Sightings for March 2021

March 31st

Blackcap Alan Crockard
Magpie Roger Tidball
Grey Heron Roger Tidball

The forecast, wall-to-wall sunshine never happened and it was actually quite dull throughout. Nevertheless, the years first Yellow Wagtail passed over Hengistbury and a couple of Willow Warbler were about, while 2 Mistle Thrush again headed east. To bring a piece of unseasonable news, a Grey Phalarope headed east at sea off the Beach Huts, with other birds seen from there including: a couple of Great Northern Diver on the water; a Red-throated Diver west; 5 Shelduck east, along with a small number of Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Tern; and a Common Sandpiper and 2 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. Inside the harbour, the Glossy Ibis was again at Stanpit, as were: a Knot, a Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 129 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Brent Goose and 13 Shelduck. 

March 30th

Jay Clinton Whale
Canada and Greylag Goose Peter Boardman
Song Thrush were belting out their song today Clinton Whale
...and a few Peacock butterfly were out Clinton Whale

There were a few new birds for the year today a Common Sandpiper on Grimmery Bank, a calling Whimbrel and a drake Garganey that passed through quickly to the north. Meanwhile, a couple of Little Ringed Plover also travelled inland, as did a few Swallow;  a White Wagtail plus a female Wheatear were around South Marsh and at least 30 Meadow Pipit fed-up on the Barn Field. Echoes of winter came from a Fieldfare near the HHC in the morning, when 3 Brambling passed over Stanpit and couple of Mistle headed east over Hengistbury. Otherwise, the sound of Blackcap and Chiffchaff gathers pace, and around 20 Sand Martin are now in residence. A Kittiwake flying through the harbour was quite unexpected, but the same cant be said of the Glossy Ibis at Stanpit; where a Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 90 Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Brent Goose were also present. A female Bullfinch and 8 Mediterranean Gull were returned from Wick and a further two of the latter, both third-calendar-year birds were at Stanpit. 

March 29th

Male Wheatear Clinton Whale
Greenfinch still holding their own here, despite a national decline Mark Taylor
Peregrine a bird on the up Peter Boardman
..,and male Reed Bunting Clinton Whale

There was a small arrival of Willow Warbler and Blackcap today at least three and sixteen respectively along with a minimum site-total of 30 Wheatear, plus a trickle of incoming Swallow, Sand Martin and Meadow Pipit. To finish with the passerines, a Nuthatch was in a garden adjoining Ashtree Meadow. Close by, at Stanpit, the Glossy Ibis remained; also there, a pair of pale-bellied Brent Goose amongst the dwindling regulation birds, 90 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 9 Dunlin. Wrapping up, the sea contributed a Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Shoveler and 7 Mediterranean Gull. 

March 28th

Wheatear Clinton Whale
Reed Bunting Mark Taylor
Gadwall Clinton Whale
Sandwich Tern Clinton Whale

Ahead of the very Spring-like weather of the next few days, the seasons second Swallow was seen at Stanpit, while Sand Martin, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Sandwich Tern continue to steadily increment. Meanwhile, at least 12 Wheatear made landfall today and lingered. A look at the sea during the morning produced: 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Kittiwake, 2 Fulmar, 14 Common Gull, 4 Mediterranean Gull and 28 Gannet. To finish things off, a single Grey Plover, 62 Black-tailed Godwit and a pair of Gadwall were at Stanpit, and a Great Crested Grebe was in Barn Bight. 

March 27th

Snipe Adrian Simmonds
Sandwich Tern amongst Blacktailed Godwit - Clinton Whale

Despite some reasonable weather, there is little to report today. The Wheatear total was around 5 birds, while at least 3 Blackcap are now in song. Likewise, many of the 15 Chiffchaff on Wick now seem to be on territory, meaning assessing migrant numbers is getting difficult; as is the case for Sand Martin. The only other news is of a trickle of Mediterranean Gull to the east, including a flock of eleven. 

March 26th

Leo Pyke
This colourringed Blacktailed Godwit has been around for a couple of weeks now. He was ringed as an adult at Farlington Marshes in September 2010 and has since been seen on multiple occasions in the south of England; as well as twice during 2013 and 2015 - on his breeding grounds in Iceland - Clinton Whale

In a cold westerly wind, the sea was reasonably lively this morning. A Great Northern Diver was on the water before moving to the west, as did 4 Kittiwake, 7 Fulmar, 77 Gannet, a Red-breasted Merganser and 5 Common Scoter. Meanwhile, a Red-throated Diver and a further 5 Common Scoter headed in the opposite direction. During the afternoon, an adult male Marsh Harrier passed through to the north and a Mistle Thrush circuited the Bobolink Field. Up to ten each of Sandwich Tern and Mediterranean Gull were about the area, while at least 5 Wheatear and 8 Chiffchaff were on site. To round up, the Stanpit wader and wildfowl highlights 75 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and 52 Brent Goose. 

March 25th

Black Redstart on the Barn Field this morning Jean Southworth
Sandwich Tern Peter Boardman (upper) & David Faulkner

A Summer is not yet made, but there was an incoming Swallow across Barn Bight this morning, when a Black Redstart was on the Barn Field. The days best count of Wheatear came in the last two hours of daylight, however, when 12 birds, all males, were on Hengistbury. Earlier, a couple had also been at Stanpit. Otherwise, there were up to 5 Sandwich Tern about and 5 Common Scoter at sea, plus a Blackcap and a Coal Tit in the Wood. 

March 24th

Rock Pipit Mark Taylor
Blacktailed Godwit - Alan Hayden
...and female Linnet Clinton Whale

The first singing Blackcap of the season were in voice today two birds in the Wood while a Wheatear was on the Barn Field, around 25 Chiffchaff were across Hengistbury and Wick, and at least 110 Meadow Pipit arrived; as did 2 Sparrowhawk, or had perhaps been hunting over the water? Sandwich Tern were at their most numerous so far a minimum of five around, with other birds at sea including: a lingering Black-throated Diver, a Fulmar, 4 Common Scoter, a Razorbill and 6 Mediterranean Gull. Meanwhile, the only wader reports are of 25 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit and 30 Black-tailed Godwit in Barn Bight. To finish, the last-mentioned site also held 3 Gadwall and the same number of Sand Martin were feeding around the Salt Hurns. 

March 23rd

A quite incredible photograph!
Raptors with a skyscraper backdrop a Batumi-like image :-)
Whitetailed Eagle - Chris Chapleo

Whilst its appreciated they are not genuinely wild birds, the spectacle of 2 White-tailed Eagle skimming Hengistbury for around ten minutes this morning cannot be matched. The birds thought to be G274, a male, and G318, a female, and both of 2019 release then headed out towards the Isle of Wight. Almost as notable, however, was a total of 17 Shoveler at Stanpit, which also hosted: 3 Gadwall, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 134 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Dunlin and up to 10 Mediterranean Gull. The best of the sea birds was a second-calendar-year Little Gull off the Beach Huts, while two adult Sandwich Tern were patrolling inside the harbour. Turning to passerines, a migrant Firecrest was in Stanpit Scrubs; a couple of Redwing and 4 Bullfinch were on Wick; and 2 Wheatear a male and a female were on the Barn Field. To finish, around 7 Sand Martin and now about the area and the Glossy Ibis remains at Stanpit. 

March 22nd

Blacktailed Godwit - Clinton Whale
Male Peregrine Paul Turton
Glossy Ibis Clinton Whale
..and Linnet George Garland

It was another day of sunshine and little wind; which produced a Sedge Warbler on Priory Marsh and a Red Kite above during the morning, plus an arriving Little Ringed Plover over Crouch Hill late in the afternoon.  Meanwhile, the Glossy Ibis performed well again around the Pod, with other birds on the marsh totalling: 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 102 Black-tailed Godwit, a pair of Shoveler and 82 Brent Goose. There is little to report from Hengistbury just a couple of Wheatear and 3 Sand Martin, in fact. To finish, the adult male Peregrine was again frequenting the Priory tower. 

March 21st

Whitetailed Eagle, one showing size comparison with Carrion Crow Peter Boardman (upper two) & Paul Dore

Just after 10:35 this morning, phones began to ping with messages of a White-tailed Eagle a few miles north-east of the area but seemingly on a course towards it. Sure enough, around ten minutes later, a scan from Crouch Hill picked up the bird, thought to be G393 a male of 2019 release on the Isle of Wight   which then soared high above the area for at least five minutes, before being lost to view in the cloud. Meanwhile, the Glossy Ibis cowered beneath and a Nuthatch was by the Viewing Platform on Wick, with a White Wagtail and 7 Chiffchaff also about the fields. Earlier, a couple of Marsh Harrier had passed over, while a Sandwich Tern and two drake Tufted Ducks were at sea the latter settled on the water. Inside the harbour, at least three each of Shoveler and Gadwall were around, along with a Bar-tailed Godwit and around 20 Black-tailed Godwit. To finish, a Wheatear was on the West Field, 3 Firecrest were in the Wood and, of breeding interest, there is now a Meadow Pipit on territory on Central Marsh and Linnet returned to the Crouch Hill area a few days ago. 

March 20th

Wheatear Adrian Simmonds

A Sand Martin was prospecting the cliffs at Hengistbury this morning, when a Wheatear was a present, as well as three singing Chiffchaff in traditional territories and a Siskin moved to the east. A late-afternoon visit to Stanpit, meanwhile, produced: 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 32 Black-tailed Godwit, but just 2 Dunlin; a Sandwich Tern on the HHC mudbar, so possibly the first true migrant bird of this species; 3 Gadwall, 7 Shelduck and 163 Brent Goose; and a Buzzard. 

March 19th

Blacktailed Godwit, fast acquiring breeding plumage Clinton Whale
Purple Sandpiper Peter Boardman

A Spoonbill passed west over Hengistbury this morning, while a Merlin went east at sea and 20 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit. Also offshore, a Red-throated Diver, 6 Common Scoter, a Gannet and 5 Mediterranean Gull; as well as around 120 Meadow Pipit arriving. Over at Stanpit, the Glossy Ibis was present, along with 19 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Dunlin and 12 Mediterranean Gull. Now Wick, which came up with: a male Bullfinch and 6 Chiffchaff; a further 5 Mediterranean Gull; and a low-flying Buzzard. To finish: 5 Gadwall were in Barn Bight; a Great Crested Grebe was off Mudeford Quay; at least 2 Peregrine were about; and the identity-challenged, drake Tufted Duck was again with the Mallard on Hengistbury. 

March 18th

Eastbound Mediterranean Gull Alan Crockard

The most unexpected record of the day was a Woodcock circling above the Wooden Bridge at 07:50, while being harassed by a Crow! Earlier, a Black Redstart had been by the Double Dykes and 3 Siskin passed through. Another Meadow Pipit arrival ensued around 575 coming in over Hengistbury as well as 15 alba Wagtail. Meanwhile, at least 40 Chiffchaff were settled, while a Redwing was again in the North Scrubs and around a dozen Mediterranean Gull travelled east. The sea came up with a Great Northern Diver, west; 9 Common Scoter, east; and 2 Shoveler, in-off; with the remaining news being of a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight and a Buzzard over Riversmeet Meadow. 

March 17th

Nestbuilding Long-tailed Tit - Alexa Perreira
Avocet Adrian Simmonds
Goldcrest looking down onto Stanpit car park Jackie Smith

Over the last several days, there have been a few, unexpected Yellowhammer records; so one singing on Hengistbury this morning only adds to the intrigue. Meanwhile, the first Willow Warbler of the Spring was with us a bird singing in Ashtree Meadows as Meadow Pipit arrived in numbers; an estimated 3500 passed over Stanpit between 8:00 and 12:30, with the busiest period being the last 90 minutes when 2500 came through. Also overhead, 86 alba Wagtail, a Woodlark and a couple of Siskin. Wheatear have yet to get going just another single, at Whitepits, for the post while Chiffchaff numbered around twenty and a couple of Redwing were in the Wood. In addition to at least 18 Purple Sandpiper on the sandspit, 3 Avocet, which arrived in Stanpit Bight early on, stayed until dusk, with other waders totalling: 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 56 Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Dunlin. To finish: a Red Kite soared to the north of the area; a pair of Bullfinch were by the Viewing Platform; a Shoveler, 4 Gadwall and the Tufted Duck were returned; and 13 Mediterranean Gull were logged.

Stop press: news just in of a Bittern heard calling as it circled above the Wooden Bridge at just after 7:00 this evening. 

March 16th

This Stonechat, showing a lot of white, was seen to come inoff-the-sea at Whitepits - Clinton Whale
Teal Peter Boardman
Tufted Duck Peter Boardman
Purple Sandpiper Clinton Whale

A Ring Ouzel was seen heading north over the end of the head this morning, with other news from Hengistbury comprising: a Merlin west; 2 Sand Martin, 2 Yellowhammer and a Brambling over; a Firecrest and at least 15 Chiffchaff settled; a Sandwich Tern and Fulmar at sea; and 25 Purple Sandpiper towards the tip of the sandspit. Elsewhere, a couple of Great Crested Grebe were in Barn Bight, a Peregrine was again on the Priory,  a Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Black-tailed Godwit were at Stanpit, and the tame, drake Tufted Duck was about. 

March 15th

Song Thrush Clinton Whale
Great Crested Grebe Peter Boardman
Glossy Ibis Clinton Whale

An early-for-the-season Arctic Skua headed east past Hengistbury this morning, as did 2 Great Northern Diver, 14 Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe and 25 Mediterranean Gull, including a flock of fourteen. Meanwhile, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and a further 5 Common Scoter moved west, and a Red-throated Diver lingered. The more notable passerines were a Wheatear by the HHC briefly, two littoralis Rock Pipit candidates on the Salt Hurns, a total of just under 20 Meadow Pipit arriving and at least seven, settled Chiffchaff. A Jack Snipe on the Salt Hurns and 15 Purple Sandpiper from Mudeford Quay were the best of a disappointing wader showing - the rest being just 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Dunlin. It almost goes without saying the Glossy Ibis was around; 4 Great Crested Grebe were in Barn Bight; a pair of Gadwall overflew to the north; a male Peregrine hunted; a Buzzard made a low pass through the area; and a Cetti's Warbler and Song Thrush were in good voice. 

March 14th

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bartailed Godwit - Clinton Whale

The bird of the day was an early-morning Merlin, in-off-the-sea and over the sandspit, while the Glossy Ibis was at Stanpit and 3 Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour. The rest of the news comes courtesy of the WeBS team, with picks of the monthly census being: 11 Purple Sandpiper, a Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover and 23 Dunlin; 5 Shelduck, 112 Teal, 853 Wigeon and 191 Brent Goose; plus 3 Mediterranean Gull. 

March 13th

Despite the wind coming from the west, it had a nasty cold to it - thankfully, though, it has now died away. This morning, the Glossy Ibis was still at Stanpit, while a Sandwich Tern fished offshore and a drake Tufted Duck was on Holloways Dock. In addition to a Grey Wagtail in the strange location of the Wood, 4 Chiffchaff, a Redwing and a pair of Bullfinch were on Wick. Otherwise, its just 3 Great Crested Grebe inside the harbour. 

March 12th

Purple Sandpiper Clinton Whale

A few birds were seen arriving from the south this morning, including 2 Little Ringed Plover and a Wheatear at Mudeford Quay, plus 95 Meadow Pipit in-off over Hengistbury. A couple of Red-breasted Merganser passed west through the harbour, while a Fulmar, 3 Common Scoter, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Great Crested Grebe travelled east offshore. Also around the sandspit, a total of 8 Purple Sandpiper, with the Glossy Ibis and a Marsh Harrier both present at Stanpit. Sticking with the marsh, the best-of-the-rest was provided by: 3 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 21 Dunlin; two passing Mediterranean Gull; and 198 Brent Goose. 

March 11th

Wren Clinton Whale
Grey Plover, showing the diagnostic, black axillaries ('armpits') Jackie Smith
...and Chiffchaff David Faulkner

Despite a vast improvement in the weather, there is little to report upon today. The best was a female Marsh Harrier at Stanpit that caused havoc with the ground-feeding birds, including a wisp of 60 Teal. Otherwise, again from the marsh, its just 3 Grey Plover, singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, 51 Dunlin and a pair of Mediterranean Gull to mention. 

March 10th

The forecast rain and/or drizzle came to fruition for the entirety of the daylight hours! Acouple of Mandarin Duck flying along the sandspit this morning was a real surprise, when 11 Purple Sandpiper were on the end of the spit. Otherwise, its just a quiet sea, which gave up: 10 Common Scoter, 2 Fulmar, 7 Gannet and 2 Common Gull.

March 9th

Nuthatch Paul Turton
Blackcap Clinton Whale
Brent Goose Alan Hayden

Marsh Harrier have been quite scarce of late, so one over Priory Marsh around midday was a welcome report. The Glossy Ibis was still around and 14 Purple Sandpiper were about the Run. Species which are common elsewhere, but good for the recording area, include Nuthatch and Mistle Thrush singles in the Wood and Wick respectively while 4 Redwing, 2 Firecrest, a Blackcap and 6 Chiffchaff were also on site. The drake Tufted Duck was again on the Ironstone Quarry and 3 Gadwall were in Barn Bight; and, to finish, a list of the Stanpit highlights: 3 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Dunlin, 2 Pintail, 4 Shelduck, 210 Brent Goose, a few Mediterranean Gull and 7 Common Gull. 

March 8th

One of a dozen or so Chiffchaff on Grimmery Bank a favoured spot for newly arrived birds - Clinton Whale
Glossy Ibis Clinton Whale

Chiffchaff continue to arrive up to fifteen across the site today with other passerine interest coming from a Firecrest and a Bullfinch in the Wood. The rest of the news comes from Stanpit, where the Glossy Ibis remains and the wader peaks were: 6 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 37 Black-tailed Godwit one or two of those already looking very handsome 3 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin and 9 Turnstone. Meanwhile, the wildfowl included 4 Shelduck and a 194 Brent Goose, and the gull highlights were at least 7 Mediterranean Gull and 5 Common Gull. 

March 7th

Redwing Clinton Whale
Grey Plover
Grey Plover Peter Boardman

The only news from a day of late-winter sunshine is of 3 Redwing at Stanpit, one of them in song a seldom-heard pleasure in these parts as well as the male Blackcap and a couple of Kestrel getting amorous there; as well as a single Grey Plover. Wick provides the rest of the post, namely: 4 Chiffchaff, a male Bullfinch and 6 Mediterranean Gull to the west.

March 6th

There was a definite influx of Chiffchaff and Mediterranean Gull today. A total of fifteen of the former were on Wick this morning; while later, as the light faded, at least thirty of the latter pre-roosted on East Marsh and a further 30+ went straight on through to the east. Otherwise, its just the Glossy Ibis going to roost at 15:45 and a couple of male Bullfinch at Wick to report upon.

March 5th

Rock Pipit at Stanpit Alan Hayden
Skylark at Hengistbury Clinton Whale
Bartailed Godwit - Alan Hayden

It was a little quieter today, although 2 Firecrest and 6 Redwing were in the Wood, while 4 Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch were on Wick. All of this was the morning, but later at Stanpit, the following were returned: the Glossy Ibis, a Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Dunlin, 6 Pintail, 2 Gadwall, 192 Brent Goose and 2 Shelduck. To finish, a drake Tufted Duck was on the Ironstone Quarry. 

March 4th

Grey Seal in Clay Pool Alan Crockard

There is quite a bit to sort through today, but lets start with the Spring arrivals. The first Wheatear of the season made it, arriving over Mudeford Quay; a total of 6 Sand Martin was around Parky Meade Rail; the Chiffchaff number across the site totalled at least eleven; the Blackcap remained in the North Scrubs; and 34 Mediterranean Gull rested on the HHC mudbar and/or headed east. Yesterdays Green Sandpiper put in another show this time in flight at Stanpit, where more out-of-the-ordinary wader interest came from a minimum of 5 Golden Plover heading east, some of them mixed in with passing Grey Plover; while 53 Black-tailed Godwit, the biggest number for weeks, were logged. Meanwhile, another surprise 8 Barnacle Goose passed through eastbound. In addition to those already mentioned, the more notable passerines for the day were: 2 Firecrest were in the Wood; 5 Redwing in the North Scrubs; and 3 Bullfinch on Wick. Offshore, a Red-throated Diver and 7 Great Crested Grebe were the pick; with the only other mention for the post going to a Peregrine. 

March 3rd

Drake Shoveler Jackie Smith
Collared Dove Alan Crockard

Although it was nowhere near as sunny as yesterday, it felt more Spring-like as a Sand Martin at Stanpit this morning was a very welcome sight. Outside of the late-Summer to Autumn, Green Sandpiper are very unusual in the area; so one on Fishermans Bank briefly today was a real surprise. A total of 3 Chiffchaff on Wick suggested a small influx, while signs of Winter persisted with 3 Redwing at Stanpit. Also on the marsh, 3 Shoveler two drakes and a duck and a Kingfisher. Elsewhere, a Great Crested Grebe was off Mudeford Quay. 

March 2nd

Two Hengistbury breeding species:
Dartford Warbler
Clinton Whale & Grey Heron - Roger Tidball

Although it was arguably even nicer weather today, there is still little to report. The best was a male Merlin briefly in Ashtree Meadows, while the Blackcap was again by the Purewell Stream and at least 2 Chiffchaff were across the site. The Glossy Ibis was seen on North and Central Marshes, with 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, around 20 Dunlin and 4 Pintail about Stanpit Bight. Over at Wick, a Siskin and 3 Mediterranean Gull passed through, the only Bullfinch return was a single female and a Kingfisher was seen from the Viewing Platform. 

March 1st

Moorhen Jackie Smith
Great Crested Grebe Jackie Smith

It was another 100%-sunshine day; but again a breeze, this time from the south-east, chilled things a little. A Blackcap by the Purewell Stream, Stanpit, was the first in that area since last Autumn, so possibly our first Spring arrival? Meanwhile, other bits and pieces around the marsh included: the Glossy Ibis; 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Dunlin; 2 Pintail and over 200 Brent Goose; 2 Mediterranean Gull and 5 Common Gull; and one or two nicely colouring-up Rock Pipit. A sea described as hazy was quiet a Red-throated Diver, 2 Mediterranean Gull and a Peregrine being the best over the water but 8 Purple Sandpiper were on the sandspit. Finishing on or around Wick, there was a total of 3 Bullfinch and a Great Crested Grebe was in Barn Bight. 

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