Select Page
Share this page
Sightings for Webmaster

CHOG’s annual report

The Birds of Christchurch Harbour 2021 – has now been distributed to members. If you haven’t received a copy, please email
The publication, which details the ornithological year, as well as a number of other articles, is over 140 pages and contains eight pages of colour photos; and is free to members.
So if you would like to join to receive a copy, as well as making a positive contribution to local conservation – you can do so here:

In Focus Optics Sale

The next In Focus event at the Pod, Stanpit Marsh, is June 4th. If you are interested in buying or renewing your optics, come along and test the possibilities in the field. A small percentage from each sale will be donated to CHOG.

April 30th

Reed Warbler – Matthew Barfield

Sandwich Tern – Matthew Barfield

Spotted Flycatcher – Leo Pyke

Despite the weather being similar to yesterday, it was quieter today. Hengistbury hosted singles of Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and a Bullfinch, with a further 2 Redstart and a Bullfinch on Wick. There were also combined totals of just under 30 Willow Warbler, 35 Swallow and 7 Wheatear logged in these two areas. Fourteen Mediterranean Gull flew through the harbour, mainly east,and 43 Black-tailed Godwit were roosting in Holloway’s Dock. Moving on to Stanpit, the Lesser Whitethroat was still singing at Crouch Hill, where it was joined by a male Whinchat. A single Cattle Egret headed north, at least 1 Whimbrel was heard and a flock of 30 Bar-tailed Godwit were moving around the marsh. There is still a good number of Gadwall present, with today’s tally being twenty-two. A brief look at the sea from Hengistbury produced 25 Sandwich Tern and 3 Common Tern feeding offshore and a Common Scoter heading east.

April 29th

Lesser Whitethroat – Alan Hayden

Peregrine – Roger Tidball

It was another sunny morning, with the light wind still from the north-east. There was a good variety of migrants throughout the area, with passerine site totals of 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Redstart, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whinchat, 4 Garden Warbler, 8 Wheatear and at least 55 Willow Warbler.  It was also the best day of the spring so far for hirundines with 78 Sand Martin, 165 House Martin and 835 Swallow moving through over a three-hour period, but just 2 Swift. There was quite a turnover of waders at Stanpit, with birds feeding and/or on the move including singles of Avocet, Common Sandpiper and Greenshank, 29 Whimbrel, 9 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover east, 73 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit, with another 39 of the latter preferring Holloway’s Dock. A flock of 14 Ringed Plover left the Harbour, with five more on the Sandspit. Also logged from Stanpit were 6 Common Tern, 86 Mediterranean Gull and a minimum of 15 Gadwall. The sea at Hengistbury received some attention with a Red-breasted Merganser heading east, as did 2 Common Tern and seven of the nine passing Mediterranean Gull, and 91 Sandwich Tern lingered offshore. Raptors were represented by 2 Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harrier, one in off the sea over Hengistbury headed north with the other hunting over the Salt Hurns, and the pair of Peregrine was around the Priory.



We have previously reported that a pair of Peregrine Falcons was attempting to breed on the Priory – the first occasion in modern times in this location.

We can now confirm that the Peregrine eggs have been hatching over the last few days. We do not know how many eggs there are, but a typical clutch size is three or four, with hatching staggered over a period of several days. Most of the brooding and feeding of small young will be done by the female, while the male hunts to bring in the food.

Peregrine on the Priory – Paul Turton

The male bird, which carries a blue ring with the letters VA, was hatched in 2018 on the Bournemouth College clock tower, Lansdowne, and has been frequently recorded around Christchurch ever since.

The nest is not on the tower itself, so the Priory is able to continue its tower tours and fly flags from there. As such, we would like to thank the staff at the Priory for their sensitivity and understanding as we worked with them to determine if breeding was actually taking place and to locate the actual nest site.

If you do go and take a look – the north-facing side of the tower is the best place to check-out – please do respect the grounds of the Priory and any events taking place there, however.

We will post further updates as soon as we establish them. CHOG members can follow the pair’s progress in a Photo Diary on CHOG Online. Date of posting of second instalment: Tuesday May 24th.

April 11th

One of yesterday’s Redstart – Scott Usher

Ringed Plover on the inner Sandspit – Clinton Whale

It was another sunny day, with some cloud, and slightly milder than of late. The gusty, south-easterly wind meant that the sea at Hengistbury received some five and a half hours of attention from first light. It is difficult to know where to start with the excellent number and variety of birds almost exclusively heading east, but the highlights were a dark phase Arctic Skua, an Arctic Tern and a Manx Shearwater, all of which were ‘firsts’ for the year. Also going into the Solent were good numbers of more common species, including 635 Sandwich Tern, half of which were logged in the first hour, 16 Common Tern, 159 Common Scoter, 17 Eider, 89 Shoveler, 22 Pintail, 2 Garganey, 2 Gadwall and 3 Teal. In addition, there were 245 Gannet and 3 Fulmar, together with 9 Red-throated Diver and at least 1 Black-throated Diver. Gulls were less well represented, with just 12 Common Gull, 15 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Kittiwake, but there was a good selection of passing waders, comprising 19 Dunlin, 5 Whimbrel and singles of Sanderling and Grey Plover, while a Little Ringed Plover came in off the sea. Other arrivals were 17 Swallow, 21 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 88 Linnet and 2 Wheatear, with another of the latter at Whitepits. Not to be outdone, Stanpit produced a male Ring Ouzel and a Redstart in North Scrubs, plus a Spoonbill north-east, a further Wheatear and, of course, the long-staying Glossy Ibis on Priory Marsh. The remaining news from Hengistbury was the first Reed Warbler of the year on Wick Hams, 2 Firecrest in the Wood, 52 Black-tailed Godwit in Holloway’s Dock and 8 Ringed Plover on the Sandspit.

Omission from yesterday’s post: 12 Cattle Egret left the Nursery roost at Hengistbury.

April 10th

Avocet – Jackie Smith

Curlew and Whimbrel – Jackie Smith

Speckled Wood – Clinton Whale

On a fine, mainly sunny day, it is good to report that, at last, there was a significant fall of spring migrants this morning. Most of the coverage was from Stanpit, where singles of Pied Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail and Redstart were all new for the harbour year list, with a second Redstart in North Scrubs this afternoon. Site totals of other arrivals, the majority at Stanpit, were 95 Willow Warbler, 55 Blackcap, 21 Swallow, 5 Sand Martin, 2 House Martin and a Little Ringed Plover. Ninety Mediterranean Gull flew west, while 18 Ringed Plover, 3 Grey Plover, a Whimbrel and a Bar-tailed Godwit were also logged. More settled on the marsh were an Avocet, 4 Dunlin, 12 Brent Goose and 4 Gadwall. Hengistbury received less attention but did host most of the 30 Wheatear logged. The remaining news comprises an Osprey seen leaving the Harbour with a fish, a Marsh Harrier heading north, at least one Peregrine on the Priory and the Glossy Ibis still the main attraction at Priory Marsh.

April 9th

Redshank – Leo Pyke

The early frost soon disappeared, and it was a pleasant, sunny day. The main focus was on Stanpit, where a Great White Egret, a Brambling and a Tree Pipit all headed north, as did two young male Marsh Harrier that were being harassed by Herring Gull. Nine Cattle Egret lingered on East Marsh for a while after leaving the Hengistbury roost, and a Peregrine was on the Priory. Other birds on the move were 2 Pintail, at least 24 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Whimbrel, which landed on the Marsh, and a Kittiwake that took a short cut through the harbour, while the Glossy Ibis remained at Priory Marsh. A total of 19 Willow Warbler and 8 Blackcap were returned across the area, most of the former at Wick, where 3 Bullfinch were also present. At Hengistbury, 3 Gadwall were in Barn Bight and a brief look at the sea produced 5 Sandwich Tern and 7 Common Scoter lingering. An afternoon visit to Stanpit was quiet, with just 1 Swallow, 7 Brent Goose, 10 Shelduck, a further 5 Mediterranean Gull and what appeared to be reduced, but uncounted, numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank.

April 8th

The pick of today’s birds were logged at Hengistbury in the first hour or so after sunrise before the rain set in, when the first Spoonbill of the year headed east at sea, while 5 Fieldfare, 9 Redwing and a Brambling flew off the Head towards Wick.  Otherwise, there were just 2 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcap and 2 Swallow over Barn Bight. Twenty-five Mediterranean Gull moved mainly through the Harbour, with a further five off the beach huts. The sea was again very quiet, with 12 Common Scoter going mainly east, as did 5 Sandwich Tern and a Red-throated Diver. The only news from Stanpit is of the Glossy Ibis at Priory Marsh – last year’s bird remained until 29th April, so it will be interesting to see if the current individual stays until a similar date.

April 7th

Wheatear – Clinton Whale

It was brighter this morning, with the odd rain shower holding off until the afternoon, but the westerly/north-westerly wind was stronger than yesterday, and the scarcity of spring migrants continued. The best birds were seen early on, when 2 Pale-bellied Brent Goose were inside the harbour with six of their Dark-bellied cousins, and 2 Whimbrel arrived at Stanpit with a Bar-tailed Godwit. Three Wheatear were on Crouch Hill, and 2 Sandwich Tern and a Mediterranean Gull were also present, while the Glossy Ibis remained faithful to Priory Marsh. At Hengistbury, 8 Willow Warbler and 4 Blackcap were logged, as well as a singing Firecrest and a further Wheatear. The sea again received attention from Mudeford Quay and Hengistbury but, like yesterday, it proved to be hard work. Heading east were 11 Common Scoter, 4 Common Gull, 5 Mediterranean Gull, a Pintail and three of the 5 Gannet. A lone Shelduck went west past the beach huts while, from the Quay, five more were seen moving east and two entered the harbour. A distant Peregrine was also seen from there.

April 6th

Black-tailed Godwit – Leo Pyke

Peregrine food pass – Clinton Whale

Snipe – Leo Pyke

It was a blustery day, with some drizzle during the morning, but brightening up from lunchtime onwards. The fairly strong west-south-westerly wind persisted throughout, but sea watches from both Mudeford Quay and Hengistbury produced little reward. Combined totals were 5 Gannet, 14 Sandwich Tern fishing and gradually drifting west, singles of Common Scoter and Great Crested Grebe on the sea, together with a pair of Wigeon and another of the latter heading east. An excellent total of 29 Purple Sandpiper were feeding at Mudeford Quay, where 2 Mediterranean Gull were logged, plus two more at Stanpit. Six arriving Swallow were shared between the two viewpoints, and a Wheatear landed on the rocks off the beach huts. At Stanpit, a second Wheatear was on Crouch Hill, and there were a further 7 Sandwich Tern, as well as 5 Dunlin, 3 Gadwall and 176 Black-tailed Godwits, many now displaying their smart summer plumage. The 2 Peregrine were still around the Priory tower, and the Glossy Ibis continued to favour Priory Marsh.  Migrant passerines were still thin on the ground, with just 8 Blackcap, a few Chiffchaff and 6 Willow Warbler noted on Hengistbury and Wick, and a further Willow Warbler at Stanpit. Finally, a pair of Bullfinch were at Wick.

March 8th

Chiffchaff in the Nursery – Leo Pyke

The day started overcast, with a south-easterly wind. The sun broke through for a while this morning before the cloud took over once again from lunchtime. The sea was watched from Mudeford Quay and Hengistbury, but the best bird was a dark (blue phase) Fulmar flying east past the Quay. This form is rare locally and, if accepted, it is a potential first record for Dorset. Otherwise, heading east at Hengistbury were 13 Gannet, a Great Northern Diver and 2 Mediterranean Gull, while moving in the opposite direction were 2 Red-throated Diver and 5 Common Gull. A total of 177 Black-tailed Godwit were in Holloway’s Dock and 2 Great Crested Grebe were in Barn Bight. The wood hosted 2 Firecrest and 2 Chiffchaff. The Glossy Ibis flew over to Stanpit fairly early in the morning, where a Kingfisher was along the Purewell Stream and 8 Linnet were on Crouch Hill. Finally, a pair of Shoveler was off the tip of South Marsh.

March 7th

Male Marsh Harrier hunting over Wick – Clinton Whale

It was another mainly sunny day, with a cold north-easterly wind increasing the chill factor by several degrees. The Glossy Ibis started the morning in Barn Bight before moving over to Priory Marsh. Also at Stanpit were a single Brent Goose, 2 Greylag Goose, 6 Shelduck, with a further six leaving the harbour to the west, and at least 100 Dunlin. The remainder of today’s news comes mostly from Hengistbury, where 2 Gadwall were in Barn Bight, 5 Common Scoter headed east, as did three out of the 4 Common Gull, and 7 Mediterranean Gull flew mainly west. There were still 9 Skylark on Barn Field, 2 Firecrest in the Wood and at least one Marsh Harrier hunting around the harbour. Last, but not least, 3 Bullfinch were on Wick.

March 6th

It was a bright, sunny day but with a chilly north wind. Counts from Stanpit at high tide this morning comprised 94 Brent Goose, 175 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Grey Plover, 110 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone. Nineteen Pied Wagtail, 25 Meadow Pipit and a Rock Pipit showing characteristics of the Scandinavian littoralis race were on Crouch Hill, while the Glossy Ibis was in its favoured spot on Priory Marsh. Three Mediterranean Gull were logged, with a further seven flying over Wick Fields, where there was also a Chiffchaff and 3 Bullfinch, including a pair in Roebury Lane. The only other news comes from an afternoon visit to Stanpit, where a Marsh Harrier was hunting before heading towards Wick.

March 5th

The morning started quite bright, but cloud gradually increased so it became overcast and quite cool in the north wind. It was a quieter day in terms of birds and the only sightings received came from Hengistbury, where the highlight of an hour’s sea watch was a Sandwich Tern heading east. The supporting cast was just 2 Guillemot, 3 Mediterranean Gull, 5 Common Gull and a Peregrine in off the sea. A total of 26 Brent Goose arrived over the beach huts to join around 50 already on the marsh. Otherwise, there was a Bullfinch singing at HHC, 2 Reed Bunting also singing and a pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight.

March 4th

Skylark – Sam Levy

Dartford Warbler – Sam Levy

The pair of Garganey arriving with Brent Geese – Sam Levy

The cloudy morning cleared into a pleasant sunny afternoon, although the stiff north-westerly breeze persisted throughout. It was another day that saw more spring arrivals with a Sand Martin seen from Fisherman’s Bank and a pair of Garganey coming in over the beach huts in a flock of 75 Brent Goose. It was uncertain if the Garganey landed in the harbour or continued north, but they were not seen again. The Brent Goose flock joined up with birds already on the marsh, making the day total at least 120. Also at Stanpit were 4 Tufted Duck, which came in off the sea over Coastguards and were later in Stanpit Creek, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 14 Grey Plover, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 75 Black-tailed Godwit. Dunlin and Ringed Plover numbered 50 and 9 respectively and the Glossy Ibis was on Priory Marsh. At Hengistbury, the sea produced 3 Red-throated Diver east and one west, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Guillemot. Most of the 23 Mediterranean Gull and 11 Common Gullchose to head east through the harbour rather than at sea. To round up at Hengistbury, a Siskin flew east, a male Marsh Harrier circled high over the harbour, 2 Bullfinch were near the HHC and the Barn Field hosted 9 Skylark and four returning Linnet. An afternoon visit to Stanpit added a further 9 Mediterranean Gull, 3 Common Gull and two Peregrine.

March 3rd

Rock Pipit at Crouch Hill – Clinton Whale

A flooded Stanpit – Clinton Whale

There’s much to write about on what was a rather dull day, with some drizzle before lunch and a light south-easterly breeze. The majority of reports come from Hengistbury, where a Snow Bunting that flew over the Long Field was probably the bird of the morning. However, it was also a day that saw the first spring migrants on that side of the harbour as 9 Chiffchaff, including two singing, moved through between the HHC and the Nursery. A further individual at Wick may well have been the one which has been present for several weeks. Other birds moving north were 16 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling and 3 Siskin, as well as 10 Redwing and 5 Song Thrush, plus 4 Meadow Pipit which came in off the sea. A Bullfinch was in the Nursery, with another at Wick. Three Great Crested Grebe were inside the harbour and two Shoveler which flew east may have been the pair also seen at Stanpit. Several hours watching the sea produced 29 Common Gull and 60 Mediterranean Gull east, a few of the latter taking a shortcut through the harbour. Also heading in the same direction were 5 Guillemot, 2 Razorbill, 2 Common Scoter and 2 Red-throated Diver, while a Great Northern Diver flew west. Moving across to Stanpit, where a very high tide limited coverage for much of the day, the Glossy Ibis was again on Priory Marsh, with the only other sightings being 186 Black-tailed Godwit on Central Marsh, a few Rock Pipit on Crouch Hill and 4 Skylark.

January 20th

A Crossbill flying over the Nursery at Hengistbury this morning before eventually heading west was the first January record for over ten years. Also at Hengistbury, 2 Great Northern Diver moved past at sea, 13 Cattle Egret left the Nursery roost and a Firecrest was in the Wood, while a Buzzard was noted at Wick Water Meadows. Moving over to Stanpit, the waders included at least 315 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 12 Grey Plover. Finally, a Chiffchaff was at the Old Depot site and a Peregrine was perched on the Priory.

December 17th

It was a day of few reports. Highlights of a brief sea watch from Hengistbury in late morning were 2 Red-throated Diver and 5 Shoveler heading east, as well as 15 Kittiwake in a large group of gulls offshore which gradually dispersed. The only other news was of the Marsh Harrier flying over Wick Water Meadows.

November 20th

Highlight of an otherwise quiet morning at Hengistbury was a Snow Bunting, initially heard calling from the cliff below and then seen briefly flying over the far end of the Head towards the Salt Hurns. The overcast but calm conditions produced little at sea with just 13 Brent Goose, 3 Mediterranean Gull and a Common Gull heading east, as well as a Red-throated Diver, 3 Common Scoter and two each of Razorbill and Guillemot on the sea. A Chiffchaff was near the eastern Natterjack Toad pond and the usual male Marsh Harrier was again on Wick Hams. Meanwhile, the best of a reasonable selection of birds at Stanpit was a Water Pipit on South Marsh, with two littoralis-type Rock Pipit nearby. Waders included 3 Grey Plover, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 22 Black-tailed Godwit, whilst the several hundred Wigeon were joined by 10 Gadwall and 4 Pintail. Finally, 8 Common Gull and a further Mediterranean Gull were inside the Harbour.

October 11th

Dunlin roosting on the Sandspit – Matthew Barfield

It was a lovely, sunny day with a little high cloud and a light northerly breeze, though definitely a bit cooler than of late for the first couple of hours. Overhead passage involved much the same species as yesterday but in much smaller numbers, with the addition of a Great White Egret moving through the harbour and 4 Pale-bellied Brent Goose flying into the Solent. Heading east at Hengistbury were 435 Linnet, 265 Goldfinch, 135 Meadow Pipit, 67 Skylark, 85 Alba Wagtail, 36 Siskin plus a further five over Wick, 11 Redpoll, 7 Brambling and just 26 Swallow. Waders on the move were 6 Golden Plover east and 3 Sanderling arriving, with a total of 17 Turnstone noted on the Flats and the Sandspit. Stonechat were much in evidence on top of the Head with at least 47 logged, although most appeared to move on quite quickly. Passerine totals for the whole area included 65 Chiffchaff, 25 Goldcrest, 4 Firecrest and 5 Blackcap. On the other side of the harbour, a Curlew Sandpiper was at Stanpit this morning, as well as 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot and singles of Greenshank and Grey Plover; the wildfowl there included 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Pintail and a Shoveler, whilst the Brent Goose flock increased to 35.

October 10th

Two juvenile Brent Goose at Stanpit – Clinton Whale

Today proved to be excellent for visible migration at Hengistbury. Highlights were a male Hen Harrier heading north and 3 Marsh Harrier, comprising two juveniles west and a lingering adult male, as well as a Woodlark moving east. Some of the best counts of the autumn for other species, also heading east over Hengistbury, included 63 Skylark, 860 Alba Wagtail, 1,200 Meadow Pipit, 1,600 Linnet, 1,500 Goldfinch,135 Chaffinch, 24 Brambling, 93 Siskin, 19 Redpoll and 73 Reed Bunting. Two Firecrest in the Wood and 2 Avocet flying west were the only other records from that side of the Harbour. Today was the monthly WeBS count in the Harbour and selected better totals were 507 Wigeon, 220 Coot, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 52 Dunlin, 17 Ringed Plover and an excellent 32 Turnstone. Singles of Greenshank and Grey Plover were also logged and two juveniles were with 13 Brent Goose. Finally, a vocal flock of least 100 Alba Wagtails at Stanpit this evening must have been quite a spectacle.

October 9th

Sparrowhawk (upper) and Kestrel having a dispute – Matthew Barfield

Knot (on the right, with Dunlin in front) – Matthew Barfield

Sun setting over Stanpit – Clinton Whale

Once the early fog cleared, it was a bright, fairly sunny day with a light north-north-easterly breeze. Today’s post begins with Stanpit where, although not counted, Wigeon seem to be increasing again after a recent decline in numbers. They were joined by a Garganey, a Pintail and a Tufted Duck in the Bight, while 40 Lapwing were about the Marsh and 4 Skylark, 2 Whinchat and 8 Wheatear were on Crouch Hill. Twelve Chiffchaff were in North Scrubs, where there was also a good candidate for Siberian Chiffchaff, but it was not heard to call. It was hardly surprising that, after several good days, there were fewer birds moving over Hengistbury and Wick, but coasting east were 350 Meadow Pipit, 110 Goldfinch, 90 Alba Wagtail, 60 Linnet, 43 Siskin, 12 Swallow, 20 House Martinand 11 Skylark. A Grey Wagtail was on the Lily Pond and a further three travelled east. Grounded birds including a further 40 Chiffchaff, a Firecrest, 8 Goldcrest and 8 Jay. The flock of feeding gulls was still close inshore at the eastern end of the Head, but numbers have now dropped to perhaps 500-600 individuals. The majority are Black-headed, with about 12 Mediterranean Gull and relatively few larger gull species. A Wheatear was on the Sandspit, where wader totals were 56 Ringed Plover, 68 Dunlin and singles of Knot and Sanderling. Finally, 3 Brent Goose headed west at sea and a Shoveler was on Holloway’s Dock.

October 8th

Today’s odd-looking ‘Commic’ tern – Sam Levy

Overcast skies and a light north-easterly wind meant that visible migration was the main feature of the morning with a good variety of birds moving mainly east. Combined totals from Hengistbury and Wick were 415 Meadow Pipit, 895 Swallow, 720 House Martin, 960 Goldfinch, 1,070 Linnet, 96 Siskin, 68 Alba Wagtail, singles of Grey and Yellow Wagtail and 69 Reed Bunting. Goldeneye have become scarce locally in recent years, so one flying south out of the harbour was a good record. Going in the opposite direction were 3 Shelduck, while 3 Gadwall headed west and 2 Egyptian Goose circuited the harbour before disappearing inland. Once again, the sea hosted an impressive flock of feeding gulls, although numbers were slightly down on yesterday but, apart from 22 Razorbill, it only seemed to contain a few Mediterranean Gull and the odd Common Gull, with two second-winter birds of the latter also inside the harbour.  A visit to the Sandspit notched up 76 Dunlin, 54 ringed Plover and 6 Turnstone with the only other wader news being 2 Golden Plover east over the Head and 3 Snipe. Two Common Tern were off the beach huts and a rather odd-looking, ‘Commic’ Tern arrived over the Barn Field (see photos above). Totals of 36 Stonechat, 19 Goldcrest and 55 Chiffchaff were also returned from Hengistbury and Wick. A young Hobby put on a good display over the Barn Field, a Peregrine flew over and 4 Buzzard were soaring to the north-east of the area. The only record from Stanpit was of 10 Brent Goose, with a further four heading west at sea.

October 7th

A thick mist descended over the area shortly after dawn. Although it receded from time to time, it persisted until late morning, so viewing conditions were often difficult. Much attention was focused on the sea, where a large feeding flock of gulls, estimated conservatively at 1,200 birds, attracted at least 5 Kittiwake, 26 Mediterranean Gull including a few overflying the harbour, 7 Common Gull, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, 4 Razorbill, 35 Sandwich and a Common Tern. There was the best movement so far this autumn of Common Scoter and Brent Goose, with totals of 58 and 80 west respectively, plus a further 12 of the latter at Stanpit, and a modest 35 Gannet. Also at the eastern end of Hengistbury were 24 Snipe and a fairly early returning Jack Snipe. The misty conditions did not completely curtail overhead passage, with 270 Meadow Pipit, 280 Swallow, 470 House Martin and 3 Grey Wagtail moving south-west, and 2 Mistle Thrush flying towards the Sandspit. Grounded birds at Hengistbury included a Tree Pipit, 2 Wheatear, 2 Reed Warbler, 30 Chiffchaff, 15 Goldcrest and a Brambling heading west. On the Stanpit side of the harbour, 4 redhead Goosander, 2 Pintail and 4 Gadwall were the best of the wildfowl. Two Little Grebe were in Parky Meade Rail and a Greenshank was present.

October 6th

Whinchat (left) and Stonechat – Clinton Whale

A pleasant sunny morning with a brisk westerly breeze, veering to north-west later in the morning, resulted in a good selection of visible migrants over Hengistbury, the best of which was a Lapland Bunting heading into the wind. Moving in the same direction were 730 House Martin, 425 Swallow, a fairly late Sand Martin, 1,500 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 215 Alba Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtail, 28 Skylark, 75 Chaffinch, 520 Linnet, 320 Goldfinch, 35 Siskin, the first 2 Redpoll of the autumn and 34 Reed Bunting. There was an obvious influx of Stonechat at Hengistbury, with 47 logged, as well as 16 Jay and, including Wick, totals of 2 Wheatear, 6 Blackcap and 60 Chiffchaff. Uncounted numbers of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were on the Sandspit, where there was at least 1 Knot. Other waders noted flying over were 2 Golden Plover and a Green Sandpiper.  The sea was quiet; a Common Scoter travelled east, while moving in the opposite direction were a Red-throated Diver, 36 Mediterranean Gull and 8 Common Gull, with a few of the latter two species choosing also to go through the harbour. Raptors were well represented, the pick being a distant White-tailed Eagle, presumably from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme, and singles of Red Kite and Peregrine. At Stanpit, there was a good count of 3 Whinchat at Crouch Hill, while a pair of Tufted Duck and 7 Brent Goose were about the Marsh, and a total of 12 Pintail flew over.  Finally, 7 Egyptian Goose were seen both settled and flying around the harbour.

September 17th

White–tailed Eagle – Tim Burdock

A colour–ringed, juvenile Sandwich Tern – Alan Crockard

It’s been a couple of days of large, soaring birds from re-introduction programmes. Today, it was a White-tailed Eagle, which made a low pass at 14:15, making the spectacle. Earlier, 3 Cattle Egret and a Great White Egret were logged from Hengistbury, where a Green Sandpiper was in Brewer’s Creek. The morning also saw a good presence of passerine migrants – the best a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher on Hengistbury; with site-wide totals coming to: 80 Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warbler, 4 Goldcrest, 40 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler and 2 Wheatear. A Ruff at Stanpit was the pick of the not-already-mentioned waders, but also: 6 Knot, 4 Greenshank, 2 Sanderling, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 42 Ringed Plover and 112 Common Sandpiper. There were a confirmed 2 Kingfisher about, but perhaps as many as four, while the familiar, drake Tufted Duck was again with Mallard.

September 6th

Spotted Flycatcher with Oak Eggar moth, which should see the bird nicely full of calories for the next leg of its southbound journey – perhaps even as far as South Africa – Alan Hayden

Common Sandpiper on the Crouch Hill scrape – Clinton Whale

Southern Migrant Hawker – a first for the area – Peter Boardman

There was a clear exodus of Swallow and Yellow Wagtail into the southerly breeze throughout the day – pulses of the former were every few minutes, likewise calls of the latter. Meanwhile, a Tree Pipit and a couple of Grey Wagtail also passed over, while settled outbound migrants included: a Pied Flycatcher, 10 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 4 Willow Warbler and 3 Chiffchaff at Stanpit, all but half the ‘spotflies’ in the North Scrubs; as well as, on the other side of the area, 4 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat and 8 Willow Warbler; with the Wheatear total for the day being a minimum of ten birds. Perhaps also on its way out was a Hobby over the marsh, where the pick of the waders were: a Greenshank, 3 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, a Sanderling and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit. Rounding-off a half-decent post: a Pintail, four each of Shoveler and Teal, and 2 Shelduck were about; 3 Bullfinch, one from the new hide, were logged; and a Water Rail showed in Stanpit Creek. Of odonata interest, the area received its first record of Southern Migrant Hawker – from the Wooden Bridge on Wick.

September 5th

After two yesterday, the Avocet at Stanpit had increased to four this morning – but then fifteen by this evening. Meanwhile, across the day, the following wader maxima were returned from there: a Spotted Redshank in Stanpit Creek, a juvenile Ruff, 5 Greenshank, 6 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, a Sanderling and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit. Staying with the marsh, where there was: a getting-late Little Tern; a Pied Flycatcher and up to 10 Willow Warbler in the North Scrubs, plus at least 15 Yellow Wagtail and 9 Wheatear; and a male Marsh Harrier that passed north. Late in the afternoon, Hengistbury and Wick produced 5 Redstart, along with a Lesser Whitethroat on Roebury Lane and a further 4 Wheatear.

September 4th

After a year–long delay, it was fantastic to be able to open the new hide on Hengistbury Head – which will be available for everyone visiting the head to enjoy – Paul Turton

Bar–tailed Godwit – Alan Hayden

…and a very good candidate for blue-headed wagtail, which roosted with around 35 Yellow Wagtail by the HHC last night – Kevin Sayer

Those who attended the guided walk ahead of the opening of the new hide enjoyed a Whinchat on the Long Field, while during the ringing demonstration at least 5 Grey Wagtail overflew and there were frequent calls of Yellow Wagtail – but only two could be seen against the, then, blue sky. Also, a steady movement of Swallow, along with a few Sand Martin to the east. The rest of the news comes from Stanpit, however, where a Garganey was with 4 Shoveler and 48 Wigeon were counted. A Wood Sandpiper may have come down on to Priory Marsh, but more amenable were: 2 Avocet, a Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and 7 Black-tailed Godwit. To round up, at least 20 Yellow Wagtail and 9 Wheatear were decked on the marsh.


We have a number of publications available including the current edition of Birds of Christchurch Harbour

Also, back issues from previous years and other goodies.


We have a number of publications available including the current edition of Birds of Christchurch Harbour

Also, back issues from previous years and other goodies.