Sightings for October 2016

October 31st

One of the 400+ Wigeon that will spend the winter in the harbour – Clinton Whale

Despite the morning’s patchy mist, there was a movement of birds, mainly finches, into the easterly breeze. The totals being: 555 Goldfinch, 125 Chaffinch, 50 Linnet, 33 Siskin, 12 Redpoll, 2 Brambling, 5 House Sparrow, 5 Reed Bunting, 28 Meadow Pipit, 17 alba Wagtail and a Rook, as well as two each of House Martin and Swallow; while 2 Fieldfare and 5 Redwing headed inland. Of the few decked migrants, returns included 2 Blackcap and 10 Chiffchaff. By lunchtime, the sky was almost completely blue and it was a glorious afternoon, which saw a Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, an increase to 150 Dunlin and an adult Mediterranean Gull, these now scarce in the area, at Stanpit.

October 30th

Priory Marsh
Priory Marsh
Priory Marsh
Priory Marsh
Some images of the topping, ditching and reedbed management work that was undertaken on Priory Marsh last week, which is intended to improve the area for a whole range of species
but particularly breeding waders. Our thanks to the Countryside Services team at
Christchurch & East Dorset Councils for administering and managing this work,
towards which CHOG was a financial contributor.
All photos – Alan Crockard

Other than 2 Purple Sandpiper on sandspit groyne S10, all the news comes from Stanpit. A single Shoveler was mixed in with the ever-impressive bunch of Wigeon and 85 Brent Goose were around the Bight. Wader-wise, there were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 30 Dunlin and 6 Snipe. The North Scrubs held 8 Chiffchaff, a Dartford Warbler was again on Crouch Hill and 4 Common Gull were on South Marsh.    

October 29th

Turnstone on the sandspit – Chris Dresh

In mild, windless conditions that sported a very light drizzle this morning, it was once more extremely hard going. The best was a Golden Plover arriving over the Barn Field, but other than that moving birds above Hengistbury and Wick came to just: 24 Siskin, 3 Chaffinch and 6 Meadow Pipit east; plus 2 Fieldfare, 11 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Shoveler and 10 Wigeon west. Meanwhile, single figures of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were in the bushes. The birds inside the harbour were erratic in their presence; but 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Ringed Plover, 40 Dunlin and 2 Shoveler were recorded, while a total of 18 Turnstone were on the sandspit. Rounding up, the Marsh Harrier was present for most of the afternoon, a Peregrine was seen from the head, as per yesterday a Dartford Warbler was on Crouch Hill, a Coal Tit was in the Nursery and a Kingfisher was seen in Mother Siller’s Channel.

October 28th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper are back – Clinton Whale

The first Purple Sandpiper of the winter returned today - three birds - initially on the Long Groyne, but then groyne S10. Meanwhile, a fine-looking Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh, enjoying the new ditches, the Marsh Harrier was seen on a couple of occasions at Stanpit and 2 Firecrest were there. Early on, it was desperately quiet over Hengistbury, but things picked up a little around 9:00. There was a surprisingly high ratio of Redpoll in the travelling finches, perhaps as many as 60 birds, along with 20 Chaffinch, 95 Linnet and 215 Goldfinch, plus 4 Swallow, all east. Just under 12 Chiffchaff were turned in from across the whole area, the Spotted Redshank, 35 Dunlin and 290 Lapwing were at Stanpit, 2 Common Scoter and 3 auks headed into the Solent, and a Peregrine was about. Of mammal interest, a group of around eight dolphins, presumed Bottlenose, moved slowly west offshore.

October 27th

Tufted Duck
The drake Tufted Duck that spends much of its time
hanging out with Mallard in the harbour – Emma Pounds
Brent Goose
Brent Goose normally spend their first winter in the company of their parents,
but this youngster has been alone at the end of the sandspit for a few days now.
It does seem to be in good shape, however – Clinton Whale

It was hard work on Hengistbury this morning. One could try and blame the fog, but there were hardly birds around in any case. A bush at the northern end of Wick Fields held 3 Firecrest,  while a few Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were also clustered in that area; while the head turned in just four and six of each respectively. Overhead passage was almost absent, although six or so Redpoll were logged. Stanpit fared a little better with a Jack Snipe and a 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit. To finish this off, a Sanderling was on the tip of the sandspit, 33 Dunlin were in Holloway’s Dock and a Guillemot was inside the harbour adjacent to the ferry jetty. 

October 26th

In similar weather to yesterday, there was at least one Yellow-browed Warbler on Hengistbury - a bird called a few times by the Ironstone Quarry, then an hour or two later it or another was seen with 4 Firecrest at the end of the head. Meanwhile, it was reckoned there were less than 10 Chiffchaff across the southern side of the recording area, but there was a Black Redstart briefly on the sandspit and a couple of latish Sandwich Tern left the harbour to the west. The best at Stanpit was probably a Whimbrel, for the date that is, although a Spoonbill roosting on South Marsh was perhaps as good. Overhead migration to the east seemed to be modest, but did contain 125 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling and a Bullfinch, as well as 15 Siskin, 16 Redpoll, 85 Linnet, 93 Goldfinch, 29 Skylark and 21 Reed Bunting; while a Fieldfare, 3 Redwing and a Mistle Thrush moved north-west. To wrap up, a Treecreeper was in the Wood.

Additional news: a continental Coal Tit was at the end of the head.

October 25th

Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit in the sunshin – Clinton Whale

It was an absolutely glorious day - bright sunshine and no wind - that brought out the T-shirts for perhaps the last time this year. Just before dusk, a Puffin, a bird of immense local value, was on the water off Mudeford Quay, before drifting out of sight; a few hours earlier, a Razorbill and 3 Guillemot had also been seen, from the top of the head, settled on the calm sea. Otherwise, it was all very sparse with no reports at all from the morning. Around lunchtime there was still a trickle of finches passing east over Hengistbury, so perhaps suggesting a large early movement, that included a Redpoll and 2 Siskin. At Stanpit, there were 3 Knot, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Black-tailed Godwit and 80 Dunlin, while 6 Turnstone were on the sandspit.

Additional news: a Firecrest was in the Wood, a further 9 Siskin make the post and an unidentified diver headed into the Solent.

October 24th

DunlinDunlin – Clinton Whale

Thick cloud and a north-easterly breeze eventually produced the forecast rain, around mid afternoon when the wind died away almost completely. Before it was even half light, a Short-eared Owl was seen off the Long Field by two local crows and headed on west, when a Fieldfare was heard and the Red-legged Partridge surveyed its estate from the top of the Barn. Later, a Wheatear was on the head and 15 Redwing were in the Wood. Hengistbury itself held less than 10 Chiffchaff, with Wick turning another 14, but the North Scrubs, Stanpit, held over 35, including a possible tristis (Siberian). A late Whimbrel was on the marsh, as were: the Spotted Redshank, a Knot, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Ringed Plover and 49 Dunlin; a couple of Grey Plover were in Holloway’s Dock; and 7 Snipe were about Wick Hams. The conditions completely halted migration - an hour on top of the head produced not a single moving bird - although 4 Swallow were over Fisherman’s Bank. Finally, 5 Shoveler and a Shelduck were inside the harbour, a Mediterranean Gull lingered offshore and a Kingfisher was at Stanpit.

Additional news: a Short-eared Owl was also at Stanpit, just before dusk.

October 23rd

Brent Goose
Adult (top) and juvenile Brent Goose – Clinton Whale
Black-tailed Godwit
Two juvenile Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock – Clinton Whale

The morning’s visible migration was totally dominated by Goldfinch - 935 east over the sandspit in the period 7:30 to 9:30 - while other totals came to a miserly: 50 Linnet, 16 Siskin, 3 Redpoll, 11 alba Wagtail, 8 Meadow Pipit, 6 Starling, 3 Skylark, 2 Redwing, 7 Rook and 11 Swallow. The day’s only other news involves 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin in Holloway’s Dock, a Great Crested Grebe on the sea and a Kingfisher in Barn Bight.

October 22nd

Robin – Steve Hogan

During a mirky morning, the majority of the interest was on Stanit, where a Yellow-browed Warbler was on the golf course embankment, a Ring Ouzel was on Crouch Hill and a Water Pipit was on Central Marsh. Over on Hengistbury, however, the best were 7 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing moving north-west. The poor visibility stifled any clear movement of birds, but 80 Goldfinch, 25 Linnet and 2 Redpoll did attempt to travel, ditto singles of House Martin, Swallow and Snipe, all east; while a party of 5 Brent Goose sat it out on the water by the Long Groyne. After being present in low, single figures for the last few days, there were all of a sudden 15 Grey Plover inside the harbour, as well as the Spotted Redshank, 2 Knot, 20 Ringed Plover and 95 Dunlin. Also on site, perhaps as many as 20 Chiffchaff, a Shelduck, a Peregrine for a short time and 2 Raven.

October 21st

Sparrowhawk – Jimmy Main

After a largely clear night, a layer of heavy cloud that descended just before dawn, combined with a northerly breeze, made things a little chilly this morning. Nevertheless, a Twite put in a very brief appearance at the eastern end of Hengistbury, where it touched down for seconds, and a Yellow-browed Warbler was in riverside willows just north of the HHC. Earlier, a Woodcock had come up from the small copse on the northern edge of the Salt Hurns. There were also thrushes to be seen early on, all heading north-west, including 5 Fieldfare and 22 Redwing. At sea, a Red-throated Diver and 2 Common Scoter moved west, while up to 20 Chiffchaff were on Wick, plus a few more in the North Scrubs, Stanpit. The Marsh Harrier was seen at 8:20, when waders inside the harbour came to 3 Grey Plover, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Ringed Plover and 22 Dunlin; also 5 Shoveler.

October 20th

One of two Avocet at Stanpit today – Alan Crockard
...where Swallow were feasting on insects – Alan Crockard
Brent Goose
... and the Brent Goose are here for the winter – Emma Pounds

The pick of the day came midway through the afternoon, when an incoming flock of four passerines, picked up way out over the Solent from the Beach Huts, turned out to be Waxwing. They then headed north-west over the sandspit, trilling away as they did so. Earlier, a late Tree Pipit was the best of a rather aimless and bitty migration that rather floundered over Hengistbury in the northerly breeze, but did include 2 Brambling, 2 Redpoll and several Siskin. Thrushes, however, do give slightly more to write about and included 21 Redwing, plus a further single, heading inland at dawn, as well as a Mistle Thrush on the Long Field. The conditions seemed to encourage Bearded Tit to show themselves - perhaps as many as 12 at Stanpit, close to the Rusty Boat - where over 20 Stonechat and two presumed ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit were also present. A decent, in-harbour wader selection comprised: 2 Avocet, the Spotted Redshank, a Golden Plover, 8 Grey Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Ringed Plover and 65 Dunlin; the Marsh Harrier showed well at just before 7:30; and a Kingfisher was on the Bailey Bridge at Stanpit. 

October 19th

Wheatear – Clinton Whale

A Lapland Bunting, a Yellowhammer and 2 Bullfinch were seen from Hengistbury this morning - although there are no details of where, the assumption is they were flyovers. Also over there and Wick, around 50 Skylark, 30 Meadow Pipit, 7 Redpoll, 25 Siskin and 19 Swallow; all west into the wind. Meanwhile, a Wheatear was settled between the Gully and the Long Groyne. The best of the waders was a Golden Plover west, but at Stanpit there were: a Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone, 14 Ringed Plover and 50 or so Dunlin. A couple of Shoveler were settled on the marsh, while a flock of just over 30 birds headed inland at dawn. The Marsh Harrier hunted the area between 8:00 and 9:00, with singles of Peregrine and Kingfisher also making the post.

October 18th

Linnet in the evening sun on Stanpit – Clinton Whale

With a significant number of the harbour regulars visiting the Yorkshire coast today it's no surprise that field activity in the harbour was limited. The only report received so far is of a walk over Wick Fields this afternoon that produced a Merlin in the North Paddock, 26 Teal on Wick floods and 10 Chiffchaff in the general area.

October 17th

Grey Heron
Juvenile Grey Heron – Alan Hayden

It was another day of southerly winds and early showers. Although there are no visible-migration figures to hand, it is known that 11 Bearded Tit passed over Hengistbury. Meanwhile, 3 Yellow-browed Warbler were on the head - one again on the Batters and two from what was described as the western end. There were also around 20 Chiffchaff spread about Hengistbury, plus 17 on Wick, but only a couple in the North Scrubs on Stanpit. Easily the best on the marsh was a Water Pipit, that by the Rusty Boat, but also 3 Grey Plover, 6 Knot, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and a marked increase of Black-tailed Godwit to 75 birds. Rounding off this short post, a couple of Raven skirted the area.

October 16th

Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler – Alan Hayden (upper) & Clinton Whale
Both photographs taken from public paths

Very heavy showers and a strong, southerly wind made birding conditions more than challenging this morning. Nevertheless, a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard to call several times at the western end of Roebury Lane, while a Marsh Harrier moved west over Hengistbury. Later, when things had dried out a bit, another Yellow-browed Warbler was discovered; this time in the North Scrubs at Stanpit. The weather conditions, coupled with an autumnal spring tide, clearly distorted the WeBS count numbers; for example, just 134 Wigeon returned when there have been hundreds present for the last couple of weeks. Meanwhile, other duck inside the harbour included 2 Pintail, 2 Shelduck and 28 Teal. The wader interest was headed by 2 Jack Snipe at Stanpit, with other site-wide totals coming to: 2 Knot, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Snipe, 21 Turnstone, 82 Ringed Plover and 161 Dunlin. Early on, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 12 Common Gull were seen from Mudeford Quay; a couple of Sandwich Tern were at Stanpit; the regular Marsh Harrier was registered; and a Kingfisher was on Holloway’s Dock.

October 15th

The now-tame Goosander that spends most of its time chasing bread with the mallards
at Christchurch Quay, but does occasionally find its way into the harbour – Emma Pounds
...while up to 5 Teal have been almost as approachable
on the Lily Pond recently – Alan Hayden

Drizzle at dawn shortly followed by a wind-driven deluge from the south put paid to any significant visible migration today, although the was a small flurry of finches in the immediate aftermath. The Batters hosted as many as 3 Yellow-browed Warbler throughout the day, sometimes showing well but spread right along the length of the path. Also in there, up to 20 Chiffchaff, a handful of Goldcrest and a couple of Blackcap, while a female Merlin passed over during the afternoon. The only other bird of note from the Hengistbury side of the area was a Redwing over Solent Meads in the dark. Over on Stanpit, a Jack Snipe came up from the fringes of Crouch Hill, where there were 2 Dartford Warbler which are always notable on the marsh. The only wader news is of 15 Bar-tailed Godwit and 35 Black-tailed Godwit.

October 14th

Marsh Harrier
Marsh Harrier
A non-regular Marsh Harrier passing through yesterday,
when it attracted the attentions of a Carrion Crow – Alan Hayden
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker – Clinton Whale

After nearly two weeks, the wind blew generally east for what is forecast to be the last day for some time. A Yellow-browed Warbler on the Batters was a little better behaved than some of the recent cameos, being seen on three occasions throughout the day between the Nursery and the Ironstone Quarry. Also, at least one Firecrest and up to 20 Chiffchaff there ; with a further 15 of the latter elsewhere. The only other passerine news involves 4 Wheatear on the head - two of them on the Long Groyne this afternoon suggesting a late arrival. A Greenshank heard calling from the area of Holloway’s Dock is a good October record, while other waders included: 5 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, those exclusively juvenile birds, 15 Ringed Plover and 50 or so Dunlin at Stanpit; plus 17 Turnstone on the sandspit. A flock of 53 Brent Goose, although there were more spread around, revealed seven juveniles - a relatively good ratio and hopefully one that is true of the greater numbers. Wrapping up, a Sandwich Tern was off the Coastguards, a Shelduck and Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour, a Kingfisher hunted the Lily Pond and the Red-legged Partridge was on the Barn. 

October 13th

Kingfisher Kingfisher
Kingfisher – Alan Crockard

A biting, northerly wind made things a little uncomfortable this morning, but there was another isolated Yellow-browed Warbler encounter; this time behind the Nursery. Also, 3 Firecrest in that area. Thoughts differed with respect to Goldcrest and Chiffchaff trends in the Wood, some considered there had been a clear-out, another reckoned an influx - 80 and 50 respectively being one estimate. By the afternoon, however, there were nowhere near that many. The regular Marsh Harrier was around early on, but a bird passing through to the north around 4:00 this afternoon was thought to be a different individual. In addition, a Golden Plover and a Knot travelled over the area. The visible-migration count from the eastern end of Hengistbury was again dominated by Goldfinch - 950 prior to 10:00 - as well as 190 Linnet, 15 Siskin, 4 Brambling, 3 Chaffinch, a Reed Bunting, 263 alba Wagtail, 90 Meadow Pipit, 20 House Martin and 5 Swallow. Other bits and pieces for the day included: a Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Scoter and the Red-legged Partridge that now seems to roost on the roof of the Barn. Finally, a big thanks to Andrew Hoodless for an educating talk last night, albeit it slightly alarming, on the fortunes of Lapwing. We hope the Waders for Real project in the Avon Valley goes some way to reversing the species’ decline in this area. 

Omission: there were 2 Avocet at Stanpit.

October 12th

Curlew – Gary Foyle
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit – Gary Foyle
Black-tailed Godwit
...and Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale

There was a seeming influx of ‘crests this morning. A couple of Firecrest in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, were in addition to the incumbent two in the Wood, while 45 Goldcrest were estimated from the head. Meanwhile, a Ring Ouzel came up from Wick and looked to come down again in the Bobolink Field and the first Brambling of the autumn headed over Whitepits. As has often been the case over the last ten days, the first hour of visible migration promised much but soon petered out. In the period until 8:30, 320 alba Wagtail, 270 Meadow Pipit, 1100 Goldfinch, 320 Linnet, 135 Siskin, 63 Chaffinch, 5 Redpoll, 24 Reed Bunting, 18 Song Thrush, 280 Swallow and 150 House Martin headed east over the end of the head; along with a high-flying Kestrel that moved directly south. As well as the smaller birds, a Merlin, 2 Avocet and 8 Mediterranean Gull were logged from that spot. Overall, Chiffchaff appeared to be down in numbers, not more than 30 returned from the entire area; 2 Grey Wagtail were present; and a Sanderling was on the sandspit with 19 Turnstone. 

October 11th

Sparrowhawk – Jimmy Main

There is little to report on another fine, but north-breeze-chilled day. A Yellow-browed Warbler was on the Batters immediately south of the Nursery, where there was also a single Firecrest. West of there and on to Wick, there were just over 20 Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcap. This afternoon, at Stanpit, there were: the Spotted Redshank, 9 Knot, 7 Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe and 67 Dunlin; as well as 3 Shoveler.

October 10th

A clear night and a northerly breeze made it rather chilly first thing, but the strong sun soon warmed things up. All reports for the day come from Hengistbury and Wick, with the best being: a Yellow-browed Warbler and at least 2 Firecrest in the Wood; a, but possibly ‘the’, Marsh Harrier being mobbed by various corvids as it made its way north across the area, 3 Avocet leaving south-west, a settled Redpoll on the Batters, a Little Gull at sea, an over-flying Pochard and 3 Bearded Tit. In addition, at least 70 Chiffchaff and a few Blackcap were spread about. Before the numbers, the wader news, which actually only involves a Common Sandpiper and three arriving Black-tailed Godwit. Now the figures, all to the east: a Tree Pipit, 290 Meadow Pipit, 265 alba Wagtail, 18 Redpoll, 58 Chaffinch, 63 Siskin, 150 Linnet, 420 Goldfinch, a Woodlark, 38 Skylark, 40 Swallow and 19 Reed Bunting. Once again, 3 Raven frequented the skies above the Wood.

Additional news: a Yellow-browed Warbler was in willows around 200m north of the HHC.

October 9th

Grey Heron
Grey Heron – Steve Hogan
Cormorant – Steve Hogan

The day started well, when at 7:30 a couple of Great White Egret came in off the sea over the Barn Field and headed east through the harbour. Then, around an hour later and almost simultaneously, a Yellow-browed Warbler was found at the northern end of the North Scrubs and a Stone Curlew was seen from Fisherman’s Bank. Later in the day, it was discovered that yesterday’s Yellow-browed Warbler was still in situ on Wick, but was a real struggle to catch up with at times. Meanwhile, between all of this, a Black-necked Grebe was on the sea off Mudeford Quay. On Hengistbury, there were 2 Firecrest by the Lily Pond, 5 Wheatear were on Stanpit, several Blackcap were scattered and the Chiffchaff estimate for the area came to 75. Waders inside the harbour included: 2 Curlew Sandpiper, the Spotted Redshank, a Sanderling, 7 Knot, 4 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 41 Ringed Plover and 99 Dunlin; while amongst 550 or so Wigeon were a pair of Shoveler, a Pintail and a Shelduck. The visible migration wasn’t censused, but the only 2 Redpoll of the season so far were noted, one of them settled by the HHC this afternoon, a second-winter Mediterranean Gull was at Stanpit and at one time 2 Peregrine vocally interacted over there. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

October 8th

Water Rail
Water Rail – Jimmy Main
Moorhen – Jimmy Main
Keyhaven Walk
...and some of the attendees at this morning's event at Keyhaven – Alan Crockard

There was a slightly more obliging Yellow-browed Warbler today - seen by a couple of people - in the riverside willows around 100m north of the HHC. Meanwhile, continuing with the eastern theme, a grey-looking Willow Warbler was in the North Scrubs at Stanpit. Singles of Firecrest were in both the previously mentioned locations, which between them also held 55 Chiffchaff. Sticking with the smaller passerines, a Whitethroat was on the Barn Field, 3 Wheatear were about and a Rock Pipit on Stanpit had perhaps come in from Scandinavia. Thrushes are always at a premium here, but a Ring Ouzel was in Stanpit Scrubs and another flew east over the head, while a Mistle Thrush and Redwing were around the Double Dykes. Before moving to the more routine, the remainder of the above-average comprised: the Garganey on the river, the now tame Goosander that frequents Town Quay briefly visiting Mother Siller’s Channel, 2 Woodlark east over the Wood, a Curlew Sandpiper off South Marsh and the Marsh Harrier hunting Priory Marsh. Waders in Stanpit Bight included 7 Knot, 15 Grey Plover and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, with a dozen or so Black-tailed Godwit in the long grass on North Marsh; also 2 Pintail in the bight. Migration over Coastguards seemed limited, although prior to 9:00 the following all moved into the north-easterly breeze: 167 alba Wagtail, 85 Meadow Pipit, 350 Goldfinch, 115 Linnet, 6 Chaffinch, 4 Siskin and 2 Snipe. Rounding up, a pair of Gadwall left to the south, at least 2 Raven visited and the Red-legged Partridge appeared to have roosted overnight on the Barn. Finally, thanks to Malcolm Barrett for organising as well as to all those who attended the walk at Keyhaven today.

Additional news: a Wryneck was by the Natterjack Pond and 4 Eider passed east at sea.

October 7th

Kingfisher – Jimmy Main
Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail – Alan Crockard
Sanderling – Clinton Whale

Although the Wood, in the main, was quite quiet, it did have its moments. A Yellow-browed Warbler was briefly encountered from the path between the Ironstone Quarry and the main thoroughfare, while 2 Firecrest and 20 Goldcrest were behind the Nursery, and around 20 Chiffchaff were mixed in with the tit flock. A further Firecrest was along the riverside path on Wick and at least 50 more Chiffchaff were spread across the recording area. Early on, a Ring Ouzel and the first Redwing of the season, nine of them, left the head, while the main visible-migration, to the east, comprised: 340 alba Wagtail, 1400 Meadow Pipit, 42 Siskin, 210 Linnet, not a single Goldfinch, 45 House Martin, 240 Swallow,18 Song Thrush and 19 Snipe. Meanwhile, 3 Merlin, 3 Kestrel and 6 Sparrowhawk also appeared to be travelling, likewise a Marsh Harrier and couple of Buzzard. Much earlier, the regular Marsh Harrier was seen leaving its roost at dawn. The best offshore was a drake Eider into the Solent, but a feeding flock of birds, mainly Gannet and perhaps up to 50 individuals, contained a Little Gull and 3 Common Tern; with 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Guillemot and seven unidentified auks passing through. A flock of 14 Grey Plover came up from Stanpit; 5 Sanderling, 12 Ringed Plover and 14 Turnstone were on the sandspit; and 25 Dunlin were in Holloway’s Dock; but that’s it for waders. The Garganey remains at Stanpit and 21 Pintail overflew. Remaining on the subject of wildfowl, it was disappointing to see several hundred newly-arrived Wigeon scared out of the harbour by two canoeists crossing Stanpit Bight. In contrast, it was refreshing to note a group of 12 or so more observing the sensitive area, which is marked by yellow buoys, and taking the preferred route around Blackberry Point.

October 6th

Drake and duck Shoveler, two of six present – Alan Hayden

A couple of Great White Egret appeared over Stanpit this morning, before circuiting the harbour, taking a close look at Holloway’s Dock and even briefly touching down, but ultimately deciding to leave high to the north. A little later, a siege of 5 Grey Heron passed over the area very high to the west. Earlier, a Red-necked Grebe moved past the Beach Huts into the Solent, a Ring Ouzel was in Stanpit Scrubs, a Woodlark overflew the main marsh and the Garganey, omitted from yesterday’s post in error, was again in Stanpit Bight. Small falcons were taking advantage of the visible migration - a couple of Merlin travelled with it, while what is presumably the same Hobby dipped into the House Martin for its third day running. The actual passage was all into the north-easterly wind and was a little more plentiful than yesterday; the estimates being: 2 Grey Wagtail, 173 alba Wagtail, 129 Meadow Pipit, 42 Siskin, 190 Linnet, 455 Goldfinch, 8 Song Thrush, 16 Starling, 6 Skylark, 45 Swallow, 490 House Martin and 8 Snipe. Settled passerines were again sparse - the estimate from Hengistbury coming to 45 Chiffchaff. Meanwhile, a Mediterranean Gull was in Holloway’s Dock; 3 Sanderling plus 4 Ringed Plover were on the sandspit; and 11 Bar-tailed Godwit were inside the harbour, where the Brent Goose and Wigeon had increased to 95 and c500 respectively. As has become routine, the Marsh Harrier was logged and a trio of Raven were causing a fuss about the head.

October 5th

Brent Goose
Brent Goose
Some of the newly-arrived Brent Goose at Stanpit – Alan Hayden
Speckled Wood
Speckled Wood – Clinton Whale

The wind shifted slightly to the north-east overnight and gathered somewhat in pace. This brought a Sooty Shearwater into the Solent that was seen from the Beach Huts around 10:00 this morning. Beforehand, a couple of Little Gull, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, a medium-sized Grebe, 15 Common Scoter and 11 Brent Goose had been logged heading east, while a feeding flock of gulls and Gannet attracted 3 Common Tern. Also moving east over the water were waders, including 2 Golden Plover and 6 Grey Plover. Meanwhile, Wigeon seemed to be arriving, perhaps 100 birds in total over Hengsitbury. Visible migration from the end of the head was a little stop-start, but a Tree Pipit, 110 Meadow Pipit, 152 alba Wagtail, 295 Linnet, 43 Siskin, 25 Goldfinch, 6 Song Thrush and a Skylark were noted travelling into the  wind. Swallow and House Martin, however, were harder to quantify as they moved on a broad front, some far out at sea, and at a varying heights - a meaningful number is hard to arrive at, but hundreds of each were reckoned to have passed through. Other than 2 Firecrest and the resident tits, the Wood was essentially devoid of birds, but just over 20 Chiffchaff were elsewhere and a Wheatear was on the Barn Field. Hobby was again recorded, a single bird over Wick, and 3 Raven were once more about the area. Finally, the Brent Goose gaggle contained the first full family of the season - a pair of parents and two young.

October 4th

Garganey – Alan Hayden
Knot – Clinton Whale
Black-tailed Godwit
Juvenile Black-tailed Godwit moulting into first-winter plumage – Clinton Whale

The best for the day came from Mudeford Quay late on, when a Red-necked Grebe headed west past there; also a Kittiwake from that spot. At Stanpit, the Garganey was again present in Stanpit Bight, while the Marsh Harrier headed north out of Wick at just gone 7:00 this morning, 3 Firecrest were by the Double Bends in the Wood and a latish Hobby headed east over there. The top of the head was staffed from dawn, when for a brief period birds moved into the easterly wind, but they soon seemed to give up - the totals prior to 8:45 being: 80 Meadow Pipit, 117 alba Wagtail, 145 Linnet, 80 Goldfinch, 22 Siskin, a Chaffinch, 3 Song Thrush, 350 Swallow and 90 House Martin; plus 10 Shelduck in the opposite direction at sea. Over the last couple of days, there has been a noticeable presence of Mediterranean Gull - five in all today - as well as 5 Common Gull. Likewise, wildfowl are increasing, not least Brent Goose - 44 inside the harbour - along with 6 Shoveler and over 400 Wigeon. Commoner passerines were few and far between; for example, just 12 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap on Wick, plus a single Whitethroat on the head. No detailed wader counts were made, but the Spotted Redshank, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit, 2 Sanderling, 8 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover and 4 Dunlin were on the sandspit, and 2 Knot were on the inner side of Mudeford Quay. To finish off, 3 Raven toured the area.

October 3rd

Spoonbill at Stanpit today – Alan Hayden
Grey Plover
Grey Plover – Clinton Whale

For the 20 minutes or so after first light, in a light north-easterly breeze, it seemed there would be a really significant movement of birds over Hengistbury. As it turned out, however, things petered out quite quickly; so before the numbers the highlights for the day.  A Garganey was on Stanpit in the morning; a Spoonbill circled over Hengistbury and moved off east, but came back ten minutes later and settled on the marsh, where it then spent most of the day; 2 Merlin left the Wood early on, perhaps after roosting there; and a flock of 4 Mistle Thrush was on Warren Hill. Now the visible-migration totals, all to the east: 440 Meadow Pipit, a Tree Pipit, 136 alba Wagtail, 3 Grey Wagtail, 505 Linnet, 445 Goldfinch, 230 House Martin and 350 Swallow. Meanwhile, singles of Whinchat and Whitethroat were on the head, as were 10 Blackcap and 15 Goldcrest, while the eastern portion and Wick held at least 60 Chiffchaff. At Stanpit, the wader list included: the Spotted Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, 3 Knot, 4 Grey Plover, 3 Sanderling, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Snipe, 9 Ringed Plover and 83 Dunlin; along with 3 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck, 11 Brent Goose and 230 Wigeon. Finally, Kingfisher was recorded just once today.

October 2nd

Starling flocking at Hengistbury – Clinton Whale

In a light, north-westerly wind, there was a westbound movement of Meadow Pipit across the area between dawn and 9:00 this morning - total of 800 was estimated from the top of Hengistbury, while a to-be-confirmed count was made at Stanpit. Moving with them, but all seen from the head, were: a Merlin, 2 Grey Wagtail, 103 alba Wagtail, 135 Linnet, 53 Siskin, 18 Goldfinch, a House Sparrow, 4 Skylark, 50 Swallow and 280 House Martin. After the main passage ceased, however, there were still plenty of the latter feeding over Wick Fields, while singles of Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail moved over the marsh. There were a couple of tern highlights during the morning - a Black Tern off Mudeford Quay and a juvenile Arctic Tern inside the harbour - as well a Ruff, 7 Grey Plover, four of those in Holloway’s Dock, 5 Knot, 4 Sanderling, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Plover and 70 Dunlin around Stanpit Bight. Meanwhile, a Firecrest was in the Wood, a Whitethroat was on Wick, 3 Wheatear were about and at least 60 Chiffchaff, but no doubt more, were spread across the site. A pair of Raven caused a stir over the Batters and a couple of Kingfisher - at Wick Hams and Parky Meade Rail - make the post.

October 1st

Skylark on the Barn Field – Alan Crockard
Goldfinch at Stanpit – Alan Hayden

Whatever the actual total, the day belongs to a totally unprecedented number of Spoonbill.  Here is an attempt to pull together just how many there may have been. A little before 8:00, a flock of 13 was watched from the Beach Huts entering the area over Mudeford Quay - this group was also picked up from the Barn Field and thought to veer off north. Around three hours later, a gathering was seen from Hengistbury, but on South Marsh, Stanpit, and assumed to be the 13. Just before 2:00, a flock of 15 was counted from the Pod on Stanpit and seen to leave to the west. Then, around 2:45, a party of 12 was spotted low over the harbour before settling on South Marsh. It was later learnt that a group of 12 had been seen moving west over the Pennington area between the Stanpit 15 leaving and the 12 arriving. Looking at the timings, the following seems possible: the original 13 were joined by a further two before leaving west and the later 12 were different birds, so giving a day-total of 27! From memory, it’s thought the previous best was six. Of the later dozen, two were carrying colour rings so their origin should be traceable. Apologies for the length of that account, but it was quite a series of events for the area. The heavy rain that dominated the morning meant the shelter of the Beach Huts was sought, which turned out to be quite productive. At sea, a pale, adult Arctic Skua passed very close as it headed west, a first-winter Little Gull fed just off the sandspit, a Red-throated Diver moved into the Solent and that or another arrived from the west over Mudeford Quay, 3 Common Tern and 8 Sandwich Tern passed by, as did 5 Brent Goose, singles of Guillemot and Razorbill were on the water, and a total of 17 Common Scoter was logged. Before the worst of the rain, some birds attempted to move, including: 135 Meadow Pipit, a Grey Wagtail, 11 alba Wagtail and 10 Swallow, all south-west; while after things dried up, the Wood held many frantically feeding Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, as well as 5 Firecrest. At Stanpit this afternoon, there were 2 pale-bellied Brent Goose, along with five more conventional birds, with the wader totals from there coming to: a Little Stint briefly, 3 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 7 Snipe. Earlier, 2 Grey Plover left over the sandspit and 6 Turnstone were settled on it, as were around 70 small waders including 12 or so Sanderling. Finishing up, 10 Wheatear were on site, 4 Shoveler and 11 Sandwich Tern spent some time at Stanpit, 2 Raven overflew and Kingfisher were seen on a number of occasions. 

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