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 December, 2016

Harbour Update – posted 19/12/16

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

Today we hosted our annual free Family Bird Boat trip which is an extension to our hugely popular school bird boat project. The family trip which is hosted every December and titled ‘birding for beginners’ is open to anyone eager enough to come and learn a bit about their local environment. The trip is free and bookings are done on a first come first serve basis, so if you missed out this winter then please keep an eye out for our next one in December 2017! However, if you can’t wait that long we are carrying out our two new public bird boat tours in early 2017 and spaces are filling up fast! For more information CLICK HERE.

Highlights from the trip today included 4 Great Northern Diver off Brownsea, 2 Common Scoter off Goathorn, 12 Black-necked Grebe in central harbour and 3 in South Deep. On Shipstal there were c15 Spoonbill and the Brownsea Lagoon was packed with plenty of Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Shoveler along with decent sized flocks of Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover, several Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were still present, the Cattle Egret was still along Holme Lane and a Great Grey Shrike was seen on Hartland Moor, which potentially could be the same bird seen at Arne on Wednesday last week. In Holes Bay north there was a good mix of birds with a Ruff being an exceptional find in one of the fields to the north in amongst 630 Black-tailed Godwit, also 14 Knot and 435 Dunlin on the mud with 21 Shoveler, 10 Pintail and good numbers of Curlew, Avocet, Redshank, Gadwall, Teal and Wigeon.


Harbour Update – posted 18/12/16

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

Today saw another good spread of birds around the harbour which included the obligatory Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal at Lytchett Fields with 500 Dunlin. Out on Arne Moors the 22 Barnacle Geese were feeding again with 100+ Canada and Greylag Geese as 2 Marsh Harrier and a ringtail Hen Harrier passed over…all viewed from Slepe Heath, looking north out across the Moors and a Jack Snipe was flushed off Slepe Heath too. The Cattle Egret was still in the cattle field along Holme Lane. The Great Grey Shrike was seen again on Canford Heath and off Hamworthy Beach a single Great Northern Diver and 4 Black-necked Grebe. Off Jerry’s Point, Studland there was another 2 Great Northern Diver and 6 Black-necked Grebe


Harbour Update – posted 17/12/16

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

 With more thick fog set in early morning it wasn’t until midday until sightings began to be reported. Of significance today an over-wintering Yellow-browed Warbler was seen near the villa on Brownsea Island. At Lytchett Bay the Green-winged Teal was seen out in the actual bay for the first time since its discovery, the Lesser Yellowlegs was out on Lytchett Fields with c600 Dunlin and c220 Lapwing. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen out across Hartland Moor and the Cattle Egret was still in the cattle fields along Holme Lane. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Spotted Redshank and 10 Spoonbill. In Rempstone Forest a flock of 7-8 Crossbill were seen, a good find seeing as they’ve been pretty scarce this autumn/winter.Don’t forget that this list of birds is just a selection ofhighlights from throughout the day, there is still plenty of other species to see that we don’t mention on a regular basis, such as Dartford Warblers on all the local heathlands, big numbers of Avocet in the Middlebere Channel, Fieldfares and Redwings in local fields, great numbers of wildfowl in Holes Bay NE not to mention ‘overlooked’ species such as Nuthatches, Siskins, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Marsh Tit at feeding stations at places like Holton Lee and Arne whilst at the harbour mouth Shags, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and Grey Plover are all easy to find on the low tides. For any info on the harbour and its bird life then by all means contact us anytime.

Crossbill – Rempstone – Phyl England

Goldeneye – Poole park – Ian Ballam


harbour Update – posted 16/12/16

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

After going missing for a day the Cattle Egret was back again at Holme Lane and the 22 Barnacle Geese landed out on the fields of Arne Moors at around 9:10am, again, only viewable from Slepe Heath. The Lesser Yellowlegs and 3 Water Pipit were still at Lytchett Fields and the was a combined total of c1000 waders and waterfowl on Sherford Pools alone! The 8 Goldeneye were still on Poole Park Lake and 2 Kingfishers at Poole Quay. The ringtail Hen Harrier keeps putting in brief appearances at places like Middlebere and Hartland and there are still a minimum of 5 Marsh Harrier in the harbour. 


Harbour Update – posted 15/12/16

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

The Holme Lane Cattle Egret did a disappearing act today, in fact out of all of yesterdays goodies only the Lesser Yellowlegs was seen again today out on Lytchett Fields. The 22 Barnacle Geese were out feeding again on Arne Moors which could be viewed from the top edge of Slepe Heath looking north. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 33 Spoonbill and at the PC World Drain just 2 Chiffchaff still. At Sandbanks there was just a single Purple Sandpiper on the groynes. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Water Pipit and a Marsh Harrier. Finally, we’ve had all data back from our December WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) and an incredible 26,007 birds were counted with highlights being 1710 Avocet, 5606 Wigeon, 1000+ Brent Geese and 2000+ Black-tailed Godwit.


Harbour Update – posted 14/12/16

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

Poole Harbour does well for scarce and rare species over the course of the year, with most (as you’d expect) occurring during peak migration times. What you wouldn’t necessarily expect is to have four cracking rare/scarce birds in the harbour the week before Christmas! For a brief moment today both the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs could be seen in one scope view on Lytchett Fields, with both birds hanging around the site all day. At Holme Lane the Cattle Egret was again feeding in the cattle field half way along the road and during the weekly ‘Wednesday walk’ at Arne RSPB reserve a Great Grey Shrike was seen. 

Cattle Egret – Holme Lane

Great Grey Shrike – Arne RSPB Reserve 

Today we also hosted a school bird boat trip, which was actually fairly quiet, probably due to the enormous high tide which allowed birds to venture elsewhere and spread out. Highlights included 24 Spoonbill out on Shipstal Point, 2 Common Scoter in Brands Bay, 1 Great Northern Diver flying over the Hamworthy shoreline and big numbers of waders on the Brownsea Lagoon. At Holme Lane up to 5 Woodlark were feeding in the same field as the Cattle Egret and at least 2 Firecrest were still in the woods on the left. In Middlebere a female Marsh Harrier passed by and up to 400 Avocet were at the top end of the channel. Dartford Warbler were out enjoying the winter sun on Coombe Heath, Arne as were 2 Red Admiral Butterfly. At Bramble Bush Bay, Studland there were 40 Sanderling, 20 Ringed Plover and 1 Goldeneye. At Poole Park Lake there were still 8 Goldeneye out on the main lake and a female Red-breasted Merganser. The 22 Barnacle Geese were seen again on Swineham GP. 

Green-winged Teal – Lytchett Fields – Shaun Robson

Cattle Egret – Holme Lane – Paul Morton

Great Grey Shrike – Arne RSPB Reserve – Paul Morton

Lesser Yellowlegs – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 13/12/16

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

The Cattle Egret that was found late yesterday evening was found first thing in the cattle field on your right as you head down Holme Lane from the Springfield Hotel end. It was feeding with 12 Little Egret before moving off to the next field along feeding amongst and on the cattle (as photographed excellently by Ian Ballam). Within the same first field a flock of c10 Woodlark were feeding with a large Chaffinch flock and 2 Firecrest were in the woods next to the field. Another night ringing session in the Lower Frome Valley near Swineham produced 5 new Woodcock ringed and c20 seen along with 3 Jack Snipe. At the PC World Drain 3 collybita Chiffchaff were feeding on the waterline, there has to be either a tristis or Yellow-browed Warbler over-wintering in there somewhere! At Arne 21 Spoonbill were on Shipstal and a Great Northern Diver was off Shipstal Beach with Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser.

Cattle Egret – Holme Lane – Paul Morton

Cattle Egret – Holme Lane – Ian Ballam

Woodcock – Frome Valley – Paul Morton


Harbour Update – posted 12/12/16

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

There was a nice selection of scarcities around today starting off with a newly found Cattle Egret along Holme Lane, near the Springfield Hotel. There’s been a mini influx of this species into the UK this autumn/winter and it was just a matter of time before one was found within our harbour boundaries. It was feeding with 12 Little Egret, but easily distinguishable with its smaller structure and short, thick orange bill. On Canford Heath the Great Grey Shrike was seen again in its favored area and at Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal rooting up on one of the newly created islands. More general sightings came in the form of a Great Northern Diver off Baiter, 3 Marsh Harrier in the lower Frome Valley, 2 Water Pipit at Holton Lee and 15 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach.  

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Green-winged Teal – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 11/12/16

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

What a great day to be out around the harbour, which although was hampered by fog first thing, it soon cleared giving way to another picture perfect day. There was plenty of coverage today as we led the commentary of an RSPB/NT bird boat, plus it was the Poole Harbour WeBS in the afternoon too. Starting with off with the bird boat where highlights included 23 Spoonbill (15 on Brownsea and 8 on Shipstal), 4 Common Scoter, 5 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe, c100 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Common Seals, 1 Goosander (in Fishermans dock Poole Quay), 2 Spotted Redshank and 4 Greenshank on the Brownsea (Full species list for the trip can be FOUND HERE). Off Middle Beach, Studland there were 35 Black-necked Grebe and off Jerry’s Point 2 Great Northern Diver and 22 Sanderling with 1 Sandwich Tern in Brands Bay and a Merlin near the hide. In Holes Bay south-east, 2 pale-bellied Brent Geese were a surprise. At Swineham the 22 Barnacle Geese were back on the main pit again with 244 Canada Geese and 17 Greylag Geese. Also around the Swineham area was a Jack Snipe off the point with 14 Common Snipe, 2 Bearded Tit and 11 Skylark. At Swineham Farm there is an over-wintering Chiffchaff and on the pit 104 Gadwall, 198 Coot and 25 Shoveler with 2 Marsh Harrier in the Frome Valley. At Lytchett Bay the Lesser Yellowlegs was recorded in the WeBS count for a 4th month in a row, also a ringtail Hen Harrier there too. Along the southern shore there were a minimum of 1330 Avocet in the mouth of both Wytch Lake and the Middlebere Channel, mostly viewable from the Arne side, also a ringtail Hen Harrier over and 2 Marsh Harrier over Wytch Lake with several Water Pipit present. Along Shore Road, Sandbanks there were 71 Bar-tailed Godwit and in Blue Lagoon 48 Ringed Plover and 19 Turnstone. Off Fitzworth Point the over-wintering Whimbrel was seen again and there were 71 Red-breasted Merganser, 60 Great Crested Grebe and 33 Goldeneye and on the Wytch Causeway 6 Water Pipit. On Poole Park Lake there were 8 Goldeneye including 6 drakes. Finally, two night ringing sessions in the lower Frome Valley produced 2 Woodcock and 2 Jack Snipe.  

Jack Snipe – Lower Frome Valley – Terry Elborn


Harbour Update – posted 10/12/16

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

A bit grim today but some decent birds reported to us. Around the Studland area there were c25 Sanderling, 1 Great Northern Diver and c150 Brent Geese off Pilots point. Both Merlin and Peregrine were seen near Brands Bay. Bramble Bush Bay was busy with another Great Northern Diver, more Sanderling and both Ringed and Grey Plover present. Off Middle Beach there were 25 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Razorbill, 14 Common Scoter, 1 Great Northern Diver and several Med Gulls.


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