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 20/03/16

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

Today was a cold nippy day, but with the final Poole Harbour WeBS count it was certain a decent number of reports would come in. Spoonbill numbers seem to have risen with between 6-9 reported over the last couple of weeks, yet today there were 3 out in the Wareham Channel, another 3 in the mouth of Middlebere,  3 in Brands Bay, 6 on the southern shores and 2 in Newton Bay bring the total to 17. Perhaps some new arrivals in? Out in the Wareham Channel there was a rise of Black-tailed Godwit with 130 also a large group of 21 Gadwall feeding on the mud, also 2 Spotted Redshank and 29 Grey Plover. Off Shipstal Point a tight flock of 29 Great Crested Grebe associated with 4 Goldeneye and several Red-breasted Merganser. Along the Arne Road a group of 4 Woodlark were feeding close to the road edge. Out in Brands Bay over 800 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding which must surely indicate an arrival/passage too as number have been relatively low over the last few weeks. Also still good numbers of Pintail and Wigeon, 40+ Sanderling and 3 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe there too. In the southern Bays of the harbour 2500+ birds were counted with highlights being 6 Spoonbill, 11 Knot, 5 Spotted Redshank, 2 Common Scoter and 1 Black-necked Grebe. There were 2 Firecrest in the Arne car park again, 1 Merlin in Middlebere and 12 Sand Martin over Ham Common Lake.

We’ve set our sound recording gear up at our listening station again in Poole in the hope of picking up some migrants pass over the harbour. Thanks to Nick Hopper for providing us with an example of one of our target species to record, a Common Scoter which Nick recorded at night over Stoborough on the 31st March 2015. Not a species you’d expect to get fly over rural areas but its well documented that Common Scoter take inland ‘short cuts’ occasionally turning up on gravel pits and reservoirs in central Britain.

Common Scoter – Common Scoter – Stoborough 31/03/15 @ 22:28 – Nick Hopper

Harbour Update – posted 19/03/16

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

Some more signs of spring with 6 Sand Martin over Swineham GP and what was likely to be 2 Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields with 7 Water Pipit still on the pools field. Unfortunately they both flew before getting close enough to be able to ID. The 2 Firecrest were again in and around the Arne car park. A Black-necked Grebe was off Knoll Beach, Studland. Along Soldiers Road 3 Woodlark were feeding near to the roadside and several Chiffchaff were sing from sites around the harbour fringe. 

Harbour Update – posted 18/03/16

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

With a drop off in wind strength on Thursday night going into Friday it allowed a small passage of birds to pass over our listening station during the hours of darkness. There was a small increase in Redwing with 46 calls registered 6 Song Thrush calls, 4 Blackbird calls, 3 Curlew and 5 Oystercatcher. Although this isn’t the case most the time, we’ve noticed this last week that thrushes haven’t wanted to move into a direct headwind at all. Perhaps the wind strength was just a tad too much, whereas quite normally birds will migrate into the wind as it provides lift, and takes them further away from the centre of a weather system. There were 2 Firecrest in the Arne car park with loads of Siskin on the feeders there. Plus, the harbours first Wheatear of the spring was found down along Shipstal Beach. In Middlebere 4 Spoonbill were still present along with a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. Meadow Pipits were on the move all day, with flocks of 5-30 birds passing over in waves out over places like Coombe Heath and Slepe Heath.

Harbour Update – posted 17/03/16

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

Spring really arrived today with birds, bees and butterflies all out and about. The warmth that built throughout the day saw plenty of raptors take advantage of the thermals and start displaying again. It seemed everywhere you looked Buzzards were soaring then dropping out of the sky in their acrobatic, quite dramatic areal courtship. Kestrels were even getting involved with a group of 4 circling and interacting together high over Arne Moors. Early on saw a Great White Egret flying along with a group of 10 Little Egrets at Lytchett Fields with 8 Water Pipit still out on the pools Field and a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine overhead. In Middlebere there were 6 Spoonbill and a Spotted Redshank and there was still at least 1 Firecrest at the PC World drain. Night recording from our listening station in Old Town, Poole produced just 7 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush and 2 Oystercatcher

There is also just a couple of weeks left of our Logo Design Competition which anyone is welcome to get involved in. We’re looking for people to get creative and inspired to enter our competition which will see the winning design used as our official logo for the Birds of Poole Harbour charity. For full details CLICK HERE

Black-tailed Godwit – Holes Bay – Denise Davis



Great White Egret – Lytchett Fileds – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 16/03/16

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

This NE wind we’re experiencing still seems to keeping the birds at bay, still with no reports of many migrants in the harbour yet. Even our latest night sound recording session produced just 14 Redwing calls and nothing else. After an absence of several weeks the Great White Egret reappeared in Brands Bay mid morning. In Middlebere just 3 Spoonbill today and a ringtail Hen Harrier were seen from the hide. Out off Baiter 2 Great Northern Diver were feeding along with several Red-breasted Merganser. Some interesting additions from our night recording session on March 10th now include 1 Brambling and what we’re pretty sure is a Mandarin Duck! (Thanks Nick Hopper for the pointer)

Mandarin Duck – (Likely)Mandarin – Passing over Old Town Poole, Listening Station – 03:03 (10/03/16)

Harbour Update – posted 15/03/16

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

More sun, nippy wind and a few birds. A pair of Stonechat at Hatch Pond was a nice inner town unexpected find. In Middlebere 6 Spoonbill are still present along with 8 Grey Plover and 2 Spotted Redshank out on the mud. Around 200 Brent Geese remain on the fields around Middlebere and out on Hartland Skylark, Stonechat and Dartford were all active. Chiffchaffs were present and singing at the PC World Drain and Norden sewage works and an obvious pulse of Meadow Pipit were passing north throughout the morning. 

Harbour Update – posted 14/03/16

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

A glorious sun filled day, but still no sign of many spring migrants. At Lytchett Fields 6 Water Pipit remained with a Peregrine overhead, plus a falcon species wearing jessei’s, who’s ID we couldn’t figure out. At around midday a Red Kite passed over Agglestone Rock, Studland and off Studland beach, 2 Great Northern Diver were feeding with a single Black-necked Grebe and 16 Sanderling were on the beach with 9 later in Brands Bay. From the Chain Ferry 3 Sandwich Tern were counted and at North Haven 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the rocks. Some night monitoring from Lytchett Bay produced another Coot for the year (4 in total now). This species is considered a very scarce visitor to Lytchett Bay but it seems is a regular migrant over the bay during early spring. 

Firecrest – Poole Harbour North – Paul Morton

Chiffchaff – Poole Harbour North – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 13/03/16

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

Today saw the first real ‘trickle’ (and a trickle it was) of spring migrants with Wheatear at Portland and Sand Martin in north Dorset, and although neither have occurred in the harbour yet we did manage to ring what is likely to be our first migrant Chiffchaff this morning in the north of the harbour, showing possibly a small amount of Pollen around the base of the bill, picked up whilst feeding on migration up through Europe. A re-trap Firecrest was also caught along with several re-trap over-wintering Chiffchaff. In Holes Bay north 2 Spotted Redshank were at the outflow with c200 Black-tailed Godwit and c50 Dunlin on the mud. After analysing our night recordings from Saturday night it was clear that Redwing are still passing over in good numbers during the night. With last nights total added to the previous two nights we encountered 2261 Redwing calls and 252 Blackbird calls over the course of the three nights. These figures will only represent a percentage of birds actually passing over as not all birds are calling, so the true figure of Redwing and Blackbird passing over our station over the last three nights is almost certainly much much greater. Totals from our latest ‘invis- mig’ (thanks Daragh for the phrase) session included…

Redwing calls – 532

Blackbird calls – 56

Song Thrush calls – 5

Starling – 1

Curlew – 3

Oystercatcher – 4

Wigeon flock – 1

As promised here are selection of recordings made during the last three nights as birds were moving above our listening station. Given that our recording station is in the centre of Poole you’ll have to try and ignore the rumble of background traffic!

Coot – Night time migrant over nocturnal listening station, Poole – 22:54


Moorhen – Night time migrant over nocturnal listening station, Poole – 00:15


Teal – Calls of several birds over nocturnal listening station, Poole – 19:05


Fieldfare – call of a night time migrant from nocturnal listening station, Poole – 23:43


Blackbird and Redwing – Calls of passing migrants over nocturnal listening station, Poole – 22:01

Wigeon flock with Redwing – Calls over nocturnal listening station, Poole – 23:35

Oystercatcher – Calls of bird passing over nocturnal listening station, Poole – 21:14

Harbour Update – posted 12/03/16

Posted on: March 13th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

After our successful sound recording session from our recording station in Old Town Poole we gave it another go on Friday night in the hope of another big movement, but it seems the fog put a stop to that around midnight. Although not as busy as the previous night there was still a moderate thrush passage before the fog set in with totals between 7pm and 3am being…

Redwing calls – 377

Blackbird calls – 52

Song Thrush calls – 5

Teal – 1

Curlew – 1

Moorhen – 1

Oystercatcher – 4

Once we’ve been through all recordings from thurs, fri and sat night we’ll post some on our sightings blog.

Sightings from today included a few Lesser-spotted Woodpecker with one in the tree line leading down to Lytchett Fields and 2 at Holton Lee. Out on Lytchett Fields there were 6 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and a Marsh and Hen Harrier hunting too. On Brownsea there were 4 Sandwich Tern and a Firecrest was at PC World again.

Harbour Update – posted 11/03/16

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

A fine spring day presented a nice mini fall of Black Redstarts up Old Harry with 3 males and a female/1st year type. Out of Knoll Beach Studland 2 Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver were out on flat calm waters with a Firecrest nearby too. Off Baiter 5 Great Northern Diver were feeding in the shallow channels, all still in winter plumage and Med Gull numbers were still really impressive on the low tide. At Lytchett Fields 8 Water Pipit can still be found on the pools field and a Chiffchaff was new in. News came in from somewhere that there was a Wryneck at Creekmoor Ponds, although it was neither re-found or confirmed.

Our listening station came up trumps last night too with a great total and range of species migrating across the night sky between 7pm and 3am. Totals included…

Redwing calls – 1351

Blackbird calls – 144

Song Thrush calls – 5

Fieldfare – 1

Skylark – 2

Moorhen – 1

Coot – 1

Dunlin – 1

Curlew – 2

Grey Plover 2

Oystercatcher 5

Teal – 1

Med Gull – 2

There were also several other calls that we’re looking into now, but for early/mid March these totals are fantastic, especially the number of Blackbird migrating back north with the Redwing. We’ll also be recording tonight and be uploading a range of sounds captured from the last few nights hopefully tomorrow.

Call 01202 641 003