I started May with my first proper sea watching attempts in Hampshire. I arrived at 7.30am on 2nd May at Hill Head, joining other regular birders and wasn’t too disappointed. It was mostly quiet out at sea, but all the time we were there terns were close in off shore. Common, sandwich and little terns fishing and resting. A bar-tailed godwit joined them briefly before flying east.
During the 3 hours there were a few other sea birds. My first gannets in Hampshire – 1 east, and 2 west, as well as a kittiwake (surprisingly not a first. My first was last year in Southampton!), a diver species and a great crested grebe. To add to this, a small number of whimbrel were heading east, and 4 swifts came in off the sea at 1015. My first of the year at last.
Later in the day, I was invited to Stokes Bay for another sea watch. We were hoping things would have improved from the quieter morning, but it wasn’t really the case. Still, I did see an arctic skua – another first in Hampshire for me – and 2 wheatear on the beach, a common scoter as well as more terns.
Over the long weekend, a Bonaparte’s gull turned up in Southampton. I’d tried to see the Dorset one in April but failed so was keen to try again. It seemed as if, after 2 attempts, that I’d have to wait longer to see my first Bonaparte’s gull, until Wayne and Graham shouted at me to come over. It had reappeared just as I’d decided to head off. Although mostly distant, it was great to watch both on the water and in flight.