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, 2015

Harbour Update – posted 31/01/15

Posted on: January 31st, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today I led our monthly field trip, this month was around Swineham and although windy, the northerly direction of the icy blast meant we were largely sheltered most of the way around. Good numbers of wildfowl out on the pits including Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Teal, Shoveler and plenty of Greylag and Canada Geese. Marsh Harrier were present most of the way around, with a few over the GP and a few more over the reed beds. Nine Spoonbill (flock of 7 then 2) headed up the Frome Valley at dusk and a few large flocks of Lapwing were spooked by the harriers. A few Cetti’s Warbler were calling and a flock of 8 Fieldfare were near ‘Curlews cottage’. Black-tailed Godwit were also moving up and down the valley in small numbers as were a few Curlew. The sunset was also stunning. There was a great wildfowl count in Brands Bay yesterday with 266 Pintail, 639 Teal and 162 Wigeon, there were also 3 first winter Spoonbill there today, a sub-adult female Marsh Harrier and large numbers of commoner waders. South Haven saw 4 Black-necked Grebe with a few more and a Slavonian Grebe of Middle Beach. Spoonbill were also present in Holes Bay on the low tide today, with the usual Spotted Redshank and yesterday 2 Common Sandpiper were present. 

Harbour Update – posted 29/01/15

Posted on: January 29th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The Smew is still spending most of its time hanging around the railway bridge that splits Holes Bay north and south often in the company of a few Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. Also in Holes Bay today were 278 Avocet, 2 Spoonbill, 1 Common Sandpiper and good numbers of common waders. A Red-necked Grebe was off South/Middle Beach yesterday afternoon.

Thanks Ian Ballam for this photo of a colour-ringed Avocet from Holes Bay recently. The information has come back from the original scheme stating this bird was ringed as a chick in Suffolk in 2011, and this is actually its second appearance in Holes Bay in consecutive winters. 


UP AND COMING TALKS – posted 28/01/15

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour


Disturbance and Estuary Birds

Presentation by Catherine Collop from Bournemouth University about her research into the effects of disturbance on wintering birds in the local area.

Tuesday 10 February  at 7.30pm

Venue – Carter Community School, Blandford Close, Hamworthy, BH15 4BQ


 Viewing the Future – RSPB and Biotope

Booking essential, only a handful of places left…

To book, click here – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/viewing-the-future-tickets-15404684827

For more info, click here – http://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/viewing-future-rspb-and-biotope

Harbour Update – posted 27/01/15

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning I was lucky enough to catch and ring a Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff, a rare relative of our Common (collybita) Chiffchaff. Although they are often much paler, this is not a diagnostic characteristic of a Siberian Chiffchaff as some Common Chiffchaff can be just as pale. The only true way to ID a Siberian Chiffchaff is through its call, which this bird kindly did for me whilst it was in my hand, and then repeated when I turned my sound recording gear on. You can see in the sonagram the downward (sad sounding) inflection of the call, where as a Common Chiffchaff call would have an upward rising inflection of its call. 

During the same ringing session I was also fortunate enough to re-trap a Common Chiffchaff that through our ringing data shows it has returned for its third winter in a row having originally been caught and ringed in January 2013. Proving winter site fidelity in winter Chiffchaff is an interesting and fairly new phenomenon, however knowing where these birds breed would be the icing on the cake. Are they local breeders or like our over-wintering Blackcap, visitors from much further afield? Also ringed was a new female Firecrest and a male and female Goldcrest. In Holes Bay the Smew was again present just south of the railway bridge and the counties tamest Spoonbill and Spotted Redshank continued to feed in the Holes Bay outflow on the low tide.

Harbour Update – posted 26/01/15

Posted on: January 26th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The Smew was again in Holes Bay today, this time just south of the railway bridge next to the Holes Bay dual carriage way. It was feeding with 2 Goldeneye on the low tide and was constricted to the narrow, shallow channel, which made it easy to find.

Smew – Holes Bay (south) – 26/01/15 – To watch in HD press play and then click on cog shaped symbol at the bottom of the video screen and click on 1080 HD

Whilst watching the Smew I was also treated to a whole host of other species including a Spoonbill near the outflow, 40+ Avocet, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Gadwall, Little Egret, Red-breasted Merganser, Brent Goose, Cormorant and Mute Swan…it really is a great urban birding spot. 

Harbour Update – posted 25/01/2015

Posted on: January 25th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today saw Birds of Poole Harbour host an RSPB bird boat which left Poole Quay at 10:30am and over 100 keen members of the public enjoyed the trip. Before I talk about that, I’ll just mention two other good birds found in the harbour today. Firstly, the Great Grey Shrike (that was originally found yesterday) was again on Godlingston Heath but was also seen right on the boarder of Greenlands too. Potentially, this bird may have been around all winter as this is a largely under-watched area of the harbour, and well done to the people that found it.  Secondly, the redhead Smew that was found in Holes Bay a few weeks ago was back again today and spent most of the day hanging around the railway bridge the separates Holes Bay north and south. Back to todays boat trip where we started off by landing on Brownsea then followed by a tour of the harbour. The lagoon was looking great (as usual) with 3 Spoonbill, 3 Spotted Redshank, 10+ Greenshank, 200+ Avocet, 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, plus numerous Dunlin, Grey Plover and the odd Turnstone, Knot and Snipe. Out on the water Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe were plentiful and a Marsh Harrier spooked a couple of hundred Brent Geese in Middlebere. A Kingfisher also welcomed us on the Brownsea Quay. If you want to witness the winter spectacle of the Brownsea Lagoon, then the National Trust open the island at weekends starting from February 7th 2015Marsh and Hen Harriers were noted in Middlebere and Brands Bay. Off the Houseboats in Bramble Bush Bay 5 Black-necked Grebe were feeding and a Slavonian Grebe was feeding in the Brownsea Channel yesterday. 


Harbour Update – posted 23/01/2015

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today we were lucky to have David Lindo (aka the Urban Birder) join us on our school bird boat trip where we were treated to some of the flattest water I have ever seen in Poole Harbour. From the boat we saw 30+ Spoonbill, 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 100+ Red-breasted Merganser, 20+ Goldeneye, 100 Avocet, 200 Brent Geese and 3 Common Seals. David and I then did a whistle stop tour of some of the urban birding areas of Poole Harbour where we managed to tick off 1 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank, 50 Avocet, 300 Wigeon and a Med Gull in Holes Bay, 10 Sanderling, 2 Sandwich Tern, 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Med Gull at Shore Road Sandbanks, 200 Brent Geese at Baiter and several Chiffchaff at the Fleets Corner outflow.

Yesterday, I also took a short recording of the singing Woodlark I mentioned in yesterdays blog post. 

The first sonagram below shows the full recording and each of the four series of calls the bird made. The below sonagram is an enlargement of the fourth series of calls in the recording



Harbour Update – posted 22/01/2015

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Firstly, there is a talk I would like to promote that is taking place on Monday 9th February 2015 at 19:30 in the Poole Museum.

The talk is titled ‘Viewing the Future’ and focuses on how interaction between people, wildlife and the natural world can be managed in such a way, creating a totally new experience for visitors to a nature reserve or to the public in an urban area. The presentation will be spit into two parts, the first being presented by the RSPBs senior wetland ecologist, Graham White who will talk about how to maximise nature reserve design for both people and wildlife. The second half will be hosted by Tormod Amundsen from Biotope, the worlds first (and only) Ornithological Architects. Biotope are a Norwegian based company that specialises in ‘thinking outside the box‘ when it comes to interpreting the natural world. Biotopes concepts and bird hide ideas have become widely talked about across the country over the last few years, prompting Tormod to host his second tour here in the UK (last one was in 2013) and sharing some of their ideas and visions. 

Our Birds of Poole Harbour charity have liaised with Biotope over the last 3 years looking at possible projects around the local area, for which their ideas and designs (I think) are perfectly suited for this location.

Why not join us to find out what the RSPB have been doing at other reserves around the country to bring people closer to nature.

There are only 50 places available and the talk is free of charge. To book your place just follow this link and enter your name and email address.


This promises to be a highly informative talk so don’t miss out and book on now!

Today at Ballard Down there was 16 Fulmar, 1 Peregrine, 7 Red-legged Partridge 35+ Skylark, 3 Stonechat and 24 Yellowhammer (superb count). Studland
saw 1 Firecrest in the churchyard and 28
Redwing. At South Beach
3 Slavonian Grebe, 8+ Black-necked Grebe and 7 Common Scoter were noted. Godlingston saw 
3 Snipe. Brands Bay hosted 4
Spoonbill and 59 Avocet. In Lytchett Bay this evening on the falling tide 2 Spoonbill were in the outflow and the bay was full of Avocet, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher whilst a Golden Plover on one of the fields was a welcome surprise.  Up on Slepe Heath this morning 2 Woodlark were in song….not quite full song but giving it a good go and several Dartford Warbler made the most of the morning sun. 


Harbour Update – posted 21/01/15

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A smattering of sightings from today. Middle Beach saw 12 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 10 Common Scoter and 19+ Med Gulls. In Brands Bay
there were 3 Spoonbill 46 Avocet 76 Grey Plover, 24 Knot and a whopping 1010+ Dunlin. Yesterday 3 Great Northern Diver were off the Brownsea north shore and 30+ Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point, Arne.

Harbour Update – posted 19/01/14

Posted on: January 19th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There were 2 Red-necked Grebe off North Haven this morning and 22 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach with another 11 in Brands Bay. Also off Middle Beach 1 Slavonian Grebe and 10 Common Scoter. There was a Great Northern Diver off South Haven and 3 Spoonbill in Brands Bay with 69 Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Goldeneye. 3 Purple Sandpiper were still at North Haven. There was a massive count of Common Snipe at Hatch Pond of 100+ but still no Bittern.  I’ve also been sent some great photos of the Black Guillemot taken from a boat trip that went out at the weekend.


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