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 December, 2014

Harbour Update – posted 31/12/14

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

Wow, what a year, and what a great end to the year too with the discovery of a Green-winged Teal in Brands Bay this afternoon. The Black Guillemot was seen briefly off the harbour mouth again whilst 3 Purple Sandpiper gave exceptional views down to 5 feet on the sea wall at North Haven. There were 32 Spoonbill at Arne, and another 2 feeding in the outflow at Holes Bay, again giving stunning views down to less than 10m away as were 3 Spotted Redshank. Out of Middle beach there were 13 Common Scoter, 18 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Slavonian Grebe. Both Holes Bay and Brands Bay were both full of birds again on the low tide consisting of many Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit etc. The rising tide at Shore Road pushed 15 Sanderling close into the sea wall and 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit. 2014 has been an exceptional year for birds in Poole Harbour and I’ll be writing an annual review in the coming weeks, but until then thanks again for all your support and interest in our work and we wish you a very happy and birdy 2015.

I spent today videoing some of the harbours ‘best show’ off birds and will upload them over the coming days, but for now I hope you enjoy these Purple Sandpiper that were feeding at North Haven today and HAPPY NEW YEAR! (TIP: To watch in HD, when watching the video, hover your curser over the screen so the panel at the bottom of the video screen appears. Click on the cog shaped symbol and then click on 1080HD. This will turn the video into HD after a few seconds)

Harbour Update – posted 30/12/14

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

Another bird filled day starting with the Studland area. The Great White Egret was on Littlsea mid morning and 22 Black-necked Grebe were off Middle Beach with 13 Common Scoter and a handful of Great Crested Grebe. Brands Bay looked incredible on the falling tide with the sun lighting it up.  The bay its self was full to the brim of Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, and Avocet, not to mention the odd Shoveler, Gadwall and Goldeneye. Down by the houseboats in Bramble Bush Bay were 17 Sanderling and 15 Ringed Plover with 2 Purple Sandpiper on the sea wall of North Haven. Holes Bay saw 21 Spoonbill with another 2 including a colour-ringed bird at Lytchett Bay. Also at Holes Bay a group of 5 Spotted Redshank were near the outflow along with 2 Common Sandpiper and a Kingfisher. At Swineham a Bittern was noted near the gravel pits and off Swineham Point 2 Jack Snipe, 12 Rock Pipit and numerous Bearded Tit groups. There are currently 3 Hen Harrier patrolling the marshes between Middlebere and the Wareham Channel and a minimum of 10 Marsh Harrier. I was also sent some information today regarding a colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit that was seen out in Lytchett Bay this weekend. The data that has come back from the BTO states that the bird was first ringed in Iceland on the 13th June 2003, making the bird 11 years old!


Harbour Update – posted 28/12/14

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

Today was the Poole Harbour wetland bird survey and some big numbers of wetland species were reported. Off Arne it seems there could have been around 1000 Avocet stretched along the Middlebere, Wytch Lake, Fitzworth area although they were fairly mobile so a bit of double counting may have occurred. Spoonbill were feeding off Arne, Green Island and in Holes Bay. Species such as Wigeon, Teal, Dunlin, Pintail and Shelduck all seemed to have increased quite a bit. There were 119 Bar-tailed Godwit and 41 Sanderling at Shore Road, Sandbanks. Hen Harriers were seen at Middlebere and Swineham and the usual 8+ Marsh Harrier were around the Wareham Channel.  On the north shore of Brownsea 2 Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper were counted. In the evening grebe roost in Studland Bay 22 Black-necked Grebe were recorded and 11 Common Scoter were also present. The cold weather has attracted more duck to Swineham GP including 102 Gadwall, 57 Shoveler, 8 Pochard and big numbers of Greylag and Canada Geese. Down off Poole Quay 12 Ringed Plover were present and 2 Sandwich Tern.

Harbour Update – posted 27/12/14

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

Today I accomplished something I’ve never done in Poole Harbour before, and that is encountering all possible raptor species (including owls). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the harbour is a raptor magnet in the winter and you could encounter any of the following species at numerous places around the harbour from November through to march. The ten species included Kestrel x 1 by the Wareham bypass, 
Peregrine x 2 – 1 at Holme Bridge and 1 at Arne, Merlin x 2  – 1 at Middlebere and 1 on Hartland, Hen Harrier x 1 on Hartland Moor,
 Marsh Harrier x 8 around the Wareham Channel,
Common Buzzard at  Arne,
Sparrowhawk x 1 over Wareham,
Short-eared Owl x 1 on Hartland,
Barn Owl x 1 at Middlebere and Tawny Owl x 1 at Holton Lee.  A few big groups of Greylag Geese, around 50+ came in to roost just before dusk and settled at Swineham, it was too dark to make out any ‘scarcities’ but these are the kind of flocks that Pink-footed and White-fronted Geese like to tag on to so well worth checking if you come across any geese flocks. Middlebere looked superb late afternoon on a falling tide with 200+ Avocet, 300+ Lapwing, 100+ Dunlin, plus numerous Redshank, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, Teal, Wigeon and plenty of sharming Water Rail. There were 2 Spoonbill in Holes Bay and a Chiffchaff at the outflow. Finally, I was lucky enough to capture some footage of the Short-eared Owl on Hartland this afternoon, plus some video of a large Curlew flock on the flooded fields at Swineham and a Lapwing in the Frome Valley.  You can watch the videos HERE

Harbour Update and MERRY CHRISTMAS – posted 26/12/14

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

Firstly, we here at BoPH would like to wish you all (a slightly belated) very merry Christmas and a (not so belated) very happy new year. Your support and interest in our work and various projects is key to what we do and we can’t thank you for your support enough, so we look forward to meeting, speaking and working with you in the next 12 months and lets hope for another bird filled year in Poole Harbour. Bird-wise, the only highlights have included sightings from around the Studland area where 19 Black-necked Grebe and 11 Common Scoter were present off Middle Beach and the 3 Purple Sandpiper and 35 Sanderling were on the Sandbanks groynes. 

Harbour Update – posted 23/12/14

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, Christmas is almost upon us and the harbour has been delivering its own set of Christmas presents recently with Red-necked Grebes, Black Guillemot, Bean Geese, numerous Marsh and Hen Harriers, vast wader flocks and a good selection of open water species. As everyone winds down for the festive period I strongly urge you to get out and explore the harbour in a bid to walk off that Christmas pudding and those mince pies. This morning I visited South beach again to see what I could find out on the water, and by scanning back and forth across Studland Bay I counted 26 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 10 Common Scoter, 1 Great Northern Diver and 8 Red-breasted Merganser. Late news, but a Great Bustard flew over Lytchett Bay on Sunday, which will be one of the released birds from the Salisbury Plain reintroduction program. There are still are minimum of 3 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes at North Haven, often association with Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling. I managed to get some footage of the Common Scoter flock this morning off South Beach and also of a decent Lapwing flock at Swineham and a Grey Plover hanging out with a Turnstone in Bramble Bush Bay. You can watch each of the videos HERE.       

Harbour Update – posted 20/12/14

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

Today BoPH co-hosted a walk with the DWT along Holes Bay, promoting their Living Landscapes initiative and Great Heath Project. Part of the project is to link up important areas for wildlife, whilst interpreting that wildlife to the people that live within and close to those areas. Holes Bay is a great example of an important area for wildlife right in the heart of an urban surrounding. Todays walk highlighted perfectly why it’s worth getting out of the house and visiting this area with a great list of birds accumulated. Highlights were 2 Spoonbill right next the footpath, 100+ Avocet in various areas of the bay, numerous waders including Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin and Oystercatcher. Around 350 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in one of the fields along the woodland track between Upton CP and Holes Bay, giving views down to about 20 meters. Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Gadwall, Shelduck, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Common Gull and Common Buzzard all added to the supporting cast as Goldcrest and a Jay also appeared. Out at Swineham a Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier were hunting together and a Short-eared Owl was accidently flushed up on Slepe Heath. At Shell Bay there were 2 Sandwich Tern and a Red-necked Grebe, with another (or the same) Red-necked Grebe off Middle beach with 19 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Slavonian Grebe and 13 Common Scoter

Harbour Update – posted 19/12/14

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

The species range out in Studland Bay is starting to look pretty impressive, especially now that the Black Guillemot has been re-located out there. It was found off Middle Beach, but was also viewable from South Beach. It was some distance out, only viewable with a telescope, but that’s not to say it won’t come in closer over the coming days/weeks. An hour vigil from South Beach this afternoon produced 1 Black Guillemot, 19+ Black-necked Grebe, 1 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Razorbill, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Sandwich Tern and 10+ Mediterranean Gull. There are now 4 Hen Harrier in the harbour, 2 juveniles, 1 adult male and a young male, along with the 11 Marsh Harrier, 2 Merlin and numerous Peregrine. The best place to try and catch up with any of these is around the Swineham area or viewing Arne Moors from the top of Slepe Heath, as Arne Moors is strictly a private site with no access. 

Harbour Update – posted 16/12/14

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The harbour is full of waders at the moment and a low tide on any stretch of the harbour shoreline can provide you with views of at least 18 species of wading birds. Some species are site specific, for example the Bar-tailed Godwits will always favour the sandy shoreline of Shore Road (Whitley Lake) and Turnstone the stony beaches of Baiter and Hamworthy beach. Wherever you are around the harbour, just take a moment to peek onto the shoreline to see what you can spot. Wading species you can currently encounter are Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Snipe. There were 4 Black-necked Grebe off Jerry’s Point along with good numbers of Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. Other sites monitored included Lytchet Bay where there was 1 Greenshank, 1 Water Pipit and 2 Green Sandpiper. Holes Bay saw 1 Spoonbill, 1 Common Sandpiper, 30+ Avocet and 1 Tufted Duck (unusual here). At Hatch Pond still no Bittern but 49 and 9 Snipe roosting on the 2 small areas of cut reed plus 1 Pochard. I’ve finally managed to get out and do some sound recording recently and was thrilled to get a recording of a bird I never was never expecting. I was out along the Arne Road hoping to sound record Redwing coming into roost when I heard a call I was quite unfamiliar with. It was a husky gruff , rather heron like. I looked up only to see to see a Short-eared Owl flying over my head and away towards the Wareham Channel. The call was coming from the Owl! It did it again, so I  quickly pressed record hoping it would do it one last time before disappearing and sure enough, as it lofted away into the cold, gloomy light it called one last time. The recording below is of that call. 

Harbour Update – posted 15/12/14

Posted on: December 15th, 2014 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was lots of coverage from around the harbour today. Starting at Studland where much peninsular was covered. I experienced a wonderful first too when I had all three regular Diver species in one scope view out in Shell Bay. 

Middle Beach

Black-necked Grebe x 21

Great Northern Diver x 1

Great Crested Grebe x 2

Knoll beach

Firecrest x 2 (including 1 ringed bird)

Chiffchaff x 1

Bullfinch x 4

Shell Bay

Great Northern Diver x 3

Red-throated Diver x 1

Black-throated Diver x 1

Black-necked Grebe x 1

Treecreeper x 1

Lesser Redpoll x 2

Bramble Bush Bay

Goldeneye 20+

Red-breasted Merganser 100+

Grey Plover x 8

Great Crested Grebe 20+

Dartford Warbler x 2

Shipstal Point

Long-tailed Duck x 1 (think its the same as the Sandbanks bird)

Black-necked Grebe x 2

Goldeneye 80+

RB Merganser 200+

Great Crested Grebe 50+

Spoonbill x 19


Great Northern Diver x 1

Ringed Plover x 24 on rocks


The Short-eared Owl was out again along the Arne Road and 4 Marsh Harrier were seen to go into roost. At Middlebere there were 500 Dunlin in front of the hide, 300 Dark-belled Brent Geese, 250 Black-tailed Godwit, 110 Lapwing and ringtail Hen Harrier, 4 Spoonbill, 2 Yellow-legged Gull, plus the usual Teal, Wigeon, Redshank etc. Sanderlings are now a regular feature at either Shore Road (Whitley Lake) on a low tide, or along the Studland beaches on a high tide. A Common Sandpiper was in Holes Bay NE. There are so many great birds around the harbour at the moment, whether its Kingfishers in Poole Park, Rock Pipits and Brent Geese at Baiter, Turnstones on the Quay, masses of wildfowl in Holes Bay, Woodpeckers in Upton CP, a majestic Harrier or dopy Diver off Arne, it’s a great time of year to be out so make the most of it. 

I’ve also made two short videos recently, having not had time to put anything together over the last month or two. Watch the HERE…Enjoy!


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