Poole Harbour sightings blog

A record of all interesting and notable sightings from around the harbour throughout the year.

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Archive for March, 2013


Posted on: March 29th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Still no let up in the cold wind but birds still seem to be trying their best to perform some kind of spring migration…

Wednesday 27th seemed to be a little bit less icy cold and a lower wind speed. Birding focuses came from Lytchett Bay where 6 Greenshank, 1 male Marsh Harrier, 25 Redwing and a Bittern were the highlights. At Holes Bay (PC World drain 9 Sand Martin (often resting on rocks), 70+ Chiffchaff, 3 Wheatear, 1 Common Sandpiper and 2 Spotted Redshank were present. At Sunnyside Farm, 6 Wheatear were dotted around the fields also a Peregrine and a Willow Warbler. A female Hen Harrier was seen leaving a roosting area at dawn.

Thursday 28th also felt slightly more ‘pleasant’ hence why more reports came in, A second Bittern was discovered at Middlebere by surveyors monitoring Water Rail breeding numbers. The female Hen Harrier again left the roost at dawn and a Short-eared Owl was seen hunting along Arne Moors in the afternoon. The Bittern was again at Lytchett Bay, this time feeding with a Spoonbill! Also there 4 Wheatear, 3 Lapwing, 4 Chiffchaff and a Stonechat. At South Haven there were 11 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Coot (scarce here), 6 Sanderling, 9 Sandwich Tern and 15 Mediterranean Gull. Greenland’s Farm saw 35 Wheatear and a Black Redstart. As well as the Bittern Middlebere also had 4 Spoonbill and 4 Wheatear. Other nice sightings included at least 3 Firecrest at Slepe Copse, 5 Ring-necked Parakeet at Studland.

Friday 29th was cold…again! So not much to report. Best was a Bittern and 4 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank, 8 Greenshank and 3 Green Sandpiper at Lytchett Bay. A Firecrest was at Sunnyside Farm. A male Hen Harrier was in the west of the harbour.



Posted on: March 26th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

No let up in the weather over the last 3 days, still a biting cold easterly wind managing to numb almost everyone’s fingers and toes that braved to go outside. That said, a decent number of reports came through so in chronological order, here are the reports and sightings over the last 3 days….

Sunday 24th March saw the last WeBS count of 2012/13, and despite being so late in the month there were still many thousands of waders to be found. Firstly an Osprey was seen flying in over Brands Bay, and 2 summer plumage Golden Plover were at Greenland’s Farm. Wheatear and Chiffchaff were widely reported across the harbour with a max of 20 on Hartland Moor, 22 at Greenland’s Farm and 9 at Sunnyside. There was around 10 Sand Martin over the PC world drain and also 6 Wheatear and a Swallow. Highlights of WeBS (Wetland Bird Surveys) counts from various sites included 102 Black-tailed Godwit, 120 Avocet and 3 Sandwich Tern on Brownsea, 287 Bar-tailed Godwit, 76 Sanderling and 42 Knot at Shore Road, 4 Spotted Redshank, 19 Grey Plover and 19 Brent Geese at Swineham Point, 4 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe off Jerry’s Point and 350+ Shelduck in Brands Bay. Some other incredible counts included 350 Mediterranean Gulls off Middle Beach, Studland and also a Little Gull there.

Monday 25th was just as cold, however a few Wheatear kept arriving with birds at Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Sunnyside Farm and Holes Bay.  Sunnyside also hosted a large thrush flock of around 500 birds mainly consisting of Fieldfare and Redwing, but also plenty of Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush, perhaps a displacement of birds from foul weather further north in the country? Greenland Farm still held 2 summer plumage Golden Plover, 22 Wheatear, 100 Fieldfare and a Firecrest. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Yellow-legged Gull,  2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, a White Wagtail and 2 Wheatear, a summer plumage male Brambling and a Stonechat.

Tuesday 26th started off with a Bittern at Lytchett Bay along with 22 Redwing, a Wheatear and White Wagtail. Brownsea still held good numbers of birds with 150 grey Plover, 35 Knot, 140 Avocet, 11 Sandwich Tern, 35 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Turnstone. Finally a ringtail Hen Harrier still present in the Wareham Channel and a Little Gull east along Arne moors. 



Posted on: March 23rd, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Finally, despite foul and cold weather coming in from the east some decent bursts of migration have started to occur with various spring migrants popping up all over the harbour.

Thursday 21st March was a very quite day with only reports of a few Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe off Baiter, and 4-5 Chiffchaff in the PC World Drain

Friday 22nd March picked up a bit with 225 Brent Geese out on Baiter along with 200+ Meadow Pipit. 10-15 Chiffchaff were in the PC World drain along with a Common Sandpiper and a Wheatear on the shoreline.

Saturday 23rd March, migration really took off today with Wheatears appearing at Bestwall (2), Soldiers Road (3), Holes Bay (4). Also at Holes Bay/PC World drain 2 Swallow,  10-15 Sand Martin,100+ Chiffchaff (1 tristis) , 2-3 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap and a Spotted Redshank. A Drake Garganey was on the main pit at Swineham GP along with a Spotted Redshank and Greenshank. 7 Spoonbill were at Lytchett Bay along with 85 Brent Geese and a Green Sandpiper.

Elsewhere in the county a handful of Ring Ouzel arrived, so well worth checking the stud fields around Studland Village and Greenlands Farm. Also a Bluethroat was trapped at Portland….now that would be a great Poole Harbour bird. 



Posted on: March 20th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Still not feeling very spring like in the country at the moment hence the lack of sightings, especially spring migrants but a few reports dripped in over the last 3 days, starting with….

Monday 18th, where the wind dropped but there was still a chill to the air. The biggest surprise was when a local bird sound recorder recorded a Tree Pipit migrating over Stoborough during the night, which is the second earliest British return date. Also recorded was a Woodcock and a few Redwing. At Brands Bay a Great Northern Diver, 8 Pintail, 18 Grey Plover, 119 Black-tailed Godwit, 36 Knot and 7 Turnstone, and at Middle Beach 1 Slavonian Grebe, 10 Black-necked Grebe and 5 Great Crested Grebe.

Tuesday 19th saw a slight frost first thing with a low blanket of fog making for uncomfortable bird watching conditions. The Hoopoe re-appeared over near Turlin Moor. Lytchett Bay waders included 40+ Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Redshank, 50+ Curlew, 40 Brent Geese also a Brambling, 2 Spoonbill and 4 Gadwall. There was an impressive 28 Red-breasted Merganser in Parkstone Bay and at least 15 Meadow Pipit out on Baiter fields.

Wednesday 20th was again a cold start but grew into a warm sunny spring like day… for a while. Black-tailed Godwit numbers are on the increase all around the harbour with an impressive flock of 500+ in Holes Bay with a Common Sandpiper at the mouth of the PC World drain. Lytchett Bay saw 5 Spoonbill, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Jack Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 70+ Curlew, 30 Brent Geese and 4 Gadwall. Also there 4 unidentified ‘grey geese’ flew over slough lane.

 I was also kindly sent photos of a colour ringed Sanderling by Robert Walker who photographed the bird at Shore Road, Sandbanks on the 13/03/2013. The bird was originally ringed in Griend Bay, Netherlands on the 18/08/2012


Posted on: March 17th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

What a weekend. It seems we had it all…gale force winds, torrential rain, sleet and stunning sunshine. It certainly didn’t put the birds off with a good selection from across the weekend, starting with….

Friday 15th was a mixed day weather wise but a fair bit of coverage. Middlebere was counted where an incredible 1050 Black-tailed Godwit returned, also there, only 4 Avocet 1 ringtail Hen Harrier 29 Wigeon and 103 Dunlin. There were 3 Spoonbill back on the Brownsea Lagoon.

Saturday 16th was again a tale of two half’s where strong winds and heavy rain eased by mid morning leaving a very spring like day to appear. In turn this produced the harbours first Wheatear on Stoborough Heath, also in the area around Soldiers Road a ringtail Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Chiffchaff and Woodlark in full song, 3 Dartford Warbler, 1 Green Sandpiper, 100+ Fieldfare, 2 Raven, 10 Redwing, and a Kestrel. A male Hen Harrier was hunting over near Keysworth and a Sandwich Tern was off Baiter again.

Sunday 17th was a total surprise as the weather forecast predicted rain all day, however by 2pm a warm sun burnt through to provide a stunning sunset. A Hen Harrier survey commenced at various watch points around the harbour with the only birds being a male over Arne moors and a ringtail on Hartland Moor. Both Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl were out hunting over the moors with another Barn Owl at Lytchett Bay. Also at Lytchett Bay 40 Brent Geese, 9 Gadwall, 11 Med Gull and 40 Black-tailed Godwit



Posted on: March 14th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’ve been treated to two glorious days compared to recent weeks, which in turn presented some nice birds. Starting with….

Wednesday 13th where a glorious sunrise over Swineham saw a Short-eared Owl and male Hen Harrier and not too far away at Lytchett Bay 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 5 Water Rail, 1 Greenshank and the first migrant Chiffchaff arrival.  2 Spoonbill arrived back on the Brownsea Lagoon with at least 100 Avocet still loitering around.  2 Sandwich Terns were feeding along Baiter at around 8:30am.

On to Thursday 14th, which saw a day of almost unbroken sunshine. A decent list from Lytchett Bay was received where there was 1 female Merlin, 2 Chiffchaff (one singing), 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 3 Water Rail, 1 Stonechat and a White Wagtail.  At Baiter just 1 Sandwich Tern but also 2 female Goldeneye and 2 Meadow Pipit. 2 Spoonbill were again on the Brownsea Lagoon and the most interesting sighting of the day was a ringtail Hen Harrier that flew into a reedbed at Hatch Pond this evening.



Posted on: March 12th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

What a difference a few days make. On Saturday I was in a t-shirt watching Dartford Warblers singing in the blissful sunshine. By Monday I was back to thermals and not able to feel my fingers… and oh yeah, it snowed!

Lets start with Saturday.  There were still 3 Brambling at Church Lane in Wareham (along with Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly) also in and around Swineham 6 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 4 Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Reed Bunting, 150 lapwing a Peregrine Falcon, 400 Blackwits, 30 Grey Plover, 10 Redshank, 30 Curlew and 4 Red-breasted Merganser.  The Studland area saw 5 Slavonian Grebe, 34 Black-necked Grebe 5 Great Crested Grebe and a Sandwich Tern from Knoll Beach.

The weather started to change on Sunday but the first summer migrant appeared in the shape of a Sand Martin over Poole Park lake. The Hoopoe was re-found in Upton on Blandford Road. Still 3 Hen Harrier and a Merlin around Middlebere/Arne Moors area. There were 2 but possibly 4 Firecrest in Slepe Copse with 2 Spoonbill and a Yellow-legged Gull at Middlebere.

Mondays weather was bitter, hence not many sightings however there were 2 Spotted Redshank in Holes Bay along with good numbers of Redshank, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. Also a Stonechat in Upton CP was a notable sighting.

Still a biting wind today keeping the birds low, but up to 15 Mediterranean Gulls were at Baiter with 1 Goldeneye and 7 Ringed Plover. At Lytchett Bay a Stonechat and Snipe were the best finds. 


Posted on: March 8th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With a slight change in the wind direction it began to feel slightly warmer for a few days, however the weather forecast for next week apparently sees the return of sub-zero temperatures and snow!

Waterfowl numbers seem to be dropping of as Wigeon numbers around the harbour have started to see a dip, most noticeably in Holes Bay. Also in Holes Bay,  near the PC World outflow Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Firecrest and Grey Wagtail and a Siberian Chiffchaff was further up the channel. Today Lytchett Bay saw 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Brambling, 2 Gadwall, 200 Lapwing, 150 Dunlin and a Sparrowhawk. Out in the harbour Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe are still fairly prolific although numbers do seem to have dropped in the last week. A late update from last week, a dead Bittern was found at Swineham GP, cause of death unknown. Finally two Waxwing were showing well in the car park of the Acorn Pub / Co-Op in Creekmoor today around 15:45pm


Posted on: March 5th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A fine warm sunny day drew in a few more spring migrants in to the UK with Wheatears in Devon, Wales and Suffolk but unfortunately none in Dorset yet. Despite the nice weather not much coverage today. A foggy dawn walk where birds were only identifiable by sound produced 1 Greenshank, 4 Water Rail, 1 Med Gull and 10+ Teal. The PC World outflow had a Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Firecrest. On the Brownsea Lagoon at least 4 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 8 Turnstone, some summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Avocet and many Black-headed Gulls beginning to court. Over the Wareham Channel 2 Marsh Harrier were seen high migrating over the harbour with the over wintering female also putting in an appearance along with a Peregrine Falcon. At South Haven 6 Black-necked Grebe and 13 Sanderling


Posted on: March 4th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With the cold northeasterly still gently pushing down, there is still no sign of any early spring migrants although, a few Sand Martin elsewhere in the UK is an encouraging sign. Highlights from the last few days include the Green-winged Teal being re-found at Middlebere. The Hoopoe was spotted leaving Hamworthy and heading towards Upton CP. Firecrests were at Hatch Pond and the outflow of the PC World drain. Finches seem to be on the move with a marked increase of Siskins in people’s gardens. Med Gulls can be heard leaving the harbour in the morning and arriving back just before dusk in the north of the harbour, around Lytchett and Holes Bay, even over Poole high street. The Common Rosefinch is still visiting a private garden in Poole. 


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