Sightings for August 2016

August 31st

Canada Goose
Although they are not to everyone’s liking, it was still distressing to see a Canada Goose ensnared in a discarded crab-line on the mud in Stanpit Bight last night with a fast-rising tide. Fortunately, Robin Harley of Christchurch Council Countryside Services and Richard Cordery, a CHOG member and vet, were on hand to traverse the marsh and perform a just-in-time extraction. The bird is now at an animal rescue centre, where it is hoped it will make a full recovery – Richard Cordery
Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit – Clinton Whale

The dawn broke to clear, blue skies but within 90 minutes grey cloud had swept in from the north and remained for pretty much all of the day. Early on, at least 57 Yellow Wagtail, including a flock of 25, headed over the northern part of Stanpit – nearly all of them to the west – as well as 2 Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit; while Swallow and martins were feeding very high up, but seemed to have little directional purpose. A Lesser Whitethroat moved along the golf course embankment and Bearded Tit were vocal in the reeds along the southern edge of Parky Meade Rail, although their sound was frequently masked by the squadrons of Canada Goose leaving the harbour towards the Avon Valley after their traditional late-summer roost in the harbour. It was largely quiet on the other side of the area; for example, just a single Wheatear turned in from Hengistbury, where 25 Whitethroat were also reckoned, plus a Tree Pipit. Waders at Stanpit throughout the day included: 3 Knot, a Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 5 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 55 Dunlin. The marsh actually held more Wheatear than elsewhere – at least 8 birds around Crouch Hill – and there were up to 20 Yellow Wagtail looking to roost there this evening. Other news involves: a Peregrine passing north over Wick, a Great Crested Grebe in Barn Bight, a couple of touring Wigeon, 5 Teal and a Kingfisher around Parky Meade Rail. 

August 30th

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler – Jimmy Main
Herring Gull
Herring Gull – Steve Hogan

It was a hot one right from the outset, but fairly modest when it came to numbers of birds. The high-spot came around 9:30 this morning, when a Wryneck was found in the bracken bordering Roebury Lane, around 50m in from the eastern end. Beforehand, the best had been singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher on the Long Field, while at least 60 Yellow Wagtail passed over. The bulk of those moving above the Whitepits area, which in recent days has seen the lion’s share of the early, post-roost birds. Also over, 4 Grey Wagtail, 13 Tree Pipit and around 250 Swallow – the latter in the hour between 8:00 and 9:00. Meanwhile, a further seven and 200 of Yellow Wagtail and Swallow respectively lingered around Wick water meadows. Finishing up the figures, 5 Wheatear, 35 Willow Warbler, 18 Whitethroat and 10 Sedge Warbler were logged. The wader walk to Stanpit Bight saw a Knot, a Sanderling, a Bar-tailed Godwit and around 10 Black-tailed Godwit, while a Greenshank was in Stanpit Creek. The biggest surprise, however, was a Pochard in Mother Siller’s Channel, along with 3 Teal, a pair of Shoveler was in the bight and up to 8 Wheatear, including an adult male, were about Crouch Hill. Finally, it was distressing to see a Canada Goose floundering on the mud in the rising tide, seemingly ensnared in fishing line. Thanks to Robin Harley and Richard Cordery, who got to it just before the water did. We await news of the health of the bird.Tides

August 31st: L04:05 | H09:00 | H12:10 | L16:20 | H21:15

August 29th

Curlew Sandpiper
A record shot of Curlew Sandpiper – Leo Pyke
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden

There was far less wind today, a very slight breeze from the north-west; while the early cloud soon gave way to a warm sun. Of the settled birds, the best was a Grasshopper Warbler on the Long Field, but also a Whinchat, 24 Wheatear, 58 Willow Warbler, 20 Whitethroat and 12 Sedge Warbler across the western Hengistbury fields and Wick. Meanwhile, 47 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail, 13 Tree Pipit and 70 House Martin passed over – mostly east, although the martins headed into the wind. The other news from Hengistbury involves: a Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Sanderling and 9 Ringed Plover; 3 Wigeon and 6 Teal; and at least one Kingfisher. At Stanpit, a Curlew Sandpiper was present this afternoon in Stanpit Creek and 2 Avocet spent the morning there, with other day-highs coming from: 5 Knot, a Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, a Turnstone, 5 Snipe, 15 Ringed Plover and 73 Dunlin. Also on the marsh, a Goosander, 8 Shoveler and 4 Teal, as well as 2 Whinchat and 8 Wheatear on Crouch Hill.

August 28th

Whimbrel – Alan Hayden

The day’s proceedings were subject to a strong south-westerly breeze and frequent drizzle. Early on, the sea was watched from Mudeford Quay, where the best was a Little Stint seen entering the harbour over the Run, but otherwise it was fairly routine. The totals coming to: 4 Common Scoter, a Fulmar, 26 Common Tern, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, a Common Sandpiper and an arriving Whimbrel. Later, a visit was made to Stanpit which increased wader figures by: one each of Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, a Knot, 6 Ringed Plover and 48 Dunlin; as well as 2 Mediterranean Gull and 4 Teal.

August 27th

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler – Chris Dresh
Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher – Chris Dresh

Although there weren’t as many birds around as the last few days, there were still bits and pieces to be dug out. In fact, if the persistent cloud had allowed the sun to warm the bushes a little, there would almost certainly have been more logged. The Nursery held a nice cluster of birds – the best being a couple of Firecrest, which were quite unexpected for the date; but also a Pied Flycatcher, 5 Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart. A Lesser Whitethroat showed well by the HHC, while 2 Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, 17 Whitethroat, 9 Sedge Warbler, 19 Willow Warbler and a few out-of-place, so presumed migrant, Chiffchaff were scattered across Hengistbury and Wick, and 47 Yellow Wagtail and 8 Tree Pipit moved over to the east. The pick of the waders was 4 Knot and 2 Greenshank at Stanpit, plus a Bar-tailed Godwit heard leaving, with wildfowl notables including 7 Wigeon, a Shoveler, 9 Teal and six westbound Shelduck. The only other bird to mention is a female-type Marsh Harrier seen at the northern end of Wick.

August 26th

Wryneck on the Long Field – Bob Moore

With the dawn breaking to clear skies, there was some caution as to how good it might be for a third day on the run. As it was, the concern was unwarranted and it turned into a cracking morning, in terms of both birds and weather. A juvenile Red-backed Shrike was seen fleetingly on the hedge running along the northern edge of Solent Meads golf course, but despite hours of subsequent searching could not be re-found. It is presumed there were 2 Wryneck – one on the Long Field that was last seen heading towards the area of the Natterjack Pond and one in the No Dogs Field on Wick – while a Pied Flycatcher was in the Nursery. There was good count of commoner migrants from both sides of the area. Hengistbury, as far as the Ironstone Quarry, and Wick came up with: a Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 42 Wheatear, 3 Garden Warbler, 40+ Whitethroat, 25 Sedge Warbler, 180 Willow Warbler, around 100 of those coming off the head, 51 Yellow Wagtail, a Grey Wagtail and 25 Tree Pipit. Meanwhile, a fine total from Stanpit included: 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 12 Wheatear, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Whitethroat and 4 Blackcap. At sea, an Arctic Skua was distantly out in Poole Bay; a Hobby and Swift passed over the head, and at least 2 Kingfisher were about. Finally, if you are a member and didn't receive the recent eBulletin, please see below.

August 25th

Ortolan Bunting Ortolan Bunting
A record shot of Ortolan Bunting on the Batters this morning – Roger Howell
...and the first Mullet Hawk, Osprey, of the season – Roger Howell

For a while this morning it seemed the rarest things lurking on Hengistbury would be Pikachus. Apparently, it’s one of the top spots in the country for them, such that there are currently almost as many Pokemonners in the field as birders! Things picked up around 9:30, however, when an Ortolan Bunting appeared by Barn Bight before settling for 10 minutes or so by the Natterjack Pond. Then, around an hour later, an Osprey triggered the normal chaos amongst every other gull, crow and wader in the harbour as it attempted to hunt for at least 15 minutes, prior to leaving west. Over on the other side of the area, there was a fine selection of waders seen from Fisherman’s Bank, comprising: 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 4 Knot, 8 Whimbrel and 5 Black-tailed Godwit; in addition, a Ruff was logged from the head. There was also a fair bit going on overhead, mostly eastbound and including: 60 Yellow Wagtail, eighteen of these seen leaving their roost by the Wooden Bridge, a Grey Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit, 40 House Martin and 700 Swallow. Meanwhile the bushes of Wick, the Barn Field and the Long field held: a Grasshopper Warbler, a Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 12 Wheatear, a Spotted Flycatcher, 45 Willow Warbler, 35 Blackcap, 85 Whitethroat and 40 Sedge Warbler. To round things off, Marsh Harrier were seen on a couple of occasions – one of them certainly the regular male – a couple of Shoveler and 15 Teal were at Stanpit, a Great Crested Grebe was in Barn Bight and a Kingfisher was on Wick Hams.

August 24th

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher – Roger Howell

There was a lot more to see today, including 2 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a Redstart at Stanpit, presumably all in the North Scrubs; while the western part of Hengistbury and Wick produced: a further 3 Spotted Flycatcher and single Redstart, the Long Field being best for the former, 4 Whinchat, mostly on the Barn Field, 17 Willow Warbler and 62 Whitethroat, an obvious influx of those; with other, combined site totals coming to a Tree Pipit, 30 Yellow Wagtail and 25 Wheatear. Overhead, Swallow were clearly on the move – 200 estimated over Stanpit during a 3-hour period – as well as 3 Swift. Perhaps the best bird at Stanpit was a female-type Garganey with 2 Shoveler in Parky Meade Rail, plus a total of 21 Teal there. Wader-wise, a couple of Green Sandpiper were about the marsh, as were 3 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel, 21 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin; and a Greenshank was on Wick meadows.

August 23rd

Sand Martin
Sand Martin
Young Sand Martin – Jean Southworth (upper) & Ali Germain
Natterjack Natterjack
This Natterjack toadlet required rescuing from one of the
main footpaths on Hengistbury Head – Ali Germain

After the winds of the last few days, thing were a lot calmer this morning – just a light breeze from the east. It was hoped these more settled conditions might make passerines a little more visible, but a slight arrival of Whinchat aside – two on the Barn Field and two at Whitepits – it was a little disappointing. The support came from a Garden Warbler on Wick, 4 Wheatear and a slight increase in Whitethroat, while a Grey Wagtail, 6 Yellow Wagtail and 9 Tree Pipit passed over, in large to the east. The best of the rest was a Pochard, always a bit of an event here, that arrived in the harbour; but also a Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 3 Whimbrel, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and a Snipe on the Hengistbury side of the area, as well as a westbound Common Gull.

August 22nd

Mute Swan
Mute Swan – Steven Hogan
Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler – Jimmy Main
Canada Goose
Some of the 55 Canada Goose at Stanpit today – Clinton Whale

There was still a reasonable amount of wind this morning, but it had reverted to a more typical south-westerly direction. Waders probably represented the peak of the interest, with a Green Sandpiper arriving over Mudeford Quay, 4 Greenshank and 5 Common Sandpiper seen from Hengistbury, a further ‘common sand’ at Stanpit and 3 Knot in the Bight there. In addition, a Turnstone, a Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Ringed Plover and 60 Dunlin were logged. The only passerine reports come from the head; where 14 Yellow Wagtail and 4 Tree Pipit passed over, while 3 Wheatear were settled. Otherwise, a couple of young Shelduck came in over the quay and 8 Teal were in Parky Meade Rail.

August 21st

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern at Stanpit – Clinton Whale
Curlew, also at Stanpit – Alan Crockard

The wind veered to the north-west and despite its strength the sea off Mudeford Quay was almost mill-pond like. Consequently, seawatching was poor and limited to 14 Sandwich Tern, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and a flock of 13 Swallow over a 3-hour period from dawn. Meanwhile, there was more interest from waders; not least, a small but obvious arrival of Black-tailed Godwit, presumably taking advantage of a tail wind from Iceland – a party of 25 flew upriver and 14 headed into the Solent. In addition, 2 Greenshank, a Knot, 7 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, including a juvenile bird, 24 Ringed Plover and 55 Dunlin were at Stanpit; as were three, juvenile Mediterranean Gull, Not surprisingly, passerines were keeping their heads out of the wind, but a Garden Warbler was again in the damson bushes on the Stanpit golf course embankment, a Yellow Wagtail overflew Crouch Hill and 3 Wheatear were present. Of mammal interest, a Hedgehog was seen by Mudeford recreation ground.

August 20th

The wind certainly blew up from the south-west overnight, meaning both Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts received more attention than of late. The early signs were good, when just prior to 6:30 a couple of Balearic Shearwater were seen from the quay and an hour later a juvenile Black Tern entered the harbour over the same spot. That was pretty much it for a couple of hours, however, until a further 9 Balearic Shearwater were logged from the huts in the 60 minutes after 9:45. For the rest of the time though, it was hard going – the only other notables being: 3 Great Crested and 2 Swift battling into the wind, 17 Fulmar and 11 Common Tern. Meanwhile, a brief walk along the sandspit produced 10 Turnstone, 18 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin.

Additional news: a party of five, storm-blown Knot briefly settled on South Marsh during the morning.

August 19th

Little Tern
Little Tern resting in Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale
Turnstone, still showing remnants of breeding plumage
- the white in the head and chestnut feathering elsewhere – Clinton Whale
Ringed Plover
...and Ringed Plover – Clinton Whale

Until the late afternoon, rain and a southerly wind dominated and made birding conditions less than ideal. An early seawatch from Mudeford Quay was disappointing, the best being a couple of Little Tern in just under three hours. Also during that period, a Fulmar, a Common Scoter, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Teal, a handful of Sandwich Tern and a single Common Tern. Inside the harbour, however, there was a return of 62 Common Tern from Stanpit, although the full details are not known. To finish at the quay, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull rested on the tip of the sandspit and a cluster of Gannet could be seen tucked right into the bay, presumably just off Highcliffe castle. The best of the tide coincided with the worst of the rain, so wader coverage was a little hindered. Nevertheless, there was a Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Snipe turned in from Stanpit, while over 40 Dunlin, 11 Ringed Plover, 6 Sanderling and 4 Turnstone were on the sandspit. Moving to passerines, a Whinchat was adjacent to the Wick horse paddock, a Garden Warbler and 2 Lesser Whitethroat were at Stanpit, a couple of Yellow Wagtail overflew the marsh and 2 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. At least 2 Kingfisher were seen today, including that number together on the Bailey Bridge and one on the HHC slipway.

August 18th

After rain in the small hours and a windless dawn, the settled passerines seemed to be in a few tightly-defined areas. The reeds along the southern edge of Parky Meade Rail held around 40 each of Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler, while 2 Grasshopper Warbler were briefly on Solent Meads golf course, the Batters held a Garden Warbler and a couple of Lesser Whitethroat were at the western end of Wick Field. Meanwhile, both Willow Warbler and Whitethroat weighed in at around 30 birds, 5 Yellow Wagtail coasted over Whitepits, 3 Tree Pipit were logged, 2 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill and a Swift fed over the river with a small number of Swallow and Sand Martin, plus a single House Martin. Wader-wise, the best was a couple of Green Sandpiper seen at Stanpit and Hengistbury as they headed west, but also: a Grey Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin, mainly at Stanpit during the morning. A large ant-hatch over Southbourne prompted all the Black-headed Gull to vacate the area, so allowing five adult Mediterranean Gull to be picked out as they streamed across Wick Fields. Earlier, there had been the bizarre sight of a Fulmar circling East Marsh before heading up river towards the Priory; and an adult Razorbill was on the sea off the Double Dykes. Finally, a Kingfisher was seen on three occasions about Wick Hams.

Omission: there was a total of 18 Teal on site.

August 17th

Collared Dove
The Collared Dove gathering in the Wick Horse Paddock is on the increase
- around 20 birds in recent days – Clinton Whale

Wader variety was the pick of the morning, with combined totals from Hengistbury and Stanpit coming to: a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 6 Greenshank, three of them leaving to the west, 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover and 71 Dunlin. Meanwhile, wildfowl chipped in with a flock of 5 Shoveler and a Wigeon, as well as 4 Teal. Stanpit held most of the passerines, including a Whinchat on Priory Marsh, up to 5 Wheatear on Crouch Hill, 11 Yellow Wagtail and a relatively good count, in the context of this year, of 15 Whitethroat; also at least 4 Bearded Tit around Parky Meade Rail. A total of 3 Tree Pipit passed over the area, around 20 Willow Warbler were scattered and Sedge Warbler were cropping up in areas away from reed beds. A gathering of Sand Martin and Swallow over Stanpit attracted a single Swift, while 8 Mediterranean Gull, all of them this year’s birds, moved through to the west. A couple of Kingfisher were about and Sparrowhawk regularly patrolled Hengistbury first thing, presumably interested in the mass of Greenfinch that seems be ever present. On non-bird interest, a Weasel was seen on Wick Fields and a Grass Snake was in the Lily Pond.

News just in: a Spotted Redshank was on the mud in Stanpit Bight for ten minutes during the afternoon, when a count of 8 Whimbrel was made.

August 16th

Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper in Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale
Painted Lady
Painted Lady
Painted Lady – Clinton Whale

Given the wind had come from the east for the last 24 hours, there wasn’t the presence of birds that had been anticipated. In fact, other than a scattering of perhaps 20 Willow Warbler across Wick, the only real passerine interest came from 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a Lesser Whitethroat in the small enclosure between the Wooden Bridge and the Horse Paddock; plus 6 Tree Pipit over. The pick of the day, however, was a Spoonbill at Stanpit during the morning. Juvenile Mediterranean Gull again passed through to the west, most likely fledglings from eastern Europe, including a flock of five; while a group of three ‘meds’ that arrived over the Barn Field comprised an adult, a first-summer and a bird of the year. Meanwhile, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull rested for a time in Barn Bight. Waders came and went; for example, a couple of Knot arrived, 15 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Snipe headed north and 5 Ringed Plover exited to the west. In addition, the 2 Greenshank, one of them an adult still in a semblance of breeding attire, remained; as did 2 Common Sandpiper and a few Whimbrel. More Teal were seen checking in, a total of sixteen – seven of them coming in from very high – as well as 2 Shoveler. To round up, a juvenile Buzzard caused a modicum of gull panic as it drifted in from the Avon Valley, 28 Canada Goose were inside the harbour and a trap for the unwary is five quail-sized Pheasant chicks on the Long Field which are capable of short flights.

Additional news: a Pochard and 99 Dunlin were at Stanpit.

August 15th

Juvenile Stonechat – Clinton Whale
Mediterranean Gull
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull (right) with Black-headed Gull – Roger Howell

The wind was forecast to blow from the east overnight, but the dawn was windless. After a couple of hours, however, the breeze did gather and from the hoped-for direction. The most notable feature of the day was wildfowl with totals seen from Hengistbury coming to: 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Wigeon, 5 Shoveler, 31 Teal and 2 Gadwall. Of these, three of the Shoveler and one of the Gadwall were in a flock also containing a Mallard and which kept appearing from all directions over a 30-minute period. Waders were also varied, the best being a Little Ringed Plover over the HHC and 3 Knot that arrived at Stanpit, but also 2 Greenshank, 9 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin and 13 Snipe logged from both sides of the area. In addition to two settled, juvenile Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit, 13 birds, all but one of them also juveniles moved over the harbour to the west; as did 3 Swift. Passerines were not as numerous as hoped – for example, barely 30 Willlow Warbler – although a Grasshopper Warbler called briefly on the Lower Batters, 2 Yellow Wagtail were settled, as were 5 Wheatear, and 8 Tree Pipit moved over. The regular, young male Marsh Harrier was seen, a Nuthatch was heard from Solent Meads car park and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight.

August 14th

It was another fine morning, with a breeze from the north, that saw a scatter of migrant passerines across the area. Of 3 Spotted Flycatcher, one was caught in reed-bed net ride, while the others were on Wick and the Long Field. Once the sun took hold, around 40 Willow Warbler came off the head onto Wick, where twenty were later reckoned; over on Stanpit, a figure of 35 was returned. Also around the marsh, a Redstart, 3 Garden Warbler, a Wheatear and 4 Tree Pipit over. Otherwise, it’s just 4 Turnstone and a Mediterranean Gull to mention.

August 13th

Black-headed Gull
Juvenile, moulting to first-winter, Black-headed Gull in the evening sun
last night at Stanpit – Alan Crockard
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting - a species that seems to have had a good season – Gary Foyle

By and large, it was again disappointingly quiet this morning - the best across Hengistbury and Wick being a couple of Lesser Whitethroat, a settled Tree Pipit on the Long Field and 15 Willow Warbler. The golf course embankment on Stanpit, however, was the  centre of the action - a Redstart, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Garden Warbler, 4 Whitethroat, 6 Willow Warbler, a Reed Warbler and 3 Sedgle Warbler, all active there - while a Yellow Wagtail passed over. The best of the waders was a Little Ringed Plover, that also at Stanpit, as well as a Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel and 65 Dunlin; 2 Common Sandpiper were in Barn Bight and 2 Black-tailed Godwit headed inland. Finally, a Kingfisher was again around Wick Hams.

August 12th

Redshank & Dunlin
Dunlin and Redshank – Clinton Whale
Linnet – Clinton Whale

A fine, still dawn raised hopes there would be a lot of birds about, but the reality was far from that. Around 60 Willow Warbler were spread across the entire recording area, while 2 Garden Warbler were in the damson trees on Stanpit and 25 Sedge Warbler were around Parky Meade Rail. In addition, a Wheatear overflew the Batters and single Yellow Wagtail were encountered on the marsh and Wick meadows. An overhead passage of hirundines to the west included 230 Swallow and 35 Sand Martin, as well as 5 Swift. The only wader news is of 2 Common Sandpiper in Barn Bight and fifty or so Dunlin at Stanpit tonight. Earlier, the Pintail was once again in Mother Siller’s Channel, one each of Hobby and Peregrine were logged, and a Kingfisher was in Wick Hams.

August 11th

Goldfinch – Clinton Whale
Whimbrel – Alan Crockard
Mallard – Clinton Whale

All in all, it was a fairly quiet day during which a westerly wind gathered pace. This morning, there were a dozen of Willow Warbler at both Hengistbury and Stanpit, while the marsh hosted a Turtle Dove and a Garden Warbler, a Wheatear was by the Ironstone Quarry and 2 Tree Pipit passed over the area. Otherwise, apart from a juvenile Mediterranean Gull off Fisherman’s Bank, it’s just waders to report - singles of Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe, 6 Whimbrel, 6 Ringed Plover and 52 Dunlin. 

August 10th

The first Wheatear of the autumn - on Stanpit this evening – Clinton Whale
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler – Gary Foyle
...and a record shot of yesterday's Otters – Jimmy Main

The day started with a cold north-westerly wind and quite dense, grey cloud; but this didn’t deter Willow Warblers from again being on the move. In around 45 minutes from 6:15 onwards, 48 came off Hengistbury and on to Wick, where around 30 were estimated to holding up later in the morning. Meanwhile, a further 20 or so were reckoned to still be on the head itself. Other passerines included a Grasshopper Warbler by the Natterjack Pond, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, two on Wick and one on the Long Field, a Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Tree Pipit. A few terns moved through the harbour, the best being an adult Black Tern, but also 67 Common Tern; as well as 8 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Common Gull. One of the Avon Valley’s juvenile Marsh Harrier was seen a couple of times early in the day, when waders on site, mainly at Stanpit, included: 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Turnstone, a Snipe, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover and 58 Dunlin, the latter all in Stanpit Creek and containing a good proportion of juvenile birds. To round off the morning’s news, it’s wildfowl; namely, 3 Pintail, 2 Shoveler, 6 Teal and a Tufted Duck. Things came alive again this evening, as the wind dropped and the insects rose. These attracted around 600 Swallow and 100 Sand Martin to Wick Hams, where they settled en masse on reeds and fences as they took a break from feeding; also 7 Swift over at that time. Finally, as the photo describes, the season’s first Wheatear was on Stanpit.

August 9th

Sandwich Tern
Adult and juvenile Sandwich Tern – Clinton Whale
Kestrel – Clinton Whale

It was probably the coldest-feeling morning since mid-summer, and probably not helped by a slight, northerly component in the largely, west wind. Nevertheless, there was again a decent flight of Willow Warbler off Hengistbury and on to Wick early on  - 85 birds in just over an hour, commencing 6:45 - as well as a Turtle Dove and a Spotted Flycatcher. Also logged from the area around the HHC in the same time period were: 3 Mediterranean Gull, a Whimbrel, a Grey Heron and 6 Cormorant west; 5 Black-tailed Godwit north; and a couple of Raven. Of mammal interest, a sow Otter and her two pups were seen within the confines of the recording area.  

Additional news: at Stanpit this morning, there were 16 Whimbrel, 9 Dunlin and a female Tufted Duck, while a young Peregrine attempted, but failed, to bring down a Little Egret. This evening, a party of 8 Teal arrived in Stanpit Bight.

August 8th

Marsh Harrier Marsh Harrier Marsh Harrier Marsh Harrier
Juvenile Marsh Harrier – Brian Wadie
The morning started with a juvenile Marsh Harrier, presumably one of the birds recently fledged in the Avon Valley, being escorted over the Barn Field by the regular, young male. They soon separated, however, and the younger bird gained height and set off south-west, only to quickly turnabout back and head back inland. An hour or so later, what was likely the same bird was seen patrolling low around the harbour, when it was photographed. Passerines were sparse, although varied, and included: 2 Crossbill over Stanpit, a Redstart on the Wick riverside path, 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the North Scrubs, a Whinchat and a Tree Pipit at Priory Marsh, a couple of Yellow Wagtail elsewhere at Stanpit and at least 40 Willow Warbler spread around the area. Grey Heron were a bit of a feature during the morning, as 11 birds moved generally west in sieges of six, three and two; while on the mud were: 2 Common Sandpiper, 21 Whimbrel, the Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 25 Dunlin. In comparison to yesterday, the sea was quiet with just 2 Mediterranean Gull, 16 Common Tern, 45 Sandwich Tern and 15 Gannet being logged during an hour at Mudeford Quay. Meanwhile, Holloway’s Dock held resting Sandwich Tern for much of the day - 98 being the highest count - and a further 2 Mediterranean Gull passed through the harbour. Finishing off, a male Peregrine was noted and 2 Raven were on Hengistbury.

Omission: there were 10 Swift over the HHC late in the afternoon.

August 7th

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale
Lapwing – Clinton Whale

A strong, south-westerly wind blew up overnight and prompted a sizeable movement of Sandwich Tern past Mudeford Quay. Between 6:00 and 9:00, a total of 343 was logged heading west with some birds pausing to rest on the exposed mud in the Run - the most counted there being just over sixty. Birds were also resting up inside the harbour, the peak number coming around lunchtime when sixty-two were at Stanpit, along with 20 Common Tern. Back to the morning at the quay, however, and 85 Common Tern also travelled to the west, as did a steady stream of Gannet of all plumages, bar juvenile, perhaps as many as eighty; plus 4 Mediterranean Gull, a juvenile and three adults, these again something of a scarcity after a couple of bumper summers. The waders inside the harbour were grilled on at least three occasions, with the aggregate totals coming to: a Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Whimbrel, a settled Black-tailed Godwit and eight west, 2 Ringed Plover and 19 Dunlin, three of those juvenile birds. It’s getting ever later for Swift to still be around, so six over Stanpit village was nice; while the day’s other news involves an adult Common Gull with a droopy wing that has been here since Thursday, 4 Water Rail and a count of 210 Mute Swan.

August 6th

Reed Warbler Reed Warbler
Adult and juvenile Reed Warbler – Gary Foyle

Despite the photographs, this morning was all about Willow Warbler, when 212 came off the head and onto Wick between 6:45 and 8:00. Also during that period, a couple of Spotted Flycatcher landed in the Double Dykes and and estimated 25 Sedge Warbler were around Parky Meade Rail. The scarcity of the day was a couple of Spoonbill: just after 8:00, one was seen heading purposefully west over the Barn Field; but moments later another was seen coming down onto the exposed mud of the river where it remained for around an hour before departing to the east, in the company of a Little Egret. There was clearly a large hatch of ants in Stanpit village, as gull abounded in the air for long periods, and this briefly attracted a flock of around 50 Swift. There is little wader news, although 4 Common Sandpiper, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe, 2 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin were about the site. Of final interest, four Shoveler flew into Barn Bight.

August 5th

Water Rail Water Rail Water Rail
Water Rail - the top two adults, the lower a juvenile – Alan Crockard

The wind dropped overnight and made it far easier to detect warblers - not least Willow Warbler, 58 of them counted around the area today - while a Redstart was in the Nursery. Sedge Warbler were also conspicuous, mostly around Priory Marsh, with perhaps as many as 40 birds being seen. Also in that area: several Bearded Tit that were very vocal and two adult males that were actually very showy for a brief period; the Marsh Harrier, plus a further, unrecognised bird that headed north-east; a Yellow Wagtail and 9 Swift over; and 3 Snipe. Meanwhile, from Fisherman’s Bank, a flock of 25 Common Tern was seen to head east through the harbour, where up to 6 birds remained settled. In addition to 6 Sanderling on the end of the sandspit, inside the harbour there were: 2 Common Sandpiper, 13 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover and 22 Dunlin; with a further five each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin heading north-east in a combined flock. To round up, a pair of Shoveler was seen to arrive, a couple of Nuthatch were by the Civic Offices, at least 6 Water Rail were in Parky Meade Rail and brand-new brood of Mallard duckling was on the river. 

Omission: a Hobby left the area to the north. 

August 4th

The sea appeared to be nowhere near as choppy as the wind suggested it should be. Nevertheless, the water was stared at for nearly three hours from Mudeford Quay, from just after dawn, when the list came to: a Fulmar, a Great Crested Grebe, 44 Common Tern and 31 Sandwich Tern west; two Knot east; and a Dunlin and a Redshank arriving. Meanwhile, the two Raven were still knocking about.

August 3rd

Common Tern
Common Tern – Gary Foyle
Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern – Gary Foyle

The wind lessened considerably overnight and by dawn was only a shade west of north. By this evening, however, it had regained its strength and came from just south of west. During a combined four-hour spell from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts this morning, a total of one Little Tern, 87 Common Tern and 94 Sandwich Tern passed west; while 4 Shelduck left the harbour and headed east, presumably on their way to moult in the Waddenzee, 16 Sanderling were on the sandspit, and a couple of Ringed Plover and a Redshank arrived. Later in the day, a further, two-hour watch from huts added a Fulmar, 16 Common Tern, 58 Sandwich Tern and a Whimbrel. Meanwhile, the peak count of lingering Gannet came to 42. Inside the harbour there were first juveniles of Common Tern and Dunlin - one of the former with a parent and six of the latter amongst a total of 21 birds. In addition, at least 6 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, both in breeding plumage, and 7 Ringed Plover were around Stanpit Bight; also a juvenile Mediterranean Gull heading inland over the marsh. Finishing on passerines, a Pied Flycatcher was in Ashtree Meadow, 16 Willow Warbler were returned and the two Raven were on the quay.

August 2nd

Redshank Emperor Dragonfly Emperor Dragonfly Grey Seal Grey Seal
All tonight's photos were taken during recent, much sunnier days.
Redshank – Clinton Whale, male and female Emperor Dragonfly – Chris Dresh
and Grey Seal – Gary Foyle

With the wind coming from just north of west for most of the day, there were intermittent showers and never a hint of the sun. Mudeford Quay saw all the activity, from where 78 Common Tern and 9 Common Tern headed west, a Fulmar and up to 50 Gannet lingered in Christchurch Bay, a drake Tufted Duck moved west and 5 Common Scoter passed. Meanwhile, as many as 23 Sanderling, plus 3 Turnstone, were about the northern end of the sandspit, a Ringed Plover arrived, as did a Redshank, and Whimbrel departed into the Solent. The tip of the spit held one juvenile Yellow-legged Gull this morning, but later in the day there were a couple, while the pair of Raven held court throughout. 

August 1st

Willow Warbler Willow Warbler
One of the Willow Warbler in the North Scrubs this morning – Alan Crockard

Pretty much as forecast, the rain set in around midday and is currently still with us; while beforehand, it was a case of birding under leaden skies. Willow Warbler spread across Wick and Stanpit came to around 30 birds, but Sedge Warbler seemed to be in low single figures. There was a Greenshank over Wick and Stanpit held 8 Common Sandpiper, as well as a Bar-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage, 5 Whimbrel, a Snipe and 4 Dunlin. Overhead, a scruffy-looking Mediterranean Gull headed inland and a Common Gull, 4 Common Tern and 2 Swift all moved west. The regular Marsh Harrier was seen on a couple of occasions throughout the day and Bearded Tit were most obvious along the southern edge of Parky Meade Rail. Finally, the first Raven - two birds - for a week or so were logged and a Kingfisher was by the HHC.

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