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 18/01/16

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

Not much to report from today other than the Smew in Holes Bay south and 2 Spotted Redshank and 3 Spoonbill in Holes Bay north at the outflow channel. Off Baiter there were 2 distant Great Northern Diver and a Guillemot. At Shore Road, Sandbanks there were 129 Bar-tailed Godwit on the low tide including the returning summer plumaged bird which has been arriving in Poole Harbour in this plumage for many years now. 

Bar-tailed Godwits – Shore Road, Sandbanks – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – Posted 17/01/16

Posted on: January 19th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was always on the cards, but I was expecting our ‘break in the weather’ to last a bit longer than just a day, but as we looked out of the window this morning it was situation normal with wind and rain back on the agenda! However, all was not lost as it was the Poole Harbour WeBS count (Wetland Bird Survey) today and the recent cold snap showed signs that there may have been a bit of an arrival of wildfowl into the harbour. Holes Bay north held a minimum of 2000 birds with 2 Spotted Redshank, 550+ Dunlin, 120+ Avocet, 180+ Redshank, 140+ Black-tailed Godwit, 450+ Wigeon, 400+ Teal and 8 Pintail. There was also a report of a Great White Egret near the railway bridge in Holes Bay north and a Kingfisher there too.  There seem to be several Blackcaps now entering people gardens feeding on fat blocks around the harbour with birds in Upton, Poole, Creekmoor and Hamworthy. WeBS count totals from the southern shores of Poole Harbour produced roughly 3000 birds with 744 Brent Geese in the mouth of the Wytch Channel, 77 Grey Plover, 271 Avocet, 3 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank, 227 Shelduck, 42 Red-breasted Merganser and reasonable numbers of common wader. The 2 Firecrest at Norden Sewage works were still showing brilliantly next to the fence and another was in a Wareham garden mid-morning. From Brands Bay there was 1 Spoonbill, 1 Great Northern Diver. The Brownsea Lagoon was tough going on the low tide with 232 Shoveler Duck, 4 Spoonbill, 1 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Bay a ringtail Hen Harrier was present again, with 176 Avocet out on the mud, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Water Pipit and 7 Scandinavian Rock Pipit. From the Raptor Hide at Arne there were 2 Marsh Harrier at dusk with1 Barn Owl.

Harbour Update – Posted 16/01/16

Posted on: January 17th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today we led our monthly field trip at Swineham with the hope of witnessing a perfect Poole Harbour sunrise. When the walk was first advertised a few months ago we’d seen nothing but wind and rain for quite some time, so the title of the walk ‘sunrise at Swineham’ was quite tongue in cheek. However we did experience one of the most spectacular sunrises so far this winter with a ground frost and still calm conditions to boot. Highlights included 3-4 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 2-3 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, several Cetti’s Warbler calling, 2 Chiffchaff, c20 Shoveler, c10 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 3-4 Kingfisher, c20 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare and several Reed Bunting. At Norden Sewage Works the 2 Firecrest were still showing brilliantly next to the fence. Out in the Wareham Channel there was 1 Great Northern Diver, 14 Goldeneye, 1 Sandwich Tern and 2 Woodcock were seen at Holton Lee the night before. At Lytchett Bay 8 Egyptian Geese flew overhead towards the Wareham Channel (still surprisingly scarce here) and a ringtail Hen Harrier hunted out over the fields. There was also a remarkable find at Arne of what is almost certainly a Great White Egret skull, down near the Shipstal Hide. This may sound bizarre (which it is), but this coincides with a report of a sickly looking Great White Egret down in that area back in October last year, when a group from a guided walk were able to approach a GWE at quite close quarters as it just stood on the footpath looking back at them. The Brownsea Lagoon was counted and totals included 22 Knot, 10 Spotted Redshank, 2 Lapwing, 80 Grey Plover, 70 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Turnstone, 5 Greenshank, 600 Dunlin and 2 Kingfisher. There were also 2 Firecrest near the Villa on Brownsea with 24 Siskin and a pair of Bullfinch. From the Pottery Pier end of Brownsea looking west there were 7 Black-necked Grebe, the 1st winter drake Eider, 17 Spoonbill at Arne, 4 Great Northern Diver and 1 Razorbill near Castle Quay. In Holes Bay north 2-Spotted Redshank were feeing in the outflow channel and 8 Spoonbill came in to feed there too. 

Presumed Great White Egret skull – Found at Shipstal, Arne – Joe Stockwell

Harbour Update – Posted 15/01/16

Posted on: January 16th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A few more sightings today which included a ringtail Hen Harrier over Giggers Island in the Wareham Channel with 4-5 Marsh Harrier in the area too, also 8 Spoonbill feeding out in the Channel and good numbers of common waders. In Holes Bay NE a Spoonbill was feeding in the outflow channel at low tide with a Spotted Redshank. In Middlebere there were 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine and a singing Dartford Warbler. At Arne a male Hen Harrier was seen, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 2 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver were off Shipstal Point and there were 29 Spoonbill asleep. Avocet were in plentiful supply at both Middlebere and Shipstal. There were 2 Firecrest, 4 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff at Norden Sewage Works and a Merlin along Soldiers Road.

Harbour Update – Posted 14/01/16

Posted on: January 16th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Not much to report from today other than only two Hen Harrier went into roost in the west of the harbour and 4-5 Marsh Harrier. So here are a selection of photos from the last few days to make up for the lack of sightings…

Wigeon – Holes Bay – Keith Rawling


Turnstone – Baiter Park Keith Rawling


Great Crested Grebe – baiter Park – Keith Rawling


Great Northern Diver – Baiter Park – Keith Rawling



Harbour Update – Posted 13/01/16

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was the third and final day of our Dorset Discovery Wildlife Tour, and what a day. With a visit to Brownsea, a harbour tour and a scout about the Studland Peninsular we were on to a good thing…and the harbour didn’t disappoint. Off Middle Beach at dawn there were 7 Black-necked Grebe, 4 Common Scoter and a single Great Northern Diver. From the Chain Ferry a single Sandwich Tern passed by. Brownsea Lagoon was looking amazing with a single Spoonbill, 1 female Merlin, 7 Spotted Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 6 Turnstone, 1 Snipe plus good counts of Dunlin, Grey Plover, Knot, Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and what seemed like hundreds of Red Squirrels. There were also 2 Firecrest near the Villa on Brownsea. Out on the water the Black Guillemot showed brilliantly off the SE corner of Brownsea, as did 7 Great Northern Diver. There was a first-winter male Eider off the west end of Brownsea with a Black-necked Grebe. On Shell Beach 22 Sanderling were counted and at Norden Sewage Works there was a single Chiffchaff and Firecrest.

Harbour Update – Posted 12/01/16

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

After a perfect still day and evening last night, the icy wind kicked in out of nowhere today putting a rather uncomfortable chill on the days birding attempts. Out on the Moors, Marsh Harriers became active just after sunrise and a surprise Crossbill passed overhead and at dusk a ringtail Hen Harrier passed by and 1 Woodcock and 1 Snipe flew out at dusk to go and feed. In Middlebere there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, c50 Avocet, 25 Lapwing, c200 Dunlin, 800 Brent Geese, 1 Little Grebe and several Curlew. At Hatch Pond there were 60+ Common Snipe in the cut reedbed. On Lytchett Pools there was a single Green Sandpiper and a Bullfinch. The Baiter Great Northern Diver was still present with 6 Goldeneye off shore. At Arne, 30+ Spoonbill were roosting off Shipstal with 26 Pintail and 25 Avocet. The redhead Smew was again in Holes Bay south and 2 Bearded Tit were in the reedbedwith the long boardwalk through it. 

Harbour Update – Posted 11/01/16

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was the first day of our Dorset Discovery wildlife tour, in partnership with the Dorset RSPB Team. This is an event we started in January 2015 and was set up to showcase the best Dorset has to offer. Each year we host a three day winter, spring, summer and autumn tour with Poole Harbour at the very center of our expeditions. A full write up for our Winter 2016 tour will be available soon but highlights today from Arne included 2 Marsh Harrier in Middlebere, 3 Dartford Warbler on Coombe Heath, c200 Avocet in Middlebere, 1 Great Northern Diver off Shipstal, 1 Peregrine over Wytch Lake, Water Rails from the Raptor Hide and a nice mix of woodland species. Elsewhere 6 Great Northern Diver flew in to the harbour mouth at dawn with 1 Red-throated Diver, 86 Shag, 6 Red-breasted Merganser and a single Great Crested Grebe. There was also a single Purple Sandpiper on the Sandbanks groynes. There was a great find of a Great Grey Shrike on Upton Heath, just south of the Urban Wildlife center. Out on Arne moors there was a Short-eared Owl and several Marsh Harrier. The Baiter Great Northern Diver has now given up completely being scared of humans or dogs and can now be seen swimming and feeding quite happily in between ball chewing Spaniels and Labradors! Finally at Creekmoor Ponds a Firecrest was in the holly at Northmead Drive. 

Harbour Update – Posted 10/01/16

Posted on: January 10th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was one of those classic winter days in the harbour. There seemed to be plenty of birders and birds about which included of 85 happy campers on one the National Trust/RSPB Poole Harbour Bird Boats, of which we were doing the commentary on.  In total 65 species were seen, with the full list viewable HERE. However, there were plenty of highlights to talk about. Firstly, the harbour record for Great Northern Diver was broken with a minimum of 16 counted  between Poole Quay and Brands Bay. As only around 70% of the harbour was covered today, it’s quite feasible that there were up to twenty within the harbour today, not to mention birds seen in the outer bays.  The tame Baiter bird even had the courtesy to come and swim along to Poole Quay just as everyone was boarding. A Red-throated Diver also gave great views off the end of Goathorn Point. The Black Guillemot was again showing nicely off the Brownsea SE corner. Spoonbill were on Brownsea (2) and Shipstal, Arne (30+). A Common Scoter was off the Brownsea north shore and three Black-necked Grebe off the southern shore. Peregrines were seen on Brownsea and out in central harbour. The Brownsea Lagoon was looking superb with 743 Black-tailed Godwit, 97 Bar-tailed Godwit, 182 Grey Plover, 341 Avocet and 253 Shoveler, not to mention the Knot, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank. Out in central harbour there were 3 Sandwich Tern, plenty of Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe.  At Arne, the Great White Egret performed well all morning in Middlebere and a drake Goosander was reported at the top of Middlebere. There were 3 different ringtail Hen Harrier at dusk with two females and a young male and between 6-7 Marsh Harrier went into roost. No Short-eared Owls have been seen in and around the Arne/Slepe area for over a week now, which is a shame. The Smew was again in Holes Bay south and a Merlin was at Lytchett Fields. 

Great Northern Diver – Poole Quay – 10/01/16

Harbour Update – Posted 09/01/16

Posted on: January 10th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The Smew was in Holes Bay south today, but no sign of the Scaup. There was also a dead Redshank on the cycle path at Holes Bay and 100 Redwing at Upton CP.  A male Dartford Warbler was noted along the cycle path at Holes Bay near the first outflow channel and several Pintail were present. At Shell Bay, Studland there were 2 Great Northern Diver, 23 Sanderling, lots of Med Gulls, 1 Black-necked Grebe and a Lesser Redpoll. There were 3 Purple Sandpiper at South Haven with 6+ Ringed Plover and a few Dunlin. From Middle Beach there were 4 Common Scoter and 3 Great Northern Diver with another 3 Great Northern Diver out in South Deep. Out in the Wareham Channel, viewed from Holton Lee was 1 Razorbill, 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Goldeneye, 6 Great Crested Grebe and 8 Red-breasted Merganser

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