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 November, 2013

What a Dive – posted 13/11/13

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

There has been a big arrival of Great Northern Diver in the last week. There are currently around 5-8 birds dotted around the various bays at Studland with 3 in Brands Bay, singles in Studland Bay, Shell Bay, 2 out in central Harbour plus a Black-throated Diver off Long Island at midday. Black-necked Grebe are also on the rise with an evening roost count of 29 off Middle/Knoll Beach, Studland. The Surf Scoter is still hanging around Brands Bay and Merganser and Great Crested Grebe numbers continue to rise right across the harbour. The Scaup was still out in central harbour along with 2 Goldeneye.  

Wood Pigeon Spectacle – posted 10/11/13

Posted on: November 10th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As stated yesterday, the conditions looked favourable for a Wood Pigeon movement this morning and we certainly weren’t let down. An incredible 72,665 birds passed over the harbour between 7:00 –10am. Birds were moving in large flocks containing between 500-1500 individuals, with most passing west over the northern shores of the harbour. During the Wood Pigeon watch a Red Kite was also seen drifting over Brownsea Island, also heading west.

Today was also the November Poole Harbour WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey). This meant the whole harbour was being watched at 9:00am this morning with a stunning variety of birds being recorded. The Surf Scoter was still out in Brands Bay showing well off Redhorn Point. All 3 species of Diver were recorded with 5 Great Northern Diver spread across Brands Bay, Central Harbour and Studland Bay, a Red-throated Diver in Studland Bay and a Black-throated Diver off the southern shore of Brownsea. Also in Brands Bay 2 Slavonian Grebe and 2 Black-necked Grebe with another 21 Black-necked grebe in Studland Bay. Other open-water species reported included 100+ Great Crested Grebe, 100+ Red-breasted Merganser and 11 Goldeneye. An amazing 15 species of wader were recorded with Redshank, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, Lapwing, and Avocet all recorded. There were some big duck counts too with Teal, Wigeon, Pintail and Shoveler all recorded in triple figures. At Arne 27 Spoonbill were still off Shipstal and 3 Firecrest were reported from the Studland area.

Finally some interesting ringing information with news that a Chiffchaff first ringed in January 2012 is back at a traditional over-wintering site in the harbour for its third year proving winter site fidelity for this species. And finally, thanks to Peter Moore for researching the incredible movements of a colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit seen on the flood meadows in Wareham on the 02/11/13, see the below history…Pretty amazing!

LG-RO 27.06.02 Langhús, Fljót, N Iceland

LG-RO 12.01.03 Avon Valley, Hampshire, S England

LG-RO 03.04.03 Poole Harbour, Dorset, S England

LG-RO 26.06.03 Langhús, Fljót, N Iceland
LG-RO 30.07.03 Humber estuary, Lincolnshire, E England

LG-RO 08.02.04 Poole Harbour, Dorset, S England

LG-RO 04.10.04 Poole Harbour, Dorset, S England

LG-RO 03.11.04 Humber estuary, Lincolnshire, E England

LG-RO 24.04.06 Lytchett Bay, Dorset, S England

LG-RO 26.11.06 Mont-Saint-Michel, Manche, W France

LG-RO 02.03.07 Avon Valley, Hampshire

LG-RO 06.04.07 Lytchett Bay, Dorset

LG-RO 10.10.07 Arne Bay – Poole Harbour – Dorset, 

LG-RO 10.11.07 Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset

LG-RO 01.01.08 Tejo Estuary, Setúbal, W Portugal

LG-RO 06.04.08 Lytchett Bay, Dorset, S. England

LG-RO 08.04.08 Lytchett Bay, Dorset, S. England

LG-RO 30.04.08 Höfn, Hornafjörður, E Iceland

LG-RO 01.05.08 Stekká, Höfn, Hornafjörður, E Iceland

LG-RO 14.09.08 Middlebere, Poole Harbour, Dorset

LG-RO 01.02.09 Buckenham Marshes RSPB, Norfolk

LG-RO 19.02.09 Hucklesbrook, Avon Valley, Hampshire

LG-RO 01.10.09 Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset

LG-RO 22.08.10 Middlebere, Poole Harbour, Dorset

LG-RO 16.07.11 Llanelli WWT, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK

LG-RO 20.10.11 Pontorson(Ardevon), Normandy, NW France

LG-RO 30.08.12 Lytchett Bay, Dorset, S England

LG-RO 12.10.12 Wareham, Poole Harbour, Dorset

LG-RO 12.01.13 Bisterne, Avon Valley, Hampshire

LG-RO 08.08.13 Lytchett Bay, Dorset, S England

LG-RO 2.11.13 Wareham, Poole Harbour, Dorset, S England  

Wood Pigeons on the move – posted 09/11/13

Posted on: November 9th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning saw the very start of what could potentially be a huge Wood Pigeon movement along the south coast.  A handful of flocks containing 300-400 birds were noted over the harbour, and 20,000 were counted over at Christchurch. The ideal conditions for Wood Pigeon migration involve a clear sky and a light northerly wind which tomorrow morning has both of. If you see any large flocks whilst out tomorrow please report your sightings to us. In November 2010 a whopping 160,000 were counted over the harbour in one morning!

The Surf Scoter was again in Brands Bay with 3 Great Northern Diver  2 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Razorbill.

Out from Middle Beach, Studland was 1 Great Northern Diver, 14 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Guillemot and 2 Ring-necked Parakeet.

Out in Lytchett Bay 1 juv Marsh Harrier, 10 Brent Geese, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 150 Dunlin, 100 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Cetti’s Warbler and a Kingfisher.  

Surf Scoter stays for second day – posted 08/11/13

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

The rain set back in today which meant the Surf Scoter didn’t fancy leaving anytime soon, so spent a second day in Brands Bay happily feeding out in the deep water channel. Past Dorset records of this species have included individuals that have stayed for a number of weeks, so we’ll see how long this bird decides to holiday in the harbour. Here are a selection of photos that have kindly been sent to us by local birders.

   Surf Scoter – Ian Ballam Surf Scoter – Steve Smith

Also in Brands Bay at least 4 Great Northern Diver, 30+ Great Crested Grebe, 2 Black-necked Grebe and 20+ Red-breasted Merganser.

Out in Studland Bay another 3 Great Northern Diver were present.

On Baiter 2 Sandwich Tern were present and a small gathering on Brent Geese are starting to build with 21 birds feeding on the field.

A wet and cold school bird boat ventured out at 10am, but was rewarded with a Brownsea Lagoon packed with birds. With around 500 Avocet, 400 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spoonbill, 200 Oystercatcher, 200 Dunlin plus the usual Redshank, Turnstone, Greenshank, Shoveler, Teal, Little Egret, Knot, Grey Plover and a Peregrine.

Out in the harbour the Scaup was still present and 23 Spoonbill out on Shipstal Point.

Bumper Bird Arrival – posted 07/11/13

Posted on: November 7th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Finally some still calm conditions welcomed us this morning, which made harbour watching an absolute joy. My favourite conditions to view the harbour are overcast sky’s and zero wind, this makes the birds easier to find out on the water.  I was taking a colleague on a trip around the harbour having already show cased the wonders of Studland as Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Redwing, Song Thrush and Meadow Pipit were all present in good numbers. A harbour watch from Jerry’s Point, Studland was already producing some cracking birds with 2 Great Northern Diver just yards off shore, also a Red-throated Diver, 1 Razorbill, 4 Black-necked Grebe and 4 Goldeneye when a dark, medium sized duck way out in Brands Bay caught my eye. It was obviously a Scoter, but too ‘chunky’ and not the right head pattern for Common Scoter. The bird showed the characteristics of being either a 1st year Velvet Scoter, a species seen in the harbour many times before, or a 1st year Surf Scoter, a species only ever recorded once before in the harbour way back in 2007. The clincher would be if it showed a white wing panel when it flapped its wings…white wing panel = Velvet Scoter, no white wing panel = Surf Scoter. After an hour or so the bird finally decided to flap and no white could be seen. Excellent, Surf Scoter, a rare vagrant from Canada, Alaska and North America. Also in Brands Bay 30+ of both Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe.

Elsewhere, out in Studland Bay there was a Long-tailed Duck, 3 Common Scoter and 7 Black-necked Grebe.

Out from Shipstal Point, Arne there were 25 Spoonbill, a Scaup, 3 Goldeneye, 1 Great Northern Diver, 20 Brent Geese, 8 Red-breasted Merganser and 11 Great Crested Grebe.

Out over Swineham and Bestwall there were 3 Marsh Harrier and an incredible ‘mega flock’ of Black-tailed Godwit as around 3000 flew down the Wareham Channel towards Arne.

At Middlebere the male Hen Harrier was seen several times and 2 Yellow-legged Gull were present.

Hide tides flood harbour – posted 06/11/13

Posted on: November 6th, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The tides this week have been huge! Many of the flood plains have been under water for much of the week creating excellent feeding areas for waders and wildfowl that have been forced out from their normal high tide roosts.

There is still a large group of between 1000-1500 Black-tailed Godwit feeding out on the Stoborough Causeway flood with around 200 Lapwing.

The floods at Lytchett Bay produced 123 Redshank, 31 Dunlin, 17 Lapwing, 1 Spotted Redshank, 83 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 5 Green Sandpiper, 432 Teal, 183 Wigeon and a Peregrine Falcon.

At Holes Bay 502 Wigeon, 213 Teal, 410 Black-headed Gull, 1 Pintail, 1 Spotted Redshank, 10 Little Grebe, 2 Spoonbill, 1 Kingfisher and a Water Rail.

My favourite sighting of the week goes to a Black Redstart that was seen near Asda at Holes Bay. Not an easy bird to find in Poole Harbour.

At Arne, still 24 Spoonbill off Shipstal, also a Common Scoter and small parties of Siskin with the odd Redpoll.

There were 10 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach, Studland also 2 Common Scoter and 1 Red-breasted Merganser.

There were 4 Marsh Harrier ‘playing’ over the Swineham area early evening, the male Hen Harrier dashed across Arne Moors as did a Merlin and a Barn Owl was out hunting at Arne. 

Don’t forget to book on to the next ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ Field Trip – 3 Bay Bumble, a gentle amble looking at the bays of the western harbour in seach of waders, wildfowl sea ducks, grebes and geese. For more information and to book on click on HERE 


Cold and Crisp – posted 04/11/13

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

Autumn tactics crept in today with a day of glorious sunshine, sandwiched in-between two days of wind and rain.  No two days are the same at the moment, but with this mornings northerly breeze and clear sky’s it seemed some passage could be on the cards. Despite a few decent sized groups of Wood Pigeon, the migration never picked up and a flock of 300 was the maximum over Lytchett Bay and South Haven.

A School Birdboat trip that left the quay at 10am were spoilt with a whole manner of decent birds. 26 Spoonbill are always an incredible sight, a Long-tailed Duck flew down passed Brownsea, settled on the water for a couple of seconds and then headed down towards Arne. Both Peregrine and a female Merlin were upsetting the Brownsea Lagoon regulars as 300+ Avocet, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 200+ Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, a few Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank all had to dive foe cover more than once. To complete the trip two Seals made an appearance off Shipstal point, Arne.

A ‘vis-mig’ session at South Haven, Studland produced 10 Crossbill, 23 Siskin, 6 Redpoll, 23 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 19 Goldfinch, 1 Linnet, 2 Bullfinch, 3 Meadow Pipit, 9 Reed Bunting, 4 Greenfinch, 9 Starling and 2 Fieldfare as-well as a stunning male Merlin and 300+ Wood Pigeon.

A short ringing session a Holton Lee produced 2 Marsh Tit. This species is becoming increasingly rare in the harbour and it now seems that Holton Lee and Slepe Copse are the only reliable places to see them. They’re not even regular at Arne any more. Also there a Barn Owl hunting over the marsh.

Cold and slow – posted 03/11/13

Posted on: November 3rd, 2013 by Birds of Poole Harbour

No, the title isn’t a self-assessment of recent days, but a comment on how things have seemed to slow up a bit bird wise.  Updates from various sites include –

Hatch Pond where an Oystercatcher was present, also 2 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 17 Teal, 3 Great Crested Grebe and 5 Snipe.

Holes Bay saw another 3 Spoonbill feeding on the falling tide.

Both the male and juvenile Hen Harrier were seen hunting together over the mouth of the Frome.

At Lytchett Bay 7 Brent Geese, 6 Green Sandpiper, 55 Lapwing, 38 Dunlin and 2 Stonechat.

Around Swineham and Bestwall, 2 Marsh Harrier were playing/fighting together, 1000+ Black-tailed Godwit were still feeding on the flood at Bestwall with 300 Lapwing.  On the pits 100+ Teal, 20 Tufted Duck, 14 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 1 Pintail and a Peregrine over.


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