Sightings for December 2016

December 31st

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper, and barnacle – Clinton Whale
One of the 50-80 Goldfinch by the Pod this morning – Alan Crockard
Priory in the Mist
The Priory in the early-morning mist – Clinton Whale

Mist or fog, however you wish to describe it, again hampered efforts. The best from Wick was 2 Bullfinch and a Chiffchaff, plus 5 Goldcrest with a few more of those hanging around the Pod at Stanpit. The only wader news concerns 15 Black-tailed Godwit feeding intently by the Rusty Boat.

December 30th

Heavy fog enveloped the area for all of the daylight hours, meaning the only news is of a Chiffchaff on Wick, by the Driving Range, and 2 Bullfinch along the central path there.

December 29th

It was another frosty morning and one that saw a couple of Water Pipit on North Marsh, Stanpit, adjacent to the Pod. Also on Stanpit, mostly logged during the afternoon ebb tide, were: the first Mediterranean Gull, two adults, for a while and 4 Common Gull; the Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, 170 Dunlin and 3 Turnstone; 4 Pintail and 6 Shoveler. Elsewhere, a couple of Red-throated Diver went past the Beach Huts, a Peregrine was over Warren Hill and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight. 

December 28th

Turnstone – Clinton Whale

After a glorious winter’s day, all the news come from Stanpit. The best of the waders there was an Avocet and the Spotted Redshank, but also 5 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, around 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, an increase to 202 Dunlin, 5 Turnstone and 6 Snipe. A Water Pipit was around 100m west of the Rusty Boat and the Marsh Harrier showed well at both ends of the day. In addition, 8 Pintail, 7 Shoveler and 150 Canada Goose were logged. Just recently, some strange behaviour has been seen from some of the Wigeon, as they pirate green weed from Coot that have just brought it to the surface. 

December 27th

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit in this morning's frost – Clinton Whale

After a mild couple of weeks, a clear night saw the temperature fall and a scenic frost result. The only bird news for the day, however, concerns 5 Shelduck over Stanpit this afternoon.

Omission: a Sandwich Tern was feeding inside the harbour.

December 26th

Drake Teal at Stanpit – Steve Hogan

All the day’s news comes from the afternoon at Stanpit and involves: the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, around 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Dunlin, at least one Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone; as well as 5 Pintail and 4 Shoveler, but just 12 Brent Goose. 

Additional news: a couple of Eider and a Great Crested Grebe were on the sea off Mudeford Quay; while 3 Bullfinch were again by the HHC.

December 25th

Robin – Steve Hogan

There were again 2 Eider off Mudeford Quay, while a Red-throated Diver and a flock of 15 Gannet moved west, and 18 Brent Goose headed into the Solent. It is thought this winter, due to the relatively small numbers of ‘Brents’ using the harbour and the frequency of early-morning eastbound birds, that some may actually be making a daily commute to Keyhaven from their Poole Harbour roost. Over on Wick, there were 3 Bullfinch and a Chiffchaff by the HHC, with other bits and pieces from that side of the area including: a Kingfisher in Barn Bight; a Dartford Warbler by the Ironstone Quarry; and 2 Stonechat close to the Barn.

December 24th

Other than for the gull enthusiasts, the eve of the big day produced fairly routine stuff about the area. At Stanpit, the Spotted Redshank was present, along with a Grey Plover, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 65 Dunlin, 8 Snipe and an estimated 400 Lapwing. In addition, there were 10 Pintail, 5 Shoveler, 42 Brent Goose, 2 Greylag Goose and 80 Canada Goose on the marsh. A young drake Eider was again off Mudeford Quay, as was a Great Crested Grebe, while a Red-throated Diver and a Guillemot headed west; and the suspected argentatus (Scandinavian) Herring Gull showed well enough to allow white-tipped P10s to be seen. Otherwise, it’s just singles of Little Grebe and Kingfisher in Barn Bight to mention.

December 23rd

A Woodcock was flushed from the Wood this morning, while 3 Firecrest were in the holly, but all the other news comes from the sea. Off Mudeford Quay, there were 3 Eider and 12 Common Scoter, all settled, as well as eight feeding Gannet. From the Beach Huts, 3 Red-throated Diver, 4 Kittiwake, 53 Common Gull and 8 Gannet were logged moving west. 

December 22nd

Goldcrest – Steve Hogan

On what turned out to be a cracking winter’s day, there was the usual fare on Hengistbury; namely, a Firecrest in the Wood, the Marsh Harrier about Wick Hams during the earlier part of the morning and 2 Redwing on Wick. Over on Stanpit, around the bight, there were: 4 Grey Plover, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 75 or so Dunlin; and 4-500 Lapwing; as well as 6 Shelduck and 10 Teal amongst the hundreds of Wigeon. The Brent Goose seem to favour Priory Marsh at the moment, but the area is also attracting the less-desired Canada Goose - around 100 of them on there today. 

December 21st

Great Crested Grebe
Great Crested Grebe in The Run – Clinton Whale

Other than the above, there are no reports for today.

December 20th

Divers have been sparse of late, so the product of an hour at Mudeford Quay from 10:00 this morning was most unexpected. In total, 12 Red-throated Diver and four unidentified birds were seen moving west, while a Black-throated Diver and three more unidentified individuals headed into the Solent. In addition, 2 Eider and 12 Common Scoter were settled, a Buzzard travelled east over the quay and a streaky-headed Herring Gull was on the end of the sandspit. Elsewhere, the Marsh Harrier was logged at Stanpit, where there are still lots of Wigeon and Lapwing but relatively few Brent Goose - just over 30 today - as well as 70 Black-tailed Godwit. On Hengistbury, there were 3 Coal Tit in the Wood. 

December 19th

On a reasonably still day, there were a few bits and pieces to be seen off the sandspit, including: a Sandwich Tern, 3 Eider, 2 Red-throated Diver - one settled and one east - a Common Scoter and 3 Guillemot. In the Wood, there was a Firecrest, as well as 4 Redwing, 4 Goldcrest and a Coal Tit - while 3 Fieldfare headed east over the Barn Field. There were 3 Purple Sandpiper on groyne 63, the Marsh Harrier again hunted Wick Hams and the Red-legged Partridge was on the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre roof. 

December 18th

On a miserable morning of low cloud and murk the monthly WeBS count produced some respectable numbers, in particular wildfowl with 745 Wigeon, 230 Teal and 189 Mallard, but only 43 Brent Geese; also just single Pintail and Tufted Duck, both females. The Spotted Redshank was seen from Fisherman's Bank, while other wader totals were 230 Dunlin, 157 Redshank, 53 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Grey Plover, 4 Turnstone and a Bar-tailed Godwit; also a half-decent count of 686 Lapwing. The young male Marsh Harrier was seen a couple of times, a Kingfisher was on the Bailey Bridge and 2 Raven were about the marsh.

December 17th

Early, low-lying mist hampered visibility inside the harbour, but this could be beaten by climbing to the top of the head and looking out to sea. A Velvet Scoter passed west in the company of a Common Scoter, a redhead Goosander came in-off, the two Eider were settled off the sandspit and around 20 Common Scoter were on the water to the south. There was also some finch interest, the best being 2 Bullfinch by the HHC; but also ten or so Linnet and a lesser number of Goldfinch, all east, thought to be late migrants. Also on the move, a Fieldfare and 4 Redwing. Meanwhile, a Firecrest was on the Wood and the Marsh Harrier, although also seen at Stanpit, gave the best views on Wick Hams, where it sat on a post for an hour. Ahead of tomorrow’s WeBS count, 6 Pintail and 40 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit. 

December 16th

Today's only news involves the Marsh Harrier until just after 9:00, when it left to the north, and 5 Redwing over Wick Fields. 

December 15th

Again, there was more than one Marsh Harrier - at one point this morning the regular male was about the northern end of Wick, while a female-type individual hunted the Wick Hams area. Close by, a Chiffchaff was along Roebury Lane, 3 Redwing passed over and a couple of Raven were on the fields. A brief visit to Stanpit produced 5 Pintail, 40 Black-tailed Godwit and 70 Dunlin, as well as 74 Brent Goose and hundreds of Lapwing. 

December 14th

Curlew – Clinton Whale

There were 3 Marsh Harrier seen today - the regular male, plus two together heading south through the area at just before 10:00. An improvement in the weather prompted a bit of seawatching, which yielded 3 Sandwich Tern, a Great Northern Diver west and a Red-throated Diver east, while a Ruff and a Fieldfare were also returned from Hengistbury. On Wick, a Chiffchaff was along the riverside path and a Kingfisher was about the hams.

December 13th

Eider Eider
Young drake Eider off the sandspit – Clinton Whale
Marsh Harrier
A Marsh Harrier at Stanpit recently – Colin Mitchell
Reedbed Work
...and many thanks to the Christchurch Borough Council volunteer work-party
that braved today's wet weather – Robin Harley

Although it was more of the same in terms of damp weather, there were far more visits made to the field. The pick for the day came from: a Water Pipit on Grimmery Bank; the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman’s Bank; a couple of drake Eider fairly close off the northern end of the sandspit; and the Marsh Harrier over Clay Pool. There has clearly been a big influx of Lapwing, with around 600 at Stanpit - the most for quite some time - while other waders included: 2 Grey Plover, around 100 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover, 150 Dunlin and 8 Snipe. In addition to a couple of drake Red-breasted Merganser west at sea, there were 14 Pintail, 6 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck and 86 Brent goose inside the harbour. Finally, a couple of Gannet fished aimlessly offshore, a Coal Tit was in the Wood and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight.

December 12th

All-day drizzle pretty much sums up the day, although an Eider was again off Mudeford Quay, a Red-throated Diver went east past there and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was on the inner shore. 

December 11th

Kestrel – Chris Dresh
Jay – Clinton Whale

A partially, sunny day provided little in terms of news. On Hengistbury, a Purple Sandpiper was on the end of the sandspit, while at least one Water Pipit and 2 Chiffchaff were around the northern part of Stanpit. Also on the marsh, a Dartford Warbler on Crouch Hill.

December 10th

Pintail in today's gloom – Roger Howell

It was a day of total cloud and frequent drizzle, during which full daylight wasn't really experienced. The best at Stanpit were a Fieldfare north and a Chiffchaff on the golf course embankment, while 6 Pintail and 9 Shoveler were in Stanpit Bight; as were 8 Ringed Plover. At least 40 Black-tailed Godwit were spread across the marsh, but the only other news involves a cluster of 12 Magpie feeding together in the North Scrubs.

December 9th

Shoveler Shoveler
Drake Shoveler in various states of plumage – Clinton Whale

Bearded Tit have been hard to come by of late, keeping deep in the various reedbeds; but this morning, three were by the HHC before heading off to the east. Meanwhile, a Firecrest was in the Wood, just beyond the Double Bends. At sea, a female-type Eider was with the scoter flock and 2 Red-breasted Merganser passed east, as did 4 Common Scoter. A couple of Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit and the Marsh Harrier was again about. Please check back to 6th for an omission. 

Additional news: in the late afternoon, there were 3 Bullfinch and a Chiffchaff on Wick.

December 8th

A mild but damp day saw visits to both Wick and Stanpit. The former held a female Bullfinch, always a good record for the area, along the riverside path, as well as 2 Redwing and a Peregrine over. Sticking with raptors, the regular Marsh Harrier was watched to make a kill on Stanpit, where the waders included: 10 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 91 Dunlin and around 200 Lapwing. Pintail and Shoveler again put in good accounts - 9 and 14 respectively - while a Gadwall and couple of Mediterranean Gull were logged. In addition, 2 Common Gull, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and 39 Great Black-backed Gull were counted.

December 7th

A 2.5-hour seawatch from the Beach Huts saw most birds heading into the Solent, including: 8 Red-throated Diver, 19 Guillemot, 7 Razorbill, 17 Common Scoter and 44 Brent Goose. Meanwhile, a Firecrest, a Water Pipit, 3 Redwing and a Grey Wagtail were at Stanpit. At Mudeford Quay, there was a heavily-streaked-on-the-head Herring Gull - possibly one of the putative argentatus birds from last winter, but more scrutiny is needed.

Omission: the Marsh Harrier was at Stanpit and a Chiffchaff was on Wick.

December 6th

It was a dully and dreary day with very low cloud hanging around throughout, meaning it never seemed to get properly light. Waders dominate the post - the best being 2 Avocet in Holloway’s Dock and the Spotted Redshank off Fisherman’s Bank - as well as: 18 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Turnstone, 30 Ringed Plover and 110 Dunlin. Wildfowl of above-average interest, namely Shoveler and Pintail, rose to 17 and 11 respectively; while Kingfisher were seen in Stanpit Creek and Parky Meade Rail. The only news from Hengistbury involves a Firecrest in the Wood.

Omission: a Blackcap was in Ashtree Meadow.

December 5th

A Spoonbill was settled on North Marsh late in the afternoon, while wader peaks from then and an earlier visit comprised: 17 Grey Plover, 28 Black-tailed Godwit, 56 Ringed Plover, 165 Dunlin and 4 Turnstone. In addition, there were half a dozen each of Pintail and Shoveler, as well as 3 Shelduck. To finish this short post, both Kingfisher and Peregrine were also seen at Stanpit.

December 4th

Wigeon – Chris Dresh
Dunlin – Chris Dresh
A cold, clear day was made even more uncomfortable by a stiff easterly breeze. On the Hengistbury side, there were singles of Firecrest in the Wood and on Wick, while the Marsh Harrier was watched hunting from both parts of the area. Although Stanpit was visited on a couple of occasions during the morning, tide and sun made things difficult; but 6 Grey Plover, 60 scattered Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover and 60 Dunlin were logged, as were a lone, drake Pintail and 6 Shoveler amongst an estimated 550 Wigeon.

December 3rd

For the first time in several days there was no frost, as cloud in the small hours warmed the air by a few degrees. That said, a biting, north-easterly wind made if feel actually far colder. At Stanpit, there was at least one Water Pipit in the Priory Marsh area, with singles being seen on that part of the marsh itself and then by the stile leading on to it. The male Marsh Harrier seemed to be about the area all day, but around 8:30 it hunted with a second bird over Wick Hams. At sea, the offshore Common Scoter flock, until flushed by a jet-ski, was quite close in and numbered around 45 - none of them adult drakes, however, i.e. all pale-faced birds; but some paler than others. Meanwhile, 6 Red-throated Diver moved into the Solent and one left it, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser headed east, a V of 25 Brent Goose that arrived was led by a female Shoveler, a Pintail west east, as did a Great Crested Grebe, and a lone Gannet was logged. There were also 2 Eider holding position, viewable from both the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay. The remaining news involves a Firecrest in the Wood by the Double Bends, a couple of Redwing over the HHC area and 2 Raven on Wick. 

December 2nd

Little Egret
Little Egret – Steve Hogan
Robin – Emma Pounds

Another windless day meant the flat sea off Mudeford Quay gave up birds relatively easily. At lunchtime, 2 Great Northern Diver, 4 Eider and 5 Great Crested Grebe were settled, while 5 Sandwich Tern fished and 2 Red-throated Diver headed into the Solent. Earlier, from the Beach Huts, it looked as if the Common Scoter flock had risen to around 35 birds and a single Red-throated Diver passed west; and just after dawn, flocks of Cormorant numbering 60, 20 and 10 headed way out to sea from their valley roost. Inside the harbour, there were marked increases in a number of species, most notably Grey Plover and Ringed Plover at 20 and 48 respectively, but also 7 Pintail and 8 Gadwall. Meanwhile, a couple of Goosander passed through and a Bar-tailed Godwit, 39 Black-tailed Godwit, 90 Brent Goose and 10 Shelduck were also around. Passerine-wise, there was a Brambling in the North Scrubs, 2 Chiffchaff on the Wick riverside path, a Mistle Thrush on Wick and 4 Redwing. For the corvid enthusiasts, at dusk there were 81 Jackdaw amongst the Crows and gulls on Blackberry Point - something that would have been deemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago.

December 1st

It was a clear, windless and quite frankly glorious day throughout. Despite the morning cold, a couple of degrees below, a Goldcrest found the energy to sing in Stanpit car park just after dawn; while a sound not often heard over the area is the mewing of Common Gull - a single bird, perhaps recently arrived, calling frequently as it headed inland. In fact, most of the news for the post comes from Stanpit, where a Water Pipit was in Stanpit Scrubs and a Jack Snipe was on Priory Marsh, with the regular male Marsh Harrier, as well as a female bird, being present on and off. The male also spent some time on a fence post at Wick Hams. Before moving back to the marsh, the best from the Hengistbury side; namely, a trio of Sandwich Tern into the harbour through the Run and a couple of Firecrest in the Wood. The pick of the Stanpit Bight waders was the Spotted Redshank, but also 9 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Ringed Plover and 70 or so Dunlin; plus 2 Pintail and 10 Shelduck. Finally, a couple of desperation counts come courtesy of 22 Long-tailed Tit in the Wood and 23 Carrion Crow on South Marsh. 

Sightings for earlier months can be found in our Sightings Archive.
Return to the Sightings Archive Index

View the full archive of photographs, which now contains over 250 species.

Here is the full archive of features that have previously appeared on the CHOG website.