock Dove passed distantly inland to the west. That really does indicate that it's all pretty much over, I guess. However, other interest abounded, not least from the re-discovery of the Shore Lark on South Marsh, Stanpit, this morning, where it remained on-and-off for around 90-minutes before heading off towards the Black House. Unfortunately, further searching could not locate the bird. In addition: a male Snow Bunting passed over Hengistbury; a ringtail Hen Harrier headed into The Solent; a Slavonian Grebe was on the calm sea off the Beach Huts; a Merlin was about the head, as was a late Swallow, with 2 Ruff and a Golden Plover also over; a Bearded Tit was heard briefly in the HHC reeds; and the Glossy Ibis was again very obvious at Stanpit. The morning also saw the rather tragic scene of a Buzzard, after seemingly leaving Hengistbury, being forced into the waters of Christchurch Bay by large gulls and subsequently drowning. A couple of Goldeneye and 2 Pochard acted as if they were newly arrived for the winter, but in contrast, 3 Sandwich Tern flew through the harbour and 3 Chiffchaff were in the Wood. In terms of waders, a Spotted Redshank was at Stanpit and up to 30 Turnstone were about the area, 24 of them of the sandspit, where there was a single a Purple Sandpiper; meanwhile, 4 Grey Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover and 106 Dunlin were spread around the harbour. A light, easterly finch passage took place during the first hour or so of daylight, when 2 Brambling, 6 Redpoll, 130 Goldfinch and 85 Chaffinch were logged, while 9 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing headed north-west. The same 3 Common Scoter as yesterday lingered offshore, 5 Raven were logged, the in-harbour Red-breasted Merganser was present and, tonight, a Mediterranean Gull and over 100 Canada Goose arrived to roost.

November 22nd

Teal - Alan Crockard

With mist covering the area during the morning, things didn't really pick up until around lunchtime, when 3 Sandwich Tern flew into the harbour over The Run, while a presumed further bird lingered just offshore. However, the real highlight came just after 1:30, when a Shore Lark overflew The Run and pitched onto a strip of grass in the middle of the Mudeford Quay car park, where it remained for a minute or so before heading off in the direction of Stanpit Marsh. Not recorded at Christchurch since 1997, this is only the eighth for the group after the first in 1972. Subsequent searching of Stanpit failed to relocate the bird, but the prime habitat is on the sandspit from where it may well have come. Also from the quay over lunch, a Red-throated Diver and 2 Greylag Goose west, plus three female-type Common Scoter that sat on the mirror calm sea. At Stanpit, where the Glossy Ibis was still present, there was a Spotted Redshank, a Sanderling, a Knot, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 86 Dunlin, as well as 9 Pintail, a Shelduck and 52 Canada Goose, some of the latter disconcertingly hanging around for most of the day. Meanwhile, singles of Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were seen from both the Wooden Bridge and in Parky Meade Rail, where there were also 5 Water Rail visible on the low tide.

November 21st

Black-tailed Godwit , still in juvenile plumage - Chris Dresh
Water Pipit - Darren Hughes

Overnight cloud and the hint of drizzle dropped a more-than-average number of Fieldfare and Redwing onto Hengistbury and Wick this morning - in some quite sizeable flocks, the largest being a mixture of around 50 birds. The counts were 116 and 46 respectively, along with 50 or so decked Song Thrush, some of them again in voice. The vestigial finch passage included a couple of Bullfinch, 230 Chaffinch and 200 Goldfinch east, as well as 12 Redpoll settled at the end of the head. At Stanpit, in addition to the Glossy Ibis, there were 2 Water Pipit, a Ruff and a Golden Plover, as well as a Treecreeper was in the North Scrubs. Off Mudeford Quay, a couple of Sandwich Tern were fishing around lunchtime and a Grey Wagtail was by the Lifeboat Station; while a few scans out to sea produced a Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Goosander and 5 Red-breasted Merganser, all west, with a further of the latter, a redhead, settled inside the harbour, as were 8 Pintail, 3 Shoveler and 6 Gadwall. To wrap up, the commoner waders at Stanpit came to: 5 Grey Plover, 5 Turnstone, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 24 Ringed Plover and 75 or so Dunlin.

Additional news: a Black Redstart was on the sandspit.

November 20th

Bearded Tit - Alan Hayden
Bearded Tit - Jimmy Main
Reed Bunting - Alan Hayden

With the area being enveloped in a thick mist early on and the realisation that the season is fast dwindling, the luxury of the first lie-in since early August was enjoyed by a few. The sea off the Beach Huts hosted a single Slavonian Grebe and a flock of 3 Sandwich Tern headed east past there, as well as a Purple Sandpiper and a Mediterranean Gull elsewhere on the sandspit. By the HHC, 5 Bearded Tit, four of them males, surrendered once more to the photographers, while 9 Fieldfare passed over. At Stanpit, the Glossy Ibis again preferred to feed barely 10m from the path out to Crouch Hill and 6 Pintail, two drakes and four ducks, were in Stanpit Bight; from where 6 Grey Plover, a Turnstone, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Ringed Plover and 54 Dunlin were also returned. Meanwhile, a Brambling headed over Stanpit golf course, a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher flew towards Fisherman's Bank, a couple of Little Grebe were in Barn Bight, a Dartford Warbler showed well in the Barn Field and for reasons best known to itself a Song Thrush decided to sing in the Nursery.

November 19th

Coot - Alan Crockard

Most of the current specialities performed to varying degrees today. The Glossy Ibis was seen from Hengistbury and Stanpit, while up to 5 Bearded Tit were in the HHC reeds and further birds were heard by the Wooden Bridge on Wick. A Short-eared Owl that came up from the Bobolink Field around 9:00 eventually landed on Central Marsh, Stanpit, where at least one Spotted Redshank was again around. As the autumn migration peters to a halt, 1200 Woodpigeon, 320 Goldfinch, 75 Chaffinch and 55 Linnet headed east, and singles of Bullfinch and Fieldfare were on Wick Fields. A couple of Great Crested Grebe and 6 Little Grebe were inside the harbour, as were 2 Mediterranean Gull, Kingfisher were on Wick and by the HHC, 2 Raven went over the top of Hengistbury and around 60 Snipe were flushed from East Marsh by a hovering Kestrel.

November 18th

Turnstone - Jimmy Main

The wind took a strong turn to the south-east overnight, which made it pretty unpleasant in most spots around the area. There was some interest, however, with 2 Slavonian Grebe on the sea off Mudeford Quay, 9 Purple Sandpiper and a Sanderling on the sandspit, 5 Bearded Tit in the HHC reeds and 2 Spotted Redshank together off Fisherman's Bank. In addition, singles of Fieldfare and Redwing were on Hengistbury, 12 Pintail arrived and settled in Barn Bight, and 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 53 Black-tailed Godwit, 61 Dunlin and 7 Shelduck were counted at Stanpit, where 61 Canada Goose again roosted.

November 17th

Some of 9 Bearded Tit in Wick Hams - Chris Dresh
Wheatear flycatching on the sandspit - Chris Dresh

There are currently in excess of 2000 birds using Stanpit and this is proving something of a magnet for predators, with the morning producing the autumn's third Goshawk, thought to be a male bird, which was seen heading low south-east over Wick Fields; while Peregrine caused panic around the marsh a few times throughout the day. Also from Wick: 20 Golden Plover that were seen heading towards Stanpit, 6 Redwing and 4 Brambling, with the nearby HHC reedbed hosting 9 Bearded Tit. Meanwhile, a late Wheatear was busy feeding up on the sandspit, where there was up to 6 Purple Sandpiper, and a Treecreeper was again in the Wood. At Stanpit, the nervous waders were difficult to pin down, but a Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 46 Black-tailed Godwit and around 30 Dunlin were managed, along with the Glossy Ibis, a Chiffchaff in the North Scrubs and 3 Raven. The optimum pigeon watchpoint in the area, i.e. the top of Hengistbury, wasn't attended today, meaning the sizeable counts coming in from elsewhere in the county are making us wonder, 'what-if'. Nevertheless, 2000 were seen from Stanpit heading east.

November 16th

The Glossy Ibis at Stanpit - Alan Hayden
Redpoll on Hengistbury - Darren Hughes

Another murky morning saw to it being relatively quiet on and over Hengistbury, so it was down to Wick to provide a level of interest. A settled, which is very unusual for the area, Brambling was by the Wooden Bridge, as was a Chiffchaff, while 23 Fieldfare and 21Redwing came out of the bushes, where they had presumably been roosting after arriving during the night. Slightly later, a couple more Fieldfare came off Hengistbury, as did 25 Song Thrush, with 4 Golden Plover, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Brambling and 5 Redpoll over, plus a couple of the latter settled. Also, 2 Treecreeper together in the Wood and 2 Red-throated Diver west, with various wildfowl coming to: 10 Shelduck inside the harbour, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 18 Common Scoter east, 3 Tufted Duck and 17 Gadwall. At Stanpit, where the Glossy Ibis and Spotted Redshank were still present, a fine count of 312 Brent Goose contained 71 young birds, which is a healthy 23% proportion. In addition, 3 Pintail and 4 Shoveler were about the marsh.

November 15th

Rock Pipit - Jimmy Main
...and Meadow Pipit - Alan Crockard

The overhead skies appeared clear this morning but a slight haze persisted inland, which seemed just enough to discourage any pigeons. In fact, the only hint of movement was a small flock of Woodpigeon and 8 Stock Dove east over Stanpit village and, if one takes a pessimistic view, with sites in west Dorset experiencing a few thousand this morning the expected event may now not happen for us this year. Actually, the overall movement was light, but did include a flock of 16 Golden Plover north-west over Stanpit and 40 Lapwing directly south out to sea, as well as 4 Brambling, a Bullfinch and 2 late Grey Wagtail over Hengistbury and Wick, where 335 Goldfinch, 100 Chaffinch, 60 Linnet, 15 Greenfinch, 3 Redpoll, a Siskin and 25 Skylark were also logged eastbound, as well as a frustrating encounter with a skein of 7 grey geese that headed over the Batters and out to Poole Bay. All that aside, there was still plenty to be seen on the deck, including 5 Bearded Tit in the HHC reeds, while a fine wader selection at Stanpit included: a Jack Snipe, a Spotted Redshank, a Knot, a Sanderling, 17 Grey Plover, a lingering Golden Plover, 4 Turnstone, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 51 Ringed Plover, 185 Dunlin and 35 Snipe. Also inside the harbour, 3 Pintail and 2 Tufted Duck, with 6 Fieldfare and a Chiffchaff about the Wick Fields, the Treecreeper in the Wood, 3 Raven over Hengistbury and a Kingfisher in the channel that is spanned by the Wooden Bridge on Wick. During the last week or so, Canada Goose have taken to roosting in Stanpit Creek, an event that is more often associated with earlier in the autumn. This morning 104 were counted to leave, and when queuing at Stony Lane roundabout at dusk tonight birds could be seen heading back there.

Omission: the Glossy Ibis was at Stanpit.

November 14th

Coal Tit - Chris Chapleo

Damp, low cloud engulfed the area for the entire day, making the sun invisible throughout. In the Wood on Hengistbury this morning, there was a Pallas's Warbler by the Double Bends, along with a Firecrest and a Chiffchaff, while 40 Goldcrest were more spread about. However, by the mid-afternoon, the greater part of that area was devoid of such birds. Other interest from the head early in the day involved the Snow Bunting, as well as: a Woodcock in-off the sea and into the vegetation just south of Holloway's Dock - a spot known colloquially as Redpoll Alley; a Slavonian Grebe that passed close to the Beach Huts; a couple of Purple Sandpiper again by the Long Groyne; and a Spotted Redshank in Holloway's Dock. At Stanpit, there were late individuals of Wheatear and Swallow, plus a Merlin, 2 Avocet, 5 Golden Plover and 5 Greylag Goose, the latter hanging around until lunchtime at least. The geese are slightly intriguing in that they arrived from the sea and appeared to quickly settle on the marsh, which is quite unusual for the Avon Valley feral birds. Also, a further two of the species went east past Hengistbury, as did 6 Shoveler and 6 Red-throated Diver, while another 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 7 Gannet headed west, and 5 Pintail, 5 Tufted Duck, 8 Shelduck and 23 Canada Goose were inside the harbour at various times during the day. Early on, a decent number of thrushes dispersed north-west, including 39 Redwing, 24 Fieldfare and 32 Song Thrush, and 235 Goldfinch, 90 Chaffinch, 19 Redpoll, a handful of Siskin and 120 Starling travelled east. Wader peaks at Stanpit came to: 10 Grey Plover, a good November record of Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 38 Ringed Plover and 83 Dunlin; the Glossy Ibis was still present, 3 Raven passed over and a Kingfisher was off Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: a House Martin was feeding around Solent Meads golf course at around 8:30.

November 13th

Male Bearded Tit over the HHC reeds yesterday - Jimmy Main

It was once again clear over the harbour, but hazy slightly inland - a situation, which combined with a strong easterly wind, meant that it was another no-go as far as the pigeons were concerned. In fact, now that it's almost the middle of the month, one starts to wonder if there will actually be a big day this year even if the conditions do eventually come good. Nevertheless, finches are still moving through in numbers, with the morning's estimate up to 11:00 or so being: 3 Crossbill, a Brambling, 750 Chaffinch, 730 Goldfinch, 250 Linnet, 180 Greenfinch, 30 Siskin and 10 Redpoll, the latter two species having almost completely dried up in the last few days. All these headed directly into the wind, as did around 30 Skylark. The best from the sea was a juvenile Pomarine Skua that lingered around the Long Groyne for a short time, but also 10 Red-breasted Merganser, three of which actually came directly over the Coastguards, 15 Pintail, 7 Common Scoter, 5 Shelduck and 9 Tufted Duck, while a party of 8 Pochard were in Stanpit Bight over the high tide. To finish at Hengistbury: the Snow Bunting was still present 200m east of Double Dykes; a Marsh Harrier travelled over the water towards Bournemouth; a Little Stint and 22 Dunlin were seen to arrive over the Barn Field; 2 Golden Plover headed high east; a couple of Purple Sandpiper were by the Long Groyne; at least 5 Fieldfare and Redwing were logged; the Treecreeper was in the Wood; and an adult male Peregrine was seen on a few occasions. Meanwhile, on Wick, a Little Owl called in the early daylight a few times and 4 Chiffchaff were around the Wooden Bridge; where, at dusk, a male Merlin checked out a roost flight of 67 Pied Wagtail. The only other bird news involves 4 Sandwich Tern inside the harbour, one of which was a first-winter bird still begging food from its parent, and a count of 850 Lapwing at Stanpit. Finally, after first being seen yesterday, a seal off the Coastguards area of Hengistbury was identified as a Common Seal this morning.

November 12th

The remaining, tail-less Snow Bunting - Alan Hayden
Jay in the Wood stocking up for the winter - Jean Southworth
...and Short-eared Owl - Jimmy Main

It was nothing short of sweltering about the area this morning, particularly as most present had dressed for conditions much cooler. Of the Snow Bunting, it seems that only the tail-less bird remains and was best viewed from the beach midway between Double Dykes and the Coastguards. Meanwhile, Merlin were seen on five occasions and certainly involved a minimum of three birds - a female that caught prey over the Long Groyne, another over Holloway's Dock moments later and then an adult male in-off the sea. A couple of Spoonbill passed over Stanpit and Wick, where a Short-eared Owl seemed fairly settled and Bearded Tit were again in the HHC reeds; while to round off the above average interest, the Glossy Ibis was showing particularly well at Stanpit. Overhead, 430 Woodpigeon, 47 Skylark, 440 Goldfinch, 220 Greenfinch, 185 Linnet, 75 Meadow Pipit, 23 Siskin and 7 Redpoll all moved east; and 4 Red-throated Diver, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Gadwall, a Great Crested Grebe and a Common Scoter passed at sea. Other bits-and-pieces for the day included: a Chiffchaff, a Fieldfare, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Raven and a Kingfisher from Wick; a Spotted Redshank in Holloway's Dock; and a Mediterranean Gull over Hengistbury.

Omission: a party of 23 Tufted Duck cut inland over Whitepits.

November 11th

Purple Sandpiper on Hengistbury a couple of days ago - Joe Murphy

A blasting south-easterly made things difficult this morning, but there were nevertheless some snippets of interest. The two adult Snow Bunting remained on-site, seeming to prefer the beach and cliffs around 200m east of the Double Dykes, a Ring Ouzel was on the top of the head and the information services reported a Short-eared Owl and the Glossy Ibis at Stanpit. The sea was watched for very brief periods, but did manage six distant shearwater spp. heading into The Solent and an unidentified skua, as well as 7 Kittiwake, 3 Common Scoter and 3 Guillemot east, plus a Red-breasted Merganser west. The wind didn't deter a few finches from moving to the east, namely 420 Goldfinch, 325 Linnet, 110 Chaffinch, 14 Siskin and 2 Brambling, while 2 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing were coming off Hengistbury. Late in the afternoon, a Spotted Redshank and 260 Brent Goose were seen inside the harbour from Mudeford Quay, with the tame, drake Tufted Duck being seen throughout the day.

November 10th

Grey Wagtail - Alan Hayden

In a very light wind and intermittent showers, there was a whole load of birds moving over Hengistbury during the early part of the morning. The most unusual for the date being a Swift that was seen twice before heading out south-east towards the island, but also a Woodlark, a Snow Bunting, a Yellowhammer, 9 Crossbill and 2 Bullfinch. Meanwhile, of the commoner species, Goldfinch and Chaffinch dominated with 1700 and 1200 respectively, all east; along with 111 Skylark, 110 Meadow Pipit, 410 Linnet, 130 Siskin, 115 Redpoll and 21 Brambling. Of the thrushes, which all moved inland, the best was a Ring Ouzel, as well as 37 Fieldfare, 9 Redwing, 62 Song Thrush and 43 Blackbird. Around the Beach Huts, a total of 3 Black Redstart were present, while the two settled Snow Bunting were on the beach beneath the Barn Field, a Merlin passed over the head and singles of Marsh Harrier were seen coming off Wick and over Whitepits. At Stanpit, there were 3 Jack Snipe during the morning, with other wader counts from throughout the day including: the Spotted Redshank, 8 Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Ringed Plover, 80 Dunlin and 466 Lapwing. Also, the Glossy Ibis, a Swallow over Fisherman's Bank, plus 2 Kingfisher there, a Peregrine hunting, 220 Brent Goose and 68 Canada Goose settled at dusk. A good total of Snipe was omitted from yesterday's post and these were augmented with 39 arriving over the Barn Field early on, when Avocet were also on the move with nine passing west at sea. Also travelling past the head and all east: a Red-throated Diver, 2 Eider, 15 Red-breasted Merganser, 12 Gadwall and 8 Common Scoter.

November 9th

Snow Bunting - Chris Dresh
Wheatear - Darren Hughes
Marsh Harrier - Darren Hughes

Very similar weather to yesterday, i.e. low cloud and drizzle, made for another harrier-fest, although Hen Harrier were also involved this time round. It's reckoned that as many as five birds may have passed through this morning - two at sea to the east, one over Stanpit, one coming up out of Central Marsh and one over Wick - making a total of ten since the 29th October. Meanwhile, a couple of Marsh Harrier are thought to be perhaps lingering about the Wick area, but further individuals were seen from Hengistbury and Stanpit early on. In a fairly strong south-easterly the sea also came up trumps, with a Balearic Shearwater from Mudeford Quay and a Little Auk in the company of 4 Razorbill passing in front of the Beach Huts, all of these to the east. Other stuff over the water and in the same direction included: 10 Red-throated Diver, 2 Eider, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Pochard, 15 Common Scoter, a Sparrowhawk and several Lapwing; conversely, a Great Northern Diver and 22 Kittiwake headed west; and a lingering Sandwich Tern was again logged. Wader variety came from a Jack Snipe flushed from the heather above the Gully and a Green Sandpiper on Wick, as well as the Spotted Redshank, 4 Grey Plover, 3 Turnstone, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Ringed Plover and around 70 Dunlin from Fisherman's Bank. Even in these conditions, there was a light finch passage over Hengistbury involving 310 Goldfinch, 73 Redpoll and 33 Siskin, while at the end of the head, a late Wheatear, remarkably appearing to be an adult so presumably from the far north-west, and a Blackcap were more settled, as were 2 Yellowhammer and 2 Mistle Thrush on Wick. To wrap up, Kingfisher were recorded in Barn Bight and from Fisherman's Bank, and the Glossy Ibis was seen on both sides of the harbour.

Stop press: this afternoon, the two adult Snow Bunting from yesterday were located on the Beach beneath the Natterjack Pond before they settled under the Coastguards.

Omission: a Slavonian Grebe was off Mudeford Quay and over 85 Snipe were present at Stanpit.

Additional news: 4 Purple Sandpiper were at Hengistbury.

November 8th

Snow Bunting yesterday - Jimmy Main
...and Snow Bunting today - Chris Chapleo

A totally damp and dismal day, but not without quality. Yesterday's two adult Snow Bunting were located early on around 200m east of the Long Groyne; then slightly later they were joined by a third, younger individual - so forming the largest 'flock' ever recorded at Christchurch. However, visitors in the afternoon were unable to locate the birds. Incredibly, given the almost constant drizzle, there were up to 4 Marsh Harrier recorded during the morning. Initially a couple of female-types were forced into Wick Hams reeds by the local corvids, a short time later another of the same plumage made its way along the sandspit, while a male was seen from Hengistbury and an hour later over Stanpit. Also on the move were Golden Plover, with a flock of 18 seen to head out to the south. At lunchtime, a Sandwich Tern was fishing in The Run and a Curlew Sandpiper, a Spotted Redshank, 8 Grey Plover, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 27 Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Ringed Plover and 81 Dunlin were in Stanpit Creek. Meanwhile, an adult Mediterranean Gull was inside the harbour by Mudeford Quay.

November 7th

Treecreeper - Jimmy Main
Goldcrest - Darren Hughes
...and winter thrushes - Fieldfare & Redwing - on Wick - Darren Hughes

The expected pigeon bonanza was well and truly scuppered by cloud that set in not long after 9:00 last night and is now forecast to last all week - so that's enough of predictions for the season. However, the on-going northerly wind brought more than enough interest for the day. A male Snow Bunting was seen on the beach at Hengistbury in the morning, but by lunchtime a couple had been pinned down around the base of the Gully - that's just east of the Long Groyne - where they were photographed, although the shots will probably not be available until tomorrow. In fact, of those two birds the male was tail-less, which may be due to a Merlin that was hanging around that spot earlier in the day. Around the same time, a Short-eared Owl came up from Warren Hill, while later in the afternoon and for the second day in succession, a Hen Harrier, this time a ring-tailed bird, passed north through Stanpit. Then, as if that wasn't enough, barely 5-minutes later a Marsh Harrier did exactly the same thing! Back to the morning, when: a Twite passed low over the Coastguards and a Lapland Bunting went over the Barn; a couple of Firecrest and a Treecreeper were on Hengistbury; some Bearded Tit were heard by the HHC; the Glossy Ibis was seen on both sides of the harbour; and a Sandwich Tern lingered by the Long Groyne. Finch numbers were relatively negligible, but 'stacks' of winter thrushes were on Wick, while a more 'scientific approach' on Hengistbury saw 37 Redwing and 23 Fieldfare head off north-west. The best of the seawatching happened prior to 9:00, when a Velvet Scoter, 6 Eider, 3 Great Northern Diver, 14 Red-throated Diver, including a flock of eleven, 16 Common Scoter, 75 Brent Goose, one of them pale-bellied, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Guillemot and a Razorbill were logged. After that, and by all accounts, it went very quiet with just a Grey Heron purposefully east and a further 28 Common Scoter, along with 6 Great Crested Grebe on the water, to remark upon. Incoming waders came to 43 Snipe, sixteen of them travelling with 4 Golden Plover, but those already settled at Stanpit were counted as 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Grey Plover, 39 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Ringed Plover and 71 Dunlin.

November 6th

Whooper Swan at Stanpit - Alan Hayden (top two) & Jimmy Main (lower)
Firecrest again by the HHC - Chris Dresh
...and some of the Gadwall at Stanpit - Alan Crockard

In a cold northerly wind, there were more than a few bits of interest throughout the day. Around 9:00, a Whooper Swan appeared loudly over Stanpit and quickly settled with several Mute Swan in Stanpit Bight, before dozing off after its journey south. Earlier, a male Snow Bunting had passed low over the Coastguards area of Hengistbury and the Firecrest was again by the HHC, where Bearded Tit were heard in the adjacent reedbed. At Stanpit, the Glossy Ibis, which is becoming very approachable, was present throughout, as was a Water Pipit near the Rusty Boat and 3 lingering Swallow; then, late in the day, a male Hen Harrier and a Short-eared Owl both passed over northbound. In addition to the wild swan interest, Stanpit Bight held newly arrived Shoveler and Gadwall, 14 and 8 respectively, while 88 Wigeon, 3 Pintail and 56 Brent Goose moved by to the west. In view of all this wildfowl activity, a Greylag Goose that headed east at sea may conceivably be unrelated to the feral birds that nowadays litter the Avon Valley. Meanwhile, mobile waders included a Ruff, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Lapwing, 16 Snipe and 39 Dunlin, all seeming to check-in to the area over Hengistbury. Once more, there was a decent easterly movement of passerines totalling: 63 Skylark, 93 Meadow Pipit, 1110 Goldfinch, 760 Chaffinch, 230 Linnet, 180 Siskin, 93 Redpoll, 66 Brambling, 14 Bullfinch, 2 Yellowhammer and 58 Reed Bunting; while 21 Fieldfare, 46 Redwing and 36 Song Thrush headed inland. A Spotted Redshank was by Holloway's Dock, a couple of Raven moved over the area and a Peregrine was seen from Stanpit. Finally, although the morning sky was largely clear there was still some haze, so the Woodpigeon count of 1950 west, plus 16 Stock Dove, was pretty insignificant for the date. However, if the night remains cloudless, then things could change tomorrow…

November 5th

Yellow-browed Warbler - Alan Hayden
Yellow-browed Warbler - Jimmy Main
Yellow-browed Warbler - Chris Chapleo
Yellow-browed Warbler - Alan Hayden
Firecrest - Jimmy Main

Cloudy skies made for a decent overhead movement of birds this morning, but before getting into the numbers some of the highlights. By the HHC, 2 Yellow-browed Warbler were again present, although only one of the birds was consistently 'showy', along with the Firecrest and a couple of settled Bullfinch. A Short-eared Owl was seen from the Batters, a Yellowhammer was about the end of the head and a Ring Ouzel was in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, where a Water Pipit and Jack Snipe were in the area of the Rusty Boat; and 6 Eider plus singles of Black-throated Diver and Red-throated Diver moved past at sea. In the northerly wind, travelling wildfowl and waders were a feature, with a drake Goldeneye, 105 Wigeon, 3 Gadwall, 65 Brent Goose and 2 Great Crested Grebe mostly west; and 7 Golden Plover, a Greenshank and several Dunlin seen to arrive over Hengistbury, while 3 Knot were settled inside the harbour. Northbound thrushes during the morning included: 14 Fieldfare, 19 Redwing, 30+ Blackbird and 40+ Song Thrush, with 135 Skylark and 120 Starling heading on a similar bearing. The other movers went mainly east and totalled: 4 Swallow, 85 alba Wagtail, 185 Meadow Pipit, 1850 Goldfinch, 1200 Chaffinch, 460 Linnet, 240 Redpoll, 125 Siskin, 9 Brambling and 12 Reed Bunting. On Hengistbury, there were also 3 Blackcap, a Coal Tit, a Nuthatch and a Treecreeper, with a further of the latter in the North Scrubs, and 2 Mediterranean Gull offshore.

Additional news: a Pale-bellied Brent Goose was at Stanpit for a short time in the afternoon and a Yellowhammer was settled on the Barn Field during the morning.

November 4th

Glossy Ibis - Kevin Lane
Chiffchaff - Jimmy Main
...and a couple of record shots of the Pallas's Warbler from yesterday - Kevin Lane
- actually the first time the species has been photographed in the harbour

Although the area immediately north of Christchurch was subjected to heavy rain for most of the morning, the recording area remained largely dry and in the spots sheltered from the southerly breeze there were birds to be seen. Close to the HHC, there were certainly two, but possibly three, quite obliging Yellow-browed Warbler, as well as a Firecrest. These birds were best viewed from the gravel path onto Wick Fields that runs from the left of the HHC entrance. Meanwhile, in the Wood, there was a further Firecrest, 17 Goldcrest, a single Chiffchaff and 2 Treecreeper. A Short-eared Owl was seen on three occasions on the top of the head and a Swallow moved over, while the Glossy Ibis put in an appearance on the Salt Hurns where it accompanied a Spotted Redshank that later moved to Holloway's Dock and 24 Little Egret. The last couple of days have seen a definite rise in Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing numbers at Stanpit, with over 70 of the former and several hundred of the latter estimated from Fisherman's Bank early this afternoon, while a Knot, a Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Ringed Plover and 42 Dunlin were also on show.

November 3rd

The Pallas's Warbler again played hard to get this morning, showing only briefly by the Lily Pond and then later in 'Redpoll Alley'. That apart it was generally quiet, with the only new bird being a Black Redstart by the Coastguards. In the Wood, there were a Firecrest, 2 Treecreeper, a Bullfinch, 12 Goldcrest, while a Swallow went over the Barn Field. On Stanpit, the Glossy Ibis was still present, as well as 220 Brent Goose, around 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Grey Plover, 5 Ringed Plover, 2 Spotted Redshank and 1 Whimbrel.

Additional news: a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Coal Tit were on Hengistbury.

November 2nd

The Pallas's Warbler was relocated this morning by the Nursery, but again proved very elusive. There were also 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, one by the Natterjack Pond and one at the eastern end of the head. A Lapland Bunting flew over the Barn Field calling and appeared to land but wasn't refound. On Stanpit, the Glossy Ibis remained in-situ by the Visitor's Centre, while also on the marsh were a Curlew Sandpiper, a Little Stint, 2 Spotted Redshank, 74 Dunlin, 19 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Ringed Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover and a pair of Shoveler. Back to Hengistbury, where a ring-tailed Hen Harrier left the HHC reedbed just after dawn and Woodpigeon took advantage of the clear sky with 1400 moving west, but the big numbers are yet to come. Although the wind was stronger than forecast, there was stll some overhead movement, the totals being: 1320 Linnet, 590 Goldfinch, 220 Starling, 89 Redpoll, 76 Meadow Pipit, 61 alba Wagtail, 46 Siskin, 14 Skylark, 1 Brambling and 1 Swallow. The Goldcrest count came to 106, also a Firecrest, 3 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap. A Merlin was seen off the cliff, while also moving through was an Arctic Skua, 18 Common Gull, 14 Kittiwake, 11 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Little Gull and a Ruff.

November 1st

Record shot of the Yellow-browed Warbler - Darren Hughes
Bearded Tit in the HHC reedbed - Jimmy Main

The Glossy Ibis and the Yellow-browed Warbler were both in their usual haunts this morning, the former from the Information Centre on Stanpit and the latter in the Wood on Hengistbury. In fact, it is possible that there are 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, but conclusive proof is proving difficult. The above record shot is an indicator of just how elusive this or these birds are. There was a hint of more movement today with small numbers of alba Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Linnet and Redpoll overhead; also the tree tops in the Wood seemed to be alive with Siskin. A flock of 9 Bearded Tit was in the HHC reedbed, while other grounded birds were a Firecrest, a Treecreeper, 3 Blackcap, 2 Fieldfare and a Wheatear; also 2 Swallow moved through. From Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Redshank and 2 Kingfisher were seen plus, 33 Dunlin, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Grey Plover and 4 Ringed Plover.

Additional news: a Woodcock was flushed from Redpoll Alley in the afternoon.

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