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 September, 2013

Winter Thrush’s arrive – posted 29/09/13

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

Ok, so the title sounds a bit dramatic, but the harbour saw it’s first 5 Redwing of the autumn this morning as a ‘vis mig’ session took place around the Studland/South Haven area. Also counted during the visible migration session were 1000+ Swallow, 37 Linnet, 15 Goldfinch, 6 Greenfinch, 59 Chaffinch, 59 Siskin, 12 Meadow Pipit, 39 Alba Wagtail, 31 Pintail, 34 Wigeon, 4 Brent Geese and 7 Chiffchaff and a Redstart present.

In Brands Bay there were 31 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Brent Geese, 35 Pintail, 31 Wigeon, 116 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot, 6 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 6 Sandwich Tern, 1 Wheatear and 1 Whitethroat.

Lytchett Bay reported a small arrival of common migrants of 40+ Chiffchaff, 1 Stonechat and 5 Blackcap were in the hedgerows, also there 6 Green Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 26 Snipe, 29 Lapwing, 4 Wigeon and a flock of 25 Cormorant over the bay.

Finally, a Grey Phalarope was spotted from the chain ferry area and later reported on the Brownsea Lagoon.


Sightings Catch Up – posted 28/09/13

Posted on: September 28th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As the easterly winds continue this keeps the arrival migrants just ticking over with many Chiffchaff and Blackcap filling the hedgerows at the moment. Portland Bird Obs have already recorded their first Redwing and Brambling of the autumn meaning we should hopefully follow suit any day now.

The Sunnyside/Soldiers Road area produced very little, but not surprising as it was raining the whole time I was there! Best was juvenile Marsh Harrier over Sunnyside, 3 Stonechat and many Swallow and Meadow Pipit passing overhead. Another Marsh Harrier was noted over Swineham proving to be the 5th different Marsh Harrier to be seen in the area during September.

At Lytchett Bay 2 Curlew Sandpiper were feeding with 15 Dunlin, 36 Black-tailed Godwit, 50+ Snipe, 6 Green Sandpiper, 2 Kingfisher and 2 Sedge Warbler.

At Upton CP a decent flock of 500-600 Black-tailed Godwit flew in to feed, also there both Common and Sandwich Tern, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Mediterranean Gull plus many hundred of Teal, Wigeon and Mallard.

Near Swineham a small migrant flock containing 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap was noted, along with 1 Common Sandpiper near Swineham Point, 1 Snipe and 2 Skylark.

The Brownsea Lagoon produced 3 juvenile Little Stint, 360 Avocet, 14 Greenshank and 12 Spotted Redshank.

There are still places available for the next ‘BoPH’ Walk at Greenlands Farm on the 19th of October. For full details and to book on, follow this link –


Plus, don’t forget it’s Dorset Bird Week this week with the first Dorset Bird Fair next weekend at Durlston Country Park. Check out all the details here –



Forget autumn, winter is here! – posted 26/09/13

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

A nice sweep of sightings from right across the harbour today, with a number of sure-fire signs that winter isn’t that far away. The first Brent Geese were reported with 2 on the Brownsea Lagoon, 15 out on the sea at Middle beach and another 7 flying over Brands Bay. Also out in Brands Bay was a reasonably early Black-necked Grebe in full winter plumage along with 8 Great Crested Grebe.

Out in the harbour still a number of Sandwich Tern and to a lesser extent Common Tern can be seen fishing in the channels. 14 Spoonbill were out on Shipstal and a raft of 60+ Cormorant were feeding out in the mouth of Middlebere. 7 Pintail flew over Arne.

On the Brownsea Lagoon 150-200 Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, 300+ Oystercatcher and a handful of Dunlin.

At Lytchett Bay a detailed count included 1 Grey Plover, 118 Black-tailed godwit, 46 Redshank, 45 Curlew, 33 Dunlin, 12 Oystercatcher, 3 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank, 4 Wigeon and a Kingfisher.

At Greenlands Farm 1 Wheatear, 4 Whinchat, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Redstart, 1 Hobby, 1 Peregrine, 8 Mistle Thrush and about 40 grounded Meadow Pipit.

An eclipse drake Red Crested Pochard was on Creekmoor Ponds yesterday.

There’s still time to book onto the next ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ walk where we’ll be exploring the Greenland’s Farm area. For more information and to book on follow this link –


Today also saw the first RSPB/Birds of Poole Harbour School birdboat  trip with Lytchett Matravers Primary school braving the weather for a fantastic first trip. For a trip overview follow this link –



Catch Up – posted 24/09/13

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A welcome return after four days away, and a nice list of Poole Harbour sightings had been reported to me. Highlights include likely return of the Semipalmated Sandpiper, which was seen on the Brownsea Lagoon on the 19th and 23rd, but with views being so distant it couldn’t be 100% confirmed. A Wryneck on Shipstal Point, Arne was the first for the reserve in quite a while. Other highlights in chronological order included….

Friday 20th – At Lytchett Bay a Spotted Redshank, 300+ Teal, 6 Wigeon, 5 Sedge Warbler, 20+ Meadow Pipit and 4 Chiffchaff. At Swineham 1 juv Marsh Harrier, 1 Kestrel, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 1 Snipe, 2 Water Rail, 1 Skylark, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Cetti’s Warbler and 8 Reed Bunting.

Saturday 21th– Again some coverage at Lytchett Bay with 3 Green Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 1 Wheatear, 200 Teal and an adult Osprey. On the Brownsea Lagoon, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 18 Greenshank, 8 Spotted Redshank, 120 Avocet, 9 Knot, 22 Bar-tailed Godwit, 190 Dunlin and 2 Ruff near the harbour entrance in the morning.  At Brands Bay 1 Brent Goose, 2 Pintail, 25 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 3 Greenshank and 1 Turnstone

Sunday 22st – At Swineham 3 Marsh Harrier around in the afternoon plus 2 Bearded Tits, 3 Sandwich Tern and 6 Reed Bunting. A Wryneck was at Shipstal Point, Arne.

Monday 23rd – Very little reported other than huge numbers of hirundines moving over the Dorset coast mainly Swallow with a few House Martin and Sand Martin mixed in. In some location exceeding 15,000 in one morning! Meadow Pipit have also been moving in big numbers over the last few days.

Tuesday 24th – Again, little reported but 800+ Black-tailed Godwit, 200+ Redshank, 1 Whimbrel,1 Spotted Redshank, 50+ Wigeon, 1 Sandwich Tern, and 1 Common Gull were noted at Holes Bay.

There is a constant easterly flow over the next 4 days, so a really good chance of some ‘different’ birds turning up. Yellow-browed Warblers are tracking their way across the country and species like Barred and Melodious Warbler have been recorded at Portland in the last couple of days. Not to mention the first Redwings of the autumn that turned up at Spurn, Yorkshire and Central London today!


Back again…

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Just got back from 4 days away, so sorry for lack of news but will give full round up of last few days later…best was a Wryneck at Shipstal Point Arne, very nice!

Discover Arne Heathland Ramble – posted 18/09/13

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

If you’ve never been on one of the FREE Discover Arne Heathland Rambles that occur pretty much every Wednesday throughout the year then I would highly reccomend it. You’ll be led by an expert RSPB volunteer around some of the well known and less well know parts of the reserve in search of the wealth of wildlife that occurs on the reserve. To see a list of dates for this event then floow this link… http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-342593

In the mean time, here is a summary of todays walk by Rod Brummitt – 

At 8.00 am this morning Coombe Heath was alive with birds. Two Marsh Harriers were overhead transiting from the Middlebeere to Wareham Channel, one female and one juvenile. A gang of Mistle Thrushes were busy stripping the berries from the rowan trees and small flocks of Linnet and Meadow Pipit were passing through. Dartford Warblers were rasping at various spots in the gorse along with Stonechats. As to summer migrants, Chiffchaff and Wheatear were present in small numbers along with large numbers of Swallows and House Martins fattening up over both heath and channel.

Down on the water itself, and as reported by our WeBS counters last Sunday, Cormorants were flocking in unusually large numbers 40+ opposite the NT hide and over 100 making for Fitzworth. Other waders seen were Greenshank, Dunlin and Curlew, along with the usual complement of Little Egret and Grey Heron. Of the dabblers, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard and Gadwall were all present in small numbers.

As usual, the seal was present in Wych Channel and on the way back across Grip Heath. There was also plenty of Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers around too along with mixed flocks of Tits Siskin and Goldcrest in the surrounding woods.

What will be next?

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

It’s ‘terning’ out to be quite an exciting autumn so far in the harbour with a Poole Harbour first (Semipalmated Sandpiper) and a Poole Harbour second (White-winged Black Tern) in the same month. With the constant south-westerlies in the coming week it’s well worth keeping an eye out for species such as Pectoral and Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, the latter only record for the first time in Poole Harbour on the Brownsea Lagoon in September 2011. 

Other new arrivals this week have included the first Merlin of the autumn seen hunting along Arne Moors. There are now 10 Spoonbill using the Middlebere Channel to feed and roost in. At least 2 Osprey remain with birds commuting between Lytchett Bay and Arne.  2 Black Tern were seen off Arne and Sandwich Tern are being noted from pretty much every beach in the harbour.  There are large numbers of 1000+ Hirundines congregating at the moment with House Martin and Swallows and to a lesser extent Sand Martin making use of the reed beds in the north and the west of the harbour to roost in.  On Brownsea, Spotted Redshank numbers are staying around 8-10 birds, with slightly larger groups of 5-10 Knot. Black-tailed Godwit numbers continue to rise with an estimated 1000+ birds present at the moment in the harbour. 


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

White-winged Black Tern – 2nd Poole harbour record found at Swineham – Posted 16/09/13

Posted on: September 16th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Some exceiting news broke late yesterday afternoon, when a potential juvenile White-winged Black Tern was discovered at Swineham GP, a species thats only ever been recorded in Poole harbour once before. The bird was photographed by Peter Moore in terrible conditions, so full credit to him and the finder of the bird Marcus Lawson for even being out yesterday afternoon! On close examination of the photos, the bird was confirmed as a White-winged Black Tern and was re-found again this morning at 9:00am giving great views at it hawked up and down the main gravel pit. Thanks Peter Moore for the lovely close up photos.

Autumn creeps on – posted 13/09/13

Posted on: September 13th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Still, migrants are working their way through the harbour. At Arne, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Garden Warbler, Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail have all been reported in the last couple of days. In Middlebere 7 Spoonbill have been a frequent sight, as has at least 1 Osprey. Other birds of note in Middlebere have  included Pintail, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and a small build up of Teal and the odd Wigeon. On Brownsea at least 6 Spotted Redshank remain with 100+ Avocet, 300+ Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot, 3 Turnstone, 200+ Dunlin and good numbers of returning Duck including Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck. At Lytchett Bay Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit and Lesser Whitethroat were notable passerines with 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, 4 Ringed Plover and a Spotted Redshank all present. Chiffchaff numbers are on the rise with the peak movement about to occur over the next few weeks, which is the same for Blackcap, so keep your eyes peeled in your gardens as they, along with other migrants can be seen foraging for berries and insects.


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