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 June, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 29/06/17

Posted on: June 30th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The first juvenile waders are already beginning to turn up in the harbour with good numbers of Lapwing appearing on Lytchett Fields along with the first juvenile Little Ringed Plover of the ‘autumn’. Little Ringed Plover don’t breed in the harbour as far as we know, although there are plenty of local quarry workings which could hold breeding LRP, so there’s a chance this juvenile hasn’t come very far. Juvenile Redshank are also beginning to appear on the Brownsea Lagoon with some adults still quite vocal and on territory at places like Middlebere and Arne Moors. We mentioned last week that the terns on Brownsea seem to be doing well and a check of our Brownsea Webcam highlights the remarks perfectly. The un-fenced islands now see ten’s of little feather balls bouncing around the shingle with the adult Common Terns busy trying to keep their chicks in check. The Sandwich Terns within the fenced islands are also holding on strong with only the occasional peck on the head from an angry neighbour presenting the biggest risks. It will be interesting to hear the official totals at the end of the season but it look’s like it could be the best Common Tern year for a very long time. The low cloud cover and mild temperatures got good numbers of Swift feeding over Poole Park boating lake, swooping low over the road and pavements. Back in 2012 a huge gathering of Swift (c800-1000) descended on the Poole Park area after a storm the night before had stirred up food sources in the area. It was an incredible urban scene as Swift dodged in and out of cars whilst others whizzed past your head at close quarters. 

Harbour Update – posted 28/06/17

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

That’s more like it! A June day full of rain…this is what we’re more used to. To be quite honest, it was much needed. So far this spring/summer we can count on one hand the number of times its rained sufficiently enough to actually have had an impact on plants and water levels. The rain filled up sites like Lytchett Fields and Holton Pools, which combined with the high tide forced out many of the roosting waders, although 2 Spoonbill, 4 Green Sandpiper and a Shelduck familywere attracted in on to French’s Pools. The Osprey was again on the post in Middlebere for a short while before disappearing, presumably to shelter from the rain.

We’ve also just published dates for our Winter Bird Boats, which start this December. This winter we’re hosting four trips including a new Wareham Channel/Harbour Cruise trip. For full details and to book on CLICK HERE

Shelduck – Middlebere – Olly Slessor


Harbour Update – posted 27/06/17

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

The male Osprey was on the post in Middlebere again today having gone missing for a couple of days. It caught a whopping great big mullut(?) and proceeded to eat it alive…head first! Who’d be a fish? Up on Ballard, juvenile Whitethroat were moving around the hedgerows which are almost certainly the initial daring adventures of locally fledged birds rather than signs of autumn passage getting underway, although give it another four weeks and our locally fledged youngsters will be joined by wanderers from further afield. The 5 Spoonbill were again on Brownsea. Initial signs seem to indicate its been a good breeding year for local birds with good numbers of juveniles of many species beginning to emerge, lets just hope that pattern is replicated across the whole of Europe and that we’re about to witness a huge passage of birds this autumn period. 

Harbour Update – posted 26/06/17

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

With the whiff of autumn migration just several weeks away it seems us birders are the only ones wishing away the summer each year. Towards the end of July passerine migration gets underway with the first pulse of Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers even Grasshopper Warblers all beginning to move south with waders following suit a week or two after. As we approach the end of June, sightings still remain limited as thoughts turn to cloudy sky’s over cool coasts during the autumn. Late June and early July can still see small arrivals of birds and things have definitely started to stir with Little Ringed Plovers and Green Sandpipers already beginning to turn up with mid-July also being a good time for early returning Ruff and Wood Sandpiper. So, as we approach July its well worth keeping an eye out for early signs of passage and for those first returning lemon yellow Willow Warblers amongst those Long-tailed Tit flocks. Today, just the 5 Spoonbill were reported to us and the Avocet pair are still on their nest with another 2 keeping a helpful eye out too.

Little Egret – Middlebere – Olly Slessor

Fox cub – Middlebere – Olly Slessor

Harbour Update – posted 25/06/17

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

We’ve been receiving daily updates on the sitting Avocets on the Brownsea Lagoon and there’s still no news/sign of any hatching yet so the waiting game continues. Also on the lagoon today were the 5 Spoonbill, 1 Greenshank and another 3 Avocet. On Lytchett Fields again, there was just a single adult Little Ringed Plover.

Sandwich Tern – Brownsea Lagoon 


Common Tern – Brownsea Quay 


Harbour Update – posted 24/06/17

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

Well, the good news is that the Avocet pair are still sitting tight on the Brownsea Lagoon. Its not know when the eggs were laid but with Avocet chicks hatching at other sites around the UK it could be any day now we see young arrive, that’s assuming the eggs are fertile and still alive. The 5 Spoonbill were back on the lagoon again too. At Lytchett Fields there was just the 1 Little Ringed Plover today but an increase of 6 Green Sandpiper already. This evening we also helped out Terry Elborn from the Borough of Poole Heathland management team along with Stour Ringing Group as we carried out a Nightjar ringing demo on Canford Heath. Terry and other members of Stour Ringing Group have been researching Nightjar populations on Canford for several years now and its great to be able to showcase some of this work to local residents. Although the forecast was a bit touch and go, by dusk the wind had dropped off completely and right on cue the Nightjar activity began. As the anticipation amongst the keen group of visitors grew, one of our team returned from a net-round with a Nightjar in hand and eyes grew wide as it was extracted from the bird bag. Seeing Nightjars is special in any circumstance, but to be able to see one this close is a real treat and after many questions and much discussion the group went away with beaming smiles. 

Female Nightjar – Canford Heath – Simon  Treasure

Harbour Update – posted 23/06/17

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

Despite a bit more searching today for Wednesdays Elegant Tern, the bird still never reappeared, however something equally as exciting was discovered on the lagoon mid-afternoon. The discovery didn’t involve a rare bird this time, but in fact something which is relatively common throughout the winter here in Poole Harbour. During an early evening ‘tern hunt’ yesterday some locals noticed an Avocet sitting tight next to a log on the opposite side of the lagoon. Being early evening this could have simply been a favored pre-roost sitting spot although it’s motionless stance and eagerness to stay hidden seemed interesting. Today the bird was in exactly the same spot having not budged for almost 24 hours. Then, at around 14:00 a chance check on the bird saw another Avocet walk over to the sitting Avocet, nudge it out of the way and then settle down in exactly the same spot…A NEST SHIFT CHANGE OVER! This behavior confirmed that the pair is actually on eggs, which in a Poole Harbour/Dorset context is incredible news. Avocet haven’t successfully nested in Dorset for many many years, with the last attempt taking place on Brownsea in 1999 when two pairs hatched young but were sadly predated. The nest is now being closely monitored to see when the eggs hatch, but being in such close proximity to so many Great Black-backed Gulls it could be a rough ride for any new Avocet parents and their chicks. We’ll keep you posted along the way. There was just a single Spoonbill on the lagoon today with another 4 on Lytchett Fields where there were also 2 adult Little Ringed Plover still, 41 Redshank, 7 Teal, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull and the first Hobby for the site went through.

Harbour Update – posted 22/06/17

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

Well, all the excitement from yesterday was short lived as the Elegant Tern which roosted on the Brownsea Lagoon, and was still viewable on our webcam through the night, upped sticks and left around 5:00am never to be seen again…throughout the day anyway. A small flow of people made their way to Brownsea throughout the day in the hope the tern may arrive back, but sadly it never did. During its short stay on the Sandwich Tern islands it was receiving quite a bit of grief from the parent Sandwich Terns, so maybe it had just very quickly out-stayed its welcome? Other birds seen on the lagoon whilst waiting for the tern included the 5 Spoonbill, 1 early/late Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and several Black-tailed Godwit. At Arne one of the Osprey was on the perching post again and 2 were seen fishing out in the Wareham Channel late afternoon. On Lytchett Fields there were 2 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Green Sandpiper and 62 Black-tailed Godwit with the seasons first newly fledged Black-headed Gull seen in Lytchett Bay. When watching the Elegant Tern yesterday we were trying to get some film footage but frustratingly the battery ran out on our gear and we thought we’d walked away ‘footageless’. However, when uploading our memory card we were thrilled to find we had managed to get a relatively decent 15-second video of the bird canoodling with the Sarni Terns before our camera conked out. 

Elegant Tern – Brownsea Lagoon – 21/06/17

Elegant Tern roosting at night on  Brownsea Lagoon – 21&22/06/17

Harbour Update – posted 21/06/17

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

Yep, today was one of those days. If the blazing sun wasn’t enough to get us hot under the collar then the days birding surely would. What started fairly routine with our regular checking of the moth trap which in its self bursting with goodies flowed into a filming piece we carried out at Arne with BBC South Today to discuss the Osprey translocation piece (link available soon). This in its self was eventful enough as 2 Osprey came and circled over us whilst we were filming before heading out into the Wareham Channel. We also saw and heard Hobby, Dartford Warbler and 1 Woodlark, all whilst stood in one place! Heading back to Poole, we decided to check an area that’s usually good for reptiles and low and behold found a stunning Nightjar hunkered up on an exposed log, tucked up in some bracken. Personally, this is always my ultimate find each summer, and a goal I don’t very often achieve. This is only the 3rd Nightjar I’ve ever found that hasn’t then been spooked and actually stayed in one place upon the discovery. It quite happily sat there as I took a series of photos and video before I quietly retreated and left it to its sunbathing. Then…we got the call, Elegant Tern on Brownsea!!!!! A mad dash to the Brownsea Ferry and a run to the Mac hide saw several of us get to see this beauty, with its long, orange bill and ridiculously spikey crown. It flirted for a while with some of the local Sandwich Terns before moving off and leaving the harbour mouth possibly never to be seen again. However, a chance check on our Brownsea Lagoon webcam at around 19:30 saw him back again and which is where he then stayed until darkness fell and he roosted on the Brownsea Lagoon. The best bit was around 20:00 when we checked and around 150 people were logged on watching him on one camera and 5 Spoonbill on the other…talk about being spoilt! 

Nightjar – Arne Road


Elegant Tern – Brownsea Lagoon – Paul Morton

Elegant Tern – Brownsea Lagoon Webcam

Nightjar – Arne Road – Paul Morton

Spoonbill – Brownsea Lagoon – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 20/06/17

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

Today we announced some exciting news which stated that this summer we’ll be beginning a 5 year Osprey translocation project here in Poole Harbour. This will be a joint project between us, The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and local wildlife camera business Wildlife Windows. The project will involve translocating juvenile Ospreys from healthy sustainable populations up in Scotland and bringing them down to Poole this July in a bid to try and restore a population here on the south coast. Osprey were once wide-spread across the whole of Western Europe during the 1600 & 1700’s but were sadly wiped out during the 1800’s almost entirely due to human interference such as persecution, DDT poisoning, egg collecting and taxidermy. Although Osprey have since done well in northern Europe they are still extremely scarce in Western Europe with just a handful of tiny fragmented populations dotted through the region. The plan is to hopefully establish a colony here on the south coast which will then act as a stepping stone for UK and French  populations to start interacting with one another. There has only ever been one other Osprey translocation carried out in the UK before and that was at Rutland Water during the late 1990’s. The Rutland population is now (as of this year) a self sustained population of 8 pairs which is made up entirely of non-translocated birds which is great. We’re also thrilled to have Roy Dennis and Dr Tim Makrill as our partners in the project who are arguably two of the highest regarded Osprey experts in Europe and who were involved in setting up and running the Rutland Project from the start. The juvenile Ospreys will be arriving in mid-July and will be held in specially designed holding pens at a confidential spot in Poole Harbour for only two-three weeks before they are then released again out into the wild before they make their long migration back down to Africa. We then don’t  expect to start seeing them return again until spring/summer 2019 and it could be several more years after that before they start breeding. So, in terms of time-scale this is a long term project which we hope the whole community will get behind and with other wild Osprey beginning to summer in the area this year it looks as if Osprey will soon become a welcome, regular and familiar sight in Poole Harbour/Dorset for the foreseeable future. You can read our official press release about the story HERE. 

Maybe Osprey S1 has heard the good news which is why he’s sticking around but true to recent form, he was up on the Middlebere perching post this AM eating a fish with another (perhaps the recent female) seen feeding in the Wareham Channel before heading off to Wareham Forest. The 5 Spoonbill were still on the Brownsea Lagoon. In the Wareham Channel two non-breeding female Marsh Harriers were still kicking around and a Hobby was over the Arne Road. At Lytchett Fields a Green Sandpiper was on the pools again. 

Osprey S1 – Middlebere – Olly Slessor


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