Sightings for July 2016

July 31st

Bearded Tit Bearded Tit
Juvenile Bearded Tit at Stanpit – Alan Crockard

There were again a decent number of Willow Warbler around the northern part of Stanpit this morning, in particular about Ashtree Meadow; 35 being the best estimate, as well as 4 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap and 3 Sedge Warbler. There was no evidence of moving Swift or Sand Martin, however, although three of the former could be seen lingering over Purewell and many of the latter were commuting to and from the Hengistbury colonies. Once more, the young, male Marsh Harrier hunted the area and 8 Bearded Tit were logged. Moving to waders, a Greenshank was in Parky Meade Rail, while 4 Knot, 6 Common Sandpiper, 25 Whimbrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Dunlin were around Stanpit Bight. Of mammal interest, the Grey Seal ventured upriver as far a Clay Pool, where it was seen at 7:00 this morning.

July 30th

There was a sizeable presence of passerines about the northern portion of Stanpit this morning, including: a Grasshopper Warbler, a Redstart, 6 Garden Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 30 Willow Warbler and 70 Sedge Warbler; while 80 Swift and 90 Sand Martin passed through to the west. Also over there, a Yellow Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail, but on Hengistbury there were nowhere near the same numbers. A nice wader selection was headed by 2 Green Sandpiper, a Ruff and a Knot which travelled west with 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank - one in Barn Bight and one in Stanpit Bight - at least 20 Whimbrel, 6 Common Sandpiper, 3 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin. Finally, reed-bed regulars came courtesy of 4 Bearded Tit around Priory Marsh and the young, male Marsh Harrier about there. 

July 29th

Sanderling Sanderling
Sanderling on the sandspit – Clinton Whale

Other than 2 Garden Warbler at Stanpit, all the news involves waders. A total of 6 Sanderling, along with a single Turnstone, was on the sandspit; while a Knot, 7 Common Sandpiper, 18 Whimbrel, 3 Turnstone, a Black-tailed Godwit and 9 Dunlin were inside the harbour.

Additional news: 3 Common Tern were in Barn Bight and 3 Willow Warbler were on Hengistbury.

July 28th

A westerly breeze generated a little movement over Stanpit this morning with 135 Sand Martin and 38 Swift heading into the wind. Waders moving west included 23 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover and 5 Knot, these in two mixed flocks. There was also another decent count of Sedge Warbler with fifty birds around Priory Marsh/Parky Meade Rail, plus 6 Bearded Tit and one each of Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat at the northern end of Stanpit. The first Teal of the 'autumn' was opposite Fisherman's Bank, also a Snipe there while around the marsh 10 Dunlin and 8 Common Sandpiper were logged. The sea was watched from Mudeford Quay a couple of times and produced two dark-phase Arctic Skua, which came in from the west then moved back to the west, also 3 Sanderling, 2 Common Sandpiper and 6 Mediterranean Gull, three of which were juveniles. Later, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was off the quay.

July 27th

There was a good selection of Arctic-breeding waders still sporting their plumage at Stanpit today: a Little Stint, a Sanderling and a Knot off the tip of South Marsh, plus a Spotted Redshank in Mother Siller’s Channel; also 7 Common Sandpiper, 21 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 19 Dunlin inside the harbour. Meanwhile, the sea held some interest from Mudeford Quay - not least a Garganey on the water briefly, but also 9 Common Scoter, a Fulmar, 27 Gannet and 43 passing Common Tern. In addition, 26 Common Tern moved through the harbour, as did a Little Tern. There was also an increase in the presence of Sandwich Terrn; for example, 78 in Holloway’s Dock and 60 offshore. A female-type, but suspected male Marsh Harrier was on the deck on Priory Marsh, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was on the HHC mudbar and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull passed the quay.

July 26th

Other than a female-type Marsh Harrier that was seen over the northern part of the area, it’s waders that dominate the day’s news. Singles of Green Sandpiper and Greenshank were off Fisherman’s Bank, while a Snipe was on Wick meadows, with other numbers coming from: 12 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, 13 Dunlin and 42 Curlew. The low tide saw a good count of Water Rail and Moorhen - 15 and 12 respectively - as well as ten, resting Common Tern. To round things up, a Kingfisher was by the Wooden Bridge and a couple of Swift headed west.

A further Marsh Harrier update: there are now three juveniles on the wing around the just-outside-of-area nest site.

Additional news: singles of adult Yellow-legged Gull and Mediterranean Gull were briefly at Stanpit.

July 25th

Greenfinch – Clinton Whale
...and one of hundreds of Gatekeeper on the wing today – Clinton Whale

There was a noticeable arrival of warblers around the northern part of Stanpit this morning - an estimate of 150 Sedge Warbler coming from Priory Marsh, while 2 Grasshopper Warbler were seen, one by the Rusty Boat and one on Ashtree Meadow, as well as 12 Willow Warbler. Meanwhile, at least 10 Bearded Tit were reckoned, 81 Swift plus 230 Sand Martin headed west and a female-type Marsh Harrier passed north. Elsewhere about the area, singles of Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover were logged, along with 3 Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Dunlin. A total of 11 Mediterranean Gull, including three juveniles, moved through, and a Hobby, presumably from the Avon Valley, visited. 

July 24th

Natterjack Natterjack
Natterjack toadlet - the lower shot showing the diagnostic stripe along the back.
All photos were taken from a public path – Alan Crockard

For a short while this morning thick fog meant that Hengistbury couldn’t be seen from Stanpit; but as quickly as it came it cleared, with blue skies eventually giving way to late-afternoon drizzle. It’s probably duck that shade the interest, although gulls come a close second. A party of four, very young Goosander toured the area at around 7:30 and a female-plumaged Pintail was a bizarre sight as it fed in the shallows of Mother Siller’s Channel, while singles of Teal and Tufted Duck were on site, as were multitudes of Mallard. Now the gulls: the best a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Mudeford Quay this morning plus an adult there late in the afternoon; also at least 4 Common Gull and 16 Mediterranean Gull logged throughout the day. Perhaps the strangest record is off a Fulmar moving west through the harbour, as did as many as 30 Common Tern - some of them stopping to rest. Finally, the waders - with the pick being an aerial flock of 3 Ringed Plover, a Turnstone and a Little Ringed Plover, which formed in that order before leaving to the west. In addition, at least 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Whimbrel, a Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Dunlin were settled. 

July 23rd

Oystercatcher on East Marsh, Stanpit – Clinton Whale
Comma – Clinton Whale

The first juvenile Mediterranean Gull of the season was seen this morning - in Stanpit Bight at low tide - when 14 settled Common Tern were present and a further 27 birds moved through to the west. The best passerine was easily a Pied Flycatcher in the sycamores on the golf course embankment, where 3 Willow Warbler also fed, and 2 Treecreeper were in Ashtree Meadow. Wader-wise, there were 3 Green Sandpiper, a minimum of 6 Common Sandpiper, a Dunlin and 46 Redshank. Meanwhile, the low spring tide meant that at least 14 Water Rail could be picked out around the reed bases in Parky Meade Rail.

July 22nd

Sandwich Tern
Recently-fledged Sandwich Tern in Holloway's Dockc – Clinton Whale
Whimbrel at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

It almost goes without saying it was another hot day; with waders being the main interest. Just before 7:00 this morning, a flock of 4 Green Sandpiper were on Wick meadows but soon headed off west; a Little Ringed Plover was about the area; a party of 5 Avocet passed through high to the west, but attracted the aggressive attention of an Oystercatcher as they did so; a Greenshank was on the Salt Hurns; at least a dozen Common Sandpiper were on site; and the Whimbrel peaked at just over twenty, those this evening at Stanpit. Meanwhile, 12 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 17 Dunlin can also be added to the day’s list. There were signs the Sedge Warbler passage is getting underway, as 30 birds were estimated from the northern parts of the recording area, while 3 Garden, 5 Willow Warbler and Yellow Wagtail were logged, and a tit flock on Hengistbury contained juveniles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff - three and two respectively. An adult, female Marsh Harrier passed over to the east, but a Garganey, 2 Shoveler, 3 Teal, 185 Swift, 48 Sand Martin and 35 Swallow travelled in the opposite direction. To round up, the miscellany included: three juvenile Bearded Tit at Parky Meade Rail, 3 Mediterranean Gull at Stanpit a Treecreeper in the Wood and a Kingfisher in Barn Bight. 

Lower Avon Valley news: last night, it was confirmed the pair of Marsh Harrier have now fledged two youngsters.

July 21st

It’s perhaps gulls that head the interest today, including the first returning Common Gull, an adult, and 2 Mediterranean Gull; as well as an adult Black-headed Gull, first seen on last Friday, which via its colour-ring code is now known to have spent the breeding season in Poland. All these were seen from Fisherman’s Bank, as were: 4 Common Sandpiper, 9 Whimbrel, a Ringed Plover and 14 Dunlin; plus a Kingfisher.

Additional news: the moulting Marsh Harrier, with a tail-shape resembling a lammergeier, that has been in the Avon Valley for over a week now was seen from Stanpit, where three juvenile Bearded Tit were present. 

July 20th

Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern in the increasingly-popular Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale
Great Black-backed Gull
...and a couple of recently-fledged Great Black-backed Gull siblings – Clinton Whale

After a cloudy start, the blue skies prevailed and it was another hot one. An early look at the sea in a south-easterly breeze proved fruitless - 12 eastbound Mediterranean Gull and 4 Gannet being the sum-total. Meanwhile, 81 Swift and 185 Sand Martin travelled west. In addition to 3 Sanderling which moved straight through to the west, there were: a Turnstone, 6 Whimbrel, 5 Common Sandpiper, 11 Dunlin and 83 Redshank settled inside the harbour. Of returning wildfowl interest, 5 Shoveler and 7 Gadwall toured before eventually heading off to the east. To round up, it has been suspected Treecreeper may be breeding on Hengistbury and four birds there today, two of them looking a bit tousled, tends to confirm it. 

July 19th

Sunrise over the harbour – Clinton Whale
Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper slightly later on Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale
...and Grey Heron with Little Egret from the Wooden Bridge – Clinton Whale

It's been a long, hot day so mercifully there is fairly little to write up tonight. A female Marsh Harrier was at Stanpit this morning, along with 2 Mediterranean Gull and 4 Common Sandpiper, while a further two of the latter were in Holloway's Dock. Of amphibian interest, Natterjack toadlets are now leaving pools on Hengistbury.

July 18th

Bearded Tit
Juvenile Bearded Tit at Stanpit Marsh
- the result of two hours of patience and uncounted insect bites – Alan Crockard
Essex Skipper Essex Skipper
Essex Skipper - showing the diagnostic black-tipped antennae – Chris Chapleo

The most exciting news of a sweltering day comes from just outside our formal recording area and appends this post. At Stanpit, a Little Ringed Plover was the best of a wader selection that included: a Greenshank, 16 Common Sandpiper, a Turnstone, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Whimbrel, 32 Curlew, 2 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin. Meanwhile, an adult male and four juvenile Bearded Tit were seen along the southern edge of Parky Meade Rail, a Redstart was in the North Scrubs and a Treecreeper was in Ashtree Meadow. Overhead, a total of 47 Swift and 73 Sand Martin moved through, while a Kingfisher was by the Wooden Bridge on Wick.

A kilometre or so north of central Christchurch, in the Lower Avon Valley, a pair of Marsh Harrier has raised at least one young. Tonight, a juvenile bird was seen leaving the nest and making a short flight. This is the first breeding in the area in living memory, but probably much longer - let’s hope there are more in the nest yet to take to the wing! 

July 17th

Green Woodpecker
Juvenile Green Woodpecker perching on a kestrel-box – Clinton Whale
Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser – Chris Dresh
Meadow Brown
Meadow Brown – Clinton Whale

It was a day that reduced in breeze and gathered temperature throughout, with tonight sitting somewhere between balmy and muggy. Bearded Tit came alive this morning - two seen along the southern edge of Parky Meade Rail, Stanpit, and a single juvenile in the reeds adjacent to the HHC. Meanwhile, a modest selection of waders included: a Greenshank and 2 Whimbrel in Holloway’s Dock; and a further 6 Whimbrel, 7 Common Sandpiper and 2 Dunlin at Stanpit. An early-morning Marsh Harrier was again seen from the marsh, where 2 Yellow Wagtail overflew and a Treecreeper was logged. Elsewhere, 2 Common Tern and a Kingfisher were in Barn Bight, 7 Mediterranean Gull were see from Fisherman’s Bank and the resting Sandwich Tern peaked at twenty-three in Holloway’s Dock. 

July 16th

Grey Seal Grey Seal
This Grey Seal was in Clay Pool today
- that's the confluence of the Avon and Stour, a good mile's swim upstream from the Run where the animal has previously been seen – Alan Crockard

Other than the mammal highlight illustrated in the photographs, it was so dull this morning that Leighton Buzzard twice crept into the time-passing conversation on Mudeford Quay! From there, up to 5 Common Tern lingered offshore, while a Whimbrel and a Curlew arrived as a pair. Earlier, Fisherman's Bank came up with: 9 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, 10 Dunlin and 56 Redshank; plus the four young Shelduck which are now capable of flight.

Additional news: a Greenshank and a Whimbrel were in Holloway's Dock this evening.

July 15th

Whimbrel – Clinton Whale
Sand Martin
One of around 100 Sand Martin still around the nest burrows – Clinton Whale

Firstly, the oddities: a Red-legged Partridge was on Hengistbury, initially seen by the visitor’s centre and then 90 minutes later by the Double Dykes; while an equally early visit to Stanpit saw the flightless, drake Goosander on the river. The wader interest builds - the best today being a Little Ringed Plover and a Green Sandpiper over Wick - but the rest of the area produced totals of: at least one settled Greenshank plus three straight through to the west, 3 Common Sandpiper, a turnover of up to 20 Whimbrel, singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Dunlin, 25 Curlew and in excess of 40 Redshank. The only passerine news involves 2 Willow Warbler at Stanpit, where a lighter-than-yesterday, overhead passage was provided by 38 Swift and 220 Sand Martin; although around a hundred of the latter are still around the breeding areas on Hengistbury. Finally, in addition to what is reckoned to be a summering, second-calendar-year Marsh Harrier, which was again seen this morning, a bird in heavy moult was logged heading north-east. 

July 14th

Reed Warbler Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler on Wick – Alan Crockard

In addition to the best birds of the day, a couple of Crossbill that headed north over Stanpit, there was a decent south-west bound passage of Swift, eighty-eight of them, and hirundines - 1650 Sand Martin, 55 Swallow and 15 House Martin. Meanwhile, a couple of Hobby not surprisingly buzzed the area. Wader interest at Stanpit was provided by: 3 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 8 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, a Snipe and 40 Redshank; while a further 3 Whimbrel headed west, as did 6 Mediterranean Gull. Rounding up, there were 8 Common Tern inside the harbour as well as two very young Great Crested Grebe.

July 13th

Sandwich Tern
Juvenile Sandwich Tern with presumably its parents – Clinton Whale
Black-headed Gull
...and juvenile Black-headed Gull – Clinton Whale

It was a good day all round, which saw: a Roseate Tern off the tip of South Marsh; a Cuckoo and a Garden Warbler in the North Scrubs; a Spotted Redshank and 2 Ruff at Stanpit; and at 7:10 this morning a Marsh Harrier over the Wick reeds. In addition, up to 15 Common Sandpiper were about the harbour, as were 19 Whimbrel, 28 Curlew, 25 Redshank, a Little Tern and a Common Tern. Meanwhile, a southerly overhead passage included: a Yellow Wagtail, 58 Swift and 136 Sand Martin; but there were also Sand Martin excavating nest burrows on the Hengistbury cliffs! The Shelduck duckling figure from yesterday was revised to four and the same number of Raven were on site. 

July 12th

Sanderling – Clinton Whale
Common Sandpiper
Common SandpiperCommon Sandpiper – Clinton Whale

Although the wind remains a constant the skies certainly don’t - today witnessing both clear blue and near-torrential rain. The sandspit held the pick of the waders - a Sanderling in breeding plumage and 2 Common Sandpiper - but Stanpit chipped in with 4 Whimbrel, 21 Curlew and 29 Redshank. Although not reported, the first juvenile Sandwich Tern of the year was seen off Mudeford Quay on Saturday, while a further youngster was amongst thirteen adult birds today. Also logged, the Shelduck family that seems to now include three almost fully-grown ducklings. 

July 11th

Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull – Clinton Whale

The on-going winds meant the sea was watched from the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay this morning, but the combined totals were a rather woeful: singles of Kittiwake and Fulmar, 3 Common Tern, 30 Gannet and a Great Crested Grebe. Meanwhile, a couple of Whimbrel were in Holloway's Dock and 2 Raven were about the area. 

July 10th

The morning was dominated by a westerly wind, low cloud and drizzle; so, all in all, it was pretty dismal. As a result, the only news again comes from Mudeford Quay, from where a Hobby, 2 Mediterranean Gull, nine arriving Whimbrel and 2 Raven were logged.

July 9th

The only known activity today was at Mudeford Quay, where a pitiful three hours from 6:30 onwards produced: a Fulmar west, 2 Common Scoter east, a Dunlin, a Whimbrel and 2 Curlew, all arriving from the east, and 4 Raven. For a while, there were twenty or so distant Gannet, two or three of them birds in their first summer.

July 8th

Goosander Goosander Goosander
Drake Goosander in the harbour today – Clinton Whale
...and the same bird at 5:30 yesterday morning, when it was first found – Ann Parramore
Pyramidal Orchid
Pyramidal Orchid on Hengistbury Head
- far from an everyday occurrence – Chris Dresh

A drake Goosander, first seen early yesterday morning, was around the harbour today; hopefully, its tatty appearance may be a function of it being in eclipse as opposed to injured. Meanwhile, the late morning saw a small southbound movement of Swift and Sand Martin over Stanpit - 72 and 53 respectively - with settled waders headed by 5 Common Sandpiper and 3 Whimbrel. Later, a Treecreeper, a juvenile Peregrine and 2 Raven were returned from Hengistbury, where butterflies included Purple Hairstreak, Ringlet, Large Skipper, Small/Essex Skipper, Comma and Red Admiral. 

July 7th

Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler – Clinton Whale
Stonechat – Clinton Whale
Rock Pipit
..and Rock Pipit, all taken around the Ironstone Quarry – Clinton Whale

There were at least 7 Whimbrel logged today, that number at Stanpit while two arriving over Mudeford Quay may or may not have been additional. Also on the marsh, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 22 Curlew and 4 Common Tern and a Mediterranean Gull. A drake Common Scoter was on the sea off the sandspit and 4 Raven were on the quay.

July 6th

A murmuration of Starling - estimated at over 1500 birds - in the harbour last night
– Chris Dresh

Waders were again the main feature of the day - not least 2 Green Sandpiper which lifted off Wick meadows at just before 7:00 and headed north-west; but also a Common Sandpiper and 15 Redshank in Barn Bight, plus a flock of Black-tailed Godwit east. The remaining bird news involves 2 Treecreeper in the Wood and 3 Raven on Mudeford Quay. Of mammal interest, a Grey Seal was just meters off the quay this morning. Please check back to yesterday for dusk update. 

July 5th

Mute Swan
Mute Swan cygnets at Mudeford Quay.
The right-hand bird being of the white 'Polish' form. These are the two survivors
from a brood of six, which originally contained three of each type – Clinton Whale
Small Tortoiseshell Gatekeeper
The fine weather saw the most butterfly on the wing of the summer so far.
Small Tortoiseshell (upper) and Gatekeeper – Clinton Whale

Despite the fair weather, the only bird news involves: 3 Common Sandpiper at Stanpit, 3 Common Tern off Mudeford Quay and 2 Raven on it.

Additional news, the traditional mid-summer Starling roost, comprising nearly all juveniles, was reckoned to exceed 1500 birds, while a Marsh Harrier quartered the adjacent reed bed.

July 4th

Greenfinch – Chris Dresh
Herring Gull
Herring Gull – Clinton Whale

The return passage of Common Sandpiper continued today, with the peak count from Stanpit being of five birds this morning; also a Black-tailed Godwit there. On Wick, a Lesser Whitethroat was by the Wooden Bridge, while at least 6 Mediterranean Gull passed through the area. Of novelty value, 3 Black Swan flew south through the harbour at just before 10:00.

July 3rd

This male Linnet was kept busy today – Chris Dresh
House Sparrow House Sparrow
House Sparrow splashing about amongst Natterjack tadpoles – Chris Dresh
Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth on Hengistbury – Chris Roughley
By date, probably a Small Skipper - although Essex Skipper is a possibility – Clinton Whale

There was a Redstart in Ashtree Meadow this morning, along with three each of Nuthatch and Treecreeper; while a further of the latter was on Hengistbury. A couple of attempts were made at the sea - the best being a Guillemot on the water, but also 15 Gannet, two of them non-adults, and 12 Sandwich Tern. Waders were once again sparse, but did include a Turnstone and 2 Dunlin. 

July 2nd

Although there has been a strong wind for the last twenty-four hours at least, it was reckoned to contain a little too much west to make the sea the centre of the day’s attention. Instead it was Stanpit, but that yielded very little - just a single Common Sandpiper, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a dozen Lapwing to note. There are, however, a few Gannet feeding in Christchurch Bay, some of them relatively close inshore. 

July 1st

The morning at Stanpit saw a breeding-plumaged Ruff on the tip of South Marsh with a few Lapwing, as well as 5 Common Sandpiper and 2 Ringed Plover about the marsh.

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