Sightings for the February 2014

February 28th

Shelduck over Stanpit this morning – Alan Crockard

Two Iceland Gull were again present this morning favouring the beach off Double Dykes, also 3 Kittiwake lingering off there.  Otherwise the sea was watched for a considerable time but produced no more than one each of Red-throated Diver and Fulmar west and a Sandwich Tern east.  On Stanpit by the golf course bank the 2 eastern-type Chiffchaff showed down to ten feet but still didn't call, also 4 Common Chiffchaff there and at least 2 littoralis Rock Pipit were by the Information Centre.  On Hengistbury a Black Redstart was again by the beach huts.

Tides March 1st: L03:50  H08:30  H11:50  L16:10  H21:05

February 27th

At Stanpit, the 2 eastern-type Chiffchaff remain, while a few standard birds in song may have suggested an arrival; also, a Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipit on Grimmery Bank. The obvious pick of a quiet sea was a Puffin, in fact the only live auk seen, but as with other south coast sites there were specimens of dead Razorbill and Guillemot. An Iceland Gull was seen on one occasion towards the end of the head, but the information services carried several reports. In addition, 3 Kittiwake fed in the surf and 3 Common Scoter were a little further out. Finally, at least two, but quite possibly three, Black Redstart were present. 

February 26th

There were two apparent Siberian Chiffchaff at Stanpit this morning, chasing each other around in the fine conditions. Also, 3 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and a couple of littoralis Rock Pipit on Grimmery Bank. On Hengistbury, there were 2 Firecrest in the Wood and six possible migrant Rook passed over mid-morning.

Additional news: there were 2 Iceland Gull seen at Hengistbury and a Yellow-legged Gull, an adult, from Mudeford Quay.

February 25th

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull
I feel as if I've been squinting at Iceland Gull photos for too long now, but these taken today apparently show two birds - the one on the water seemingly a year older, with grey appearing on the mantle at least and, if you look hard enough, a paler eye. We wouldn't mind some feedback on this age assessment, however. Tonight's shots are courtesy of  – Alan Cherry

As per the comments attached to the photos, one or two Iceland Gull were about today, with reports coming from Whitepits, Double Dykes and Stanpit, from where a bird was seen to head off towards Somerford at 16:40. Also inside the harbour, a total of 10 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Sandwich Tern. For some, the annual quest for Water Pipit has been a long journey, but that came to an end today with at least one around Priory Marsh, where a Grey Wagtail was present and a Peregrine settled for a time on the boardwalk. On Hengistbury, there was a Firecrest close to the Nursery and 2 Black Redstart at the end of the head. Meanwhile, a Kittiwake lingered with a gathering of gulls off Whitepits, a Fulmar passed west, 2 Raven scavenged on the beach, a Water Rail was grubbing around brambles on the Wick horse paddock and the semi-tame Tufted Duck was again bothering duck Mallard. 

February 24th

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull – Alan Hayden

After a day and night of strong wind, by first light things had settled and once more allowed for good views of the Stanpit Chiffchaff. Along with three standard birds, the eastern suspect was again present but frustratingly remains mute, so still avoids final validation. Nearby, a couple of Bearded Tit and 3 Water Pipit were on Priory Marsh, and 5 littoralis Rock Pipit were inwards from Grimmery Bank. On Hengistbury, the Iceland Gull again frequented the seashore between Double Dykes and Whitepits and 3 Purple Sandpiper, seen from Mudeford Quay, were on the tip of the sandspit. In addition, a male Bullfinch was on Wick. Finally, I would like to dedicate this report to my wife, Amanda, who has now incredibly put up with me for 10-years, not least in supporting (or should I say tolerating) me spending time on the computer each evening posting the day’s records, often to the neglect of more conventional domestic duties. 

February 23rd

Redshank in Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale

The Iceland Gull was still around today, seen just outside the area off Southbourne this morning then later over the groynes at Hengistbury; also over Solent Beach car park.  Otherwise the sea was watched from both Mudeford Quay and the beach huts but yielded just 13 Kittiwake, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, a  Fulmar and a Mediterranean Gull, all these west, while 7 Common Scoter were on the sea. A single Black Redstart was on the sandspit. From Fisherman's Bank, 282 Brent Geese were counted on Stanpit, as well as 6 Shelduck.

February 22nd

Long-tailed Tit
One of a pair of Long-tailed Tit that was busy nest building
in the North Scrubs today – Chris Dresh
...and one of the two Avocet that are still frequenting Holloway's Dock – Roger Howell

The fine, relatively still weather tempted some of the weekend stalwarts into the New Forest, meaning coverage was not as plentiful as might have been expected. That said, there is still a good deal of interest for the post. In addition to the bird that is strongly suspected to be a tristis, there were four Chiffchaff on the south facing Stanpit golf course embankment today; but while at least one of the conventional birds sang, the one we want to hear remained silent. The only other news for Stanpit concerns 2 Water Pipit and a pair of settled Egyptian Goose, all on Priory Marsh. On Hengistbury, the Black Redstart was at the end of the head, the 2 Avocet were in Holloway’s Dock, a good-looking, breeding-attired Mediterranean Gull passed by and 21 Common Scoter were settled offshore. 

Additional news: an Iceland Gull was over the main beach at Hengistbury, while a Scandinavian Rock Pipit and a Grey Wagtail were on Priory Marsh.

February 21st

Once again, there was a smattering of interest from across the area. At Stanpit, there were 4 Water Pipit on Priory Marsh and 3 Chiffchaff close by, one of them looking a little Siberian but not heard to call. On Hengistbury, a Firecrest was in the Wood and a single Black Redstart was at the end of the head. Also: the 2 Avocet in Holloway’s Dock; 7 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit; a Sandwich Tern, a Red-throated Diver, 3 diver sp. and 10-15 Common Scoter offshore; and a total of 5 Raven and a lone Fieldfare leaving to the west.

February 20th

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gul
Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull
This Iceland Gull, which was photographed yesterday and today in the Whitepits area, appears to have a good deal darker plumage than previously noted in the field
or indeed other photographs – Alan Hayden

The day started with some quite awful rain, but things did improve later in the morning. The Iceland Gull schedule included the photographed bird in Solent Beach car park before lunch and that or another off Mudeford Quay mid-afternoon. The quay also produced a lingering, adult Little Gull, a couple of Kittiwake west and a rather forlorn bird sitting with the Black-headed Gull, a Razorbill west, 7 Common Scoter on the sea and views of 11 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit. 

February 19th

Skylark – Alan Hayden
Common Seal
Common(?) Seal off Whitepits – Alan Hayden

There was a good deal to be seen throughout the day. Iceland Gull were seen in the Whitepits area, both on and offshore, morning and afternoon; as well as at Stanpit from 3:40 onwards. Also on the marsh, a female-type Marsh Harrier and 2 Water Pipit, those on Priory Marsh and one coming into nice spring plumage, as well as 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Mediterranean Gull. Over on Hengistbury, a Firecrest was in song by the Nursery and 3 Black Redstart were confirmed along the sandspit, where 21 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes and 2 Avocet were close by in Holloway’s Dock. A good selection of wildfowl inside the harbour comprised: the brownhead Goldeneye, a pair of Shoveler, a drake Gadwall and 21 Shelduck, but ‘best’ of all were 9 Egyptian Goose that flew straight through late in the afternoon. A relatively quiet sea produced one each of Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver, east and west respectively, plus 20 Common Scoter. To round up, a Raven was about, 5 Linnet were on the top of the head, 18 Turnstone could be seen from the quay, and 14 Ringed Plover and 30 Dunlin were on the marsh.

February 18th

It was another fine day with only the merest hints of rain and largely blue skies. The more regular Iceland Gull was seen this morning on Hengistbury, where it was settled in Solent Beach car park, while 2 Little Gull were off Mudeford and totals of 8 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Kittwake were logged, one of the latter looking rather forlorn on Blackberry Point. The pick of the passerines was a female Bullfinch on Wick, the first of the year, but also a fine collection of pipits on Central Marsh that included: a Water Pipit, 2 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, 8 Rock Pipit and three non-assignable birds. In addition to 15 Knot that passed east at sea, Stanpit held the 2 Avocet and the Spotted Redshank, as well as  298 Brent Goose,10 Shelduck, 11 Greylag Goose and 47 Canada Goose. Meanwhile, at least 5 Raven passed over the area and 2 Guillemot were close inshore. 

February 17th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone – Chris Chapleo

After a near miss last week, there were ten species of gull recorded in the area today - so in order of quality here goes: at 15:50, the cleaner Iceland Gull appeared off South Marsh; a couple of Little Gull were seen from Mudeford Quay; an adult Yellow-legged Gull was also at Stanpit in the late afternoon; at least 30 Kittiwake passed at sea, as did up to 13 Mediterranean Gull and 75 Common Gull; while the rest comprised herring, both ‘black-backs’ and black-headed. Also worth mentioning was a further ‘med’ inside the harbour that was heard to call - the first of the spring. In addition to gulls, the sea came up with: a Long-tailed Duck that came in from the west and looked at the 58-strong flock of Common Scoter before heading back to whence-it-came; 34 Pintail, these in flocks of 9, 11 and 14 respectively; a couple of Fulmar, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Black-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Razorbill. On the land, there were 8 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit, as well as a Firecrest and 4 Redpoll in the Wood. 

February 16th

Jay on Stanpit – Alan Crockard
Fisherman's Bank
Fisherman's Bank
...and some further examples of the damage caused on Friday night – Dave Cooke

What a welcome contrast in the weather - clear, blue skies and very little wind all day. Iceland Gull were again present: firstly, a bird was on the sea beneath the Coastguards this morning; then, late in the day, an individual with absolutely no sign of damage to its neck (see yesterday’s photos) was inside the harbour on Blackberry Point. With some discussion on-going about the bill colouration across the various sightings, there may actually be three, but certainly two, birds involved right now. The 2 Avocet were seen in Holloway’s Dock and on South Marsh, while the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman’s Bank mid-morning. Also around: a Marsh Harrier over Wick Hams; a Black Redstart on the south-eastern Hengistbury cliff; and a Firecrest in the Wood. At sea, there was just a single Fulmar turned, but a brown-headed Goldeneye was inside the harbour and a Kingfisher zipped through Stanpit Creek. Finally, a couple of updates from Bournemouth Borough Council: the two Grey Heron nests are now holding five and three eggs respectively, and the Wooden Bridge on Wick has had to be closed due to damage it received on Friday night.  

February 15th

Iceland Gull
Iceland GullIceland Gull
The Iceland Gull showing some signs of injury to its neck – Chris Chapleo
Little Gull
Little Gull
Adult Little Gull, alongside Black-headed Gull in the lower shot – Alan Cherry
Beach Huts
Masses of flotsam and jetsam behind the Beach Huts – Chris Chapleo

The overnight weather was every bit as tumultuous as forecast and left many parts of the area suffering damage and covered in debris. The Iceland Gull was watched for a few hours feeding in front of the southern Beach Huts this morning, while a minimum of 6 Little Gull were seen from Mudeford Quay. Also from the quay, a medium-sized grebe that settled on the water and a Great Northern Diver heading into the harbour over the sandspit. Meanwhile, a Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Kittiwake, 2 Fulmar, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Razorbill and 6 Common Scoter were logged passing the huts. At least 8 Purple Sandpiper were mixed in with 15 Turnstone on the beach and an Avocet was on the flooded Salt Hurns.

Additional news: a Kittiwake was inside the harbour, along with 2 Great Crested Grebe.

February 14th

Kestrel – Alan Crockard
Mute Swan
Mute Swan – Clinton Whale

The harbour is currently subject to a severe flood warning
Violent wind and rain battered the area for most of the day, so nearly all the reports are from Mudeford Quay. Late in the afternoon, 2 Little Gull, a Sandwich Tern, 12 Kittiwake and 2 Fulmar all passed west. Earlier, around 20 Purple Sandpiper were knocking around the end of the sandspit and, as per yesterday, there were 4 Shelduck and a couple of hundred Brent Goose inside the harbour.

February 13th

It seems that dusk isn’t the only time to see the Iceland Gull. Today, it was reported at various times, starting at first light and then through into the afternoon. In fact, during the latter period the bird was very close in, riding the surf and sitting just a few meters offshore. Also in attendance, an adult Little Gull, up to 5 Kittiwake and 2 Razorbill. Earlier, a quiet seawatch was enlivened by an adult Yellow-legged Gull, so meaning nine species of gull would have certainly been present in the area. There were other highlights, however, not least a Velvet Scoter west and a Snow Bunting over the Holloway’s Dock area that may have ended up at Stanpit. In addition, a Black Redstart was again present, one or two Firecrest were in the Wood, as were 3 Redpoll, and the 2 Avocet remain on Holloway’s Dock. The persistence of the latter perhaps testament to a well positioned fence. 

February 12th

Iceland Gull
First-winter Iceland Gull off Double Dykes – Chris Chapleo
...and the Hengistbury seascape – Chris Dresh

The rain and dramatic squalls of the greater part of the day failed to deter the Iceland Gull from appearing at the same time and in the same place as yesterday - that’s late in the afternoon off the Double Dykes. Slightly earlier, a couple of Avocet had been in Holloway’s Dock. In the absence of any other news for today, please check back to yesterday for some additional snippets. Finally, an update on the Grey Heron that are nesting on Hengistbury: the first egg was laid on Sunday 2nd, with other eggs following in the same nest on 6th, 8th and 10th. In the other nest, the first egg was laid on Thursday 6th followed by another the next day and a third on 9th.

February 11th

Skylark in song over Barn Field today – Alan Crockard
Great Black-backed Gull
...and a Great Black-backed Gull in the outfield on Mudeford cricket pitch – Dave Cooke

The best news for the day came late in it, when a first-winter Iceland Gull was watched feeding in a gull flock just offshore from the Double Dykes; while also attracted to the throng were 2 Kittiwake - an adult and a first-winter. Earlier, a Sandwich Tern rested with gulls on the tip of East Marsh and a Raven was seen with nest material over Hengistbury.

February 10th

Kingfisher at the Wick horse paddock – Chris Roughley
...and the ever elusive Treecreeper in the Wood – Alan Crockard

It was another fairly settled day, but a lot more rain looks to be incoming over the next 48-hours. On Hengistbury, a Jack Snipe was flushed by a dog that had strayed onto Wick Hams, while a Firecrest along with the Treecreeper was in the Wood, a Black Redstart was on groyne S3 and a female-type Eider was offshore there. Over on the other side, the Spotted Redshank and 4 Shelduck were turned in from Fisherman’s Bank, and 2 Great Crested Grebe and a diver sp. were seen from Mudeford Quay. Unfortunately, the puffin that was taken into care on Friday was too weak to recover; but, on a more upbeat note, there were Skylark and Dartford Warbler in song today. 

February 9th

Waders on the sandspit
Waders on the sandspit
Groyne S9 is currently the favoured roosting spot for small waders.
This image captures three species - Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin – Chris Dresh

An overnight, westerly wind gusted to almost 50km/h, but brought few numbers of storm driven birds with it. That said, a walk along the Beach did see an alarming amount of adult Kittiwake primary feathers washed-up, in amongst the masses of cuttlefish. Meanwhile, out at sea, despite the low quantity of birds there were elements of interest, with reports coming in from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay. A Long-tailed Duck came from the west and quickly settled on the water, but was immediately lost to view in the swell; a Great Skua and 5 Sandwich Tern were seen from the huts; while a Little Gull was off the quay, a Great Northern Diver passed over there towards the harbour, and a Black-throated Diver and 2 diver sp. went west. As pictured above, the Sanderling was again logged. 

February 8th

Sanderling – Chris Chapleo

As expected in these conditions, the sea features highly. Little Gull were reported on a number of occasions, but it’s difficult to know how many birds were involved - possibly just two, an adult and a first-winter, but it could have been in excess of four. Also, a Great Skua past Hengistbury this afternoon, while Kittiwake moved by all day, the aggregate total being just under forty, as well as a Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser, 7 Fulmar, 4 Guillemot and 2 Shelduck, nearly all west, plus the twenty-five settled Common Scoter. Late in the day, the increasingly regular second-winter Yellow-legged Gull was again about Mudeford Quay, with other snippets from throughout the period including: a Black Redstart and a Sanderling at the southern end of the sandspit, the Spotted Redshank from Fisherman’s Bank and 140 Dunlin inside the harbour.

February 7th

Starling – Clinton Whale

Although the sea had calmed almost totally overnight it brought some local sensation with it, when an exhausted Puffin was handed in to staff at the new Hengistbury visitor’s centre. The unfortunate bird is now at a local vets, but will hopefully make a full recovery, aided by tins of sardines. This species is something of the holy grail for Christchurch and if - but only if - the individual recuperates it is hoped a scheduled release can be made. Further news will posted over the weekend. In addition, a Spoonbill toured the area this morning and looked to be attracted to Holloway’s Dock, but then decided to leave over Mudeford. Meanwhile, a female Merlin made a low pass over the Coastguards and a Little Gull headed into The Solent, while a further bird, an adult, was over Priory Marsh in the afternoon. Also from the sea, off Mudeford Quay, 3 Sandwich Tern and 2 Red-throated Diver were seen heading west. Elsewhere, a Black Redstart was on the cliffs at the end of the head and a Dartford Warbler was nearby, 5 Purple Sandpiper crossed The Run, a Raven was over the quay, a Grey Wagtail was on Priory Marsh, 28 Turnstone were on the sandspit and a Kingfisher was turned in from Hengistbury.

February 6th

In yet more trying conditions, it was a real surprise, albeit a welcome one, to get news of a Snow Bunting that was associating with Stonechat at the base of the cliffs approximately midway between the Coastguards and the Gully. Otherwise, it’s all about Mudeford Quay, off which 2 Little Gull were present this morning with one lingering until late in the afternoon at least. Also, 12 Kittiwake west early on and a further fifteen later, the 25-strong Common Scoter flock and 15 Purple Sandpiper plus a Sanderling commuting to-and-fro about The Run.

February 5th

Yacht at Mudeford
Approach to Crouch Hill
Some effects of the unrelenting wind and rain – Dave Cooke

More wind, more rain! Off the quay this morning, there were a couple of lingering Little Gull, while 4 Fulmar and 6 Shoveler headed into The Solent.

February 4th

Rock Pipit
British Rock Pipit – Chris Chapleo

On a bitterly cold day, courtesy of an easterly wind, the only reports come from Hengistbury. A Sandwich Tern entered the harbour over the Beach Huts and a Black Redstart was on the cliffs at the end of the head. Meanwhile, at sea, a Fulmar and a Mediterranean Gull both headed west.

February 3rd

Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit – Alan Crockard
Wigeon – Chris Chapleo

In a bitterly cold easterly wind, most of the day’s news came from a spray-swept Mudeford Quay and involved a suggestion of wildfowl movement; namely, 2 Eider and 12 Pintail east, plus 35 Teal west. In addition, 3 Red-throated Diver and 3 Fulmar headed down-channel. Meanwhile, in the shelter of the Wood both the expected species of woodpecker are becoming very vocal. 

February 2nd

Goldcrest – Chris Chapleo (upper) & Alan Crockard

It was a much better day in terms of weather, which no doubt relieved the WeBS counters. Before moving to those details, however, some of the other highlights: a Marsh Harrier was seen over Wick Hams, a Water Pipit was on Central Marsh and a Golden Plover overflew Priory Marsh; while a Goldeneye inside the harbour is the first settled bird in the area all winter. The count saw an impressive 300 Dunlin on the sandspit, along with 45 Ringed Plover, with further numbers of 190 and 45 respectively turned in from Stanpit not known to be separate or duplicate. The spit also hosted 12 Purple Sandpiper and the marsh a lone Grey Plover. With only 146 Wigeon being logged it was assumed the Lower Avon Valley must be holding many birds, but the figure from that area is just under three hundred so suggesting something of an exodus; also 146 Teal and 254 Brent Goose. A short look at the sea came up with singles of Red-throated Diver, Mediterranean Gull and Shoveler, a Peregrine put on a hunting display above Stanpit, a Dartford Warbler was on Crouch Hill and the Treecreeper was again in the Wood.

February 1st

Most of the heavy rain passed through before it got light, but isolated pockets of quite spectacular precipitation carried on at sea for a short while afterwards. An early watch from the Beach Huts came up with: 2 Little Gull, 3 Sandwich Tern, a single Kittiwake, 11 Red-throated Diver, 6 unidentified divers, a Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Guillemot and a Razorbill; then an afternoon stint from Mudeford Quay added 35 Kittiwake, these all in one flock, a Fulmar and a further Red-throated Diver. As expected, nearly all of the movement was into the strong south-westerly wind. The spell at the Beach Huts also proved the presence of a certain 3 Black Redstart, as well as at least 5 Purple Sandpiper, a Sanderling, around forty-five each of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, and the flock of thirty or so Common Scoter. Meanwhile, a Firecrest was in the Wood, as were 4 Redpoll and a Siskin.

Additional news: a Black-throated Diver was seen from Mudeford Quay.

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