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 January, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 28/01/17

Posted on: January 29th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today we hosted our first ever Birds of Poole Harbour public bird boat. All previous trips we’ve done have always been in partnership with RSPB, DWT, NT etc so it was nice to see so many people happily coming to support ‘us smaller guys’ too. The trip was great consider the weather of previous days and highlights included 2 Great Northern Diver off the Brownsea SE shore, 14 Barnacle Geese on Rempstone fields along the southern shore, several Black-necked Grebe in central harbour and South Deep, 11 Spoonbill on Shipstal and 3 on Brownsea Lagoon, a Marsh Harrier near Long Island as well as good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe. The lagoon was looking fab with 3 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 199 Grey Plover, 34 Knot, 181 Bar-tailed Godwit, 291 Avocet, 5 Pintail, 41 Shoveler, 57 Gadwall, 16 Brent Geese, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Sandwich Tern, 3 Med Gulls, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard as well as the commoner waders and wildfowl. In the Wareham Channel, 2 Marsh Harrier went into roost and 2 ringtail Hen Harrier were in the Arne Moors/Bestwall area. 3 Woodcock were seen flying out to feed at dusk along Slepe Moor. The Lesser Yellowlegs was on French’s Pools, Lytchett Fields and there was a single Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay. At Greenlands Farm, Studland there was a flock of 13 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Firecrest and a single Crossbill. The Smew was still in Holes Bay north. There were another 2 Great Northern Diver on the seaward side of Studland and finally, a night ringing session near Sunnyside Farm produced 1 Jack Snipe, 2 Common Snipe and a single Woodcock seen. 

Brent Geese over the harbour – Simon Kidner

Common Scoter – North Channel – Simon Kidner

Great Northern Diver – South Deep, near Brownsea SE – Simon Kidner

Harbour Update – posted 27/01/17

Posted on: January 29th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A slightly warmer day with the sun poking its head out and another school bird boat group eager to get out. With a calmer sea it made things far more pleasant in the end with the highlights being 14 Barnacle Geese on Rempstone, 1 Great Northern Diver off Brownsea, 4 Spoonbill on Brownsea, 1 Black-necked Grebe in central harbour and 3 Seals (2 Common, 1 Grey). A sea watch from Branksome Chine produced a great total of 44 Red-throated Diver past , also 28 auk sp likely to be Razorbill considering the numbers passing Portland at present), 1 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Great Crested Grebe. The Yellow-browed Warbler at Cabot Lane was seen again and there were still c30 Chiffchaff in the PC World drain and c20 at Norden Sewage Works. The Smew was still in Holes Bay north and the Lesser Yellowlegs on French’s Pools, Lytchett Fields. 

Redhead Smew – Holes Bay north east – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 26/01/17

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

No Fog but a cold ESE wind sent a chill right through our bones this morning as a hardy group from Heatherland’s Primary School gritted their teeth and ‘enjoyed’ a whole variety of species from todays school bird boat including 14 Barnacle Geese near Green Island, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Hen Harrier, c50 Goldeneye, c200 Red-breasted Merganser and 10 Spoonbill, including 8 next to Robo-Spoony! Along Holes Bay 2 Jack Snipe were flushed from long grass verges near the cycle path and the redhead Smew was in Holes Bay NE trying to disguise its self as a Wigeon. Yet another Yellow-browed Warbler was found this AM feeding on a grass verge on Cabot Lane, Poole. How many more will get found this winter? On Lytchett Fields there were 4 Spoonbill and the Lesser Yellowlegs whilst a male Marsh Harrier passed over the site. Of Old Harry Rocks a flock of 9 Red-throated Diver passed east with a good run of Razorbill, Gannet, several Kittiwake and Fulmar noted too. 

Redhead Smew – Holes Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 25/01/17

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well it only took 3 days but the fog finally cleared around midday providing a couple of hours birding time before it got dark. Not much reported other than a high number of Chiffchaff now in the PC World Drain as c30 birds fed on small insect along with a ringed Firecrest. From Hamworthy Beach the usual open water species were loafing around with rafts of Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe all together. There were 4 Spoonbill on the Brownsea Lagoon where we now have not one but TWO webcams including a new HD stream. At Lytchett Bay a Barn Owl was out hunting off Otter Point and the Lesser Yellowlegs was feeding in the bay. A night ringing session in the Lower Frome Valley saw c20 Woodcock (4 ringed), 3 Jack Snipe (1 ringed) and plenty of Common Snipe.

Jack Snipe – Lower Frome Valley – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 24/01/17

Posted on: January 25th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Not that we thought it was possible but today was even foggier with almost zero visability. There was a possible penguin out in central harbour, but then again it could have been Robin?

Harbour Update – posted 23/01/17

Posted on: January 25th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today there was fog…and lots of it. The only known highlights were a Merlin seen chasing a Meadow Pipit at Holton Lee and 2 Spoonbill and a Spotted Redshank in Holes Bay

So with the total lack of any birding opportunities we’ve provided two short write ups relating to areas recently featured on Winterwatch. The first is a look into the current Starling murmuration and its history at Studland and the second is a a delve into the Woodcock research we’re currently conducting in Poole Harbour with the Stour Ringing Group.


Harbour Update – posted 22/01/17

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Wow, what a run of great weather we’re experiencing at the moment. If there was ever a day to be out then today would have been it. Vigils from Slepe Heath saw a Hen Harrier, 4 Marsh Harrier and a Bittern out over Arne moors and the Piddle Valley. At Lytchett Bay/Fields there were singles of Jack Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Green Sandpiper and the Lesser Yellowlegs was out in the bay. At Swineham there were 2 Jack Snipe off the point, 1 Marsh Harrier and up to 16 Bearded Tit in the reedbeds. At Norden Sewage Works the Siberian Chiffchaff was again on the filter beds with 15 Common Chiffchaff and a Firecrest was in the near by park and ride car park. Over Arne Moors, viewed from Slepe Heath a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Marsh Harrier were seen near dusk. Our first proper Woodcock ringing session of 2017 saw c20 birds present at our site near Hartland Moor but only 3 were caught and ringed. The redhead Smew is still in Holes Bay SE and there were 13 Spoonbill on Shipstal Point, Arne. The Starling murmurations at Studland attracted a crowd of up to 300+ people. Interestingly, this is a historic Starling roosting site with totals varying year on year. Thanks to Phyl England for her photo of a murmuration that took place during the winter period of 2006/07. At Arne up to 10 Firecrest have been reported around the reserve. Out in Ower Bay the 14 Barnacle Geese still seem to be happy hanging out with the Canada Geese.

Historical Starling murmuration FEB 2007 at Shell Bay, Studland – Phyl England

Harbour Update – posted 21/01/17

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Conditions today were perfect for a good trudge around the harbour with open water species being a particular focus. A really great count of 4 Slavonian Grebe off Ower Point resembles counts of years gone by for this bird and it was joined by 6 Black-necked Grebe with and 12 off Middle beach, Studland. There were also 3 Great Northern Diver off the Brownsea southern shores along with 1 Common Scoter, 100+ Red-breasted Merganser, 60+ Goldeneye and 45+ Great Crested Grebe. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank and 3 Pintail but due to a mostly frozen lagoon numbers of other waders and wildfowl were really low.  Also on Brownsea 1 Woodcock, 3 Firecrest, 60+ Siskin and a pair of Raven. At Fleets Corner an incredible 21 Chiffchaff were ringed including a Siberian Chiffchaff and a Firecrest. This site has historically been good for over-wintering Chiffchaff but for some reason, mid-January (certainly over the last 2 years) has seen a spike in numbers from just a few birds present to 20+. This phenomena was also represented at Norden Sewage Works where recently only 4-5 Chiffchaff have been present, yet today there were 18 on the filter beds. In Lytchett Bay 5 Spoonbill were roosting and the Lesser Yellowlegs was in the bay on the low tide. The Smew was still out in Holes Bay SE and late news from yesterday at Swineham Point 6 Jack Snipe were flushed and several Bearded Tit were calling. At Arne 15 Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point. 

Lesser Yellowlegs – Lytchett Bay – 19/01/17 

Redhead Smew – Holes Bay – Chrys Mellor

Harbour Update – posted 20/01/17

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The cold crisp winter mornings continue to impress with a stunning sunrise over the Purbecks today. As the blanket of gold spread out across the Frome and Piddle valleys both Marsh and Hen Harrier were stirring as the fleeted over the moors and out towards Swine. 4 Raven ‘cronked’ low over Slepe Heath and Dartford Warbler warmed up along Soldiers Road by seeking sheltered, frost free sun-spots. On calm waters the redhead Smew was easy to find in Holes Bay NW and then SE and at the PC World Drain 4 Chiffchaff and a Firecrest were feeding. At Lytchett Bay the Lesser Yellowlegs was feeding just off the black pipe again. At Arne, a wonderful spectacle of a Merlin utilising a ringtail Hen Harrier as she flushed Meadow Pipits from the ground was observed as a Marsh Harrier then joined in. The Starling murmuration at Studland is now causing quite a stir with roughly 250 people enjoying the show now. 

Sunrise over Slepe Heath – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 19/01/17

Posted on: January 20th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was picture perfect day in all respects with a vibrant energetic sunrise and a glowing magical sunset. Finally a Short-eared Owl turned up in the harbour with one along the Keysworth shoreline briefly. A remarkable sighting of a Goshawk over Slepe Heath/Arne Moors was a good record as this species is still incredibly rare in Dorset despite populations outside the county increasing. In Lytchett Bay a ringtail Hen Harrier was hunting at dusk and the Lesser Yellowlegs was in the Bay. The redhead Smew is still in Holes Bay NW and at the PC World drain a Siberian Chiffchaff and Firecrest were seen. At Arne, there were 14 Spoonbill late afternoon and 5 in Lytchett Bay in the morning. On Hartland a Merlin was sat on a post. Firecrests were in the car park at Arne and off Shipstal Point 7 Black-necked Grebe were in central harbour. 


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