Sightings for January 2016

January 31st

The afternoon at Stanpit produced a Firecrest and a Water Pipit, while the only other news from a very quiet day was of the Treecreeper, 2 Coal Tit and several Goldcrest in the Wood on Hengistbury. 

January 30th

Brent Goose
A real rarity this winter, juvenile Brent Goose (centre). The left-hand bird is also one
– Clinton Whale

There was a remarkable record of 2 Hawfinch briefly atop the Stanpit golf course pines. this morning. This remains a much-envied species for some who keep harbour lists. Meanwhile, just beneath them was the presumed Siberian Chiffchaff and three standard Chiffchaff. Most other activity was at sea, where the best was a Sandwich Tern fishing off the Beach Huts, but also two distant divers, an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Common Scoter, 2 Gannet, 4 Pintail and 2 Great Crested Grebe. 

January 29th

Now the storms have names, it’s hard not to use them. Gertrude arrived overnight and with her some light drizzle. Christchurch Bay, however, did not contain the hoped-for mass of displaced sea birds - we really should know better by now. In fact, the best of the morning was a single Great Skua and 8 Common Gull west; while a further effort in the afternoon came up with a Common Scoter, 4 Wigeon and a single Common Gull, again all west. Meanwhile, the Wood held 2 Firecrest, a total of 13 Purple Sandpiper was reckoned along the sandspit and the pair of Raven was seen at various times.

January 28th

Today saw more Skylark on the Barn Field than of late, including this individual with very worn and abraded feathers - presumably soon to moult – Clinton Whale

Other than the Skylark observation associated with the image above, the only news for day involves around 10 Siskin in the Wood on Hengistbury.

January 27th

Given the constant rain until at least the mid-afternoon, it won't be a surprise to hear it's a struggle to eke out more than a couple of sentences about today. Actually, the news of 12 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit is all there is.

January 26th

Stanpit under the influence of a high tide and large amount of rain – Clinton Whale
...forcing the Starling that normally feed on the marsh
to relocate to Hengistbury – Clinton Whale

Nearly all the day’s news comes before the late-morning onslaught of rain, the exception being what was presumably a very damp Marsh Harrier over Wick at 12:30. Earlier, there were 2 Firecrest in holly alongside Holloway’s Dock, while the sea produced the year’s first Fulmar, a Great Northern Diver, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 Gannet, 2 Guillemot, a Razorbill and an unidentified diver, mostly west. In addition, around 60 Herring Gull and 15 Great Black-backed Gull were feeding in the choppy, offshore waters. Meanwhile, a flock of 350 Black-tailed Godwit circled the harbour before heading off high to the west and a further sixty sat it out on South Marsh before that itself disappeared. To round up, the Treecreeper, 3 Coal Tit and 6 Goldcrest were in the Wood. 

January 25th

The on-going mild weather means there are still several Stonechat hanging around the area
– Linda Davison
Redshank – Clinton Whale

It was dry again today, although that may well change tomorrow as the weather system from the eastern seaboard of the US reaches us. Once more, it’s interest more than numbers, with a Water Pipit and the Spotted Redshank both showing well on North Marsh, Stanpit; while 4 Sandwich Tern were along the harbour side of the sandspit, where 5 Purple Sandpiper were on groyne S9. Staying with the above-average, a Tawny Owl flew over the Long Field towards the Batters at 7:15 and a female Bullfinch was on Wick. In fact, the only really routine news concerns 11 Dunlin on the sandspit. 

January 24th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper – Jimmy Main
One of two Stonechat on Wick Fields – Clinton Whale
...and drake Teal – Clinton Whale

Again, there is relatively little volume of news, but a fair degree of interest. This morning there were a couple of Chiffchaff along the Stanpit golf course footpath - one of them looking, plumage-wise, to be a Siberian Chiffchaff, but frustratingly the bird remained silent meaning confirmation couldn’t be obtained. Meanwhile, over on Hengistbury, a Firecrest was in the Wood and a total of 14 Purple Sandpiper, ten of them on the Long Groyne, was returned. The only other news concerns the Tufted Duck on the river.

January 23rd

Common Gull
Adult Common Gull – Jimmy Main

The best of a quiet day was a fine count of 23 Grey Plover at Stanpit this morning, as well as 4 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit. Otherwise, there is very little to report: 5 Common Scoter and 4 Great Crested Grebe at sea; 13 Pintail and a Gadwall inside the harbour; a presumed ‘Scandinavian Herring Gull on Mudeford Quay; and at least 3 Raven, including the early-morning regulars also at the quay. 

January 22nd

Male Siskin in the Wood – Clinton Whale

After a morning of quite awful rain, it's a pleasant surprise to get any news. Today's photographer braved the elements, however, and caught up with a flock of around 20 Siskin in the Wood on Hengistbury.

Additional news: at Stanpit, there were 21 Grey Plover, 16 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, an adult Mediterranean Gull and 3 Shoveler.

January 21st

Otter – Alan Crockard
Skylark – Clinton Whale

After the day’s mammal photos, the bird news seems almost incidental. There were, however, a couple of additions to the reasonably healthy year-list, i.e. a Short-eared Owl over Stanpit mid-morning and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull from Mudeford Quay this afternoon. Truly-wild game birds also provided interest, with a Woodcock flushed from the southern edge of the Salt Hurns, while a snipe-count at Stanpit produced 3 Jack Snipe and around 25 Snipe on Central Marsh. Meanwhile, the Marsh Harrier and a pair of Bearded Tit once again entertained the reed-cutters. A decent day-list also included: 3 Mediterranean Gull from the quay, plus a Sandwich Tern, a Black-throated Diver and a settled Great Northern Diver from the Beach Huts. To round up, 9 Common Scoter, 43 Common Gull and 3 Gannet moved west at sea, the Treecreeper was in the Wood and a total of 48 Little Egret left the Nursery roost.

January 20th

Peregrine and unfortunate feral pigeon at Stanpit – Jimmy Main
Dunlin, also at Stanpit – Alan Crockard
Bearded Tit
...and another Bearded Tit entertaining the Wick reedbed workers – Hugh Goldsmith

A Jack Snipe was flushed from an icy pool on Grimmery Bank this morning, while 2 Redwing were in the North Scrubs. Meanwhile, those working it the Wick reeds enjoyed the Marsh Harrier and 3 Bearded Tit. Elsewhere, there were 4 Siskin on the Batters and a Kingfisher around Wick water meadows. Just this week, we’ve received details of two colour-ringed Black-headed Gull that were seen at Stanpit in November and December of last year - ringed in eastern Poland and Oslo respectively.

January 19th

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier turning on mobbing Magpie – Hugh Goldsmith
Bearded Tit
Male Bearded Tit – Hugh Goldsmith
...both just rewards for the reedbed work party – Hugh Goldsmith

Another cold day didn’t deter the Wick reedbed management team, which was  treated to close-up views of the Marsh Harrier and a pair of Bearded Tit. Elsewhere, a female Bullfinch by Holloway’s Dock was a nice record, while 11 Siskin were at the eastern end of the Batters. At Stanpit, there were 2 Avocet, as well as 11 Grey Plover, singles of Black-tailed Godwit and Turnstone, 50 Ringed Plover and 200 Dunlin. At last, it seems the small wader numbers are starting to reach expected levels - the first time since the algae scourge that commenced in spring last year. To finish up, 3 Pintail were on the marsh and a Kingfisher plus 2 Great Crested Grebe were in Barn Bight.

January 18th

Kingfisher – Jimmy Main

The day's news is limited, but does include a mid-winter surprise of a Woodcock in the Double Dykes. This species only occurs in the area on late-autumn passage or during cold spells - presumably, the snow to the east of us has moved this bird westward. In addition, a male Bearded Tit kept its eye on a reed-cutting work party at Wick.

January 17th

Grey Plover
Grey Plover on gryone S10 – Clinton Whale
Brent Goose
Brent Goose at Stanpit – Alan Crockard
...and the Holloway's Dock Avocet – Clinton Whale

The greater part of the day was spoiled by varying degrees of drizzle and rain, so there is relatively little to report. The Avocet remained in Holloway’s Dock, however, and bears testament to how a simple fence has transformed that spot, which now offers path-side views of waterbirds. Well done to the Hengistbury ranger team for that initiative! In addition, a Bar-tailed Godwit was tucked inside the harbour behind Mudeford Quay, the Spotted Redshank was off Fisherman’s Bank, 2 Grey Plover were on the sandspit and 220 Dunlin were at Stanpit; as were 5 Shelduck. The day’s WeBS count produced just 225 Wigeon - a 75% decrease from last month - a figure that reinforces just how much more attractive a flooded Avon Valley is. Meanwhile, the only non-waterbird news involves 8 Siskin on Wick.

Omission: a presumed 'Scandinavian' Herring Gull was on Mudeford Quay in the morning.

January 16th

By far the biggest surprise of the day was a Little Owl, accidentally flushed from the North Scrubs at around 9:00 this morning and seeming to head towards Ashtree Meadows. Also unexpected was a Blackcap in the same scrubs, while up to 7 Chiffchaff were likewise present. The pick of the waders was a lone Avocet in Holloway’s Dock all day, but others at Stanpit included: the Spotted Redshank, a clear influx of Grey Plover - 12 birds, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Ringed Plover and 188 Dunlin. Meanwhile, the Treecreeper and 2 Coal Tit were in the Wood, a dozen Shelduck were on the marsh and 4 Great Crested Grebe were off Mudeford Quay. Finally, thanks to the 15 members who attended the Holes Bay walk this morning, and also to Malcolm Barrett for organising another successful event.

January 15th

Siskin – Chris Chapleo

Despite a biting north-westerly wind, there was plenty about this morning. A couple of Spoonbill passed over, high to the east, while a Ruff, the Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover and 29 Dunlin were at Stanpit; also about the marsh, 2 Chiffchaff in Stanpit Scrubs. Elsewhere, the were small pockets of feeding Siskin - eight on Roebury Lane, four on the Wick riverside path, three on the Batters and six at the end of the head - which is far from characteristic in the area at any time of year; also a Redpoll with them at the latter site, the Firecrest in the Wood and a further 2 Chiffchaff on Wick. All three divers were seen from the Beach Huts - a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 2 Red-throated Diver - the former being quite close in and possibly the suspected lingerer. In addition, there were two settled Common Scoter on the water. A huge number of Wigeon, 700 birds, went out over the area to sea, presumably the result of a shoot in the Avon Valley; while there were an estimated 300 Teal about, 200 or so of them in Holloway’s Dock, as well as a couple of Goldeneye that circled the harbour, 2 Pochard and 7 Tufted Duck. 

January 14th

It was another low-key affair today with very little to report. The Treecreeper was again in the Wood, plus a couple of Goldcrest, also 2 Siskin overhead and the usual 2 Raven headed north. A visit to Stanpit on this afternoon's high tide found just 2 Dunlin, while the Brent Goose flock was estimated at 250. Finally, thanks to Alan and Leo for last night's entertaining talk and their excellent photos.

January 13th

Other than 3 Siskin from the East Batters, there was very little from the early shift today. However, once the temperatures had picked up by mid morning, the female Marsh Harrier appeared high over Wick Hams and then headed north. Later 4 Sandwich Tern were off Mudeford Quay. Of local interest, at least two pairs of Dartford Warbler have been active around Hengistbury in recent days; also there is a minimum of five pairs of Stonechat wintering between the Double Dykes and the Eastern end of the head.

January 12th

Kingfisher – Alan Crockard

On a fine and sunny day the keen north-westerly wind was certainly a shock to the system after the recent mild weather! Let's hope it is just a brief cold spell! On Stanpit the flock of Brent Goose, which numbered 180, held a couple of the pale-bellied variety this morning; also present was the Spotted Redshank. The Treecreeper was still in the wood at Hengistbury but otherwise there were just 2 Raven north and a Great Crested Grebe off Rushy Piece.

January 11th

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting – Alan Crockard
Spotted Redshank
Spotted Redshank
Spotted Redshank – Alan Hayden
Common Gull
Common Gull – Mike Davidson
Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier – Alan Hayden

After a night of violent hail, thunder and lightening, there were pieces of mid-winter interest from all the visited areas. The Marsh Harrier hunted Stanpit during the morning and in the late afternoon, but took an interim rest on a dead tree in the Wick reeds. Also at Stanpit, a couple of Sandwich Tern, the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover and 2 Black-tailed Godwit, presumably the valley floods have enticed many away; but the Dunlin count was an unexpected high of around 140 birds. On the converse, the winter’s poor showing of Snipe continues - only two seemingly put up by another very high tide, a situation that normally encourages far more to show themselves. Before moving elsewhere, a total of 3 Chiffchaff were at Stanpit, as well as 2 Siskin and 2 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit. On the sandspit, an adult Little Gull continues to linger offshore and 8 Purple Sandpiper were present at the southern end. Also still in residence, a Firecrest and a Treecreeper in the Wood, as well as the ever-present Raven. 

January 10th

Dunlin – Clinton Whale
Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper – Clinton Whale

There is relatively little news for the day - perhaps a combination of the ever-present threat of rain and an extraordinarily high tide that flooded large portions of the area. In fact, today’s bird boat was able to sail as far as and literally touch Waterloo Bridge in the centre of Christchurch! Bird-wise, the best at Stanpit was the Marsh Harrier, seen from the boat, hunting the Parky Meade Rail area, as well as a Grey Plover on Grimmery Bank. Meanwhile, 6 Purple Sandpiper and a couple of Dunlin were on the sandspit groyne S4. 

Additional news: an adult Little Gull was off the sandspit in the afternoon.

January 9th

A strong south-westerly wind ensured, for the most part, the day’s activities were related to the sea. This afternoon, an adult Little Gull flew east past the Long Groyne, while the morning, from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts, tallied: a Red-throated Diver west, a lingering Sandwich Tern, a Red-breasted Merganser that settled in the harbour, 23 Kittiwake, a trickle of Common Gull and 2 Common Scoter west, and 3 Gannet. Purple Sandpiper are normally the headline wader at this time of year, but 2 Sanderling on East Marsh, Stanpit, today take that mantle; but there were 5 ‘purps’ on the sandspit. The only other news from a flooded marsh, however, involves 3 Chiffchaff. To round up, Peregine were seen a couple of times and at least the Raven pair was around. Of contrasting fortunes, the mild weather is prompting ducks such as Teal to start displaying, but the long-lasting strong winds resulted in corpses of first-winter Gannet and Kittiwake being found on the strandline today. 

Omission: a presumed 'Scandinavian' Herring Gull was on Mudeford Quay during the afternoon.

January 8th

Pied Wagtail
Pied Wagtail on the sandspit – Clinton Whale
...and rainbow over Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale

Unpleasant showers punctuated the day, but the three main sites were visited. At Stanpit, a couple of Water Pipit were on Priory Marsh this morning, while the Marsh Harrier hunted the same area at 16:20 this evening. Also throughout the day: a Firecrest, 4 Chiffchaff and at least 10 Goldcrest in the North Scrubs, a ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, the Spotted Redshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Shoveler; plus 2 Siskin and 6 Linnet, the latter a winter scarcity, with the Goldfinch flock. From Mudeford Quay, an adult Little Gull and 8 Kittiwake were logged at sea, and a classic-looking candidate for ‘Scandinavian’ Herring Gull was on the quay itself. Finally, from Hengistbury, where 6 Purple Sandpiper and 38 Dunlin were on the sandspit, as was a single Raven, and a Coal Tit was in the Wood.

January 7th

Chiffchaff – Chris Dresh

There is little to report for today, although the presumed Siberian Chiffchaff was glimpsed this morning on a couple of occasions in the North Scrubs, when a Chiffchaff was also present. Of local detail, the Ashtree Meadow pre-roost gathering of 1000 or so Starling has shifted slightly towards the aforementioned scrubs, while a pair of Magpie about the meadows are already acting territorially.

January 6th

Goldcrest – Chris Dresh
Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit – Chris Dresh

A walk to the Beach Huts through the Wood when it was still largely dark saw a Tawny Owl fly across the main path, while both Fieldfare and Redwing were heard in the Nursery. Later, on the return journey, a Firecrest and the Treecreeper were encountered, and 8 Siskin were on Wick. In the interim, a look at sea came up with: a Slavonian Grebe and a Black-throated Diver, both presumed to be lingering birds, passing just offshore from the Beach Huts, 3 Red-throated Diver, a Sanderling, a Gadwall and seven settled Great Crested Grebe. No Purple Sandpiper were returned from the sandspit, but one was seen from Mudeford Quay, as was a second-winter Mediterranean Gull. The Spotted Redshank was in Stanpit Creek at lunchtime, a Peregrine was seen on a couple of occasions and the regular 2 Raven breakfasted on overnight fast-food discards at the quay.

January 5th

A fine shot of the Hengistbury Treecreeper – Chris Dresh
...and Firecrest – Chris Dresh

As the weather continues to improve, albeit slowly, there are now more observers back in the field. The presumed Siberian Chiffchaff was seen very briefly this morning in the North Scrubs, where 3 Chiffchaff were also present, while a further two were on the Stanpit golf course embankment. Also in those areas, 2 Redwing and a notable total of 31 Long-tailed Tit. Meanwhile, 3 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit were on the salt marsh adjacent to the Pod. Continuing with the passerines, a Firecrest, the Treecreeper, 5 Redwing and a Coal Tit were in the Wood, a further Coal Tit has taken a liking to the feeders in the Hengistbury Visitor’s Centre garden and 3 Raven were logged. To finish with the main interest, an adult Little Gull and a Purple Sandpiper were seen from Mudeford Quay, the 2 Sandwich Tern were fishing inside the harbour off South Marsh and the Spotted Redshank was on North Marsh. The more routine included: 2 Grey Plover, 40 Black-tailed Godwit which ended up on Wick, three each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, 4 Pintail and a Tufted Duck. 

Omission: a seawatch from Hengistbury produced: a Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Pintail, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 4 Gannet.

January 4th

Two Spoonbill circuiting the harbour this afternoon – Alan Hayden

It was significantly drier today and there were a couple of surprises to be had. Firstly, during the morning, the vegetation behind the Pod at Stanpit held 7 Chiffchaff - six of them regulation birds, but the seventh looking a very good candidate, plumage-wise that is, for Siberian Chiffchaff; but was not heard to call. There was also a Firecrest in the same area, which so far this winter hasn’t held birds. Then, in the afternoon, a couple of sub-adult Spoonbill circuited the harbour before eventually leaving to the east. Meanwhile, the two wintering Sandwich Tern were settled on South Marsh and 2 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit fed on North Marsh. Over on Hengistbury, there was a further Firecrest plus a Treecreeper in the Wood, while 3 Purple Sandpiper were about the southern end of the sandspit. Also logged during the day, singles of Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebe and Common Scoter west at sea, a Peregrine over Wick Hams and a Raven on the sandspit. On a general note, there suddenly seems to be fewer birds at Stanpit - presumably now the Avon Valley is in full flood, its attractions are so much better.

January 3rd

Grey Heron
Grey Heron at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

The morning was again blighted by a south-easterly blast and near-horizontal rain. Once more, seawatching from Mudeford Quay was poor, although 2 Little Gull were logged as they made an excursion from Avon Beach. Later, after what is probably best described as a cloud-burst, things brightened up considerably and a rather fruitful visit was made to Stanpit. The best were 2 Marsh Harrier - the regular bird plus one heading east at the same time - but also: 2 Chiffchaff, 4 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit, the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover and 4 Pintail. To round off the holiday period, some details of the photographed, colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit from a couple of days ago. The bird was ringed on Brownsea Island on 6th December 2014; four days later it was at Stanpit, where it was seen several times until 9th April 2015. After then presumably spending its summer in Iceland, the bird was back at Stanpit in early August 2015.

January 2nd

The mystery of the sea continues to bewilder. After a night and day of strong, onshore winds, combined with driving rain, the waters of Christchurch Bay were largely devoid of birds. In fact, just one Gannet was recorded during several hours of watching from Mudeford Quay, and that was directly overhead and moving into the harbour! A first-winter Little Gull and 2 Sandwich Tern in the Run this afternoon did provide some interest, but otherwise it’s just a Purple Sandpiper and 3 Common Gull to remark upon. Meanwhile at Stanpit, the best was a Chiffchaff as well as six or so Dunlin and similar numbers of Pintail. 

Additional news: the Marsh Harrier was seen from Wick in the late morning.

January 1st

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock
- one of them sporting colour-rings, for which details are being sought – Clinton Whale

The day started quite pleasantly, but very soon a biting south-easterly wind and then heavy rain set in. Nevertheless, perhaps as a consequence of renewed enthusiasm for a fresh recording period, there was a half-decent selection of birds found about the area. The morning produced: 2 Water Pipit and 2 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit by the Pod on Stanpit; a Firecrest and 2 Chiffchaff at the northern end of the North Scrubs; the Spotted Redshank in Stanpit Creek; and 2 Sandwich Tern inside the harbour behind Mudeford Quay: while late in the afternoon, two adult Little Gull were off Avon Beach, but visible from the quay, where a presumed ‘Scandinavian’ Herring Gull was present. Meanwhile, the supporting cast came from: a Red-throated Diver west past the Beach Huts; 4 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit; 86 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Ringed Plover, 19 Dunlin, 8 Pintail and 10 Shelduck at Stanpit; and a Treecreeper in the Wood. A Great Crested Grebe was inside the harbour, but unlike the preceding several days Gannet were almost completely absent - just one seen from the huts this morning!

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