Western Solent wildlife reports:
A mostly cool, unsettled month opened with a major rarity in the form of a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Butts Point, Pennington Marshes (2nd). Unfortunately it was only seen late in the evening and had gone by the next morning. What was almost certainly the same bird was present in Devon for several days up to lunchtime on May 1st. This is the 5th record for Hampshire, and comes exactly 12 years to the day after the previous record, which was also at the same site!
Other rarity highlights included a Purple Heron flying west over Normandy Marsh (9th) and a Serin arriving over Hurst the following day. However, seabirds also weighed in with two Puffins off Hurst on 3rd followed by another single off there on 5th. These are the first records at the site for several years. Strong winds from mid-month then produced an unprecedented spring influx of European Storm-petrels, with several tens of birds recorded between 19th and 28th, peaking at about 25 on 20th. The exact numbers are difficult to calculate as nearly all birds were seen circulating around Bournemouth Bay, with very few penetrating into The Solent.
An excellent sea-watch on 2nd produced four Great, five Pomarine and 26 Arctic Skuas, six Black Terns, a Little Gull and 770 Common Terns. The following day Great Northern, Black-throated and three Red-throated Divers were seen, together with six Arctic Terns (including an immature bird), six Razorbills and two Great Skuas. On 4th, five Pomarine Skuas were offshore in the evening, two Black Terns moved east and four Barnacle Geese flew west. A sea-watching workshop on 6th struck gold with Garganey, Black-throated Diver, four Black Terns, seven Manx Shearwaters and an impressive 2180 Common Terns moving east, as well as a good variety of commoner species. On 10th, single Pomarine Skua, Manx Shearwater and Avocet were seen, and 300 Common Scoters remained offshore. On other dates, a scattering of Manx Shearwaters, Arctic Skuas, Little Gulls and Red-throated Divers were noted.
Raptors included a Montagu’s Harrier moving north over Keyhaven (7th) and a Marsh Harrier there (3rd). Buzzard, Peregrine, Hobby, Barn and Tawny Owls were regularly recorded. Wader passage was steady, with two Spotted Redshanks still present (3rd), a Wood Sandpiper heard over Hurst the same day, an Avocet at Keyhaven (10th) and a Curlew Sandpiper there (31st). Wildfowl included two drake Garganey at Normandy (5th) and another at Keyhaven (10th), with up to 25 Eider regular offshore.
An influx of migrant moths early in the month included a peak of 11 Diamond-back Moths (3rd) and smaller numbers of Silver-Y and Dark Sword-grass. A further influx towards the end of the month saw the first Rush Veneer and White-point recorded. Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterflies were also regularly recorded throughout May. Other notable moth records included a Chamomile Shark (5th), a Mullein (8th) and a Light Feathered Rustic (28th), which is the first record for the area.
Finally, an adult Grey Seal swam past the assembled sea-watchers during the workshop at Hurst on 6th.