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 May, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 30/05/17

Posted on: May 31st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was a welcome return this afternoon of the Arne cafe Nightjar which was found in a different tree to last year but still viewable from the café terrace. The Arne staff no doubt will have telescopes trained on the bird if re-found tomorrow. It seemed to be in a more open spot to last year too, giving great views. Other than the Nightjar, just Hobby and Marsh Harrier were noted over the Wareham Channel and Spotted Flycatcher were seen at Arne and Upton House. 


Harbour Update – posted 29/05/17

Posted on: May 31st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today produced a decent count of birds, mainly thanks to a full Brownsea Lagoon count from James Phillips which included 3 Spoonbill, 3 Avocet, 1 Greenshank, 6 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 39 Black-tailed Godwit, 113 Oystercatcher, 5 Teal, 7 Gadwall, 170 Shelduck and 8 Med Gulls. There were also some newly fledged Firecrests near the Villa. Around the Arne/Hartland area there was 1 Cuckoo, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hobby, 1 Grey Plover and a Woodlark. This evening we also carried out a Nightjar ringing session in Poole Harbour north which was fairly successful with a 1st summer female and full adult male caught, the latter being a re-trap from 2 years ago. We also managed to jam in and ring a Tawny Owl which flew into the net just as we were packing up. 

Nightjar – Poole Harbour north


Harbour Update – posted 28/05/17

Posted on: May 31st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Very few reports today, other than a Red Kite just south of Corfe Castle, Hobby over Arne and Hartland Moor and Cuckoo on Slepe Heath and Holton Lee. 


Harbour Update – posted 27/05/17

Posted on: May 31st, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning 2 beautiful adult, crisp Roseate Terns were on the Brownsea Lagoon ‘boomerang’, out in front of the Lower Hide. They remained there on and off throughout the day and were joined by the 3 Spoonbill again. 


Harbour Update – posted 25/05/17

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

The high pressure, easterly wind and warm temperatures obviously got a few birds moving about today with several good birds to report. Firstly 3 Spoonbill dropped down and appeared on the Brownsea Lagoon mid-morning. Although Poole Harbour is famous for its over-wintering population, birds during the summer months are much scarcer. Sometimes over-wintering birds will hang around into the summer but our last over-wintering Spoonbill departed in early April. Todays 3 are likely to be 1st summer birds (juveniles from last year) just touring around and enjoying their ‘gap year’, and who knows, perhaps scoping out suitable breeding areas for when they themselves are ready to breed? An Osprey was seen in the Wareham Channel, which again, for the time of year is interesting. Its possible that this is a 2nd summer Osprey (a juvenile 2 years ago) which has returned to the UK for the first time since fledging the nest. When juvenile Osprey migrate south down into West Africa for the first time, they remain their for the following summer and don’t migrate north again until the following summer after that. When they do return in that 2nd summer they don’t breed and can be extremely mobile, sometimes covering vast distances looking at areas other osprey are nesting in, as well as visiting good fishing sites. In the Lower Frome Valley there was a Cattle Egret, which was seen briefly between Arne Moors and Bestwall.  After yesterday’s Red Kite movement it was inevitable one would appear in the harbour and a couple did, with one high above Holes Bay mid-morning with another over Sandford. 


Harbour Update – posted 24/05/17

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

Pretty quiet today but as things warm, other interests begin to evolve. Bird-wise just a few waders were reported on Lytchett Fields with 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Lapwing 2 Dunlin and 1 Grey Plover. At Swineham GP the pale-headed Egyptian Goose was on the main pit. Swifts have now taken up residence over old Town Poole and can be heard screaming away. Although none were reported within our Poole Harbour area today, the county saw several Red Kites passing through and with the high pressure forecast to continue its worth keeping an eye out for Red Kite passing overhead. We actually received late news of one passing over Poole on May 22nd. As May ends and June begins, Dragonflies and Moths can be a welcome distraction from what can often seem a ‘birdless’ month. RSPB Arne often hosts Moth Trap demo’s which are well worth taking a look at. As a charity we (Birds of Poole Harbour) are also at the very beginnings of carrying out a two-year Moths and Butterflies of Poole Harbour study. More on this in the coming weeks, but it will almost certainly involve some Moth Trap demo’s for people to attend. Gaging and monitoring the health of moth and butterfly populations within the harbour is just as important as monitoring the birds as this will indicate how and where eco-systems and populations are flourishing which will of course in turn benefit the birds. 


Harbour Update – posted 23/05/17

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

This morning we went out and re-surveyed Gull Islands after it became obvious whilst surveying two weeks ago that the season hadn’t really got going yet. Well, on the whole the survey proved positive with a fairly decent recovery of the colony after last years issues. Our team counted just under 6000 Black-headed Gull nests (5736) and we feel that if the breeding season hadn’t of been late then this total would have actually been well over 6000 nests. The point is this, that after a spring of publicity and awareness raising it seems the colony has been able to make a fairly decent step forward top recovering and a big thanks has to go out to Dorset Police Marine Division and the local community who helped keep an eye on the islands during this critical time. You can read our press release HERE. Our survey only returned 33 Mediterranean Gull nests which is frustrating as our visit to gull islands earlier in May suggested that many more Med’s were looking to settle. One suggestion for the lower than expected number of Meds is that the exceptionally dry spring prevented Med Gulls from being able to feed properly, therefore not allowing them to get into full breeding condition in time. Both Med Gull and Black-headed Gull venture far in land to feed on invertebrates on farm fields prior and during the breeding season and with bone dry soil, finding worms and other invertebrates to feed on would have been very difficult. We’ll continue to survey the islands year on year to a) make sure the islands remain a safe haven for breeding gulls and b) to monitor long term trends of nesting Med Gulls and to analyse factors that may be affecting their breeding success.

Other sightings from around the harbour included a Red Kite through the harbour mouth at 9:15am with a Nightjar still churring 8:00am! On Lytchett Fields there were a pair of Teal, 70 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover and 2 Dunlin. On Hartland 2 Common Redshank were sat on phone wires, pretending to be Swallows. On Brownsea the usual Nightjar is back in its favourite spot in front of the woodland hide. Hobby were at Arne, Holmebridge and Greenland’s Farm. Dartford Warbler seem to be having a really great season with many heathland sites ‘dripping’ with Darties. The first brood of fledged Dartford chicks will be out and about soon (if not already) so there should be plenty to see and enjoy. 

Common Redshank – Hartland Moor


Harbour Update – posted 22/05/17

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

This morning we were out early recceing the ‘Gull Islands’ to see how far along the colony was after it was discovered during our survey two weeks ago that the breeding season seemed to have been late. By early May most Black-headed Gull nests should have been full and the Med Gulls should have also been beginning to lay, however during our survey on May 7th and 8th it was clear that many gulls of both species hadn’t started laying yet. Luckily, it was also clear during that survey in early May that there were no signs of egg collecting as not a single footprint was found on any of the islands. Our recce this morning proved successful with not a single empty nest seen and the first chick found meaning that almost all the eggs would now be beyond ‘the picking stage’, rendering them useless to restaurants. Our team will be out first thing tomorrow morning to re-survey all three of the islands and we’re hoping the colony of Black-headed Gulls will be back up to around the 6000 nests mark. Who knows how many Mediterranean Gulls we’ll find but 9 Med nests were seen during the recce this morning. On Hartland (May 21st) there were 3 Hobby hawking over the heath with 1 Cuckoo, 2 Wheatear and a Spotted Flycatcher also in the Hartland area with 4 Nightjar calling on Coombe Heath, Arne. Hobby were also again over the Arne Road/Slepe heath area. At Lytchett Fields there was a single Grey Plover and 88 Black-tailed Godwit. At Holton Pools 2 Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, 1 Greenshank and a flock of 15 House Martin were viewed from the new hide. With many birds in summer plumage and staying put for long periods of time in a certain area, late May and early June provide a great opportunity to watch, listen and study birds properly. Learning a birds behavior, sounds and daily routine can really enhance your ID skills and bettering and enhancing your field craft will without a doubt provide you with better birding experiences. Also, as we crawl into June, not wanting spring migration to come to an end we can already begin to think about the autumn with June often hosting the first returning Green Sandpipers heading south. 


Harbour Update – posted 21/05/17

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The steady SE wind which kicked in by midday felt like it could bring in some eastern promise, perhaps a Honey Buzzard or Black Kite? Alas, it wasn’t to be, but there was a good showing of Raptors in the SW of the harbour with 2 Hobby over Arne Moors, 2 Marsh Harrier over the Wareham Channel, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine all circling over and around Slepe Heath. Cuckoo’s were calling at dawn again at Swineham, Greenlands’s Farm and Arne. Common Swift can be seen and heard bombing up and down the main high street in Wareham which is always one of our summer highlights, however not many have been seen over Old Town Poole yet. Along the track at Middlebere the song of Redshank can be heard early morning and before dark with other birds displaying at Lytchett Fields, Wareham Water Meadows and Keysworth. There are still 2 Avocet on Brownsea and Nightjars were heard calling on and singing on Coombe Heath, Arne with another roosting in its usual place on Brownsea Island. 


Harbour Update – posted 20/05/17

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

As the breeding season progresses its good to get a grip on totals of breeding species in certain areas and a check along the Frome Valley by local birder Peter Moore produced an excellent 60 Reed Warbler between Wareham and Swineham, also 23 Cetti’s Warbler, 9 Sedge Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 5 Reed Bunting, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Cuckoo, as well as the usual Swift, Swallow and Sand Martin over the flood meadows. Although a fraction outside our Poole Harbour recording area we hosted a public walk at Morden Bog this AM which produced a c10 Dartford Warbler, 2 Woodlark, 2 Redstart, 3-4 Tree Pipit, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Yellowhammer, plenty of Stonechat and 4-5 Mistle Thrush. At Arne there were 2 Whimbrel, 5 Grey Plover, c20 Dunlin and c40 Black-tailed Godwit in the Middlebere Channel. Nightjars are now on many of the heathlands around the harbour and on the Brownsea Lagoon there were 120 Black-tailed Godwit, 95 Dunlin and 2 Sanderling with reasonable numbers of Sandwich Tern back breeding on their traditional island in front of the Mac Hide. 


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