Sightings for June 2017

June 30th

Gatekeeper – Clinton Whale
Comma – Clinton Whale

Late in the afternoon, a Marsh Harrier was seen flying north from Stanpit, while earlier in the day a male Bullfinch and 5 Mediterranean Gull headed west.

June 29th

Linnet – Gary Foyle

After yesterday’s wash-out, there is a little more to report on today. Around 20 Black-tailed Godwit, presumably early returners from Iceland, were logged, as well as the lingering Whimbrel and 8 Curlew. Other birds that were likely wanderers from not-so-distant breeding locations included a Kingfisher in Stanpit Creek, a Mediterranean Gull over there and 34 Swift moving above Wick. Meanwhile, despite not breeding in the area or ever really showing an interest in doing so, two adult Common Tern continue to pass food amongst themselves off Fisherman’s Bank.

June 28th

Reed Bunting Reed Bunting
Some very bedraggled-looking Reed Bunting – Clinton Whale

As the photographs suggest, rain was a feature of the day; all day, in fact! In the wet and still conditions, the only bird of any note was a Common Tern through the Run.

June 27th

The best of a short post is a male Bearded Tit that sat atop reeds immediately adjacent to the HHC for a minute or two this morning, while a little later both Firecrest and Treecreeper were heard in the Wood.

June 26th

Wick Viewing Platform
The new viewing platform on Wick, which was partially funded by CHOG – David Taylor
Wick Viewing Platform
...and the vista from it, including the recently-created reed bed pool – David Taylor

Waders make up the bulk of the post with the Whimbrel and 2 Common Sandpiper, those in Mother Siller’s Channel, at Stanpit, as well as 6 Curlew, 15 Redshank and 40 Lapwing. Meanwhile, a couple of Common Tern, one feeding the other, were off Fisherman’s Bank and up to 9 Mediterranean Gull were logged, mainly adults. The new viewing platform was christened with 2 Peregrine, both heading towards Hengistbury, and a Buzzard soared just north of Wick.

June 25th

The Whimbrel was again at Stanpit this morning, on South Marsh, and a Common Sandpiper could be heard calling from Barn Bight, where 7 Redshank were seen from the Hengistbury side. The only other logged waders, however, were 7 Lapwing on the marsh. Although only two gatherings of Shelduck ducklings – eleven larger and five smaller – were noted today, it does seem probable there have actually been three broods this season. Meanwhile, Blackcap are still in good voice around the Nursery, as is a Chiffchaff.

June 24th

With a strong south-westerly blowing up overnight and some morning drizzle, the sea looked a fair shout this morning. As it turned out, however, just a Common Tern, 5 Mediterranean Gull and 6 Common Scoter could be mustered from Mudeford Quay. Inside the harbour, the algae, some of which is now confirmed to be non-native, is taking serious hold; meaning it's looking pretty grim for the autumn wader passage. Not to mention the smell! CHOG are in dialogue with the Environment Agency to try and determine more information.

Additional news: a Whimbrel was at Stanpit.

June 23rd

Kestrel Kestrel
All six of the young Kestrel are now out and about from the nest box – Paul Turton

The Birds of Christchurch Harbour
Now being distributed to members

As there is now news for today, it’s a good time for some announcements. Firstly, our report for 2016, The Birds of Christchurch Harbour, will be dropping through members’ letterboxes. As such, another big thank you to Leo Pyke for the many, many hours she puts into compiling and editing what is yet another outstanding publication. If you are not a member, copies will soon be available in local retailers, but why not Join CHOG and receive one for free. Also free for members is entry to our Indoor Meetings and details of the forthcoming programme are now on-line.

Additional news: a Whimbrel, 2 Curlew and a Mediterranean Gull were at Stanpit in the evening, while the Grey Seal had earlier been in the Run.

June 22nd

Although the temperatures were still on the warm side, cloud was present for much of the day. A one-hour seawatch from Whitepits from 6:30 this morning saw a Great Skua, 2 Common Tern, 12 Common Scoter and five adult Mediterranean Gull head west, while a second-calendar-year ‘med’ lingered. Slightly later, the Beach Huts experienced 4 Common Scoter west and a Guillemot east. Elsewhere, a Firecrest was in the Wood again.

June 21st

Sand Martin
Sand Martin – Clinton Whale
Stonechat – Alan Crockard
In the continuing heat, bird news is hard to come by so the odonata update following this short post is very welcome. First, however, the birds. A Firecrest was singing in the Wood on Hengistbury, 3 Mediterranean Gull passed east and 36 Lapwing were logged. The Shelduck breeding situation is again getting confused: over the weekend distinct groups of ten and six were seen at Stanpit; while a group of five seen on Monday was described as ‘newly-hatched’, meaning three broods may be present.

Odonata Update
Many species of dragonfly and damselfly species are now on the wing at Hengistbury Head, helped by this period of hot weather.  An intensive odonata survey is well underway, and with the help of a very enthusiastic team of volunteers, we have so far proved by collecting exuviae that 13 species breed on the reserve – Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Emerald Damselfly, Hairy Dragonfly, Emperor Dragonfly, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker, Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer and Common Darter.  If anyone sees a Downy Emerald, please do let us know!  Thank you to all involved for all your hard work so far.  John Lloyd

June 20th

Jay at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

The only report today is of a couple of adult Mediterranean Gull roosting on East Marsh at high tide.

June 19th

Whitethroat above and Greenfinch below, both on Stanpit recently – Clinton Whale

There is no news so far today.

June 18th

Cuckoo at Whitepits this morning – Ann Parramore
Kestrel Kestrel
The six young Kestrel seem to have outgrown their box! – Brian Wadie

The only news for the today involves the photographed Cuckoo early this morning. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news, however. 

June 17th

Emperor Dragonfly Emperor Dragonfly
Emperor Dragonfly – Chris Chapleo
Meadow Brown
Meadow Brown – Clinton Whale

A scorching day, during which the sky was completely cloudless throughout, saw a very unseasonable Kingfisher whizz through Wick Fields. Also of note, and a species that shares breeding sites on the rivers which feed into the area, was a Grey Wagtail, heard over the Wood. Meanwhile, a Lesser Whitethroat sang briefly by the HHC, 3 Mediterranean Gull – of the three available plumages – passed through, a female-type Common Scoter headed east at sea and a Curlew moved west. The pick of the waders at Stanpit was certainly a Whimbrel, but also 20 Lapwing, 9 Redshank and 4 Curlew there. Of local breeding interest, Dartford Warbler were conspicuous in song this morning – seemingly a second burst of activity from them – and the in-harbour Little Egret count is building – 26 birds today. Remaining on the breeding theme, bu t moving to amphibians: it seems Natterjack have had a great season, with masses of tiny toadlets around at least one of the ponds.

Additional news: a Nightjar was feeding over North Marsh, Stanpit, last night.

June 16th

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler – Alan Crockard
Mute Swan
This Mute Swan family, which frequents the inner shore of Mudeford Quay,
contains three 'Polish' cygnets - the white ones – Clinton Whale

A Ringed Plover was the wader ‘highlight’ for today, amongst a Curlew, 2 Redshank and 3 Lapwing; all at Stanpit. 

June 15th

The struggle for excitement in June continues. Today's best were 11 Mediterranean Gull west over Hengistbury, while 11 Grey Heron gathered in Barn Bight and 3 Curlew were logged.  

June 14th

All the news comes from Stanpit, the most notable, for the month that is, being of wildfowl; which included a Shoveler, 4 Teal and 4 Gadwall. Meanwhile, 16 Mediterranean Gull passed west and a couple of Curlew were around.

June 13th

Shelduck – Gary Foyle
Cormorant – Clinton Whale

The only migrant news from a gloriously warm day involves three each of Sanderling and Dunlin on the sandspit. Of breeding interest, a pair of Mute Swan close to Mudeford Quay, presumably the same duo as last year, have hatched a brood of six cygents – three standard and three Polish type; exactly the same number and combination as twelve months ago!

June 12th

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting – Gary Foyle
Rock Pipit
Fledgling Rock Pipit – Gary Foyle

There was a typical sign of post-breeding dispersal from nearby woodland today, when a Nuthatch – not yet recorded this year – was on Hengistbury, opposite Holloway’s Dock. Also from the head, a Hobby, over the Batters and then out to sea, and a Buzzard, initially in the Wood and then north. The marsh is in mid-summer hiatus, with the only reports involving a Curlew, 9 Lapwing and two broods of Shelduck, one counted at six and one estimated, due to length of vegetation, to be around the same number. 

June 11th

There is, so far, no news for today.  

June 10th

Storm Petrel Storm Petrel Storm Petrel
Storm Petrel from yesterday – Chris Dresh

Although there are no reports received today, with the wind continuing in the same vein it seems reasonable to assume there were still petrels offshore.

Update: it seems the rather casual assumption above was incorrect, in that no petrels could be seen, although 3 adult Kittiwake were. This evening, there were 2 Nightjar churring on the top of the head. 

June 9th

Storm Petrel
Storm Petrel – Leo Pyke

Storm Petrel again dominate the post; in fact, other than 3 Gannet, there were no further seabirds noted. At least 15 ‘Stormies’ were off the Beach Huts this morning, but this had dropped to five by the afternoon. Looking from Mudeford Quay, the maximum there was six – one of which was watched entering the harbour through the Run! Of continuing breeding interest, the Redshank on Wick Hams, which have not been obvious for a while, became very agitated when a juvenile Grey Heron landed in their patch! The Grey Seal was again seen.  

June 8th

Sand Martin
Sand Martin – Tony Adamcik

The sea again received all the attention and a change in the wind to south-west – just like Monday – brought Manx Shearwater into Christchurch Bay; at least 85 were logged exiting into the blow. A 5-hour watch from Mudeford Quay also produced a dark-phase Arctic Skua, seven lingering Storm Petrel, a westbound flock of 6 Kittiwake, 9 Fulmar, 21 Common Scoter, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 33 Sanderling. Earlier, a minimum of 20 Storm Petrel was estimated from the Beach Huts, while a Great Crested Grebe and a Guillemot were returned from there. Of mammal interest, a Grey Seal has been loitering around the Run for the last few days.

June 7th

Storm Petrel
Storm Petrel– Roger Howell
Sand Martin
Sand Martin – Roger Howell

The Storm Petrel performed as hoped this morning, when a maximum of 17 was counted in a single scan from the Beach Huts, while six or so visible from Mudeford Quay were presumably some of those. Late in the afternoon, there were still 11 off the huts. The attraction was clearly a couple of lines of close-in lobster pots, which often brought birds to within 20m of the shore; one even hawking over the strand line for a minute or two. Additionally, it was often possible to see the splashes of water as they pattered across the waves. Otherwise, however, there was little to be seen at sea – either that or too much time was spent enjoying the main event – with 2 Common Tern, 5 Common Scoter and a Shag being the best of the rest. A Firecrest in the Wood this afternoon was a real surprise. 

June 6th

Rock Pipit
Rock Pipit – Clinton Whale

The wind shifted overnight such that it blasted from dead-on west for the entirety of the day, during which Storm Petrel were constantly on show. Birds were returned from three locations, each a few hundred metres apart, with maximums of: the Beach Huts eight, Mudeford Quay seven and around the Long Groyne three. It would, therefore, seem reasonable to assume as many as fifteen were involved, but there is also a case for claiming far more given how long individuals disappear into wave troughs. For those planning to visit, the quay is the easiest access and it’s best to look as far right as possible, over the sandspit itself. For closer views, it's recommended to get to the Beach Huts at the eastern end of Hengistbury Head. The wind is forecast to continue, so there's every chance it will all happen again tomorrow. Strangely, after yesterday’s big number, the change in wind direction meant there wasn’t a single Manx Shearwater in Christchurch Bay, although ‘several’ were seen in Poole Bay from the site of the former Point House Café. Finishing up at sea, there were: 63 Common Scoter and 2 Common Tern west; 2 Kittiwake east; and at least 3 Fulmar lingering. Meanwhile, over 100 Swift moved west and a Hobby came in-off the sea by the Long Groyne. In previous years, that species has been watched hunting petrels! A few late-moving waders make the post – 14 Sanderling and a Ringed Plover – and a Bullfinch was by the HHC. 

June 5th

Cuckoo on Hengistbury, before the rain set-in – Paul Turton

It was the tried-and-tested combination of wind and date range – a strong south to south-westerly between late May and July – for Storm Petrel, and Hengistbury didn’t let us down; although views were probably better described as glimpses. This morning it was confirmed there were two birds present, while one was nabbed during the afternoon. The day saw a steady stream of Manx Shearwater passing west, mainly along the southern edge of Christchurch Bay, with the following numbers received from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts: MQ 5:30 to 11:00 – 86; HH 7:00 to 11:00 – 153; MQ 11:00 to 12:15 – 22; HH 13:45 to 15:00 - 39; HH 15:00 to 16:20 – 12. Making a logical tot-up of these figures, leads to an absolute minimum of 226. Also seen at sea: around 15 Fulmar, 6 Kittiwake, those only from the quay, a Common Tern, a ‘commic’ Tern, a second-calendar-year Mediterranean Gull, a dozen or so Guillemot, at least 75 Gannet across a mix of ages, 41 Common Scoter, including a lingering flock of 35, and 11 Swift. Meanwhile, other bits for the day came from: a Cuckoo on Hengistbury, 12 Sanderling past the quay and a Curlew inside the harbour.

Additional news: a Storm Petrel was off Mudeford Quay this evening.

June 4th

A Lesser Whitethroat was by the HHC this morning, while the Shelduck conundrum continues. A gathering of 11 ducklings were off Fisherman's Bank when a further six could be seen in Stanpit Bight. The puzzle is that the original brood was confirmed on a number of occasions as being ten!

June 3rd

There were 11 Shelduck duckling counted today from Fisherman's Bank, although counts of nine and six were made earlier in the week; so it may be possible that two broods have now formed a creche. Thanks to all who attended last night's walk on Burton Common, where excellent views were had of both target species. 

June 2nd

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl – Paul Turton
Skylark  – Clinton Whale
Painted Lady
Painted Lady  – Clinton Whale

There is a little more to write about tonight. In addition to a Cuckoo seen in flight over Wick Hams, a couple of Red Kite and a Marsh Harrier were over Stanpit. A total of of 9 Mediterranean Gull headed west through the harbour and 2 Bearded Tit were on Priory Marsh. Meanwhile, half a dozen Collared Dove were on Wick. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

June 1st

At least one Nightjar was churring about the Ironstone Quarry at dusk.

May 31st

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owlet – Paul Turton
Kestrel Kestrel
Kestrel – Mike Lyons (upper) & Clinton Whale

The only news for the day is of a Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry.

May 30th

Kestrel Kestrel
Male Kestrel passing food to his mate, who then feeds their three chicks – Paul Turton

There is, unfortunately, no news for today; and it's not even June!

May 29th

The notable feature of the day was a westerly movement of Mediterranean Gull – a total of 30 birds passing through the harbour this morning. Meanwhile, 14 adult Dunlin were settled at Stanpit, at least one of them showing characteristics of the race arctica. Also a Grey Plover in non-breeding plumage, so possibly a first-summer bird, a Redshank and a Curlew there. Elsewhere, a Fulmar passed the Double Dykes and Tawny Owl were again seen.

May 28th

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl – Clinton Whale Dartford WarblerDartford WarblerDartford Warbler – Steve Davies (upper) & Steve Birt

A total of 4 Mediterranean Gull, presumably some that have already given up on breeding in the Solent, were seen heading west over Hengistbury this morning, while a couple of Swift were also logged. Our next event is less than a week away, see below.

Additional news: a further 5 Mediterranean Gull were seen this evening, four adults and a second-calendar-year bird, as well as around 25 Sandwich Tern and 10 Gannet fishing aimlessly off the Gulley. Meanwhile, 11 Black-tailed Godwit briefly dropped-in before heading north and the Redshank pair are still in the locale of Wick Hams.

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