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

Bittern and Blue Sky – posted 13/01/14

Posted on: January 13th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This winter has certainly been one of the mildest in recent years so it’s no surprise that species like Waxwing and Brambling are no where to be found. The same goes for Bittern, which have annually over wintered at Hatch Pond for as long as I can remember. There has only been one Bittern record this winter in Poole Harbour with a bird seen flying low over Swineham at dusk just before Christmas. This morning another (or possibly the same) was flushed from a drainage ditch near Holton Lee and seen flying towards the reed beds of Lytchett Bay. It’s likely that 1-2 Bittern over winter in the harbour each year, but a combination of their shy nature and the vast expanse of Poole Harbour reedbed makes them quite hard to see. Looking out over a reedbed at dusk from a decent viewpoint will improve your chances of seeing a Bittern as they start flying to their various roosting sites deep within the reeds. Elsewhere around the harbour Firecrests were present at Studland, Swineham and Creekmoor Ponds. The Yellow-browed Warbler is still at Knoll Beach, Studland. A male Bearded Tit was at Upton CP in the reeds near the boardwalk, also there 5 Pintail. The 1st winter Little Gull was seen again at Baiter along with 189 Oystercatcher and 292 Brent Geese. There are still 8 Marsh Harrier roosting in the harbour and at least 2 Hen Harrier still present. At Lytchett Bay the Smewhas taken to feeding out on the water for short periods of time, also present was a Ruff, 5 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Raven, 2 Stonechat and 9 Red-breasted Merganser. At Shore Road Sandbanks 41 Sanderling were present along with 100 Bar-tailed Godwit. At North Haven 4 Purple Sandpiper remain. Spoonbill have been present at Holes Bay, Lytchett Bay, Swineham and Arne. The 1st year Scaup is still at Poole Park with Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye both out on the boating lake.  At Swineham GP 148 Shoveler was a good count but just 1 drake Pintail. Also at Swineham a Bearded Tit, 4 Cetti’s Warbler, c550 Lapwing were present. At Brands Bay a Peregrine was seen hunting and Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe, Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser were all present

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

Meet and Greet – posted 09/01/14

Posted on: January 9th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As a charity we aim to boost the profile of bird monitoring and conservation out in the harbour, and there’s no better way to do that than by talking to people. Over the Christmas and new year period, and even this morning I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to like minded people, fascinated families, intrigued individuals and curious members of the public. When watching wildlife, it’s so easy to get drawn in to what your doing that you can actually forget that just yards away might be someone who is equally interested or even better just waiting to catch the birding bug. Whenever I’m out surveying or generally out in the harbour, I’ll always invite people to come and ask questions or have a look through our scopes just so they feel they’ve connected with the harbour in a way they weren’t necessarily expecting to. So if your out around the harbour and you see someone watching birds, then speak to them, ask them questions, you’ll be amazed at how much ‘wisdom’ people are willing to part with! The less we keep our eyes down and stuck to our scopes the more we’ll all interact and the more we’ll all learn.

Back to the birds now. At Lytchett Bay the Smew remains on the flooded fields, also there 1 Merlin, 1 Stonechat, 2 Green Sandpiper, 7 Gadwall, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Chiffchaff. Out on the water the Surf Scoter is still present off Jerry’s Point, 5-8 Great Northern Diver mainly around Brands Bay area, 8 Black-necked Grebe and 36 Great Crested Grebe. On Baiter (until yesterday) the Little Gull remained also there a Sandwich Tern. Off Whitecliff a Black-throated Diver was close to the cycle path and a 1st year Scaup is on the small Poole Park Lake. A sea watch from Branksome produced 1 Great Skua, 3 Red-throated Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Common Scoter, several Kittiwake and 2 Gannet. There are still 4 Purple Sandpiper at the Sandbanks Ferry slipway. Out in Shell Bay an Eider and 3 Great Northern Diver were present with 40+ Sanderling (including a colour ringed bird) and 6 Rock Pipit. A Marsh Harrier flew over the Wareham bypass. A night survey at Lytchett Bay produced 3 Woodcock, 7 Common Snipe and 5 Jack Snipe.

Little Change Brings Little Gulls – posted 06/01/14

Posted on: January 6th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There’s been little change in the weather, which in turn has produced a handful of Little Gulls. There was one out in Lytchett Bay and another present on the Baiter playing fields, both 1st winter birds. Little Gulls of this age have to be some of my favourite birds, so dainty, elegant and well presented. Click HERE for some video footage of the bird at Baiter today. Also present for it’s sixth day was the Smew at Lytchett Bay. Although the land the bird is on is private, it is viewable from a gate at the end of Slough Lane, next to the waterworks. At North Haven 4 Purple Sandpiper were feeding on the steps next to the chain ferry and 2 Sandwich Tern were feeding out in Shell Bay. A handful of Kittiwake passed out at sea and a Great Northern Diver was just inside the harbour mouth. The Yellow-browed Warbler is still present at Knoll Beach, Studland and the Poole Harbour Harrier count seems to have increased even more with now 8 Marsh Harrier present and an absolute minimum of 4 Hen Harrier.  On the Brownsea Lagoon today 8 Spotted Redshank and 12 Greenshank. Due to the flooding 30 Shelduck had moved up the Frome Valley to Holme Bridge and a huge gull roost of around 2000 birds cam into roost on to Brownsea this evening, mostly Herring Gulls.

Not a bad list – posted 04/01/14

Posted on: January 4th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Just a quick run down this evening of some of the excellent birds in and around Poole Harbour today. Definite highlights included a Bittern over the mouth of the Frome, the 2 Bewick’s Swans still in the Frome Valley, a Smew at Lytchett Bay, the Surf Scoter in Brands Bay, Great Skua, 5 Little Gull and all 3 diver species out in Poole Bay, 8 Marsh Harrier and 4 Hen Harrier around the Wareham Channel/Middlebere area, 30+ Black-necked Grebe and 4 Great Northern Diver in Brands Bay and off Middle Beach.

Great Start to the New Year – posted 03/01/14

Posted on: January 3rd, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well we’re only on January 3rd and some great birds are being found. The highlight from the last couple of days have included the discovery of two Bewick’s Swans in the Frome Valley, best viewed from the Wareham bypass bridge heading up stream towards East Holm. Bewick’s Swan are very in scarce in Dorset nowadays, let alone Poole Harbour. A redhead Smew was found on a flooded back-water at Lytchett Bay today proving that these birds will venture this far south-west in non bitterly cold winters. The bays in the south-west of the harbour are filled with all the usual species, but Brands Bay and Jerry’s point were particularly busy yesterday morning with the Surf Scoter, 8 Great Northern Diver, 11 Black-necked Grebe, 12 Goldeneye, 50+ each of both Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe. Off Middle Beach 11 Common Scoter, 26 Black-necked Grebe and an Eider were present. A Common Sandpiper was found at Holes Bay and at North Haven 3 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin were roosting. Birds of prey continue to impress with 3 Hen Harrier over Hartland and 6 Marsh Harrier still present around the Wareham Channel. Merlin have been sighted at Hartland and Middlebere and Barn Owl also at the latter site. At least 4 Peregrine are present around the harbour and can be seen harassing waders at Brownsea, Arne and Holes Bay. A sea-watch off Ballard produced Kittiwake, Gannet, Fulmar, Red-throated Diver, Razorbill and Guillemot. On many of the heathlands Dartford Warbler and Stonechat are very active and Woodlark have been reported singing elsewhere in Dorset so keep an ear out at Arne.


I’ve recently uploaded some new video taken from around the harbour over the last few days. They are of Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe, Peregrine and Bewick’s Swan. To view them click HERE


The Best of a Very Grim Day – posted 01/01/14

Posted on: January 1st, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Not much news due to the horrendous weather but highlights included the Long-tailed Duck still on Swineham GP, a Little Gull on Poole Quay and an adult Kittiwake riding out the storm on Baiter Park. The Goldeneye flock in Poole Park is now at 6.

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