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 March, 2016

Harbour Update – posted 30/03/16

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The fine spring weather encouraged a few spring migrants to drop into the harbour today including a good arrival of Chiffchaff right the way around the harbour with a minimum of 10 at Holton Lee, 16+ at Lytchett Fields, 10+ at the PC World Drain, 5+ South Haven and double figures along the Arne Road. Several more Willow Warbler dropped in too with 2 at the PC World Drain, 4 at South Haven and 1 at Middlebere. At Lytchett Fields there were up to 11 Water Pipit, 2 singing Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Swallow through. Also at South Haven a Firecrest was present and 4 Redpoll passed over. Out in Bramble Bush Bay 1 Great Northern Diver, and 2 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe were still present. Someone also reported Blackbird chicks had hatched in a garden in Wareham. 

Wheatear – Holton Lee



Willow Warbler – PC World Drain


Harbour Update – posted 29/03/16

Posted on: March 30th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Sunshine and shows forced down a few more migrants today including the Harbours first 2 Willow Warblers at Middlebere. Also at Middlebere 1 Swallow, 4 Chiffchaff, 6 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 pair of Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Stonechat. Over Poole Park boating lake 40 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow were feeding. On Brownsea there was a single Spoonbill, 1 Wheatear, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 12 Avocet and several Med Gulls.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – Holton Lee



Siskin – Arne RSPB Reserve



Mistle Thrush – Holton Lee

Harbour Update – posted 28/03/16

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

Storm Katie was causing havoc last night, smashing up most things that seemed to get in her way. A slightly annoying state of affairs seeming as we thought we were well past this grotty weather and on the right track for balmy spring days and masses of migrants. It is still only March we have to keep reminding ourselves and have the real bounty of April and May to look forward to yet so we won’t lose too much sleep (unlike last night)! A few hardy migrants made it through with a House Martin passing over Holton Lee and Lytchett Fields early doors, however a huge high tide flooded almost the entire Lytchett Fields site, forcing most waders and all Water Pipits off, leaving space for only 80+ Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Gadwall, lots of Teal and Shelduck and a handful of Common Redshank. At Holton Lee there were numerous Chiffchaff singing and 2 Woodlark were seen. In Middlebere there were 5 1st summer Spoonbill including a Dutch colour-ringed bird. At Arne the incredibly tame and wonderfully numerous Siskin on the feeders are enough to keep anyone entertained, especially the bright green males. Also at Arne 2 Crossbill were reported and several Chiffchaff were singing. From Middle Beach, Studland there were 4 Great Northern Diver, 4 Common Scoter and a single Black-necked Grebe. In Middlebere there were 6 Spoonbill. 

We’re hoping to get our sound recording gear back out on our listening station in Old Town Poole again on Wednesday night, and with all this bad weather potentially holding things up, it could be a good session. We’ve also had some feedback from Magnus Robb at the Sound Approach who has kindly ID’d some recordings from a couple of weeks ago for us. As you can probably imagine, it’s a bit of a minefield when analysing a nights recording with some sounds you recognise right away, and others that literally leave you scratching your head for days, needing a bit of time (and expert knowledge) to work out. Magnus has shed some light on a couple of interesting recordings made back on the 21st and 23rd of March. These include our second Golden Plover of 2016, confirmation of Common Scoter calling over urban Poole and best of all…Woodcock passing over, performing a version of its high-pitched squeak flight type call. Utterly amazing!

Golden Plover – Golden Plover – Call of a night time migrant over Old Town Poole Listening Station – 21/03/16, 00:38


Common Scoter – Common Scoter – Calls of a night time migrant, Old Town Poole Listening Station – 23/03/16, 23:33


Woodcock – Woodcock – Calls of night time migrant, Old Town Poole Listening Station – 23/03/16, 19:30


Harbour Update – posted 27/03/16

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

We take back yesterdays comments regarding tough birding days…it should be written that TODAY was actually the toughest of birding days with the highlights consisting of a single Sand Martin and a Green Sandpiper at Holton Lee reported to us. That was it! 

So, to divert your interests we’ve been working with the Poole Harbour Study Group who have kindly donated several semi-recent reports/surveys, which focus on bird populations within Poole Harbour. These can now be found on our surveys page and can be used as reference material. In total there are 6 donated from the PHSG and 1 from the RSPB. We’d like to extend our thanks to both the PHSG and RSPB for these welcome additions to our BoPH survey archive.

The title of the surveys are…

 Wader and Waterfowl Roost Survey Of Poole Harbour 2002/03

Numbers And Distribution Of Black-necked Grebe And Other Waterbirds at Studland, Dorset 2005/06

Important Breeding Birds Of Poole Harbour 2004 . Part 1 Water Rail. Part 2 Redshank

Important Birds Of Poole Harbour And Their Status 1998/99 – 2004/05

Important Birds Of Poole Harbour 2002

Bird Invertebrate Prey Availability In Poole Harbour 2004

Poole Harbour Breeding Redshank Survey 2014

Harbour Update – posted 26/03/16

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

If you looked up the definition ‘tough birding day’ in the birding bible then today would have surely been the written description. Wind and yuk conditions did nothing to aid anyone who was hoping to get out in search of spring migrants and that included us on our monthly field trip to the Sunnyside Farm and Soldiers Road area. The best we could muster were 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Woodlark which thankfully gave great views feeding just meters away from us. Realising we weren’t going to see much more we headed for Arne and a quick loop around Coombe Heath where 6 Spoonbill and a flyby Wheatear brightened things up slightly. A nice find of 6 Brambling feeding in a Chaffinch flock in Wytch Farm Wood, Rempstone was welcomed, although this is private land. Best of the rest was 1 Sand Martin at Lytchett Fields and 18 Sanderling on Shell Beach, Studland. 

Sanderling – Shell Beach, Studland – Denise Davis



Little Egret – Holes Bay – Jaqui Taylor


Harbour Update – posted 25/03/16

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

A busy day today with plenty about. Starting Knoll Beach, Studland where out off the beach 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-necked Grebe and 8 Red-breasted Merganser were bobbing about out in the sun. On the heathland there a Woodcock dashed by, 2 Peregrine were circling high and plenty of Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were active. Out around Lytchett Fields the areas first Wheatear was on the newly ploughed field and a Little Ringed Plover was out on Sherford Pools. There were another 2 Little Ringed Plover in the lower Frome Valley near Swineham on a muddy pool. A Red Kite drifted over Arne around 2pm. There was promising news regarding Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers that a pair have been seen actively nest building and displaying which is great news. At Greenlands Farm, Studland there were 10 Wheatear and a single Sand Martin. At Swineham there were 2 Bearded Tit, 5 Chiffchaff and 7 Med Gulls. Finally there were 2 Spoonbill in Middlebere. 

Little Ringed Plovers – Near Swineham – Paul Morton



Meadow Pipit and Stonechat – Slepe Heath – Paul Morton


Reed Bunting – Slepe Heath – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 24/03/16

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

The harbours first Osprey of the spring drifted over Middlebere around 4pm before dropping down into the harbour area somewhere. Will it stick around? Who knows but hopefully it’s the first of several. Out on Lytchett Fields there were 3 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank with singles of Marsh Harrier, Water Pipit, Swallow and Sand Martin with another 2 Swallow dashing through Strete in Poole and 4 more over Hartland. There was reports of a fall of Chiffchaff around the Studland area mid afternoon, prior to the wind and rain kicking in. Night recording from our listening station from Old Town Poole produced 159 Redwing calls, 4 Song Thrush calls, 1 Fieldfare and a Chaffinch.

Harbour Update – posted 23/03/16

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

Today was a pretty quiet day with not much to report other than 2 Firecrest in Stoborough and a very quiet night recording session with just 32 Redwing calls, 1 Blackbird and 2 Curlew.

Harbour Update – posted 22/03/16

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

The Harbours first Swallow of the spring dashed through Poole over the office roofs as we were setting up our sound recording gear. With Chiffchaff now beginning to come through in small waves, they can now be heard from various hedgerows and woodlands. An interesting looking tristis type Chiffchaff was found at Lytchett Fields early morning giving small bouts of song as it was feeding. A Stonechat along Holes Bay suggested it was a new arrival too. It was nice to see Brownsea get a good grilling today too with 12 Meds, 4 Sandwich Tern, 2 Snipe, 10 Knot, 5 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 16 Grey Plover, 50 Black-tailed Godwit18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Curlew, 60 Avocet, 15 Gadwall, 20 Shoveler, 7 Brent Geese and 238 Shelduck all on the lagoon. Away from the lagoon 3 separate singing Firecrest were found, along with 2 singing Chiffchaff and a fly over Brambling. From the western shoreline of Brownsea a tight flock of 58 Great Crested Grebe were out in central harbour with 2 Common Scoter and 20 Red-breasted Merganser. At Norden Sewage Works a Firecrest was back again next to the filter beds and in Middlebere 7 Spoonbill were roosting. From Knoll Beach, Studland a single Black-necked Grebe and 3 Common Scoter were counted.

Our night recording session was a little more productive Monday night going into Tuesday with the highlights consisting of…

Redwing calls – 284

Song Thrush calls – 5

Blackbird calls – 10

Skylark – 1

Teal – 4

Wigeon flock – 1

Redshank – 2

Curlew 4

Moorhen – 1

Skylark – Skylark – Call of a night time migrant – Old Town Poole Listening Station


Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam



One of yesterdays Little Ringed Plover – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam



Firecrest – Norden Sewage Works – Clive Hargrave


Harbour Update – posted 21/03/16

Posted on: March 22nd, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Spring stepped up a gear this morning with 2 Little Ringed Plover found out on Lytchett Fields. Up on Coombe Heath, Arne 5+ Wheatear were also hopping along the sand tracks and at Swineham GP at least 10 Sand Martin were feeding out over the main lake. A Goshawk was reported circling high above Arne Farm by one of the Arne staff, a real Poole Harbour rarity. Out in Middlebere 5 Spoonbill were roosting and in the Arne car park 2 Firecrest were still present. At the PC World drain a few more Chiffchaff were present than usual and a Spotted Redshank was at the mouth of the channel in Holes Bay North.

Having now gone through our recordings from Sunday night into Monday, it was evident another pulse of Redwing were on the move with 384 calls recorded. Interestingly most came in the early hours with only 84 before midnight, but 300 after, possibly suggesting they had come from further afield. Other than the Redwing, not much else was on the move with just 7 Song Thrush calls, 21 Blackbird calls, 1 Dunlin and a couple of ‘unknowns’ that we’ll look into. 


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