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 18/02/16

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

Spring like sums up today and very pleasant it was too, warm, dry and hopefully a sign of things to come. The Black Guillemot was again viewable from the mainland, out towards the Brownsea SE shore. At North Haven, Sandbanks 4 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes around the corner from the Haven Hotel. A raptor watch from Soldiers Road saw plenty enjoying the sun, mainly Buzzard with 20+ noted also 2 Kestrel, 1 Merlin on Hartland, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 4 Marsh Harrier and a ringtail Hen Harrier flew along Arne Moors. In Holes Bay a single Spotted Redshank was seen along with the over-wintering Common Sandpiper and at least 2 Firecrest were at Norden Sewage Works still. At Arne a decent flock of 15+ Siskin are coming to the feeders and singing quite happily in the sunshine. The 15 Spoonbill are still off Shipstal Point, Arne. 

Purple Sandpiper – Sandbanks – Ian Ballam



Rock Pipit – Sandbanks – Ian Ballam



Long-tailed Tit – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

harbour Update – posted 17/02/16

Posted on: February 18th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A ringtail Hen Harrier was hunting over the reedbed’s of Lytchett Heath, Lytchett Bay early morning. A Woodcock ringing session between Holton Lee and Lytchett Bay saw six birds seen and 2 ringed. A Ringed Plover calling over Lytchett Bay was a notable winter record. Other than that, all the usual’s were holding strong with Firecrests at Norden, Spoonbills at Arne, 1-2 Spotted Redshank in Holes Bay and Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel. Come on spring migrants hurry up…it’s all getting a bit samey! 

Spotted Redshank – Holes Bay – Jaqui Taylor



Red-breasted Merganser and Common Gull – Moriconium Quay – Michelle Collier



Starlings – Holton Lee – Paul Morton


Harbour Update – posted 16/02/16

Posted on: February 18th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Firstly, the 2015 Lytchett Bay report is now available to read via our survey page. Follow the link below and scroll to the very bottom of that page, this is where you’ll be able to download the new report. Shaun Robson has done another exceptional job in interpreting the data from what was another record-breaking year for the site in terms of numbers of species seen and total bird days for some pretty exceptional species. The site seems to be going from strength to strength and with spring just around the corner who knows what will turn up at Lytchett Bay this year – http://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/poole-harbour-surveys

Bird wise, there’s not much change and in fact there seems to be quite a decline in the numbers of waders and wildfowl over the last week with birds moving off already. In Holes Bay the Smew was still there with 2 Goldeneye. At Lytchett Bay there was a Firecrest near Beech Road. Out in Lytchett Bay a Spoonbill was on the point of Otter Island and 7 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Gadwall were on the water. A Red Kite passing over Sandy Lane, Upton was a sign spring is on its way and the 2 Firecrest were still at Norden Sewage Works. A Hen Harrier was seen in Middlebere and 3-4 Marsh Harrier were around the Wareham Channel. 

Little Egrets in tree – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam


Med Gull on Ice – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 15/02/16

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

We’ll start off with some non-birdy news which is that a Seal pup was photographed on Studland beach yesterday, it seemed very obliging apparently! Although we regularly see Common Seals in and around the Shipstal area, we’ve never seen a young pup before. Holes Bay was again looking great early morning on the low tide with 1 Spotted Redshank by the outflow, 64 Avocet, 200+ Dunlin and 100+ Black-tailed Godwit very close to the cycle paths. In the PCW Drain a ringed Firecrest was seen and 3 Chiffchaff. A female type Black Redstart was photographed in a back garden in central Oakdale, feeding on mealworms. In Lytchett Bay, raptors consisted of 1 each of Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel with a Spotted Redshank off the Black Pipe. A Woodcock was caught by Stour Ringing Group on Sunday night at Sunnyside Farm that had first been ringed by the group at the same location on 30/11/13. There were another 2 Woodcock seen on Lytchett Fields too. At Swineham Point, 3 Jack Snipe were flushed along the footpath.

Harbour Update – posted 14/02/16

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

A fairly standard affair with the usual’s still clinging on. Firecrest were still at Norden Sewage Works (2), with another 2 in the Arne car park and one in a garden in Wareham. The Smew was still in Holes Bay south/north. Out on Lytchett Fields there were 2 Avocet, 1 Greenshank, 28 Lapwing, 3 Snipe, 1 Kestrel and 1 Buzzard. 14 Spoonbill were out on Shipstal and a grey male Hen Harrier and 2 ringtail were around the Slepe Heath/Hartland area however one ringtail gained great height (6-700m or so) before it turned into a speck of dust and then vanished! An evacuee saying goodbye? There are still several Marsh Harrier about too around the Wareham Channel area. 

Harbour Update – Posted 13/02/16

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

The day started off cold and icy with our February field trip, which we’ll mention in a minute, but we were soon warmed up to boiling point when news came in late afternoon that a potential White-tailed Eagle had passed over Poole Harbour at 11am on Wednesday morning. A local observer was working over at Parkstone Yacht Club when he noticed ‘a huge, slow flapping, wide winged’ bird fly over from over Brownsea towards Whitecliffe. The observer stated….

On Wed at 11am (ish) I saw huge, slow flapping, wide winged bird, rising, circling / drifting South, single bird high above the habour between Whitecliff & B’sea. Silhouetted. Had no binocs. For me it said Eagle.

I used the word “huge” because that was the first thing that caused a sharp intake of breath. Living in Bere Regis I’m accustomed to Buzzards, Ravens and it was clearly significantly bigger. Next, the flight was neither soaring nor steady, it was slow flapping, gliding a bit, flap a few times again. Generally circling and drifting slowly and without obvious purpose towards Brownsea from off Parkstone YC where I was working. Very broad wings were obvious and dominating and maybe raised a bit rather than flat during the gliding. It was almost difficult to see either head or tail, so dominant were the wings. That made me think for a minute of Vulture (which again I am very familiar with from Pyrenees and Andalucia.)

Now, this initial statement was made on Wednesday but unfortunately without a photo or any other observers it seemed this mystery bird would go unidentified. However, in Hampshire today, a White-tailed Eagle was seen heading north over Cliddesden mid morning. Although the two sightings could be completely un-related, the strength of the observers account over Poole Harbour on Wednesday strongly suggests it could have been the same bird. This is also not the first time this  situation has occurred in Poole Harbour when on May 9th 2008 a large Eagle species was seen flying over Hartland Moor (also thought to have been a White-tailed Eagle) being mobbed by Buzzards, whilst a first year WT Eagle had been over-wintering in Hants only a few weeks prior to the sighting.

Bird news from today included a good haul of sightings from our field trip around the bays of Studland despite the cold icy winds. Out in Brands Bay were 8 Black-necked Grebe, 10+ Pintail and 2 Great Crested Grebe. In Bramble Bush Bay 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Goldeneye, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone were counted with another 2 Great Northern Diver out in Studland Bay. At Norden Sewage Works a Firecrest was still present feeding on the filter beds with 2 Chiffchaff, 5+ Goldcrest and 1 Grey Wagtail. On a public bird boat the Black Guillemot was found nearer to the Sandbanks side and the Smew holds strong in Holes Bay. At dusk the Bittern was again seen flying over the Moors and a grey male Hen Harrier was seen at Hartland. 

harbour Update – Posted 12/02/16

Posted on: February 12th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Firstly, an interesting observation was made by SRG (Stour Ringing Group) this week when a control Chiffchaff was caught in the north of the harbour, which was first ringed on November 3rd 2015 in Southampton. This is interesting as it highlights the first proven winter movement for this species to Poole Harbour. We’re currently unaware of other documented winter movements of Chiffchaff from elsewhere in the country as typically birds seem to tend to arrive at an over-wintering site and remain for the duration of the winter. The date this bird was first ringed could suggest it was still on its autumn migration though as some Chiffchaff can still be seen migrating well in to late October. SRG also had a great control of an Oystercatcher first ringed on Brownsea on Oct 2nd 2011 and was seen in Leidschendam, The Netherlands on Feb 8th 2016.

Todays birds included the Barn Owl again at RSPB Lytchett Fields with 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 4 Med Gulls. There certainly seems to be a lot more Med Gull around now with good numbers coming into roost in the evenings and they’re generally a bit more obvious around the harbour fringes now. A single Spoonbill flew over Lytchett Bay and 15 were out on Shipstal. At Holton Lee, Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming rapidly this morning and a (relatively) large flock of c80 Redwing were on the Horse Fields. Out in the Wareham Channel, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Goldeneye and 1 Great Northern Diver seemed to form a loose roost at dusk and a Woodcock flew over the approach track. Siskins are very conspicuous at the moment with small groups and larger flocks feeding in numerous Alder trees, with behind PC World, Holton Lee and Poole Park being good places to look. A single possible northern race Long-tailed Tit passed through a garden in Stoborough mid-afternoon.

Harbour Update – Posted 11/02/16

Posted on: February 12th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We really hit the Jackpot today with sunshine and blue sky. As a result a nice selection of sightings came through. The best being a double owl encounter at RSPB Lytchett Fields when a Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl were flying around together in the approach field to the viewpoints, both real scarcities at this site, also there a Jack Snipe and good numbers of Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank and 3 Greenshank. The Smew was still in Holes Bay with a Knot (rare here), Common Sandpiper and Turnstone. The Black Guillemot was viewable from the mainland today due to the flat calm water, out off the corner of Brownsea. A Bittern flew across Arne Moors at dusk and 18 Spoonbill were out on Shipstal Point, Arne. 

Harbour Update – Posted 10/02/16

Posted on: February 11th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another fine sunny day (we could get used to this) obviously got a few birds moving about. There was a recent high of 7 Marsh Harrier in the west of the harbour early evening, including a newly arrived spanking adult male. There were also still 2 ringtail Hen Harrier in the same area as the Marsh Harrier. The Black Guillemot was tucked into the Brownsea shoreline mid-morning and still at least 5 Great Northern Diver around the Brownsea and the inner harbour. The 10-15 Spoonbill were again on Shipstal and the Smew was still in Holes Bay north/south. At PC World there were 2 Firecrest, 18 Chiffchaff, including a Siberian (tristis) type and c15 Siskin. A high tide count at RSPB Lytchett Fields saw a whopping 873 birds with highlights being 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 478 Lapwing, 300+ Dunlin, 1 Med Gull, 5 Greenshank and good numbers of other common waders and wildfowl. 

Harbour Update – posted 09/06/14

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

The storm blew its self out over night and gave way to calm seas and some warm sunshine by this morning.  A school bird boat trip produced the Black Guillemot off the Brownsea SE corner again in its usual spot, c10 Spoonbill on Shipstal Point, Arne, at least 5 Great Northern Diver around the Brownsea shoreline, 2 Black-necked Grebe out in between South Deep and Bramble Bush Bay, plenty of Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe, but what seemed like a decline in Goldeneye totals. Firecrests were in the Arne car park and at the PC World drain and the Smew was again in Holes Bay south/north. 

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