Sightings for August 2015

August 31st

Sanderling – Clinton Whale
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden

Despite the morning being dominated by rain, some attempts were made to bird it. A Wood Sandpiper was seen twice over the Bobolink Field, before perhaps coming down onto Priory Marsh. Meanwhile, there was a decent presence of terns off the quay, seemingly coming and going through the Run - a total of 8 Arctic Tern amongst an estimated 150 Common Tern. Also from the quay, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, 8 Common Scoter, 10 Sanderling, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper, 50 Ringed Plover heading into the Solent, 2 Turnstone and a Ringed Plover; while a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was inside the harbour and 32 Ringed Plover flew west over Hengistbury. Moving Swallow, all westbound, were a feature - 400 passing Mudeford Quay in 10 minutes as an example - with pulses of birds all morning at least suggesting thousands were travelling. In addition, just a day shy of September, 3 Swift were logged. More routine numbers were provided by: 25 Yellow Wagtail, thirteen under the cattle in the Long Field, 2 Tree Pipit, a Spotted Flycatcher by the Wooden Bridge and 4 Wheatear; plus small numbers of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap. Wader-wise, the best were 3 Ruff at Stanpit, but also 4 Black-tailed Godwit there; along with 17 Shoveler, 35 Teal and a Peregrine over. 

Lower Avon Valley egret update: yesterday evening, the 22 Cattle Egret passed north over Harbridge, Hants, about 15km upstream from Coward’s Marsh. Late this morning, however, there were 2 Cattle Egret at Coward’s Marsh, at least one remaining until the afternoon, but it’s suspected these birds may have been the two seen moving east over Normandy Marsh, Lymington, at 8:55. Then to complete the trio, a Great White Egret, which was un-ringed so not the regular Blashford bird, spent 4 minutes at Coward’s just before lunch. With respect to photgraphs, we have one showing 20 birds but if there are any out there showing all twenty-two, regardless of quality we would appreciate receiving them. Please email here.

August 30th

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret
Some of the 22 Cattle Egret that were over
Christchurch Harbour this morning – Chris Dresh
Sparrowhawk – Clinton Whale

There was an almost unbelievable Cattle Egret experience over the area around 10:00 this morning, when a flock of egrets seen over Central Marsh was found to contain at least 6 Cattle Egret and one Little Egret. In the ensuing flurry of phone and radio messages, no more detail other than the party contained 23 birds in total could be determined, although it was very strongly suspected there were far more than six interesting individuals. With the flock eventually seen to descend somewhere north of the Priory, however, a search of the Lower Avon Valley was scrambled. It wasn’t long before the birds were relocated amongst a herd of cows in long grass at Coward’s Marsh, where a total of 22 Cattle Egret was ultimately confirmed - a figure that may well be a UK record. Before all of this, a Wryneck was found along the eastern edge of the Bobolink Field and was seen on a couple of subsequent occasions. Further highlights came courtesy of a Spoonbill that headed high west, but returned eastbound a few minutes later, above Wick; and a Wood Sandpiper, 7 Ruff, 11 Avocet and 3 Garganey around Stanpit. Also overhead, Tree Pipit topped 30 birds at Wick, while 32 Yellow Wagtail, 10 Siskin and 5 Snipe were noted. Meanwhile, hirundines were streaming through for most of the morning, with an estimate from an hour or so on Crouch Hill coming to 1000 Swallow and 130 Sand Martin. In the bushes, there was a Pied Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, 4 Garden Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat in the same area, and a Whinchat, 30 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 20 Whitethroat and 20 Blackcap on Wick. In addition to 3 Knot and a Common Sandpiper, in Holloway’s Dock, Stanpit held a Greenshank, a couple of Whimbrel, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 11 Dunlin. Remaining interest from a good day in the field came from: a Little Grebe, 6 Shoveler, 15 Teal, 2 Kingfisher and a Peregrine. 

Additional news: an Arctic Tern was off Mudeford Quay, while Stanpit actually held 3 Greenshank as well as 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, a revised total of 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper and 8 Snipe. 

August 29th

Whinchat – Leo Pyke
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler – Jean Southworth
Kingfisher – Alan Hayden (upper) & Alan Crockard

The day started to a light southerly breeze and relatively clear skies, but drizzle had set in by mid-afternoon. Around 8:00, a Bee-eater was heard faintly, but certainly, calling above the Barn Field at presumably some height given the volume of the calls, so making it impossible to pick out against the blue sky. This is only CHOG’s third record for the species, but the year’s second. A little later, a Garganey circuited the harbour in the company of 2 Wigeon. Moving to the afternoon, when at least one Osprey used the area: firstly, a bird was seen hunting the river just north of the HHC; then around half an hour later every bird in the harbour went up, a sure sign of mullet-hawk, but nothing could be seen - however, after a further 30 minutes, a bird flew low over Stanpit Creek carrying a fish and departed north. Back to before lunch and mention of a Marsh Harrier heading west over Whitepits. Meanwhile, Hengistbury and Wick, experienced: 55 Yellow Wagtail, included twenty-six around Wick water meadows, 9 Tree Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, a constant but uncounted presence of Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin in that order of quantity, 4 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, 30 Whitethroat and 2 Willow Warbler. The Salt Hurns continues to hold waders, with 6 Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper and 2 Whimbrel there, while Stanpit hosted 6 Knot, 40 or so Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Snipe, 6 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover. A throng of mainly large gulls feeding in the Run on the afternoon low tide held two juvenile-to-first-winter Mediterranean Gull, a couple of Teal were in Barn Bight and recently-fledged, second-brooded Goldcrest and Dunnock were on Hengistbury.

August 28th

Common Sandpiper
It's not easy to see, let alone photograph, the underwing of a Common Sandpiper
– Alan Crockard
Common Sandpiper & Reshank
...and a couple more with a Redshank - Alan Crockard
Dartford Warbler
Juvenile Dartford Warbler – Clinton Whale

There is more than enough to write about tonight, with all areas of the harbour covered. Early on, a couple of Marsh Harrier were seen together from the HHC and, a little later, what was presumed to be one of them left high to the south. It may be shaping up to be a decent season for Tree Pipit - twenty-six at Hengistbury and one over Stanpit - as well as 21 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 400 Swallow, 55 Sand Martin, 5 House Martin and 11 Siskin south-west over both sites. On the deck, there were: a Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, a Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 20 Whitethroat, over 40 Blackcap and a Sedge Warbler at Wick and Hengistbury; while Stanpit contributed a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 10 Blackcap, 3 Wheatear and a Sedge Warbler. Waders coming and going about Hengistbury included: a Green Sandpiper, a Little Ringed Plover, a Grey Plover, 31 Black-tailed Godwit and 18 Ringed Plover; but the Salt Hurns hosted a good number of settled Greenshank and Common Sandpiper, five and seven respectively. Meanwhile, 3 Knot, a Whimbrel and 2 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit. Although Raven now feature on an almost daily basis, a figure of 19 birds is quite exceptional, all west and including an unkindness of ten. Finally, two each of Peregrine and Kingfisher were logged.

August 27th

Greenshank – Alan Crockard
Knot at Stanpit yesterday – Alan Hayden
...and Wheatear – Alan Hayden

It was actually quite dry for most of the morning, so giving rise to a few more passerine records than of late. At Stanpit, in Ashtree Meadow and the North Scrubs, there were: a Nightingale, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, 5 Garden Warbler, 11 Willow Warbler and 4 Chiffchaff; while 3 Yellow Wagtail and 8 Tree Pipit went over, 3 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill and 12 Sedge Warbler were in non-reed habitat. Elsewhere, a Grey Wagtail moved above the HHC and 2 Garden Warbler, 6 Whitethroat and 6 Willow Warbler were in Wick Ditch. Other than a Greenshank on the Salt Hurns and 9 Snipe over the marsh, all the wader numbers come from Stanpit Bight, where 3 Knot, 4 Whimbrel, a breeding-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin were logged; as well as 3 Wigeon in that area.

August 26th

The opening sentence of yesterday’s post can be applied again today, which was all about terns. From the Beach Huts, during an hour’s spell around mid-morning, a Roseate Tern, a Black Tern, 4 Arctic Tern, 3 Little Tern, 156 Common Tern and 230 Sandwich Tern passed west; while at lunchtime an Arctic Tern and 22 Common Tern, along with a Little Gull, were seen resting from Fisherman’s Bank; then later on, a juvenile Arctic Tern moved through the harbour with 2 Common Tern. Back to the sea, where a Balearic Shearwater sat on the water off the huts before moving into Poole Bay; as well as 2 Arctic Skua 5 Common Scoter, 11 Fulmar, a Common Gull and 45 Gannet, all moving west save for two of the scoter. The best of the waders were Ruff - two coming off the Salt Hurns with 7 Greenshank and one at Stanpit - but also about the marsh were: 8 Knot, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover and 18 Dunlin. Meanwhile, birds along the sandspit included: 4 Common Sandpiper, 10 Sanderling, 6 Knot and 7 Turnstone. Passerines were few and far between - just 5 Wheatear, 4 Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 6 Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail, that on the tip of the sandspit, to report upon. To round up, a total of 3 Mediterranean Gull was logged, 2 Raven were around the quay, and Stanpit held 2 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler and 8 Teal.

August 25th

Juvenile Kittiwake inside the harbour – Alan Hayden
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden
...and Teal – Alan Hayden

It was another pretty awful day with the wind swirling between forty-five degrees either side of south, although the rain was limited to the early afternoon. A few seawatches were undertaken, but the most productive was between 1:00 and 1:30 when 2 Black Tern moved west past Mudeford Quay. The combined totals from the others were: a juvenile Kittiwake into the harbour, 4 Fulmar, 26 Common Tern and a Wigeon, plus fairly unremarkable numbers of Gannet and Sandwich Tern. This afternoon, presumably the same Kittiwake was inside the harbour, but soon pushed off, while waders throughout the day on Stanpit and in Holloway’s Dock included: a Ruff, at least one Knot, a Sanderling, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, a Whimbrel, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, three juvenile birds and an adult still in plumage, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin; also of interest were 21 Curlew which upped and left to the east late in the day. There were, however, after yesterday’s decent count, no ringed plover. The morning saw a few passerines on or over Wick and Whitepits, the best being a Whinchat, 2 Tree Pipit and 2 Yellow Wagtail, and 15 Whitethroat, 8 Blackcap and 4 Willow Warbler were concentrated at the eastern end of Roebury Lane. A Wigeon was on Wick Hams, 3 Shoveler and 12 Teal were inside the harbour, and a Kingfisher was at Stanpit.

August 24th

It was a truly atrocious day, the rain starting around 7:00 and still going strong almost twelve hours later. On Hengistbury this morning, three men and a dog got a right soaking as they scoured an almost birdless sea from the scant shelter available when the wind is north-east. The best for the more-than-damp efforts were: 19 Common Tern and 4 Common Scoter east, an impressive flock of 40 Sanderling flying offshore, 7 Common Sandpiper, 3 Turnstone and 2 Dunlin; as well as 3 Yellow Wagtail over the Barn Field before the downpour set in. The obvious watchpoint for the conditions was Mudeford Quay, but that mustered just 2 Swift over the Christchurch Harbour Hotel and 35 Sandwich Tern on the mud by the dinghy park. Amazingly, and I’m still to get to the bottom of how this was managed, a couple spent two hours on Stanpit this afternoon when they amassed some decent contributions for the day’s post. In terms of waders, there were: 5 Knot, 2 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, around 10 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, the season’s best count of Ringed Plover - 86 birds - and 15 Dunlin; while wildfowl comprised 2 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 2 Teal and the drake Tufted Duck; and miscellany came from 3 Common Tern, 5 Wheatear and 4 House Martin. Slightly later, a Green Sandpiper was heard close to the Argyle Road slip and, around 4:30, there was a sizeable pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphin off Mudeford Quay, some of the animals breaching clear of the water.

August 23rd

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern enjoying an afternoon snack in Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale

This morning was a complete and utter washout, Mudeford Quay being the only option. From there, 3 Black Tern were seen moving west, although a further bird was inside the harbour and enjoyed from the shelter of a beach hut, as well as a juvenile Arctic Tern, 7 Little Tern, over 20 Common Tern and a Fulmar. A Grey Wagtail was decked on the quay, while a Common Sandpiper and 7 Turnstone were also logged. The weather improved significantly around noon and allowed a couple of visits to Hengistbury, where at least 35 Common Tern passed west, 6 Swift moved over, and a Whimbrel and 4 Ringed Plover were in Holloway’s Dock. 

August 22nd

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting are now well dispersed from reedbeds - this one by the Barn Field
– Clinton Whale

On a fine morning with an optimistic north-easterly wind, Hengistbury was by far the poor relation as Stanpit and Mudeford Quay produced the best haul of birds. For example, a Little Stint and 4 Avocet were seen from Fisherman’s Bank, while 2 Arctic Tern were off the quay. In addition, the marsh came up with: 2 Greenshank, 10 Whimbrel, a Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Dunlin; along with 2 Wigeon, 3 Shoveler, 8 Teal, 6 Gadwall and a(the) Tufted Duck. Meanwhile, the North Scrubs outdid other areas for passerines, with a Redstart, 4 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Whitethroat, 15 Willow Warbler and 4 Chiffchaff. On the opposite side of the water, Whitethroat was the dominant bird - at least thirty on the unfenced portion of the Long Field, one a striking leucistic individual and a couple in song, as was briefly a Reed Warbler, plus a Whinchat there. Wick held more phylloscopus warbler - 12 Willow Warbler and 14 Chiffchaff - and 2 Tree Pipit passed over the fields. Back to waders and there were singles of Greenshank on Wick meadows and the Salt Hurns, from where 2 Snipe came up, Holloway’s Dock hosted a juvenile Knot, a Turnstone was on the sandspit and 6 Ringed Plover were seen to leave. To mop up, a couple of Common Tern fished in Stanpit Creek, Kingfisher loitered around Barn Bight and the bridge over the channel to the aforementioned dock, and a Peregrine was over Wick. 

August 21st

Greenshank on Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale
Stonechat – Clinton Whale

Yesterday’s medley of small gulls and terns was faithful to the waters between Mudeford Quay and the sandspit this morning, when the juveniles of Black Tern and Little Gull were present, as well as two adult Arctic Tern. Slightly later, a young Little Gull headed west over the Barn Field and was likely that particular bird leaving, but the Black Tern remained all day and two juvenile Arctic Tern were seen during the afternoon, along with an adult. Freshwater waders were also well represented, with 2 Wood Sandpiper calling over Parky Meade Rail and then heading north, while a Green Sandpiper was settled on Wick water meadows. Other waders included: 2 Greenshank, a Knot and a Whimbrel in Holloway’s Dock; a Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight; and 2 Knot, plus three over, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Ringed Plover at Stanpit. It was quiet in terms of small migrants - 2 Whinchat, 14 Whitethroat and 5 Blackcap being the only reports from Hengistbury, with Stanpit contributing a Spotted Flycatcher, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Yellow Wagtail. There was, however, a Bullfinch in the North Scrubs, but with the damsons coming into fruit there that should be no surprise. The female-type Mandarin seems to have taken up residence on the Avon between Priory Marsh and Waterloo Bridge, a Kingfisher and a Teal were on the meadows at Wick, 6 Bearded Tit were logged in the Great Spires and a couple of Raven were by the Coastguards. 

Additional news: a Greylag Goose u-turned over the sandspit, where a Clouded Yellow was present.

Yesterday’s post was something of a disaster, in that several decent records were omitted out of sheer carelessness by yours truly. Please do check back for to the appended version, particularly for a new CHOG record count.

August 20th

There is a CHOG member currently holidaying with his family in a beach hut and he had quite a good day. Firstly, an Osprey moved over the sandspit at 8:25 this morning, while a juvenile Black Tern spent most of the afternoon offshore, as did a juvenile Little Gull and an adult Arctic Tern. Also at sea, but earlier on, and a decent record for the date was a Fulmar. Holloway’s Dock again hosted the 2 Knot as well as a Greenshank, a Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper, while a further ‘common sand’ was on the adjacent beach. Overhead, a couple of Yellow Wagtail passed, 16 Ringed Plover headed east and a Peregrine was around.

Omission: a Little Ringed Plover flew over the Barn Field towards Stanpit, while a Garden Warbler was in Wick Ditch, 14 Whitethroat were scatteredand a Kingfisher was on Wick Hams. 

Further omission: a Garganey was in Parky Meade Rail, while a Golden Plover, 2 Greenshank, 22 Whimbrel and 4 Black-tailed Godwit were also about the marsh. By 7:00 in the morning, over 425 Canada Goose had left their seasonal roost at Stanpit, a new but rather ominous record. At sea, a total of 67 Common Tern and 47 Sandwich Tern were counted heading west a distance out from the Long Groyne.

August 19th

Since the construction of a fence, Holloway’s Dock continues to shake off its reputation as a wader desert, with the 2 Knot again present today along with a Greenshank. Elsewhere, a Green Sandpiper lifted up from Wick water meadows and headed off towards Priory Marsh. Passerine numbers were far from spectacular, but did include 12 Tree Pipit and 8 Yellow Wagtail over Hengistbury, as well as a Swift, while a Grasshopper Warbler was by the HHC and 2 Whinchat, a Wheatear, 20 Whitethroat and 28 Willow Warbler were spread across the head. A juvenile Peregrine was around, and singles of Mediterranean Gull and Common Scoter were logged.

August 18th

Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat – Paul Wilkins
...and Whitethroat – Paul Wilkins
Two juvenile Knot in Holloway's Dock,
but in less-than-accommodating light – Paul Wilkins

There is quite a bit to report, but nothing too spectacular. A varied passerine presence included: 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, 4 Lesser Whitethroat - three on Hengistbury and one in the scrubs, a Whinchat on the head, 2 Yellow Wagtail on the sandspit and one over Stanpit, 8 Wheatear, 3 Garden Warbler, 51 Whitethroat and 30 Willow Warbler. Other than a Green Sandpiper at Stanpit and couple of Knot during the morning, the higher wader totals came from later in the day, when a Little Stint, 3 Sanderling, a further Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, 10 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover and 15 Dunlin were in Stanpit Bight. To round up, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Shoveler, 2 Peregrine and a Kingfisher were about. 

Omissions: a Wigeon and an adult Common Gull were at Stanpit, and 3 Common Scoter passed west at sea.

August 17th

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler – Jean Southworth
Whinchat – Jean Southworth
Mediterranean Gull
...and a Mediterranean Gull on Stanpit last night,
in transition from juvenile to first-winter plumage – Richard Cordery

Firstly, the day’s moments of most interest. An Osprey passed west, north of the Priory, around mid-morning, when a Turtle Dove was seen heading towards Wick Fields and a Grasshopper Warbler was hopping around on the Priory Marsh boardwalk; a couple of Arctic Tern passed through the harbour in the company of 6 Common Tern; 2 Bullfinch were by Holloway’s Dock; and a Little Ringed Plover overflew. The best of the passerines not mentioned already and spread across the entire area were a Redstart and a minimum of 10 Garden Warbler; but also a Whinchat, 2 Wheatear, 100 Whitethroat and 80 Willow Warbler, plus 3 Yellow Wagtail over. Wader news is sparse and a flock of 22 Snipe, given that it’s still August, probably warranted a mention earlier in the post, while a Knot and 9 Common Sandpiper were also turned in. The CHOG record for Treecreeper likely fell today, with two in the North Scrubs and the now regular bird in the Wood. Meanwhile, a Kingfisher was again on Wick Hams and Bearded Tit were noted around Priory Marsh. 

News just in from Stanpit, where 5 Yellow Wagtail were present.

Additional news: just before dusk, 10 Swift flew south-west over Hengistbury and then started to feed up over Southbourne.

August 16th

Whimbrel – Clinton Whale

It was a chilly start, with the dawn temperature only just over 5C and a northerly breeze to boot. A bird that was initially suggested to be duck, then a pigeon, as it headed west over Hengistbury, turned out to be a heavily-moulting Ring-necked Parakeet and so explained what appeared to be the not-quite-right ringed plover noises that were also being discussed at the time! Talking of ducks and the first Wigeon of the winter, a single bird logged from both sides of the harbour, as well as a female Mandarin, a Tufted Duck, a Shoveler, a Gadwall and 14 Teal, mostly seen from Stanpit. The marsh also held a Green Sandpiper and 4 Common Sandpiper, along with: a Knot that decamped to Holloway’s Dock, a heard-only Golden Plover, 2 Greenshank, 10 Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Ringed Plover and 35 Dunlin. Meanwhile, a further 7 Common Sandpiper were on the western side of the river. Over a period of 20 minutes, there was a movement of Common Tern through the harbour, eighty-five in total; also a Swift west and a hunting Hobby over Central Marsh. Passerine interest was headed by a Grasshopper Warbler on Crouch Hill, while 3 Garden Warbler were in the North Scrubs. On the other side of the area, across Wick and on Hengistbury as far as the Wood, there were: 2 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 5 Wheatear, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Garden Warbler, 20 Whitethroat and 50 or Willow Warbler on the deck; plus10 Tree Pipit and 3 Yellow Wagtail overhead. A Kingfisher again hung around Barn Bight and, of butterfly interest, 2 Clouded Yellow were in the Barn Field.

August 15th

Wheatear by the Black House – Clinton Whale

There was a Roseate Tern resting on the mud in Stanpit Bight, seen from Fisherman’s Bank, early on; while a male Bullfinch by Holloway’s Dock was decent record for the date, along with 3 Siskin over the Barn Field. Although Stanpit was checked on both the flood and ebb tides, it was the rising water that produced the most birds, including: a juvenile Knot, 3 Greenshank, 11 Common Sandpiper, 10 Whimbrel, 22 Ringed Plover and 35 Dunlin; in addition, a Greenshank and 3 Whimbrel were in Holloway’s Dock, a Common Sandpiper was in Brewer’s Creek and 3 Black-tailed Godwit headed into the north-westerly wind. A few migrant passerines were dotted about; for example, 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the Double Dykes, 2 Garden Warbler by the HHC, at least four and three respectively of Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail over, an estimated 30 Willow Warbler on Hengistbury and a total of 6 Wheatear split evenly between Stanpit and the tip of the sandspit. At sea, 3 Shelduck headed east, and two young Shoveler and a Gadwall were in Stanpit Bight. As expected, a Kingfisher sat on fence posts at the western end of Barn Bight and a Collared Dove count on Wick came to twenty-three birds. 

August 14th

Sanderling on the sandspit this morning – Clinton Whale
...and some of the thousands of Starling currently using the harbour – Alan Hayden

The sun never broke through the grey cloud, but the rain did stop just before lunchtime. Birds of the day were 2 Black Tern off Mudeford Quay early on and two waders rising above Holloway’s Dock, one of which was a Wood Sandpiper, the other possibly the same. Green Sandpiper were also around - two about Wick Hams this morning and one over Crouch Hill this afternoon. As the tide rose, there were plenty of other waders to be seen on or over the sandspit, or in Holloway’s Dock, including: 8 Knot, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank, 23 Sanderling, 4 Common Sandpiper, 6 Turnstone, a Whimbrel, 52 Ringed Plover and 37 Dunlin; while offshore 2 Little Tern, 25 Common Tern, 15 Sandwich Tern and 5 Mediterranean Gull lingered; and a further thirty-five or so Common Tern headed west. Overnight, there had been a small arrival of Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler, an estimated fifty and twelve respectively in the bracken between the HHC and the Double Dykes, and a Yellow Wagtail overflew the Beach Huts. A modicum of wildfowl movement was suggested with ten arriving Teal, 6 Shelduck high west and 3 Common Scoter into the Solent. Final bits and pieces involve: 7 Swift, a Raven and a Kingfisher, the latter faithful to Barn Bight. This evening, a larger-than-dolphin-sized cetacean was glimpsed a couple of times breaching and tail-diving from Mudeford Quay. 

August 13th

It wasn’t as wet as expected this morning and by the afternoon the air became ever so close, crying out for a thunderstorm to clear it. There was another Wood Sandpiper today, a bird seen and heard from Hengistbury as it circled the harbour; as well as 2 Green Sandpiper up from the Salt Hurns and a Golden Plover west. Mudeford Quay also scored - a superb adult Little Gull entering the harbour through the Run. Back to the head, where around thirty and twenty respectively of Willow Warbler and Whitethroat were logged, one of the latter clearly a local bird as it fed a juvenile. In addition, 6 Greenshank and 5 Ringed Plover were turned in from that side of the harbour. Offshore from the quay, a feeding flock of terns comprised 2 Little Tern, 10 Common Tern and 40 Sandwich Tern; while 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Ringed Plover and 48 Dunlin passed east; a flock of 10 Teal arrived; and a further 2 Common Sandpiper, along with a couple of Raven, were on the sandspit. 

August 12th

The date that drives subversive activities on northern English moorlands. Locally, however, it’s waders that dominate the news - twenty species of them - and nearly all seen coming or going over Hengistbury. In order of interest: a Wood Sandpiper passed high to the west and at least 4 Green Sandpiper and 2 Little Ringed Plover were logged; while others included: a Greenshank, 2 Golden Plover, 4 Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Knot, 6 Sanderling, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Turnstone, 2 Snipe, 63 Ringed Plover and 72 Dunlin. In addition, but there could of course be some duplication, a Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin were in Holloway’s Dock. Add to those already mentioned, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Lapwing to get the score. Also airborne over the head were: a Hobby, 7 Little Tern and two juvenile Mediterranean Gull west, 6 Swift, 35 House Martin, 150 Swallow, 220 Sand Martin, a Yellow Wagtail and 3 Tree Pipit. Meanwhile, grounded migrants were returned as: a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 6 Wheatear, a Garden Warbler and 52 Willow Warbler.

August 11th

Hengistbury and Wick weren’t birded until around lunchtime, when the sites, uncharacteristically for that time of day, held birds. A fact that probably means there had been a significant number earlier on. As it was, there was still an impressive total of 120 Willow Warbler across the fields but only as far as the Batters, as well as: 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 12 Blackcap, 40 Whitethroat, 4 Reed Warbler and 8 Sedge Warbler. Prior to 7:30, a Black Tern and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull were off Mudeford Quay, while 55 Common Tern, in two flocks, arrived in the harbour, and later on a further fourteen passed through west. A fine wader selection was headed by: a couple of Curlew Sandpiper flying around Stanpit this morning and 2 Green Sandpiper on Priory Marsh; but also: 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Whimbrel, 34 Curlew, 2 Snipe, 5 Ringed Plover and 17 Dunlin. Late in the afternoon, a Marsh Harrier gained height over the Coastguards before leaving south, and a huge hatch of flying ants from the Barn Field attracted thousands of Black-headed Gull and up to 15 Swift. To conclude, a Wheatear was on South Marsh, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was inside the harbour, a Kingfisher was along Fisherman’s Bank and the CHOG record for Collared Dove was shattered with a count of fifty-nine from Wick water meadows. 

August 10th

Varying degrees of drizzle and low cloud were about for most of the day, when the sea yielded just a Balearic Shearwater and 18 Common Scoter, fourteen west and four east. A total of 20 Common Tern headed west through the harbour, while a Grey Plover was heard to arrive. Late this afternoon, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was in the Run.

August 9th

Dunlin – Clinton Whale
Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover – Clinton Whale

Yesterday’s Wood Sandpiper had moved to Priory Marsh, where it was watched, along with a Green Sandpiper, for most of the morning before being flushed by people and dogs straying well off the public footpath. Meanwhile, other waders at Stanpit included: a Ruff by Mother Siller’s Channel, the adult Bar-tailed Godwit, two passing Black-tailed Godwit, one east and one west, a Ringed Plover and up to 15 Dunlin. A Nightingale was heard calling for a short time in the North Scrubs, just behind the Pod, and at least 10 Willow Warbler were in the same area; while a Whinchat was close to the stile that leads to Priory Marsh, as was a Bearded Tit. The only Mediterranean Gull record is of an adult at Stanpit. Finally, thanks to Malcolm Barrett, yesterday’s CHOG trip to Salisbury Plain for Great Bustards  was a great success and resulted in 9 birds being seen, including some juveniles.  

Additional news: around 100 Canada Goose came to roost at Stanpit at dusk.

August 8th

   Wood Sandpiper
This morning's Wood Sandpiper on Wick Meadows - Chris Chapleo

The general consensus has it that there are never two good days together in the harbour. Today's list of birds certainly explodes that myth! Firstly a Wood Sandpiper calling from 6:00 onwards was eventually located and photographed on Wick Floods about an hour later. Later, a Roseate Tern passed through the harbour to the west. There were also greater numbers of common migrants with 220 Willow Warbler, 200 Sedge Warbler, 90 Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, 4 Tree Pipit and one each of Yellow Wagtail and Grasshopper Warbler. Waders seen from Hengistbury and described as 'coming-and-going' were 46 Ringed Plover, 32 Dunlin, 17 Turnstone and 7 Whimbrel, the latter west, plus singles of Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank and Little Stint. Settled birds on Stanpit were 59 Redshank, 8 Whimbrel, 6 Dunlin, 4 Turnstone, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Knot. There were 5 Teal in the harbour today with another five travelling west. Around mid-morning hundreds of gulls took to the skies to feed on the swarming ants; amongst them were 11 Mediterranean Gull and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. Finally, a Kingfisher was on Wick.

August 7th

Returning Wheatear at Holloway's Dock today - Clinton Whale
Whimbrel Curlew
Comparative shots of Whimbrel above and Curlew below - Alan Hayden

After a dearth of migrants throughout the week, there were good numbers around Hengistbury today, mainly for the first couple of hours after dawn. By 8:30, however, most of the birds had moved on. It was fine and sunny with virtually no wind. Wood Warbler and Yellowhammer were the pick, while the totals were 130 Willow Warbler, 65 Whitethroat, 42 Blackcap, 8 Garden Warbler, 7 Wheatear, 3 Tree Pipit, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Redstart and singles of Hobby, Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher and Grey Wagtail. Around Stanpit, there were 5 Sedge Warbler, 4 Willow Warbler and another Spotted Flycatcher. Waders were also on the move as 5 Green Sandpiper, an Avocet and an adult Curlew Sandpiper passed over Hengistbury to the west. The summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit was still on Stanpit, together with what was probably a different Knot, plus 38 Redshank, 24 Curlew, 15 Dunlin, 10 Whimbrel, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Greenshank. Just one Raven was on the quay today, also 2 Mediterranean Gull and a Common Sandpiper, while a Kingfisher and the first Teal of the 'autumn' were opposite Fisherman's Bank.

August 6th

The sea was given attention for most of the morning and into the early afternoon - the best being 2 Arctic Skua past Mudeford Quay at 7:15 and 3 Balearic Shearwater briefly lingering off the Long Groyne before moving off west. Also at sea, and all west, 11 Common Scoter, 24 Common Tern, around 40 Sandwich Tern, 2 Mediterranean Gull, 50 or so Gannet and 6 Dunlin. Meanwhile, 33 Sandwich Tern rested off Mudeford Quay. There were few passerines around, but a Yellow Wagtail did overfly Hengistbury and a Willow Warbler was on the Batters. Inside the harbour, 3 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall toured, a Kingfisher was on Wick and a juvenile Peregrine was about.

Thanks to the Christchurch Boat Shop, maps of the wildlife sensitive areas around Stanpit will appear in both the 2016 tide tables and tidal curve publications. 

August 5th

Redshank on Stanpit - Clinton Whale

Although there were few migrants around today, there was some quality with both Pied Flycatcher and Grasshopper Warbler on Wick, also 20 Willow Warbler counted. Elsewhere the sea, which was watched from the quay for an hour or so, produced 7 Common Scoter east, 40 Gannet, 6 Common Tern and a Fulmar west plus 35 lingering Sandwich Tern and 6 Mediterranean Gull roosting on the exposed mud at low tide. This evening at Stanpit, the breeding-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit was still present, together with four adult and two juvenile Mediterranean Gull.

August 4th

Greenshank Whimbel
Greenshank (above) and Whimbrel below on Holloway's Dock today - Alan Hayden

The sea was watched from both the quay and the Beach Huts this morning but, despite the favourable south-westerly breeze, there were just singles of Fulmar and Common Tern, together with 22 Gannet and 29 Sandwich Tern, all these west. Another 49 Sandwich Tern were inside the harbour, 37 in Holloway's Dock and twelve on East Marsh. There were 3 Greenshank today, two in Holloway's Dock and one in Parky Meade Rail, from where a Kingfisher was seen on the Wick side of the river. Other wader numbers were 49 Dunlin, 7 Whimbrel and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

August 3rd

Unfortunately, no news has been received for today. 

August 2nd

Birds in Holloway's Dock
A selection of birds - Sandwich Tern, Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull
- in Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale

On another fine day, although there was a fresh south-easterly breeze, the majority of the interest comes from waders. A Green Sandpiper came in from the west and took a quick look at the northern end of Wick, which it found not to its liking so moved on through. Meanwhile, at Stanpit, there were: the adults of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit, which both arrived yesterday, 14 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Black-tailed Godwit which left to the west, at least one Ringed Plover and 45 Dunlin, five of them juveniles. Passerines about Wick, included: 2 Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, several singing Willow Warbler and a few Blackcap which were perhaps travellers. From the Wooden Bridge, Bearded Tit could be heard in the reeds and 3 Raven headed north; a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull came down onto the HHC mudbar; a flock of seven high-flying Cormorant and a single juvenile Mediterranean Gull went west; and ten or so Swift moved into the wind.

Omission: a female Mandarin flew upriver in the company of a drake Mallard.

To finish, a couple of news items. The day’s ringing figures can be viewed on Trektellen, which we will be updating regularly. Yesterday, Christchurch and East Dorset Councils trialled some canoe-based wardening of Stanpit Bight, whereby they approached any canoeists inside the buoys, explaining what they were for and handing out laminated copies of the recently-produced Watercraft User Guide. On every occasion, the canoeists welcomed the information, explaining they were previously unaware of the sensitivity of the area and would in future take an alternative route. Refreshing stuff and thanks to all involved.

August 1st

Peacock – Clinton Whale

Continuing the Sand Martin theme, at least 200 passed west between 7:00 and 10:00 this morning, some of them skimming the waters of the harbour as they did so. Also west and only a little higher were 2 Spoonbill, seen from the HHC early on, while a Swift,  6 Common Tern and two juvenile Mediterranean Gull headed the same way. From memory, so far this year, there have been only three records of Knot, so an adult at Stanpit on the day’s first rising tide was most welcome. Also at that time, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel, a Ringed Plover and 11 Dunlin. The day also saw a decent number of Garden Warbler - five across Wick - as well as a Lesser Whitethroat, a small number of presumed migrant Blackcap, at least 10 Willow Warbler and up to 30 Sedge Warbler, many of the latter in brambles across the Long Field. 

Sightings for earlier months can be found in our Sightings Archive.
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