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 October, 2013

More Thrush Arrive – posted 31/10/13

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning looked good for possible thrush passage through the harbour, but what started off looking hopeful, petered fairly quickly.  A few small groups of Redwing passed over Arne, followed by my first Fieldfare of the autumn as a flock of 32 settled in a tree. A few smaller groups of 3-5 passed over and then it was over. A male Brambling was near Arne farm, and there were 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 Kestrel, 1 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk out over Swineham.

In Holes Bay the falling tide attracted 4 Spoonbill, 300+ Wigeon, 200+ Teal, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50+ Dunlin along with Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, 8 Little Grebe and a fly over Grey Wagtail.

Out on the Wareham to Stoborough causeway the flooded fields are currently attracting about 1000 Black-tailed Godwit on a high tide with plenty of Lapwing mixed in.

Don’t forget to check out our up and coming field trips starting with our next one on Saturday the 30th of November – Three Bay Bumble, Studland

‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ Events


Sunshine and Showers – posted 30/10/13

Posted on: October 30th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There seems to be a pretty regular pattern now with sun and rain constantly competing against each other, and with it still being so mild it makes it a real pain knowing exactly what to wear when out birding. I know, not exactly dilemma of the centaury, but it’s always good to have a moan once in a while.

The best bird from the last few days was actually a late report from October 22nd when a Short-eared Owl was flushed from Holton Lee, where it then flew out across Lytchett Bay. During the winter of 2011/12 one possibly two SE Owls over wintered in the harbour, and it would be great if the same happened again this year.

Lytchett Bay also produced some new arrivals with 2 Water Pipit making use of the flood meadows along with a handful of Rock Pipit. Also there, 11 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Stonechat, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Redpoll a handful of Redwing and a Chiffchaff, as well as the usual Redshank, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Teal and Wigeon.

Out on Hartland Moor the grey male Hen Harrier was joined by another a young male as 2 Merlin also dashed about the place.

At Middlebere a juv Marsh Harrier was present a Merlin flew over the NT cottages and a Peregrine took a Redshank.

At Holton 2 Marsh Tit were ringed with this site being the only reliable site for Marsh Tit nowadays!

On Brownsea Avocet numbers are around 600 with Grey Plover numbers rising into double figures.


Calm after the Storm – posted 28/10/13

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

Well, the storm was as quick to disappear as it was to arrive, but a trail of destruction was obvious with trees, fences, branches, boats! Strewn all over the place on my way to Branksome Chine this AM. The magical sea watch I had in my head with masses of rare Atlantic species piling by out at sea wasn’t to be. A small tally of 1 Kittiwake, 7 Gannet, 2 Sandwich Tern, 1 Great Northern Diver, 4 Pintail, 4 Brent Geese and 3 Razorbill was our reward for the early start.  

The Swineham, Bestwall, Stoborough Causeway area is looking fantastic at the moment as all the fields have flooded creating a stunning network of pools and wet grassland, perfect for waders and ducks. Out on Bestwall a Ruff was feeding with 50+ Lapwing, 40+ Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Pintail, 9 Gadwall, 4 Wigeon and 2 Shoveler and a Merlin was sat on a post.

At Swineham a late Wheatear, 1 Rock Pipit, Kingfisher, 2 Bearded Tit, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, whilst out on the gravel pits 2 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, 158 Teal, 8 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall and 2 Bearded Tit.

Elsewhere Arne Moors and the Stoborough Causeway were also hugely flooded with both sites holding over 200+ each of Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit.

At Middlebere 3 Spoonbill, 1 Barn Owl (that sat on the hide for a short while) 48 Brent Geese, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 adult Yellow-legged Gull, Redwing and a Dartford Warbler.

Male Hen Harrier were recorded at Lytchett Bay, Bestwall and Middlebere today. It could be the same bird, but possibly a new male has arrived in the last few days?

Also at Lytchett bay today 7 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and a Marsh Harrier.

Finally there was a report of a Black Brant that flew into the harbour around 9am, so well worth scanning through the Brent Flocks to try and locate it.

Batten Down the Hatches – posted 26/10/13

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

Have just seen on the news that the south coast storm is on its way…excellent news for sea watching! The last time strong south-westerly’s hit the south coast Weymouth and Portland was littered with Leach’s Storm Petrels and species like Grey Phalarope, Sabine’s Gull and Skua’s can all get blown on to our shores. Obviously take care if you are out, and take advise from local news channels, but weather systems like this can produce really fascinating bird watching.

Today ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ and Stour Ringing group were invited to do a ringing demo at the RSPB Arne reserve. Unfortunately, persistent rain all morning stopped the session in its tracks, but not before a few decent birds were ringed in-between showers. Firescrest, Treecreeper, 2 Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit and Chaffinch were just a few of the species shown to the public today. Also at Arne today 22 Spoonbill at Shipstal, 4 Firecrest in the carpark and Redwing were passing over in good numbers.

The male Hen Harrier and a juv Marsh Harrier tumbled together in the wind out towards Swineham. Also 5 Red-breasted Merganser out in the Wareham Channel, 100+ Lapwing around Swineham and a Jack Snipe at Sunnyside Farm.

On Brownsea today 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stint and 400 Avocet, along with Knot, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank.

From Shore Road, Sandbanks a few Bar-tailed Godwit are gathering with a few Turnstone, Sandwich Tern and Oystercatcher.

The Ring Ouzel and Scaup were still present at Swineham yesterday.

Pallas’s and Hoopoe’s Too – posted 24/10/14

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

A small break in the weather this morning allowed birders all over the county to get out quick before the wind and rain took over again. After such long periods of un-settled weather birds are desperate to get on the move again, so it was a little surprising that with the routine finches and thrushes at South Haven this morning a Hoopoe was spotted from the Studland Chain Ferry, flying across the harbour mouth and heading over the Haven Hotel towards Sandbanks. Hoopoe are normally associated with being a scarce spring passage migrant, although the two that have occurred in Poole Harbour this year occurred during the first winter period of this year and in the autumn! Also from the harbour mouth this morning a light passage of Siskin and Redpoll north, Linnet, Goldfinch and Skylark west and 2 Red-throated Diver in.

At Swineham today and yesterday a Ring Ouzel was feeding on berries along the main track and a Greater Scaup was on the main pit today with 2 Pochard and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

At Lytchett Bay a Jack Snipe was flushed from a reedbed and the Ruff was still present out on the mud and juv Curlew Sandpiper was on the pools field. Also there 2 Green Sandpiper, 6 Greenshank, 1 Kingfisher and some ‘vis mig’ of Skylark and Linnet passing overhead.

Over on Hartland Moor at least 3 juv Marsh Harrier, the male Hen Harrier and a male Merlin.

Off Middle Beach only 4 Black-necked Grebe along with a female Common Scoter, 5 Razorbill, 3 Med Gull and a Sandwich Tern.

At Holton Lee a Firecrest was present with 2 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing and good numbers of the usual finches.

At Arne 26 Spoonbill remain, small numbers of Redwing arrived and a Peregrine put on a good show.

WOW – Just had a phone call to say PALLAS’S WARBLER at South Beach, Studland now!  The below map shows that this is the most southerly and westerly occurance of this species in the whole of the UK this autumn.


Its a bit windy! – Posted 21/10/13

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Can you believe it’s almost November! Where has this year gone? It’s certainly turned very wintery, despite being a very unseasonal 17 degrees today.

The strong southerly wind may be keeping many of our visitors from the north away but there is still a decent mix of birds coming from various sites.  

At Upton CP 6 Spotted Redshank were present from the concrete bench, along with good numbers of Teal and Wigeon.

A watch from Middlebere saw 20 Brent Geese arrive, 1 Marsh Harrier, 5 Lapwing, 6 Grey Plover, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank, 5 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 20+ Dunlin and 1 Green Sandpiper.  

In the last two days Swineham has seem 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Rock Pipit, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 1 Stonechat and 2 Raven.

Out near Shore Road 2 Sandwich Tern were fishing and 3 Turnstone were on the sea wall.

A high tide survey at Lytchett Bay saw 1 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 2 Spotted Redshank, 9 Green Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, 54 Lapwing, 55 Redshank and 4 Black-tailed Godwit.

A Merlin and Peregrine were both hunting over the lagoon today where 500+ Avocet are now present, 400+ Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Grey Plover.

Harbour Highlights – posted 19/10/13

Posted on: October 19th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Some nice coverage from around the harbour today with our monthly guided walk taking place this morning around the Greenlands Farm/Brands Bay area. Highlights included overhead passage of Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Lesser Redpoll, Linnet, Siskin, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. On the heathland Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were seen with Bullfinch, Raven, Peregrine, Kestrel and Meadow Pipit also present. On to Brands Bay where 1 Common Scoter, 12 Red-Breasted Merganser, 41 Great Crested Grebe, Brent Geese, 50+ Redshank, 30+ Curlew, 3 Ringed Plover, 12 Pintail, Teal and Wigeon all showed well.

Off Middle Beach, Studland Black-necked Grebe numbers have risen from 6 to 11, also there 2 Common Scoter.

At Arne 25 Spoonbill, 1 Marsh Harrier, (possible Greenland race) Wheatear, 10 Brent Geese, 200+ Oystercatcher, 2 Snipe, 40+ Meadow Pipit and 8 Pintail.

A huge high tide around the whole harbour forced many wildfowl and waders out of their usual haunts, but at Lytchett Bay 2 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 32 Lapwing and 2 Snipe, 5 Brent Geese and 11 Black-tailed Godwit managed to find a bare piece of ground to roost on.

Raptor Fest – posted 18/10/13

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

It’s been pretty quite around the harbour over the last few days, but a big increase in the number of raptors, especially around the Wareham Channel has been a welcome sight. Today the Wareham Channel held 5 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, along with Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. These are all species of raptor you could expect to see around the harbour throughout the winter in a single day.

At Lytchett Bay 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 63 Lapwing, 7 Greenshank, 3 Kingfisher, 1 House Martin, 1 Marsh Harrier and an obvious arrival of Blackbirds with 40+ in a small area.

Blackcap and Chiffchaff are still passing through many hedgerows, although numbers are dropping off slowly.

At Sunnyside/Soldiers Road a Firecrest was near the car park, 11 Skylark passed overhead, a flock of 100+ Linnet were feeding in one of the fields and 2 Snipe were flushed.  

Around the country, quite a few Great Grey Shrike have arrived, and as this bird is a scarce but almost annual migarnt to Dorset, it will be well worth checking the tops of all the pine trees on any heathland walks you take!

Great White Morning – posted 16/10/13

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

With the large Thrush (mainly Redwing) movements that have taken place over many parts of the UK within the last week an early morning survey was conducted to try and track any movement through the harbour. On the 24th of October last year a large passage of 5000+ Thrush’s passed over heading north, but it was unclear exactly what route they take to enter and leave Poole Harbour.

Unfortunately, the weather over the last few days hasn’t been ideal for Thrush passage, as clear skies and no wind at dawn proved fruitless for the survey.

However, the survey was well worth it when at 07:55 I watched a Great White Egret fly in from the NE over Shipstal Point and land briefly on the saltmarsh before being harassed by two Herring Gulls and headed off east towards the harbour mouth.  Great White Egrets are notoriously difficult to catch up with in the harbour as they normally only ever fly over or stop for a matter of minutes before leaving again. They are also exceptionally rare in the harbour and quite often get mistaken for distant, lone Little Egrets.

Nearby at Middlebere a male Hen Harrier was noted, 1 female Marsh Harrier, 1 Merlin, a juvenile Peregrine, 1 Grey Plover, 522 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Kingfisher and 8 House Martin and 3 Swallow.

The 6 Black-necked Grebe are still off Middle Beach, Studland.

In Brands Bay 50 Great Crested Grebe, 1 female Common Scoter and in Bramble Bush Bay the first 4 Red-breasted Merganser of the autumn.

At Greenlands Farm another juvenile Peregrine was present, and caught a Starling, lots of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtails out on the fields and at least 5 Dartford Warbler on top of the hill opposite the entrance gate to Greenlands.

In Stoborough a Ring-necked Parakeet made a brief visit to a garden.

Overhead passage is really exciting this time of year with thrush’s, finch’s, pipits, wagtail’s, buntings and larks all on the move, so it’s well worth learning their various calls to try and pick them out as they fly overhead. 

Greenlands Farm walk – this Saturday

Posted on: October 15th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Still a couple of places avaailable for this saturdays walk around Greenlands Farm. For full details click on this link – http://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/early-autumn-walk-greenlands-farm

TO BOOK ON CALL – 01202 641003


Call 01202 641 003