Sightings for July 2012

July 31st

Grey cloud and a south-westerly wind returned for much of day, during which a 3.5-hour watch on Mudeford Quay from 6:30 produced a single Balearic Shearwater and 121 Common Tern west, while a possible further twenty-nine Common Tern passed through the harbour and over the HHC. Meanwhile, a Fulmar, 50 or so Gannet and 10 Sandwich Tern were fishing aimlessly at sea. The pick of the relatively few reported waders was a Green Sandpiper over Wick water meadows; as well as 4 Greenshank, 6 Whimbrel and 4 Ringed Plover at Stanpit, plus a Turnstone and 2 Whimbrel from Mudeford Quay. Once again, the juvenile Peregrine was noted about the area.

Additional news: a Kittiwake passed through the harbour in the evening.

July 30th

In addition to over 300 Swift that drifted slowly west over the northern extremity of the area early this morning, a smaller passage of terns took place through the harbour and at sea. A total of 98 Common Tern were logged, but also 2 Roseate Tern - one through and one past the Beach - as well as 15 Mediterranean Gull and 18 Common Scoter, all west. There was also some passerine interest, with a Crossbill seen heading north from two sites, a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail on Crouch Hill, and 51 Willow Warbler scattered across Hengistbury. Also from the head, a Golden Plover, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Ringed Plover coming in, the latter presumably the same as those later logged at Stanpit, which also held 4 Greenshank, a Knot, 5 Whimbrel and 2 adult Common Gull.

July 29th

Reed Bunting are still raising young - Alan Crockard
Grey Heron - Joe Murphy
...and Starling hitching a ride - Alan Crockard

The sun once again dominated, but as the morning progressed there was a brisk south-westerly wind and by late afternoon the fine conditions were punctuated with showers of varying intensity. The moment of the day came around 7:15 when one fortunate observer on Fisherman's Bank picked up an adult Long-tailed Skua over the Blackberry Point area - ultimately, after enjoying full-zoom telescope views, the bird was lost to sight as it headed upriver behind the windbreak of trees at the western end of the recreation ground. This is the second July in succession that this species has been recorded inside the harbour. After the recent flurry of Dunlin, the count was back down to a modest 16 today, but there were also 2 Knot, 4 Greenshank, 8 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and at least one Ringed Plover at Stanpit, as well as 2 Turnstone past the Double Dykes on Hengistbury. The only passerines of note were a Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Willow Warbler on Wick; at Stanpit, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and 4 Mediterranean Gull were logged; a Hobby hunted the west side of the area early on and the novice Peregrine made several attempts throughout the day at Stanpit, but despite making contact with a bird during the morning still came away hungry.

July 28th

Other than 5 Bottlenose Dolphin that moved slowly east off Hengistbury this morning, there was very little interest for the day. Both sides of the harbour received no more than a dusting of passerine migrants, the best perhaps a Lesser Whitethroat in the North Scrubs, but only single figures of any of the commoner warblers that might be expected. Wader news is sparse - just a Sanderling, a Greenshank and 3 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit - while a Hobby and a juvenile Peregrine visited, a Kingfisher was around the marsh and a total of 6 Mediterranean Gull was as good as it got in that respect.

July 27th

Dunnock - Joe Murphy

A Corn Bunting that came up from the from the field adjacent to the HHC was bird of the morning, but a Turtle Dove on the Wick Fields and a Green Sandpiper passing west over the Wooden Bridge provided notable support. Also, a Redstart, 11 Willow Warbler, around 30 Sedge Warbler and 156 Swift, the latter all west, logged as migrants. The sea was surprisingly lively, producing a Balearic Shearwater tagging along with a Fulmar, as well as 107 Common Tern into The Solent and a total of 86 Cormorant west in three flocks. Duck were also mobile, with flocks of eight and three of Shoveler and Tufted Duck respectively, plus a single Pochard, while there were 5 Canada Goose settled on inside the harbour. From Stanpit, the only wader news was of 2 Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and up to 80 Dunlin, but a Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Ringed Plover, 16 Black-tailed Godwit and 18 Dunlin were turned in passing Hengistbury. To wrap up, it's thought there are now 3 Kingfisher using the site and a day count of 25 Mediterranean Gull seems quite reasonable.

July 26th

Kestrel at Stanpit - Joe Murphy

There was no change in the weather, so the summer rolls into its fourth day! Early on, a couple of Crossbill headed east over the HHC and a Pied Flycatcher was amongst 20 Blackcap, 13 Willow Warbler and 6 Whitethroat in the northern section of Stanpit. The waders saw a marked increase in Dunlin, with 75 adults on site, as well as 15 Sanderling, 5 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, the Knot and 5 Black-tailed Godwit. Also at Stanpit, singles of Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull.

July 25th

Curlew Sandpiper distantly digi-scoped at Stanpit last night - Alan Hayden
Greenshank - Alan Hayden

On another glorious day, there was a hint of passerine movement through the area; for example, in addition to a Wood Warbler in Wick Ditch, there were a Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Redstart, 5 Willow Warbler and 30 Sedge Warbler in Monkswell Green. Meanwhile, singles of Bearded Tit were seen by Priory Marsh and on Wick from the Wooden Bridge, so suggesting these are starting to disperse from the natal area. There was more wader interest from a couple of Ruff over Stanpit, where the Knot, 2 Greenshank, 9 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin remain; with further singles of Whimbrel and Greenshank in Holloway's Dock and on Wick water meadows respectively. A Pochard is the best of the rest, which also included 3 Mediterranean Gull and a juvenile Shelduck that arrived in a flock of 20 Cormorant. Of real butterfly note for the area, a Marbled White was on South Marsh during the morning.

July 24th

One more of the Swallow family from the Barn - Jean Southworth
Green Woodpecker - Joe Murphy

A really sweltering day with another full complement of blue sky. An adult Curlew Sandpiper at Stanpit this evening is the seventeenth wader species to be recorded in four days, so the anticipation is definitely ratcheting up. The Golden Plover was again around the marsh this morning, as was the Knot, 7 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and 8 Dunlin. Many of these are still in almost full breeding plumage and may offer the best chance of catching up with such individuals before the season wears on much further. Meanwhile, on the Hengistbury side, there were 2 Common Sandpiper and a lone Dunlin in Barn Bight. A party of 7 Shoveler were settled in Stanpit Creek before picking up and pushing off south just prior to 8:00, a couple of Bearded Tit were seen in the usual spot, and a single Mediterranean Gull and 2 Common Tern were noted from Fisherman's Bank.

July 23rd

Another fine selection of Hengistbury breeding species

Little Egret - note the bare part colours of the juvenile (left) - Joe Murphy
The Little Grebe brood - Joe Murphy
...and a very young Pied Wagtail looking uncertain as to how to deal with lunch
- Joe Murphy

It was the sort of summer's day we thought may never happen - clear blue skies, a light, refreshing wind and temperatures in excess of 20C. Once more, wader interest took the day, with the choicest being a Golden Plover in breeding plumage on East Marsh and a Green Sandpiper in flight over Stanpit with three accompanying Snipe. The rest were made up of: the Knot, 2 Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper, 8 Whimbrel, 7 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin; with other wetland birds of note being 4 Teal and 2 Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit, plus 3 Gadwall over Wick. The morning also saw a small westerly movement of Swift and hirundines - the totals over 60-minutes coming to 81 of the former as well as 30 Swallow and 32 Sand Martin. At least 6 Bearded Tit were again conspicuous where the Purewell Stream enters Parky Meade Rail and a family party of 4 Common Tern, so the season's first juveniles for the site, came in from the Avon Valley.

July 22nd

Fledgling Swallow from the Barn - Clinton Whale
Lapwing - Chris Chapleo

There was another varied selection of waders at Stanpit, but with a slightly different mix to yesterday. New-in was a pretty stunning Knot in full breeding plumage, with other peaks from the morning and late afternoon low-waters coming to: a Sanderling, a Turnstone, 3 Greenshank, 11 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin. Unfortunately, the later session was marred by three bare-chested canoeists in Stanpit Bight, who were literally bordering on the moronic - that expression being used in the context of the obscenities they were yelling and gesturing towards the on-site warden, as well as the birds they were deliberately flushing! Anyhow, back to the main purpose of this post and a maximum count of 14 Mediterranean Gull about the marsh, one of them being a juvenile.

July 21st

Juvenile Bearded Tit - Chris Chapleo
Juvenile Redstart - Joe Murphy
...and some of the Sanderling on the sandspit this morning - Joe Murphy

Once an easterly breeze had become established, around 7:00, and nullified the torture of biting insects, it became a reasonably enjoyable morning that produced thirteen species of wader, which is not at all shabby for the date. In addition to the expected four, there was: an Avocet, a Sanderling, a Snipe, at least 10 Whimbrel, an absolute minimum of 6 Greenshank, 3+ Common Sandpiper, 3 Ringed Plover, 8 Dunlin and 6 Black-tailed Godwit, all seen from various sites inside the harbour; while a further 16 Sanderling and a lone Dunlin were on the Hengistbury beaches. Around the same time as all of this, the sea was being watched from the Beach Huts and came up with: 4 Balearic Shearwater, 17 Common Scoter and 19 Common Tern west, as well as a single Fulmar east. Again, there was hint of passerine movement with singles of Redstart, Willow Warbler and Siskin logged, at least one Kingfisher was along the Wick side of the river and, in addition to the regular Bearded Tit family(ies), a male bird was by the HHC. To conclude, other interest for the day, all from Stanpit, came courtesy of: a Little Tern fast west through the harbour, 7 Mediterranean Gull, an adult Common Gull, 4 Shoveler, a Tufted Duck and 4 Canada Goose.

July 20th

Common Tern - Darren Hughes
..and the result (left) of the recent Tufted Duck x Mallard liaison - Darren Hughes

The morning saw clear evidence of birds on the move, including the season's first juvenile Mediterranean Gull - two with six older birds on East Marsh, Stanpit. In addition, a Yellow Wagtail, a Little Ringed Plover and a Kingfisher were about Priory Marsh, a Redstart and a Grasshopper Warbler were in the Wick Fields, a couple of Siskin went over there and 3 Willow Warbler were in Ashtree Meadows. The more interesting peak wader counts for the day came to: 3 Greenshank, 8 Whimbrel, 6 Common Sandpiper, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin; while in terms of local breeding interest: it's confirmed there are 3 young Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry, a fledgling Lesser Whitethroat was on Wick, at least 2 Green Woodpecker families are using Stanpit and a brood of Cetti's Warbler was active in Monkswell Green.

July 19th

Long-tailed Tit - Joe Murphy
Small Heath - Jimmy Main

Other than a couple of Greenshank in Stanpit Creek and a single Common Scoter past Mudeford Quay, there is nothing at all worthy of mention.

Additional news: a Sanderling was seem from Mudeford Quay and a Nightjar was churring on Hengistbury at the very early time of 7:00 in the evening.

July 18th

Rock Pipit on Hengistbury - Jimmy Main
...and two breeders on the Ironstone Quarry, Little Grebe (top) and Mallard - Joe Murphy

The pick of another routine day, which was again punctuated with significant wind and water, was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Stanpit and a Bullfinch over Smithy's Field. In addition to the expected 3 Greenshank, 5+ Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper and 6 Dunlin on the marsh, a Bar-tailed Godwit passed west as did a further 5 Whimbrel. From Mudeford Quay, a Fulmar, 8 Common Tern and 10 Common Scoter were logged, while around forty-five resting Sandwich Tern were inside the harbour. Last night, at around 10:00, Nightjar were still in voice on Hengistbury.

July 17th

Redstart on Hengistbury - Joe Murphy
Pair of Tufted Duck at Stanpit yesterday - Jimmy Main
...and adult (top) and second-summer Mediterranean Gull - Jimmy Main

The weather improved massively overnight and by informed accounts is set to continue so for the next several days. As a consequence, it was nice to get some reports from Hengistbury, where a returning Redstart was present and it was confirmed that the Little Grebe have at least two young on the Ironstone Quarry. In addition, Stanpit was visited on a number of occasions and each saw slightly different wader numbers - the peaks being: 3 Greenshank, a minimum of 5 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, 13 Black-tailed Godwit and 7 Dunlin - as well as at least 4 Mediterranean Gull.

July 16th

During the course of the day, quite a brisk westerly breeze whipped up and brought a few bits of interest off Mudeford Quay. In the morning, two flocks of Common Scoter, numbering sixty and thirty, moved east, and a Little Tern and 12 Common Tern went west; at lunchtime a couple of unidentified shearwater headed west; and late in the afternoon an Arctic Skua went into The Solent and a Manx Shearwater, a Kittiwake and a Fulmar did the opposite. The only report from the western side of the area involves a Hobby over Wick very early on, but Stanpit came up with 4 Greenshank, 4 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin, at least 2 Mediterranean Gull and around 60 loafing Sandwich Tern.

Additional news: a pair of Tufted Duck were at Stanpit.

July 15th

Freshly emerged Peacock on Wick Fields this morning - Clinton Whale

Other than a party of 4 Pochard that circuited the harbour for a while this morning, this tenth anniversary report isn't going to set the pulses racing birdwise. In fact, there was little change at Stanpit, other than a total absence of godwit and a reduction of Common Sandpiper to perhaps just a single bird. Pretty much as expected, however, there were 2 Greenshank and 4 Whimbrel, along with a scattering of Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. During the morning, the Common Tern peaked at 8 birds, but the afternoon saw the biggest Sandwich Tern return with 45 being inside the harbour. To finish this 3653rd post (someone will tell me I've got that wrong), a flock of 12 Common Scoter passed east past Mudeford Quay and a Mediterranean Gull was on-site.

July 14th

After a relatively quiet morning, there was another large presence of Black-tailed Godwit around Christchurch in the afternoon. Within the recording area, at Stanpit, there were sixty-four resting in the bight, while a further eighty-five were off-site at Coward's Marsh. As alluded to, the early part of the day produced little, although a Willow Warbler on Wick is the first of that species to be noted on the return passage - also 2 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Common Tern passing west over there; but in contrast Woodpigeon are still in the throes of nest construction. Elsewhere, the 2 Greenshank remain around Stanpit, as well as 4 Whimbrel and at least 7 Common Sandpiper. To wrap up, a juvenile Peregrine visited the area and showed a need to rather quickly sharpen up its hunting skills.

July 13th

Another day that failed to hold off the rain, albeit it rather light during the early afternoon. Once more, Fisherman's Bank got all the attention, but for the waders turned in just 2 Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel and 2 Dunlin. It looked as if there had been an influx of Black-headed Gull, as a few hundred were spread across the marsh at lunchtime, with an absolute minimum of 6 Mediterranean Gull of all ages excepting juvenile mixed in with them. Also seen from the bank, a Hobby over Wick and the Shelduck family, all of which are now capable of confident flight and no longer banding together.

July 12th

The last 48-hours has seen something of a pattern emerge comprising fine and still mornings but near atrocious afternoons. However, it may have been the onset of rain that was responsible for a remarkable 125 Black-tailed Godwit on Stanpit at lunchtime, after the morning there had produced just a Grey Plover and 3 Whimbrel. As the tide rose, the godwits dispersed, although around two-thirds of them only decamped as far as Coward's Marsh in the Avon Valley, but a Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, a Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin then chose to reveal themselves off Fisherman's Bank. In addition, there were 14 Common Sandpiper on the sandspit. Early in the morning, the first juvenile Sandwich Tern of the summer was with its parents off Mudeford Quay, while later on an adult Common Gull was in Stanpit Creek.

July 11th

There was indication of some post-breeding dispersal from nearby sites today, particularly over Monkswell Green, where 4 Crossbill, 3 Bullfinch and a Siskin passed by early in the morning. Meanwhile, the Stanpit wader variety was enhanced by a Bar-tailed Godwit and 7 Dunlin that were certainly new-in, with 4 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit and 18 Curlew also settled. In addition, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel and 5 Curlew headed west, but a Hobby and 2 Raven, also airborne, were probably not as purposeful in their movement. To wrap up, Bearded Tit were recorded aurally, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull was logged and 5 Common Tern were seen from Fisherman's Bank.

July 10th

The rain returned today, so greatly limited time in the field. Consequently, the only news involves 3 Common Sandpiper on the sandspit with a further bird in Stanpit Creek, 4 Whimbrel also in the creek and 5 Common Tern past Mudeford Quay.

July 9th

It was another dry day, but the forecast suggests it may not last all that long. The only news for the post comes from Stanpit, where Mother Siller's Channel held 10 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and a Snipe, while 4 Whmbrel were in Stanpit Bight and a Black-tailed Godwit was off Fisherman's Bank.

Additional news: a first-summer Common Gull was resting off Mudeford Quay in the morning.

July 8th

A morning without rain was a true novelty and allowed Stanpit to be given a reasonable look. Around Mother Siller's Channel, there was a total of 19 Common Sandpiper, while three more were in Stanpit Creek and four at least were about the end of the sandspit - so a day-total of 25+ is quite reasonable. Also 5 Whimbrel, four inside the harbour and one from Mudeford Quay, and 2 Greenshank. A small group of terns off the quay included 9 Common Tern, one of which appeared to be a first-summer bird as did a couple of the Sandwich Tern there. In addition, the area's first juvenile Black-headed Gull of the season headed in over The Run and a first-summer Gannet was looking a little uncomfortable in the navigation channel through the sandbar, something that was well noted by the large gulls.

Additional news: an Arctic Skua passed Hengistbury early in the afternoon.

July 7th

It almost certainly didn't stop raining during the night, ditto throughout the day, but it may well finally have just done so at 5:30 tonight. After a relatively still start, the wind picked up from the south-east and by mid-morning there was an established easterly procession of Gannet into The Solent. Between approximately 9:00 and 12:00 over 340 were seen; then between 3:15 and 4:15 this afternoon, 154 were counted doing the same thing. The early session also saw one, but possibly two, Balearic Shearwater, while there were a certain two later on. Continuing the seabird theme, a first-summer Kittiwake was seen from the uncharacteristic location of Wick as it headed upriver, but 2 Little Tern off Mudeford Quay were in a slightly more expected position. Also from the quay, at least 20 Common Scoter, a Fulmar, a Razorbill and a Whimbrel, the latter taking advantage of the almost deserted sandspit. Moving back to Wick and the morning, when a Hobby was flushed from the riverside path and two very recently fledged Grey Heron were on Wick Farm Meadows.

July 6th

Skylark - Joe Murphy

The skies gave some early promise, but before long the cloud took over and it's again rained ever since! It's still not clear whether one or two pairs of Bearded Tit have bred this year, but there were 6 juveniles in the relevant reed bed this morning. The wader interest at Stanpit is creeping slowly up, with 2 Greenshank and 7 Common Sandpiper on site this morning, most of the latter in Parky Meade Rail; as well as 2 Whimbrel, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin and 14 Curlew. The only other news for the post involves 3 Great Crested Grebe on the sea off Mudeford Quay.

July 5th

For the first time in a while, the weather was reasonably in keeping with the date - however, it's likely to be another week or so before things really get moving in terms of birds. There were just 3 Common Sandpiper to be seen today, three in Barn Bight and one along Fisherman's Bank, a Greenshank was heard, a single Whimbrel was logged and 5 Ringed Plover were seen to leave the area west. Meanwhile, at least 66 Redshank were settled, the vast majority using Barn Bight on the Hengistbury side. At least one adult Cuckoo is still on-site, today around Wick Farm, but after their fine presence earlier in the season one wonders how many juveniles are now working their 'parents' to exhaustion in the reedbeds? The day also saw the first Raven for some time, three in total, as well as 18 Common Tern and 9 Common Scoter west at sea, and 13 adult Mediterranean Gull disturbed by a raptor over the Ship In Distress.

July 4th

Dartford Warbler - Jimmy Main

After another wet morning, the conditions improved greatly during the afternoon and at 6:30 tonight the sun was even shining. Stanpit saw an arrival of Common Sandpiper today - a total of 15 birds, including 7 juveniles - as well as 6 Whimbrel, four west and two settled, and over 12 Curlew. In addition, there was a small passage of Common Tern through the harbour, twenty-nine in all, which also attracted an Arctic Skua well inside the area for a short while. Further interest, although not unexpected, were 2 redhead Goosander that toured the area briefly. Around the same time, 40 Common Scoter went by Mudeford Quay, with several more seen on later visits there.

Additional news: a flock of 18 Curlew passed west over Wick in the early gloom.

July 3rd

Another virtual washout today with just Mudeford Quay and Fisherman's Bank receiving any coverage. A couple of hours on the quay this morning produced just 6 Common Scoter west and a few lingering Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Gannet. Later, from Fisherman's Bank, the 14 juvenile Shelduck were still intact while 12 Sandwich Tern, 9 Curlew, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel were also present.

July 2nd

The now expected south-westerly wind brought yet more rain, which started not long after dawn and is pretty much still going! Consequently, the only news comes courtesy of various bits of shelter on Mudeford Quay, from where, this morning: a Balearic Shearwater, 2 Manx Shearwater, a handful of Fulmar, 13 Black-tailed Godwit and 25 or so Common Tern headed west; while of 7 Common Scoter all but one went east and 30 or so Gannet were lingering. A further look at lunchtime added 2 Little Tern, 2 Curlew and a further 7 Common Scoter, all west.

July 1st

Juvenile Dartford Warbler - Joe Murphy
Female Linnet - Joe Murphy

With June now behind us, things can only get better! However, having said that, the only news for today involves an early returning Yellow Wagtail over Crouch Hill, Stanpit, during the morning.

Additional news: a Greenshank was in Stanpit Creek.

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