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 May, 2014

The Eagle Has Landed – posted 31/05/14

Posted on: May 31st, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

I really don’t know where to start other than wow! Just when you think things can’t get any better a MEGA appears in a tree right next to the group you’re taking out for a field trip. On todays ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ guided walk at Morden Bog, something so incredible happened that I still can’t believe it actually happened. Our group had already been treated to great views of Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, Stonechat along with flyover Crossbill, Siskin and lots of Mistle Thrush when a member of the group (Alan King) spotted a bird of prey sat in a tree further on the other side of the heath. Initially the views weren’t great but the bird was pale, chunky, had a pale eye and seemed Buzzard like. Having experienced and been fooled by many, many pale Buzzards, of which Dorset has plenty I instantly ID’d it an extremely pale morph Buzzard. As we got closer it soon started to become clear that this wasn’t a Common Buzzard, so what was it? A Honey Buzzard was my next logical thought but the head was way too small and tail too short. Then a moment of total and utter madness occurred when the thought of Short-toed Eagle popped into my head, surely not? We opened the Collins Filed Guide and there it was, our bird, the same bird that had been sat in the tree. Almost wanting to faint, we gathered as many photos as we could to help confirm the ID and started breaking the news. What an absolutely AMAZING bird, made even more special by the fact it then returned later in the day for many many more birders to enjoy

 Short-toed Eagle – Morden Bog – Clive Hargrave


Harbour Update – posted 30/05/14

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

Unsurprisingly the Great White Egret was seen, but yet again by only one observer. I’m thinking of entering this bird into the Guinness book of world records as the world’s most elusive bird. No matter how hard I try it seems impossible to catch just even a glimpse of this bird…hey ho, I’ll persevere. From Soldiers Road there was 1 Hobby, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Woodlark, 2 Dartford Warbler and lots of Swift. In the Frome Valley a pair of Lesser Whitethroat found feeding young and there were a minimum of 10 Gadwall. Up on Hartland Moor another Lesser Whitethroat was heard singing also 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Peregrine, 4 Raven and 8 Mistle Thrush. On Slepe Heath 1 Tree Pipit singing was new for the site and the first for that side of the harbour in a long while. At Lytchett Bay a fist summer Little Gull was still around and a migrant pair of Avocet dropped in briefly, also 120+ Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Redshank, 1 Dunlin and an incredible 32 Gadwall. At Swineham there were 2 Little Gull, 1 Whimbrel and 2 Med Gull. On Brownsea the Yellow-legged Gulls have hatched their chick continuing the run of being Britain’s rarest breeding bird with this pair being the only ones in the country. 

Reedbed and Forest Cuckoo’s

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

The below recording is of what we classify as a ‘Reedbed’ Cuckoo recorded up on Hartland Moor this morning. The calls of these birds tend to be a higher pitch to the ‘Forest’ Cuckoo. As expected, ‘Reedbed’ Cuckoo choose to target species such as Reed Warbler, where as a ‘Forest’ Cuckoo may choose to target species like Meadow Pipit or Dunnock. The second recording is taken from the Sound Approach title ‘Catching the Bug‘ (which is an incredible book about Poole Harbour and its birds if you havn’t heard of it), and was recorded by Magnus Robb in Poland May 2005. Listen to the two recordings and see if you can hear the difference in pitch. 


Lesser Whitethroat – Hartland Moor 29/05/14

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

The below recording is of a male Lesser Whitethroat up on Hartland Moor yesterday morning calling in a somewhat un-typical habitat. The bird was continuously calling from a large area of woodland making me think it was either a newly arrived migrant or an un-paired wandering male still hoping to track down a female. Either way it’s a sound that if you’re unfamiliar with can leave you scratching your head for some time. Luckily its song is very different from its close relative the Common Whitethroat, allowing you to confirm the ID if you only catch a quick glimpse. The annoying hum in the background in the Wytch Oil Farm!

Tawny Owl – juv begging call – Lytchett Matravers

Posted on: May 28th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The below recording is of juvenile Tawny Owls in Lytchett Minster producing a classic begging call to the parents. This is a fairly common sound in any woodland this time of year as chicks start fledging the nest. Its well worth familiarising yourself with sound as it allows you to not only confirm breeding success but you can also visit the same site in daylight hours to see if you can spot the chicks huddled together as they roost on a branch or in the fork of a tree trunk. 

Harbour Update – posted 27/04/14

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

The on off rain over the bank holiday weekend didn’t make it easy to get out and cover much of the harbour, but still plenty on offer to keep hearts and minds at bay. The 3 Black-winged Stilts remained for a couple of days before departing on Sunday. The Great White Egret was spotted today flying over Wareham Quay heading up the Frome Valley. There was confirmed breeding success of some of the harbour’s scarcest species as Lapwing, Redshank and Yellow-legged Gull chicks were all noted. At Lytchett Bay the flock of 160 strong Black-tailed Godwit remain faithful to one muddy area of the site as a Little Gull and single Turnstone joined them. On Brownsea there was a colour-ringed Spoonbill, 2 drake Shoveler, 1 poor Avocet with a broken leg, 40 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin and good numbers of Sandwich and Common Tern on the nesting islands. At Swineham a first summer Little Gull was over the gravel pits and the male Marsh Harrier was out feeding, also plenty of Swift about too and 3 healthy looking Great Crested Grebe chicks. Finally a Garden Warbler was heard singing up in the Corfe River Meadows.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Harbour Update – posted 24/05/14

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

There’s been a nice SSE wind blowing, looking like it has the potential to deliver something a bit different. Although no concentrated efforts were made to sea watch Poole Bay a Manx Shearwater that passed mid afternoon yesterday highlighted the opportunity for sea birds to be picked up off the Poole Harbour shorelines. Elsewhere a Common Sandpiper, 120+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 4 Redshank 3 Lapwing and 2 Common Tern were at Lytchett Bay. At Swineham 1 Little Gull was on the flooded Pool, 1 Little Ringed Plover on the ‘Stilt Pools’, 100+ Swift, 4 Cetti’s Warbler and a strange record of a summer plumaged Turnstone in a flooded field. Up on Hartland last night only a couple of Nightjar were churring, also 2 Cuckoo. Finally, there was a strange record of a male and female Goldeneye courting off Shipstal, Arne this afternoon. Although going by today’s weather I wouldn’t blame the Goldeneye for still thinking its winter!

Harbour Update – posted 22/05/14

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

It was good see us get plugged on BBC South Today this evening with a lovely full screen shot of our website on the program. Hopefully the website will cope with the billions of people rushing to view the Brownsea webcam! Back to the sightings, there was a stunning but brief encounter of 3 Black-winged Stilts on private land in the harbour. It’s amazing to think that before this year the last record was on one in 1961 and now there has been 5 in less than two months! There was a sighting of Hobby on Upton heath, along with plenty of Dartford Warbler a Cuckoo, Tawny Owl and churring Nightjar. At Swineham two Marsh Harrier were active, 3-4 Bearded Tit, 2 Cuckoo and a Little Gull were present. At Lytchett Bay 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 3-4 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Cuckoo. At Middlebere 2 sleeping Spoonbill, 1 Marsh Harrier, 3 Hobby and 1 Yellow-legged Gull. Pilots Point, Studland saw 51 Sanderling, which is a great spring count. On Hartland Moor no less than 8 Nightjar were extremely active chasing one another and calling, a Hobby and 2 Cuckoo were also present. 

Nightjar – Hartland Moor – 21/05/14

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

The recording below is of a male Nightjar on Hartland Moor last night. On heathland all over Dorset Nightjar are becoming really active as they start to defend their territories and try to attract a mate. This bird was one of 8 vigorously flying about calling and churring. At the end of the recording you’ll hear the strange bubbling sound and numerous wing claps that the bird makes as it leaves its churring post, a sound seldom heard unless close to the bird. The sonagram shows the moment the Nightjar stops churring and starts wing clapping, with the sharp spike in the graph depicting each wing clap.

Harbour Update – posted 20/05/14

Posted on: May 20th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A few areas saw some coverage today, starting with Swineham where an early watch to see if the Great White Egret emerged from the Arne heronry proved fruitless in one aspect, however compensation for the Egret no show came in the shape of 6 Spoonbill, 1 Little Gull, 2 Bearded Tit, 5 Common Tern, 4 Redshank, 1 Lapwing, 2 Marsh Harrier, Great Crested Grebe with chicks, 2 Little Grebe and a Cuckoo. A Lytchett Bay 124 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank, 1 Peregrine, 1 Cuckoo, 3 Lapwing, 3 Gadwall and a Whimbrel. On Brownsea 3 Nightjar were active near the Lake Hide last night and on the lagoon today 2 summer plumage Knot, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 3 Dunlin, 1 Brent Goose, 1 Avocet and 1 Spoonbill.

Finally, what ever your views are on the Navitus Bay Wind Farm Development, you can have your say for the very last time by registering as an ‘Interested Party’ HERE where your view and opinion will be taken into account by the Planning Inspectorate later in the year. Please take the time to voice your opinions, it only takes 5 minutes to fill out the form.


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