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, 2014

Yellow-browed Warbler – posted 31/10/14

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

I mentioned yesterday that by learning the calls of Yellow-browed Warbler it will certainly increase your chance of finding one, well that’s exactly what happened this morning only I didn’t find just one, I found two. They were tucked up in the corner of the Knoll Beach car park Studland, at the boat park end, and one of them was really vocal. Typically by the time I had run back to my car to get my recording gear and back to the bird it had quieted down, however it still called infrequently enough for me to get some semi-decent recordings to highlight what you should listen out for.

To me the call is a high-pitched, sweet sounding whistle for attention, that has a clear rising inflection at the very start of the call. The rise isn’t always easy to hear but is very clear on the sonagrams. 

Yellow-browed Warbler (bird 1) – Knoll Beach, Studland 31/10/14


Yellow-browed Warbler (bird 2) – Knoll Beach, Studland 31/10/14

Harbour Update – posted 30/10/14

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

Its well worth continuing to check tit flocks at the moment as the Yellow-browed Warbler wave continues with one arriving on Brownsea today, another at Studland yesterday and at-least another five or six elsewhere in the county. I still haven’t managed to sound record one yet, but learning their call is one of the best ways to track them down. Firecrest are also very prominent at the moment with a minimum of 13 reported yesterday with 3 at Hatch Pond, 9 in and around the Studland Peninsular and 1 at Lytchett Bay. A Brambling was feeding near Middle Beach, Studland. At Holes Bay there were 320+ Black-tailed Godwit, 600+ Wigeon, 150+ Redshank and 2 Stonechat. A Ring Ouzel was at Middlebere briefly. A flock of 40 Spoonbill were on Brownsea with the usual good numbers of Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Redshank. Apparently, big numbers of thrushes entered the UK this AM further north, meaning we could potentially see the first big arrivals of Fieldfare tomorrow morning and over the coming days with more Redwing too. 

Harbour Update – posted 28/10/14

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

News from yesterday where a Yellow-browed Warbler was at Lytchett Bay in the scrub around the Waterworks on Slough Lane. Today a Grey Phalarope was found near the harbour mouth sat on the water, which then upped and left intermittently as it would take off and then land again every 50m or so which it repeated several times before eventually being lost to view. Also a Black-necked Grebe at South Haven with another 18 off Middle Beach along with 4 Common Scoter and a Slavonian Grebe. There was a Firecrest at Sea View point in Parkstone whilst a Wood Pigeon vigil took place, however a meagre 450 were noted. Potentially the big main push of Wood Pigeon will occur next week.

Harbour Update – posted 26/10/14

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

There was a bit more coverage from around the harbour today resulting in some nice finds. Starting off at South Haven where a dark phase Arctic Skua was sat on the water before heading off south with both Ring Ouzel and Brambling overhead. A Yellow-browed Warbler was in the woodland above South Beach with a mixed tit flock and out off Middle Beach the first Slavonian Grebe of the winter was found along with 12 Common Scoter and 9 Black-necked Grebe.  A Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was seen at Upton CP in the piece of woodland next to where the old bird hide used to be. Marsh Harriers were seen at both Swineham and Middlebere with 3 and 2 respectively. Finally there was an un-confirmed report of a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Arne yesterday afternoon.

Harbour Update – posted 25/10/14

Posted on: October 25th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite some decent Saturday weather not many sightings came my way unfortunately. I guess the best news is that there is now a third Hen Harrier in the harbour this time an adult female which means it now joins the younger female and male as they dash around the Wareham Channel and Hartland Moor. There are also currently 8 different Marsh Harrier in the harbour. Today we attended the Arne Forage Festival, which was really well received. Our ringing demo that we hosted with the Stour Ringing Group was also a big hit with an incredible 95 birds ringed including 5 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 13 Chaffinch, 8 Greenfinch plus numerous Blue and Great Tit, Goldfinch and a Blackcap. Before the event I arrived at Arne around 6am to do some sound recording and was treated to several Tawny Owls all calling, along with a handful of Redwing a nice Bullfinch flock of around 10 birds flying over. At dawn there were also plenty of Robins calling and singing and this is a species I’m going to be taking a deeper look at regarding its vocal arrangements over the coming months so decided to make a recording of a typical song. Below is the recording I made plus six very different looking sonograms. Amazingly all these sonograms are from the same bird and from the same 56 second recording, highlighting how varied their repertoires are.

Harbour Update – posted 24/10/14

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

Was out on a school bird boat yesterday morning and didn’t fail to impress (as usual). The Spoonbill flock was split between Brownsea and Arne. The lagoon on Brownsea was teaming with Avocet, along with Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Teal, Wigeon the odd Greenshank, Turnstone and Spotted Redshank. A Great White Egret was off the Ower shoreline and a handful of Great Crested Grebe were in Brands Bay. This morning a Firecrest was along the lane leading down to the waterworks at Lytchett Bay. 

Harbour Update – posted 22/10/14

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

Well the wind blew, blew again and then blew some more until finally by around 9pm last night it had run out of puff! The dreams of Sabine’s Gulls and Little Auks undoubtedly didn’t come to fruition but it was still exciting nonetheless. A sea-watch from Poole Quay (never usually a focus area during strong wind) came up trumps with 1 Arctic Tern, 1 Common Tern, 8 Sandwich Tern, 1 Great Northern Diver, 18 Ringed Plover, 230 Dunlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Kingfisher, and a handful of Pied Wagtails heading west. Off Shipsatl Point this morning an Arctic Tern (probably the same as yesterdays bird) was hawking over a feeding raft of around 200 Cormorant in central harbour, along side several Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe. Also on Shipstal 3 Dartford Warbler and a large Long-tailed Tit flock. The whole flock of 49 Spoonbill were on Brownsea this morning which was good news as Chris Packham and the AutumnWatch team were over there filming for the coming series of  AutumnWatch which starts next week. At South Haven a Golden Plover went over and 2 Firecrest were grounded.

This Saturday also sees the Arne Forage Festival takes place for its 5th Year. Birds of Poole Harbour will have a marquee there telling people about our work, plus we’ll be hosting a ringing demo with the Stour Ringing Group from 11am to 2pm. Come and say hello!

I’ve been trying to record the Ringed Plover flock down on Baiter for a few weeks now, but boats, road works and very loud Herring Gulls have prevented me from doing so so far. However I managed to nip down there on my lunch break today with the falling tide and managed to locate a small flock of 8 birds feeding with 5 Dunlin. Typically they were mostly silent, but as they flew I managed to get a flight call type from 2-3 of the Plover and a from one of the Dunlin highlighting the rise in pitch of the Plover call…‘rising inflection’

Harbour Update – posted 20/10/14

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

Is this the calm before the storm? Strong winds are predicted for tomorrow, coming in off the Atlantic and thoughts of all sorts of goodies are being conjured up in my mind…Sabine’s Gull, Grey Phalarope, Little Auk, Leach’s Storm Petrel…hmmmmm, and now back to reality. Highlights from the last few days included another Ring Ouzel, this time at Arne Farm. One of the Great White Egrets was again out in front of the Brands Bay hide along with a Marsh Harrier, 11 Red-breasted Merganser, 28 Great Crested Grebe and a Peregrine. Off Middle Beach, Studland 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Razorbill and 10 Med Gulls were present. The whole Poole Harbour Spoonbill flock was on Brownsea which consisted of 49 birds…where is number 50? A Firecrest was in North Bestwall Wood, near Swineham. Around the Hartland/Middlebere area there were 3 Marsh Harrier, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and an adult male, 1 Merlin, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 6 Greenshank also plenty of Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. At Holton Lee a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier and adult female Hen Harrier were present along with 18 Bearded Tit and 2 Swallow.

Harbour Update – posted 18/10/14

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

Today was a classic autumnal day, which wasn’t as much of a right off as predicted. The day started off with our monthly ‘BoPH’ field trip, which this month was focused around the Studland area. Heavy rain was forecast all day, yet the minute I arrived at Greenland’s Farm at 7:45am, the rain stopped and it didn’t start again all day. For the brave souls that did brave it first thing this morning we were treated to a great variety of birds. Starting at Brands Bay where one of the Great White Egret showed perfectly for us, along with plenty of Great Crested Grebe, the first 2 Red-breasted Merganser of the winter, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and fly over Redwing, Skylark, Grey Wagtail and Meadow Pipit. A Merlin showed very briefly over Greenland’s Farm and a few Dartford Warbler stayed low in the gorse. On to Middle Beach, Studland where out in the Bay 2 Black-necked Grebe (and another 2 later) were present also 1 Common Scoter, 2 Gannet, several Med Gull, 10+ Brent Geese, 1 Common Tern and 1 Sandwich Tern. A check along the woodland in-between Middle Beach and Knoll Beach found us a nice mixed-tit flock with plenty of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, and then just as I was explaining that if we were really lucky we may find a Yellow-browed Warbler, group member Liz said “do they have an obvious wing bar?” to which I replied…’yes‘, to which Liz replied ”is that one there?”. And low and behold, there in the holly was a stunning Yellow-browed Warbler which had the courtesy to come and land in the bush right next to us giving great views, if only for ten seconds or so. Unfortunately, one of the target species of the day was Ring Ouzel which I did manage to find, but not until after the walk and on my way home! It was feeding in the field below the main viewpoint along the Studland Road, luckily a walk attendee drove past and I managed to flag him down, getting him on to the bird before it flew off. Phew! Elsewhere in the harbour, Brownsea saw ONLY 41 Spoonbill, a whopping 27 Greenshank, 17 Spotted Redshank and 1 Firecrest. Harbour raptors now consist of 7 Marsh Harrier, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier and 4 Merlin (2 Hartland, 1 Arne moors, 1 Greenlands).

Continuing with the sound theme. Although the ‘vis-mig’ wasn’t as productive this morning as I was hoping it was going to be, birds were still on the move, and I want to provide you with two recordings I made only this week of species you may not think to listen out for, but well worth it.

Bullfinch – Social calls – flock of 9 birds migrating over Glebelands

Bullfinch aren’t perhaps a species you would think move around that much, but right the way through October and in to November flocks of Bullfinch, varying in size pass overhead, giving their presence away by the soft piping ‘fuu‘ they produce. This recording is of a flock of 9 Bullfinch passing over Glebelands.


Raven – Familiar ‘cronk’ of several birds. Flock contained 15 individuals flying over Glebeland’s

The status of Raven in Dorset over the last decade has increased dramatically. When I heard one ‘cronking‘ over Glebelands the other morning I wasn’t quite expecting to see flock of 15 birds passing overhead….quite a sight. This recording is of a few of the birds contact calling with their iconic ‘cronk’

Harbour Update – posted 16/1014

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

This morning the 47 Spoonbills location of choice was Brownsea having spent all day yesterday roosting on Shipstal Point at Arne. I’d like to get my head around what forces them to make their choice between Arne and Brownsea, could it be disturbance, state of the tide, wind direction (shelter) or quite simply scenery!  Also on Brownsea the 2 Great White Egret made an appearance mid afternoon and joined the 7 Knot, 51 Dunlin, 13 Greenshank, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, numerous Spotted Redshank as well as increased numbers of Avocet and Teal.  Out off Middle Beach there are now 5 Black-necked Grebe along with 1 Razorbill, also at Studland 2 Firecrest at Middle Beach and 1 at South Beach.  Up on Hartland 1 ringtail Hen Harrier was present along with 8 Woodlark, 6 Dartford Warbler, 4 Raven and plenty of Meadow Pipit. Lytchett Bay had 2 Woodcock and a Woodlark.

Two species that are most definitely on the move at the moment are Skylark and Woodlark, and both can be identified by call as they fly over. Although Woodlark is a scarcer migrant, October is a great time to listen for one out on the heaths around Hartland and Soldiers Road and even Ballard. Skylark is far more prominent and can be heard passing overhead in twos and threes around the harbour. Below are two recordings I made recently of Skylark and Woodlark passing overhead.

Skylark – Ballard Down – Two birds passing overhead

Skylark calls can be interpreted as a trilling ‘chirrup‘ ranging slightly in pitch and quite dry sounding. 


Woodlark – Hartland Moor – One bird passing overhead.

Woodlark calls are far more musical and tuneful. Smoother sounding, they always remind me of someone saying ‘too-da-loo‘ as they fly off!


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