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 18/01/17

Posted on: January 18th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’ve been fairly lucky this winter with weather and coinciding our school bird boats with cold, crisp still winter days. Unlike it winters gone by in recent years when storm after storm threatened every trip we had planned throughout the whole winter. Well today we needn’t worry about that as millpond like conditions allowed for easy birding and great birds. Highlights included 13 Barnacle Geese sat on the water off Ower Bay with c400 Brent Geese, 1 Great Northern Diver in South Deep, 4 Common Scoter, 3 in Brands Bay and 1 off Shipstal, c10 Black-necked Grebe in central harbour, c50 Goldeneye, c 150 Red-breasted Merganser and c50 Great Crested Grebe around all bodies of open water. There were 24 Spoonbill flying over and around Shipstal Point and the lagoon was partly frozen so only several hundred Avocet were present. The Smew was feeding in both Holes Bay NW and NE over the course of the morning. The Lesser Yellowlegs was at Lytchett Fields and at the PC World drain 3 Chiffchaff were feeding and a Firecrest was seen. At Arne a ringtail Hen Harrier passed the Raptor Hide and 2 Marsh Harrier were in Middlebere with a Merlin seen dashing through. 

Goldeneye – Poole Park boating lake – Paul Morton

Barnacle Geese – Ower Bay – Paul Morton


Harbour Update – posted 17/01/17

Posted on: January 18th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Winter sea watches can often go one of two ways…very productive or more often than not…a total waste of time. Today however a seawatch from Branksome Chine was well worth the effort as an easterly wind kept passing birds close to the shore. Divers were the main highlight with all 3 regular species seen including 1 Great Northern Diver settled on the water and another heading west. Then 6 Red-throated Diver flew in from the west, settled on the water for several minuets before continuing east whilst another 5 Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver fed as a group before they then upped and headed east with then another 3 Red-throated Diver passing east further out. Also seen were 2 Common Scoter east, 1 Kittiwake east, 5 Gannet west, 1 dark-bellied Brent Goose west and 2 Med Gulls east. It was also fairly busy with Razorbill with c30 heading east and another 14 settled on the water with 8 Great Crested Grebe. There was a report of 3 Slavonian Grebe from Ower Bay and also 2 Black-necked Grebe with 9 Crossbill on Rempstone Heath. From Middle Beach, Studland 14 Common Scoter passed and a few Gannet were ‘milling around’ with only 6 Black-necked Grebe present. A single pale-bellied Brent Goose was in amongst c500 dark-bellied Brents near Middlebere. At Norden Sewage works near Corfe 10 Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff and a Firecrest were on the filter beds. The Starling murmuation at Shell Beach was again enjoyed by good numbers of people and a Merlin was on the post in front of the Middlebere hide. Finally the Smew was in Holes Bay SE. Sadly there was no sign yesterdays Waxwing from Canford Heath. 

Waxwing – Canford Heath garden – David Ayrton (16/01/18)


Harbour Update – posted 16/01/17

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Finally, FINALLY a Waxwing was reported within the harbour with one in a private garden on Canford Heath. One of the last big Waxwing eruptions Dorset experienced was also at Canford Heath back in 2008 with several hundred birds present. We know, we know, but at least 1 single bird is a start! Just keep an eye out on those treetops on your drive to work…you just never know…there could be one on a street near YOU! Elsewhere around the harbour, reports were pretty quiet with 17 Spoonbill on Shipstal, Arne, the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal at Lytchett Fields and 2 Great Northern Diver near the harbour mouth. 


Harbour Update – posted 15/01/17

Posted on: January 16th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was a nice mix of species in the harbour today starting at Hartland Moor where the Great Grey Shrike was close to the road along Soldiers Road then viewed out across the Moors 14 Barnacle Geese and a Marsh Harrier were counted and an unusual record of a Golden Plover flew over Hartland heading west calling. At Middlebere there was 4 Spotted Redshank and a Marsh Harrier and in Shell Bay 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 15 Sanderling and a few Gannet moving east. There was a single Firecrest in the middle Beach car park. At Arne 22 Spoonbill were in Shipstal Point and from an RSPB bird boat 3 Common Scoter, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 8 Black-necked Grebe, 3 Great Northern Diver and a Merlin on Brownsea. In the Wareham Channel a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen from the train and at Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were still present. The redhead Smew was also still in Holes Bay south. The Starling murmuration at Shell Beach, Studland still had the crowds wowed with what seems to be an increasing rather than decreasing sized flock. 

Starlings – Shell Beach, Studland – Paul Morton


Harbour Update – posted 14/01/17

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With calmer seas birds were easier to pick up out on the water and at around midday a Little Auk was reported from the harbour entrance for around 15 minuets. This news only reached us third hand via an info service so if anyone has any more info on this or even better, some photos we’d really appreciate seeing them. There was plenty more on offer around the harbour today with up to 4 Great Northern Diver (2 in the harbour entrance and 2 off Jerry’s Point), a male Merlin was in the Frome Valley and 3 Marsh Harrier were over the Moors. In Shell Bay there were just 2 Black-necked Grebe. At Middlebere the single Black Brant was with c700 dark-bellied Brent Geese at lunch time. At South Haven a Jack Snipe flew over and 13 Sanderling were on the beach. The Starling murmuration over Shell Beach car park at dusk was rumoured to be the best yet!!! So get down there while the going is still good. At Lytchett Fields both Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were found. Off the southern shore of Brownsea 7 Black-necked Grebe were bobbing about and on the lagoon were c125 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank and 6 Greenshank. In Middlebere c500 Avocet were roosting on the high tide and on Shipstal the Spoonbill were still glamming themselves up. A female Crossbill was on Canford Heath.  

Lesser Yellowlegs – Lytcehtt Pools Field – Peter Moore

Sandwich Tern – Baiter – Peter Moore


Harbour Update – posted 13/01/17

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A strong built throughout the day making ant type of outing tricky, and we even had to postpone one of our school bird boats with 40 knot winds predicted. However by late afternoon things had settled again and a few snippets of info made it our way. In the Frome Valley a redhead Goosander was downstream of Holme Bridge with 2 Green Sandpiper in the valley and 3 Firecrest in woods bordering the river. At South Beach there was a single pale-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Gannet and a Firecrest. In Old Town Poole a Black Redstart was on the roofs of the high street. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were still present with usual good numbers of Dunlin, Redshank, Snipe, Lapwing and Teal on the high tide. At Whitley Lake, Sandbanks the ‘reverse plumaged’ Bar-tailed Godwit was seen again for the first time this winter and in Holes Bay south the redhead Smew was still feeding. At Arne the Spoonbills are prepping for their limelight as Winter Watch prepares to catapult them into stardom and in the Wareham Channel still at least 3 Marsh Harrier are present.  

Bar-tailed Godwits – Shore Road, Sandbanks – Peter Moore

Black-tailed Godwit – Poole Park – Peter Moore


Harbour Update – posted 12/01/17

Posted on: January 13th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Ergh!!! There’s foul and then there’s foul. A really yucky day in the end with sleet even pelting down briefly as dusk approached. The Smew was still in Holes Bay south feeding further along the bay towards ASDA. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was forced off its usual area due to the high tide and the Green-winged Teal was on French’s Pool and a harbour tick in the shape of 4 Egyptian Geese passed over Lytchett Bay.  


Harbour Update – posted 11/01/17

Posted on: January 13th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The weather can’t make its mind up at the moment. We all love a cold crisp winters day, but when a cold NW 20mph wind gets going the draw of a warm fire and hot coffee seems to take over. However, we were still out covering much of the harbour today with our Dorset Discovery winter tour group which saw us visit Brownsea Island, followed by a boat tour around the harbour. Brownsea was busy with the Merlin terrorising all the Grey Plover and Dunlin, 9 Spoonbill were on the northern edge of the lagoon and 2 Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank were in front of the Lower Hide.  The lagoon was also holding good numbers Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher and c100 Bar-tailed Godwit. The strong wind made viewing tricky on our boat tour but 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Common Scoter and good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser were the highlights. At Holes Bay the Smew was still in Holes Bay SE and at Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on Sherford and French’s pools.  At Middlebere a ringtail Hen Harrier was photographed by local photographer Simon Kidner which has to be one of the best photos ever taken of this species within the harbour…bravo Simon!! At Holes Bay NW the Ruff was back in the cattle field with c1000 Black-tailed Godwit. Out in the Wareham Channel 2 Marsh Harrier were hunting and the Starling murmuration at South Haven, Studland was still going strong.  

Hen Harrier – Middlebere – Simon Kidner

Smew – Holes Bay – Ian Ballam

Ruff – Holes Bay NW – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 10/01/17

Posted on: January 13th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Thankfully the scuzzy weather from yesterday had subsided and a welcome calm had settled across the harbour. What is likely to be the same Smew that was found on Sunday reappeared in Holes Bay south, the same location one has been present the last 3 winters. Off Middle Beach 21 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver were feeding just before the roost formed and off Bramble Bush Bay 22 Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Great Northern Diver and 9 Goldeneye were feeding on the low tide. The Starling roost which still consists of roughly 12,000 birds was made even more dramatic when a Merlin penetrated its way through the center of the flock and grabbing a single Starling in amongst the chaos. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs was still present with Peregrine and Marsh Harrier there too and at Holes Bay a Marsh Harrier passed over the bypass which is quite a rarity in this part of the harbour. We’ve also been getting several calls about a wacky looking wader in Holes Bay hiding in amongst the Black-tailed Godwit flock which was finally photographed and it looks to be a partial albino/leucistic Black-tailed Godwit with a honking great orange bill. Finally, yet another over-wintering Yellow-browed Warbler was found this time in East Holme in the Frome Valley. 

Starling murmuration – South Haven, Studland – Paul Morton

Partial albino Black-tailed Godwit – Holes Bay – Ian Ballam

Smew with Goldeneye – Holes Bay – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 09/01/17

Posted on: January 9th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite the deluge that kicked in around 2pm some decent birds were seen around the Arne area with a ringtail Hen Harrier and 3 Marsh Harrier over Middlebere, a male Merlin off Shipstal, 7 Spoonbill feeding off Long Island, 400-500 Avocet feeding in the Wytch Channel and good numbers of common waders and wildfowl in the Middlebere Channel. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were still present and out over Swineham 2 Marsh Harrier were hunting. A male and female Scaup were seen up off the north shore of Arne. 


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