Sightings for April 2014

April 30th

Canada Goose
Canada Goose – Clinton Whale

Dense fog clouded the area for most of the morning, so there is relatively little to report on the subject of migration. Instead, some attention was given to the breeding birds and it was discovered that two broods of Bearded Tit - sized five and four - are now on the wing at Stanpit. When one considers there is at least a further pair of adults on the other side of the area, then by local standards it's something of a bumper year. Also during the morning, a Common Sandpiper was heard to call on the marsh. This afternoon, it was much clearer and an Iceland Gull was on Blackberry Point, while 10 Whimbrel and 3 Canada Goose were around Stanpit Bight. The conditions gave rise to a good morning of ringing, with several re-traps: a Cetti's Warbler and a Reed Warbler from 2009; a Greenfinch from 2010; a Blackbird from 2011; and a Lesser Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff from 2013.

April 29th

There was evidence of a little more passerine interest today, with a female Redstart on the Long Field and a Whinchat on the Barn Field, while 12 Wheatear, most of them on the latter field, and a few Willow Warbler were spread about. With respect to other warblers - namely Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and Sedge  Warbler - all of which were on-site, it’s becoming difficult to separate new arrivers from those holding territory. Overhead migration was enlivened by the year’s first Hobby, a bird arriving over Mudeford Quay, as well as a Swift over the Nursery and 60-80 Mediterranean Gull heading east; also, 4 Common Tern passed the quay. In-harbour interest was again poor, with just 16 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin to make the post. 

April 28th

Other than the first Spotted Flycatcher of the year, which was by the Double Bends in the Wood, it was a dead loss this morning - the only other passerine interest coming from: a Grasshopper Warbler and Garden Warbler on Wick, 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field, 40+ Blackcap and 15 Willow Warbler. In the light northerly breeze, the sea was just as bad - a lone Guillemot being the total from there - while a Shoveler and 2 Gadwall toured the area. Equally dire is the wader passage - this afternoon, the only presence in the harbour comprised: 15 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Curlew and a Redshank, plus the obligatory Oystercatcher! The stillish conditions tempted a Buzzard into the airspace and a large Peregrine passed over the North Scrubs. 

April 27th

Whimbrel & Bar-tailed Godwit
Whimbrel and two Bar-tailed Godwit on Crouch Hill – Clinton Whale
Reed Warbler
...and after a slow start, Reed Warbler
are now becoming more conspicuous about the aread – Colin Raymond

A straight east wind means there is very little shelter on offer, even on Mudeford Quay, so seawatching was more than hard work this morning. Nevertheless, the combined efforts from the quay and the Beach Huts, over a 3-hour period from 7:00 onwards, saw: 2 Arctic Skua, both dark birds, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Fulmar and a Razorbill all head west; while a Red-throated Diver and 6 Common Tern moved east; but18 Common Scoter were somewhat aimless in their intent. The most numerous travellers were adult Mediterranean Gull, all eastbound and in flock sizes varying from two to eleven, giving a final tally of 73 birds - all but nine of them seen passing above Mudeford Quay. Whimbrel were also around - five on the seawatches, sixteen resting on Priory Marsh briefly and fourteen at Stanpit, where they were accompanied by a 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. So far this season, Common Sandpiper have been fairly sparse, so singles in Stanpit Creek and the end of the sandspit were quite welcome. The latter site also hosted the now regular 2 Raven, which have taken to using it as a base for excursions to the quay. 

Additional news: a couple of Little Tern went past Mudeford Quay in the early evening.

April 26th

The sea was watched from both Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts for around three hours this morning, but the hoped for passage didn't occur. A lone Manx Shearwater was probably the pick, also a Red-throated Diver, 6 Fulmar, 18 Sandwich Tern and 12 Common Tern, all west. A couple of distant flocks of Whimbrel totalling 18 birds headed east, while 12 were on the sandspit; another 5 birds arrived over the quay, then this afternoon 22 were on Crouch Hill. The only hint of migration was the presence of a female Wheatear on the Barn Field.

April 25th

Wheatear – Roger Howell

Apart for the first hour of daylight and from the mid-afternoon onwards, the day was written off to incessant and sometimes heavy rain. The pick was an immature, drake Eider settled on the relatively calm sea off Mudeford late this afternoon, when 18 Whimbrel, a Grey Plover attaining breeding plumage, a Sanderling, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Turnstone and 17 Dunlin were at Stanpit. Earlier, 11 Whimbrel and a single Bar-tailed Godwit passed the quay, while 2 Raven were loitering around there most of the day and 3 Wheatear were on Hengistbury. 

April 24th

Bearded Tit
We appreciate there has been something of a Bearded Tit overload recently,
but this shot is hard to resist – Alan Crockard

The feature of an almost windless morning was an easterly passage of adult Mediterranean Gull over the entire area. A total of 158 was returned from Stanpit, but this didn’t include a flock of twenty-six from the same location, nor eighteen at sea, so a total of  202 birds is an absolute minimum. Also seen cutting through the harbour was an Arctic Tern in the company of 2 Common Tern; while a first-winter Little Gull was seen from both Stanpit and Mudeford Quay, with the latter site also producing a latish Purple Sandpiper. A handful of passerine migrants around the northern edge of the recording area included: 2 Garden Warbler, a Grasshopper Warbler and 10 newly-arrived Reed Warbler; as well as a Blue-headed Wagtail that landed briefly on Crouch Hill, plus 15 Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit over. Meanwhile, Hengistbury hosted 3 Wheatear. Moving to waders, a Little Ringed Plover headed north and the Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, 18 Whimbrel, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Black-tailed Godwit, including the injured bird, were logged, nearly all from Stanpit. Finally, at least 2 male Bearded Tit were in one location and a pair was in another.

April 23rd

What may have been yesterday's Serin was seen to pick up from Crouch Hill at 8:30 this morning, while an Iceland Gull was on Blackberry Point. Elsewhere, with the wind and some drizzle coming in from south-south-east, it was mostly about the sea. From 6:00 onwards, at least 4-hours were put in from the Beach Huts, but the first 90-minutes were the most productive by far, when the following were seen all heading east:  a Puffin on two occasions, so was thought to have briefly settled on the water before moving on, 2 Manx Shearwater, an Arctic Skua, 2 Great Skua, 2 Black-throated Diver, 3 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 2 diver sp., 3 Common Tern, 53 Sandwich Tern, 46 Mediterranean Gull, 127 Common Gull, 3 Brent Goose, 79 Common Scoter, 62 Whimbrel and 2 Sanderling. Late in the morning, Stanpit hosted a good number of waders, not least 57 Whimbrel, but also a Grey Plover, 2 Sanderling, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, including the individual with an injured wing that has been here since the weekend, 3 Ringed Plover and 95 Dunlin. After yesterday’s bonanza, passerines were few-and-far-between, although a female Pied Flycatcher was in the Double Dykes, a couple of Grasshopper were on-site and a singing Reed Warbler in the HHC reeds was a newly arrived bird. At lunchtime, a further 10 Common Tern and 15 Whimbrel passed Mudeford Quay, which will be tried again later so more may follow.

Update: by late afternoon, the wind had dropped sufficiently to allow insects to become a minor irritation on Mudeford Quay, where as soon as the rain stopped 12 Whimbrel came up from inside the harbour and left to the east.

More news: a couple of Spoonbill left the harbour to the west at 10:40 this morning.

April 22nd

Collared Dove
Collared Dove - never an entirely straightforward species in the area – Clinton Whale

After four days of fairly routine stuff, there was something of a fall this morning - in particular, Wheatear. It’s difficult to gauge the overall total, as birds do tend to sometimes move quickly along the headland towards Wick, so here is a list of the returns: at 7:30, 23 were on groynes at the southern end of the sandspit; at 10:00, 55 were counted on the Barn Field; but that was surpassed at 12:30, when 84 birds were in the same enclosure; then at 5:30 tonight, there were 48 on the Barn Field and at least 10 in the Bobolink Field on Wick. Even allowing for duplication, a day-count of well in excess of 150 would seem more than reasonable. The backdrop to this arrival was the classic combination of clear skies on the northern French coast, but a band of drizzle sitting over us that simply forced birds down as soon as they made land, rather than continuing onwards. In support, there was a Serin briefly on the Long Field, 3 Ring Ouzel - a male and female on the Barn Field, and a male in the North Scrubs - while 5 Whinchat, 6 Redstart, a Grasshopper Warbler and 3 Tree Pipit were also logged. It wasn’t just passerines, however, which provided interest - a couple of female Garganey were in Stanpit Bight during the morning; 2 Little Gull were inside the harbour this afternoon, with one off Mudeford Quay earlier; from where a Black-throated Diver, a Red-throated Diver and an unidentified diver were seen; and an Iceland Gull was at Hengistbury late in the day. Gull interest was further complemented by a really decent, for the date, count of 51 Common Gull at Stanpit in the afternoon, as well 2 first-winter Mediterranean Gull. Meanwhile, Little Tern were more obvious - the best count being seven in The Run - and 2 Fulmar moved by there. Not to be outdone, waders are certainly arriving; for example, 190 Dunlin at Stanpit, where 10+ Whimbrel, 2 Sanderling, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 14 Black-tailed Godwit joined the still incumbent Spotted Redshank. 

April 21st

Linnet – Clinton Whale
Herring Gull
...and a young Herring Gull, hatched last year,
and that is still handed food by adult birds – Clinton Whale

Dawn came with the merest of easterly breeze and a degree of cloud cover - conditions that looked good for a quantity of migrants to descend on the area, but it wasn’t to be. That said, there were pieces of interest, such as a Grasshopper Warbler reeling in the No Dogs Field on Wick, a Whinchat in the horse paddock at the northern end of the fields and at least 3 Redstart dotted about. Meanwhile, 2 Lesser Whitethroat now seem to holding territory on Wick and there was evidence of several newly arrived Whitethroat causing agitation amongst the few already incumbent birds. Overhead, at least 3 Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Pipit, a House Martin and a steady stream of Swallow came in, while settled incomers included 15 Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatear. Also moving over were Mediterranean Gull with at least three observers coming to 50 birds. Early on, Mudeford Quay hosted an Iceland Gull, as well as four fly-by Little Tern and a Fulmar. Then, from Argyle Road, a decent wader selection comprised: the Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, a Sanderling, a Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Black-tailed Godwit. The Whimbrel presence is ever so slowly gathering pace, with perhaps a dozen being recorded today. Once again, Bearded Tit were in one of the area's reedbeds. 

April 20th

Looking into the harbour from the end of the sandspit, before the rain set in – Clinton Whale

Although the rain didn’t commence in the small hours, as forecast - when it did start, just after eight, it took a further 9-hours to pack it in! As a consequence of the false alarm and then the real thing, Mudeford Quay saw most activity but there was also a lone trip made to the Beach Huts. All of these efforts suggested there was some kind of wader movement underway, with combined totals of easterly moving birds coming to: 23 Whimbrel, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 23 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 25 small, unidentified waders. In addition, the quay contributed singles of Little Tern and Common Tern, 2 Gannet and an auk. Also, the two regular Raven checking out the previous day’s trash before moving over to Hengistbury.

April 19th

Pied Flycatcher
Male Pied Flycatcher in the Nursery – Hugh Goldsmith
...and territorial Whitethroat – Alan Crockard

Once more, it wasn’t until later in the day that the best was found - namely, a male Pied Flycatcher lingering in the Nursery, as well as two male Redstart in there. Earlier, in an uncomfortably cold northerly wind, it had been pretty dire with the totals from all areas coming to a disappointing: 5 Yellow Wagtail, a Lesser Whitethroat, 9 Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler and 13 Willow Warbler. Despite the offshore breeze, the sea was perhaps a little better than expected with a couple of Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Fulmar, 4 Gannet, 40 Common Gull and 19 Mediterranean Gull, all seen from the lee of the Coastguards. Meanwhile, a single Brent Goose came in and settled at Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin were the only waders that could be mustered. To round up, at least two male Bearded Tit were again present and a Peregrine was about Hengistbury. 

April 18th

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting – Alan Crockard
Bearded Tit
...and another look at one of the male Bearded Tit on-site – Alan Crockard

The start of what is for some a much awaited, 4-day birding break failed to set the pulses racing this morning, when passerine migrants were more than hard to find. Early on, 3 Yellow Wagtail passed over Hengistbury and Wick, while a singing Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Whitethroat, 2 Wheatear and a few Willow Warbler were also noted. Later, however, around 11:00, there were singles of Grasshopper Warbler and Redstart, a female, on the Barn Field. The first Swift of the year made land over Mudeford Quay, from where 2 Little Gull were also seen, and an Iceland Gull was inside the harbour. The remaining interest comes from at least two Bearded Tit, both of those seen being males, as well as 2 Rook, 4 Lapwing and 18 Mediterranean Gull passing over. 

April 17th

Bearded Tit
Male Bearded Tit – Alan Crockard

There was a clear migration of medium-sized gulls through the area this morning. Around 7:45, a flock of around 40 Common Gull flew north over Mudeford Quay, while a further 35+ birds sat in a raft just beyond The Run. Then, over the next couple of hours, 103 Mediterranean Gull moved east over the area, including a flock in excess of thirty. Earlier, the regular Iceland Gull cruised west past Whitepits. The other feature of the day was Grasshopper Warbler, with nine reckoned on Hengistbury, in spots such as Whitepits, the Natterjack Pond and by the HHC. The best-of-the-rest was a Wood Warbler at the end of the head, but also 150 Willow Warbler, 70 Chiffchaff, a Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Whitethroat, 85 Blackcap and 9 Wheatear; as well as 4 Tree Pipit, 200 Meadow Pipit, 35 House Martin and 120 Swallow over. Waders were varied, although not overly numerous, and included a Purple Sandpiper from Mudeford Quay; plus in-harbour maxima of: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, a Sanderling, 8 Whimbrel, 22 Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, but these didn’t linger, 15 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin. The drake Wigeon is still here and was joined by an equally isolated Brent Goose. Of potential and confirmed breeding interest respectively, a pair of Bearded Tit were on-site and a brood of 13 Mallard ducklings was at Stanpit. 

April 16th

The easterly breeze continued throughout the night and brought precious little with it. Therefore, to mix it up a bit let’s start at Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank remains and if true to form will continue to do so for another 8-days. To complement, there were 2 Greenshank, a Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel and 10 Black-tailed Godwit. The marsh also held a Cuckoo, while elsewhere: a female Bullfinch passed over the head; a Grasshopper Warbler reeled in Whitepits; and a Garden Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Reed Warbler, 14 Wheatear, a few Swallow and 9 House Martin were logged. An Iceland Gull passed over Wick this morning, presumably to rest inside the harbour, and an easterly passage of Common Gull, predominantly first-winter birds, was noted - fifty-eight in all, plus 4 Mediterranean Gull. For the first 5-minutes it was studied, the sea looked as if it would deliver, as 2 Black-throated Diver, 3 Great Northern Diver, all in breeding plumage, and a Red-throated Diver travelled east; but after that early flurry, just 5 Whimbrel, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, a Fulmar and a Gannet, all up-channel, made the notebooks. This evening, a Little Tern was off Mudeford Quay. 

April 15th

It was very much the morning after the day before! The exceptions being a male Ring Ouzel that sat for a while on a bush at the end of the head, before leaving over the harbour, and a Spoonbill north over the HHC a little time later. Otherwise, it was just bits-and-pieces dotted across the area, including: 5 Redstart, 3 Yellow Wagtail, two of them settled on Wick Meadows, a Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 7 Blackcap, 11 Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler, plus 2 House Martin over. Whimbrel are becoming slightly more conspicuous, but still not obvious, with five logged today, as well as a Buzzard coasting west, 4 Mediterranean Gull, a single Common Tern and the remaining, lone drake Wigeon. 

April 14th

Cetti's Warbler
Popular opinion suggests there are currently a good number of
Cetti's Warbler around the area – Alan Crockard
...and one of the day's Redstart - Alan Hayden

In seemingly identical conditions to yesterday, migration hit full flow this morning when an excellent selection and quantity of birds were on Hengistbury and, to a lesser extent, Wick. Before the number-crunching, however, some of the highlights: a couple of Ring Ouzel were logged – a male on the Barn Field and a bird in flight over the Batters; an incredible 26 Redstart were recorded, mostly coming across the Barn and Long Fields early on; two female Pied Flycatcher were on the Batters; and a Firecrest was singing in the Nursery. Of the rest, Willow Warbler were most numerous with 470 birds being estimated, but also 50+ Chiffchaff, a Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat, 70 Blackcap, a Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, a Whinchat and 32 Wheatear. Meanwhile, a Yellow Wagtail, 9 White Wagtail, including a flock of seven birds, 4 Tree Pipit, 135 Meadow Pipit, 75 Goldfinch, 160 Linnet and a constant trickle of Swallow passed over. Around mid-morning, a Red Kite was watched from Crouch Hill soaring over Stanpit village, while the first Little Tern of the year – one inside the harbour and two past Mudeford Quay – were recorded, with 6 Common Tern and a Red-throated Diver also moving east off the quay. Wader interest continues to grow, not least from 2 Avocet at Stanpit, but also 8 Whimbrel, 3 Grey Plover, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 80 Dunlin around the area. To round up, a Peregrine was logged.

Evening update: a total of 4 Common Sandpiper, the first of the year, were at Stanpit - two close to RIBS Marine and two on Grimmery Bank - also singles of Yellow Wagtail and Sedge Warbler there. Meanwhile, a Grasshopper Warbler reeled on Wick.

April 13th

Wheatear were around in small numbers again today
– Clinton Whale (top) & Derek Patterson
Mediterranean Gull
...while the frequent calls of passing Mediterranean Gull,
nearly all adult pairs, were a feature of the morning – Alan Crockard

Settled overnight weather that continued throughout the day ensured a fairly low key period in the field. Amongst very average numbers of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap, it was a real surprise for the ringers to discover two male Redstart in the same net early on, but that was pretty much it in terms of excitement. Meanwhile, a Grasshopper Warbler didn’t have the good grace to reel more than once on Wick, where a Redpoll overflew, the Whitethroat remained on territory and there were 2 Sedge Warbler by the Wooden Bridge. Elsewhere, 2 Reed Warbler were about Priory Marsh and the Barn Field held a maximum of 14 Wheatear through until the afternoon at least. For the date, Whimbrel are thin on the ground - individual sightings were on the Salt Hurns, in Holloway's Dock and on the Barn Field - but these may all relate to the same bird. The morning saw a steady and vocal passage of adult pairs of Mediterranean Gull, a minimum of 30 birds in all, presumably heading towards colonies in The Solent. Just after dawn, an Iceland Gull was on Solent Meads golf course before moving to Stanpit and settling on South Marsh. Also at Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and 55 Dunlin. 

April 12th

Sand Martin
It is reckoned that around 30 Sand Martin are now present about the cliffs at Hengistbury, where they are having to dig new burrows after the winter landslide – Alan Crockard
...while up to 20 Turnstone have been frequenting the sandspit – Clinton Whale

Just in time for the weekend, things quietened down even further - although a Tree Sparrow did arrive from the sea over the Coastguards and a Grasshopper Warbler reeled from Ashtree Meadows very early on. Otherwise, the sea was probably the best option, coming up with a Black-throated Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Fulmar, all east, plus 4 Canada Goose that seemed to come in from far out. In addition, a passing flock of 6 waders contained 2 Curlew and 4 Whimbrel, while of 26 Mediterranean Gull logged, fifteen of them were made up from a single flock of fifteen first-winter birds. In fact, as the day progressed, there was evidence at Stanpit of waders incoming, as the Dunlin finally peaked at 41 birds to join the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Black-tailed Godwit. Moving back to the passerines, the very modest totals were: a single Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat on Wick, around 30 Willow Warbler, 7 Wheatear, a White Wagtail and an alba Wagtail. Also around, were 4 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall and a couple of Raven. 

April 11th

Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat – Jean Southworth
Peacock butterfly – Clinton Whale

The day started to a chilly northerly breeze and some cloud, but as the sun burned through then it became far more pleasant. There were fewer birds than yesterday, but they seemed more settled; for example, the Wood held up to fifty feeding and singing Willow Warbler, with the estimate for Hengistbury and Wick as a whole coming to around one hundred. New birds for the year were a Whinchat on the end of the sandspit, seen from Mudeford Quay, and a Lesser Whitethroat trapped-and-ringed at the HHC. In addition, at least 3 Redstart, all males were about, the Whitethroat was again on Wick and Wheatear just topped 30 birds. In terms of visible migration, it was almost non-existent but did have a couple of high spots: firstly, 2 Spoonbill were seen from both the quay and the Coastguards as they headed west; then, a female-type Marsh Harrier seemed to come in-off late in the afternoon. During the morning, a single House Martin moved through and by the afternoon there was an established trickle of Swallow. At Stanpit, which is now almost devoid of winter fowl save for a lone drake Wigeon, the Spotted Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin were present, while the day-total for Mediterranean Gull was a modest 7 birds. The day also saw an emergence of Peacock butterfly. 

Omission: a cracking, male Black Redstart was ever so briefly on the Barn Field, 18 Turnstone were on the sandspit and 3 Greylag Goose visited.

April 10th

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler at Stanpit – Alan Crockard

There were once again a good number of passerine migrants about. The pick were: a Tree Sparrow briefly settled by the Coastguards, a male Pied Flycatcher even more fleetingly by the HHC, a Grasshopper Warbler reeling close to Barn Bight and the first Whitethroat of the season on Wick; also 2 Water Pipit low over the top of the head, plus singles of Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit. In the reedbeds, there were a total of 4 Sedge Warbler and a Reed Warbler – most of these around Priory Marsh – with other numbers across the area, but mainly from Wick and the Barn Field, including: 4 Redstart, 15 Wheatear, 200 Willow Warbler 8 Chiffchaff and 16 Blackcap; as well as 230 Meadow Pipit, 2 White Wagtail, 4 House Martin 30 Swallow, 3 Siskin and 35 Linnet, all those over-flying. At Stanpit, there was a fine record of 3 Little Ringed Plover, along with 6 Whimbrel; while a further Whimbrel and 19 Black-tailed Godwit moved past Hengistbury. Also inside the harbour in the morning was an Iceland Gull, which was first seen from the HHC before it landed on South Marsh. To wrap up, a Buzzard soared over Whitepits mid-morning, 5 Common Scoter headed east at sea and a Peregrine was over Solent Meads golf course.

April 9th

A change in the weather to clear, blue skies saw a definite change in the action. A male Serin overflew the HHC at around 6:40, with a Grasshopper Warbler being heard in the same area around 30-minutes earlier. Also new for the year, an incoming Tree Pipit and a Greenshank at Stanpit; plus repeats of 9 Redstart and a Sedge Warbler in the area. Meanwhile, Willow Warbler were around in more customary numbers for the period - 370 birds across Hengistbury and Wick being the estimate - as well as 75 Wheatear, at least forty on the sandspit, 85 Chiffchaff and 75 Blackcap. To finish with the smaller species, in addition to those settled, a House Martin, 5 Swallow, 120 Sand Martin, 170 Meadow Pipit, 90 Linnet and 56 Goldfinch were counted over a two hour spell. To complement the previously mentioned wader, 4 Avocet headed east, 3 Purple Sandpiper were on the Long Groyne and 3 Whimbrel left the harbour, with the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit being logged within; as were 2 Common Tern. A degree of wildfowl variety was provided by: a couple of arriving Tufted Duck, 5 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall and 9 Greylag Goose; while 6 Mediterranean Gull rounded off interest for the day.

Additional news: a female Bullfinch overflew the Long Field, a Sanderling joined the Stanpit waders in the afternoon and 2 House Martin lingered over Priory Marsh.

April 8th

‘Scratching around for migrants,’ was a term used to describe 90-minutes fieldwork this morning, when the sum total of definite new arrivers across Hengsitbury and Wick came to 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Swallow and 2 Wheatear; while several each of Blackcap and Chiffchaff are now becoming difficult to determine between new-in and territory holding birds. The best by far, however, was a Yellowhammer across the No Dogs Field, but there was nothing else to raise the pulse, although 4 Rook east over the head were a little out of the ordinary. A late morning trip to Fisherman’s Bank saw the Spotted Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Dunlin, with 19 Turnstome also inside the harbour adjacent to the Mudeford Quay slip. Late in the day, a lazy hour on one of the Stanpit golf course benches witnessed a high and frustratingly distant, 35-strong flock of large waders, certainly godwits or whimbrels, heading east over the head, as well as ten or so Mediterranean Gull and three or four Swallow. 

April 7th

The weather continued in much the same vein as the weekend, i.e. a wind varying about south and frequent rain. The sea was watched from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay, with the best being a Balearic Shearwater this afternoon from the quay, although a Great Skua and Merlin were seen from the huts earlier in the day. The morning spell also produced: 2 Little Gull, 52 Common Gull, 4 Common Tern, 49 Sandwich Tern, 7 Fulmar, 33 Common Scoter and 3 Swallow; with the later period coming up with a further 2 Fulmar, a single Swallow and 6 Mediterranean Gull. There was also interest inside the harbour, where 2 pale-bellied Brent Goose were on East Marsh and the Spotted Redshank was again logged, along with 2 Grey Plover, 18 Turnstone, 12 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin. Meanwhile, seven more Swallow were feeding up over Priory Marsh. 

April 6th

Purple Sandpiper
One of 6 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit this morning – Clinton Whale
Other than a short window in the early afternoon, drizzle and mist dominated the day. Consequently, the only excitement came with the novelty of a drake Mandarin that flew into the harbour through The Run during the morning. Other than that, however, looking at the sea produced just a lone Fulmar, a Swallow in-off and several Sandwich Tern. Remaining faithful to Stanpit Creek, the Spotted Redshank is now greying nicely, while waders seen on or around the sandspit included: 6 Purple Sandpiper on groyne S9, 2 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin. What is presumed to an immature pair of Raven again hung around Mudeford Quay and at least 3 Mediterranean Gull passed by there.

April 5th

The morning was largely ruined by an almost constant drizzle, which even a south-east veering to south-west breeze could not counter in terms of bringing birds. In fact, other than several Sandwich Tern and 6 Fulmar, the seawatch could have been dated in mid-winter, as just 8 Gannet, 15 Common Scoter, 2 unidentified divers, a Guillemot and 2 Mediterranean Gull, all moving aimlessly, were logged; as well as 14 Purple Sandpiper and 2 Sanderling feeding about the sandspit. The only evidence of spring came from 2 Swallow past the HHC, a Willow Warbler and 4 Blackcap on Wick, and around a hundred arriving Meadow Pipit. Otherwise, it’s just a further 3 Mediterranean Gull and 5 Sandwich Tern, those over Wick, plus 2 Raven to remark upon. 

April 4th

Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull – Clinton Whale

It’s still hard going for numbers of migrants, but again the report is salvaged with small pieces of interest. A female Garganey was in Mother Siller’s Channel for a brief period early on, while a first-winter Iceland Gull was around the tip of the sandspit before heading into the harbour. Meanwhile, a couple of Black-necked Grebe drifted slowly east on the sea off Double Dykes and were then seen in flight, accompanying some Brent Goose, heading into The Solent. Also, the year’s first Sedge Warbler and a relatively early Garden Warbler - on Wick and Stanpit respectively. What should be passing through in quite some numbers were represented by just 7 Wheatear, 10 Willow Warbler, 12 Blackcap and 30 Chiffchaff, as well as a single Redwing. As such, some conjecture is being had that it may be the Saharan dust cloud that is slowing migration a way further south from us? To round up, a Red-breasted Merganser passed the Beach Huts and 5 Purple Sandpiper were turned in from Mudeford, where last year’s yellow-legged Herring Gull seems to have just reappeared and a pair of Raven again took advantage of the food that was on offer. 

Additional news: around 30 Sand Martin were over Priory Marsh in the afternoon.

April 3rd

The weather was a real variety today, as an early breeze gave way to a doldrum of low cloud at lunchtime and eventually drizzle at dusk - conditions that seemed to suit small, but incredibly irritating insects. The Red-breasted Goose put in a very brief appearance first thing, but could not be seen for the rest of the day; and with reports of one passing a couple of points in West Sussex mid-morning it seems the bird has now started its trek back to Siberia. Although summer migrants remain thin on the ground - just 5 Willow Warbler, 8 Blackcap and 5 Wheatear in the Wick area - wintering birds are still here, as 2 Siberian Chiffchaff were seen about the Stanpit golf course this morning. Meanwhile, singles of Swallow and Yellow Wagtail were watched or heard arriving, along with a Brambling, 4 Siskin, 70 Goldfinch, 220 Linnet and 170 Meadow Pipit. The best at sea was a hunting female-type Merlin, but also a flock of 12 birds that comprised 10 Whimbrel and two unidentified duck, as well as: 45 Mediterranean Gull, a first-winter Little Gull, 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Shoveler and 86 Brent Goose, all east. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover were present, as were two pairs of Gadwall and 122 Brent Goose. 

April 2nd

Curlew – Clinton Whale

It was a day dotted with quality. An early walk along the beach at Hengistbury produced the Red-breasted Goose, as it tagged along with Brent Goose to enter the harbour for the day, over the sandspit, after overnighting in Poole Harbour. Just before this, the first Redstart of the season was by the HHC gate, while later in the morning a Brambling put down at the end of the head; then during the afternoon, an Iceland Gull was inside the harbour on Blackberry Point. The sea wasn’t to be outdone and produced another good, easterly movement of birds that was headed by 2 Scaup and 5 Velvet Scoter, the latter in flocks of four and one, as well as: a Golden Plover, 2 Red-throated Diver, 9 Little Gull, 61 Common Gull, 3 Fulmar, 2 Gannet, 44 Sandwich Tern, 63 Brent Goose, 198 Common Scoter, 2 Pintail and 9 Shoveler. Conversely, a party of 3 Tufted Duck moved west. Once more, there was little evidence of settled passerines - just two each of Willow Warbler and Wheatear - but around 200 Meadow Pipit passed over. To wrap up, the Spotted Reshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a few Sandwich Tern were at Stanpit, and a couple of observers notched up four species of goose for the day - 5 Greylag Goose and 4 Canada Goose were with the gaggle of the two smaller species in the afternoon; and earlier, three of the former passed west at sea and two of the latter seemed to head out south. 

April 1st

The area was blanketed in thick fog until lunchtime at least, which made things tricky, although the year’s first Yellow Wagtail passed over the HHC early on, along with 28 Meadow Pipit. The Red-breasted Goose was at Stanpit all day and an Iceland Gull headed west past the Barn Field at lunch, while a pair of Bearded Tit was again in the Great Spires reeds.  Otherwise, there is very little to mention, save for: now around 15 Sand Martin around the cliffs; a couple each of Willow Warbler and Blackcap moving through; 2 Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit, plus a Sandwich Tern; and 2 Mediterranean Gull over Hengistbury. 

Wader update from Stanpit: the Spotted Redshank was present, as were a maximum of 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Turnstone, 8 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin.

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