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 March, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 20/03/17

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

A really yucky day which did subside to a sunny end of the day, but the continued strong SW wind is still keeping many migrants at bay. The only passerine migrant news was of a new Wheatear at Lytchett Fields and 3 Sand Martin at Swineham. The Ruff was still at Upton CP out from the stone bench. On the Brownsea Lagoon Med Gull numbers remain high; will we see another record number of breeding pairs this year on the lagoon? Well, in a way, hopefully we don’t! Last year the 10 pairs of Med Gulls that did nest on Brownsea consumed 100% of the first brood of Common Tern chicks, so if we do see an increase of Meds breeding on the lagoon this summer, the knock on affect could be a big issue. Lets not forget though, it’s not the gulls’ fault. Meds have quite happily bred on ‘Gull Islands’ in the Wareham Channel for many years, until last year that is, when a vast illegal harvesting of eggs was discovered during a survey which meant Meds de-camped to Brownsea to seek refuge. This year we’ll be surveying ‘Gull Islands’ again to monitor how the population of both Black-headed Gull and Med Gull have fared a year on after the discovery. We have also had correspondence with Dorset Police, Marine Division who have offered support in the form of night patrols and monitoring, so hopefully we’ll be able to update with more info on this in the coming weeks. Also on Brownsea the Black-tailed Godwits are now coming into summer plumage and there are still currently c20 Avocet hanging around too. This could be interesting and an indication some may be thinking about attempting to breed again. Sadly, they did also try last year and the year before but are yet to be successful. Don’t forget you can watch all the comings and goings of the Brownsea Lagoon LIVE on our Brownsea Webcams.

Finally, with Brexit now just around the corner, our local and wider environment has never needed your support so much. A recent report, looking into the environment post Brexit has recently been published and we encourage anyone with a current and future interest in environmental protection to please READ and share the report with your local MPs, friends and family. 

Northern Wheatear – Lytchett Bay – Trevor Wilkinson

Ruff – Upton CP – Ian Ballam



Harbour Update – posted 19/03/17

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

A blustery day with limited reports today with just the Waxwing up in Corfe Mullen being seen again on the edge of Hanham Road, the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs both at Lytchett Fields, the Great Grey Shrike briefly out on Hartland Moor, 5 Spoonbill at Shipstal, Arne and 4 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach, Studland. 

Harbour Update – posted 18/03/17

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

Despite the strong SW wind which could be keeping the arrival of more migrants at bay over the coming days, a nice group of hirundines were feeding over Swineham GP at dawn with c30 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow and a single House Martin with 3 Pochard, 6 Cetti’s Warbler, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe and plenty of Chiffchaff on or around the main pit. Off Middle Beach, Studland 8 Black-necked Grebe were spread across the bay with 2 Common Scoter, 2 Gannet, 5 Med Gulls and 2 Ring-necked Parakeet also noted. A single Purple Sandpiper was at North Haven (Sandbanks) and a decent Sanderling flock is still feeding on Shell Beach. The Green Winged Teal was still on Lytchett Fields. 

Harbour Update – posted 17/03/17

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

This is what we love about the spring, any day has the potential to produce ‘a first’ for the year and today we saw another two arrive with the first Swallow dashing through Lytchett Fields and the first Willow Warbler was on the edge of Upton CP. A ringing session in the Lower Frome Valley produced 1 new Jack Snipe ringed and 6 seen at still 1 Woodcock seen with c20 Common Snipe. Wheatear were on Slepe Heath and Hartland, in Middlebere there were 4 Spotted Redshank, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out over the reeds in the mouth of the Frome and Chiffchaff were still heard in good numbers. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools and 6 Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point, Arne. And finally the female Scaup was again seen on the main Poole Park boating lake. 

Harbour Update – posted 16/03/17

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

Spring continues to creep up on us with an increase of Sand Martin now arriving with c50 at Swineham GP late evening and the Harbours first House Martin in amongst them and another 2 Sand Martin through Lytchett Bay. The (a) Cattle Egret was seen flying relatively high above Swineham at 9:45am, heading SW towards Holme Lane…is it hiding out in the cattle fields in the Frome Valley somewhere? Another Bittern was seen at Swineham too. In Studland Bay 11 Black-necked Grebe were still present, most in summer plumage and 4 Common Scoter (3 drake, 1 female) were also feeding in the bay with the 1st w drake Eider sat out on the training bank. On Poole Park boating lake, 4 Red-breasted Merganser are still happily feeding away and Chiffchaff numbers were still steady around the harbour with many areas seeing and hearing singing birds.  Surprise surprise (as Cilla Black once sang), the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on Lytchett Fields and evidence grew that there may actually be 8 Waxwing around with 4 on Northbrook Road, Broadstone and another 4 still up on Hanham Road, Corfe Mullun, although we’re unsure of the timings of these sightings so they could still refer to the same birds. 

Cormorant – Hamworthy – Colin Moyes

Harbour Update – posted 15/03/17

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

As the spring progresses, focuses are often shifted from harbour species to terrestrial species, so it was great today to get reports of some lingering wetland birds which included a full list from the Brownsea Lagoon consisting of 21 Brent Goose, 52 Gadwall, 57 Shoveler, 10 Pintail, 133 Shelduck, 213 Oystercatcher, 78 Avocet, 69 Grey Plover, 1 Ringed Plover, 96 Bar-tailed Godwit, 175 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank, 16 Greenshank, 34 Knot, 2 Snipe, 111 Med Gulls, 4 Sandwich Tern, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Wheatear and 3 Firecrest. Scanning from the shores of southern Brownsea out into the harbour produced 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 40+ Great Crested Grebe, 50+ Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Goldeneye. At Swineham another Bittern was heard calling despite the fog and a 7 Sand Martin and a Peregrine went over the main pit. In the glorious sunshine, Dartford Warbler were really active on the heaths of Arne and a ringtail Hen Harrier was in the Middlebere Channel. At Shipstal 9 Spoonbill were still there, the Whimbrel continued to be seen and there was even a report of 2 Pochard in Middlebere which is a really extraordinary mid March record. 

Harbour Update – posted 14/03/17

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

Another check at Swineham this evening to see if the Cattle Egret came in was successful but sadly no Bittern tonight, however 3 Goosander flying towards the Wareham Channel was interesting and several Redwing and a Ringed Plover went over after sunset. The 4 Waxwing were again at Hanham road, Corfe Mullun and at Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools. 

Harbour Update – posted 13/03/17

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

Today was fairly quite migrant wise today, although we finally managed to get in on the Cattle Egret action when one was found going into roost on the big main island at Swineham GP. Where it goes to feed during the day is anyone’s guess but worth checking any cattle fields locally. Also at Swineham, incredibly a minimum of 3 Bittern left at dusk, calling as they went. At Lytchett Fields a Red Kite lofted low over flushing everything off the fields and a male Wheatear was also in the approach field with some Redwing and a single Fieldfare along the lane and both the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on Lytchett Fields. 

Harbour Update – posted 12/03/17

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

The first and second week of March often produces just the first singles of common migrants, however today it was obvious that quite a substantial arrival of Chiffchaff had made landfall with birds singing from pretty much every corner of the harbour. It’s estimated that several hundred were present today, really earmarking the first decent spring fall of the year. Back in 2013 we experienced another big Chiffchaff arrival but that didn’t occur until March 23rd, so todays fall is certainly an early occurrence. Its not only the Chiffchaff arriving early, today we encountered our second Little Ringed Plover of the spring, this time at Lytchett Fields. This beat the previous earliest record of Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Bay by 8 days! The small flurry of arriving Wheatear continued too with birds making land fall at Studland, Lytchett Fields and Slepe Heath. Again, the Lytchett Bay Wheatears today arrived 3 days earlier than any other previous records for this species at this site and a Blackcap was also seen near Upton CP so it seems things really are getting going early this year. Goodo and long may it continue. The Hartland Great Grey Shrike spent the afternoon on telephone wires up behind Scotland Farm, chomping on Lizards and the Wytch Causeway bird was also seen distantly. 8 Spoonbill were feeding in the Wytch Channel and off Middle Beach, just a single summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe was feeding. The 4 Waxwing were feeding in Northbrook Road again, this time fly-catching from the top of the tall Poplar Trees. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still present and out in the bay, viewed from the Turlin Moor viewing screen the now almost full summer plumaged Lesser Yellowlegs was looking fab. Also around the Lytchett Bay/Fields area  were 4+ Greenshank, c4 Green Sandpiper, 1 Bearded Tit and 1 Marsh Harrier. At Upton CP (Holes Bay NW), The Ruff was still feeding out in front of the stone bench with Black-tailed Godwit.  A ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the Middlebere entrance track early morning and a Goosander was on the main Poole Park boating Lake. There was also some late news of a Ring-billed Gull in the Wareham Channel, seen during a late afternoon WeBS count. 

On the night of March 10th/11th we had our night recording gear out at our Old Town Poole Listening Station. Despite the thick fog, which seemed to hamper most types of movement getting underway we still got two interesting recordings. Firstly, was (a flock?) of Pintail passing over at just gone midnight, a species we’ve never recorded from our listening station before.

Pintail 11/03/17 @ 00:07 – Calls of night time migrants – Old Town Poole Listening Station

Secondly was a call we recorded at 01:33 that we just couldn’t put our fingers on. It was only a single call, but was very defined. Having discussed it with Magnus Robb from the Sound Approach he concluded that it’s most likely a snippet of Common Chiffchaff song. We’ve provided the full call below. With the number of Common Chiffchaff arriving in the harbour over the last couple of days it sounds like a good bet, and another first for our night listing station. 

Chiffchaff – 11/03/17 @ 01:33 – Snippet of song of night migrant – Old Town Poole Listening Station


Wheatear – Shell Bay – Debbie

Harbour Update – posted 11/03/17

Posted on: March 12th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well with the shift in the wind and the lingering low cloud cover it definitely had that hint of spring migration in the air. It wasn’t long before Wheatears began to get reported with males seen on Shell Beach, South Haven, Coombe Heath, Arne and Middlebere just after dawn. Then not before long, the bird of the day was found, although sadly on a piece of private land. However, todays Hoopoe (as anti-social as it was) was a good message to get and try to find others of your own as there will be others…they just need finding. The whole day was themed all around arrivals and departures when at dusk at Swineham the springs first Little Ringed Plover flew down towards the point calling as it went, when roughly at the same time, the 11 Swineham Barnacle Geese upped and left in the dark, heading north. At Lytchett Fields both the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on the fields and it seems the 4 Corfe Mullen Waxwing have finally decided to move when they (some) were found on Northbrook Road, Poole BH18 8HD. The Pilots Point Snow Bunting did put in a couple of appearances, but the fog and murk made it tricky to track down. Also at Pilots Point were the Eider, several Black-necked Grebe and a Fulmar with 5 Common Scoter south from South Haven also 25+ Sanderling and 1 Sandwich Tern. Its always great seeing birds out of context too, which was highlighted perfectly this morning when a freshly arrived Stonechat decided a dog poo bin was a good substitute for a pine tree as it made landfall at the Baiter car park, Poole. A cracking adult male Hen Harrier was seen near Hartland heading towards Corfe early morning. In the Wytch Channel 9 Spoonbill were feeding. Great Grey Shrikeswere on Hartland Moor and another near the Wytch Causeway. There was also a great count of 10 Great Crested Grebe at Hatch Pond today. 

Freshly arrived Meadow Pipit – Studland


Freshly arrived Stonechat – Baiter car park, Poole

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