Sightings for May 2018

April 30th

There is very little to report on what was a bitterly cold day.  The Spoonbill was on North Marsh and 3 Wheatear were by Crouch Hill while on Hengistbury a Common Sandpiper was around the groynes. 

April 29th

Whimbrel on the sandspit – Chris Roughley

It was an uncomfortably cold day, courtesy of a bracing north-easterly wind and constant cloud cover. There were, however, some singing Willow Warbler on Wick – six, in fact – but other than 3 Wheatear and couple of Swallow there is nothing else to report on the migrant front. The morning at Stanpit suggested a small arrival of waders – not least 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, but also 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Whimbrel and 4 Dunlin. Meanwhile, the sandspit hosted a couple more Whimbrel and 5 Purple Sandpiper. 

April 28th

It was another day with not a lot of reward. Groyne S8 hosted 18 Purple Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and 4 Wheatear; but a seawatch from there produced just a Fulmar and around 10 Gannet. The best of the passerines were 2 Tree Pipit, north over Holloway’s Dock, a further 2 Wheatear on the Barn Field and half-a-dozen Willow Warbler.

April 27th

Goldfinch – Tina Scott
Kestrel – Roger Tidball
Rock Pipit, still on the saltmarsh – Jackie Smith

In a wind just east of 180 degrees, there was a fair bit of seawatching done today, mainly during the morning, with records from both the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay including: 60+ pale-bellied Brent Goose, a Manx Shearwater, 4 Little Tern and 2 Fulmar, west; a Black-throated Diver, an Arctic Skua, 2 Great Skua, 28 Common Scoter, 5 Common Tern, 45 Gannet and 6 Whimbrel, east; and a Great Crested Grebe on the sea. A couple of hours late in the afternoon could add just 4 Common Tern, however. In addition, at least 6 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit. Away from the water, 3 Swift passed over, while passerines mustered just a Willow Warbler and 3 Wheatear.

April 26th

An Arctic Skua moved west past Mudeford Quay this morning, but otherwise there was just a single Gannet and a total of 11 Whimbrel, six of which entered the harbour over the Run and five that headed towards the Solent. The Barn Field held 3 Wheatear, while a couple of Willow Warbler were on Wick and 14 Swallow were logged.

April 25th

It was another quiet morning on Hengistbury, the only migrants being Wheatear -with eight on the Barn Field and five on Solent Meads, while two were on the sandspit mid afternoon. There seems to have been a real clear-out of waders from Stanpit, as a lunchtime visit produced just 34 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Whimbrel. Finally, a single Little Tern was offshore from Mudeford Quay later.

April 24th

Wheatear – Clinton Whale

The first Little Tern of the year were feeding off Mudeford Quay this afternoon; there were seven birds in fact. It was another day, however, when migrants were hard to come by, with just 18 Wheatear, 11 Swallow and a new Reed Warbler; the latter by the HHC. To round up, a Fulmar moved west, 3 Gadwall arrived in Barn Bight and 2 Raven were around.

April 23rd

This male Pied Flycatcher was in song for over an hour on Wick this morning – Jackie Smith
They've only been here a few days, but the Whitethroat are already nest–building – Clinton Whale
...and one of the Rock Pipit remaining on the saltmarsh – Jackie Smith

Despite a chilly south-westerly breeze this morning, there were a few new arrivals. The best was a male Pied Flycatcher that showed well and sang for over an hour close to the Wooden Bridge on Wick, but also a couple of Garden Warbler on the fields, a Swift over the Barn Field and 2 Common Sandpiper in Mother Siller’s Channel. In addition, a Black Redstart was on the sandspit briefly, at least 15 Wheatear were across the area and a White Wagtail was on the Driving Range at Wick. The Black-tailed Godwit decreased to 89, plus a couple of Whimbrel and 8 Dunlin at Stanpit. A male Marsh Harrier was around for much of the morning and a pair of Bullfinch were on Roebury Lane. Finally, due to a mixture of IT issues and some pure incompetence, several reports were omitted from yesterday's post; please check back.

April 22nd

Common Tern
Common Tern – Alan Crockard
Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern – Ray Scott
Linnet – Clinton Whale
Song Thrush
Song Thrush – Robert Gray

Other than around 5 Willow Warbler, perhaps a couple of Whitethroat, a Yellow Wagtail over the Salt Hurns, a single Wheatear and a day-long trickle of Swallow, there were no other obviously new-in birds. The best of the waders was a Greenshank about Wick Hams, while 150 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Dunlin were at Stanpit. A Common Tern was around Clay Pool, the in-harbour Sandwich Tern were estimated at 25 and the Mediterranean Gull count for the day nudged 10 birds.

Additional news: a Ring Ouzel was heard at Stanpit, where 3 Yellow Wagtail were settled, while at dawn a Black Redstart had been on the roof of the Barn. The wader numbers were augmented by a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew and a peak count of 307 Black-tailed Godwit.

April 21st

Peacock – Clinton Whale

A still dawn meant that insects were a challenge for those out early. Hengistbury was quiet in terms of new birds; in fact, just a handful of Willow Warbler, 7 Wheatear and a Sedge Warbler. Stanpit, however, fared much better, with firsts-for-the-year of Grasshopper Warbler and Whinchat – by the Pod and on Central Marsh respectively – a further 2 Wheatear and 2 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit. At sea, a party of 4 Manx Shearwater headed east, as did a Common Tern and 2 Whimbrel, while a Fulmar went in the opposite direction, and 15 Common Scoter and 3 Sanderling were also logged. Rounding up, pairs of Bullfinch were in the Wood and on Wick, and at least 20 Mediterranean Gull make the post.

April 20th

Black–tailed Godwit - Clinton Whale

It was another scorcher of a day, with the highlight being 3 Cattle Egret on Stanpit for an hour or so this morning; where on the theme of large, white birds, the Spoonbill remains. It was also, relatively speaking to the spring so far, a good day for incoming passerines, including the year’s first Sedge Warbler by the HHC, 6 Reed Warbler, up to 4 Redstart, 45 Willow Warbler, 5 Whitethroat and 18 Wheatear; all spread across the area. A total of 22 Whimbrel was returned from Stanpit, along with 210 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall and the lone Brent Goose. Finally, at least 20 Mediterranean Gull moved through and there were 2 Rock Pipit on Central Marsh, which the date must surely default to littoralis.

April 19th

Jay – Jackie Smith
Brent Goose – Ray Scott
Whimbrel – Ian Wigley

Another warm and clear day saw the first Reed Warbler of the year, by the Wooden Bridge on Wick, as well as a Yellow Wagtail over Crouch Hill, 7 Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat and 11 Wheatear across the recording area. At Stanpit, the Brent Goose from yesterday was still present, as was a Greenshank, 5 Whimbrel, around 300 Black-tailed Godwit and 20 Dunlin. Mediterranean Gull calls were almost ever-present, with a number of 30+ ventured during the morning, but almost certainly far more. In addition, a Buzzard passed over and plenty of Sandwich Tern were about. 

April 18th

Red–breasted Merganser inside the harbour - Clinton Whale
Sand Martin – Clinton Whale

It was a beautiful day from the outset, with a south-easterly wind gathering pace as the day went on. A Red-breasted Merganser, first seen early on from Mudeford Quay, spent some time inside the harbour off the Hengistbury shore, as did singles of Brent Goose and Wigeon. On the land, there was a small arrival of Whitethroat – three on Wick and one on Stanpit – as well as 4 Willow Warbler, 7 Wheatear and a Redwing. The pick of the waders at Stanpit was 3 Greenshank, but also 10 Dunlin, while at least 7 Whimbrel were around the area. The Spoonbill remains, around 20 Mediterranean Gull were about, a Bullfinch was on Wick and 4 Greylag Goose circuited. 

April 17th

Turnstone – Clinton Whale

In a chilly southerly wind and almost complete cloud cover, a good scour of Hengistbury produced not a single new-in bird. Wick did hold 3 Willow Warbler, however; while Stanpit fared slightly better with a Yellow Wagtail over and White Wagtail on a path. In addition to a Ruff on the marsh, a flock of 23 Whimbrel arrived from the west, but the only other waders of note were 6 Dunlin. Mediterranean Gull just about exceeded 15 for the day, and the Spoonbill was seen in Holloway’s Dock and at Stanpit. 

April 16th

The male Marsh Harrier that has become frequent in the harbour – Dale Vile
Redstart in the bright morning sun – Jackie Smith
Wheatear – Clinton Whale

It was a fine morning, with mostly blue skies. In addition to an influx of Wheatear – perhaps as many as twenty on Hengistbury – there was an obliging male Redstart on the Long Field, six or so Willow Warbler and five unidentified phylloscs. There were again Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit, around 20 birds, as well as 6 Whimbrel, a couple of Ringed Plover and 10 Turnstone. A light Mediterranean Gull passage nudged just past thirty and a Firecrest sang in the Wood. Late this afternoon, a Great Skua  headed west off Mudeford Quay. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

April 15th

Dunlin acquiring some breeding plumage – Clinton Whale
Purple Sandpiper – Clinton Whale
Meadow Pipit on Priory Marsh – Scott Usher

Before the rain set in, there were a few migrants to be seen across Hengistbury and Wick, including a Whitethroat along Roebury Lane, 2 Wheatear on the sandspit, 15 Willow Warbler, 20 Chiffchaff, although some of these may have been residents, and ditto 6 Blackcap. Meanwhile, a further Wheatear was at Stanpit. Staying on that side of the area, the first breeding-plumaged Dunlin of the year, sixteen of them, were on groyne S9, as were 15 Purple Sandpiper, while 15 Turnstone were also about the spit. Although the sea was quiet, a Fulmar does make the post – that over Barn Bight! Over at Stanpit, there were initially around 400 Black-tailed Godwit, but some soon left, as well as 11 Grey Plover moving west, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 11 Dunlin. The Spoonbill was on South Marsh, a male Bullfinch was close to the Wooden Bridge and the day’s Mediterranean Gull total exceeds 50 birds.

Additional news: an Osprey passed west over Solent Meads at 15:50 and 7 Whimbrel plus an additional Wheatear were at Stanpit.

April 14th

Long–tailed Tit with nest material – Alan Crockard
Gadwall – Ian Wigley
Reed Bunting – Tina Scott

The area was shrouded in a thick fog until at least mid-afternoon. A feature, however, was the arrival of a number of flocks of Meadow Pipit and Linnet over Hengistbury – giving it a feel of what it should have been like three weeks ago – perhaps 250 and 20 of each respectively. Also giving a bit of a throw-back feel was that obvious, migrant Chiffchaff – five birds – outnumbered Willow Warbler, which pitched in at just three! The conditions also stifled the Mediterranean Gull passage, with just a couple of calls heard all morning. There was a little more interest from the waders – a cracking Bar-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock was the first passage bird of the season and a flock of 5 Whimbrel dropped into Stanpit for five minutes this afternoon – where there was an impressive gathering of 400 Black-tailed Godwit, nearly all of them in vary degrees of breeding attire, and 2 Grey Plover. At least 20 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit; the male Marsh Harrier again hunted Wick Hams; the Spoonbill was at Stanpit; and 2 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 12 Teal and a similar number of Wigeon were around the harbour. 

April 13th

Thick cloud cover overnight and throughout the day made it an overall dismal affair. That said, it was the best day of the year so far for Swallow – a heady 20 counted over Hengistbury – but other than a cameo by the season’s first Whitethroat, a flyover Fieldfare and 4 Willow Warbler, Hengistbury and Wick were largely devoid of migrant passerines. In fact, counting westbound Mediterranean Gull became a good way to pass this time – a total of 44 prior to 9:15. For the second time in three days, a Fulmar seemed to inspect the Barn Field; a male Marsh Harrier hunted Wick Hams; a pair of Gadwall flew upriver; and a Red-legged Partridge on Hengistbury complemented one at Stanpit that was missed from yesterday's post. 

April 12th

Cetti's Warbler – never an easy species to photograph - Tina Scott
Stoat – Mike Gibbons

From the reports received throughout the day, it appears to have been very quiet. Marsh Harrier were seen morning and afternoon, the later bird being a female-type. Migrant-wise, it’s just singles of Wheatear, Willow Warbler and House Martin to mention, while lingering or passing waders included 3 Grey Plover and 21 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit. Also on the marsh, the Spoonbill, a pair of Tufted Duck in Parky Meade Rail and a couple of Gadwall. 

April 11th

Female Blackcap – Paul Turton

Pre-dawn rain gave way to early blue skies and it was the best day of the spring so far. Migrant totals across Hengistbury and Wick came to: 3 Redstart, all males – two in the No Dogs Field and one on the Barn Field – 4 Wheatear, 15 Willow Warbler, 25 Chiffchaff, 25 Blackcap and 6 Swallow. Birds of the day, however, were no doubt 3 Pochard which came in-off over the top of the head and north – this is a species undergoing a marked decline in the south of the UK, so it’s always good to see locally. Raptor interest peaked with a Red Kite west along the coast early in the afternoon, but Marsh Harrier were seen on two distinct occasions. Contrasting spring and winter: a Firecrest was in Song in the Wood and at least 10 Sand Martin are now around the cliffs; while around 20 Wigeon, 14 Teal and 5 Snipe remain on site. The air was full of Mediterranean Gull calls and it’s reckoned just over 100 passed through, mostly east, during the morning. Finishing off the post: a female Bullfinch was at the end of the head, a Gadwall was in Barn Bight; and 2 Grey Plover, 122 Black-tailed Godwit and 18 Dunlin were at Stanpit.

Additional news: an Osprey passed over, northbound, at 15:50.

April 10th

At last, there are some Sand Martin prospecting the cliffs – Clinton Whale

There was a glimmer of hope that the spring migration might just be about to get started, when a male Redstart was on the Long Field this morning. That said, only 2 Willow Warbler were returned from Hengistbury and Wick! Meanwhile, with Chiffchaff and Blackcap now being in song across those areas, it’s getting difficult to distinguish residents from travellers. Bullfinch, were on Wick and in the Nursery; the Spoonbill was in Barn Bight; and 16 Mediterranean Gull passed west. 

April 9th

Blackcap in the afternoon rain by the Purewell Stream – Jackie Smith

It was another shocker in terms of rain, with barely a dry 30 minutes all day! Reports from Hengistbury involve: 2 Wheatear on the Long Groyne; a Fulmar off the end of the head; a Whimbrel; and 9 Sandwich Tern – six east and three lingering. Meanwhile, the pocket of Blackcap remained around the Purewell Stream, Stanpit, where at least 10 birds were present, the Spoonbill was on South Marsh and several Mediterranean Gull passed over.

April 8th

Great Spotted Woodpecker – Jackie Smith
Sandwich Tern – Scott Usher

Other than the first couple of hours of daylight, there was constant drizzle during what was an almost windless day. This morning, there was a 'noticeable influx' of Blackcap and phylloscopus warblers around the Purewell Stream at the northern end of the North Scrubs. This afternoon, all the phylloscs had moved on, but 21 Blackcap were present. Hirundines were a little more numerous than they have been so far – seven returns of Sand Martin and two of Swallow – but they’re still well below expectation; while a further 7 Blackcap were on Hengistbury, a Willow Warbler was on Wick and a Redwing was logged at Stanpit. The offshore Sandwich Tern presence seemed higher, perhaps 12 birds, and five were inside the harbour, with Mediterranean Gull reckoned at 15 or so. Kingfisher haven’t been recorded since the cold snaps, so one in Parky Meade Rail this afternoon was a real surprise, not least for the date. Finishing off, a male Marsh Harrier visited and the Spoonbill was at Stanpit, as were 3 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit. 

April 7th

Starting with the more out-of-the-ordinary records for the day: a Marsh Tit was on Stanpit golf course; a Black-necked Grebe was seen from Mudeford Quay; and a large, white-winged gull was also seen from there. More expected, but perhaps a few days late, were the year’s first Whimbrel – a couple of birds which frequented Stanpit Bight for most of the morning, at least. Also at Stanpit, a White Wagtail on Crouch Hill and a Swallow that sung loudly as it headed north over Central Marsh; elsewhere, however, save for a Willow Warbler on Wick, a Marsh Harrier in-off the sea and north, and up to 30 Mediterranean Gull passing over, most of them north-west, there was scant evidence of moving birds. As happens at this time of year, in the period between winter residents leaving and passage birds arriving, there were barely any small waders inside the harbour; but the Spotted Redshank does remain and is starting to darken. About the sandspit, there were plenty of Purple Sandpiper – a flock of around 30 seen flying across the Run, as well as 3 Sanderling in that spot. Meanwhile, the Spoonbill remains and a female Bullfinch was seen carrying nest material on Wick. 

April 6th

Kestrel – Clinton Whale
Spoonbill – Roger Tidball

After a night of south-easterly wind that continued throughout the day, the sea was watched for most of the morning. From dawn to around 9:15, from the Beach Huts, a total of 98 Common Scoter, a diver species, 5 Common Tern, 17 Sandwich Tern, 2 Tufted Duck and 6 Brent Goose headed towards the Solent; while a Red-throated Diver moved in the opposite direction. Then a watch from 9:30 at Mudeford Quay produced: a lingering, first-winter Caspian Gull, a Little Gull, an Arctic Skua, 2 Common Tern and 5 Swallow; the latter in-off. Once again, migrants were sparse – in addition to the previously-mentioned hirundines, a couple of Sand Martin were over Wick; while 8 Chiffchaff on Hengistbury were possibly new-in. The regular Spoonbill was at Stanpit, but a bird west over Two Riversmeet could have been another; 2 Firecrest were in the Wood; and 16 Turnstone were on the sandspit.

Additional new: late in the afternoon, a Marsh Harrier was seen to leave high to the west.

April 5th

A selection of the area's breeding birds – Skylark & Dartford Warbler – Alan Hayden and Reed Bunting & Chiffchaff – Alan Crockard

There was a remarkable record of a flock of 15 Little Gull, of varying ages, moving east over Stanpit this morning; while up to 40 Mediterranean Gull did the same thing. Despite the improvement in the weather, other than the season’s first House Martin, it was quiet on the migrant front. Around 15 Chiffchaff were in the North Scrubs, Stanpit, but on the other side there were only half a dozen, 4 Blackcap, a single Wheatear and 3 Swallow. Other snippets of interest came from: a Buzzard over the Long Field; 2 Firecrest in the Wood; a Sandwich Tern west over Barn Field; and around 80 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit. 

April 4th

Oystercatcher – Alan Crockard
Spoonbill – Ray Scott

After a night of southerly winds, the sea was given a bash this morning – although news of birds approaching Hurst Narrows only goes to highlight what hard work it can be at Christchurch for spring passage. In the two hours prior to 9:10, from Mudeford Quay, a Great Skua, a single dark-phase Arctic Skua and 5 Eider – three drakes and two ducks – headed towards the Solent; while the next hour or so from the Beach Huts added a first-winter Little Gull west, 2 Common Scoter, 7 Sandwich Tern and 4 Gannet. In addition, a first-winter Sandwich Tern, which presumably never went too far south, was loitering around the area; as it has been for the last week or so. The first 2 Swallow of the year, which are on an incredibly late date, passed over Wick Hams and 3 Firecrest were in the Wood. The pick of the wader news involves 12 Purple Sandpiper on the tip of the sandspit this morning, along with 45 Black-tailed Godwit at Stanpit, where the young Spoonbill remains. 

April 3rd

Sanderling – Clinton Whale
Purple Sandpiper – perhaps starting to take on a hue – Clinton Whale
Conversely, this Dunlin is showing no signs of breeding plumage – Clinton Whale

The event of the day was on groyne S7, where 21 Purple Sandpiper, 5 Sanderling, 28 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin were all together this afternoon. Otherwise, it was hard work: an hour at Mudeford Quay in the morning showers produced just an adult Kittiwake west, 2 Brent Goose east and a Peregrine; then, this afternoon, the best at Stanpit were a White Wagtail and a female Wheatear on Crouch Hill, plus the Spotted Redshank on North Marsh. 

April 2nd

Black–tailed Godwit – Scott Usher (upper) & Clinton Whale
There were a few pipits and Skylark on Crouch Hill this afternoon – Clinton Whale
...and a couple of Black Swan were in the area this morning – Alan Crockard

Although it rained pretty much continually from 18:00 last night to 10:00 this morning, there were newly-arrived birds at Stanpit early on; mainly around the golf course. These included a male Black Redstart on the roof of Two Riversmeet leisure centre, 2 Firecrest, 5 Willow Warbler, 25 Chiffchaff and 20 Goldcrest. At the same time, on Wick, there were 7 Chiffchaff. A visit to Stanpit golf course later in the day produced a single Willow Warbler and around half-a-dozen Chiffchaff. A Merlin was also returned from Stanpit, where a male Wheatear on Crouch Hill was likely the bird from yesterday. Other reports involve a singing Blackcap on Wick and a Red-legged Partridge in the No Dogs Field.

Additional news: an Osprey passed north over the harbour at around 18:30.

April 1st

Spotted Redshank – Clinton Whale
Spoonbill – Clinton Whale

Despite other sites getting incoming birds, it’s still pretty tough going here. As an example, March produced just 3 bird-days for hirundines! Today saw a token 2 Wheatear across the site and some singing Chiffchaff, but they could well be setting up territories rather than moving through. A singing Blackcap on Stanpit was certainly new-in, however. So it was down to the winter regulars – namely the Spotted Redshank and the Spoonbill at Stanpit – to provide the highlights for this post; as well as a Grey Plover, a Bar-tailed Godwit, c150 Black-tailed Godwit, 24 Ringed Plover and c75 Dunlin there. A Mistle Thrush south over Wick is a noteworthy record, with other bits and pieces including 2 Gadwall, 33 Brent Goose and a Common Gull. Finishing off with some plastic – 3 Egyptian Goose and 5 Greylag Goose headed south and west respectively.

Additional news: the year's first Common Tern was off Mudeford Quay this morning.

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