Sightings for February 2015

February 28th

Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull – Alan Hayden
Herring Gull
Herring Gull – Alan Hayden

As a consequence of the morning’s persistent rain, all the news comes from Mudeford Quay. The first five minutes of the session started well - a party of four pale-bellied Brent Goose, which lingered for an hour or so, and up to 20 Purple Sandpiper, the latter being accompanied by a Dunlin that didn’t look altogether comfortable stood on a wave-lashed rock. After that, however, it was hard work - the next couple of hours producing just: a Red-throated Diver, a Common Scoter, possibly the same lone drake that has been around for a while, 6 Mediterranean Gull, all adults and looking to be paired, 2 Shelduck and the regular pair of Raven. For those who are interested in such things, the latest set of accounts, covering the period April to December 2014, are now available. 

February 27th

Reed Bunting
One of several singing Reed Bunting at Stanpit this morning – Alan Crockard
...and the pair of Raven on the sandspit – Clinton Whale

Today saw a couple of clear indicators of the impending spring - firstly, several Linnet were by the HHC this afternoon; while up to 10 Reed Bunting were about Stanpit, a good deal of them in song. Since last weekend’s high tides, small waders have been completely absent inside the harbour; but the Spotted Redshank and 68 Black-tailed Godwit seem more enamoured with the situation. Meanwhile, 6 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit. Other pieces of interest for the day include: a drake Shoveler, 6 Pintail and 12 Shelduck at Stanpit; a Water Rail in Brewer’s Creek; a Coal Tit in the Nursery; and 2 Raven on the sandspit. 

February 26th

Pied Wagtail
Pied Wagtail – Alan Crockard
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit – Alan Crockard

Around 7:30 this morning, a thick misty cloud descended onto the area and things didn’t brighten up until well into the afternoon. On Hengistbury, a Water Rail was in Brewer’s Creek and 3 Lapwing were on the Barn Field, from which the cattle have now been removed to make way for the Skylark. Meanwhile, a Grey Wagtail was in the Wick horse paddock. Over on Stanpit, in addition to a couple of Stonechat, there is the traditional late winter build-up of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit. 

February 25th

Oystercatcher – Alan Hayden

There was a Chiffchaff in the North Scrubs at Stanpit today, while the Water Pipit and 11 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit were on North Marsh. Despite a southerly, onshore wind, the sea produced less than 6 birds in 90-minutes, the most notable being a Red-breasted Merganser west. 

February 24th

A biting, easterly wind marred the day, but a few trips were made into the field. A Water Pipit and 8 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit were on North Marsh, Stanpit, where the Spotted Redshank and 49 Black-tailed Godwit sheltered in Stanpit Creek, along with many of the Wigeon and Teal, and 206 Brent Goose were counted on South Marsh. Although the sea was in significant swell, little was on the move - just a Great Northern Diver from Mudeford Quay and a single Red-throated Diver east past Hengistbury.

February 23rd

Common Gull
Common Gull
Second-winter Common Gull – Alan Hayden

Yesterday's deluge and the resultant flow from the rivers Avon and Stour meant there was even more water over the area today, despite a much weaker tidal influence. As a consequence, the only report received was of a Water Rail in the unexpected location of Roebury Lane, a bird presumably displaced by the inundations.

February 22nd

Little Grebe
Little Grebe
Little Grebe – Alan Hayden
Tufted Duck
Pair of Tufted Duck – Alan Hayden
Josephine 2
As a result of a rare alignment of the sun, moon and earth,
today's bird-boat experienced the highest tides in just over 18 years – Alan Hayden
Blackberry Point Sign
The only remaining evidence of Blackberry Point – Alan Hayden
Mother Siller's Channel
The Bailey Bridge over Mother Siller's Channel – Clinton Whale
Various High Tide Images
...and various angles of Stanpit under a great deal of water – Alan Hayden

It was a day dominated by water. The highest tide for 18.5 years occurred at 11:00, which completely swamped many parts of the area, while the forecast rain descended right on cue at 12:30 and continued until dusk at least. At Hengistbury, a Firecrest was once more in the Wood, but little else to report from there. Thanks to the resident, semi-tame drake, the true status of Tufted Duck has become slightly blurred, but a pair that were around for most of the morning were certainly in addition to the regular bird. Meanwhile, an adult Mediterranean Gull passed through and, during the afternoon’s wind and rain, a Fulmar lingered around the Run. 

February 21st

An excellent comparison of Firecrest (above) and Goldcrest
- both captured in the Wood today – Alan Crockard

Despite its westerly direction, the wind this morning more than warranted the term biting. As a consequence, much of the Hengistbury birding was done from the shelter of the Wood and the Coastguards respectively - the former site again hosting a Firecrest. Meanwhile, the best from the Coastguards was a settled Red-necked Grebe, with either that or another earlier being seen from Mudeford Quay heading into The Solent. Otherwise, the combined totals from the quay and the high point of the head were: 5 Red-throated Diver, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, those in contrast to yesterday all west, 5 Great Crested Grebe and a Common Scoter. Also around Hengistbury, an adult Mediterranean Gull and at least 2 Raven. Over on Stanpit, a single ‘Scandinavian” Rock Pipit was close to the Pod.

Additional news: a Chiffchaff was at Stanpit, along with 5 Rock Pipit, 11 Pintail and twelve fly-over Black-tailed Godwit.

February 20th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Some of the 23 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit this morning – Clinton Whale
Wick in Flood
Some of the highest tides for 20-years are expected this weekend – Colin Raymond

The morning was almost completely windless, but a hint of northerly breeze was in the air by lunchtime. Therefore, it was not altogether a surprise that genuine seabirds were completely absent from Hengistbury waters. That said, there were bits-and-pieces of interest - the best being a Red-necked Grebe passing west. In addition, 7 Red-throated Diver were logged, three in each direction and a settled bird, as well as 6 Red-breasted Merganser, a Common Scoter and 2 Shelduck, all east. The Purple Sandpiper, today numbering 23 birds, were split into two groups - sixteen on S9 and seven on S5.

February 19th

A southerly, onshore wind drove a few seabirds close to Hengistbury this morning, including: a Great Skua, 5 Fulmar, 9 Kittiwake and 2 Gannet, all west; plus 12 Red-throated Diver, a skein of 55 Brent Goose and one-hundred-and-twenty distant auks, all east. In addition, a total of 38 Common Gull was logged moving down-channel. Then, just before the rain set in for the remainder of the day, a Firecrest was again by the Nursery in the Wood. 

February 18th

In similar conditions to yesterday, a Marsh Harrier was again seen, albeit very briefly, at Stanpit. Also there, the Spotted Redshank, 73 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Ringed Plover, 57 Dunlin, 3 Shelduck, 10 Pintail and 203 Brent Goose.

February 17th

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
This Marsh Harrier, a male reckoned to be in its second winter,
was over Crouch Hill at lunchtime – Alan Hayden

Once the sun got up, it turned out to be a quite glorious day. So much so, that a mini raptor-fest took place over Stanpit at lunchtime, when singles of Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were all soaring over harbour airspace. The Marsh Harrier looks likely to be the bird that has been seen frequently from Coward's Marsh, just north of the area, over the last few weeks. Comments would be welcome on the age of this bird. The true status of Woodcock in the recording area is currently of some debate, so one seen over the HHC this evening was of interest - one wonders whether the recent reed clearance may have been of attraction? The only other news concerns 6 Pintail at Stanpit. 

February 16th

Curlew – Chris Dresh

From about 9:00 onwards this morning it was wet and downright miserable - although the Beach Huts provided a good degree of refuge and allowed a total of 28 Red-throated Diver, all but three west and including a flock of fourteen, to be amassed; plus singles of Red-breasted Merganser and Razorbill, both of those west. Meanwhile, groyne S9 hosted 16 Purple Sandpiper, 15 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway’s Dock and the Spotted Redshank was at Stanpit. Final pieces of local interest came from: a Coal Tit in the Wood; a Peregrine stooping over the Salt Hurns; and 2 Raven about the sandspit. 

February 15th

Apologies for the potential overload of Spoonbill photos,
but these two are rather good – Chris Dresh
What is interesting, is that this young bird (brown flecks in feathering and pale bill coloration) has taken to the same spot the original adult bird favoured when it was first seen on 9th. While the youngster remains, both adults seem to have moved on.

Only one Spoonbill, a young bird, was at Stanpit today, along with the brownhead Goldeneye, a lone Black-tailed Godwit, 37 Ringed Plover, 246 Dunlin, 2 Pintail and 137 Brent Goose. Elsewhere, a Red-throated Diver and a Common Scoter passed east at sea, a further 3 Black-tailed Godwit were on the Hengistbury side and Reed Bunting are still making efforts to sing. 

February 14th

Long-tailed TitLong-tailed Tit – Alan Crockard

Coverage was light this Saturday, so presumably some of the regulars were spending Valentine’s morning treating their better halves! Either that, or they’d disappeared off to sample some the New Forest’s winter specialities. However, the 3 Spoonbill remained at Stanpit, one of them is very confiding and spends much of its time close to the Pod. Other notables about the marsh included a Merlin and 2 Water Pipit; but also 8 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, the Spotted Redshank, 6 Grey Plover, 35 Ringed Plover and 70+ Dunlin. A Mediterranean Gull was seen over the Barn Field and one was heard at Stanpit this afternoon, 19 Pintail were spread along Blackberry Point and Reed Bunting were starting to sing about the area. 

February 13th

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker – Alan Crockard

The morning at least was subject to an uncomfortable south-easterly wind, with rain adding to the proceedings from around 10:30 onwards. However, from the scant shelter of the Beach Huts in such conditions, there were some moments at sea. A Long-tailed Duck passed east, in the company of 2 Great Crested Grebe, and a Slavonian Grebe was settled a short distance offshore for around 30-minutes. In addition, a Great Northern Diver, 3 Red-throated Diver, 3 Kittiwake and 35 auks were logged. Elsewhere, a Jack Snipe was on the Salt Hurns, 2 Firecrest were in the Wood and a Peregrine passed over Wick.

February 12th

The second and third Spoonbill - an adult and a young bird - to arrive on-site this week
– Alan Hayden

The 3 Spoonbill were around Stanpit all day, but rarely together. There is the lone, adult bird that arrived on Tuesday; while the later two, which seem to stick together, are an adult and a young bird. That said, the adult of those is almost constantly trying to see off its younger companion. Also around the marsh, the Avocet in Stanpit Creek, which seems to be constantly asleep, plus a Sanderling,12 Ringed Plover, 15 Black-tailed Godwit and 50 Dunlin. During the morning, there was a marked movement of birds east over the area, including two flocks of Lapwing totalling 80 birds, the groups containing a single Ruff and Golden Plover respectively, as well as 62 Wigeon. Finally, the brownhead Goldeneye was again inside the harbour. 

February 11th

Goldeneye – Alan Hayden

Despite there being no overnight frost, it was still cold enough around the area today. This afternoon, the incumbent Spoonbill at Stanpit was joined by a further two birds, while the Avocet was still present as well as 4 Mediterranean Gull. Earlier, there had been an easterly flight of at least 22 Red-throated Diver into Christchurch Bay, with a Goosander and Common Scoter settled on the water there, plus 2 Red-breasted Merganser passing west. Further along Hengistbury, a total of 24 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea off the western extreme of the recording area. The maximum count of Black-tailed Godwit for the day was thirty-eight, that in Barn Bight, a Grey Wagtail and female Bullfinch were on Wick, and a Raven was on the top of the head.

Additional news: of course, there was a Goldeneye off Rushy Piece again.

February 10th

Drake Teal – Alan Hayden
Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit – Alan Crockard

The adult Spoonbill remained on-site today - after first being on East Marsh, the bird flew a short distance to North Marsh where it had a species-characteristic doze adjacent to the Pod. Also on Stanpit, a Water Pipit, that also on North Marsh, and a newly-arrived Avocet. Meanwhile, other waders were represented by the Spotted Redshank, 4 Grey Plover, a couple of Turnstone, over 60 Black-tailed Godwit and around 180 Dunlin. Once again, the Goldeneye was feeding off Rushy Piece, with 40 Pintail, 2 Gadwall and 9 Shelduck also logged inside the harbour. The best-of-the-rest was the Firecrest in the Nursery, while the miscellany came from: a Peregrine over Stanpit; a couple of Stonechat on Central Marsh; a Raven on the top of Hengistbury; and the lone, ringed Brent Goose that has resumed its affection for North Marsh, well away from any of the other birds currently using the area.

February 9th

Spoonbill on North Marsh this morning - the lower shot giving an excellent size comparison with Little Egret. Twenty-five years ago, imagine the hysteria had these two been found feeding side by side! – Alan Hayden & Richard Cordery (centre)
Water Pipit
Water Pipit on Central Marsh
- the head at least tending towards breeding plumage – Alan Hayden

The best birds of a cold, dismal and damp day were an adult Spoonbill on North Marsh, a Water Pipit on Central marsh, just north of the small causeway beyond the Pod, and 2 Mediterranean Gull around Stanpit Bight. The latter worthy of mention due to their almost complete absence around Christchurch for the last month or so, other than a few birds at sea. Also of note, a fine count of 54 Great Crested Grebe this afternoon in Christchurch Bay - the birds visible from Mudeford Quay, but the actual count being made from just outside the area at Steamer Point. A Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit was a first for the year, while other waders inside the harbour included 3 Grey Plover, 55+ Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Ringed Plover and 16 Dunlin. The brownhead Goldeneye, today off Rushy Piece, headed the wildfowl with a supporting cast of 22 Pintail, 3 Gadwall and 7 Shelduck. 

February 8th

Sunrise from the sandspit – Colin Raymond
Nursery Pond
The old 'CHOG pond' in the Nursery, dug by the group in the 1970s, is undergoing a full restoration; courtesy of Bournmemouth Borough Council – Hugh Goldsmith

It was both WeBS count and bird-boat day, which produced a Ring-billed Gull that was seen only very briefly in Stanpit Creek early this morning. Despite being looked for a short while after the initial sighting, the bird couldn’t be relocated. Otherwise, the best was probably a brownhead Goldeneye, seen from the boat, at the mouth of the creek. However, before the rest of the wetland bird numbers, a Firecrest was again in the Nursery, a Redwing was in the North Scrubs and the bright sun got a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming on Hengistbury. The best of the figures was 7 Purple Sandpiper on the Long Groyne; with other aggregate totals from across the recording area including: 20 Pintail, 16 Shelduck, 230 Teal, 616 Wigeon, 203 Brent Goose, 8 Great Crested Grebe, 100 Black-tailed Godwit, 138 Dunlin and a very notable 199 Redshank.

Additional news: by late afternoon, the Purple Sandpiper on the Long Groyne had risen to fifteen and had been joined by a Sanderling. Slightly later, a Spoonbill flew west over the harbour.

February 7th

Brent Goose
Brent Goose – Chris Dresh
Coal Tit
Coal Tit – Chris Dresh

The easterly wind made for uncomfortable conditions at the Beach Huts this morning; nevertheless, at least one enthusiast sat it out for 90-minutes and a few birds were logged. Today’s flight of Red-throated Diver comprised 11 birds, all west, while a Great Northern Diver was offshore, along with a Common Scoter and at least 7 Great Crested Grebe. Elsewhere, 2 Redwing and a Coal Tit were in the Wood, a Raven passed north over Wick and 3 Black-tailed Godwit were on the water meadows there.

February 6th

Collared Dove
While some areas were sheltered enough to allow birds - Collared Dove
- to perch out in the open – Clinton Whale
...others, however, were just about un-birdable – Clinton Whale

A Sandwich Tern that flew through the harbour was a good winter record; as was an apparent pair of Stonechat, the male at least showing strong characteristics of being a continental bird, rubicola, on Whitepits. A succinct, easterly movement of Red-throated Diver, which is thought to related to short-distance feeding relocation, was again seen from the Beach Huts - 11 birds the day’s tally. Also, a Great Northern Diver settled offshore and a party of three high-flying birds to the west; as well as 3 Red-breasted Merganser east and around 50 auks logged. Meanwhile, a couple of Purple Sandpiper were again on the Long Groyne and the Collared Dove at the northern end of Wick numbered 20 birds.

February 5th

Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail – Alan Crockard

Other than the recent arrivals of Shelduck and Pintail, twenty-eight and eighteen respectively at Stanpit this morning, there hasn’t been an obvious displacement of birds due to the on-going, cold weather; however, a Woodcock at Stanpit, in the North Scrubs, and a total of 34 Great Crested Grebe off Mudeford Quay suggested there is, in fact, something more going on. Also on the marsh, a Water Pipit, 6 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, 7 Gadwall and 6 Grey Plover, as well as a northbound skein of 8 Egyptian Goose over.

February 4th

Reedbed Management
Some of the 0.5ha of reedbed management so far completed this winter
by Bournemouth Borough Council. Well done Hugh and team! – Hugh Goldsmith

The team on the current habitat management project, which is now deep into the Wick reeds, enjoyed close views of a female Bearded Tit and a Marsh Harrier this morning. Meanwhile, despite a brisk offshore wind, the sea picked up somewhat after a notably quiet period. All movement was east and comprised: 2 Black-throated Diver, 18 Red-throated Diver, 500+ auks, a Fulmar, 12 Gannet, 6 Common Scoter and 3 Shoveler. To finish up, a drake Goldeneye circuited the harbour.

February 3rd

For a while this morning, it looked as if the night’s snow sprinkle was going to be augmented by something far more significant; however, no sooner had the larger flakes started, the temperatures rose and it was all a short-lived memory. Actually, rather than prompting a hoped-for cold-weather movement of passerines, the events seemed to shift the few birds we were hosting onwards. For example, Stanpit held only 2 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock pipits, but no other pipits, nor stonechat, while wagtail numbers were greatly reduced. Other than an Eider west past Mudeford Quay, the sea was equally quiet, with a later morning visit to Hengistbury producing just 5 Common Scoter, 2 Gannet and a few auks. Meanwhile, 18 Pintail and 31 Shelduck remained in the harbour, as did the Spotted Redshank and 4 Grey Plover.

February 2nd

Ringed Plover & Dunlin
Ringed Plover and Dunlin – Clinton Whale

Mercifully, the recent wind has abated; but clear overnight skies made for a lower actual air temperature. A couple of trips out to Stanpit came up with a Water Pipit and 6 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, while in addition to yesterday’s Pintail, which all seemed to be hanging around, there was a clear influx of Shelduck - as many as 40 birds. Also 3 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, c.40 Ringed Plover and 200+ Dunlin around the marsh. The best on the Hengistbury side was a Bearded Tit, heard by a working party in the Wick Reeds, as well as 2 Purple Sandpiper on the Long Groyne. During the recent couple of weeks, the Brent Goose have developed a liking for Wick water meadows - 182 individuals there today, plus a single Black-tailed Godwit.

February 1st

Goldcrest – Chris Dresh
Wren – Chris Dresh

Given the on-going windchill, it’s respect to today’s field-workers and photographers. From Fisherman’s Bank, a fine total of 39 Pintail was counted inside the harbour, which represents a significant immigration from somewhere, near or far. Also from the bank, the Spotted Redshank, 33 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover and 37 Dunlin; while 5 Turnstone were on the inner shore of Mudeford Quay. Over on Hengistbury, there just 2 Purple Sandpiper on the Long Groyne today.

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