Sunday, 8 May 2016

Hurst Spit - 5th May and 7th May

A south-east wind in early May always smells like seawatching! I had a survey to do near to Christchurch, perfect timing so I was up early and by 06:45 was sitting on the beach at the base of Hurst Spit with 10 other hopeful souls. Birds were not flooding by but the passage kept me at the sea for a little longer than I should have stayed, totals for the period from 06:45-10:15 were:

  • Common Scoter - 65 east
  • Great-northern Diver - 1 east
  • Grey Plover - 1 east
  • Bar-tailed Godwit - 12 east
  • Whimbrel - 9 east
  • Arctic Skua - 1 pale phase east
  • Mediterranean Gull - 1 (2nd summer) east
  • Sandwich Tern - 18 east
  • Commic Tern - 92 east
  • Black Tern - 6 east at 09:10

Other birds recorded were Peregrine and Kestrel both flying across from the Isle of Wight, up to six Little Tern fishing offshore and three Sanderling on the beach.

Bar-tailed Godwit, part of flock of six overhead at the watch point - Hurst Spit

Bar-tailed Godwit, part of flock of six overhead at the watch point - Hurst Spit

Black Tern from the seawatch point - West High Down on the Isle of Wight is beyond

Black Tern (same flock as above) - Hurst Spit

On 7th May the wind was forecast to be south-east and given that seawatchers at Dungeness had recorded 121 Pomarine Skua yesterday I was hopeful for at least one at Hurst this morning. I arrived at 06:30 and was the first birder at the seawatch point at the base of the spit. A flock of 11 Commic Tern flew east and then another eight within 15 minutes and I was quite optimistic. A fog bank offshore obscured the Needles and it was easy to imagine a flock of Pomarine Skua emerging from the gloom. More birders arrived, I watched and waited until 11:00 but there was no Pomarine Skua and it was time to head for home. The mornings totals were:

  • Common Scoter - 36 east
  • Whimbrel - 14 east
  • Commic Tern - 108 east
  • Arctic Tern - 3 east over the spit seven with Common Tern
  • Sandwich Tern - 15 east
  • Arctic Skua - 1 pale phase 08:00 on sea and then flew west
  • Bonxie - 1 east 10:00

The Arctic Tern were giving a distinctive 'pic' call which I have not heard from Common Tern before and Alan Lewis said this was a good way of picking them out from Common Terns when the calls can be heard, the 'pic' call can be heard here. In addition, there were three Sanderling and a handful of Dunlin knocking around. Plus the usual fishing Little Tern and Sandwich Tern. All in all a little disappointing

Whimbrel - This flock of five was heard singing as they approached the beach

Whimbrel - Same flock as above

Arctic Skua - pale phase bird

Arctic Skua - pale phase bird (same as above)

Sandwich Tern