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 February, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 26/02/17

Posted on: February 27th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was the February Poole Harbour WeBS count which always produces good counts of birds and occasionally a goodie here or there. Today it was Lytchett Bays turn to report ‘find of the day’ in the shape of an adult Ring-billed Gull, which was settled in the bay briefly before lifting off and headed towards the Wareham Channel. It was gulls galore in the harbour on today’s low tide with literally thousands littering the mudflats around the entire harbour, mostly Common Gull by the looks of things with a good spread of Black-headed, Herring, Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed and lesser numbers of Mediterranean Gull. There were also Yellow-legged Gulls in Wytch Lake (1) and on the Brownsea Lagoon (3). There’s no better time to try and find scarcer gull species and with so many gulls visiting the harbour each day hopefully it’s a case of when rather than if we see the likes of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls starting to appear, or perhaps even another Ring-billed Gull or two. Equally unexpected was a group of 5 Slavonian Grebe off the houseboats at South Haven, a species that’s seen big declines over the last 5-10 years. Also off the houseboats was a single Great Northern Diver and a Merlin was on Studland Heath. On the main Poole park boating lake was 1 Kingfisher, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Goldeneye. At Norden sewage works 1 Firecrest was present and up to 6 Chiffchaff were feeding/singing. The Lesser Yellowlegs was on Lytchett Fields early morning and Spoonbills were on Shipstal, Brownsea and in Wytch Lake and the Wareham Channel. At Swineham 11 Barnacle Geese were on the main pit. There was also a report of a ‘brown owl’ flying over the marsh at Middlebere on Friday evening. 


Harbour Update – posted 25/02/17

Posted on: February 27th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A blustery and blowy day, over cast sky and damp in the air…not quite the glorious early spring day we had last weekend, but still, its best not to rush and will the spring away, remember, it is still only February! Which in turn means there’s still plenty of a good winter birds to try and catch up with. Day by day the Poole Harbour Black-necked Grebes are transforming more and more into their much more attractive summer plumage and even the Great Northern Diver that are frequenting the harbour mouth area are moulting and changing ever so slightly. There are still lots of Great Crested Grebe across the open bodies of water in the harbour, all at various different stages of moult, some also in full summer finery and some still as dull as dish water (bit harsh we know). Many of the Reed Bunting that are frequenting the Holton Lee/Lytchett Bay area are also mostly half way through their abrasion process, where the tips of their winter plumage wear away revealing summer breeding plumage underneath. The Holton Lee feeding station is a good place to see examples of this as several males are currently feeding below the feeders. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was on French’s Pools. At Poole Park there was no sign of the Goosander but 3 Goldeneye, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Kingfisher and 4 Little Grebe were all out on the main boating lake. 


Harbour Update – posted 24/02/17

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

There was a nice mix of birds today as the weather settled and provided us with a calm and still evening. At the harbour mouth early evening a Great Northern Diver and 4 Red-breasted Merganser flew out to roost, the Eider was off Pilots Point again, a Sandwich Tern was fishing in Poole Bay and a Razorbill was settled off one of the Sandbanks Groynes. In Poole Park the drake Goosander was still present with 4 Little Grebe, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, a Kingfisher and a Water Rail. In Holes Bay north there were still 20 Pintail, 100 Dunlin, 1 Knot and the Smew was in Holes Bay NE. At Lytchett Bay a Jack Snipe, 2 Marsh Harrier, a Peregrine the Lesser Yellowlegs and the Greenshank were all noted across the site. An amazing encounter of a Gannet flying over the mouth of the River Frome, near Swineham took local birder Nick Hopper by surprise. Black-necked Grebes were in Studland and Shell Bay as well as South Deep. At Arne 14 Spoonbill were on Shipstal and the Great Grey Shrike was seen again along Soldiers Road. One thing we forgot to mention was that a couple of grey male Hen Harriers joined our regular 4 in the west of the harbour on Wednesday morning. The Corfe Mullen Waxwing were again at Hanahm Road with 4 present. 


Harbour Update – posted 23/02/17

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

The tides are currently good for gull watching as they come into the harbour to roost for the night. Low tides an hour prior and during sunset attract large numbers of gulls to come and settle which in turn may attract in scarcer species such as Iceland and Glaucous Gulls. Late February and into March is the best time to Look for rarer gull species so its well worth swatting up on ID features. Sadly, no such gulls were found in amongst the several thousand Black-headed Gulls that came into pre-roost at Lytchett Bay, although c20 Med Gulls were still nice to see. The Lesser Yellowlegs was out in the bay feeding with a group of Redshank and a single Greenshank hugged the marsh. Out in the Turlin Channel 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Great Crested Grebe were feeding. Over Holton Lee a Green Sandpiper went over with a Marsh Harrier following after. The 4 Corfe Mullun Waxwing were seen again at the end of Hanham Road but only briefly. A fine drake Goosander was swimming around on Poole Park boating lake with 3 Goldeneye, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Little Grebe.  


Harbour Update – posted 22/02/17

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

Fairly quiet today with just a few snippets of news. The Smew was still in Holes Bay NE, just 3 Black-necked Grebe were seen in Studland Bay a Firecrest was at Upton CP, 15 Spoonbill and a Peregrine were at Shipstal, Arne. At Shore Road 81 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding in the inner harbour, on Poole Park boating lake 3 Red-breasted Merganser and a Goldeneye were feeding and at Whitecliff 5 Turnstone and 2 Rock Pipit were on the sea wall. At Holton Lee a Green Sandpiper and a likely Water Pipit flew over there too. 

Bar-tailed Godwit – Shore Road – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 21/02/17

Posted on: February 21st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Literally just meters outside the harbour boundary, some of the Corfe Mullen Waxwing re-appeared today with 4 originally on the corner of Hanham Road, but later flew south towards Springdale Road where they then disappeared up Heckford Road. We managed to snatch a magical couple of minutes as the 4 Waxwing sat in a tree just outside the Lesley Shand funeral directors (a bit macabre we know), with the birds only 10 feet above us calling away, allowing us to get a semi-decent sound recording of their characteristic sweet trill. At North Haven the elusive 4 Purple Sandpiper weren’t that elusive for once and off Pilots Point, Studland a 1w male Eider was preening. Up on Branksome cliff top a Firecrest was in scrub, 2 Egyptian Geese passed over Lytchett Bay and in Holes Bay the Smew, 1 Spotted Redshank and a single Knot were still present. At Swineham 11 Barnacle Geese were on the pits, on Hartland the Great Grey Shrike was still along the Soldiers Road area and in Middlebere a single Spoonbill was present with 7 on Shipstal and a Crossbill passed over Middlebere. On the groynes at Sandbanks Ringed Plover and Dunlin were roosting together and in Poole Bay 11 Great Crested Grebe were still feeding in a tight flock. At Norden sewage works c10 Chiffchaff were still present. Across the way in Christchurch Harbour a Northern Wheatear was reported yesterday so keep your eyes peeled for any early returners.

 Waxwings 21/02/17 – Calls of 4 perched birds Corfe Mullen, Poole 14:47

Waxwing – Corfe Mullen 

Purple Sandpiper – Sandbanks – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 20/02/17

Posted on: February 21st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It turned mild again today, turning thoughts to Sand Martins and Swallows swooping in off the sea, but as always, we get over excited with a little touch of impatience this time of year and no such ‘swooping’ took place…but still, it won’t be long before there is! There was however a good total of 29 Black-necked Grebe in Studland Bay with 2 Common Scoter, 17 Med Gull and 4 Great Crested Grebe. At Holme Bridge a Goosander flew low over, heading towards the harbour. Off Branksome Beach, viewing from the cliff top and calm and sheltered Poole Bay produced 1 settled Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot, 31 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Red-breasted Merganser. On Hartland Moor the Great Grey Shrike re-appeared along Soldiers Road and up until Feb 19th, 4 Hen Harrier were seen dotted around the Poole Harbour west area.  In Holes Bay the Smew was still feeding off the outflow with 9 Knot also seen and a Spotted Redshank. The Spoonbill are yep…you guessed it…still on Shipstal and in Middlebere 2 Marsh Harrier were active for quite a while. In Bramble Bush Bay 3 Goldeneye were feeding close to the shore and 9 Sanderling were feeding near the houseboats. 

Spotted Redshank – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Knot hiding in amongst Wigeon – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 19/02/17

Posted on: February 21st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A bit colder and grimmer today but still pleasant nonetheless. Another night recording session produced another high count of Redwing with up to 400 calls between 7pm and midnight. However singing Robins and Blackbirds took over at 00:30 making the analysing of sonagrams almost impossible. Also several Blackbird, Song Thrush and Fieldfare along with a flock of Brent Geese at 23:30. At Lytchett Bay 2 Spoonbill were on the fields with both Marsh and Hen Harrier seen. There was also a Firecrest near the Slough Lane allotments and Med Gull numbers are increasing on a daily basis. The Lesser Yellowlegs although was missing for most of the day, turned up later in the day. At Studland there was a single pale-bellied Brent Goose near Old Harry, 1 Black-throated Diver past Old Harry, there were 12 Black-necked Grebe in Studland Bay and 1 in Shell Bay, 10 Sanderling in Bramble bush Bay and at Norden sewage works 2 Firecrest and c10 Chiffchaff. A ringing session at a site on Canford Heath, carried out by SRG saw an amazing 9 different Bullfinch ringed, bringing the total for that site alone to 27 in just a few sessions. At Arne 16 Spoonbill were on Shipstal and a Firecrest was in the car park.


Harbour Update – posted 18/02/17

Posted on: February 19th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Now that’s what we call an early spring day. One of those perfect warm February days that feels it could produce a spring migrant around every corner before you quickly realise it’s still only mid Feb and in fact there is still a good couple of weeks before the first true spring migrants arrive. That said, Meadow Pipit and alba wagtails were seen passing overhead at Greenland’s Farm, suggesting the early passage of both these species is underway. Woodlark were still singing away at heathland sites around the harbour and Dartford Warbler seemed to be active on every gorse stack and heather clump. Sadly there was no news of yesterday Snow Bunting up on Old Harry, but 18 Black-necked Grebe is Studland bay, 2 of which were in full summer plumage already were a welcome surprise. Also 2 Common Scoter and 3 Great Crested Grebe out in the bay too. On Shell Beach and later near the house boats up to 40 Sanderling were feeding and off Bramble bush Bay a Great Northern Diver was easy to pick out on calm waters. On Brownsea, wader numbers seem to be decreasing but there was still 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 1 Sandwich Tern and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Mediterranean Gulls are now becoming more frequent around the shores of the harbour and 40 came into roost on Brownsea. Through February and March their calls are easily distinguishable as they pass overhead moving back and forth between inland feeding areas and roosting sites. At Whitley Lake, Sandbanks c100 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding and 10m off shore 12 Red-breasted Merganser were chasing fish. Marsh Harrier have been frequent at Arne, Lytchett Bay and Swineham but Hen Harrier seem to have become quite scarce now. Its seems to have been another good Firecrest winter with 1 today at Norden SW, Upton CP and 2 in the Arne car park. 


Harbour Update – posted 17/02/17

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

Spring continues to spring into action and the warm weather is a welcome sign that change is on the way. Its not only us that can tell spring is on its way as our first night recording session of 2017 from our listening station in Old Town Poole picked up the first northward passage of thrushes with 112 Redwing, 11 Song Thrush and 5 Fieldfare calls as well as a Wigeon flock (possibly moving back north or just moving within the harbour) and several Curlew. The (or a) Snow Bunting was re-discovered up on Old Harry which showed nicely for an hour at least before going missing. At Fleets corner the Siberian Chiffchaff was present again and at Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs and a Marsh Harrier were present. A night ringing session in the Lower Frome Valley saw 8 Woodcock (1 ringed), 4 roosting Skylark, 11 Lapwing (1 ringed) and a Barn Owl

 Wigeon Flock 16/02/17 @ 19: 39 Calls of night time passage over Old Town Poole Listening Station

Skylark – Lower Frome Valley

Woodcock – Lower Frome Valley

Lapwing – Lower Frome Valley


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