Sightings for February 2012

February 29th

Black-tailed Godwit - Joe Murphy
Dunnock on Mudeford Quay - Alan Cherry

Given the rarity of the medium-sized grebes in the area, a Black-necked Grebe off Mudeford Quay all day seems incredible, but is in fact quite true. The cause for such a comment comes from the equally genuine 'slav' that was being recorded almost daily until the 27th. Actually, with the benefit of hindsight, it is now felt that yesterday's bird was actually the 'black-necked' - something that was conjectured at the time but poor viewing conditions hampered a firm ID. Another fine record from the quay came from 5 Spoonbill east, as well as the Long-tailed Duck, the 2 Eider, the Great Northern Diver, 3 Common Scoter and 2 Purple Sandpiper. Inside the harbour, a pair of Shoveler joined the 50 or so Pintail, while 12 Grey Plover, 18 Ringed Plover and 170 Dunlin were counted. On Wick, 3 Fieldfare and a Greylag Goose went over the fields, at least 7 Water Rail could be seen in the channel spanned by the Wooden Bridge and a Chiffchaff was by the HHC. Elsewhere, a Rook went over Stanpit and a Kingfisher was in the lagoon adjacent to the Christchurch Harbour Hotel.

February 28th

Lapwing - Joe Murphy

The calm offshore waters meant that all of the Mudeford Quay gang, i.e. the Long-tailed Duck, the 2 Eider, the Slavonian Grebe and the Great Northern Diver, could once again be relatively easily picked out throughout the day, when they were joined by a single Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe at times. Meanwhile, the Spotted Sandpiper was along Fisherman's Bank and 4 Bearded Tit were seen from the Wooden Bridge on Wick, as were 2 Water Rail. Purple Sandpiper were once again logged on the sandspit, three on the tip and two on groyne S10, where 14 Turnstone were also present. During the morning, most of the incumbent Pintail had shifted to Barn Bight, with 49 birds counted there, at least half-a-dozen Mediterranean Gull were about, 19 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway's Dock and a Chiffchaff was again in song in Sandhills Caravan Park.

Additional news: a Sandwich Tern was off Mudeford Quay.

February 27th

Black-tailed Godwit - Darren Hughes
Rock Pipit on the Rusty Boat - Alan Crockard

There was again a really decent selection of birds on offer throughout the day. As well as the Long-tailed Duck, the Slavonian Grebe, the 2 Eider and the Great Northern Diver settled on the water off Mudeford Quay, a Red-necked Grebe, a Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Common Scoter and 36 Grey Plover moved past the Beach Huts. Also from there, 2 Purple Sandpiper and 23 Mediterranean Gull, the latter all east and including flocks of 8 and 7 young birds. Meanwhile, a few adults were seen inside the harbour. The Spotted Sandpiper was along Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime and the Marsh Harrier was seen twice from Stanpit - firstly around 8:00 when it quartered the Wick reeds and again at 12:30 as it hunted over Central and East Marshes. Additionally, a Water Pipit was by the Rusty Boat on Stanpit and 3 Bearded Tit were in the reeds by the HHC. Some early signs of spring migration are becoming evident, in particular a mixed flock of Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and 5 Linnet on Crouch Hill, but also the year's first Blackcap, a female by the HHC, a couple of Chiffchaff, one of them in song in the Sandhills Caravan Park, a Mistle Thrush on Wick and a Buzzard east over Hengistbury. The only counts from inside the harbour, but nevertheless locally notable, were 51 Pintail and 35 Bar-tailed Godwit. Of mammal interest, an Otter was again seen from the Wooden Bridge on Wick.

February 26th

Water Rail - Joe Murphy
Greylag Goose - Chris Chapleo

During a day that made it hard to believe it is still February, the reedbeds were filled with Reed Bunting song, Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed in the North Srcubs and Sandhills caravan park, and at least 15 Mediterranean Gull passed over, the yelps of the latter being heard for the first time since last spring. Otherwise, all the 'routine' stuff was present-and-correct, that being: the Long-tailed Duck, the 2 Eider and the Great Northern Diver off Mudeford Quay; the Spotted Sandpiper and 2 Spotted Redshank off Fisherman's Bank; 5 Bearded Tit by the HHC; and the Marsh Harrier over Wick. A Buzzard passed over the harbour in the morning alarming most of the waders and allowing at least 35 Bar-tailed Godwit to be counted; while a Greylag Goose headed north, 4 Jackdaw and a Rook went south, and Kingfisher were seen on Wick and along Fisherman's Bank, the wooden jetty by the boatyard being a favourite perch at the latter site. Moving away from birds, an Otter was in the channel that is spanned by the Wooden Bridge on Wick at 7:30 this morning.

Additional news: the Snow Bunting was at the extreme tip of the sandspit just before dusk.

February 25th

Cormorant of the continental race 'sinensis' - off Mudeford Quay yesterday - Joe Gillespie

For the first time for a couple of weeks the Marsh Harrier was seen today - the bird being over Central Marsh mid- morning. Otherwise, the Long-tailed Duck and 2 Eider were still off Mudeford Quay, the former towards Avon Beach. From the Beach Huts there was some movement with 3 Red-throated Diver and 3 Common Scoter east and 2 Red-breasted Merganser west. A Spotted Redshank was on Stanpit, plus 320 Dunlin, 52 Black-tailed Godwit, another 7 of these on Wick, 34 Grey Plover, 28 Bar-tailed Godwit, 26 Ringed Plover and 16 Turnstone, as well as 2 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit. There are still over 50 Pintail in the harbour, while the Brent Goose flock numbered 229. Another 2 Rook moved east over Wick today, also a couple of Siskin over there and 5 Redwing in the Wood. Finally, 5 Mediterranean Gull were logged and a Kingfisher was on Fisherman's Bank.

February 24th

Meadow Pipit recently on Wick Fields - Joe Murphy

A Firecrest on the golf course bank at Stanpit this morning was the first record of the year, which is rather surprising for a species that has over-wintered regularly in the recent past. Also on Stanpit a Water Pipit was by the Iron Boat, while on Hengistbury the Snow Bunting was feeding on the harbour shore around the jetty for most of the morning and 2 Bearded Tit were again in the HHC reedbed. Meanwhile, with the exception of the Spotted Sandpiper, which hasn't been reported for a couple of days, the regulars were all present - the Long-tailed Duck, the Slavonian Grebe, a Great Northern Diver and 2 female Eider on the sea off Mudeford Quay, together with 5 Great Crested Grebe. Roosting on the grass at the quay at high tide were 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, with another seven of these were around Stanpit. Wader counts this morning were 6 Purple Sandpiper on the Mudeford Sandspit, 33 Grey Plover on East Marsh, 18 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock and 4 Turnstone on Fisherman's Bank. Corvids today included a Raven north plus 4 Rook and 3 Jackdaw east. A flock of 28 Gadwall circled the harbour then headed west and the Pintail count was 59.

February 23rd

Drake Pintail - Alan Hayden

Mudeford Quay was the place to be again this morning with all the regulars present - Long-tailed Duck, 2 Great Northern Diver today, the Slavonian Grebe, 2 female Eider, 3 Common Scoter and 8 Great Crested Grebe; also from there 3 Red-throated Diver moved west and the Snow Bunting was on the sandspit. Inside the harbour in Holloway's Dock, there was a Kittiwake and also a Spotted Redshank, while a single Goldeneye was seen and today's Pintail count was 56. Wader numbers from Stanpit were 44 Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30 Grey Plover and 6 Turnstone.

February 22nd

There is very little change in today's report. A half-hour sea watch from the Beach Huts this morning yielded nothing more than a Red-throated Diver east. Off Mudeford Quay, at various times during the day, were the Long-tailed Duck, a female Eider, a Great Crested Grebe, an adult Meditarranean Gull and aSandwich Tern; also seen from there were 2 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit and the Snow Bunting, which flew from the sandspit to Avon Beach. The Spotted Sandpiper was still on Fisherman's Bank and today's count of Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock was 31.

February 21st

Redshank above and Snipe below in Barn Bight recently - Joe Murphy

Both the Long-tailed Duck and the Great Northern Diver were off Mudeford Quay this morning and a Red-breasted Merganser entered the harbour over The Run. Also 2 Eider landed on the sea before moving off west, while 4 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Common Scoter were seen. From Double Dykes, a Sandwich Tern was fishing offshore and a single diver species moved west. The Snow Bunting was back on the Mudeford Sandspit, where 2 Purple Sandpiper were also present. Wader counts today, which with the exception of 35 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock, were all from Fisherman's Bank, where the Spotted Sandpiper was present as were 129 Dunlin, 30 Ringed Plover, 8 Turnstone, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Spotted Redshank; also 180 Brent Geese on East Marsh. Bearded Tit were in the HHC reedbed again this morning with 3 birds seen and 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were around the harbour..

February 20th

After the overnight frost the temperature soon picked up in the clear calm conditions this morning. The Spotted Sandpiper was again on Fisherman's Bank, towards the top end today, and it was also reported by the information services as being present yesterday. Offshore both the Long-tailed Duck and Slavonian Grebe were towards Avon Beach, while 10 Great Crested Grebe were counted between Double Dykes and Mudeford Quay; also 2 Guillemot and a Razorbill on the sea. A Red-throated Diver moved east and 2 grey geese moved west, but rather frustratingly the latter were just too distant for positive identification. There are still in excess of 50 Pintail in the harbour, also 30 Shelduck and 170 Brent Geese. The only wader news was of an Avocet in Barn Bight, also at least 5 Turnstone and good numbers of Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit were still present on Stanpit. The HHC reedbed held 2 Bearded Tit, while on Stanpit by the Iron Boat there were 11 Rock Pipit, three of which were the Scandinavian form littoralis . To round up, just one Mediterranean Gull was seen today and the Kingfisher was in the boatyard on Fisherman's Bank.

February 19th

Long-tailed Duck close in at Mudeford Quay this morning - Alan Hayden

On a gloriously sunny morning the Long-tailed Duck performed well again, giving close up views off Mudeford Quay but there was no sign of the Slavonian Grebe just the usual 3 or 4 Great Crested Grebe. On Stanpit, both Water Pipit and Grey Wagtail were present, 6 Jackdaw moved overhead, a Peregrine put in an appearance and 19 Canada Geese left the harbour to the west. The only wader counts today were from Hengistbury, where 40 Ringed Plover were on the sandspit and 38 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway's Dock. Adult Mediterranean Gull were either side of the harbour and 3 Raven were seen.


February 18th

A winter selection Teal and Wigeon above - Alan Hayden
and Grey Plover below - Darren Hughes

A change in the weather today as a strong south-westerly made it feel much cooler. The sea off Mudeford Quay was also choppier making the birds more difficult to see but most of the birds were still out there. The Long-tailed Duck came in exceptionally close just to the east of the quay, while the Slavonian Grebe was slightly further west off the sandspit and 7 Great Crested Grebe could be counted. A Fulmar, the first of the year, went west and a single Mediterranean Gull was seen. The Knot was on the sandspit, together with 3 Purple Sandpiper, 30 Dunlin and 10 Ringed Plover, while the Black-tailed Godwit flock in Holloway's dock totalled 53 and the Pintail count today was 54. The Spotted Sandpiper was on Fisherman's Bank per the information services. Finally thanks to Ian Lewis for last night's talk which took us to Senegal, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Peru, Colombia and Brazil.

Reed Bunting on territory - Alan Hayden

February 17th

Long-tailed Tit - Joe Murphy

The Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver, together with 4 Great Crested Grebe, were still off Mudeford Quay this morning. On Stanpit the Knot put in an appearance for the first time in almost a week and a Spotted Redshank was on East Marsh; also a Peregrine made a pass over the marsh mid-morning. The Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock have now increased to 38, while 11 Ringed Plover were on the sandspit and 4 Turnstone were along the harbour shore. To round up, just 2 Redwing were on Wick Fields this morning and 3 adult Mediterranean Gull were around the harbour.

February 16th

Great Crested Grebe off Mudeford Quay - Alan Hayden

A Bittern was seen again today around lunchtime, initially in flight over Wick Fields the bird then landed in the HHC reedbed. Elsewhere, the Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe, Great Northern Diver and 3 Great Crested Grebe were off Mudeford Quay; also Red-throated Diver and Sandwich Tern west and Common Scoter east past there. A female Merlin circled high over Priory Marsh, where a Water Pipit and 2 Bearded Tit were present, and another 3 Bearded Tit were in the HHC reedbed. The Spotted Sandpiper was again on Fisherman's Bank, along with a Kingfisher and Spotted Redshank. The flock of Black-tailed Godwit numbered 24 in Holloway's Dock, while 57 Pintail and the drake Tufted Duck were in Barn Bight. Finally, this afternoon, a Peregrine crossed Christchurch Bay.

February 15th

One of the recent Sandwich Tern - Alan Hayden

An adult Yellow-legged Gull was inside the harbour this morning, loafing about on the shore near the Black House. Earlier, a party of 12 Raven moved east over Hengistbury and a further 3 headed south over Wick Fields, while a single bird made a nuisance of itself in the Nursery. The Snow Bunting and 3 Purple Sandpiper were again on the sandspit, and both the Long-tailed Duck and Great Northern Diver were off Mudeford Quay. Meanwhile, on Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Sandpiper seems to be developing more spots. This afternoon, 10 adult Mediterranean Gull, in five pairs, were in the pre-roost off South Marsh. Also on Stanpit were 3 Gadwall, 3 Turnstone, a Spotted Redshank and a Kingfisher. The Pintail count today was 51, all on the main river and the drake Tufted Duck was in Barn Bight. A minimum of 5 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea, while 2 Common Scoter moved east. Just 6 Redwing and 2 Redpoll were on Hengistbury this morning and, finally, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit headed west over Wick and Holloway's Dock held 22 Black-tailed Godwit.

Late news: a couple of wader counts from Fisherman's Bank today were 37 Ringed Plover and 31 Black-tailed Godwit.

February 14th

The Snow Bunting on the sandspit this morning - Alan Hayden
The 3 Goldeneye off Rushy Piece - Darren Hughes

There was a feeling of spring in the air today until the wind picked up and reminded us that it's still only the middle of February. On Wick Fields this morning a Bittern appeared low over the reeds by the Wooden Bridge before heading off up the Stour. Otherwise all the local favourites were still in situ - Spotted Sandpiper on Fisherman's Bank, Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver on the sea of Mudeford Quay with a Sandwich Tern fishing off there and the Snow Bunting on the sandspit. Only 2 Avocet were seen today, but there was an impressive count of 890 Lapwing on Stanpit this afternoon, with other wader totals from around the harbour including c500 Dunlin, 36 Grey Plover, 33 Ringed Plover, 27 Bar-tailed Godwit, 21 Black-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank and 6 Purple Sandpiper, the latter west past Mudeford Quay. Also on the move past there were singles of Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver and Red-breasted Merganser. A Siskin and 2 Redpoll were feeding on the alders near Holloway's Dock, 2 Skylark were on the Barn Field and 2 Linnet were in the North Scrubs. To round up, the 3 Goldeneye were in the usual spot, a drake Tufted Duck was in Barn Bight, 7 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea and a Kingfisher was by the boatyard on Fisherman's Bank.

February 13th

A couple of in flight shots Grey Plover above and Pintail below - Joe Murphy

Most of the focus today was on the sea, which was watched from both sides of the harbour. The highlight was a drake Smew, the first for some time, which moved east past the Beach Huts; while also on the move were a Red-throated Diver, a Pochard and 3 Guillemot. The Long-tailed Duck and Great Northern Diver were still present on the sea off Mudeford Quay and the Slavonian Grebe reappeared just off the sandspit; also settled there were 5 Common Scoter, 2 Razorbill and 26 Great Crested Grebe. The Spotted Sandpiper was again on the shore of Fisherman's Bank and the Snow Bunting was on the sandspit, where 3 Purple Sandpiper were also seen. Inside the harbour, the Pintail count was 57, also 11 Gadwall, 3 Goldeneye and a drake Tufted Duck. Only 6 Avocet were in Stanpit Bight today and the Spotted Redshank was on East Marsh. Other wader numbers from Fisherman's Bank, but probably only a fraction of those present, were 89 Dunlin, 28 Ringed Plover, 14 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Grey Plover. An adult Mediterranean Gull was off South Marsh this afternoon while the regular Kingfisher was on Fisherman's Bank.

February 12th

Record shot of the Iceland Gull on the harbour shore this afternoon - Alan Hayden
Another distant shot of the Long-tailed Duck - Alan Hayden
Goldcrest at Mudeford Quay - Chris Chapleo

In slightly milder conditions there was plenty to see around the harbour today. Both the Spotted Sandpiper and Long-tailed Duck showed well occasionally from Fisherman's Bank and Mudeford Quay respectively. Around lunchtime a third harbour 'rarity' was found when a juvenile/first-winter Iceland Gull was seen from Fisherman's Bank, but it was lost to view almost immediately as it flew towards Mudeford Quay. However, a short time later, it was relocated on South Marsh, Stanpit, from where it made sorties out into the harbour before settling on Blackberry Point by mid-afternoon. Before all the excitement there was the routine of the monthly WeBScount, which found the 8 Avocet still present plus singles of Spotted Redshank, Jack Snipe, Knot and Sandwich Tern; also 5 Pochard flying around the harbour, 3 Goldeneye off Rushy Piece, 2 each of Shoveler and Tufted Duck and an impressive 60 Pintail. Meanwhile, other totals included: 870 Wigeon. 366 Teal and 289 Coot, plus 583 Dunlin, 87 Black-tailed Godwit, 52 Grey Plover, 37 Bar-tailed Godwit, 32 Ringed Plover and 26 Turnstone. On Wick Fields this morning there were 22 Redwing plus Siskin, Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Grey Wagtail. To round, up a Great Northern Diver and 2 Red-breasted Merganser were on the sea off the quay, and a Red-throated Diver flew over The Run.

Check back to yesterday for some late news.

February 11th

Record shot of Long-tailed Duck - Alan Hayden
The Marsh Harrier - Joe Murphy
Peregrine - Chris Chapleo

Mudeford Quay was a chilly -6C at dawn, but with the lack of wind and cloud the sun quickly warmed things up. Actually, the same could be said of a drake Long-tailed Duck that was sat on the water not that far out from the quay during the morning - this being the first settled bird in the area for many years. Also out on the sea from there, a Great Northern Diver and several Great Crested Grebe, while a Red-breasted Merganser passed west. The Spotted Sandpiper was again present along Fisherman's Bank, 5 Golden Plover headed north inland, a Jack Snipe was on South Marsh and 8 Avocet were about Stanpit Bight, but the rest of the waders weren't looked at too closely. On the other side of the harbour, the Marsh Harrier was seen on two occasions during the afternoon from Hengistbury, 5 Bearded Tit were again in the HHC reedbed and Wick produced a Chiffchaff, 8 Fieldfare and a Redwing. The party of 3 Goldeneye was relatively easy to pick out on a mirror calm surface in Barn Bight, 3 Gadwall were also knocking around and Kingfisher were seen in Mother Siller's Channel, Parky Meade Rail and by the small lagoon adjacent to the Christchurch Harbour Hotel.

Additional news: a Peregrine was hassling waders at Stanpit late in the morning, when 34 Bar-tailed Godwit, 23 Ringed Plover and 45 Pintail were counted.

Late news: a Short-eared Owl was seen from Fisherman's Bank around lunchtime flying north-to-south over the harbour; also 2 Kingfisher from there.

February 10th

Turnstone - Tony Adamcik (top) & Joe Murphy
...and perhaps the best upperwing shot of the Spotted Sandpiper so far - Peter Moore

There was some fairly heavy overnight snow, but the rain just before dawn diluted most of the covering and by lunchtime there was absolutely no trace. Just after first light, a locally impressive flock of 38 Golden Plover headed north over Wick, while a single bird buzzed the adjacent golf course. Also around that time, a couple redhead Goosander in Barn Bight that had perhaps roosted there and a drake Tufted Duck in the same spot. From Mudeford Quay, a Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver and 5 Red-breasted Merganser passed west; and up to 3 Sandwich Tern were present, with a single and a 'two' reported from various localities, both inside and outside of the harbour. There was also a quick seawatch going on at Hengistbury, where 5 divers, a flock of four and a lone bird, and 3 auks passed east, but all were too distant to identify. The only direct report of the Spotted Sandpiper was actually from Mudeford Quay and looking across the harbour towards the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, although the information services mention the bird as also being along Fisherman's Bank. Meanwhile, a couple of Purple Sandpiper could be seen across The Run on the end of the sandspit. Finally, the relatively mild weather of the last couple of days has encouraged some of the in-harbour Great Crested Grebe to put on a bit of a display.

February 9th

Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit - Tony Adamcik
Buzzard over Stanpit recently - Jimmy Main
...and a windless harbour this lunchtime - Richard Cordery

The wind from yesterday dropped almost completely and this, along with a break in the cloud, made it feel a lot more pleasant. The recent cold seems to have moved a lot of Snipe on, with the day's only sightings being 8 birds on Priory Marsh, but there was a surprise Woodcock over the Driving Range on Wick this morning, along with a single Chiffchaff there. Also on Priory Marsh early on, where Cetti's Warbler and Reed Bunting were in song, was a Water Pipit in amongst 27 Meadow Pipit. At lunchtime: a Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver were seen from Mudeford Quay; the Marsh Harrier quartered Stanpit and Wick, and continued to do so into the early afternoon; and the Spotted Sandpiper was very confiding at the northern end of Fisherman's Bank, where a Kingfisher was seen on a number of occasions. On the Mudeford Sandspit, there was a decent selection of waders, including 4 Purple Sandpiper and a lone Sanderling, but the lion's share came from Stanpit in the form of 3 Avocet, 45 Grey Plover, 52 Bar-tailed Godwit and 40 Black-tailed Godwit, as well as uncounted Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Also around the harbour, the three Goldeneye, 45 Pintail, a Shoveler and 12 Shelduck. Finally, some of the regular Stanpit watchers are often surprised by how fearful the larger waders seem to be of Carrion Crow - however, one seen to pounce on an isolated Black-tailed Godwit and immediately despatch it this morning probably answers that particular question. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

Adult Common Gull - Darren Hughes

Below - during the last week or so, a few observers in differing parts of the area have witnessed some rather aggressive behaviour from the Redshank, including a serious attempt by one bird to drown another.

February 8th

Joe Murphy
Darren Hughes
Darren Hughes
David Williams

Yesterday's weather forecasters spoke of temperatures as low as six below, but as it happened the harbour woke to an air temperature that was barely at freezing. Nevertheless, a cold north-easterly wind ensured it was far from comfortable if one strayed too far from shelter. The most unexpected record of the day was a redhead Goosander in The Run at lunchtime, before it disappeared as the tide ebbed. Earlier, in addition to the Spotted Sandpiper along Fisherman's Bank, a stint-sized wader was at Stanpit, as were a Spotted Redshank, an Avocet, 2 Jack Snipe and 33 Bar-tailed Godwit. Also about the marsh, 43 Pintail, these maintaining decent numbers for the area, 4 Gadwall and at least one Kingfisher.

Additional news: a Sandwich Tern, a Red-throated Diver and an adult Mediterranean Gull were seen from Mudeford Quay at lunchtime.

February 7th

Dartford Warbler - Jimmy Main
...and another one of the Spotted Sandpiper - Alan Hayden

On another relatively mild day, before it was light a couple of Tawny Owl could be heard calling to each other from Wick, but at least one of the birds was perhaps over towards the Two Riversmeet area. For the first time in a few days, a couple of trips were made along the sandspit where the Snow Bunting was found to still be present at the tip, while a very confiding Sanderling was on the inner shore by the Black House and around 11 Turnstone were dotted about. Close by, 4 Redpoll were in the trees by Holloway's Dock and 3 Goldeneye, a drake and two female-types, were in Barn Bight. Finally for that side of the area, single Chiffchaff were on Wick and by the HHC. Along Fisherman's Bank, the Spotted Sandpiper was fairly reliable, also a Spotted Redshank on East Marsh visible from there, as well as 37 Pintail and 3 Gadwall.

February 6th

Dunlin - Joe Murphy
This colour-ringed individual, '6T6', was photographed last Thursday in the harbour and it has been refreshing to hear back from the project co-ordinator in such a short space of time. The bird was ringed as a juvenile in Gdansk, Poland, during September last year and we would welcome reports of any further sightings.

A windless day that finished in a little drizzle saw a good number of decent records, including a Slavonian Grebe off Mudeford Quay this morning, when 2 Water Pipit and 2 Bearded Tit were about Priory Marsh. The best of the waders was again the Spotted Sandpiper, but also 7 Avocet, a Spotted Redshank, 38 Grey Plover, an increased 35 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 45 Ringed Plover and an impressive 425 Dunlin, nearly all of these from Fisherman's Bank. Until today, despite the reports of a common sandpiper from a private area earlier in the winter, the Spotted Sandpiper was still being conjectured as the Lyme Regis bird, which has recently disappeared. However, we have now learnt that a full complement of toes on the Christchurch bird means that it certainly isn't the one from further west of the county. The day saw a really good finch selection, with 2 Bullfinch and 2 Siskin on Wick, 2 Redpoll in the North Scrubs and 22 Linnet in Stanpit Scrubs; while singles of Chiffchaff were on Wick and Stanpit; and 2 Grey Wagtail were about the latter site. Of dubious wildfowl interest were 6 Egyptian Goose that flew south and apparently out to sea, but not too far one would suspect; however, records of 34 Pintail, 4 Gadwall and a count of 170 Brent Goose are of far more meaning. To wrap up, the now obligatory Kingfisher was around the boat yard on Fisherman's Bank, 7 Great Crested Grebe, four on the sea and three in the harbour, were logged and a Raven passed over.

February 5th

Although it proved elusive at times, the Spotted Sandpiper was still around today and with a little patience could be found by the boatyard on Fisherman's Bank; also from there were 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Avocet, 3 Turnstone, 28 Pintail and a Kingfisher. From Mudeford Quay, 2 Sandwich Tern were fishing offshore; also 2 Great Northern Diver and 10 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea. A further Great Northern Diver and a Red-throated Diver moved west, while a Purple Sandpiper and a Sanderling were on the sandspit. Also at Stanpit, a couple of Water Pipit were by the Rusty Boat, but the only news from Hengistbury was of a drake Eider east past Double Dykes, plus a Sandwich Tern and a Great Northern Diver offshore, these possibly different birds to those already mentioned.

February 4th

Spotted Redshank "Dancing on Ice" - Alan Hayden

After a night when the temperature plunged to -8C, the only open water in the harbour was the main river where all the Brent Goose, Wigeon and Pintail could be found. Elsewhere, there were 5 Avocet and 14 Shelduck. The Spotted Sandpiper didn't show until 11:40, by the boatyard jetty where it was then seen occasionally throughout the afternoon; also 5 Turnstone and a Kingfisher there. A Peregrine made a pass over Stanpit, while 15 Redwing were counted and 2 Water Pipit were by the Iron Boat.

Late news: around Wick Fields this morning were 12 Fieldfare and 3 Mediterranean Gull overhead; also a Kingfisher behind the HHC and a single Purple Sandpiper on the Mudeford Sandspit.

February 3rd

Kingfisher on the jetty - Alan Hayden
View from Fisherman's Bank at lunchtime today - Alan Hayden

On another bitterly cold day when much of the harbour remained covered in ice, the only news of the Spotted Sandpiper was an information services report at 11:00, when the bird was by the boatyard on Fisherman's Bank. There was clear evidence of some cold weather movement as the Pintail had increased to 52 birds, also 17 Gadwall and 22 Shelduck. Other than that, there were 3 Avocet plus the usual selection of waders struggling to find a feeding spot that wasn't frozen. Up to 100 Dunlin, 3 Turnstone and a couple of Ringed Plover were feeding along the shore of Fisherman's Bank, while the Spotted Redshank was on East Marsh, a Kingfisher was seen from the boatyard and 3 Mediterranean Gull were on Stanpit.

February 2nd

Turnstone on ice - Joe Murphy
The Spotted Sandpiper near the Mudeford Sailing Club barge - Alan Hayden-
...where a Spotted Redshank was nearby - Darren Hughes
...and a couple of chilly images of the day - Alan Hayden (top) & Chris Chapleo

After the coldest night of the winter so far, the ice encroached onto some of the areas of fresher water in the harbour. The Spotted Sandpiper was present throughout the day along Fisherman's Bank, although it did go AWOL for periods. The favoured area seems to be immediately south of the boat yard, however, where a Spotted Redshank was also hanging around late in the morning. On the marsh itself, a Jack Snipe came up off Priory Marsh and 3 Water Pipit were about the Rusty Boat, while 2 Chiffchaff were in the Priory reeds and a further bird was by the Civic Offices. The iced creeks and ditches probably accounted for the fine total of Teal recorded on open water this morning, 272 in all, including 170 in Parky Meade Rail. Back to Fisherman's Bank, where the more routine waders included: 22 Grey Plover, 5 Turnstone, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Black-tailed Godwit, 260 Dunlin and 14 Shelduck; also Kingfisher seen frequently there and a Mediterranean Gull over, with another of these at Mudeford Quay and a Great Crested Grebe on the sea.

February 1st

Spotted Sandpiper along Fisherman's Bank - Alan Hayden
On the lower two shots, the merest hints of spots can be made out just behind the legs

On another cold day with ice present on the fringes of the salt marshes, a Spotted Sandpiper was found along Fisherman's Bank. Early attempts at ID with respect to its 'common' cousin were hampered by the bird being directly in the bright sunlight, but as that shifted and improved views became possible, the already deep suspicion turned out to be correct. A North American species, which almost certainly arrived in Europe during last autumn's hurricane season, this is the fourth record for CHOG - 1976, 1984 and 2005 producing the previous individuals. It is actually possible the bird has been here for some time, as a common sandpiper was reported to be in a private part of the harbour during the early part of the winter, and a Fisherman's Bank resident spoke of seeing it on Sunday. Also off Fisherman's Bank, a Spotted Redshank, while some decent counts from all over Stanpit, perhaps brought on by the cold, included: the year's first Sanderling, a Ruff, 6 Knot, 32 Grey Plover, 21 Bar-tailed Godwit, 85 Black-tailed Godwit and around 325 Dunlin, but only 5 Ringed Plover. Also, 28 Pintail, 5 Shelduck and 4 Gadwall, plus a couple of Kingfisher up-and-down Stanpit Creek throughout the day, 2 Raven over there and 5 Canada Goose at Mudeford Quay.

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