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 November, 2016

Harbour Update – posted 30/11/16

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

Harbour Update – posted 29/11/16

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

Today ended with one of those true magical winter sunsets that sets a scene so perfect you just wish it could last forever. A cold stillness froze over the harbour as the tide began to drop just after lunch time and as the sun sunk lower and lower, illuminating all that was blue to pink and orange, the southern shores became a scene of true beauty. Not to mention full of good birds. Off Middle Beach there were 3 Black-necked Grebe with another 9 off Jerry’s Point and 1 in Shell Bay. There were 5 Great Northern Diver, 1 in Brands Bay, 2 off Jerry’s point, 1 in Shell Bay and 1 on the Brownsea south shore. There were also 5 Common Scoter off Jerry’s Point along with 1 Slavonian Grebe, 25 Sanderling and 11 Ringed Plover just round the corner in Bramble bush Bay. Brands Bay was full on commoner species including great views of Pintail, Grey Plover, Avocet and both Black and Bar-tailed Godwit. In Holes Bay NE 12 Spoonbill were roosting on the high tide with 300+ Dunlin flying on the low tide. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was playing hide and seek but eventually showed with a few Snipe and Redshank. Finally there were 4 Goldeneye back on Poole Park Lake.

Harbour Update – posted 28/11/16

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

The cold NE wind persisted making birding conditions tricky but a Spoonbill was seen briefly in Holes Bay SE and there were 8 Great Crested Grebe there too. Bird totals of commoner wader and wildfowl species are on the up with around 20,000 in total now comprising mostly of Wigeon (3805), Teal (3368), Black-tailed Godwit (1703) and Dunlin (1691) according to the last WeBS count. The next is on Dec 11th and we’re hoping for a full count and looking forward seeing whether this cold snap has drawn in (or forced out) many more birds? At Lytchett Pools 2 Woodcock and a Barn Owl were seen just after dark. 

Harbour Update – posted 27/11/16

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

We’ve been focusing a lot of time and effort into Woodcock monitoring this autumn/winter with good numbers back now. Tonight was our most productive night of the season so far with a minimum of 30 seen in a particular area along the southern shores of the harbour, near Hartland Moor, with 11 new birds ringed a re-trap from 2014, re-caught last night, again in exactly the same field from where it was first ringed. There was another Barnacle Goose arrival, this time a flock of 22 that flew in over Poole Bay, having passed Hengistbury, before they all pitched down on the main gravel pit at Swineham for a short period of time. Near the harbour entrance there were 2 Great Northern Diver between Goathorn and Redhorn, 11 Black-necked Grebe from Jerry’s Point along with 1 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Common Scoter, 12 Goldeneye, 1 Merlin and 6 Knot. At Lytchett Fields the Curlew Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs remained. 

Barnacle Geese – Swineham GP – Peter Moore

Barnacle Geese – Swineham GP – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – posted 26/11/16

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

Today was the Dorset Bird Club conference, which was a great event with a really interesting range and variety of talks. We’d also like to thank the DBC for inviting us to come and talk about our night migration work this year. With many of Dorset’s birding community all packed into one room at Bournemouth Uni, sightings were few and far between but we did receive some. At Lytchett Fields there were a nice mix of waders including the Lesser Yellowlegs, a Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank and a female Marsh Harrier to top it off. At the harbour entrance there were singles of Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe with 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Med Gull, 20 Sanderling and 10 Ringed Plover. Birds of the day went to two White-fronted Geese that were seen from the Brands Bay hide in fields to the left, also from the hide 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Common Scoter, 20 Brent Geese, 53+ Lapwing, 3 Avocet, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Knot, 1 Sandwich Tern and a Kingfisher. Finally, the Poole Harbour Spoonbill flock all seemed to be on Brownsea today with 33 present. 

Harbour Update – posted 25/11/16

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

With a nippy NE wind blowing we thought it would be a good idea to take another boatload of primary school children out to give them a true winter Poole Harbour experience. The chill factor may have been tough going but we and the pupils persevered and were rewarded to another good haul of birds with 13 Black-necked Grebe (Brownsea south shore), 4 Great Northern Diver (2 north channel and 2 off Goat Horn), 3 Common Scoter (South Deep), 15 Spoonbill (Shipstal) and as usual good numbers of Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. On the sea wall at Poole Quay 10 Ringed Plover were roosting up with c20 Dunlin. Along the Baiter shoreline up to 3 Sandwich Tern could be found feeding still and 4 Rock Pipit were on the beach. Off Arne, 350 Avocet were feeding in the mouth of the Middlebere Channel and 50 Brent Geese were on the Long Island sand bar. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was still present with 194 Dunlin including a summer plumaged bird. 

Harbour Update – posted 24/11/16

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

Apart from Brent Geese, Poole Harbour rarely sees any other species of true wild geese during the winter so it was a welcome surprise when a flock of 24 Barnacle Geese turned up and settled in Lytchett Bay early morning. However, with a number of feral populations of this species dotted around the UK and mainland Europe its hard to confirm whether these are true wild Barnacles all the way from Svalbard or Greenland but given the time of year and their very brief stop before moving quickly on SW onto Exminster Marshes it’s likely these could be true wild birds. Just as surprising was the discovery of a Great White Egret at the very urban Hatch Pond. It was seen lumbering in over the traffic lights before settling in the reedbed at the back for an hour or so before lifting off and making its way NE towards Longham Lakes. At Middlebere on the rising tide late afternoon c200 Avocet were feeding with c200 Dunlin and c20 Grey Plover with 2 Marsh Harrier passing by. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was on Sherford Pools and a Marsh Harrier went over the Bay. 

Barnacle Geese – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 23/11/16

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

On Shipstal the whole Poole Harbour Spoonbill flock of 34 were gathered and a Great Northern Diver was off Shipstal Beach. 4 of the Spoonbill were in Middlebere mid-morning and a male Merlin put on a good show. Off Hamworthy Beach there was a single Great Northern Diver. From Slepe Heath, looking out across the Moors, 7 Marsh Harrier criss-crossed over the flooded meadows where Wigeon, Pintail and Gadwall were all feeding, all three of which are rare occurrences out on Arne Moors. Off Middle Beach, Studland 9 Black-necked Grebe were feeding and another Great Northern Diver was off Jerry’s Point. The Frome and Piddle River Valley’s were extremely flooded playing host to good numbers of Mute Swan but no Bewick’s as far as we could see. The flood meadows between Holmebridge and the Wareham bypass used to be a strong hold for Bewick’s Swan back in the 80’s with between 20-40 often present, however today they are a much rarer and only visit the valley every once in a while but its but if lots of Mutes are visible its well worth checking through them for a yellow bill hiding in amongst them. Talking of flooding, the marsh between Wareham and Stoborough was also knee-deep which played host to c1500 Black-tailed Godwit, 300 Lapwing, 6 Snipe, 150 Curlew, 1 Water Pipit and 2 Stonechat.

Pintail – Upton CP – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 22/11/16

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

In partnership with the Stour Ringing Group we’ve been out lamping Woodcock for most of November with good numbers of birds now arriving back from Russia and north eastern Europe. During the winter only 1 in 5 Woodcock in Britain are British birds, the rest are winter visitors, which return to the same feeding sites year after year. Tonight, we managed to prove winter site fidelity for the first time at Holton Lee with a bird that was first ringed there on Jan 15th 2015 and re-caught again tonight in exactly the same field no more than 20m away from where it was originally caught. Quite amazing to think it’s probably been to Russia and back in-between its encounters with us. We also ringed 3 new Woodcock and saw at least 5 at Arne Farm too. To see Woodcock the best place to look is a woodland edge at dusk and watch them as they fly out to go and feed in farm fields. The view will often be short but really exciting at the same time. There were also 2 Barn Owl at Arne Farm and 3 Tawny Owl. At Lytchett Bay 6 Spoonbill landed in the Bay and the Lesser Yellowlegs was on the fields. 

Returning Woodcock – First ringed at Holton Lee, January 15th 2016 and caught again tonight


Harbour Update – posted 21/11/16

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

The wind blew strong this morning from the east pushing a large feeding flock of likely sinensis (continental) Cormorants into Parkstone Bay which brought with it a big flock of Black-headed Gulls which brought with them, a group of 11 Sandwich Tern. This is a decent early winter count with normally only twos and threes seen in the colder months. Later in the day as the weather deteriorated 4 Sandwich Tern could be found hunkering down out on the playing fields of Baiter with 42 Brent Geese and 4 Rock Pipit. At Littlesea, Studland the Great White Egret was seen briefly and at Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowleg a sub-adulat Hen Harrier and 2 Water Pipit were the highlights.  

Greenshank – Holton Lee – Richard Stephenson 


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