5th of May 2012.

Christchurch Bay & Hengistbury Head – Dorset.

Species seen 32.

Hengistbury Head in Dorset is a significant and absorbing nature reserve because of the numerous varieties of habitats situated within such a small area of just 160 hectares. Habitats include grassland, heath, woodland, scrub, ponds, water meadow, saltmarsh, reed beds, coastal cliffs and Christchurch Bays tidal waters.

There are more than 500 plant species, 700 moth species have been recorded and reptiles are thriving, these include the rare Natterjack Toad, which can be seen in the head’s ponds.

The geographical position of the headland makes it a natural point for watching the arrival of migrant birds and insects from the continent. For many this is the first land seen since leaving their wintering grounds. More than 300 bird species have been recorded here, which include regular sightings of Dartford and Cetti’s Warblers, both have been seen here on my visits, you usually hear the Dartford Warbler before you see it and today we did indeed hear one, however sadly didn’t see it!

Hengistbury Head is a site of international importance in terms of its archaeology and is listed as an Ancient Monument. It has been occupied on several occasions since the Stone Age. During the Bronze Age the site was used as a cemetery with burial mounds. During the early Iron Age, man developed the area in to a site for industry, leading on to a port settlement for trade by the end of the Iron Age. Today it is a favoured spot for birders, walkers, water sports enthusiasts and holiday makers.

Today’s weather was dull, cloudy and windy, perfect for walking, but not so good for birding. However it was still clear enough to see the nearby Isle of White.

Notables seen were, the above Robin, Little Egret, Artic Tern, Common Tern, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Lesser Redpoll, Wheatear, Skylark, Whitethroat. The highlight was hearing a Dartford Warbler; however, it proved elusive as we didn’t catch sight of it!

Also of note were the several hundred Mute Swans, high numbers of Black headed, Lesser black backed, Great black backed and Herring Gulls.

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