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 June, 2015

Harbour Update – posted 29/06/15

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

NIGHTJAR WALK – THIS SATURDAY AT ARNE RSPB RESERVE – TO BOOK CLICK HERE – Last satursdays was an absolute belter with plenty of Nightjar activity, also Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Spoonbill, Dartford WArbler, Glow Worms, Foxes and several bat species were encountered so come and get involved.

The Wood Sandpiper remained at Lytchett Fields and it was joined by 3 Little Ringed Plover. Out in Lytchett Bay there were 23 Curlew, 1 Great Crested Grebe and a Kingfisher, possibly one of this years juveniles having already moved down river from its natal grounds. A night recording session from the Lower Frome Valley last night produced a number of Curlew moving overhead, plenty of calling Redshank, Oystercatcher and Black-headed Gulls. A likely Little Egret flew over the mic at around 12:45am, also a Med Gull, juvenile Tawny Owls calling from nearby woodland and several Water Rail were noted. 

Possible Little Egret – Lower Frome Valley 

Harbour Update – posted 28/06/15

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

Last night was our first Nightjar walk of two this summer (the second being July 4th so get booking now) which was incredible and packed with all kinds of wildlife goodies. The tame Arne car park Fox at the start was a treat if not a little disconcerting that it quite happily feeds out of people’s hands. Up on Middlebere a Barn Owl was hunting back and fourth across the channel, at one point hunting just below us from the viewpoint. In the Middlebere Channel 2 Spoonbill were roosting and Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew and a Green Sandpiper were all present. Then the Nightjar spectacle began with birds calling all around and we even got some nice scope views in between birds flying past us. Two Glow Worms were found in the heather on the way back and the icing on the cake was seeing Saturn’s rings really clearly through the scope, something I’ve never seen or done before and made me feel like a real kid. Juvenile Tawny Owl were calling in the car park upon our return too. There was some early signs of wader movement over the last 24 hours too with a Wood Sandpiper and 2 Little Ringed Plover on RSPB Lytchett Fields, along with 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 15+ Redshank and 15+ Lapwing. Out in the bay 23 Curlew was a big increase from the last few days and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was present. On the Brownsea lagoon 4 Knot, including a summer plumaged bird dropped in for a short time along with a Common Sandpiper. A Marsh Harrier was seen out hunting across Hartland/Middlebere.


Nightjar Walk – Arne RSPB Reserve – Nick Mudge

Harbour Update – posted 26/06/15

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

There was certainly plenty of wildlife at Arne yesterday evening with both the Middlebere Barn Owls hunting out over the reed beds of Middlebere, 2 Spoonbill were out in the channel with 30_+ Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Redshank, 4 Curlew and 2 two broods of Shelduck. There was an abundance of Nightjar song, with a good deal of visual activity too. In the Arne car park there were juvenile Tawny Owls calling and several bat species doing laps around our head, most likely Natterer’s Bat. At RSPB Lytchett Fields numbers of Redshank and Lapwing have swelled slightly with 35 and 27 present yesterday evening along with 5 Green Sandpiper at the western end of the site. 


Harbour Update – posted 24/06/15

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

It seems a few passage waders are turning up elsewhere in the country/county with Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank all reported from various locations. Last year, Lytchett Fields first Spotted Redshank of the autumn appeared on June 22nd, so any day now. I’ve heard on the grapevine from a few friends that much further north this year spring arrived around three weeks late, and as far up as Iceland neither spring nor summer has arrived at all. So I’m assuming that if in the areas where spring arrived late we could see a delay in some returning species, and whether some of the returning birds we’re seeing now are failed breeders from the far north.  Sightings are still pretty thin on the ground with 2 Spoonbill on the Brownsea Lagoon today, at Lytchett Fields there was 1 Green Sandpiper and the usual Lapwing and Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit

Harbour Update – posted 23/06/15

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

A highlight certainly compared to the last couple of weeks came in the form of an Osprey over Poole town centre this afternoon, being harassed by gulls. We often see June and July Ospreys as failed breeders return south and first or second year birds wander the countryside looking for suitable breeding sites. It’s possible this bird could stay within the harbour for a few days, so worth keeping an eye out if at Arne or in the Wareham Channel. At RSPB Lytchett Fields there was 21 Redshank, 24 Lapwing, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Teal, 5 Gadwall, 18 Shelduck and 5 Curlew in the Bay. A Cuckoo was still calling up on Slepe Heath and the adult female Marsh Harrier was out on Arne Moors getting harassed by a Grey Heron.

Harbour Update – posted 22/06/15

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

It was a pretty quiet affair this weekend with just a few odds and ends reported. In Brands Bay there were 2 Lapwing, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit and 26 Black-tailed Godwit. At RSPB Lytchett Fields there were 22 Lapwing, 7 Curlew in the Bay, 1 Green Sandpiper, 14 Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a good mix of newly fledged common bird species. There were large gatherings of Swift over Swineham GP and a Cuckoo still on Slepe Heath.  A rave/festival in a field near Soldiers Road hampered any sound recording efforts in the lower Frome Valley on Saturday night, so not many birds around unfortunately. However, if anyone wants any clips of load drum and base beating out across the heathland at 3am then let me know!

Harbour Update – posted 19/06/15

Posted on: June 20th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There is some sad news to start with unfortunately. It seems the third pair (the original alpha female) of Marsh Harriers have also failed to raise young this year. You may remember a few weeks ago that we stated the male that was servicing two of the three nesting females had disappeared which resulted in the beta female abandoning her nestlings. Well it seems the alpha female also found it too much of a struggle to raise the young on her own, and hasn’t been seen visiting the nest site for many many hours of observing. This year held so much promise with what looked like another record year panning out. We’re also hoping there is nothing suspicious in the disappearance of the male, and that it was just one of those things, but we’ll be keep everything crossed that next year another male arrives, settles and successfully raises young with one or a number of females. Both the alpha and beta females can still be found hunting in the harbour, commuting between Hartland, Swineham and Lytchett Bay. Talking of Lytchett Bay, a large gathering of Redshank has been congregating over the last few days with one or two juvenile birds among them. We’re not 100% sure, but it could be that these young were raised on site, proving how productive the area has become over the last few years. Also present 12 Teal, 9 Gadwall and 6 Black-tailed Godwit. There were still at least 2 Cuckoo on Slepe Heath along with plenty of Nightjar at dusk at a Hobby. There were 2 Spotted Flycatcher along Soldiers Road and a two family parties of Woodlark along there too.

My night recording work in the lower Frome Valley has been steady with no obvious signs of movement or migration yet. I’m expecting to record both Common and Green Sandpiper any night now, but so far the only moving waders I’ve experienced are Curlew moving up and down the Valley. There is still the occasional calling/displaying Lapwing and Redshank throughout the night and a nice host of regulars. Below are two recordings that have actually been very regular on all the nights I’ve set my gear up. The first is contact calls of Nightjar. Its well documented that Nightjar can often feed up to 5-15 km away from their nesting sites to go and feed, with river valleys, open meadows and even farmland selected as their favoured sites. Whilst feeding over these areas they produce a distinctive croaking co-ick call, which can be heard as they make their way up and down the habitat feeding. The other call is a fly over Water Rail, which produces a fairly high-pitched trill that starts high and descends ever so slightly towards the end.

Nightjar – contact call whilst feeding – Lower Frome Valley 


Water Rail – Flight call of a bird moving at night – Lower Frome Valley

Harbour Update – posted 18/06/15

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

Summer continues to lumber on, and the heat is not only making me sluggish but the birding too. Heat haze and hay fever is deterring me from venturing out at the moment apart from to set my recording gear late at night, but with most birds busy raising young there has been some interesting local observations that have been made. Firstly, there has been a first successful breeding attempt of Tufted Duck at Hatch Pond which may not sound like a land mark event, but any first breeding attempt of any species at this very urban site is well worth noting. Secondly, it seems that the Brownsea Terns feeding productivity is on the up. They can often struggle depending on how numerous and how far away their favored food (Sand Eels) is from the colony. Its been stated that some of the Brownsea terns travel as far as Weymouth Bay to feed if no food is available closer to home. However, both Sandwich and Common Terns have been observed this summer, bringing back catches of one, two and sometimes even three eels at a time to their chicks. Even more, they aren’t traveling very far either with many birds fishing just of the training bank in Studland Bay. There was some shocking Common Tern behavior noted on the Brownsea webcam this morning too, with an adult bird that was incubating its eggs getting so stroppy with its neighbors newly hatched chick that it picked it up by the head and flew off with it! Only to return about 15 seconds later empty beaked. This was sad to watch, and the neighbor had no idea what had happened as it was out fishing. When it did finally return it was quite distressed that it was one chick down. Some other interesting news is that two Siberian Chiffchaff types that were ringed in Poole Harbour this winter have been confirmed by DNA analysis as definite Siberian Chiffchaffs. There wasn’t much doubt about one of the birds as it looked like a ‘classic’ Sibe and a diagnostic sound recording was also obtained. However, the other bird didn’t look like a ‘classic’ specimen with pale lower parts, but very olive green upper parts. This just goes to show the variation in plumage of this (sub) species and that to confirm its ID you either need to analyse its DNA or even simpler…hear it call. Bird news from today included 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Wigeon, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Redshank, 11 Lapwing and 3 separate broods of Shelduck

Siberian Chiffchaffs phylloscopus collybita tristis – Recently confirmed by DNA analysis 


Harbour Update – posted 17/06/15

Posted on: June 18th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was another early returner today with a drake Wigeon at Lytchett Bay along with another Green Sandpiper, 4 Curlew, 10 Teal 5 Redshank, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 broods of Shelduck. The Grey Plover on Brownsea was still present, doing its best to masquerade as something rare in its funny transitional plumage. Also a Hobby over the reedbed on Brownsea and 130+ Black-tailed Godwit on the Lagoon. I was also lucky enough to spend a few hours on Brownsea last week for the National Trusts Bio Blitz. Whilst in one of the Dorset Wildlife Trust hides that looks out across the lagoon I took the opportunity to take some footage of the Sandwich Terns that were coming and going, as well as some of the newly fledged chicks. If you’ve never been to Brownsea to experience this, I highly recommend it. The nesting islands are just feet away from the hide and the sight (and smells) are just incredible.

Sandwich Tern – Brownsea Lagoon 12/06/15 – To watch in HD press play, hover the curser over the cogged shaped symbol and select 1080

Sandwich Tern with chick – Brownsea Lagoon 12/06/15 – To watch in HD press play, hover the curser over the cogged shaped symbol and select 1080


Harbour Update – posted 16/06/15

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There were more signs of autumn yesterday with the seasons first juvenile Willow Warblers along the Arne Road. Two lovely lemon yellow individuals calling from the roadside in the company of several juvenile Chiffchaff. Another Green Sandpiper was at RSPB Lytchett Fields with 11 Teal and 2 Curlew were out in Lytchett Bay. On Brownsea a Grey Plover was present with 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Hobby were feeding over the reed bed on the DWT managed part of the reserve. After analysing a few nights worth of recording from the lower Frome Valley (Swineham area). A selection of highlights included a fly over Little Grebe (thanks Nick Hopper for ID), a few parties of Curlew heading up/down the Frome Valley, more hunting Nightjar and several displaying Redshank and Lapwing.

Little Grebe – Flight call of a bird moving at night – Lower Frome Valley 16/06/15 


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