Sightings for July 2015

July 31st

Sand Martin
Sand Martin
Some of sixty or so Sand Martin pre-migration flocking by the Long Groyne – Clinton Whale
Painted Lady
Painted Lady – Clinton Whale

On a fine, warm day, Sand Martin were again moving, but although no aerial counts were made there were sixty flocking birds on fencing by the Long Groyne. Meanwhile, an Avocet and Green Sandpiper both circuited the harbour, 6 Whimbrel passed west and a further three of those plus a Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Dunlin were inside the harbour. A small amount of waterfowl movement was experienced, the most notable being 3 Goosander west, as well as 3 Gadwall and 112 Cormorant, those in various flock sizes. On the deck, there were a Lesser Whitethroat, 35 Willow Warbler and 60+ Sedge Warbler stopping off at Hengistbury and two young Mediterranean Gull were resting at Stanpit. 

July 30th

Black-tailed Skimmer
Black-tailed Skimmer in a beach hut – Mike Buxton
Gatekeeper – Chris Chapleo

There was more passerine interest today, with: a juvenile Grasshopper Warbler creeping around in the open at Whitepits; a Wheatear at Stanpit; and a Yellow Wagtail over the Batters; as well as 3 Lesser Whitethroat and 26 Willow Warbler on Hengistbury. During the morning, 73 Sand Martin were logged westward over the head, but late in the afternoon at least 100 birds were feeding high over the Barn Bight area. Also before lunch, 31 Swift west with some lingering later on. A few terns again feature - 4 Little Tern passed at sea and 24 Common Tern moved west through the harbour, while 16 Common Tern rested inside the harbour, as did 19 Sandwich Tern - and 2 Mediterranean Gull, an adult and a juvenile were at Whitepits. Wader numbers included: a Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, around 20 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 40+ Dunlin; and, when there was the incredulous event of a drone being flown from Crouch Hill, 117 airborne Oystercatcher could be counted. Unfortunately, that incident encouraged most them, and a good deal of the Curlew, to vacate the area. On the up side, the incident was dealt with efficiently by the Christchurch Council team. 

July 29th

The wind of the last few days had settled down and with the change came a few more birds. In addition to 9 Crossbill west over Stanpit, there were 59 Swift counted in the same direction and a trickle of Sand Martin offshore from Mudeford Quay. On the deck, there was a Spotted Flycatcher near Stanpit golf course, while that area and Wick also turned in 2 Garden Warbler, 20 Willow Warbler and 40+ Sedge Warbler. A wader selection was headed by 2 Ruff, those westbound over South Marsh, 2 Common Sandpiper, a Sanderling, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 26 or so Dunlin and a locally notable 85 Oystercatcher. Remaining interest was provided by: 2 Gadwall, 2 Common Tern and 6 Mediterranean Gull, all non-adults, west; plus at least 10 Water Rail in Parky Meade Rail. 

July 28th

The wind moved to directly west overnight, a direction that is good-for-nothing so far as Christchurch is concerned. As a consequence, what seabirds there were, were distant; although a Fulmar was the first of those for while. Otherwise, it’s just 2 Little Tern, 6 Common Tern and ten or so Gannet mustered from the sandspit and Mudeford Quay. Inside the harbour, the Golden Plover was again on Crouch Hill and13 Whimbrel were present, as were 2 Ringed Plover and at least 35 Dunlin. The Mediterranean Gull return was made up of seven juveniles and two first-summer birds, but no adults. Finally, the 4 Raven again breakfasted around Mudeford Quay.

July 27th

The wind wasn’t quite as strong as expected this morning, when there were certainly far fewer birds than anticipated. There was a paucity of Sandwich Tern offshore, the biggest count actually coming from twenty resting birds in Holloway’s Dock, and just a couple of Common Tern. There were, however, 9 Little Tern - seven from the Beach Huts and two from Mudeford Quay. In addition to 11 Whimbrel inside the harbour, four passed west, while 13 Sanderling were about Hengistbury, the Golden Plover was again on Crouch Hill, 3 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight, a Turnstone passed the quay, 22 Dunlin, including a juvenile, were at Stanpit and a further twelve headed towards Avon Beach. The only passerine report is not too shabby, a couple of noisy, young Grasshopper Warbler by the HHC; at least 2 Swift moved through and 9 Canada Goose were at Stanpit. 

July 26th

Little Tern
Little Tern
Little Tern don't breed at Christchurch, but this youngster was being sheltered from the conditions by one of its parents on the inner harbour shore this morning.
Unfortunately, the adult's ring can't be read from the photographs, so we can't determine from where this family originated – Clinton Whale

The weather forecast was pretty much spot-on - rain starting between 7:00 and 8:00, ceasing at 15:00 and the increasing wind moving from south to south-east and then south-west. As a consequence, for much of the day, seawatching was the only viable option. Around lunchtime, an adult Black Tern, 3 Balearic Shearwater, two unidentified shearwaters, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and up to 60 Gannet were seen from Hengistbury; while, throughout the day, Mudeford Quay chalked up: an Arctic Tern, 4 Little Tern, 21 Common Tern, 4 Mediterranean Gull and 12 Common Scoter. A further 2 Little Tern, an adult and a juvenile, were sheltering on the harbour side of the sandspit. Also from the quay, during the morning, 10 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Turnstone, a Dunlin and 2 Swift. Waders inside the harbour were seen from Fisherman’s Bank and in Holloway’s Dock, and came to: the Golden Plover, 3 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 47 Dunlin; plus two juvenile Mediterranean Gull around Stanpit Bight. An attempt to dig out passerines produced 3 Willow Warbler on the Batters, the Treecreeper was again in the Wood and the four familiar Raven were logged. 

July 25th

Small numbers of high-latitude breeders, such as this Turnstone, are now passing through
on their southbound journey. Typically, they will be adult birds that have failed to raise young and see no further reason to hang around on the tundra.
Is there a more spectacularly-plumaged adult wader? – Clinton Whale
Golden Plover
The Golden Plover that frequents Crouch Hill, also an adult still in breeding plumage, will not have come quite so far, however – Clinton Whale

A northerly breeze made it a little cold first thing, but the sun soon warmed things up. Those with a penchant for gulls have been checking the freshly-plumaged juveniles for Yellow-legged Gull and the first of the season, after having dispersed northwards from its natal area in mainland Europe, flew over the Barn Field this morning. Meanwhile, waders made up the bulk of the remaining interest, with the Golden Plover still on site, 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Sanderling, perhaps just one Whimbrel, 3 Ringed Plover and 25 Dunlin, the latter including the first juvenile of the year. The best of the returning passerines was a Garden Warbler in the Barn Field, while 4 Willow Warbler were on Wick. Mediterranean Gull were not accurately censused, but at least fifteen were about; singles of Hobby and Peregrine were logged; Swift trickled west for most of the day; and a Kingfisher was on Wick, by the Wooden Bridge.

July 24th

On a day dominated by vary degrees of rain, from drizzle to downpours, all the news comes from Mudeford Quay and entirely involves waders. The best were: a Little Ringed Plover, a (the?) Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Sanderling and a Whimbrel; as well as a back-up cast of 2 Turnstone, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, a Redshank, 6 Curlew and 22 Oystercatcher.

July 23rd

A Wheatear on East Marsh, Stanpit, this morning is a sure indicator that 'autumn' is just around the corner! Further evidence was provided with 35 Sedge Warbler around the marsh and 4 Willow Warbler in the North Scrubs, also 3 Bullfinch and a Treecreeper. There was a better selection of waders with 19 Common Sandpiper, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, a Greenshank, the Golden Plover and a Spotted Redshank that left to the west. There was a good presence of Mediterranean Gull today with twelve birds settled on East Marsh, while a further nineteen moved west over the harbour and a juvenile was off Mudeford Quay. Also offshore from Mudeford Quay were 20 Sandwich, 9 Common Tern and 6 Gannet, as well as a single Turnstone there. Elsewhere on the marsh the antics of a juvenile Peregrine succeeded in putting the birds to flight at regular intervals. To round up, a Great Crested Grebe was on the river and 38 Swift were logged heading west.

July 22nd

On another quiet day in the harbour a couple of Crossbill passed over Priory Marsh, while on Stanpit there were just 11 Dunlin, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper. Another Common Sandpiper was seen from Mudeford Quay, where the 4 Raven were making a nuisance of themselves as usual; also 4 Sanderling, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 6 Common Scoter west past there.

July 21st

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting – Alan Crockard
Keeled Skimmer
Keeled Skimmer on Hengistbury, where it has previously only been
formally recorded on three occasions – Hugh Goldsmith
Small Copper
Small Copper – Chris Chapleo

A couple of day’s ago, one of the regulars said, "it’s all about getting through this month." And today one can feel that sentiment. The Treecreeper was in the Wood and a Common Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel and 6 Dunlin were at Stanpit. Of butterfly interest, a Clouded Yellow was close to the skatepark adjacent to Stanpit golf course.

July 20th

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler – Alan Crockard
Golden Plover
Golden Plover – Leo Pyke

Almost constant drizzle and low cloud shrouded the area for much of the day, when the sea produced the year’s first Balearic Shearwater, that trailing a lobster boat, and a Great Skua which paid some brief attention to the Gannet and Sandwich Tern feeding off the Long Groyne. Also, 15 Common Tern and 3 Common Scoter west over the water. After a singing bird on the 18th, which was omitted from the website in error, there were two more returning Willow Warbler on Wick, as well as a further 9 Common Tern west over there, plus one feeding in Stanpit Creek. The best of the waders were 2 Green Sandpiper, initially on Wick water meadows but then up and off, along with the Golden Plover again on Crouch Hill. Meanwhile, a Common Sandpiper and 4 Whimbrel were at Stanpit; a Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Whimbrel were in Barn Bight; and 4 Turnstone, 5 Ringed Plover and 20 Dunlin moved on through to the west. In addition, 4 Swift headed south. The 4 Raven were again about, three of them looking particularly menacing as they loitered by the Mudeford Quay slip this afternoon, and the pair of Little Grebe remain on the Ironstone Quarry. Of colour-ring interest, the Black-headed Gull, E5VT, which frequented Mudeford Quay between August and October of 2013, dropped in this morning after last being seen in the Netherlands, at Grevelingendam, on the 13th of this month.

July 19th

Golden Plover
Golden Plover
The Golden Plover was again on Crouch Hill today – Clinton Whale
Mediterranean Gull
Three adult Mediterranean Gull – Leo Pyke
Essex Skipper
Essex Skipper – Chris Chapleo

It’s still hard going to find something good, but it’s not for the lack of trying. The Golden Plover was again on Crouch Hill for some time today, probably best looked for at high tide, while a Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, at least 5 Whimbrel, a Turnstone, a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin were also inside the harbour. In addition, a flock of 12 Black-tailed Godwit headed north and 3 Whimbrel moved west. From Mudeford Quay this morning, over the period of an hour, around 30 Mediterranean Gull entered the harbour, but seemed not to linger. This afternoon, however, there was a minimum of that number, most likely more actually, around Stanpit Bight. It’s getting to the date when any Swift are worth a mention as they'll soon come at a premium, so starting with two west over the Coastguards. Meanwhile, 3 Common Tern were on site and the 4 Raven used one of the benches on Crouch Hill to picnic on the scant remains of a Rabbit.

July 18th

Water Rail
Water Rail
Catching up with Water Rail is currently a nailed-on certainty at the base of the tide in
Parky Meade Rail. Earlier in the week, sixteen were counted – Alan Crockard

On a gloriously warm day, the Golden Plover was again at Stanpit, but not seen until later in the day, while other waders included: a Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, at least 17 Whimbrel, eight of them seen to leave west, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin.  There was also a hint of some westerly wildfowl movement, with a Brent Goose on site plus a Tufted Duck and 5 Shelduck seen to come in from the east; as did a high-flying siege of 6 Grey Heron. Mediterranean Gull were sparse in the morning, but rose to fifty-five in number by the late afternoon.

Additional news: a Crossbill and 2 Bar-tailed went west over Wick.

July 17th

One of the gang-of-four Raven – Leo Pyke
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale
Emerald Damselfly
Emerald Damselfly, a female – Hugh Goldsmith

It's good to have some photographs again - a bit like buses - thanks to all for sending in. There was a decent wader selection today, albeit it low in numbers: the adult Golden Plover was on Crouch Hill this afternoon before a helicopter encouraged the bird to secrete itself on East Marsh and a Common Sandpiper was in the adjacent creek; earlier, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank and 5 Whimbrel had been logged, as well as a Black-tailed Godwit and 19 Dunlin. The early part of the day mustered around 25 Mediterranean Gull - split fairly evenly between Stanpit and Mudeford Quay - but, later on, given the number of black heads visible in the long grass of East Marsh, the day-total is likely quite a bit higher; also an adult Common Gull in the harbour. At sea, 16 Common Scoter went west and a single bird headed east; a Treecreeper was in Ashtree Meadows; and Bearded Tit were heard at Stanpit, where 5 Common Tern rested, the 4 Raven lingered and a juvenile Peregrine hunted hopelessly.

July 16th

There was a significant presence of Mediterranean Gull in the area this morning - a total of 76 birds counted from Fisherman’s Bank, a number which had reduced to thirty-two by the late afternoon. Judging from the various forms of media and communiques from elsewhere in Hampshire and Dorset, this was not an isolated event. A Golden Plover in breeding plumage was on Crouch Hill for what turns out to be its third day, previously having eluded even the keenest of regulars. In addition around Stanpit, there were 3 Common Sandpiper, a Sanderling, 5 Whimbrel and 18 Dunlin, plus two at Mudeford Quay, so marking an overnight arrival of waders. A couple of hours looking at the sea over lunch saw only routine numbers of Gannet and 6 Common Scoter, but a count of House Sparrow at Whitepits reached 115. To wrap up, just one Raven was about today.

June 15th

There was a Cuckoo, the first for a couple of weeks, at Stanpit this morning, as well as: a Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel and 6 Black-tailed Godwit; while 2 Greenshank were seen over Wick. The 4 Raven were again logged, 3 Bearded Tit were at Stanpit and Mediterranean Gull totalled 7 birds.

July 14th

The Dunlin numbers at Stanpit took a leap today, when 2 birds were present, along with: a Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel and 2 Black-tailed Godwit, but only 8 Curlew. The early pulse of migrants perhaps having moved through. Another species that has come and gone of late is Mediterranean Gull - after the decent numbers of several days ago, there were just three today, all adults, logged inside the harbour. At Mudeford Quay, a Great Crested Grebe passed east, a Common Tern arrived, 20 Gannet fished and the 4 Raven were looking around for cast-offs. They are now so regular that questions are being asked about what would fall down if they left. 

Omission: 5 Bearded Tit were at Stanpit.

July 13th

An early look at the sea from Mudeford Quay was pretty uninspiring - just a few distant Gannet - but later in the morning an Arctic Skua appeared from the Solent and harried the Sandwich Tern. Over on Wick, a Wood Sandpiper was heard calling from the mirk above the Wooden Bridge. 

Additional news: a Turnstone was on the tip of the sandspit and an evening session at the Gully saw 6 Swift head south, 15 Gannet milling and a Great Crested Grebe west, that at 8:15.

July 12th

The day’s only news is of a Common Sandpiper and a Tufted Duck in Barn Bight, 3 Curlew west over Wick and 3 Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit. After a day of south-westerly wind and drizzle, the sea was given an hour from Mudeford Quay late in the afternoon; but was totally uneventful. A new date has been added to the Indoor Meetings programme for January - Alan Hayden talking about Point Pelee and Long Point.

July 11th

The Whitepits Stonechat family are still present - juvenile above and male – Clinton Whale

Both sides of the area were covered today, but it was Stanpit that received the most attention - the best being an unseasonable flock of 9 Siskin north over Fisherman’s Bank. Hengistbury, however, also produced some interest, locally speaking that is, with the Treecreeper again in the Wood. The rest of the area saw a light passage of Swift to the west, but it was far from concerted, while settled birds included: 2 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel and 16 Mediterranean Gull, six of them juveniles. Also over, a single Shoveler in the company of Mallard, a Dunlin, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Curlew. In addition to the 4 Raven, which early on were incredibly approachable on Crouch Hill and would have made ideal photographic subjects, a single bird overflew, as did a Peregrine, and a Gadwall toured.

July 10th

It was a good morning for Mediterranean Gull, although a little difficult to assess the true numbers from multiple reports. A figure of fifty-eight, however, would seem a reasonable estimate, seven of them juveniles - those being the first of the year in the area. A couple of Greenshank were logged - one settled on Stanpit, the other west over Wick - as well as 2 Whimbrel, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin. The 4 Raven were again at Stanpit and a single Little Grebe was seen on the Ironstone Quarry.

July 9th

It’s not often Cormorant head a post, but a total of fifty-six high-flying westbound birds this morning, in three flocks, is well worth a mention. In addition, a couple of Golden Plover, both breeding plumage, 22 Common Tern and 9 Black-tailed Godwit moved west, the latter after short touchdown in the area. A flock of 5 Siskin grounded in the North Scrubs would be a notable record at any time of year, let alone July, while a Willow Warbler and a Garden Warbler were also in there. Very early on, around 20 Swift passed through north, then between 5:23 and 5:45 a ‘huge’ amount of Starling, possibly as many as 3000, lifted out of the Wick reeds. There wasn’t much change on the wader front with a Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, 31 Curlew and a Dunlin being on site, but up to 46 Mediterranean Gull were logged during the morning, when the 4 Raven sunned themselves on Crouch Hill.

July 8th

Despite a brisk westerly wind blowing all day and intermittent showers during the morning, there was some interest to be had. A Spoonbill was settled at Stanpit, where a Wood Sandpiper was heard overhead and then glimpsed descending into Central Marsh, and a Yellow Wagtail headed south over the Long Field. Other waders on site included: 2 Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, 17 Black-tailed Godwit and a Dunlin; while the recently-arrived pair of Little Grebe on Ironstone Quarry have decided to build a nest.

July 7th

Again, very little to report: other than a Treecreeper, always a novelty in the area, in the Wood on Hengistbury and a Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry; while a Whimbrel and 14 Curlew were turned in from Stanpit, and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull entered the harbour over Mudeford Quay. Meanwhile, a strengthening south-westerly wind saw an increase of Gannet in Christchurch Bay as the day wore on. As it’s not overly busy, it seems opportune to mention we are this year plagued with the dreaded green weed on the inter-tidal mud; so meaning the shorter-billed waders are unlikely to find the harbour a very attractive place. It’s OK if you’re a curlew, but not so good if you’re a stint!

Omission: there were 7 Dunlin seeking out a patch of clear mud at Stanpit.

July 6th

Whitethroat – Tony Adamcik

Another fine day produced CHOG’s second ever Bee-eater - a bird calling this morning over the North Scrubs, while the sky was frustratingly obscured from view by the birch canopy. Elsewhere, an Arctic Skua and 6 Common Tern passed west at sea off Hengistbury, where a Common Sandpiper was also logged. The Lesser Whitethroat was again by the HHC, as was a Kingfisher, and a single Raven was about the area.

July 5th

The only news of interest we can muster today is singles of Wigeon and Whimbrel at Stanpit, a couple of Common Tern inside the harbour and the 4 Raven.

July 4th

Stanpit hosted a fair bit of interest this morning, not least a Marsh Tit amongst a flock of Coal Tit around Ashtree Meadow. Although records are not annual, the middle of the year is the time they appear the most, as a result of post-breeding dispersal. Also in that area, a Garden Warbler and ‘lots’ of young Chiffchaff, while over 30 Sedge Warbler on Priory Marsh could be the start of their return passage. Close by, in Parky Meade Rail, a Garganey was briefly settled with 3 Shoveler, although the party soon left to the west. A Green Sandpiper also passed over in the same direction, but a Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel were feeding up, 7 Black-tailed Godwit travelled north and 32 Swift west. To round up: a male Bearded Tit was seen on the Wick side; the 4 Raven and a Gadwall were at Stanpit; and 6 Mediterranean Gull - 3 adults, 2 second-summers and a first-summer - were noted.

July 3rd

The morning saw a few more Crossbill pass through the area, when a flock of sixteen headed east over Solent Meads driving range. Over on Stanpit, the mid-summer wader interest continued with a Greenshank, the first Dunlin in over 3 weeks, a flock of 9 Black-tailed Godwit that briefly visited before leaving to the north-east, 29 Redshank and 19 Curlew. A couple of juvenile Bearded Tit were in the Wick reeds, a Peregrine with prey headed over Stanpit and the 4 Raven were again about the marsh. In addition to six adult Mediterranean Gull logged inside the recording area, the Avon Valley is starting to fill with birds - sixty settled yesterday at Ripley and forty-two heading towards the harbour over Coward’s Marsh tonight - so a roost may be building up in Stanpit Bight.

July 2nd

Cloud dominated for much of the day, the sun only properly breaking through late in the afternoon. Much of the news comes from Stanpit, where singles of Whimbrel and Snipe were present, as well as 4 Common Sandpiper; also four juvenile Bearded Tit, the parents assumed to be now raising a second brood, and 2 Mediterranean Gull. Elsewhere, a couple of Dartford Warbler were conspicuous on the Long Field, Hengistbury.

July 1st

The only news from the early part of the day concerns a Whimbrel and two adult Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit; while a Little Ringed Plover was calling around there in the evening. 

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