Sightings for May 2015

May 31st

Reed Bunting
Male Reed Bunting in the rain – Clinton Whale

The forecast held true - rain and a strong south to southwesterly blow - and for once the sea delivered. A Sooty Shearwater was watched for around a minute by 4 observers at the Beach Huts, as well as being glanced from Mudeford Quay, as it headed out of the Solent and passed the sandspit at a range of no more than 100 meters, showing every detail as it did so. Unfortunately, none of those present were photographers, else more-than-acceptable shots would have resulted. The rarity of Sooty Shearwater in north-east Atlantic waters in spring is appreciated - after breeding during the southern summer on the Falkland Islands or the tip or mainland South America, birds should now be heading north along the western side of the ocean before crossing eastward around August time to start their southerly return. More expected for the combination of date and conditions, however, was a Storm Petrel - there were 6 sightings from the huts over a 90-minute period of what was presumed to be the same bird, but there may have been a second. For anyone chasing the species, it’s worth focussing on the flags and buoys which mark the positions of the lobster pots, as birds gravitate to those where it is reckoned that small pieces of bait are drifting to the surface. In addition to all that excitement, the day’s list included: 2 Manx Shearwater, 12 Kittiwake, around half of them first-summer birds, a Little Tern, 26 Fulmar, a Razorbill, c.30 Guillemot and a constant presence of Gannet, that containing singles of first- and third-summer birds. A flock of 16 Swift was seen to arrive over the water, while at least 20 Sanderling and 6 Dunlin were knocking about the sandspit.

May 30th

Skylark – Clinton Whale

Tawny Owl are something of an enigma on Hengistbury - often seeming to be absent until this time of the year, when birds are suddenly detected; not least, last year’s breeding success - so one heard in the Wood just before 7:00 this morning was a pleasant surprise. Also a Mistle Thrush in the same area. A nice selection of waders at Stanpit early on included the year’s first Curlew Sandpiper, that in a mobile flock of 9 Sanderling and 2 Dunlin, as well a Grey Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Curlew and 3 Lapwing. By the afternoon, however, these had all departed, but there were 3 Ringed Plover present. If the forecast holds true, hopes are high for the sea tomorrow, but today it came up with just a Great Northern Diver east past Mudeford Quay. Finally, the Wigeon that arrived earlier in the week was again at Stanpit, as were 16 Canada Goose.

May 29th

Sanderling – Clinton Whale
Dunlin & Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover
Dunlin with Ringed Plover of who knows what race, but with male Wheatear also on-site today we must surely be seeing birds that are intending to travel to the high north?
– Clinton Whale
Another set of birds that is still courting interest is the Whitepits 'white-rumped' Stonechat family - this is one of the recently fledged offspring. The intention is to try and build up a photo library of these birds as they develop into their first-winter plumage, assuming they hang around that long – Clinton Whale

The day saw a real mixed bag of weather - a dry start, but then a period of very heavy rain in the early afternoon - brought on by an ever-increasing south-westerly wind. Late migrant waders, the Sanderling and Turnstone certainly timing their run to coincide with the start of the Arctic summer, but possibly also the Ringed Plover and Dunlin assuming they are birds of the northernmost races - two, three, three and seventeen of each respectively on the sandspit this morning. There was also a single Dunlin inside the harbour on Blackberry Point. Male Wheatear were seen on opposite sides of the river - Wick water meadow and Grimmery Bank - so the records could involve the same bird; however, a male on such a late date is a fair bet to be a Greenland or even Canadian breeding individual. Returning from the world of conjecture, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher were in the Wood and Cuckoo again commuted across the river at Stanpit. Meanwhile, the choppy sea managed just ten aimless Gannet and a Great Crested Grebe to the west. Finally, for those of you who have been birding the area for a more than a while, you may recall this bird found and photographed in 1988 by Martin Reid, who has just sent us the image for addition to the photo archive.

May 28th

The day's only news is of a Spotted Flycatcher in Ashtree Meadow and a Dunlin heard at Stanpit.

May 27th

Canada Goose
Canada Goose – Alan Crockard

After a barren couple of days wader-wise, the morning at Stanpit turned up 2 Grey Plover, 9 Sanderling and 3 Whimbrel; but by the afternoon these had moved on. Meanwhile, a total of 3 Mistle Thrush, two in the North Scrubs and one over the Long Field, were suggestive of some out-of-area post-breeding dispersal. Also perhaps unexpected was a total of 5 Tufted Duck turned in from Stanpit and a Hobby north over Wick; while of 11 Mediterranean Gull logged, three headed east, the remainder being unspecified in terms of behaviour. For the records, a Cuckoo crossed from Priory Marsh to Wick, a family of Long-tailed Tit with 10 juveniles was seen, 25 Oystercatcher were about the area and 58 Carrion Crow were counted on the exposed mud during the afternoon low water. 

May 26th

Although there are only four birds to report, each has a degree of local quality. A female-type Marsh Harrier passed east over Wick during the morning, as did a Mediterranean Gull; a Willow Warbler, a species that doesn’t breed in the area, so a clear late-arriving migrant, was in song by the HHC; and an Arctic Tern rested on a buoy in the eastern corner of the harbour this afternoon.

Additional news: two adult Mediterranean Gull passed east over Hengistbury.

May 25th

Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler at this morning's members' event – Sandra Taylor
...which also gave close up views of Stonechat features – Alan Crockard
Whitethroat well as several Whitethroat – Paul Craven

The Members’ Day was well attended and thanks to all visitors, ringers, guides and not least the organisation of Malcolm Barrett for making it such an enjoyable few hours. Of the birds ringed, perhaps only one, a Reed Warbler already carrying a BTO ring, was on its travels; but that’s not altogether a surprise on this late date. Sticking with passerines: prior to today the breeding population of Whitethroat on Wick had been mooted as being as low as four pairs; however, the walk this morning came up with significantly more than that, so suggesting a recent surge of birds. Waders were on the move, the best being a couple of Avocet north-west over Stanpit early on, while 5 Sanderling and a Dunlin were about the marsh later in the day and 2 Ringed Plover plus 22 Dunlin were on the sandspit. To wrap up, 4 Bearded Tit were in one of the favoured areas. 

May 24th

Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover on the sandspit today – Clinton Whale
From a position of relative ignorance, but bearing in mind the date and that these birds are travelling with Sanderling and presumed high-latitude breeding Dunlin, then tundrae race birds - 'Tundra Ringed Plover' - are surely a possibility. Comments or feedback on this would be very welcome. Unfortunately hiaticula Ringed Plover stopped breeding on-site many years ago, so direct comparisons between residents and migrants are not possible.
...and an accompanying Dunlin – Clinton Whale

The only reports for the day are from Hengistbury, where: a Spotted Flycatcher was on the western Batter, a Lesser Whitethroat, presumably a breeder, sang by the HHC, 4 Ringed Plover and 32 Dunlin were on the sandspit, and 5 Mediterranean Gull passed over to the west. Please see below for details of a members’ trip to Brownsea Island being planned for this winter, as well as the Outdoor Meetings page for a couple more now-arranged events.

May 23rd

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler – Alan Crockard
Grey Heron
Grey Heron
Grey Heron - an adult (top) and two juveniles in hot dispute over fishing rights
– Clinton Whale (adult) and Alan Crockard

The dismal end to an unspectacular spring is now testing the enthusiasm of even the most dedicated. This morning, Hengistbury mustered a single Spotted Flycatcher and a Cuckoo, while a tatty, non-adult Buzzard passed low over the area eventually to the north and at least 13 Mediterranean Gull drifted through, mainly eastbound. The latter evenly split between full adults and first-summers - the older birds perhaps displaced from Solent breeding colonies by the spring tides of earlier this week? Meanwhile, the Bearded Tit brood on Stanpit was confirmed as containing four birds.

May 22nd

The only news from a very quiet Hengistbury is of two adult Mediterranean Gull east and 6 Swift.

May 21st

It was a relatively calm, clear day with a quiet seawatch enlivened by a very close, breeding-plumaged Black-throated Diver passing by Hengistbury, as did 2 Great Northern Diver. A Turtle Dove, over 200 Swallow and 25 House Martin were also logged from the head. Meanwhile, 4 Sanderling, 5 Turnstone and 23 Dunlin were between there and Mudeford Quay. Inside the harbour, singles of Whimbrel and Curlew were present and 13 Black-tailed Godwit headed north. A pair of Shoveler were something of a surprise among the wildfowl, which also contained two lingering pairs of Gadwall, 54 Shelduck and 10 Canada Goose. A singing Firecrest remains on-site, a Lesser Whitethroat was also vocal by the HHC, three new-in Sedge Warbler were noted, 2 Mediterranean Gull were at Stanpit and a Raven was chased across the harbour by crows.

May 20th

Bearded Tit
Juvenile Bearded Tit – Alan Crockard
Sedge Warbler
...while recently-arrived Sedge Warbler are nowhere near as advanced in their breeding cycle, this adult bird is still in display mode – Alan Crockard

The pick of the day was an Osprey high and north over Stanpit at around 8:00 this morning, but a singing Garden Warbler in Ashtree Meadow later in the day is also well worth a mention. Meanwhile, a reasonable selection of waders on the marsh comprised: a Knot, a Whimbrel, 5 Sanderling, 5 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin.

May 19th

With the sea being far calmer, there is a lot less to report today. Another Great Northern Diver passed to the west and a Fulmar moved east, while 7 Guillemot and around 15 Gannet were a little more aimless in their directions.

May 18th

Early drizzle turned to lashing rain, whipped up by the strong southerly wind. The sea was watched from around 6:30 to 11:00, with the earlier hours producing the most birds but the last hour did return two sightings of single Storm Petrel from the Beach Huts. Before that, however, a total of 4 Manx Shearwater, 2 Arctic Skua and a Great Northern Diver had moved past west. Other seabirds seen throughout the shifts, from either the huts or Mudeford Quay, came to: 18 Kittiwake, 25 Common Tern, 28 Fulmar, 58 Gannet, 27 Guillemot, 4 Razorbill, all west; along with a Shelduck. Small numbers of the latter have been trickling down-channel for the last couple weeks. Meanwhile, 53 Swift and 35 Swallow were watched coming in over the water. Waders were quite well represented, almost entirely from the quay, where 67 Sanderling, a Whimbrel, 7 Ringed Plover, 12 Turnstone and 30 Dunlin were logged. To round off a pretty reasonable day, two each of Spotted Flycatcher and Willow Warbler were in the Wood.

May 17th

Sand Martin
Sand Martin – Alan Crockard
...and some of the sixty or so Dunlin on the sandspit this morning – Clinton Whale

One is starting to get the feeling that the spring migration period is almost over. There were no obvious travelling passerines reported today and the wader passage there has been seems well into its tail-end. In addition to a Sanderling and around 60 Dunlin on the sandspit, the peaks from inside the harbour came to: 2 Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Curlew; while a couple of Redshank about Wick Hams are actually hoped to be up to something that hasn’t happened in the area for years. A single Mediterranean Gull was at Stanpit, at least three, but possibly five, Gadwall were around and 8 Greylag Goose circled Wick during the morning. To wrap up: a breeding update concerns a pair of Swallow that now seem relaxed in their purpose-built home on the Barn; and a further outdoor meeting has now been added to the schedule - Nightjar and Woodcock - please see below for details.

May 16th

Other than 2 Wheatear on Hengistbury, a Fulmar offshore and a party of Whimbrel heading over Wick, there is nothing more of note for the day. The last couple of days have seen the 2014 Annual Report drop through members' letterboxes, so it seems an appropriate moment to recognise Leo Pyke for another excellent production after another year of selfless time put into it.

May 15th

We've been sitting on these photos of the 'white-rumped' Stonechat that has raised a family at Whitepits; but after being away for a few days and seeing an image of a similarly-plumaged bird recently on the Portland Bird Observatory website, we've been inspired to now post them. Looking at what can be found elsewhere on the internet, then in addition to the rump, the white belly and underwing colouration of this bird may be of interest
– Chris Chapleo

A commendable amount of patience at Mudeford Quay this morning was rewarded with an Arctic Skua heading west. That this is only the third record of the species for the spring is something of a shocker! Also from the quay, around 30 Gannet and a Great Crested Grebe on the water. A female Pied Flycatcher and 5 Spotted Flycatcher hinted at something of an arrival, but no reports were received from the other parts of the area. There were no small waders at all inside the harbour, but 2 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Black-tailed Godwit were around. Of mammal interest, the earlier described seawatch came up with 9 Bottle-nosed Dolphin. 

Additional news: a second-summer Mediterranean Gull and 3 Gadwall were at Stanpit in the afternoon, while an evening excursion to Hengistbury produced two churring Nightjar. Also a singing Firecrest in the area again today.

May 14th

Other than a Fulmar off Mudeford Quay, there have been no reports received for the day. Therefore, it's a good opportunity to mention some snippets of breeding interest. The area is currently holding two singing male Firecrest, while Starling have fledged en masse around Southbourne and Christchurch - up to 70 families now flocking on Hengistbury and Wick.

May 13th

A Pied Flycatcher In North Scrubs was probably the pick of today's migrants; also a Spotted Flycatcher there. On Hengistbury and Wick, there were 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field, 2 Lesser Whitethroat on the Long Field and a minimum of five newly-arrived Reed Warbler, these singing from unusual places; for instance, below The Batters, Wick Ditch and close to the Solent Meads clubhouse. A Goosander flew down the river, circled the harbour and returned north accompanied by a male Garganey! On Stanpit, there was an improvement in both wader numbers and variety with 117 Dunlin, 39 Black-tailed Godwit, also 22 of these in Barn Bight, 23 Ringed Plover, 11 Whimbrel, 11 Sanderling, 4 Grey Plover and a breeding-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit. To round up, a Marsh Harrier was seen from Hengistbury and the 2 Great Crested Grebe were still in the harbour.

Of interest, just north of the harbour in the Avon Valley, 6 Red Kite were logged from Coward's Marsh this morning.

May 12th

There was a slight improvement today with a Turtle Dove in Wick Ditch, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a Cuckoo in the Wood, plus the female Yellow Wagtailstill in the horse paddock field on Wick. Counts from Stanpit were 36 Shelduck, 14 Black-tailed Godwit and 6 Gadwall; also 7 Whimbrel about the harbour. The regular male Tufted Duck flew towards the Beach Huts and the 2 Greylag Geese remain. The sea yielded just a first-summer Mediterranean Gull west.

May 11th

Shelduck - Clinton Whale
Linnet on Hengistbury recently - Chris Chapleo

There is very little to report today as migration has tailed-off somewhat with just a single Spotted Flycatcher in Wick Ditch and a couple of Wheatear on the Barn Field. The only other thing to comment on is that the Collared Dove population on Wick is still thriving with twent-five counted this morning.

May 10th

Most of the Turnstone currently passing through the area are attaining breeding plumage
- white in the head and chestnut tones to the upperparts – Clinton Whale

The day started to a very light wind, which made insects a real problem on Hengistbury, but it soon gathered a little strength and made things far more comfortable. There is not too much to report, although 4 Spotted Flycatcher were on-site - three in the Wood and one on Wick - as well as a late-arriving male Redstart on Wick, a female Yellow Wagtail in the horse paddock on Wick and a few Willow Warbler. Until mid-morning at least, flocks of Swallow, fifteen to twenty strong, were pulsing north-west every few minutes. The family of Stonechat at Whitepits, of which the male has many strong characteristics of the continental race rubicola, has fledged at least one young. If any photographers have a spare moment, both birds of the pair are actually of note and shots would be appreciated - the territory is in the same spot as last autumn’s Lapland bunting. Also of breeding interest, presumably, a (the?) male Bullfinch was again on Wick. Other than 2 Whimbrel in Holloway’s Dock and ‘several’ Turnstone on the sandspit, there were no wader reports for the early part of the day; but, this evening, a flock of 27 Whimbrel came in high from the south and continued north-east overland. To conclude, a brief butterfly update: Holly Blue are now out in good numbers, as well as a few Orange Tip. 

May 9th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper – Clinton Whale

In conditions pretty much as forecast, i.e. a south-westerly breeze, the sea was watched for around six hours from 6:00 onwards, with the better period occurring between 7:00 and 9:00. A total of 3 Great Skua were loitering around Christchurch and Poole Bays, seemingly not wanting to move in the less-than-perfect visibility. Meanwhile, exactly the same could be said of 3 Great Northern Diver, all in breeding plumage;  but they may have been attracted by whatever was pulling in an uncharacteristic, for the date and conditions, number of Guillemot and Razorbill. In addition, 2 Manx Shearwater, 6 Little Tern, 17 Common Tern, 29 Common Scoter, 15 Fulmar, a Common Gull, 2 Great Crested Grebe, a trickle of Swallow and a Willow Warbler, that eventually alighting onto a stone groyne in a state of semi-exhaustion, were logged over the water from the Beach Huts. Waders on the sandspit included: 2 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Sanderling and 15 Turnstone; while those inside the harbour peaked at: 9 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Dunlin and an unseasonable Curlew. There was a good count of 17 Little Tern from Stanpit, where a single Common Tern rested and a late Teal was present. A Cuckoo was again in the Wood, as was a Spotted Flycatcher, and a Raven was seen from Stanpit.

May 8th

The wind tracked from north-east to south throughout the day, but looks to settle from the south-west by tomorrow. Wildfowl probably top the interest charts for this post, with a pair of pale-bellied Brent Goose initially on the tip of the sandspit but then relocating to Blackberry Point; as well as 2 Goosander which flew out to sea before returning; an Eider passing offshore; and at least 2 Shoveler which were seen from a number of locations. Meanwhile, a third calendar-year, male Marsh Harrier that circled over Wick before leaving to the west was also a good record for the date. Another notable feature was an arrival of Swallow, a total of 820 counted over Hengistbury, along with 26 House Martin and 28 Swift. Returning to the sea and the list from there, which comprised: a diver sp., a Little Tern, 125 Common Tern, 5 Guillemot, 62 Common Scoter, 4 Shelduck and 28 Whimbrel; all seen from the Gully. Other moving waders included: 2 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, 8 Sanderling, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Turnstone, 7 Ringed Plover and 200 Dunlin; while a further 20 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and c30 Black-tailed Godwit were more settled. The only definite travelling passerines were eight flyover Yellow Wagtail, including a flock of 5 birds, a Cuckoo in the Wood and a couple of Wheatear; but a minimum of 10 Mediterranean Gull also moved through. Of miscellaneous interest: the first Stonechat broods have fledged; the Great Crested Grebe that has been favouring the Run decided to check out the inside of the harbour; 12 Jackdaw were on Wick; a Coal Tit was again in the Nursery and 2 Raven passed over it. Finally, for the mammal records, a Stoat was seen near to the HHC.

May 7th

Northbound Dunlin resting on the sandspit – Clinton Whale
Oystercatcher – Clinton Whale

As the wind from the previous couple of days diminished, there was a handful of common migrants about the area, including: a Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Willow Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler and 9 Whimbrel; as well as a Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 320 Swallow and 30 House Martin over this morning. Meanwhile, the Cuckoo was again in song on Wick, where there were nine settled Jackdaw. Seawatching was relatively poor, with just a Great Northern Diver, 15 Common Tern and 7 Guillemot turned in; but the sandspit hosted some travelling waders, namely: a Common Sandpiper, 4 Sanderling, 9 Whimbrel, 5 Turnstone, a Ringed Plover and 28 Dunlin, as well as the lingering Purple Sandpiper on the Long Groyne. Finally, mention must be made of two photographers, neither of them contributors to this website, who were seen scaling the cliff in order to get their lenses way too close to the active Sand Martin burrows. 

May 6th

Some pre-dawn, extremely heavy rain seemed to quash the wind for a while, but after a couple of hours of daylight it was back with us. Skuas eventually passed Hengistbury - a couple of Great Skua late in the morning - with other totals of watches from there and the quay coming to: 44 Manx Shearwater, a Great Northern Diver, 3 Kittiwake, 14 Common Scoter, 17 Little Tern, 19 Common Tern, 13 Fulmar, 56 Gannet, 4 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and 12 unidentified auks; mostly west into the wind. Up to 20 Whimbrel were about the area, a Wheatear and a Common Sandpiper were on the end of the sandspit, while Swift and Swallow again trickled in all day.

May 5th

The day started to rain and a moderate southerly wind, but this soon turned to a gusting south-westerly that is still full of power tonight. Surprisingly, there were a few passerine migrants on-site; not least a Western Bonelli’s Warbler that was heard singing and calling, and seen from the underside, in the Wood on Hengistbury for a few minutes around 8:30. Then, around lunchtime, a warbler was heard trilling in the same area and later in the afternoon a Wood Warbler was seen well in song. At this point, it must be stressed that the observer of the Bonelli’s was very careful to eliminate the latter from his identification. Also around Hengistbury, singles of Firecrest, Grasshopper Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat. Of course, the sea received plenty of attention, but once again failed to deliver a single skua. That said, there was an excellent total of Manx Shearwater - 95 birds, all west, and all but three from Hengistbury - as well as 63 Common Scoter, twenty-five of them east, 88 Gannet, 10 Fulmar, 9 Guillemot and a Razorbill; while 5 Little Tern and 10 Common Tern briefly lingered off Mudeford Quay. In terms of waders, it’s difficult to know just how many were about, but an excellent count of 76 Whimbrel from the quay was turned in, along with 5 Sanderling, 4 Turnstone and 36 Dunlin from that spot; plus 14 Whimbrel, 2 Sanderling and 58 Dunlin west past the head. Swift and Swallow could be seen arriving all day, a pair of Shoveler travelled east at sea, and the incumbent Cuckoo and Lesser Whitethroat again sang on Wick. 

May 4th

Some of the Sanderling that were on the sandspit early in the day – Clinton Whale
...and one of the Swallow pair
that is nesting around the Wick horse paddock – Clinton Whale

Just a few days ago, this page made a seemingly sagely reference to the ‘dwindling’ Mediterranean Gull passage. However, this morning at least 174 birds passed east over the harbour - these were counted at Stanpit, but ninety-three were logged over Mudeford Quay meaning the overall total might be a little higher. It’s also worth mentioning that none were seen during a 2.5-hour seawatch from the Gully or offshore from the quay. In general, seabirds were on the low side, but singles of Arctic Tern were in the Run and at Stanpit, with those sites also hosting two and four respectively of Little Tern. Otherwise, the combined totals from the quay and the Gully came to: a Red-throated Diver, 9 Common Tern, a Fulmar and 16 auks west, 37 Common Scoter, twenty-three west and fourteen east, 8 Whimbrel east and the regular Great Crested Grebe. Wader numbers peaked early in the day before tailing-off in the afternoon. The Long Groyne held a Purple Sandpiper and 3 Common Sandpiper, while a further of the latter was on the end of the sandspit along with 15 Sanderling and 30 Dunlin. Meanwhile, inside the harbour, the best counts were: a Grey Plover, 30 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 55 Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Dunlin and a Curlew. This afternoon, a Ringed Plover, a species that has been very sparse during the spring, flew out of the Run. Passerines were thin, but several Willow Warbler were on-site, as were 10 Wheatear, a Whinchat, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Yellow Wagtail, one of those settled on North Marsh, and a Sedge Warbler on the top of the head. In addition to the 2 Brent Goose at Stanpit, there were also a Pintail, 2 Shoveler and 6 Gadwall. Finally, there was a locally-significant record of a Red-legged Partridge on the Wick water meadows, a light arrival of Swallow and Swift went on throughout the day, and a colour-ringed Herring Gull that had been fitted-out as a chick during 2013 in Bath was noted at Mudeford Quay.

Tides May 5th: H01:50 | L05:45 | H10:45 | H14:10 | L18:00 | H23:10

May 3rd

All the news for the day comes from Mudeford Quay, which was watched for all of the morning and some of the afternoon in the south-westerly wind, and saw all of the birds moving in a westerly direction. The period from 6:00 to 10:00 produced: an Arctic Skua, 2 Great Northern Diver, both in breeding plumage, 61 Common Tern, 6 Kittiwake, 4 Fulmar, 24 Gannet, 3 Common Scoter, a Common Gull, 25 Whimbrel, 2 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin and a Shelduck; while a the maximum count of ever-present Sandwich Tern came to twenty-three. Then, the subsequent couple of hours came up with: a Black Tern and 4 Arctic Tern heading high over the Run, 63 Common Tern, 2 Fulmar, 93 Gannet, 11 Common Scoter, 3 Common Gull, 125 Whimbrel, 36 Sanderling, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, 8 Shelduck and a Brent Goose. Finally, an hour from 1:30 onwards could add just: 3 Swift, 6 Swallow and 2 Dunlin. The Great Crested Grebe in breeding attire that seems to have been around for ever was again bobbing about just off the Run and a single Brent Goose was seen from Fisherman’s Bank.

May 2nd

Judging by the texts, tweets and emails coming out of popular seawatching spots across Dorset and Hampshire throughout the day, there is a shared sense of bewilderment about how poor it was. In fact, the most notable seabird came late on when a Roseate Tern headed east, close inshore, off the Natterjack Pond. Earlier, however, a 3.5-hour watch from 6:30 managed just: 4 Manx Shearwater, two east and two west, 27 Common Tern, 112 Gannet, 20 Common Scoter, seventeen of them east, 8 Fulmar, 5 Shelduck and fourteen incoming Swift. Not a great return of species and numbers given the conditions. In addition, 78 auks were seen moving west, but these were presumably Isle of Wight or Purbeck breeders on feeding forays, and only noted because of a change of watch location, i.e. the Gully. Surprisingly in the south-easterly blow, up to 7 Wheatear were about Hengistbury and a new Lesser Whitethroat was in song on Wick; as was the Cuckoo. Wader reports were sparse, but did include: the 2 Purple Sandpiper again on the Long Groyne, around 10 Whimbrel on-site, a Snipe on Wick and a Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit; where 2 Brent Goose remain. The spring Mediterranean Gull passage looks to be in its final throes, with just 2 birds over Wick Fields this morning. 

Additional news: there were 2 Greenshank in Holloway’s Dock during the morning.

May 1st

Chaffinch with plenty of food for its young – Colin Raymond
Ringed Plover & Dunlin
Ringed Plover and Dunlin – Clinton Whale

Although it wasn’t from the optimal south-easterly direction, a north-easterly wind in spring is certainly worth shuffling appointments for. However, this morning proved to be a bitter, in more than one sense, disappointment. A chilly three hours at the end of Hengistbury produced 21 Whimbrel, 2 Common Tern,103 Gannet, 7 Fulmar, 6 Guillemot and 6 Shelduck. Of that list, only the first two species could be certainly classified as up-channel migrants. Meanwhile, a couple of Purple Sandpiper remain on the Long Groyne, and 2 Ringed Plover and up to 10 Dunlin were lingering on the sandspit. A Cuckoo now seems to be resident on Wick, ditto the Bullfinch, and singles of Hobby and Swift passed overhead. Looking at tomorrow’s forecast, dawn breaks to the seawatchers' holy grail-like combination of a south-easterly wind and a date in early May... 

Omission: a pair of Eider flew west then east close to the sandspit.

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