Sightings for January 2017

January 31st

Needless to say given today's inclement weather there is nothing to report.

January 30th

Just as it was getting light, thick fog rolled in from the east and proceeded to hang around all day. Largely as a consequence of that, the only new is of 2 Bullfinch by the HHC and a gathering of 9 Reed Bunting on Wick. 

January 29thBar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit – Diarmuid Murphy

Rain set in pretty much straight after dawn and was still going after dark. At 7:15, a Woodcock was watched for around a minute as it swooped about the turning circle by the Hiker Café, before appearing to go to roost in the Double Dykes. Around 60 minutes beforehand, a trip to the Nursery to listen for owls was hampered when it was discovered the Jackdaw start making a racket well before they even think about leaving the trees! A look at the sea came up with four aimless Red-throated Diver, a Razorbill, 3 Common Scoter and a Great Crested Grebe settled and 3 Gannet west. Other than the already-mentioned Woodcock, the only wader news is of the photographed Bar-tailed Godwit at Stanpit, while a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight. Please note the Indoor Meeting in just over a week's time - it promises to be another good one.

January 28th

It was an overall mild day, which started with a Woodock seen heading over the Long Field towards the Batters in the early gloaming. Around the same time, an eruption of corvids from the Nursery roost was estimated to contain 50 Rook, 100 Jackdaw and at least 2 Raven – all species of local note. Other than the Marsh Harrier the rest of the post is all about the sea, which produced: 10 Red-throated Diver, all into the Solent, singles of Common Scoter and Razorbill on the water, and 2 Shag. 

January 27thStonechat

Stonechat – Jimmy Main

Before the rain set in around the middle of the afternoon, there were 2 Avocet and the Spotted Redshank seen from Fisherman’s Bank, as well as: 7 Grey Plover, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover, around 120 Dunlin and a Turnstone. Meanwhile, just 8 Brent Goose could be picked out, along with 8 Shoveler and 5 Shelduck. Earlier, a Firecrest was logged in the Wood, where there was also a Coal Tit noted.  

January 26thOystercatcher

Oystercatcher – Clinton Whale

The chill coming from a brisk south-easterly wind was nothing short of biting. This didn’t deter a seawatch from Hengistbury, however, which resulted in an adult Mediterranean Gull east and 4 Common Scoter west. On Wick, the Marsh Harrier was over the water meadows just after first light and 2 Bullfinch were by the HHC. Finishing this fairly short post, a Peregrine was also about.

Additional news: at Stanpit, there were 26 Grey Plover on South Marsh, three pairs of Pintail, a Shoveler and 5 Shelduck.

January 25thTeasel

A frosty scene from this morning – Clinton Whale
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker – Jimmy Main

There was yet more fog, but by lunchtime it had mercifully cleared. There were a couple of Spoonbill on South Marsh, Stanpit, this morning, but they left on the ebbing tide. Around the same time, a Knot and an impressive 24 Grey Plover were counted from the Mudeford Quay slip, while 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Ringed Plover, 160 Dunlin, 10 Pintail and 7 Shoveler were also inside the harbour. Only 2 Brent Goose could be seen, however. The Marsh Harrier waited until the late afternoon before making a notebook and six, saltmarsh-feeding Rock Pipit were by the Rusty Boat.

January 24th

The continuing blanket of fog again meant little field activity. As a consequence, the only news for the post is of 3 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway's Dock. 

January 23rd

Fog at Stanpit
How it was all day – Clinton Whale

Thick fog blighted the day, when the only reports concern the presumed argentatus Herring Gull on Mudeford Quay and 2 Bullfinch by the HHC.

January 22nd

Chaffinch at Stanpit – Alan CrockardMeadow PipitMeadow Pipit on the Barn Field – Clinton Whale
Spurn Meeting
Spurn Talk
...and the run-in to Friday's excellent indoor meeting – Ali Germain

Conditions were far more favourable today – an almost non-existent wind coupled with a glorious winter sun. Counts from Stanpit included: a good number of Grey Plover, i.e. 12 birds, 33 Ringed Plover, 90 Dunlin and 5 Turnstone; as well as 8 Pintail and 12 Shoveler, but only 23 Brent Goose across the entire recording area. It’s worth noting that during January one might expect ten times the latter – quite what’s going on this winter in something of a mystery for Christchurch. Also on the marsh, 6 Rock Pipit, which were suspects for littoralis, and a dozen Skylark. On the other side of the river, a Fieldfare was on Wick and 2 Firecrest were in the Nursery. Finally, the Marsh Harrier was seen at various times of the day.

January 21st

Nearly all the news comes from a bitterly cold Mudeford Quay, where scant shelter could be found against the easterly wind. The 2 Eider, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe were on the sea, while 3 unidentified divers, 5 likewise auks and a Gannet passed by. Elsewhere, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Black-tailed Godwit were in a disturbed Stanpit Creek. To round off, a big thanks to the Spurn Bird Observatory team of Nick Whitehouse, Rob Adams and Paul Collins for an excellent and well-attended talk last night.

January 20th

This Chiffchaff at Stanpit was tempted into song by today's bright sun – Alan Crockard

Although it was another bright and clear day, a brisk north-easterly wind made it quite uncomfortable to be in the field. A seawatch from Hengistbury came up with: a first-winter Little Gull, 17 Red-throated Diver, of which 12 went east and five went west and 2 Sandwich Tern, as well as the 2 Eider and 4 Common Scoter. During the afternoon, from the south-west extreme of the recording area, the site of the former Point House Café, around 65 Great Crested Grebe were visible in Poole Bay. The clear weather encouraged some birds into song, including a Chiffchaff on Stanpit, where the Marsh Harrier was seen on a few occasions – at one time interacting with a Peregrine. Other news for the day involves: a Bullfinch by the HHC, a Bar-tailed Godwit inside Mudeford Quay, 4 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock, 5 Pintail at Stanpit and a siege of 11 Grey Heron on Wick Hams.

January 19th

Song ThrushSong Thrush – Clinton Whale
Turnstone – Simon Coupe

It was another cold night, leading to a glorious winter’s day. The waters off the head must be rich pickings for Cormorant at present – a flock of 75 birds making for an impressive sight as it frequently shifted across the bays – but just 2 Shag logged. Also over the water, a Fulmar and ten sightings of Red-throated Diver, six east and four west. Meanwhile, the 2 Eider, a Common Scoter, a Razorbill and a Guillemot were settled. Although a single Sandwich Tern was seen from the sandspit, there were three together resting on the inner shore of Mudeford Quay during the afternoon. At least one Firecrest was in the Wood on Hengistbury and a Peregrine patrolled Christchurch Bay.

Omission: the Red-legged Partridge made its first appearance of the year, on the roof of the Barn at dawn, and for the second day in succession a Seal was seen in the Run.

January 18thBarnacle Goose Barnacle Goose Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose – Alan Hayden (upper two) & Roger Howell

Around 40 Barnacle Goose, which were first found at dawn settled in the Run, spent the day inside the harbour. In terms of exact numbers, several counts came to a round forty but a couple of others suggested 39. The birds were initially wary and tired, tucking their heads under their wings at any opportunity, although they did later loosely associate with some Canada Goose. Talking of which, at one point an unholy 4-500 were estimated as being on site! The sea off the Quay was well worth a look, producing: a couple of adult Little Gull, 3 Sandwich Tern and 2 Mediterranean Gull; a total of 16 Red-throated Diver throughout the day, mostly west; and 2 Eider, 12 Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe settled. Again, there 2 Marsh Harrier logged – the male at Stanpit plus a female-type over Wick Hams and then north – and the 3 Bullfinch were on Wick. Rounding up, singles of Gadwall and Grey Wagtail were about, 2 Shelduck were at Stanpit and at least 50 Robin were estimated to be on Wick.

17th JanuaryStonechat

Stonechat – Clinton Whale

The Spotted Redshank was in its regular haunt opposite Fisherman's Bank this morning and the young male Marsh Harrier was hunting over Wick. Elsewhere, on Stanpit, around 400 Lapwing were present together with 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, a Grey Plover, two pairs of Pintail, one pair of Shoveler, a lone Shelduck and a couple of Mediterranean Gull, the latter currently not common in the harbour.

January 16th

On a miserable morning of constant rain there was very little to report. A redhead Goosander was seen from Mudeford Quay, while there was a Black Redstart on the sandspit. The latter is the first report of what was thought to be a wintering bird since before Christmas. Otherwise there were just 3 Bullfinch on the riverside path on Wick.

January 15th

Herring Gull
Herring Gull
This adult Herring Gull, photographed from Mudeford Quay, may well be able to survive with the litter it has picked up. Others may not be quite so lucky – Alan Crockard

There were again a couple of Marsh Harrier logged – on the Wick side of the area and both thought to be young males. Otherwise, the post is light on real interest besides the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, 82 Black-tailed Godwit and 150 Dunlin at Stanpit, along with 11 Pintail and 3 Shoveler there. Also, a Peregrine over Priory Marsh and 3 Raven about Wick.   

January 14th

Water Rail
Water Rail – Jimmy Main
The intricacy of Snipe plumage – Jimmy Main

The best came late in the day, when a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen low over the Wick driving range being mobbed by crows. Earlier, a couple of Bullfinch had been on the nearby fields. Also during the morning, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, which are scarce around the area, and the Eider; all settled offshore.

Additional news: there were 2 Firecrest in the Wood on Hengistbury.

January 13th

The northerly wind made today as cold as was promised, but brought little new with it. At Stanpit, there were: two to three Sandwich Tern, 2 Grey Plover, 22 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover and 180 Dunlin; as well as two pairs of Pintail, a pair of Gadwall, 51 Brent Goose and 94 Canada Goose, plus a Peregrine. Earlier, a couple of Red-throated Diver passed Mudeford Quay as they made their way into the Solent and the Eider was settled offshore.

Additional news: from the late afternoon at the quay, where a Great Northern Diver, 11 Common Scoter and 2 Great Crested Grebe were on the water, and 3 Red-throated Diver and Gannet were logged in flight.

January 12th

The weather was nowhere near as cold as we were perhaps led to believe it might be, but certainly as wet! From dawn until around 10:15, when the rain became constant enough to make things difficult, Mudeford Quay produced: 2 Velvet Scoter that came out of the Solent and settled for some time off the sandspit, 4 Red-throated Diver west, the Eider and a Great Crested Grebe.

January 11thTeal

Teal – Clinton Whale
Brent Goose
Brent Goose – Clinton Whale

All the forecasts suggest the weather will turn tomorrow, so today may have been the warmest for some time to come. The Eider was again off the sandspit, past which 2 Common Scoter, 2 Guillemot and 7 Razorbill moved west. The Marsh Harrier was reported just once – during the afternoon at Stanpit – while a total of 9 Grey Heron were on Wick Hams.

January 10th

Cormorant in various states of breeding plumage – Clinton Whale

The weather was similar to yesterday and again there were wintering Sandwich Tern on site – a single bird fishing in Stanpit Creek and a couple off the sandspit – as well as 3 Red-throated Diver and an unidentified diver passing west at sea. At Stanpit, there was a Water Pipit close to the stile leading to Priory Marsh, while 2 Marsh Harrier were logged – the regular bird on several occasions and another high over Clay Pool. Most of the remaining news comes from the marsh, where there were: 2 Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit that seemed to leave to the east, 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 90 Dunlin, a Turnstone and a re-build of Lapwing numbers to around 400 birds. Also about, 2 Shoveler, 5 Pintail, 76 Teal in Parky Meade Rail and a couple of Kingfisher.

January 9th

A south-westerly breeze blew up overnight and required that shelter be sought. As such, the Beach Huts were utilised for around two hours and came up with: 3 Sandwich Tern, 3 Kittwake, all adults, 3 Red-throated Diver, 4 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot, 4 unidentified auks, a Gannet and 17 Common Gull west; a further Red-throated Diver east; and the drake Eider plus a female-type Common Scoter settled. A flock of 8 Purple Sandpiper was also seen coasting along the sandspit. Earlier, the Marsh Harrier had been seen from the Barn Bight shore.

January 8th

It was easy to feel overdressed in today's mild temperatures and almost non-existent wind. A Jack Snipe was amongst 30 Common Snipe at Stanpit, where 7 Grey Plover, around 150 Dunlin, 11 Pintail and 4 Shelduck were also present; along with the Marsh Harrier. Off Hengistbury, there was a Shag, which have been more than noticeable by their absence this winter, a young drake Eider and 4 Razorbill. There were also plenty of Cormorant offshore, including at least 60 that overflew the harbour at dawn from their valley roost.

January 7th

Although there’s not much news in terms of quantity, there is modicum of local quality. An Avocet was off Fisherman’s Bank this afternoon, while the Marsh Harrier was quite literally all over the place during the morning. Meanwhile, there were 3 Bullfinch on Wick – two males and a female – an Eider was off Mudeford Quay and a Red-throated Diver settled on the water off there. To finish up, a couple of Raven went north.

January 6th

There was just one Marsh Harrier seen today – the regular male watched from Hengistbury just after dawn, when a Sandwich Tern overflew the Barn Field. Slightly later, a Mediterranean Gull did the same thing and a Shoveler was in Barn Bight. Most of the wader news comes from Fisherman’s Bank, from where 7 Grey Plover, 13 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Ringed Plover and 235 Dunlin were counted.

January 5th

It was back to cold weather today, something which is giving change to the number of plovers on site. For example, after being present in hundreds just a couple of weeks ago, there were just 5 Lapwing to be had; conversely, there were increases in Grey Plover and Ringed Plover to 16 and 87 respectively. Meanwhile, the Spotted Redshank, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, including the almost ever-present, colour-ringed bird and 221 Dunlin were counted. The best wildfowl count comes from Teal – 119 birds, 96 of them in Parky Meade Rail – as well as 9 Pintail, 3 Shoveler and 2 Gadwall; but the paucity of Brent Goose continues, the best return being nine. Marsh Harrier reports come from all over, although the most notable is of two sat together on Wick Hams. Finally, there were 2 Firecrest in the Wood on Hengistbury. 

January 4th

Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit – Roger Howell
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker – Roger Howell

It was a much warmer start today, although by dusk the temperatures had dropped significantly. Sandwich Tern were logged inside the harbour and from the northern edge of Mudeford Quay, where a Great Crested Grebe could be seen on the sea. The waders at Stanpit included 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ringed Plover and 200 Dunlin, while 3 Pintails were also inside the harbour. The milder conditions prompted 3 Stock Dove to display in the Wood, where a Coal Tit was also present. Finally, it seems Canada Goose are starting to become entrenched around the northern part of Stanpit – 195 of them today, as well as 10 Greylag Goose. 

Omission: a Peregrine was at Stanpit.

January 3rd

Black-tailed Godwit
Adult and three young Black-tailed Godwit – Clinton Whale
Hen Pheasant – Clinton Whale

The only news from a day that started to a very thick frost is: the Marsh Harrier over Wick Hams during the morning; and 6 Pintail, 8 Shoveler and 18 Black-tailed Godwit from a quick visit to Stanpit in the afternoon. 

January 2nd

Dunlin – Clinton Whale
Curlew – Luka Peart

Excepting a slightly chilling north-easterly wind, it was a cracking day in terms of weather. After a few blank days, it was nice to see the Marsh Harrier again make the post – the regular on Wick Hams at 8:30; then it or another high to the north-east around 90 minutes later. Quantity of other news is relatively light, however, but the quality isn’t so bad for mid-winter. A Sandwich Tern was fishing in Stanpit Bight, a Firecrest was in the Wood, 4 Bullfinch were on Wick and a flock of 3 Red-throated Diver was seen heading into the Solent. Rounding up, just 25 Brent Goose were on Priory Marsh and the in-harbour Dunlin estimate was 150. 

January 1st

Brent Goose
These Brent Goose at Stanpit today appear to be a family of pale-bellied and dark-bellied adults, with a mixed-race youngster (centre). If you have any comments or have seen them elsewhere along the south coast, please email us – Paul Dore
Lapwing – Clinton Whale
Drake Pintail – Alan Hayden

In addition to the intriguing family of Brent Goose pictured above, there were 100 on Priory Marsh, until flushed by a Peregrine, where a Water Pipit was also present. On a quiet day, overall, an Eider and a Red-throated Diver were on the water off Mudeford Quay, a further of the latter headed into the Solent and 30 Gannet, all adults, headed west close in.

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