Sightings for August 2014

August 31st

Male Kestrel at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

During a day of fine weather and varied coverage, the picks-of-the-post are: a Spotted Crake heard around Parky Meade Rail early on; a couple of Spoonbill that came in-off the sea over the former Point House Cafe site at 4:00 this afternoon; and a Little Stint seen from Fisherman’s Bank in the morning. It was the best day of the autumn for Swallow passage, with around 800 birds estimated to have moved over Hengistbury this morning - some quite purposefully, but others in slower moving feeding flocks. Also overhead, around 150 Sand Martin, 14 Tree Pipit, 22 Yellow Wagtail and five quite high-flying Meadow Pipit, which may also have been on the move. Meanwhile, a further 40 Yellow Wagtail, most of them at the northern end of the Wick Fields, were settled, as were 2 Grey Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit. Other grounded birds across Wick and Hengistbury in the morning, included: a Cuckoo, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 9 Wheatear, a Garden Warbler, 50 Whitethroat, 50+ Willow Warbler and around 25 Chiffchaff, while three young, male Redstart were in the North Scrubs late in the afternoon. In addition to the previously mentioned stint, an Avocet was about the area all day, with other in-harbour wader totals coming to: 7 Knot, 5 Sanderling, 3 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel and 7 Black-tailed Godwit; plus 2 Snipe that were seen to leave to the west. A couple of Pintail passed over Hengistbury and 5 Wigeon were in Stanpit Bight; an adult Mediterranean Gull arrived over the Barn Field; an adult male Peregrine hunted the area; a couple of Raven were about; and Kingfisher were noted at Wick and Stanpit.

August 30th

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher at Stanpit recently – Alan Hayden

The early morning was a real mixed bag of weather. Dawn broke to low pressure, rain and a westerly breeze, but this almost immediately led into an hour of complete calm that made the biting insects on Hengistbury a real problem. However, the pressure soon rose and with it the wind, again from the west. All-in-all, there is not too much to report - the highlights being a juvenile Marsh Harrier that appeared over the end of Hengistbury, but the bird then lost height and rather laboriously headed across Poole Bay; while a juvenile Arctic Skua was watched on-and-off for an hour as it hassled the offshore terns. During the period of still, the area around the HHC almost resonated to the sound of Willow Warbler song, but the only other passerine migrants noted were 2 Tree Pipit and a few Yellow Wagtail. Once more, Holloway’s Dock held some interest - 3 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and 2 Black-tailed Godwit - a couple of Little Tern were off Mudeford Quay at first-light and 4 Wigeon were inside the harbour, where 86 Mallard were counted feeding on the tidal mud. 

Omission: a Green Sandpiper passed west over the Double Dykes.

August 29th

In a stiff south-westerly breeze with periods of intense rain, there was a very notable passage of Common Tern this morning, observed almost entirely from Mudeford Quay. Of an estimated 2808 'commic' terns, eight-hundred were confirmed as Common Tern and eight as Arctic Tern; so applying the same ratio to those unidentified would suggest a total of 2780 Common Tern and 28 Arctic Tern, all west and all in a 2-hour period commencing around 7:00. Once the worst of the rain had passed, however, the movement stopped rather suddenly. Also seen from the quay early on were 8 Little Tern, 130 Sandwich Tern and a constant, but uncounted, stream of Gannet. A late afternoon visit then produced a Balearic Shearwater west, an Arctic Tern, six lingering Little Tern and a westerly trickle of Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Turnstone. Back to the morning and Hengistbury, where 2 Arctic Skua - a pale juvenile and a darker bird - were seen well around the end of the head; in addition, a Great Skua, a Kittiwake, 3 Fulmar and around 50 hirundines moved over the water. Some of the early arrivers at Hengistbury missed the bulk of the tern action, as they sheltered by the HHC waiting for some of the rain to pass. Just ahead of that, however, 11 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Grey Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit and 4 Wheatear were logged. Presumably due to the fence that now surrounds it, Holloway’s Dock is fast losing its reputation as a wader-void - in fact, 8 species were recorded on it at various times this morning, including 3 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel; plus the now regular Sandwich Tern roost. Credit to the ranger team at Hengistbury. Finally, a couple of Little Tern were seen inside the harbour.

August 28th

Greenfinch – Alan Hayden
Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler – Alan Hayden

There was a really decent presence of Yellow Wagtail today, with 53 at Stanpit, many of them on East Marsh amongst the ponies, and 31 on Wick, all settled in the water meadows. Also, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler in the North Scrubs, a Turtle Dove seen heading across the river from Stanpit, a Whinchat on the Barn Field and 3 Tree Pipit over the area; plus 10 Willow Warbler and 15 Whitethroat in the Wick Fields. A reasonable westerly passage of Common Tern, 212 birds, was logged through the harbour, as well as 2 Swift and 360 Sand Martin. In-line with other Dorset sites, there was an influx of Ruff - actually one and two reeves - on Stanpit; while a Green Sandpiper was on the Wick water meadows. In addition, a Knot, 2 Greenshank, 6 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Snipe, 55 Ringed Plover and 80 Dunlin were about the marsh; along with 45 Common Tern, 3 Wigeon and 18 Teal. 

August 27th

Whitethroat – Leo Pyke

The early part of the morning saw a strong hirundine passage over Hengistbury, but that was cut a little short as the easterly breeze strengthened. In all, a total of 520 Sand Martin, 270 Swallow and 110 House Martin were counted, while 2 Swift came through later in the day. Also overhead early on, 27 Tree Pipit, 29 Yellow Wagtail and 10 Grey Wagtail, the first real showing of the latter this season; plus westbound flocks of 16 Grey Heron and 14 Raven respectively, as well as 470 high-flying Black-headed Gull on the same vector. The best of the decked birds on Hengistbury was a Nightingale, seen fleetingly in the Barred Warbler Bush, but also a Redstart, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 26 Willow Warbler and a Wheatear, with a subsequent visit adding around 30 Whitethroat to the day’s tally. Much later, at Stanpit, there were more passerines witnessed - a further 40 Yellow Wagtail, 7 Spotted Flycatcher and 30 Blackcap. The day also saw a coming-and-going of waders and wildfowl about the harbour, namely: a Little Stint, 2 Avocet, 11 Sanderling, 2 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 22 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Snipe; a Garganey, 7 Shoveler, 7 Wigeon, 63 Teal, 3 Gadwall and a Tufted Duck, as well as 32 Greylag Goose that landed for some time on the marsh. Seventy of the day’s 125 Sandwich Tern were in Holloway’s Dock and 63 Common Tern were at sea, as were twenty-five settled Common Scoter.

August 26th

One of the Swallow brood reared in the HHC this year – Alan Hayden
Wheatear – Clinton Whale

It was a day of intermittent drizzle and the occasional, heavy shower, during which the best birds were a Nuthatch that flew from Wick towards the Double Dykes and a young Spoonbill that headed high west over Stanpit late in the afternoon. The morning at Hengistbury also produced 5 Swift, 6 House Martin and a southbound Buzzard, a well as 22 Whitethroat and 2 Wheatear. By mid-afternoon, when the weather was looking to improve, there were 35 or so aimless Swallow above the head, while similar numbers of Whitethroat were still around, along with 3 Willow Warbler and a couple of Chiffchaff. Then, at around 4:30, an insect hatch occurred on Hengistbury and the skies were quickly filled with hundreds of gulls and hirundines, as well as three further Swift. Meanwhile, 4 Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler were in the North Scrubs and a Knot, 9 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 8 Black-tailed Godwit were around Stanpit Bight. The remaining interest for the post comes from 2 Kingfisher and 2 Raven, all on Hengistbury.

August 25th

Exactly as forecast, the day was a complete downpour - the precipitation only really easing at around 5:00 this evening. The southerly vector to the wind meant the little shelter that could be found was in the lee of the small, wooden shed on Mudeford Quay, as sparse at that may have been. The best of the 3-hours spent there in the morning was a juvenile Black Tern that lingered for 20-30 minutes, before seeming to head back into the Solent. Also a similarly aged Arctic Tern past, around 15 Common Tern, 50 or so Sandwich Tern, 13 Fulmar and 16 Common Scoter. A couple of further sessions in the afternoon failed to add anything to the list, other than a single Fulmar. The only other news involves 2 Wheatear and a Common Sandpiper on the Salt Hurns, 3 Ringed Plover seen to arrive and at least one Raven hanging around the quay. 

August 24th

It wasn’t too dissimilar to yesterday, with a nice selection but modest numbers of passerine migrants and waders around throughout the day. Early on, 45 Yellow Wagtail and 23 Tree Pipit passed over Hengistbury, where a Cuckoo was again present along with a Grasshopper Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear and 35 or so Whitethroat. In addition, there was a Wheatear on Crouch Hill, Stanpit. A party of 8 Knot was at Stanpit this afternoon, five of them seen to arrive over the Barn Field earlier in the day, while the morning saw a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper off Fisherman’s Bank and a peak of 32 Black-tailed Godwit, but at least twenty of those headed off purposefully westward. Also seen leaving were singles of Green Sandpiper and Snipe, while the numbers of settled birds came to: 3 Greenshank, 5 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel, 5 Turnstone, 16 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin. Other movers included a Little Tern west at sea and another vocal flock of Grey Heron - 7 birds - that eventually headed over Poole Bay; but a group of 6 Wigeon may have been the birds from yesterday. To finish up, there were probably 3 Kingfisher about the area and the welcome recovery of House Sparrow was underlined when a group of over 70 birds were watched dust-bathing by Stanpit Scrubs. In fact, so many have been doing so recently that the vegetation is being pushed back in some spots.

August 23rd

Common Tern
Common Tern – Alan Hayden
Little Egret
Little Egret – Alan Hayden

Although not present in great numbers, there was a real variety of southbound migrants this morning, with the following returns coming from between the HHC and the Wood: a juvenile Cuckoo, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, a Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 25 Whitethroat, 22 Willow Warbler and 12 Chiffchaff; plus 7 Yellow Wagtail and 5 Tree Pipit over. Before moving on, a couple of observations about the phylloscopus warblers - today saw the first obvious presence of travelling Chiffchaff amongst the already moving Willow Warbler; and a re-trapped Willow Warbler, a species that doesn’t breed in the area, from the 19th may have confounded the notion that all birds are fleetingly passing by the HHC. Meanwhile, Wheatear were also about with six on Hengistbury and five on Crouch Hill. Waders were also logged from both sides of the area - Hengistbury coming up with a presumed Little Stint mixed in with seven larger birds, a Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 7 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin, all seeming to leave the area. Conversely, there were birds settled at Stanpit with counts made either side of lunch, but the later period produced the bulk of the birds, including: 2 Knot, 2 Sanderling, a Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 35 Ringed Plover and 58 Dunlin. In addition to 12 Shelduck that arrived, winter duck were also checking-in as 6 Wigeon and 13 Teal headed north, but a circuiting Tufted Duck could have been the resident bird. Grey Heron were also on the move - 2 flocks of three and six respectively logged passing vocally south - as were 115 Sand Martin, 50 Swallow and several House Martin. After good numbers over the last few days, only 6 Common Tern were inside the harbour, but others were seen to-and-fro over the Barn Field, while bits-and-pieces comprised 3 Raven, 2 Kingfisher, a Common Gull and 4 Mediterranean Gull.

August 22nd

Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover on the sandspit – Clinton Whale
Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler – Leo Pyke

Other than 2 Roseate Tern, an adult and a juvenile, which seemed to enter the harbour over the Beach Huts, the sea was reasonably quiet this morning, producing just singles of Common Scoter and Fulmar plus unremarkable numbers of Gannet and terns. However, by late afternoon, the horizon from Mudeford Quay contained hundreds of terns, but all way too far out to identify. Meanwhile, there were 180 Sandwich Tern resting in Holloway’s Dock and of 136 birds in Stanpit Bight around 60% were this species, the rest being Common Tern. On a completely related subject, CHOG learnt last night of an exciting proposal from Natural England to create a Special Protection Area across the Solent and adjoining waters, but also Christchurch Harbour, for the benefit of terns. The remaining bird news for the day is rather sparse, but does include: 2 Whinchat on the Long Field and 28 Whitethroat in that general area; a Sanderling and 2 Ringed Plover on the sandspit; a Greenshank and a Whimbrel in Holloways Dock; 3 Knot, a further 3 Whimbrel and Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover and 28 Dunlin at Stanpit; and 5 juvenile Mediterranean Gull and a Common Gull at sea. It seems Tuesday’s post was little short of a complete hash-up, with two sets of reasonably significant records being overlooked. My apologies for that and please check back to see the additions. 

August 21st

Knot – Alan Hayden
Redshank – Alan Hayden

A still start with a strengthening south-westerly wind is becoming a feature of the weather right now. Before the breeze got up, passerine migrants on Hengistbury amounted to: a Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Garden Warbler, 65 Willow Warbler, 2 Whinchat and 5 Wheatear; while a further two of the latter were on Crouch Hill, Stanpit. Yellow Wagtail were well represented - thirteen over Stanpit early on, with a settled bird there this afternoon, and eighteen over the head; those with 21 Tree Pipit, 430 Sand Martin and 150 Swallow. Also a Grey Wagtail and a Hobby over the marsh, plus a Lesser Whitethroat in the North Scrubs. A good wader selection comprised: a Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 3 Knot, 4 Whimbrel, a Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe, a Ringed Plover and 51 Dunlin, recorded throughout the day at Stanpit. In addition, 6 Knot and 25 Ringed Plover, all airborne, were turned in from Hengistbury. Singles of Common Gull and Mediterranean Gull make the post, 22 Common Tern were around Stanpit Bight and 93 Sandwich Tern were counted in Holloway’s Dock. 

August 20th

Raven on Crouch Hill – Alan Hayden
Black-tailed Godwit
...and a nice view of the underwing of Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale

Just prior to 7:00 this morning, an Osprey passed west at sea, while a Green Sandpiper and 4 Greenshank left the area to the south-west. Today’s concentration of passerine migrants was at the eastern end of the Long Field, but the numbers for the post contain birds from elsewhere on the Hengistbury side of the recording area. Firstly the more interesting, namely: a Grasshopper Warbler on the Barn Field, a Pied Flycatcher and 2 Spotted Flycatcher on the Long Field, 2 Redstart and 2 Whinchat; but also: a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 85 Willow Warbler and 6 Wheatear; while 12 Tree Pipit, 15 Yellow Wagtail, a Swift and a flock of 200 Sand Martin moved overhead, generally southbound. Meanwhile, a further 2 Wheatear were on Stanpit. Waders seem to keep getting fewer - for example just 3 Dunlin on-site - however, the Knot was still present, as were 6 Greenshank, but two of those were seen to check-out, 3 Whimbrel and 8 Ringed Plover. A dopping of 11 Shelduck that arrived was a notable record for the date; a Kingfisher was around Wick Hams; and the recently fledged Sparrowhawk were again conspicuous over the harbour.

August 19th

There were few migrants around today, but a Redstart and a Wheatear were turned in from the Barn Field. At Stanpit, the Little Gull was again present, as was the first juvenile Knot of the autumn passage, plus 2 Greenshank, a Whimbrel, 51 Dunlin and a locally, notable count of 138 Redshank. Meanwhile, 40 Common Tern and 210 Sandwich Tern rested-up inside the harbour.

Additional news: a Wood Sandpiper flew north over the HHC, a Hobby was over the Long Field and 5 Tree Pipit were logged.Meanwhile, a Little Stint, a Little Ringed Plover, 2 Green Sandpiper, a Knot and 8 Whimbrel were at Stanpit, where a Bullfinch was in the North Scrubs.

August 18th

Turnstone, still in a good degree of breeding plumage – Clinton Whale

There were a good number of common migrants around today, but it would seem they were almost entirely confined to a 90-minute spell at the southern end of the Wick Fields. The totals for the morning coming to: 95 Whitethroat, 85 Willow Warbler, 30 Sedge Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, a Redstart, 6 Whinchat and a Wheatear; as well as 3 Swift, 17 Tree Pipit, 19 Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was seen to head out of the Avon Valley and attempt to hunt Central Marsh, but the local crows had other ideas and the bewildered raptor was promptly ushered off towards the Isle of Wight. Offshore, there were still plenty of Gannet and terns, the latter estimated as 100 or so fishing Sandwich Tern, while a further 157 birds rested in Holloway’s Dock. At this point it’s worth mentioning that location, part of a SSSI, seems to have been totally transformed by the addition of a largely, dog-proof fence. Wader news is scant, but there was a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight, plus 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 18 Ringed Plover seen elsewhere about the head. To finish off, singles of Tufted Duck, Kingfisher and Mediterranean Gull were logged, as well as a couple of Raven. 

August 17th

Common Tern
Common Tern
Common Tern passage was a feature of the morning – Alan Hayden
Little Gull
...while the Little Gull was inside the harbour – Alan Hayden

There was a strong, offshore passage of terns into the west-south-westerly wind right through the morning, with counts of 530 Common Tern and 250 Sandwich Tern being made. Meanwhile, an Arctic Tern was inside the harbour and a further 200 Sandwich Tern were estimated to be hanging around the area. Common Tern were not sticking about, however, as an afternoon visit to Stanpit produced only four birds, but the Little Gull had earlier been present. Other than the obvious numbers of terns, the sea produced little else: namely, a Little Tern, 3 juvenile Kittiwake, 2 Fulmar, a steady but distant stream of Gannet, 7 Common Scoter, a Curlew and a Mediterranean Gull, nearly all to the west. Waders were again a little sparse, but a Common Sandpiper, 2 Sanderling and 5 Turnstone were on the sandspit, while a short visit to Stanpit added a Whimbrel, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin to the day’s list. To complete the picture, a Hobby, a Peregrine, 2 Swift and a Raven were all seen over the area. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

August 16th

Wheatear on Crouch Hill – Clinton Whale

After a reasonably still start, the wind picked up pace and by mid-afternoon had developed into quite a brisk westerly. Early on, there were birds around but in reduced numbers to yesterday. For example: around fifty-five each of Willow Warbler and Whitethroat were between Wick and the Wood, as well as 2 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 8 Wheatear, plus a few at Stanpit, and a handful of presumed migrant Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler. Meanwhile, 7 Tree Pipit, 6 Yellow Wagtail, 25 Swift and 23 Common Tern moved over. Also travelling were waders, with a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 21 Ringed Plover and 4 Snipe seen to either arrive or depart. Those more settled, however, included a further 5 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and 35 Dunlin all at Stanpit, where around 40 Common Tern were also laying-up. To finish with the birds: 9 Teal were about the area, as were a couple of Peregrine; the last couple of days have seen Common Buzzard in the airspace - three yesterday and two today; singles of Kingfisher were by the Wooden Bridge and in Barn Bight respectively; and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull left to the west. Of butterfly interest, a Clouded Yellow was on the Long Field. 

Additional news: a Marsh Harrier spent half-an-hour quartering Stanpit in the afternoon.

August 15th

Presumably as a result of the westerly wind veering to the north, it was actually rather decent this morning. Most numerous were Willow Warbler, with just over 100 estimated on Wick and the western portion of Hengistbury, while the latter area also hosted around 90 Whitethroat and a Redstart; but most of the day’s 14 Wheatear were on the top of the head, although Stanpit did hold five of them. It was also good for Tree Pipit, a total of nineteen was logged, including 8 birds around the Long Field; also 4 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Swift moving over. Further interest came from: a drake Garganey amongst a flock of 20 Teal that came up from Priory Marsh and circuited for at least 5-minutes before pushing off into the Avon Valley; a Golden Plover tagging along with five westbound Curlew; and a couple of Green Sandpiper over the HHC. Meanwhile, more routine waders at Stanpit included: 3 Greenshank, 4 Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin; while the Sandwich Tern gathering inside the harbour was reckoned to comprise 160 birds, along with 25 or so Common Tern. Other notable events came courtesy of: an adult Common Gull over Wick, at least 5 Mediterranean Gull in the area, a couple of Kingfisher by the Wooden Bridge and a Greylag Goose over the river.

Additional news: a very early, returning Jack Snipe was at Stanpit in the evening.

August 14th

Whimbrel in Stanpit Bight – Alan Hayden

There was a little bit of everything today, which saw the continuation of the westerly airflow and, at times, quite heavy showers. Starting with the passerines, there were an estimated 30 Willow Warbler around Hengistbury, as well as a Lesser Whitethroat, while a Spotted Flycatcher was in Ashtree Meadows and a Wheatear was on Crouch Hill. Locally speaking, however, the best for the day was a Nuthatch, also in Ashtree Meadows over which two Buzzard soared in harbour airspace late this afternoon. Moving to waders and all the news is from Stanpit, where: 4 Common Sandpiper, the juvenile Black-tailed Godwit plus seventeen west, 7 Whimbrel, 2 Snipe, 15 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin were logged throughout the day. Also inside the harbour, a Little Tern, which is the first of those for some time, the Little Gull, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 12 Common Tern and 84 Sandwich Tern. A half-hour look to the sea produced further terns, i.e. 31 Common Tern and 12 Sandwich Tern west, plus twenty of the latter fishing aimlessly. Finally, the recently discovered Collared Dove hotspot on Wick peaked with 33 birds and a Peregrine made a stoop over the HHC mudbar during the low tide period. 

August 13th

Little Gull
Little Gull
Little Gull at Stanpit
- in transition from first-summer to second-winter plumage – Alan Hayden
Canada Goose
Some of the 60+ Canada Goose on the marsh this morning – Alan Crockard

After a quiet few days, passerine migrants were back in the area in reasonable kinds of numbers. In addition to a Pied Flycatcher coming off the head and a Cuckoo going onto it, both seen from the HHC, there were at least 75 Willow Warbler from Wick to the Wood, as well as 2 Garden Warbler and 12 Whitethroat. Meanwhile, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Tree Pipit and 2 Swift headed over various parts of the area. Once again, Sandwich Tern featured in quantity - around three hundred, including birds at sea, being the estimate for the post - one gathering of sixty or so on the harbour shore hosting an adult Arctic Tern. The Little Gull was at Stanpit in the morning, as were 2 Greenshank, 10 Ringed Plover and 60 Dunlin. Other waders, all logged from Hengistbury, came to 9 Sanderling on the sandspit and 14 Black-tailed Godwit west, plus 42 Ringed Plover and 31 Dunlin ‘coming-and-going’. Finally, a total of 66 Canada Goose were at Stanpit early in the day. 

August 12th

In view of the plight of hen harriers, some might call this the inglorious twelfth! The best of a low-key day was a first-summer Little Gull, possibly the regular bird, in Stanpit Bight this evening. Otherwise, a Swift and a Tree Pipit over Wick during the morning are the pick-of-the-post. The last few days have suggested that small numbers of Ringed Plover are starting to move through - today saw seven about the sandspit and five over Wick. Meanwhile, a couple of Common Sandpiper remained from yesterday on the spit, while a couple of Whimbrel, the young Black-tailed Godwit and around 40 Dunlin were at Stanpit. A 2-hour look at the sea this morning mustered just 35 Common Tern west and 5 Common Scoter east. A further 4 Common Tern passed through the harbour and a Raven was about the Beach Huts.

Additional news: in addition to the already mentioned juvenile bird, 6 Black-tailed Godwit left to the east, while the Whimbrel tally increased to 4 birds. Over on Wick, a Garden Warbler was present.

August 11th

Sandwich Tern
There was a clear influx of Sandwich Tern today - above are some of the 74 birds that were resting in the uncharacteristic location of Holloway's Dock – Leo Pyke

Although it was much drier today, the westerly wind continued unabated - however, seabirds were once more at a premium. A couple of watches from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts produced just 3 Common Tern and 90 Sandwich Tern west, plus fifteen or so lingering Gannet. There were actually more Sandwich Tern loafing about the area - 127 on South Marsh and 74 in Holloway’s Dock - totalling just over 200 birds, but only one Common Tern was with them. Waders at Stanpit included: a Greenshank, the singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and an estimated 50 Dunlin; while the sandspit produced 16 Sanderling, 11 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin, and a further 5 Whimbrel were on the Salt Hurns. To round up, the only reported passerine migrant was a Wheatear on Crouch Hill and a decent count of 28 Mediterranean Gull came from Mudeford Quay late in the afternoon. 

August 10th

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern – Alan Hayden

The weather hit pretty much as forecast at around 5:00 this morning, when the rain really set in. Also as predicted, the wind veered from east to south-west as the morning wore on. For the five-and-a-half hours after 6:15, the sea was watched from both Mudeford Quay and the sandspit, but in spite of the promising looking conditions the overall list of birds was rather disappointing. Actually, for the first hour or so, no genuine seabirds were logged, but then Gannet started to appear and the overall tally came to: a Great Skua, 6 Kittiwake, three of them superb-looking juveniles, 10 Fulmar, 11 Common Tern, a Common Gull, 2 juvenile Mediterranean Gull, 14 Common Scoter, a Whimbrel, a steady trickle of Sandwich Tern and, after the worst of the rain had passed, 19 Sand Martin; all of these west. Although the Gannet weren’t counted, at least three third calendar-year birds were noted - an age that is far from common in Hengistbury waters. In the afternoon, a further 90-minute session took place in the Gully, but that only mustered a Fulmar and 2 Swift west, plus a Common Scoter and 30 Gannet heading into the Solent. Other than the previously mentioned Whimbrel, the only wader news comes from Hengistbury where a further three were in Holloway’s Dock and 25 Sanderling, 5 Ringed Plover and 7 Dunlin were on the sandspit. 

August 9th

Black-tailed Godwit
This juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, which currently has a liking for Crouch Hill,
arrived in the area on Thursday after fledging in Iceland this summer – Alan Hayden
Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler this morning – Alan Crockard

After the last couple of days, it was something of a disappointment for those regulars still bound by the ties of rigid employment. The best was undoubtedly a juvenile Cuckoo in the Wick Hams area this morning, where a Yellow Wagtail also overflew. Meanwhile, a couple of Lesser Whitethroat were on Wick and around 20 Willow Warbler were spread between there and the Batters. The reeds today held more moderate amounts of Sedge Warbler, while Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were around in small numbers, but these may have been local birds as opposed to passing migrants. Despite a promising feel to a south-westerly breeze, the sea could deliver just 5 Gannet in a 45-minute spell. This afternoon at Stanpit, the wader presence was a little less than expected, with only the Bar-tailed Godwit, the photo-featured Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Whimbrel and 90 Dunlin to mention. Of 53 Sandwich Tern, two were juveniles and a similarly aged Common Tern arrived to rest with them. To round up, a couple of Raven were in the Nursery and an adult Peregrine caught a Dunlin at Stanpit. 

August 8th

Water Rail
Water Rail – Alan Crockard
Common Gull
Juvenile Common Gull - a plumage not often seen in the area - on Stanpit last night
– Alan Hayden
Southern Red Bishop
This Southern Red Bishop, a popularly kept cage bird of African origin,
has been photographed in gardens adjacent to the recording area for a few weeks now.
Today, however, it was on the Barn Field.

The moment of a well-reported day came at 6:45 this morning, when a Great White Egret flew south over the Ironstone Quarry in the company of 4 Grey Heron. Given its relatively low height, then it's quite possible the siege had actually roosted in the Nursery over night. Before moving on, so many texts and emails have been received for this post, that missing something is a distinct possibility - so please accept any apologies in advance. Continuing with the morning and the passerines: across the Hengistbury and Wick area, there was a Pied Flycatcher on the Batters, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Reed Warbler well away from reeds, an estimated 2-300 Sedge Warbler, but definitely not as many as yesterday, a Yellow Wagtail over, 5 Wheatear, 3 Garden Warbler, 25 Whitethroat and 65 Willow Warbler; while the North Scrubs, Stanpit, held a further Pied Flycatcher and 8 Garden Warbler, and 2 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. Also during the morning, all but three of the recorded twenty-two southbound Swift and a Hobby. The waders in and around Stanpit Bight included: a Common Sandpiper, 2 beautifully-plumaged Turnstone, 6 Whimbrel, the Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe and 70 Dunlin - there are now many more juvenile birds of the latter now starting to appear. Meanwhile, a Greenshank and a single Whimbrel were in Holloway’s Dock. To finish up on birds: of the 72 Sandwich Tern resting in the harbour, only one was a youngster; 2 Raven spent a brief time on East Marsh; and 28 Collared Dove were at the northern end of the Wick Fields. Of other interest, a Hedgehog corpse is in the North Scrubs, which is quite notable for the area, and singles of Clouded Yellow and Small Copper butterflies were on Hengistbury. With hurricane Bertha now making her way across the Atlantic, after having no doubt picked up flocks of migrating North American waders, who knows what to expect in the next few days. The optimism lives on.....

August 7th

It was one of the most frenzied mornings in living memory for Sedge Warbler in the reeds adjacent to the HHC, with literally hundreds of birds being present. Also around that area, a Garden Warbler, 40+ Whitethroat and at least 10 Willow Warbler, plus 2 Tree Pipit over. Meanwhile, a total of 22 Swift moved west over Priory Marsh - a decent count on a relatively late date for this species. A Green Sandpier also went over the HHC, while a Little Ringed Plover, the Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Whimbrel and 6 Black-tailed Godwit were inside the harbour, and a further 2 Whimbrel were on the sandspit. Other bits-and-pieces for the day, include: a female-type Wigeon at Stanpit, 2 Bearded Tit around Parky Meade Rail, a Raven on the spit and 3 Mediterranean Gull. 

Additional news: a couple of Nightjar and a Wheatear were on Hengistbury, while a juvenile Common Gull, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and around 50 Dunlin were at Stanpit. Also, 10 Rook were seen to head to roost with the Carrion Crow.

August 6th

For around 90-minutes this morning it was lively around the HHC, but after that it was little more than average. Early on there, the pick of the passerine migrants were: a Turtle Dove, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Redstart, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Garden Warbler; but also a surge of 100 Willow Warbler and an estimated 250 Sedge Warbler in the adjacent reeds, as well as 4 Tree Pipit and 3 Yellow Wagtail over. Meanwhile, other quality came from 3 Wood Sandpiper, a singleton and a couple, leaving the area to the west and 2 Spoonbill moving through eastward. The only other wader news comes from 24 Sanderling on the sandspit, while 2 Mediterranean Gull were also on the spit, a Kingfisher was on the Ironstone Quarry and a Great Crested Grebe was on the sea. 

August 5th

The weather was slightly less pleasant than of late, with some heavy rain showers around lunchtime and a wind that hung either side of south throughout the day. Whilst the eastern part of the head was very quiet for migrants - just a Garden Warbler, 6 Willow Warbler and 2 Sedge Warbler - Wick fared slightly better and turned in a Redstart, 3 Garden Warbler and 2 Lesser Whitethroat. Meanwhile, at least 3 Swift passed over the area. Also clearly on the move are Sanderling, with eighteen on the sandspit and eleven on the Long Groyne, the latter with singles of Turnstone and Ringed Plover. The best inside the harbour was a Curlew Sandpiper, but also a Knot, 6 Whimbrel, the Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Turnstone and 142 Dunlin. A couple of Raven are back in the quay area and now picking fights with the gulls - at one point a Herring Gull was grabbed by the wing and dragged across the beach, but when a Great Black-backed Gull got involved the tables turned a little. 

August 4th

Dawn broke to no wind and a mirror calm sea that held very few birds other than the expected terns and large gulls, the latter in perhaps inflated numbers due to the exceptional number of juvenile birds now on the wing. Before finishing with gulls, the Little Gull was at Stanpit and a couple of Mediterranean Gull, an adult and a bird-of-the-year, were logged. With respect to the latter, it would seem that last year’s influx may have been a genuine blip, rather than a developing trend. Waders were recorded from all the main sites, namely: a Green Sandpiper, 9 Knot and 5 Snipe over the HHC; 3 Greenshank and 2 Whimbrel in Holloway’s Dock; 6 Sanderling on the end of the sandspit; and a further Sanderling, 2 Greenshank, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, the Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone and 148 Dunlin at Stanpit. Early on, when Yellow Wagtail passed over the uncharacteristic locations of Mudeford Quay and Fisherman’s Bank, it was thought a decent day-total might result, but five was all it got to. Otherwise, there were plenty of Sedge Warbler in the reeds, as well as a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler and 15 Willow Warbler around the HHC. The remaining interest comes from 8 Pintail that left the area and 3 Raven over. Of butterfly interest, a couple of Clouded Yellow were on the sandspit. 

August 3rd

One of 27 Sanderling on the sandspit yesterday evening – Chris Roughley

It was Stanpit that produced most of the news for this post and nearly all of it from the early morning. A small influx a dabbling duck comprised two juvenile Garganey, 2 Shoveler and 8 Teal, while the regular, first-summer Little Gull was again present. A varied list of waders included: a Green Sandpiper, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 9 Whimbrel, the Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover and 150 or so Dunlin, as well as a count of 74 Oystercatcher roosting on South Marsh. To finish on the marsh, half-a-dozen Common Tern rested with the Sandwich Tern. At Hengistbury, a Balearic Shearwater was the only record from a quiet sea and a Yellow Wagtail passed over the HHC. Other than those, however, there just were unremarkable numbers of the expected, migrant warblers. The water was equally tiresome from Mudeford Quay, where 2 Raven were seen, but a seal was off there.

Stop press: the above had already been scripted when news came in of an Osprey over Stanpit at 15:25, but seen off north by gulls.

August 2nd

Bar-tailed Godwit
This Bar-tailed Godwit, still in breeding-plumage,
has been around for almost a week now – Alan Hayden
Whimbrel – Alan Hayden
This shot also illustrates the green algae that is currently taking hold in the harbour and which is thought to be brought on by a combination of warm weather and agricultural run-off. If it gets much worse, we shouldn't expect a good autumn for smaller waders, as they simply can't get their shorter bills through the growth to reach the mud.
Curlew, note the head pattern and longer, paler-based bill
when compared with the above – Alan Hayden

After a good week, it was a Saturday that hardly set the pulses racing. Overnight, a brisk southerly wind took hold, bringing with it cloud and morning drizzle. A 3-hour seawatch from Coastguards could muster just 12 Whimbrel, 3 Knot, 3 Turnstone and a handful of Gannet. The Whimbrel record is worth a second mention, however, in that it was a single flock - while it is relatively commonplace to see migrating groups in the spring, it is much less so in the autumn. The only news from Stanpit is of the Little Gull off Fisherman’s Bank, as well as the Bar-tailed Godwit and a couple of Whimbrel. Elsewhere, a Common Sandpiper was in Barn Bight, a Lesser Whitethroat and 23 Willow Warbler were on Wick, and a couple of Raven headed off towards Bournemouth. 

August 1st

There was the most cloud for quite some time this morning, when birds were much sparser than of late. The exception perhaps being Sedge Warbler, which had a brief run in the nets early on. In Ashtree Meadows, a Bullfinch was a nice record, while a Redstart and 3 Garden Warbler were in the North Scrubs, and 20 Willow Warbler were across the two aforementioned sites. On the other side of the river, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 20 Whitethroat and 15 Willow Warbler were between Wick and the Long Field. The only report from Stanpit comes from the afternoon high tide period, when 5 Whimbrel, the breeding-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper and 30 or so Dunlin could just about be picked out roosting in the long grass on East Marsh. In a brisk south-westerly breeze, there was mention of perhaps going to look at the sea, but no details have been received so it is presumed to have been an uneventful affair.

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