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 May, 2016

Harbour Update – posted 30/05/16

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

Yet another Red Kite was seen, this time drifting low along the Studland Road, heading towards South Haven plus another 2 were seen drifting over Canford Heath at around 11:30am. On Littlesea an unseasonal 11 Great Crested Grebe had formed a small feeding raft. Up on Hartland a silent Cuckoo was busy feeding from a telegraph pole and a Hobby passed over there. 

Although the migration season has now pretty much finished, its still a great time of year go get out and familiarise yourself with bird sound as males are still busy defending territories and others still desperately trying to pair up before its too late. Reed and Cetti’s Warbler at Swineham can be heard in good numbers at the moment, Woodlark are still singing out on the heathland and Dartford Warbler can still be seen and heard display flying. Obviously Nightjar are back and their familiar churring call can be heard just before dark, but see if you can hear any of the other call types they do in-between churring sessions. Out on the Spartina Redshank song rings out and sitting in the hide at Middlebere will currently allow you to encounter this, whilst Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler sing from the scrub woodland behind. And if you’re really lucky you may encounter something a bit different like this male Common Redstart we heard singing at Arne last week. 

Common Redstart – song of 1st summer male – Arne RSPB Reserve – 23/05/16


Red Kite – Studland Road – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 29/05/16

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

Around 14:00 2 Red Kite drifted high east above Upton. Common Tern numbers are now building slowly on the open islands in front of the Lower Hide on the Brownsea Lagoon. 2 Hobby were high above Slepe Heath. 

Harbour Update – posted 28/05/16

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

Only highlight was a Red Kite that drifted up along Soldiers Road mid-morning. 

Harbour Update – posted 27/05/16

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

Still pretty quiet in terms of sightings. Lytchett Fields is still hosting up to 60 over-summering Black-tailed Godwit on the high tides and there were 2 Shoveler on site. Nightjar activity is building slowly, but it does seem to be late this year, as was the same for many other summer migrants during April and early May. Amazingly a handful of Swallow and a few Swift are still arriving having been held up by cold weather and northerly winds in the early part of spring. 

Harbour Update – posted 26/05/16

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

Today’s sightings were mostly normal run of the mill sightings with breeding birds reported most of all. However, there was some evidence of some early return passage/movement of birds with Lapwing at Lytchett Fields, suggesting these are failed breeders from elsewhere that are already on the move, looking for somewhere to feed and spend their summer hols. Nightjars up on Coombe Heath, Arne performed well in the lighter, earlier part of dusk, dazzling as their white wing patches beamed through the silhouettes of Gorse and Silver Birch. Dartford Warbler, Stonechat and Woodlark have all fledged young on most heathlands around the harbour and on Brownsea Common Terns numbers are now beginning to build on the islands in front of the lower hide.

If you’ve never seen or experienced Nightjars before then why not join us on one of our two Nightjar walks this summer at Arne RSPB reserve. The staff at Arne have kindly granted us access to off limits part of the reserve to encounter these amazing birds. For more info or to book on then just CLICK HERE

Nightjar – Coombe Heath, Arne – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 25/05/16

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

No sign of yesterdays Red-backed Shrike unfortunately, but partial compensation came when an Osprey was seen fishing through the shimmering heat haze in the Wareham Channel mid morning. With easterly winds picking up again some wader passed picked up again with 12 Ringed Plover and 6 Dunlin out on Lytchett Fields, 1 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin at Arne and a Whimbrel in Middlebere. The male Marsh Harrier seems to be a good provider as he makes frequent return trips to his female and chicks with talons full of goodies. There was just a single Hobby over Moors today. 

Med Gull nesting on Brownsea Tern Islands

Harbour Update – posted 24/05/16

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

The day started off quietly but finished with a sparkle when it was discovered that a female Red-backed Shrike had spent some time tucked up in a remote corner of Hartland Moor all afternoon and evening. Until the 1950’s this species could be found on most heathlands of east Dorset… but a decline started in 1951 and was complete by 1962. Todays record is only the 9th Poole Harbour record since 1961. Nightjars on Upton Heath were active at dusk, but activity at sites like Slepe Heath and Arne was limited with just 2-3 birds at each site. Out in the harbour there was a single late Red-breasted Merganser and good numbers of Sandwich and Common Terns out feeding. 

Red-backed Shrike – Hartland Moor

Harbour Update – Posted 23/05/16

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

Finally there was a bit of quality today when an Arctic Skua was photographed off Shipstal Point, Arne around 7:30pm which by all accounts had spent the afternoon harassing gulls on Long Island. Skua’s in the harbour are a rare event indeed and for one to settle long enough to provide a photo opportunity, even rarer. To give this some context, it’s interesting to point out that over the last 5 years there have been more Black-winged Stilts within Poole Harbour than Arctic Skua! Also off Shipstal was a male Common Scoter. A Cuckoo, 2 Hobby 2 Red Kite and 12 Buzzard were along high over the Moors and along the Arne Road, 2 Tree Pipit were on Slepe heath and there were 2 Redstart at Arne. A likely migrant Marsh Harrier drifted over the Wareham Channel briefly before carrying on west. Around the Sunnyside, Stoborough Heath area 6 Willow Warbler were on territory as were 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 2 Dartford Warbler and a Kestrel. Lytchett Fields was sparse of variety but total of regular birds were still good with 165 Black-tailed Godwit, 117 Shelduck, 5 Gadwall and 14 Pied Wagtail. At Lytchett Heath, there were Bearded Tit on territory within the reedbed and a Hobby passed over there. 

Arctic Skua – Shipstal Point, Arne – Brian Piercy

Harbour Update – 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd May 2016

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

You’ll have to excuse the ‘lumped’ dates, but info coming through to us has been so limited that news for each day would have barely made it over ‘the one sentence’ threshold. Most info now refers to breeding birds, and birds on territory with very few migrants coming through now. Through Thursday and Friday a few Swallows and Swifts were pushing through still and at the PCW Drain there was a late migrant Reed Warbler passing through. At Holton Lee a Continental type Stonechat is on territory and currently feeding young. At Sunnyside, near Ridge a Cuckoo and Hobby were seen feeding in front of the NE screen. A scan from the Coombe viewpoint should return views of Hobby as they feed out above Middlebere, Slepe and Salterns Copse. At Lytchett Fields a few over summering Black-tailed Godwit continue to feed on the high tide out from Sherford and French’s viewpoints. The heathlands are now home to plenty of Nightjar and a late evening stroll along Soldiers Road, Hartland Moor, Studland Heath, Holton Lee, Canford or Upton Heath on a warm still evening should provide you with churring males and if you’re lucky a sight of one breaking the skyline. 

On Saturday our monthly field trip for May saw us expanded our range slightly, to just outside the harbour boundaries with a visit to Morden Bog. Despite the constant rain, drizzle, murk, more drizzle, bit more rain and a wet welly or two we didn’t actually do too badly with a Woodlark, 1 Hobby, 2 singing (but not seen) Redstarts, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 3-4 Tree Pipit, several Stonechat and a Cuckoo.

Continental type Stonechat – Holton Lee – Paul Morton



Juvenile Starlings – Upton – Paul Morton


Swallow – Ridge – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 18/05/16

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

Our Med Gull story has gathered quite a bit of traction over the last couple of days getting some good press coverage and it appears it may even feature in the Sunday Times this weekend…great stuff!

With a bit more unsettled weather on the way, hopefully they’ll be the opportunity to provide one last drop of migrants before the early-mid summer doldrums kick in. Waders are still on the move, but the easterlies we were lucky to experience over the last two weeks certainly seemed to increase passage through the harbour. At Lytchett Fields highlights were 148 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin, 1 Cuckoo, 4 Great Crested Grebe and a new Whitethroat in. At the PCW Drain, 4 Blackcap were active and a single Whitethroat was there. Over Old Town Poole, a max count of 12 Swift seemed fairly low, hopefully numbers will rise in the next few days. Around the Arne Peninsular Hobby’s were recorded above the Moors, near Middlebere and along the Arne Road.

We’re also thrilled to announce and present the winning entry for our logo design competition set last year. You can read about (and obviously already see) the new winning design by CLICKING HERE, but we’d again just like to say congratulations to Oni Wyatt, the winning designer and to everyone else that submitted entries, it was great fun to host and judge. We hope you like the winning design!


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