Sightings for March 2020

March 31st

Pied Flycatcher from 2008 Alan Hayden

The best of the day was a male Pied Flycatcher. This is a very early date, possibly the earliest for the group - the bird shown above being present on the first of the coming month. A Gannet close offshore from Hengistbury was probably not expected in a northerly wind, while at least 4 Mediterranean Gull and a Buzzard were over the airspace. A flock of 34, very smart-looking Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit, while a pair of Bullfinch were on Wick. After an apparent poor showing yesterday, the settled Wigeon were around 300, with the Brent Goose numbering twenty-four. 

March 30th

This drake Garganey, now long gone, was in the area last week Chris Chapleo
Stock Dove Rod Jenkins

The now-traditional, early spring exodus of young Red Kite from their natal areas to the south-west of England is well underway and one strayed into harbour airspace today being seen from Wick Fields in the early morning. Also on the fields, singles of Redwing and Bullfinch, plus 6 Chiffchaff, while 6 Mediterranean Gull passed over. This afternoon, Stanpit was noticeably light on Wigeon less than 40 birds so perhaps most have departed over the last couple of days to their breeding grounds across the North Sea. In fact, 170 or so seen from Wick in the morning could have been part of that migration. To finish up, the detail at Stanpit, where the pale-bellied Brent Goose was present with around seventy regulation birds and 4 Black-tailed Godwit were in Mother Sillers Channel. 

March 29th

There are no reports for today.

March 28th

In these uncertain times, there were some moments of spring cheer this morning; not least from 2 Swallow over Wick Fields, but also at least 4 Blackcap in song about the area. Meanwhile, a single Redwing was in the No Dogs Field and 10 Mediterranean Gull headed west.

March 27th

The only news of the day is of 3 Shoveler - two drakes and a duck - which arrived at Stanpit, where three each of Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin were also present. 

March 26th

Again, there is little news. A Firecrest and Chiffchaff were on Hengistbury, where a pair of Wigeon were on the Ironstone Quarry pool; the latter a quite remarkable sight on what is normally the domain of Mallard. Over at Stanpit, the best were 8 Black-tailed Godwit, all in nice plumage, 4 Pintail and a Sparrowhawk.

March 25th

Kestrel David Faulkner
 A pair of Pintail with Wigeon Jackie Smith
Reed Bunting Ray Scott

As is only right in the circumstances, more intense field activity is being limited. A Willow Warbler on was on Wick, as were 15 Chiffchaff, while at least 8 Blackcap were across the site. A pair of Pintail were with the dwindling Wigeon numbers at Stanpit. 

March 24th

The only news is of Mediterranean Gull calling above Stanpit this evening. 

March 23rd

Skylark Gary Foyle

The mix of warm sun and wind chill continued for the third day in succession, but there was quite a bit to be seen around the harbour. A Spoonbill passed east over Hengistbury during the morning, when a Little Ringed Plover arrived over the Long Field; as did 3 Jackdaw. A reasonably productive seawatch came up with: a medium-sized grebe, a redhead Goosander, a Sandwich Tern, 4 Mediterranean Gull and 43 Wigeon moved east; while 3 Common Scoter headed west. After being taken for granted for a few months, Marsh Harrier records have recently become sparse again so a female-type hunting the area was very welcome; with a Merlin through to the east. Arriving passerines were thin on the ground, but did include around 7 Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff and 3 Wheatear. To round up: the pale-bellied Brent Goose was present for its seventh day; 6 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit; a Grey Plover was at Stanpit; and 3 Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour. 

March 22nd

Wheatear Scott Usher
Dunnock Alan Crockard
Common Lizard Gary Foyle

More of the same weather-wise today blue skies, but a cold, easterly wind. A pair of Bearded Tit by the Wooden Bridge on Wick made for a real highlight, while 9 Chiffchaff, a Blackcap and an over-flying Mediterranean Gull were all recorded from the fields. 

March 21st

Chiffchaff David Faulkner
Mediterranean Gull Rod Jenkins
Great Spotted Woodpecker Ian Wigley

Despite clear skies, a cruel easterly wind made things very uncomfortable this morning. A couple of Mistle Thrush on Wick Fields is a good record; while a Willow Warbler was by the Viewing Platform there, 14 Chiffchaff were dotted about and there were 3 Bullfinch. The only other news concerns 2 Mediterranean Gull on the inner harbour shore at Mudeford Quay. 

March 20th

Bullfinch Leo Pyke
Wren Robert Gray

There was another Willow Warbler this morning, but only around 15 or so Chiffchaff reported. Meanwhile, the Wheatear numbered around a dozen these are still dominated by male birds racing for the best territories, but females are now also appearing. Finishing with the obvious incoming birds, 3 Blackcap were spread about. The Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit had dropped to just 2 birds today, with the only other wader news being of a Common Sandpiper and the Spotted Redshank both at Stanpit. Also on the marsh, the pale-bellied Brent Goose and 19 Shelduck. A Firecrest was again in the Wood, a pair of Bullfinch were by the Viewing Platform, a Redwing was by the Wooden Bridge and 16 Gannet headed towards the Solent off the Beach Huts. 

March 19th

Pale and dark-bellied Brent Goose - Jackie Smith
Wheatear on Crouch Hill Ian Wigley (upper) & Jackie Smith

The Chiffchaff count from Hengistbury was around 30 birds, but there was a really early Willow Warbler at Stanpit, where: the maximum Sand Martin estimate was 100, a pair of Garganey flew north, a Woodlark went over Crouch Hill and a Water Pipit was about, as were a Merlin and a White Wagtail. Sticking with the marsh: the Whimbrel was seen again, along with the Spotted Redshank; just under 50 Black-tailed Godwit passed over to the west, flocks of seventeen and an estimated thirty; a couple of pair of Shoveler and 12 Shelduck were in the bight; and 35 Meadow Pipit fed-up on Crouch Hill. On the sandspit, there was an impressive total of 25 Purple Sandpiper on groyne S9, with 10 Common Scoter settled off there. The Wood again held 2 Firecrest, but today also a couple of Blackcap; while 2 Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour. 

March 18th

Carrion Crow with apple Roger Tidball
Reed Bunting Alan Crockard

Chiffchaff continue to pile in at least 60 around today but just 3 Wheatear. Meadow Pipit and alba Wagtail passed over in numbers of 163 and seven respectively, as well as a Red Kite and a Merlin, while a White Wagtail was settled at Stanpit. Despite the fast-approaching spring, the Salt Hurns still holds Snipe, including a Jack Snipe amongst 30 or so of the more expected. The first Sand Martin of the season were very welcome, a total of six birds, with a Sandwich Tern moving offshore. The pick of the seawatch was a westbound, second-calendar-year Little Gull, but also: a lingering Red-throated Diver; 5 Common Scoter four east and the regular female; and 6 Mediterranean Gull. The final piece is a bit of medley and in no particular order: the pale-bellied Brent Goose remains at Stanpit, along with a Knot, the Spotted Redshank and, the scarcity of the winter, Black-tailed Godwit, three birds; 11 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit; a couple of Bullfinch were on Wick; and a single Great Crested Grebe was inside the harbour. 

March 17th

Palebellied Brent Goose - Jackie Smith
Shelduck Alan Crockard

An early Whimbrel and a pale-bellied Brent Goose were at Stanpit today, but otherwise the marsh was fairly quiet. After yesterdays good numbers, Chiffchaff were down around fifteen, mainly on Wick Fields but no other obvious arrivees were present. A couple of Firecrest were once again in the Wood, while the regular was by the Wooden Bridge. There was also a trip to the sandspit, where 16 Purple Sandpiper were present; with the sea producing: 9 Brent Goose seeming to head home, the settled Common Scoter and a couple of westbound, adult Mediterranean Gull. Finishing up, single Great Crested Grebe was in Barn Bight. 

March 16th

Chiffchaff Leo Pyke

There was a definite surge of Chiffchaff and Wheatear today. The former numbered at least sixty the vast majority on the south and west of the harbour; while the latter came to twenty-two: ten on the Barn Field, eight on the end of the sandspit and four in the Bobolink Field. Also incoming, a couple of Blackcap each either side of the river at the north of the area  plus a White Wagtail on East Marsh. Bird of the day, however, was a Hawfinch that headed east over Roebury Lane. Other notables from the reports are: 3 Firecrest on Hengistbury, as well as a Rook, 11 Meadow Pipit and 2 Mediterranean Gull over there; 4 Shelduck north; the female Common Scoter still on the water off the Beach Huts; and 2 Great Crested Grebe in the harbour. 

March 15th

There was a single Wheatear on the Barn Field this morning, while at least 6 Chiffchaff were about. The Purple Sandpiper count peaked at 15 these on tip of the sandspit and a late morning seawatch produced an unseasonable Manx Shearwater, plus a Fulmar. For those of you who may follow the barn owl camera, there has been considerable drama over the last 36 hours. A summary of which will follow here when things return to normal. 

March 14th

The two 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit at Stanpit today Jackie Smith
Blackbird getting ready for spring Jackie Smith

The morning saw the first Wheatear of the season a couple of birds on the Barn Field but on a slightly belated date. At least 7 Chiffchaff were about the area and a Firecrest was in a new location on Wick. In contrast, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit were still at Stanpit, but one assumes they will soon depart. Otherwise, its just the male Kingfisher that currently favours Mother Sillers Channel to report upon. 

March 13th

Purple Sandpiper Leo Pyke

At least 7 Chiffchaff were around the area today, three of them in song, while around 100 Meadow Pipit were recorded coming in-off. A Sandwich Tern was off the sandspit, but it can't be certain as to whether that was a bird recently arrived or not. Also seen from the sandspit, 4 Purple Sandpiper, on a groyne around halfway along, with the walk there producing a Firecrest in the Wood. To round up: a Common Scoter was on the sea, 3 Mediterranean Gull passed over and the same number of Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour. 

March 12th

The first trans-Saharan migrant of the season was seen today a Swallow that headed west over Stanpit. Also new-in, were a couple of Chiffchaff, one of them in song, by the Pod. The status of a drake Garganey, however, is clouded by the over-wintering individual in the Avon Valley. A Marsh Harrier, a male, was the first for a while about the marsh, where: a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 12 Pied Wagtail and 5 Skylark were on Crouch Hill; with 4 Pintail and 3 Great Crested Grebe on the in-harbour water. On Wick, the Firecrest remained faithful to the Wooden Bridge and 3 Bullfinch were again recorded. 

March 11th

All the days news is from Wick, where: 8 Mediterranean Gull passed over to the west; 14 Redwing were by the Wooden Bridge; and 3 Bullfinch were present a pair near the Viewing Platform and one on the central path. 

March 10th

There were 2 Firecrest in the Wood this morning, as well as 3 Redwing. Meanwhile, Stanpit hosted the currently regular selection of: 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipit and 3 Skylark on Crouch Hill; plus the Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. At least a dozen Mediterranean Gull passed over to the west, while 8 Common Gull, 12 Pintail and 3 Shoveler were settled. 

March 9th

The morning, when the weather was very spring-like, saw a White Wagtail in the No Dogs Field, Wick, plus the regular Firecrest by the Wooden Bridge. Meanwhile, over on Stanpit, there were three, very-confiding Scandinavian Rock Pipit on Crouch Hill, along with 14 Meadow Pipit, 10 Pied Wagtail, 3 Skylark, 8 Stonechat and 4 Reed Bunting. There does still seem to be a dearth of linnet, however. Green Sandpiper outside of the summer months are unusual, so one up-and-out from Central Marsh is a good record. Also about the marsh in general: the Spotted Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, 8 Mediterranean Gull over and 5 Common Gull. 

March 8th

The best of the days WeBS count was 12 Purple Sandpiper on groyne S9, along with 80 Dunlin there. Inside the harbour, however, no small waders at all were encountered. Finishing on the survey theme, there are still up to 750 Wigeon around, as well as 231 Brent Goose. A late-afternoon seawatch saw a female Common Scoter settled and 2 Mediterranean Gull east; while the morning at Stanpit, namely Crouch Hill, yielded a nice-looking Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 25 Meadow Pipit and 12 Pied Wagtail. Moving to Wick, a pair of Bullfinch were along the central path. 

March 7th

Jay Robert Gray

As we await the first trans-Saharan migrant, there is little other news. A Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh, however, and the Firecrest remains by the Wood Bridge on Wick. At least 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipit were at Stanpit, along with 14 Pied Wagtail; while the 3 Bullfinch were again on Wick and male Kingfisher was around the area.

Additional news from Stanpit: during the morning, the Spotted Redshank was seen, as was a Grey Plover and Ringed Plover. The Brent Goose were counted at 233 and 9 Common Gull were returned.

March 6th

Two male Greenfinch not seeing eye to eye Robert Gray
Brent Goose Ray Scott

There was a Sandwich Tern at Stanpit this afternoon, but as a young bird it was unlikely to have been a migrant. A couple of Knot there were also unexpected amongst the waders, which included: the Spotted Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 41 Dunlin. The morning congregation on Crouch Hill comprised: a White Wagtail, 17 Pied Wagtail, 5 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 10 Stonechat and 3 Skylark; by the afternoon, however, the majority had dispersed, but there was one very smart-looking pipit remaining. The remaining passerine interest comes from 6 Redwing in the North Scrubs and 3 Bullfinch by the Viewing Platform on Wick. At least 7 Mediterranean Gull were around late in the day, along with 11 Common Gull, 4 Pintail, 175 Brent Goose of which twenty or so were youngsters, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 5 Shelduck. Finishing off, a male Kingfisher was around Barn Bight.

March 5th

Spotted Redshank David Faulkner

Other than the photographed Spotted Redshank at Stanpit, there is no news for the day. 

March 4th

The over-wintering, drake Garganey from the Avon Valley again visited briefly flying around Stanpit with 3 Mallard. Meanwhile, other wildfowl on site, included 4 Shoveler, 8 Pintail and a single Gadwall. The day also saw a slight arrival of Mediterranean Gull four turned in from Hengistbury and three from the marsh. There was another good total of Snipe returned from the Salt Hurns, 50 birds; with Crouch Hill again hosting passerines, but in reduced numbers, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 9 Pied Wagtail, 3 Skylark and 4 Stonechat being the maximum. Finally, just under a couple of hours at the Beach Huts produced: 10 Common Scoter, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Shelduck and 2 Common Gull; all moving at sea. Nearby, at least 60 Dunlin roosted on the sandspit.

March 3rd

This Chiffchaff, photographed at Stanpit yesterday, was certainly a newin bird. The encrusted pollen at the bill base proving it has very recently been a way south of here presumably around the Mediterranean - Mazz Blehs

This morning, the Crouch Hill gathering included: a White Wagtail, 18 Pied Wagtail, 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 25 Meadow Pipit, 11 Stonechat, 3 Skylark, 2 Reed Bunting and a long overdue Linnet; by the late afternoon, however, all but four of the Pied Wagtail had dispersed. On Wick, a pair of Bullfinch was again by the Viewing Platform; while, on Hengistbury, a Firecrest was behind the Nursery. Finishing up: a Buzzard passed over the area west to south; a Red-breasted Merganser and up to 2 Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour; and 5 Shelduck overflew the Long Field. 

March 2nd

On a fine day of weather, two reasonably common species which have been notable by their recent absences put in a return 3 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit and a Kingfisher was hunting around Barn Bight. Meanwhile, a Golden Plover on the marsh is a decent record for the month, with the Spotted Redshank again being returned. Another bird scarce to the area is Mistle Thrush, so two over Wick around lunchtime is well worth writing about; as are 3 Firecrest and a Redwing in the Wood. A Little Grebe on the Ironstone Quarry could well be making an early return to territory, while three Bullfinch along Roebury Lane could be doing the same. The Crouch Hill gathering today included: a Water Pipit, 6 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 21 Pied Wagtail and 3 Skylark; with the site-wide total for Stonechat being as high as 31 birds. 

March 1st

Redwing Livi Almond (upper) & Jackie Smith

As is often the case when winter turns to spring, Crouch Hill hosted a nice selection of migrants both incoming and outgoing. Todays medley included a Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 14 Meadow Pipit, 22 Pied Wagtail, 2 Skylark and 12 Stonechat. Also at Stanpit, the Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Pintail, 2 Shoveler and 12 Shelduck, as well as a single Redwing in the North Scrubs. Meanwhile, the solitary Brent Goose was again on the lawn at Mudeford Quay. 

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