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 20/11/16

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

Storm Angus looked as if it could put a stop to any decent birding opportunities today but instead, gave way to an excellent days birding with near flat calm conditions and no wind by mid-afternoon. As luck would have it we had been invited by the RSPB to do the commentary on the Poole Harbour Bird Boat trip that also landed on Brownsea Island where 80 members of the public joined us on what turned out to be a very productive day out on the water. Highlights from the boat included 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 12 Common Scoter, 8 Black-necked Grebe, 10 Goldeneye, 50+ Red-breasted Merganser, 30+ Great Crested Grebe, 2 Sandwich TernBrent Geese, 20 Ringed Plover on the sea wall at Poole Quay and a Kingfisher on Poole Docks. Whilst our two hour stop off at Brownsea produced not one, not two but three dramatic Merlin chases as a female harassed the snoozing c500 Avocet, 12 Spotted Redshank, 10 Greenshank, c60 Grey Plover, c200 Dunlin, c100 Black-tailed Godwit, 24 Bar-tailed GodwitTurnstones, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Curlew. In total our group saw 66 species (that I’m aware of), which for 4 hours out on a boat isn’t bad at all! The full species list can be READ HERE. A truly excellent trip. This evening from Middle Beach, Studland the grebe roost contained 11 Black-necked Grebe, 7 Great Crested Grebe and 10 Common Scoter whilst earlier in the afternoon a Slavonian Grebe and 2 Great Northern Diver were in Shell Bay. The raptor numbers are staying very impressive with now 11 different Marsh Harrier exiting the west Poole Harbour roost this morning with sighting from Arne, Middlebere, Lytchett Bay and Swineham throughout the day. There were also 3 Hen Harrier in Poole Harbour south, between Arne and the Wareham Channel along with 2 Merlin. At Lytchett Fields, the site was massively flooded, so the newly created islands which were put in place to cater for these floods paid dividends as big numbers of Dunlin and Redshank were using them on todays high tide.  The Lesser Yellowlegs was still on site today for its 3rd month and it looks as if we may have an over-wintering Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper, both now very rare occurrences in the harbour during the winter with both being seen on the fields again today. Also around Lytchett Bay were 2 Water Pipit on the polls field, 2 Firecrest in Slough Lane, 3 Spoonbill out in the bay with 35 Brent Geese and 13 Red-breasted Merganser. There was also some late news of a Short-eared Owl at Holton lee back on November 2nd.

Great Northern Diver – Poole Harbour Bird Boat – Stephanie Murphy


Red-throated Diver – Poole Harbour Bird Boat – Paul Treen


Spotted Redshank – Poole Harbour Bird Boat – Stephanie Murphy


Short-eared Owl – Holton Lee – Richard Stephenson (Nov 2nd)

Harbour Update – posted 19/11/16

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

With Storm Angus on the way, any birding had to be carried out ‘early doors’, although wind stayed light until dusk. Highlights from today included 4 Black-necked Grebe, 7 Common Scoter, 63 Red-breasted Merganser, 20 Turnstone and 1 Kingfisher from Jerry’s point/The Houseboats at Studland. In Brands Bay the Great White Egret flew from Littlesea and headed towards Arne. From Middle Beach, Studland 9 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Common Scoter were counted. At Lytchett Fields the Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Lesser Yellowlegs and Greenshank were still on Lytchett Fields. At Arne up to 20 Spoonbill could be seen out on Shipstal Point. 

Harbour Update – posted 18/11/16

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

Tough, cold, windy conditions prevailed, as our school bird boat trip did its best to freeze 70 helpless primary school children. Still, kids being kids, they still loved it and got to see some wonderful scenery and great birds including 15 Spoonbill on Brownsea along with all the usual Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover etc. A dawn count near the harbour entrance saw 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 82 Shag fly in, 13 Red-breasted Merganser fly in, 2 Common Scoter fly in, 1 Sandwich Tern and a single Purple Sandpiper and 17 Ringed Plover on the groynes. In Old Town Poole, another Black Redstart was seen on the roofs of Market Street. The Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Ruff, 300+ Dunlin, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank were at Lytchett Fields whilst at Holes Bay NE a decent sized Avocet flock were feeding near the cycle path. 

harbour Update – posted 17/11/16

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

Todays blustery and pretty grim conditions didn’t produce the hoped for ‘wreck’ of birds in the harbour, although an adult Little Gull that went west through the harbour was good to see. The Great Grey Shrike was seen again on Canford Heath (Grid Ref SZ03309595). Other than that, the Lesser Yellowlegs at Lytchett Fields was seen with the Ruff, 300+ Dunlin, 1 Peregrine and 2 Marsh Harrier and 2 new Woodcock were ringed during a night ringing session. 

Harbour Update – posted 16/11/16

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

The big low tides at the moment, thanks to the ‘supermoon’ are providing some quite unique viewing opportunities at the moment. As we’ve explained before the average depth of the entire harbour is only 1m deep, so when we see big low spring tides, areas that aren’t normally exposed become open and fair game for feeding birds. Yesterday evening there was almost a clear walk-way from Hamworthy Beach over towards Shipstal Beach, Arne with just the channel in the mouth of the Wareham Channel blocking the route. With all this exposed mud, there no better time to go and see the thousands of wader and waterfowl species that are taking advantage. In Holes Bay, yet again good numbers of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Teal and a handful of Pintail and Gadwall can be see at close range with this Sunday (20th) being a good time to look as low-tide is at 8am meaning the sun (if there is any) will be behind you and as the tide rises between 8am and 10am, birds will get pushed closer and closer to the cycle path. The same goes for Baiter park where currently Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Rock Pipit and Meadow Pipit feed on the beaches during the low-tide and Brent Geese are also beginning to start using the playing field. At Shore Road, Sandbanks Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and Brent Geese can be found feeding out on the sandier substrate and in Brands and Bramble Bush Bay Grey Plover, Turnstone, Knot, Ringed Plover and Sanderling can be found, with the houseboats at the latter site being a good place to check. Elsewhere around the harbour keep an eye out for Black Redstart as one was present in Old Town Poole, but they could turn up anywhere, the Lesser Yellowlegs was still on Lytchett Fields, the Great White Egret was in Middlebere with 2 Marsh Harrier, 24 Spoonbill were on the Brownsea Lagoon and another 2 Woodcock were ringed, this time in the Hartland Moor area. 

Woodcock – Ringed in Lower Frome Valley on 14/11/16

Harbour Update – posted 15/11/16

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

We’re getting regular reports now of Black-necked Grebe and a few Slavonian Grebe from the Studland area with Middle Beach probably being the best place to look. Early morning or late afternoon is probably the best time to try and see these birds as they’ll still be in their roosting flocks. Each day they gather before dusk and settle in Studland Bay, with some also forming a roost within the harbour too. Black-necked and Slavonian Grebe can be tricky to tell apart, but the big white cheek patch of Slavonian Grebe can easily be made out if seen well, and if they’re within a mixed roost, the comparison of the duskier cheek and face of Black-necked Grebe should be easy to tell apart. Slavonian Grebe numbers have also fallen within the Studland/harbour area over the last few years with just 1 today but 12 Black-necked Grebe. Today an Eider was in Bramble Bush Bay and a Great Northern Diver was off North Haven. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was on the fields with the Ruff, 1 Brambling, 15 Skylark and 1 Marsh Harrier. At Shell bay, Studland there were 20+ Dunlin, 20+ Ringed Plover, 16 Sanderling, 1 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Sandwich Tern whilst in Brands Bay there were 2 Med Gulls, 20+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Grey Plover and 1 Knot.

Black-necked Grebe – Shell Bay – Ian Ballam

Sanderling – Shell Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 14/11/16

Posted on: November 15th, 2016 by Birds of Poole Harbour

For a drab Monday, the harbour certainly shone bird-wise with a good selection from right around the harbour. Starting in Studland bay where totals over-wintering open-water species are building with 3 Slavonian Grebe, 12+ Black-necked Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver and 12 Common Scoter. Out in central harbour the Scaup was still present along with 4 Common Scoter, 15 Goldeneye, 50+ each of Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe. On Poole Park Lake there were 9 Little Grebe. In Poole harbour west an excellent count of 10 Marsh Harrier came out of the roost and a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen in Middlebere. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 14 Spoonbill, 400+ Avocet and a Merlin chase. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was still there, a ringtail Hen Harrier went through, a female Red-breasted Merganser was a new species for the fields and the Ruff and 2 Water Pipit were still present.  Both Brands Bay and Holes Bay were reported to be ‘full of birds’ on the low tides, all mostly common species but great to see good numbers of species such as Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Redshank, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwits. 

Great Crested Grebe – Holes Bay – Keith Rawling

Pintail – Holes Bay – Keith Rawling

Gadwall – Holes Bay – Keith Rawling

Harbour Update – posted 13/11/16

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

Today was the Poole Harbour WeBS count which meant almost all of the harbour was watched from somewhere at 3pm. As a result a whole suit of birds were found, starting at Brands Bay where a Great White Egret was off Goathorn and in the bay its self was 1 Eider, 5 Goosander, several Black-necked Grebe and good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser. In the Middlebere Channel a single Whooper Swan was in one of the low-tide channels late afternoon before upping and headed towards Hartland along with a ringtail Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Bay/Fields another good haul as the Goosander theme continued with 3 ‘redheads’ and 34 Brent Geese in the Bay along with the Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Ruff and 1 Jack Snipe on the fields. At Arne 24 Spoonbill were feeding on the western shoreline. Last night a Woodcock ringing session resulted in 6 new Woodcock being ringed in the Lower Frome Valley with a single Common Snipe and a Fieldfare. Off Middle Beach at Studland the first Slavonian Grebe of the winter was found with 15 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Razorbill and a single pale-bellied Brent Goose and from South Haven, Studland a Black-necked Grebe, 3 Chiffchaff and 13 Sanderling.

Shag – Brownsea north shore 

Harbour Update – posted 12/11/16

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

This morning was definitely one of those ‘ergh’ mornings until around midday when things brightened up the sun even tried to come out. Sightings-wise it was rather quiet with a ringtail Hen Harrier over Hartland, a good arrival/passage of thrushes, mainly Blackbird and Redwing around the Middlebere area with a male marsh Harrier near the channel too. The Lesser Yellowlegs was on Lytchett Fields with a single Water Pipit.

harbour Update – posted 11/11/16

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

Every winter we see a handful of dates when the open areas of the harbour look like glass and not a breath of wind stirs amongst the marker buoys. Today was one of those days and we were lucky enough to be hosting a school bird boat too. This made seeing open-water species so much easier with the highlights being 1 Scaup off Arne, 7 Common Scoter, 3 Goldeneye, 50+ Red-breasted Merganser, 50+ Great Crested Grebe, 1 Sandwich Tern, a feeding flock of 120 Cormorant, 20 Spoonbill on the Brownsea Lagoon and 20 Sanderling that flew past the boat. Talking of boats, we’ll soon be launching two public ‘Harbour Cruise’ trips that will place early next year, so keep an eye out. Off Middle Beach, Studland 3 Goosander were feeding. A round up of raptor news from Poole Harbour south now sees up to 7 different Marsh Harrier and 4 Hen Harrier with 2 Merlin still active on Hartland Moor. In Whitley Lake, Sandbanks and all along Baiter Beach on low tides, Turnstone can be found feeding with 12 Ringed Plover at the latter site too. At Arne the Great White Egret was seen again and in the lower Frome Valley the seasons first Woodcock was ringed. At Lytchett Fields the yesterdays Ruff was again present along with the Lesser Yellowlegs. A late Swallow passed over Ridge late afternoon.

Common Scoter – South Deep (near harbour entrance) 


Red-breasted Merganser – South Deep (near harbour entrance) 

Spoonbill – Brownsea Lagoon

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