Sightings for March 2015

March 31st

The ever-strengthening north-westerly wind ruined the day both for birds and the news that appends this post. This morning, efforts from Mudeford Quay came up with just 3 Purple Sandpiper and 2 Sandwich Tern; while what must have been an exposed 30-minutes on Fisherman’s Bank this afternoon added: the Spotted Redshank, the Ruff, 119 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin and 25 Shelduck.

CHOG have also long-since recorded birds in the Lower Avon Valley, including Town Common and St. Catherine’s Hill, so the news this afternoon that these sites were ablaze was a real shock for many of the regulars. The fire has destroyed at least 640,000 square metres of heathland, which was breeding habitat for Dartford Warbler, Nightjar, Tree Pipit, Stonechat, Linnet and Meadow Pipit, as well as Smooth Snake and Sand Lizard. Reports so far received suggests ignition in three separate locations. 

March 30th

For the greater part of the day’s interest, we have to look back to winter and the waders at Stanpit. There, the Spotted Redshank is starting to colour-up nicely, while the Ruff, a Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 65 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Dunlin were also present. In the bitterly cold, south-westerly wind, other than a Little Ringed Plover arriving off the sea and a Sand Martin lingering about the Gully, there were no incoming migrants at Hengistbury. The rest of the post can muster just a Red-breasted Merganser, a Gannet and 2 Greylag Goose west, plus 45 Common Gull to the east.

March 29th

Wigeon – Clinton Whale

Another day of constant wind, which started just west of south but finished off from the north-west, meant seawatching was again the only real option. Although the water was watched from first light onwards, twenty-two of the day’s twenty-five Fulmar were crammed into an hour or so around lunchtime; while other counts for the day came to: 3 Tufted Duck, 7 Common Scoter and 12 Gannet, all west. In addition, there were again 5 Great Crested Grebe, all in breeding plumage settled just beyond the Run and at least one Sandwich Tern in the area. Waders were not given much attention, but a Little Ringed Plover was watched coming in off the sea and a Ruff was in Stanpit Bight. On Hengistbury, a Firecrest was in the locale of Holloway’s Dock and a Coal Tit was in the Nursery. Meanwhile, Little Grebe remain on-site - a bird was in Barn Bight and two in breeding attire were in Parky Meade Rail. 

March 28th

A strong south-westerly wind and the constant threat of early rain limited activity to seawatching from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay, from which the most notables at sea were: a Kittiwake, a Sandwich Tern, 5 Fulmar, 8 Common Scoter and 6 Gannet, all west; while 6 Mediterranean Gull headed into the Solent. There was also some wader interest at the quay, not least from a flock of 20+ Purple Sandpiper that headed across the Run towards the sandspit, but also singles of Redshank, Dunlin and Turnstone all seen arriving.  On Hengistbury, there were 9 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock and a Coal Tit in the Wood. 

March 27th

This Curlew, in what is presumably the species' breeding plumage,
will shortly be leaving and heading off to find a mate – Alan Crockard
A couple of Sheldrakes
...and each with their respective Shelduck on Crouch Hill, Stanpit.
Hopefully, these will stay and successfully breed in the area  – Clinton Whale

The first three or four hours of daylight were completely windless, then a westerly breeze picked up before dropping away again by the late afternoon. There was a good showing of observers at Hengistbury this morning, but the birds failed to match. For example, where are the Sand Martin? After a few blank days, one was heard above Coastguards, but far more are to be expected for the date. Presumably, there is some kind of weather system south of the UK that is holding birds up. Wheatear and Chiffchaff were equally sparse, perhaps just half-a-dozen of the former and fifteen of the latter about the area; however, there may have been as many as 3 Firecrest on the head. Meanwhile, other passerine migrants included: a Siskin, 25 Linnet, 75 Meadow Pipit and 25 Pied Wagtail. Sandwich Tern are another bird of which greater numbers might be expected - there was just one today, a bird heading south over the Barn Field; while 10-12 Mediterranean Gull were logged moving west and a Great Crested Grebe passed west at sea. The only wader reports from Stanpit concerned a Ruff again on South Marsh and around 30 Black-tailed Godwit. Over on Wick, at least two male Bearded Tit were present, with the same number of female birds, so hopefully a sign of continued breeding within the recording area, and a testament to the reedbed management work carried out by the Hengistbury Rangers and their team of volunteers.

March 26th

Burnt Heath
Burnt Heath
Yesterday, after an initial dawn inspection by the Hengistbury rangers to check for hotspots
and any signs of surviving creatures, reptile expert Chris Dresh visited the area
and made this assessment.

‘I checked the fire area this morning for any reptile rescue potential. As the fire did not penetrate to ground level, this left lots of cover within the unburned matt of vegetation for reptiles, mammals and invertebrates to seek possible cover as the fire burnt over the top. However as the area was quite large this does lead to reptiles being isolated if they are located around the central area of the burn; then, upon emergence in the daytime, they have to travel across a large open area to seek suitable refuge. Although they may have survived the fire they now have to run the gauntlet against an assortment of corvids. Upon arrival, three crows and two magpies were positioned in the remaining trees or scouring the ground for any victims. After an hour’s search of the area, I found no dead reptiles, which is good news as common lizards were definitely present and located in the surrounding area of the fire site.’

Before the wind abruptly switched to the north-west this morning, the preceding southerly made for a good half-hour of seawatching from the Beach Huts. The best were 2 Little Gull, but also 5 Kittiwake, 68 Common Gull and a Fulmar, as well as 15 Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe, all west; while 56 Brent Goose headed in the opposite direction in the early stages of their journey to Siberia. There was also some passerine interest, as a Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff and 150 Meadow Pipit were watched coming in-off the sea. On the walk down to the sandspit, 4 Redwing were encountered and a Water Rail put on a show for the Holloway’s Dock camera. 

March 25th

Pintail – Trevor Wilkinson
Chiffchaff – Trevor Wilkinson

Although quieter than yesterday, the morning on Hengistbury was not altogether that bad. Early on, a Redwing moved off the head, closely followed by male Ring Ouzel and Brambling - a real mix of spring and winter. A Blackcap also moved past the HHC, a Grey Wagtail, 6 Wheatear and just under 50 Chiffchaff were scattered, and 150 Meadow Pipit travelled inland. Also inbound was a Little Ringed Plover, while an Avocet moved to the east. Other than 3 Mediterranean Gull over Wick towards Stanpit, that’s it for birds on the move; however, for the first time this year, Bearded Tit were in the reedbed adjacent to the HHC. Moving to duck, there were 2 Shoveler and 4 Gadwall in Barn Bight, 3 Common Scoter at sea and several Pintail at Stanpit; with the only other notables for the post being a Coal Tit and a Raven in the Wood, plus 9 Turnstone on the sandspit. 

March 24th

Warren Hill (East), Hengistbury Head, ablaze this morning – Corinne Yarwood
The fire, which is not thought to have been started deliberately,
destroyed around one hectare of heathland.

Before the unfortunate drama on the head this morning, which must have taken its toll on reptiles and trashed at least one each of Stonechat and Dartford Warbler territories, there were a good few birds around Hengistbury. A flock of 3 Spoonbill flew low and east over head, the year’s first Willow Warbler was in bushes by the southernmost Beach Hut and a Water Pipit landed briefly by the Coastguards. For 45-minutes, there was a real flurry of activity on the Barn Field, as 2 Black Redstart and 23 Wheatear moved across it; in addition, singles of Black Redstart and Wheatear were in the Wood and on Wick respectively. Meanwhile, the Chiffchaff total for Hengistbury and Wick was a touch under 120 birds. Overhead, a Siskin, 350 Meadow Pipit and 32 alba Wagtail came in, with a Golden Plover seen to leave. On the other side of the area, a Ruff was in Stanpit Creek during the morning’s low tide, along with the Spotted Redshank, an eventual total of 124 Black-tailed Godwit, 38 birds seen to arrive, a Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin and 2 Snipe. To round up: 2 Red-throated Diver and 6 Common Scoter passed at sea, 6 Pintail, 2 Gadwall and 48 Shelduck were inside the harbour, a Raven was over the head and a Dartford Warbler sang close to the Barn. 

March 23rd

Oystercatcher – Alan Hayden

The day alternated between blue skies and grey cloud, presumably a function of the westerly wind. The best came at 8:30, when a Great White Egret headed west over Hengistbury and was lost to view above Wick. Earlier, a short duck-fest had seen: a Garganey, 2 Pochard and Tufted Duck, all drakes, come in-off the sea and continue northwards. Of significantly less interest, a skein of 10 geese comprised 2 Greylag Goose and 8 Canada Goose. Moving back to the real birds, a female Yellowhammer travelled the length of the head, while a couple of Merlin passed over high to the north-east. Arriving Meadow Pipit were conspicuous throughout the morning - the total being 790 birds - as well as 48 alba Wagtail and 46 Linnet; while 9 Mediterranean Gull, eight of them in one flock, moved north-east. On the deck, there were 2 Firecrest in the Wood and a Wheatear at Whitepits. At Stanpit, three pairs of Pintail were still present.

March 22nd

Starling – Mark Murfin

After a chilly and grey start, the cloud soon burnt away and it was possibly the best weather of the year so far. Once again, migrant passerines were sparse - just 2  Firecrest and 2 Blackcap on Hengistbury, 2 Siskin over and a Wheatear on Crouch Hill - but that was more than made up for by Garganey! Early on, a party of five, comprising 3 drakes and 2 ducks, briefly settled in Barn Bight before lifting off and flying upriver to descend into Parky Meade Rail. Then, later in the day, a group of four on Central Marsh contained just one drake - so it’s quite plausible the day-total may be as high as nine, but if not a minimum of six. The pick of the waders was a Ruff on Priory Marsh late morning, but also a Grey Plover and 68 Black-tailed Godwit on-site. The only other news concerns 14 Pintail on Stanpit and 5 Gannet from the Beach Huts - the latter, a species that has been notable due to its paucity of late.

March 21st

Little Egret
Little Egret – Alan Hayden

In addition to a superb pink-breasted Water Pipit on Priory Marsh, the morning at Stanpit hosted a fantastic selection of waders, including: a Jack Snipe, a Green Sandpiper, a Ruff, a Golden Plover, 3 Grey Plover, 75 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin and 8 Snipe. Meanwhile, a still and clear start to the day, which was soon blighted by a stiff northerly breeze, saw little in the way of passerines. Although some Long-tailed Tit are now well progressed in their breeding cycle, others are still on the move, as a flock of six high-flying birds over the end of Hengistbury confirmed; also 3 Siskin heading eastward out from there and birds then heard on two subsequent occasions. Otherwise, it’s 2 Sand Martin, less than fifty Meadow Pipit, 15 Linnet and a Rook in-off over a couple of hours, as well as a smattering of Chiffchaff, to remark upon. To wrap up, 4 Common Scoter headed into Poole Bay, 5 Mediterranean Gull were over Wick, 2 Tufted Duck were seen at Stanpit and a couple of Greylag Goose toured the area.

At Coward’s Marsh, yesterday’s drake Garganey had moved on and seemingly taken the hybrid duck with it. Let’s hope this apparent liaison fails to produce any  offspring, as any resultant females could just about finish some of us off! 

March 20th

Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit in song on the Long Groyne – Clinton Whale

The sun was totally eclipsed by dense grey cloud all morning, but things did clear up significantly by lunchtime. At around 10:30, a Little Bunting was seen well on Grimmery Bank, Stanpit, but the bird flew over to Wick, where it was looked for during the afternoon without success. Earlier, a Fieldfare had been on the Long Field, while a male Wheatear was on Crouch Hill, where a Linnet overflew, and several Chiffchaff, some now in song, were about Wick. Meanwhile, at the end of the head, a total of 19 Purple Sandpiper were on the Long Groyne. Other than the bunting, the only other news from Stanpit involves 2 Grey Plover,  6 Pintail and a Common Gull. The first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year was on the wing by the Sea Scout hut.

An update on the previously featured duck on nearby Coward’s Marsh, where the bird remains today along with a drake Garganey and a few Teal. After several days' debate, intensive grilling, careful photography and external, expert opinion, the bird is considered to be almost certainly a Shoveler x Blue-winged Teal hybrid, but a Shoveler x Cinnamon Teal hybrid cannot be totally ruled out of the equation, although far less likely.

March 19th

Female Stonechat hard at the task of home-building – Tony Adamcik
Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper in great light on the Long Groyne – Tony Adamcik

It was even quieter than yesterday, with the last sentence of the post confirming what the field observers were reduced to. The migrant totals on Hengistbury failed to meet double figures, i.e. 8 Chiffchaff, all in the Batters/Ironstone Quarry area. In fact, winter visitors, namely Purple Sandpiper, were the best, ten of them on the Long Groyne; while 2 Brent Goose passed east at sea and 4 Snipe were on the Wick Meadows. The bit you’ve been waiting for - it’s now been confirmed there are four cock Pheasants on the head!

Additional news: there were 2 Spotted Redshank at Stanpit, as well as a Grey Plover, 95 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Dunlin and 22 Pintail.

March 18th

Weather-wise, it was a fine day to be out in the field, but it wasn’t overly spectacular in terms of birds. The Hengistbury Ranger team scored with a Marsh Harrier over Wick Hams and a displaying pair of Raven, while 3 Wheatear and 12 Chiffchaff were also returned. Staying on the head, around 30 Meadow Pipit were decked, while four presumably more local birds were in display flight, and the rubicola-looking Stonechat was again at Whitepits. At Stanpit, a couple of Redwing were in the North Scrubs and a further 2 Wheatear and 9 Chiffchaff made the post.

Additional news: a Bullfinch and Peregrine were at Hengistbury.

Today, we received news back on the Russian-ringed Brent Goose that was last week featured on the website. The bird was ringed as an adult female on 30th July 2008 in Taymyr Russia, so presumably on its breeding ground. The exact spot is 4618km from Christchurch: copy-and-paste these co-ordinates - 74.05N 86.24E -  into Google Maps to see just how far away that is. 

March 17th

It was by far the best day of the season for visible, incoming migrants - the totals from Hengistbury being: a Little Ringed Plover, 570 Meadow Pipit, 29 alba Wagtail, three of them seen to be White Wagtail, 24 Linnet and 2 Sand Martin. Meanwhile, the pick of the settled birds was by far a male Yellowhammer, perched in a bush by the Ironstone Quarry along side 2 Wheatear and a Dartford Warbler - a sight not often encountered in the area. There was also a female Yellowhammer on the head and an aggregate of 27 Wheatear and 31 Chiffchaff from across the entire site. Before moving to Stanpit, a quick look at the sea came up with a Sandwich Tern, a Grey Plover and 3 Curlew, all eastbound. Now the marsh, where the waders peaked at a Grey Plover, 2 Snipe, 17 Dunlin and 88 Black-tailed Godwit, while 12 Pintail, 26 Shelduck and 258 Brent Goose were also about. A couple of pairs of Long-tailed Tit were also watched in the throes of nest construction.

Just outside the area, from Avon Beach, there was a locally remarkable record of 4 Black-necked Grebe drifting east on the sea. 

March 16th

Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit – Clinton Whale

On a damp and quite miserable day, there is very little to report. A total of 4 Wheatear were around, including the year’s first two females on Stanpit, where there was also a male, while the Barn Field on Hengistbury held a bird. At least 10 Chiffchaff were dotted about Stanpit, some of them in the exposed brambles on Grimmery Point. Also on Stanpit, a Jack Snipe that came up from Central Marsh and 10 Dunlin. On the head, there were 11 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock and 13 Turnstone on the spit; along with a couple of Coal Tit in the Wood and one of the regular Raven.

Thanks to the three who took the trouble to feedback, either via the website or Twitter, on the duck. The consistent response was the individual is strongly suggestive of a Shoveler x Blue-winged Teal hybrid. 

March 15th

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal
This bird, which is a short way out of the recording area, at Coward's Marsh is currently subject to some debate. After some early confusion, it is thought by some, on the basis of plumage detail and size, in comparison to Mallard, to be a Blue-winged Teal.
However, others have concerns about the size and shape of the bill.
See more photos and add comment which we sincerely welcome
All photos, but not necessarily any ID claims, by Alan Hayden

After the last couple of days, it was all a little bit quiet in the harbour this morning. The only real news comes from: a Siskin and a Greylag Goose over the Barn Field; and 4 Chiffchaff and 2 Mediterranean Gull on and over Wick respectively.

March 14th

Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzel
Male Ring Ouzel in the horse paddock on Wick – Alan Crockard

A rather unpleasant northerly wind meant there was a much smaller volume of birds than yesterday, but there were more than a couple of moments of interest. A male Ring Ouzel was in the horse paddock on Wick, but unfortunately all too briefly, and a couple of Red Kite, first seen low over the Wood on Hengistbury, drifted north over the harbour. Elsewhere, there was a quite remarkable record of a Marsh Tit in Stanpit Scrubs, a female Black Redstart was on beach huts just south of the Black House and 4 Bullfinch were on-site - a pair in the North Scrubs, a male over Holloway’s Dock and a female lingering at the end of the head. Locally speaking, it was an excellent day for the larger thrushes, in addition to the ouzel, the year’s first Mistle Thrush was seen over Wick and 2 Fieldfare moved over Hengistbury. Commoner migrants were few and far between, however, with just 3 Wheatear and 11 Chiffchaff returned from across the area, and less than a dozen Meadow Pipit heard or seen arriving; but there were 3 Firecrest, one of them a singing bird in the Nursery. Other birds probably on the move included: a Kestrel, 5 Shelduck, a Red-throated Diver, an unidentified diver and 2 Great Crested Grebe, all west at sea; plus a Buzzard low over the Barn and northbound. In addition to those travelling, there were 34 Shelduck, along with 4 Pintail and 83 Black-tailed Godwit, at Stanpit, a drake Common Scoter seemed settled offshore and Peregrine were seen on two occasions.

Additional news, all from later in the day at Stanpit. A Merlin was about the marsh, as was a Grey Plover. A female Blackcap in the North Scrubs may well have been a migrant, while 19 Chiffchaff and 3 Wheatear can be added to the previously-stated totals.

March 13th

Turnstone – Alan Crockard

The conditions gave rise to the most significant arrival so far of birds for the spring. At least 100 Chiffchaff were on-site, eighty-five on Hengistbury, ten at Stanpit and nine on Wick, as well as 13 Wheatear, ten on the head and three on the marsh, and around twenty-one newly-arrived Stonechat, mostly on the Barn Field. Also new-in, and all turned in from Hengsitbury, were: a Black Redstart amongst the Beach Huts, 5 Firecrest and 38 Goldcrest, plus 95 Meadow Pipit logged moving over. Meanwhile, birds more likely to be on their way through the country to regions further north-west included: a Yellowhammer at the end of the head, 2 Brambling and 19 Chaffinch over, a Redwing and 2 Fieldfare briefly on the Barn Field, and a female Bullfinch in the North Scrubs, Stanpit. An influx of Water Rail was also suspected, thanks to five in Holloway’s Dock, and two on Wick by the Wooden Bridge, while a bird sharmed on Priory Marsh. The afternoon at Stanpit saw an easterly movement of larger birds, namely: a young Spoonbill, a rather tatty-looking Marsh Harrier of similar age and a high-flying adult Rook; earlier, a small passage of Lesser Black-backed Gull, around 15 birds, had also been noted over the marsh. In terms of waders, 14 Purple Sandpiper were on the Long Groyne, 2 Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Plover, 30 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Dunlin were at Stanpit, and 4 Grey Plover, a Sanderling and Redshank were thought to be travelling past Hengistbury. Also at sea, eastbound, were a Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 5 Common Scoter and singles of Razorbill and Guillemot. We’re getting close to the end of this, I promise! Wildfowl were represented by: 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Gadwall, 16 Pintail and 200 Brent Goose, fifty of them young birds; at least 10 Mediterranean Gull were around, calls now becoming more frequent; and singles of Raven were seen on a few occasions. 

March 12th

There were a lot of Shelduck inside the harbour today,
including this sheldrake warming up for spring – Alan Crockard

There was very little, in fact absolutely nothing, to be seen moving overhead this morning. Surely, there must be a whole load of pipits backed up somewhere on the other side of the Channel? A couple of new Firecrest were about, however - one at the eastern end of the Wood, the other singing in Ashtree Meadows - as well as 4 Wheatear on the Barn Field and a Chiffchaff by the Nursery. The south-easterly wind saw many birds sheltering in Stanpit Creek, including around 60 Shelduck, of which forty left to the west, but forty-seven were later counted elsewhere on the marsh, so a day-total in excess of eighty birds may not be unreasonable. In addition, up to 150 Black-tailed Godwit were in the creek, while a Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Pintail and a Raven were also turned in from Stanpit.

March 11th

Teal – Alan Hayden

Despite the morning sunshine, it was bitterly cold in the south-easterly wind. The highlights came early in the day, when a Whooper Swan appeared high over the harbour at 7:15 from the west, before changing to a more northerly vector, and 2 Spoonbill were on South Marsh after having been seen from the Beach Huts. The best of the rest was a Merlin north-east, but there was nothing else incoming, although there were initially 3 Chiffchaff around the HHC. One of the regular Firecrest was on show in the Nursery, while at least 12 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Fulmar and 33 Brent Goose moved by at sea. The only wader news involves 112 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock.

March 10th

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden
Brent Goose
Brent Goose Ring
This ringed Brent Goose has been keeping itself separate from the rest of the birds all winter and, until today, had managed to elude the lenses trying to capture the ring details.
Moskva clearly indicates Russia, which is not altogether surprising, and an educated guess would be the bird was ringed on the Siberian breeding grounds of the Taymyr Peninsula.
What may be more interesting, however, should we be able to trace the individual,
is the age of the bird – Alan Hayden

It was a gloriously clear night and day, but not really fulfilled by birds. Singles of Sand Martin and Wheatear, the latter on the Barn Field, were seen, as well as 2 Linnet in-off by Coastguards; but the rest of the post is largely dominated by breeding interest. The blue skies saw 2 Peregrine and 5 Buzzard logged from Stanpit, while the song of Dartford Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Song Thrush could be heard around Hengistbury, and Water Rail showed well from the Wooden Bridge and in Brewer’s Creek. A Bar-tailed Godwit was again at Stanpit, as were 2 Dunlin, 18 Pintail, 41 Shelduck and 248 Brent, and 2 Raven were over Wick Fields. 

March 9th

Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos of today’s trans-Saharan migrants to post,
so it’s down to the finer points of ‘Continental’, i.e. sinensis race, Cormorant identification - the shape of the bare skin behind the bill. Actually, when all’s said and done,
they’re not that bad to look at in their breeding plumage 
– Alan Hayden
...and Wigeon on Stanpit – Clinton Whale

The eagerly-awaited, first Wheatear and Sand Martin both put in an appearance this morning - one each of the former by Coastguards and on the Barn Field, and singles of the latter seen at Parky Meade Rail and the Beach Huts. A Black Redstart was also by the huts and a Sandwich Tern was initially seen from Mudeford Quay before moving on to South Marsh. Other high-spots for the day, which was blighted from lunchtime onwards by constant drizzle, included: a Brambling over the HHC; a Black-throated Diver and a Red-throated Diver past at sea; and 16 Purple Sandpiper flying along the sandspit. After no small waders being censused yesterday, 2 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover were logged inside the harbour, over which 2 Mediterranean Gull headed north, while a Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Pintail and 246 Brent Goose were settled. To conclude, a Peregrine was over the head, a Coal Tit was in the Wood and the adult pair of Raven were at the quay.

March 8th

Red Kite
Red Kite
Red Kite
These 3 Red Kite were photographed yesterday afternoon about 1km north of the recording area, over Knapp Mill. It would therefore seem a reasonable assumption the three birds over Stanpit this afternoon were the same individuals – Anthony Lewis

A party of 3 Red Kite were a nice surprise over Stanpit this afternoon. The birds were watched from Crouch Hill appearing over Stanpit village, before moving off along the course of the Stour. Earlier, singles of Firecrest and Chiffchaff, at the end of Hengistbury and on Wick respectively, were likely new birds, while 3 Eider passed east off Mudeford Quay. Also from the quay, 2 Red-throated Diver east, 21 Common Scoter, thirteen of them west, and 5 Mediterranean Gull, all of them west; with a further five of the latter were inside the harbour. The maximum Purple Sandpiper count was 14 birds on the Long Groyne, although five seen heading in from Avon Beach may have been additional. Other than 12 Turnstone, however, that was it for smaller waders, but the Spotted Redshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 93 Black-tailed Godwit were present. The rest of the post covers wildfowl, which were counted courtesy of the winter’s last WeBS date and included: a Shoveler, 15 Pintail, 153 Teal, 428 Wigeon, 70 Shelduck, 276 Brent Goose, 2 Canada Goose and a Greylag Goose. Please check back to yesterday for an update.

March 7th

The well-grazed Barn Field is now holding decent numbers of Skylark – Clinton Whale

Save for singles of Kestrel and Skylark in-off the sea this morning, there was no evidence of arriving birds. Although, offshore patrolling Peregrine were seen on three occasions, so they perhaps knew better than us. One of the two Hengistbury Firecrest was in song for some time early on, while Stanpit produced a Marsh Harrier, a Water Pipit and 2 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, and 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the Long Groyne. The sea was largely quiet, but 2 Black-throated Diver cannot be sneered at; also, a total of 5 Red-throated Diver, three unidentified diver, 9 Common Scoter, a Fulmar, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a settled Great Crested Grebe. A clear influx of Black-tailed Godwit into Stanpit Bight - 81 birds, a few of them in breeding plumage - also brought in the first Bar-tailed Godwit for a few weeks. In addition, the Spotted Redshank was present, but the only other waders of note on the marsh were 2 Dunlin. The in-harbour Mediterranean Gull count peaked at twelve during the morning, when a couple of young Raven caused a stir with the nesting Grey Heron, some of which now have young. Meanwhile, a pair of Greylag Goose and 16 Pintail were on-site. 

Omission: a Chiffchaff, almost certainly a migrant, was on the Batters.

March 6th

Water Rail
Water Rail – Clinton Whale
One of the Hengistbury crows that is somewhere between hooded and carrion
– Tony Adamcik

Although no pipits and wagtails were logged visibly arriving, a White Wagtail and a flock of 65 Meadow Pipit on Priory Marsh were clear indicators that birds had checked-in at some point. Meanwhile, the winter pipits - a Water Pipit and 4 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit - were also at Stanpit, and a Grey Wagtail was on the strand in front of the Beach Huts. Moving to Hengistbury and early on, a party of three diving duck that circuited the area before leaving east comprised 2 Tufted Duck and a Scaup. Meanwhile, the sea produced all three divers - a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 7 Red-throated Diver - as well as a Red-breasted Merganser, 16 Common Scoter, 2 Fulmar, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a Great Crested Grebe. Later in the day, a further 2 Mediterranean Gull were inside the harbour, while the morning saw an impressive total of 55 Shelduck, along with 11 Pintail and 265 Brent Goose. A flock of 18 Purple Sandpiper was again on the Long Groyne, 10 Turnstone were on the spit and the Black-tailed Godwit peaked at fifty-five. Finally, the Raven pair was again on-site.

March 5th

Blue Tit
Two Blue Tit in the morning frost – Alan Crockard
Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
...and Purple Sandpiper in action on the Long Groyne – Tony Adamcik

The winter seems reluctant to give itself up, as a light frost covered the area this morning. Although there were still no longer-distance migrants, singles of Woodlark and Yellowhammer north over Stanpit suggested some things are moving back towards their breeding areas. The clear skies also hosted plenty of displaying Sparrowhawk around the northern fringes - seven being the maximum counted on one scan. Dartford Warbler were also active - at least five, but perhaps seven, on Hengistbury - as well as 3 pairs of Stonechat and a Jackdaw there, plus the frequent song of Cetti’s Warbler and Reed Bunting. On the converse in terms of season, plenty of Purple Sandpiper remain, with eighteen on the Long Groyne this morning, while 15 Pintail were inside the harbour, as were 2 Mediterranean Gull. Remaining interest for the post is provided by a day-total of 5 Raven, 9 Black-tailed Godwit and the Tufted Duck.

March 4th

Tufted Duck
The tame drake Tufted Duck doing his best to impress a Mallard
on a pond in the Nursery – Hugh Goldsmith

Although the weather forecast held true, yesterday’s bold predictions about the imminent arrival of early migrants didn’t. In fact, not a single bird was seen to pass over an early stint at the Coastguards. The sea did provide some interest, however, in particular a Red-necked Grebe on the water just off the Beach Huts. Also, a Black-throated Diver and 7 Red-throated Diver, those mostly west, and 23 Mediterranean Gull, including a flock of fifteen birds, and 40 Common Gull, those all west. To round up, a Firecrest was seen in the Nursery. 

March 3rd

Unfortunately, no reports have been received for the day. However, the weather for the remainder of the week is looking good for incoming migrants.

March 2nd

A bitter, west wind made it very uncomfortable this morning, but a Firecrest by Holloway’s Dock, that in addition to the two in the Nursery, was a good candidate to be a moving bird. Otherwise, it’s only the sea to remark upon, where 4 Gannet were the first to be logged for quite some time; also, a Red-throated Diver, 3 Common Scoter and 5 Great Crested Grebe.

March 1st

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale
Brent Goose
The front row of birds illustrates what a good proportion of young Brent Goose,
recognised by the three diagonal white lines towards the rear of the bird,
there has been this winter – Clinton Whale

The best today was probably one of the two wintering Firecrest - again in the Nursery. Early on, a couple of Mediterranean Gull, an adult and a first-winter, were on the lawn at Mudeford Quay, while a Fulmar and Common Scoter were at sea off the Beach Huts. This afternoon, 20 Black-tailed Godwit and 13 Shelduck were in Stanpit Creek, with the post’s only other news involving the familiar 2 Raven.

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