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 February, 2016

Harbour Update – posted 28/02/16

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

Another fairly quiet day with 2 female Goldeneye, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Pintail and 2 Spotted Redshank in Holes Bay. At Lytchett Bay 2 Spoonbill were feeding and on the pools field 8 Water Pipit remained with a Firecrest in bushes next to the Waterworks. The diminishing flock of Spoonbill (now only 8 birds it seems) were on Shipstal briefly before the low tide. Interestingly, one (which has been several times over the last few days) is almost in full adult breeding plumage, with a fine crest and bright yellow throat and dark black bill. It will most likely move off soon, but worth watching out for if viewing any of the Poole Harbour Spoonbills over the coming weeks. 

Harbour Update – posted 27/02/16

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

They’re coming! A Little Ringed Plover was found up in the Midlands today providing us with a taste of things to come. Although not quite there yet, March tends to provide the first flurry of summer migrants with species such as Little Ringed Plover, Sand Martin, Ring Ouzel, Chiffchaff and Wheatear all appearing first before the next big wave of arrives throughout April. Certainly from mid-March onwards keep an eye out for all the species mentioned above in suitable habitats. Lytchett Fields will most likely host the first Little Ringed Plover, whilst places such as Greenland’s Farm, Hartland Moor, Holton Lee fields and the Holes Bay/Baiter shorelines could all see Wheatear over the coming 4 weeks. Chiffchaff can literally turn up anywhere, Sand Martins will arrive and start feeding over open bodies of fresh water such as Poole Park lakes and Swineham Gravel Pits, whilst the secretive Ring Ouzel may be found at places such as Hartland Stud, Challow Hill, Corfe or on the short open pasture along Soldiers Road. Basically…keep your eyes peeled everywhere as we’re now entering the beginning of the exciting spring migration season.

Sightings from today are a bit thin on the ground (all the more reason for spring to roll on) with just the 10 Water Pipit and a Merlin reported from Lytchett Fields. As the Avon Valley in the east is currently drying up we’ve seen an increase in Black-tailed Godwits arriving back onto the Brownsea Lagoon and a ringed Herring Gull (F-161) that was seen at Hamworthy Beach in the morning has been traced back to Flat Holm Island, Cardiff. It was ringed as a chick on the 5th July 2014.

Herring Gull – Hamworthy Beach – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 26/02/16

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

Much of the same today, although we were able to get a sound recording of the Redwing flock at Holton Lee early morning. The recording consists of a flock of around 100 birds carrying out ‘Community Song’ which is comprised of a whole host of sounds including song, contact call, social calls, flight calls and general chatter. It’s a sound you’ll only ever really hear in Dorset late in Feb or early March before the Redwing move off, but when you come across it, the sound really hits you. You can even hear the moment when a raptor (possibly a Sparrowhawk or Buzzard) fly’s over and the whole flock respond by going silent. Other species that carry out this Community Song this time of year include Siskin and Starling. Also at Holton Lee 2 Woodlark and again plenty of Siskin around. Spoonbills were at Arne and Lytchett Bay with 2 Marsh Harrier also at Lytchett Bay.

Redwing – Community Song – Holton Lee 26/02/16

Harbour Update – posted 25/02/16

Posted on: February 26th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A (or the) redhead Smew was seen off Knoll Beach, Studland, feeding 30m just off the beach. Smew in this area of the harbour are extremely rare, perhaps one final feed before heading off back home? There were also 2 Black Redstart reported between the Banks Arms and Old Harry, Studland. At Baiter late afternoon the Med Gull numbers were again fairy large with 100+ scattered along the shoreline and settled on the water. 

Harbour Update – posted 24/02/16

Posted on: February 26th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was another beautiful early spring day and news was received that there is now 4 Hen Harrier in the harbour with 2 ringtails, 1 juvenile female and a grey male present around the mouth of the Wareham Channel and Hartland area late afternoon. There haven’t been many reports of the grey male from around the harbour its self, so when news was received that one had been seen hunting at Morden Bog on Monday it could be that he is deciding to hunt inland rather that around the harbour fringes. A female Merlin was also on Hartland mid-morning. From Baiter late evening, the low tide saw a mass of gulls again with Med Gull present almost every 10 meters along the shoreline, and constantly calling. The low tides and calm waters make it really easy to look for open water species and its evident that there are still plenty of Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe about but not so many Goldeneye. There were 2 Sandwich Tern again at Baiter too. At PCW the Chiffchaff are still enjoying the sun with several in song again. In Old Town Poole a female type Black Redstart was on the roof of Pizza Express and a night recording session from Old Town Poole picked up a flock of Redwing migrating back to their breeding grounds around midnight. At Shell Bay there were 22 Sanderling along the beach. 

Harbour Update – posted 23/02/16

Posted on: February 24th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was a beautiful day today, with plenty of opportunity for some scenic photography. Calm waters and golden sunshine made everything seem very spring like and the birds certainly thought so too. At Holton Lee four species of thrush were in full voice as Blackbird, Song and Mistle Thrush belted out their familiar repertoires, as a flock of 50+ Redwing took it in turns to test out their voices out in unfamiliar surroundings. At Holton Lee Woodlark were back on territory and male Reed Buntings were also singing from the reedbeds, some in their summer finery. At Baiter late afternoon, Med Gulls were everywhere and 2 Sandwich Tern were feeding along the shore. Bar-tailed Godwit could be seen feeding over towards Sandbanks. At PCW a few of the over-wintering Chiffchaff were singing away and a Kingfisher dashed by. At Sandford Heath, 2 Woodlark were also singing and several Dartford Warbler were active. At RSPB Lytchett Fields a Merlin, Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank and an Avocet were the best of the bunch. 

Sunset over the Frome Valley – Paul Morton



Sunset over Hamworthy Beach – Michelle Collier



Grey Heron flock – Wareham Channel – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 22/02/16

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

Today was our last school bird boat of the winter and we welcomed special guests Chris Packham and Lucy McRobert from the AFON group on board as we made our way around what was initially a yucky wet trip, but it soon cleared we were treated to calm waters and a good number of birds. There are still a minimum of 4 Great Northern Diver in the harbour and the 10 Spoonbill were again on Shipstal. An evening watch from the harbour mouth during the low tide saw a huge number of birds taking advantage of the exposed sand bars and shingle banks. Although the majority of birds were made up of Herring and Common Gull, there was also a great mix of other species including 4 Common Scoter in Studland Bay, 9 Black-necked Grebe in and around the harbour mouth, 3 Great Northern Diver in South Deep, 1 Spoonbill in Brands Bay, 11 Ringed Plover in Bramble Bush Bay, 15+ Sanderling on Shell Beach, 1 Sandwich Tern through the harbour mouth, 52 Red-breasted Merganser dotted around, 24 Great Crested Grebe, 300+ Brent Geese, 8 Goldeneye, 1 Rock Pipit, 4 Med Gulls and 4 Turnstone. At Lytchett Pools there were a whopping 10 Water Pipit and 8 Scandinavian Rock Pipit with another 2 Water Pipit near French’s Pools. There were 8 Med Gulls dotted around the Lytchett Fields site and 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Marsh Harrier were also recorded. 

School Bird Boat with Chris Packham



School Bird Boat with Chris Packham

Harbour Update – posted 21/02/16

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

Today was the Poole Harbour WeBS and despite the wind a great variety of birds were counted. Highlight was a 1st winter Iceland Gull that landed on Brownsea as the gull roost assembled. Unfortunately a Buzzard passed over and flushed it before we could get it on the camera. Also on the lagoon were just 1 Spoonbill and a Spotted Redshank. In Holes Bay, the Smew was again just south of the railway line with 3 Goldeneye, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 21 Avocet, 1 Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Med Gull. Out in the Wareham Channel 7 Spoonbill were feeding, also 15 Grey Heron out on the mud, also 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and 2 Marsh Harrier seen. At Swineham a female Goldeneye was on the pits and 350 Lapwing and a single Spotted Redshank were in in the mouth of the River Piddle. Lytchett Bay saw 1 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank and 1 Marsh Harrier. The Great White Egret made a reappearance at Littlesea, Studland and out in Brands Bay there were 2 Spoonbill, 5 Greenshank, 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, a few (almost) summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe and a single Red-necked Grebe. On Lytchett Pools a nice selection of Pipits included 3 Water Pipit, several Rock Pipit (1 presumed littoralis) and a few Meadow Pipit offering good comparison opportunities.

Water Pipit – Lytchett Pools – Peter Moore



Rock Pipit – Lytchett Pools – Peter Moore



Meadow Pipit – Lytchett Pools – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – posted 20/02/16

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

Today was our third and final Family Bird Boat of the winter, which has seen us run three free trips for families to get out and enjoy their local environment together. Over the three trips we’ve taken out around 225 people and have been able to show them some great wildlife spectacles. Todays was no different and although its obvious that a fair number od waders and wildfowl have moved off already for the spring, there was still plenty to keep everyone entertained on a blustery Saturday morning. Highlights included 3 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 10 Spoonbill, 1 Guillemot, 80+ Red-breasted Merganser, 15+ Goldeneye, 1 Sandwich Tern, 5 Med Gulls, c50 Avocet, c20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Yellow-legged Gull and a small mixed flock of Dunlin, Grey Plover and Knot.  AT Lytchett Fields there were 7 Water Pipit back on the Pools Field with 1 Rock Pipit and 43 Redwing, also 3 Sandwich Tern out in the Bay with 271 Dunlin. At Holton Lee 7 Green Sandpiper were on Holton Pools, a really great winter count.

Many thanks to local wildlife photographer Peter Moore who accompanied us on our Bird Boat today and has provided a wonderful set of photos for us to show you.


Bar-tailed Godwits – Shore Road – Peter Moore 



Great Northen Diver – Central Harbour – Peter Moore


Goldeneye – Central Harbour – Peter Moore


Red-breasted Merganser – Central Harbour – Peter Moore


Red-breasted Merganser – Central Harbour – Peter Moore


Shag – Central Harbour – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – posted 19/02/16

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

Fairly quiet today with only 1 Guillemot, 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sandwich Tern and 5 Turnstone reported off Baiter. In Poole Park there were 5 Goldeneye still displaying. A Firecrest was in Upton CP.


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