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, 2016

Harbour Update – Posted 28/01/16

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A school bird boat was out this morning and the Black Guillemot once again showed well off the Brownsea SE corner. Also out on the water were 3 Great Northern Diver, c15 Goldeneye and 15 Spoonbill on Shipstal Spit. The Brownsea Lagoon was fairly flooded but still held reasonable numbers of Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, several Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank and a few Knot. There were 4 different ringtail Hen Harrier in the west of the harbour including an individual that was first noted back in late October last year but not seen since. Marsh Harrier showed only slightly better totals with 5 present, but encouragingly two were seen talon locking a couple of days ago. Just playing? Its also getting close to spring migration time and you may remember last year we held a number of night migration sound recording sessions from the Frome Valley area (and my garden), well this year we have a new monitoring site in the Old Town Poole area. So far this year we’ve conducted three night recording sessions, specifically set up to monitor what’s moving around/through the harbour whilst we’re all in slumber land. On Wednesday night we had 2 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Teal, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Grey Heron and 2 Wigeon over our listening station between 8pm and 4am.

Black Guillemot – Brownsea SE – Paul Morton 



Black Guillemot – Brownsea SE – Paul Morton



Dunlin Flock – Poole Quay – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – Posted 27/01/16

Posted on: January 28th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The storm had well and truly set in over-night and didn’t let up until late afternoon. During the peak of the grotty weather a Sandwich Tern was hunkering down on the playing fields with 2 Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstone, 2 Redshank and 3 ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit. At Holton lee 4 Spoonbill flew over towards the Wareham Channel and at Poole Park 2 Goldeneye were riding the waves on the main lake. 

Harbour Update – Posted 26/01/16

Posted on: January 28th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As the wind and rain swept in Baiter became the normal manky weather refuge for a range of birds. Out on the playing fields were 4 Ringed Plover, 8 Turnstone, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 50+ Dunlin and 50+ Oystercatcher. There was an incredible gathering of gulls out on the Brownsea Lagoon at dusk, all sheltering from the storm. There was somewhere in the region of 2000-3000 birds in total, all mostly Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls with a few Lesser Black-backed in there too. In the Arne car park 3 Firecrest were present and off Shipstal, Arne was 1 Slavonian Grebe and 20 Spoonbill.

Gull roost at dusk during storm – Brownsea Lagoon



Gull roost at dusk during storm – Brownsea Lagoon (different view)

Harbour Update – Posted 25/01/16

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was little to report today other than the 2 Firecrest were behind PC World again with several Chiffchaff. In Poole Park the Goldeneye group were showing off again at close range and a few Red-breasted Merganser joined them. Off Shipstal 20 Spoonbill were roosting and in Middlebere a male Hen Harrier, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull were noted. 

Goldeneye – male on Poole Park Lake – Ian Ballam


Goldeneye – female on Poole Park Lake – Ian Ballam


Red-breasted Merganser – Poole Park Lake – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – Posted 24/01/16

Posted on: January 25th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The mist and murk really set in this morning and didn’t really lift until mid-late afternoon. On RSPB Lytchett Fields it seems yesterdays single Avocet went and told his mates about how great this new site is a 8 were present there today, also around the site 4 Water Pipit, 1 Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank whilst 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe and 4 Gadwall were out in the Bay. A Woodcock ringing session near Arne saw 2 birds but none ringed, along with 2 Jack Snipe and plenty of Common Snipe. Late news from Jan 22nd where 18 Common Snipe were out on the cut area of reedbed and 4 pairs of Gadwall and a single Shoveler were logged. At Arne the Great White Egret was seen off Shipsatl Point and the Black Guillemot was off the Brownsea SE corner again.

Goldeneye – Poole Park – Ian Julian


Avocet – RSPB Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam


Little Egret – Holes Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – Posted 23/01/16

Posted on: January 25th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today our second ever Family Bird Boat left Poole Quay with a group of excited and intrepid members of the public, wondering what Poole Harbour had in store for them. This project is an extension of our popular School Bird Boat program and although all trips this year have fully booked, its likely we’ll run them next winter too, so keep an eye out for more information in the near future. The trip didn’t disappoint and once again the weather was on our side. There were 6+ Great Northern Diver including ‘the Baiter bird’ which has now taken up residence off Poole Quay it seems, with more off the Brownsea north shore, South Deep and out in central harbour. The 1st winter drake Eider was also out in central harbour and the Black Guillemot was again off the Brownsea SE corner.  Spoonbills were on the Brownsea Lagoon and Shipstal Point and 2 Black-necked Grebe were off Goathorn Point. A Razorbill was off the Brownsea seawall with 50+ Bar-tailed Godwit on the seawall beach. In total 57 species were logged during the tour. Out on the main lake of Poole Park 4-5 Goldeneye were feeding. Around Hartland 2 ringtail and a male Hen Harrier were noted again and the Bittern was once again seen out flying across the reedbeds towards Swineham. A Woodlark was in full voice at Shipstal Point, Arne where 21 Spoonbill were on the Shipsatl sandbar. During the low tide late afternoon a gull watch was conducted in the Wareahm Channel from the Holton Lee side where huge numbers of gulls were coming in to roost and feed on the exposed mud. Although most were Black-headed and Herring Gull, this time of year (heading into March) is a great time to start looking out for species such as Ring-billed, Iceland and Glaucous Gull, all real Poole Harbour goodies if you can get them. Also out in the channel of note (in a Wareham Channel context) were 11 Spoonbill feeding, 18 Pintail, 17 Gadwall and a flock of 32 Great Crested Grebe huddled together in a shallow channel. Out on RSPB Lytchett Fields a single Avocet was seen out roosting on the fields, a rare sight in these parts, despite them feeding out in the bay every day on the low tides. Also on the fields were 2 Green Sandpiper, 17 Dunlin and 185 Lapwing.

Harbour Update – Posted 22/01/16

Posted on: January 25th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was some really great news today when it was announced that Natural England have put in an application to extend the Poole Harbour SPA (Special Protection Area) to almost the whole of the harbour, including the mud below the mean low water mark. An SPA is a piece of European legislation carried out under the Birds Directive, a set of laws created to protect birds across Europe and that all countries within the EU must adhere to. The harbour currently has several areas already designated as SPA’s, these include the heathlands around the harbour fringes and the wetlands and water meadows that boarder the river valley’s of the Frome and the Piddle. The proposal is out for public consultation now and you can read the full proposal HERE.

There was a real winter scene late afternoon around the Hartland/Slepe Heath area with a male Hen Harrier and male Marsh Harrier out hunting soon followed by a Short-eared Owl, whilst out towards Arne Moors and Swineham the Bittern was again seen flying over the reedbeds with another 3 Marsh Harrier, male and female Hen Harriers and a Peregrine sat on a post. From Middlebere the Barn Owl was out hunting in front of the hide as were a male and female Hen Harrier and a single Marsh Harrier. After the rain cleared 2 Firecrest were busy feeding behind PC World along with several Chiffchaff. In Holes Bay north 1 Spotted Redshank was at the outflow. 

Harbour Update – Posted 21/01/16

Posted on: January 23rd, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was another fine day today with plenty about. Finally this winter, Poole Harbour sees a Bittern. To be honest it’s probably been around a little while but it was seen flying from Swineham towards Arne Moors at dusk, viewed from Slepe Heath. A raptor watch in the west of the harbour produced 5 Marsh Harrier, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier and 1 Merlin. Local raptor watcher Peter Hadrill has been tallying total sightings of raptors since January 1st from his watch point and the winner by far is Marsh Harrier with a total of 92 sightings since the beginning of the year, with 32 Hen Harrier sightings, 30 Buzzard and 35 Kestrel. In Holes Bay the Smew was still in the southern section near the railway bridge and there were lots of Avocet, some really close to the foot/cycle paths. In the northern section 2 Spotted Redshank were in the outflow channel along with 2 Spoonbill briefly. Behind PC World 2 Firecrest were active with several Common (collybita) Chiffchaff and 1 Siberian (tristis) ChiffchaffSpoonbills were out on Shipstal  Point and in the Middlebere Channel. 

Harbour Update – Posted 20/01/16

Posted on: January 21st, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The cold crisp weather continued to impress with the most incredible sunrise as everything was dusted white with frost. There was what seemed to be a mini thrush arrival with good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare at places like Holton Lee, Upton CP and Arne. The Brownsea Black Guillemot decided to leave its favored spot off the Brownsea SE corner and bravely ventured 200m east and sat in and around the harbour mouth mid morning with a Common Guillemot replacing it by the afternoon. The Smew was still present in Holes Bay south with 4 Goldeneye, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Kingfisher and on the railway embankment its self were 93 Oystercatcher, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone and 23 Little Egret. At Holton Lee Great Spotted Woodpecker started drumming and there was what seemed to be a mini thrush arrival with a decent Fieldfare and Redwing flock out in the fields (decent in comparison with recent totals at least). Out in the Wareham Channel there was 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Goldeneye and good numbers off Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. At PC World at least 2 Firecrest were in the scrub with 10+ Chiffchaff and at Norden Sewage Works the 2 Firecrest continue to show really well on the filter beds and surrounding scrub. Off Baiter there were 2 distant Great Northern Diver, 6 Shoveler off the Brownsea north shore, 13 Turnstone and 4 Dunlin on the sea wall. 

Harbour Update – Posted 19/01/16

Posted on: January 20th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Last night saw the coldest night of the year (apparently), and the frost on the ground was a welcome change from the familiar thudding and splashing of torrential rain. There were some nice highlights including now 2 grey male Hen Harriers seen in and around the Middlebere/Hartland Moor area along with a Short-eared Owl. At Studland there were 14 Black-necked Grebe (11 Middle Beach and 3 off the Houseboats), 1 Great Northern Diver off Middle Beach, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Merlin from the houseboats and a Kingfisher, 1 Spoonbill, 31 Sanderling and 2 Great Northern Diver in Brands Bay. From the Middlebere hide were 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 10 Spoonbill, 1 Peregrine, 1 Green Sandpiper and a flyover Crossbill. At Swineham were 1 Chiffchaff and 2 Marsh Harrier with another 2 Marsh Harrier over Wytch Lake. At the Holes Bay outflow a single Spoonbill and 2 Spotted Redshank were feeding with plenty of Avocet, whilst behind PC World there were 2 Firecrest and a single Siberian Chiffchaff with a minimum of 10 Common Chiffchaff

Spotted Redshank – Holes Bay outflow – Ian Ballam


Rock Pipit – Holes Bay outflow – Ian Ballam



Avocet – Holes Bay outflow – Ian Ballam


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