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 January, 2014


Posted on: January 30th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We will be liaising with the Brownsea team tomorrow to discuss Saturdays trip to the island. The forecast of strong winds may prevent us from visiting. We will keep you updated over the next 24 hours.

Many thanks

‘Birds of Poole Harbour’


Brighten up a grey day – posted 30/01/14

Posted on: January 30th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

For me birds have the ability to turn a whole day on it’s head. Take this morning for example, I was scanning the water off Baiter car park and discovered a Slavonian Grebe bobbing along just meters from the beach. Now, I’ve seen ‘Slav Grebes’ many, many times but recently they’ve become increasingly difficult to find in the harbour with only about two records all winter. This is a stark comparison of the 6 -12 birds that could usually be found out in the bays around Studland in past years. Watch a video of today’s bird HERE. Also present with the Slavonian Grebe was a lovely sleek Black-throated Diver, 39 Red-breasted Merganser and 14 Great Crested Grebe. At Holes Bay over the last few days a redhead Goosander has been present near the railway bridge, along with a Peregrine devouring a Wigeon on a bare patch of grass. Also in Holes Bay (north) 112 Redshank, 104 Avocet, 62 Dunlin, 27 Curlew and 1 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Bay a female and 1st year Marsh Harrier were recorded, 300+ Lapwing, 6 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank and 15 Snipe. At Swineham the Smew was still present and the Marsh Harriers continue to impress with between 6 and 9 birds often present. 

Day of two half’s – posted 27/01/14

Posted on: January 27th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

On Sunday it was the Poole Harbour WeBS count. The forecast mentioned that the horrid low-pressure system that hit us in the morning would pass by early afternoon. Our Poole Harbour WeBS team kept their fingers crossed hoping the wind and rain would pass through by the time the survey started. It didn’t! The weather also had an affect on the tide meaning that what should have been a pretty standard low-tide was actually a very high tide, therefore producing little or no waders at sites that should have contained hundreds, if not thousands. Luckily about an hour after the survey started the sky cleared in an instant allowing a certain amount of surveying to take place. Highlights included 24 Spoonbill, 1 female Scaup and 3 Great Northern Diver off Shipstal, Arne. The redhead Smew was again at Swineham GP along with 166 Shoveler, 153 Teal, 70 Gadwall, 128 Coot, 36 Pochard and 27 Greylag Geese. It’s almost certain that there are currently 5 Hen Harrier in the harbour at the moment with 3 male and 2 female. Amazingly, I’ve just received news too that 9 Marsh Harrier left their roost site this morning, which must be a recent record. There are numerous large Lapwing flocks around the Frome Valley with a flock of almost 700 counted along Arne Moors. Out in the harbour the usual Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe could be seen in good numbers and the 2 Black Swan were still out on the Stoborough flood.

19 of the 24 Spoonbill at Arne

Swinenot go to Swineham – posted 26/01/14

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

You’ll have to excuse the awful title pun but the Bestwall/Swineham area received quite a bit of coverage yesterday as Mistle and Song Thrush were both in full voice, and the hedges jumping with tits and finches feeding and fighting. The GP were packed with ducks mainly Shoveler but also 3 drake Pintail, an increase in Pochard, Teal, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Coot all in good numbers. 2 Bearded Tit were calling near Swineham Point and 4 Chiffchaff fed together in the early morning warmth from the sun. A hansom Kingfisher fed from one of the submerged gate posts and the flooded fields of Bestwall were packed with Lapwing, Curlew, Canada Geese and Black-headed Gull also a small flock of 8 Snipe and 2 Spotted Redshank feeding in amongst them was a bit different. Cetti’s Warbler were everywhere and a female Sparrowhawk was flushed with a prey item. A redhead Smew was located on the pits too plus flyover Siskin, Skylark, Grey Wagtail, Raven, Reed Bunting and Rock Pipit All added to the bounty. Lytchett Bay was quiet with just a Green Sandpiper and Hen Harrier being the highlight. The Poole Harbour Harrier count consisted of 6 Marsh and 4 Hen Harrier, 1 female and 3 male, one of which is a new individual.

Spring is in the air (through the gloom) – posted 24/01/14

Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Amazingly a Chiffchaff was heard singing at Lytchett Bay on Wednesday afternoon in the glorious sunshine. Now look at it! More rain and gloom. Not much else to report unfortunately other than the Poole Park Scaup has relocated to Hatch Pond. At Lytchett Bay the Smew was still present yesterday, also there 1 Jack Snipe, 2 Skylark, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Little Grebe. I also received some great counts from a birder who was visiting from Gillingham whom reported at Middlebere 1030 Avocets, 468 Black tailed Godwits, 825 Brent Geese (rose to 1000+ in the afternoon), 4 Ravens, 851 Lapwings, 250+ Teal, 4 Dartford Warblers (Coombe Heath) and at Shipstal 27 Spoonbills, 1 Great White Egret (roosting with the Spoonbills), 57 Red Breasted Mergansers, 4 Goldeneye, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 613 Oystercatchers. 2 Black Swan were on the Wareham/Stoborough flood and a Golden Plover was seen in amongst a Lapwing flock near Swineham.

Barn Owls Move In – posted 22/01/14

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Back in December last year we reported that the funds raised from our monthly field trips had been spent on trying to boost the harbour population of Barn Owl. The donations raised from our walks allowed us to buy two Barn Owl boxes and a Kestrel to be put up at Lakeside B&B at Swineham, Wareham. There are currently only two, possibly three pairs of Barn Owl in the harbour so trying to encourage them to nest at new locations is of great importance for the species.

Today, January 22nd 2014 we went and checked the boxes to make sure they were still in place and not leaking and were thrilled to find that two Barn Owl have already moved in. This is an exceptional result considering the boxes were only put up a few weeks before Christmas.

This is also a great example of how people power can help frontline conservation, as we would never have been able to get this project up and running without the public kindly attending our walks and donating towards our cause. A huge thank-you goes out to everyone who has attended and contributed towards this project, the Barn Owls very much appreciate it.

Our next plan is to try and bring you live footage of our new tenants, but again this will need money! If you’ve never attended one of our walks before, why not check out our EVENTS PAGE and book onto one of our monthly trips. Or simply donate by texting the number at the top of the screen.

In the meantime CLICK HERE to watch the short piece of footage Wildlife Windows filmed for us today of the new couple. Lets hope they stay to breed.



More Merlin Magic – posted 22/01/14

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A school boat trip around the harbour yesterday was treated to another Merlin spectacle as a female chased and harassed the 800+ Dunlin back and forth across the lagoon, twice splitting a single bird away from the main flock but failing to see the kill through. Brownsea opens to the public again for weekends only on Saturday the 8th of February, so if you get the chance get over there then I can’t encourage it enough. Also present on the lagoon yesterday 1 Peregrine, 1 Sparrowhawk, 150 Avocet, 30+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 500+ Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshank plus the usual Redshank, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Shelduck and Great Black-backed Gull. A single flock of 12 Woodlark in a field on the Frome Valley was a great winter record. The Smew was at Lytchett Bay again, also there 5 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Little Grebe. Off Baiter 3 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot and 1 Great Northern Diver. At Sandbanks there was just 1 Purple Sandpiper and 4 Sanderling on the Groynes and 4 Eider still in Shell Bay. Off Hamworthy Beach this morning 2 Great Northern Diver, 92 Red-breasted Merganser, 28 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Goldeneye, 21 Spoonbill off Shipstal and 4 Turnstone on the beach.

The reason we get up in the morning – posted 19/01/14

Posted on: January 19th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was one of those days that make’s us understand why we choose to pursue such a hobby.  Whether you enjoy birds for their beauty, their presence or their character, the fact you get to be outside whilst doing it makes it even more satisfying. The good weather got people out in their droves and sightings poured in from around the harbour as a consequence. So much was reported that I’m just going to write a list!

Amazingly the Great White Egret that was reported last week seems to be hanging around as it was sighted today over Swineham. From the RSPB Birdboat the following birds were seen out on the water Surf Scoter, 7+ Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-throated Diver, 6+ Black-necked Grebe, 20+ Goldeneye, 80+ Red-breasted Merganser, 30+ Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe and a Guillemot. On the Brownsea Lagoon a Merlin took a Dunlin, also present 30 Knot, 800 Black-tailed Godwit, 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 300+ Avocet, 800+ Dunlin, 7 Spotted Redshank, 8 Greenshank, 100+ Grey Plover, 12 Turnstone, 1 Spoonbill, 5 Snipe and 100 Oystercatcher. A Firecrest was near the church and Siskin were present in the Alders that lead down to the Mac Hide. At Arne 22 Spoonbill were at Shipstal, 4 Sandwich Tern were in Arne Bay, 2 Hen Harrier and 3 Marsh Harrier were in Middlebere.  At Lytchett Bay the Smew was still present along with 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Goldeneye, 1 Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Little Grebe. 2 Chiffchaff were caught at a ringing site, one a new individual, the other a pre-ringed bird from January 2013 proving winter site fidelity. A Guillemot was off Poole Quay. The harbours supporting cast of Brent Geese, Teal, Wigeon, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Common Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Cormorant and Shelduck were all out in force too.

Harbour Round Up – 18/01/14

Posted on: January 18th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Two separate boat trips have been out over the last two days with another venturing out tomorrow. Bird species out on the water have produced no major surprises other than a Slavonian Grebe near Goathorn. Other species recorded were 6+ Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-throated Diver, several Black-necked Grebe, 1 Scaup, 20+ Spoonbill off Shipstal, 20+ Goldeneye and a Razorbill off Green Island. At Shell Bay 14 Sanderling and 15 Ringed Plover were on the Beach and 3 Eider were in the Shell Bay. In Studland Bay 2 Common Scoter were present. At Middlebere 410 Avocet, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit plus 30 Dunlin, 20 Curlew, Redshank, Teal and Wigeon were chasing the tideline. At Lytchett Bay the Smew was still present also 5 Greenshank, 1 Peregrine, both male and female Hen Harrier and 6 Greylag Geese. The Brownsea Lagoon was looking spectacular with many, many hundreds of birds including the usual Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Knot, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Shoveler, Turnstone, Oystercatcher and Common Redshank.

Harbour Update – posted 16/01/14

Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Quite quiet on the bird front these last few days. The only new and significant sighting was of a Great White Egret on the 14th seen flying east down the Wareham Channel towards Arne. There was a recent report of a Barn Owl at Swineham, which means our new Barn Owl boxes could already be occupied, we’ll be going down to check them soon. The Scaup is still present in Poole Park. 8 Marsh Harrier and 3 Hen Harrier continue to frequent between the Wareham Channel and Middlebere. The Yellow-browed Warbler is still present at Knoll Beach. From Middle Beach 3 Med Gull, 4 Common Scoter and 1 Black-necked Grebe were seen. The Smew was again out at Lytchett Bay and 3 Greylag Geese on Shell Beach was a strange record.

You can now help us carry out a number of conservation projects across the harbour simply by texting BOPH14£5 to 70070. Thanks so much for your support


Call 01202 641 003