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 July, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 21/07/17

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

It’s these kind of days where you’re better off tucked up inside with a good book or decent film as the July rain outside lashes against the window. West Dorset was boasting a stupendous list of birds, with Cory’s and Great Shearwaters seen off Portland, which then prompted us to venture down to Middle Beach, Studland to have a precautionary look to make sure we weren’t missing out on these Dorset mega’s. As it transpired…we weren’t. Rain kept making viewing difficult but 8 Gannet and 8 Common Scoter were the best we could muster plus 37 Med Gulls in Studland Bay which included 11 fresh juveniles too. At Arne a Hobby was active chasing down Swallows in between rain showers. At Lytchett Fields a small flock of 16 Dunlin, including 1 juvenile were new in with 3 each of Common Sandpiper and Greenshank.

Today the Osprey chicks stayed pretty inactive as rain lashed down but both LS0 and LS1 are now using the front perching posts continuously. Apart from some irregular wing flapping there’s not much change in the other 2 pens.


Harbour Update – posted 20/07/17

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

Last night we set our night recording gear up for the first time this autumn, and seeing that big(ish) numbers of waders are already on the move across the UK it could have been a productive night. Sadly…it wasn’t! Well, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel and several Grey Heron were the best of it, but being as its still only mid/late July there’s plenty of time left to scan our sky’s at night for all those passing birds. In Middlebere an Osprey was seen briefly with 2 potentially seen over the Wareham Channel from Lytchett Bay.

This evening both our Osprey chicks LS0 and LS1 took to their perching bar, which is a good indication they’re beginning to think about their first flights. Tim Mackrill will be coming down next week to take a look at all eight birds where we’ll then go on to make a plan for all of their releases in the coming days/weeks. 

Common Sandpiper calls of night time migrant & Sika squeaks, Piddle Valley – 20/07/19 @ 03:31 

Harbour Update – posted 19/07/17

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

It seems our Osprey chicks are getting just as excited about the autumn as we are, with both us and them soon to be thinking about nothing else other migration, migration, migration. For us, it’s a leisurely experience as we sit back and enjoy the many species of bird that pass through Poole Harbour in their droves all heading south for the winter. The passage of warblers, chats, hirundines, waders and finches of many different species will see us all with binoculars permanently glued to our eye sockets for the foreseeable future whilst we also begin our autumn nocturnal listening study too. This audible study began two years ago as a bit of a test to see what’s migrating over our head’s as we’re all tucked up in bed. Within a year we’d already helped make quite a remarkable discovery in partnership with The Sound Approach, which was that from mid August through to mid September Ortolan Bunting, a very rare and scarce bird in a Poole Harbour/Dorset context is/was in fact a regular night migrant over Poole. You can read about the discovery HERE. With big numbers of waders already moving across the UK, we’ll be putting our recording equipment out for the first time this autumn tonight. We’ll let you know how we get on.  The Osprey chicks on the other hand have got their own migration to consider and they won’t have the luxury of being able to watch from the sidelines. As you can see from our most recent monitoring footage, some are really now getting strong in the wing flying/hopping from perch to post and back again. Currently its LS0 and LS1 who are the most advanced but hopefully within the next 5 days the others will be at the same stage and we can begin to think out the opening of the pens. We’ll be meeting with our partners in the project, The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation early next week to discuss the exciting next phase.

Today in the harbour there were 3 Roseate Tern on the Brownsea Lagoon again, with 2 on the Common Tern nesting island and 1 on the ‘Boomerang’. The Avocet family struck another blow as it now looks as if they’re down from 4 chicks to 2. This was always going to be a precarious situation with so many gulls about but hey…that’s nature. All we can hope is that Avocet breeding attempts rise over the coming years and the potential for successful fledging increases. Also on Brownsea were 6 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Ringed Plover, 22 Dunlin, 4 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, 8 Common Sandpiper, 11 Avocet, 118 Redshank, 55 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit on the north shore. At Lytchett Fields there was a record count of 24 Green Sandpiper with 4 Spoonbill, 4 Common Sandpiper, 112 Redshank, 67 Lapwing, 66 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Dunlin, 4 Greenshank and 3 Whimbrel in the bay. On the southern edge of the Wareham Channel 4 Spoonbill roosted with 83 Dunlin and c100 Black-tailed Godwit as 48 Little Egret flew into roost. 

The flying begins! LS0 looking really strong on the wing

Harbour Update – posted 18/07/17

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

With a dark rumbling sky approaching from the south it looked like we were about to experience our first drop rain for a whole week, and sure enough by 7pm the wind had built and the rain had begun, but it wasn’t until around midnight the real light show kicked off. Our first concern was the Osprey chicks and how they’d fare but you soon remember that these are wild birds who have to put up with all sorts out in the depths of wildest Scotland, and sure enough a 5:30am check on site for the first feed saw them all right as rain (and wet as rain too) eager for their next feed. Such hardy birds as well beautiful. LS0 is definitely the most advanced and is now flapping/flying from nest, to perching stump to perching bar showing real character and passion to explore its new area. That’s not to say it doesn’t often spend large parts of the day lounging about with legs stretched out as if playing the part of an ‘extra’ in Baywatch! We’ll be receiving some more footage from our CCTV monitoring system and will embed it on our sightings blog over the coming the days. In the mean time, enjoy these additional photos we’ve received from Ruth Peacey who helped out when the birds arrived last week.

Locally fledged birds are beginning to move around now and today juvenile Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher were seen on some of the heaths near Hartland. Two Willow Warbler were along the track down to Middlebere and at Arne an Osprey was in the dead trees at Middlebere. At Lytchett Fields there were 7 Spoonbill, 15 Green Sandpiper, 8 Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, 91 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Greenshank, 109 Redshank and 87 Lapwing. On Brownsea the 3 Avocet chicks were all present and correct with 8 adults on the lagoon now too, 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Curlew, 1 Greenshank and ‘large numbers’ of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit

Osprey chick LS2 upon arrival last week – Ruth Peacey

Spoonbill over Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 17/07/17

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

We can’t believe the osprey chicks have been with us a week already and to see the change in their size, structure and behaviour in such a short space of time has been amazing. We don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch but each of the eight has really taken to Dorset life. It’s certainly been a lot warmer this last week and compared to what they’ve been used to up in Scotland so as long as we’re not turning them into southern ‘beach bum’ softies we’re on course for a late July release. LS0 has began fly-hopping around its pen and today even took off for a very short while all the others are still wolfing down food and are visibly getting stronger by the day. With slightly unsettled weather approaching from the south in the coming days a nice bit of the ‘wet stuff’ my bring them back down to earth with a bump after a week of sun, sea and salmon.

Sightings from around the harbour included a good haul of waders at Lytchett Fields including 6 Dunlin, 6 Common Sandpiper, 9 Green Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, 85 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Lapwing and 30 Redshank along with 6 Spoonbill. The 4 Avocet chicks are now already down to 3! Although the parents were keeping a really good eye on them today and it seems the 7thSpoonbill was favouring Brownsea rather Lytchett Fields with its mates. An Osprey settled on the Middlebere nesting platform early doors and there was 2 Whimbrel on the mud there at low tide. At Slepe Heath and Sunnyside Farm a few juvenile Willow Warbler were in scrub, but these could simply account for local fledged birds rather than passing migrants. There was some exciting news that Cattle Egret bred in Dorset this summer (not in Poole Harbour), but it will be well worth watching out for any more that could be returning to the harbour area in post breeding flocks along with Great White Egret too. 


Harbour Update – posted 16/07/17

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

The good news is that the 4 Avocet chicks have survived their first few days and are being watched over closely by their parents. The gull pressure this year has eased slightly with the sad news that the UK’s only pure breeding pair on Yellow-legged Gulls were unsuccessful with only one of the adults turning up to breed. This single pair of Yellow-legged Gull made them one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds and they’ve been successfully breeding on Brownsea for over 20 years. There’s a possibility one of the adults could have sadly died, meaning a replacement isn’t likely anytime soon. Breeding Med Gulls were also in short supply on Brownsea this year, possibly down to the protection and improved monitoring of  ‘Gull Islands’ in the Wareham Channel meaning most Med Gulls remained there to breed. The DWT are keeping a close eye on the Avocet chicks but as is standard in these situations, nature will take its course in whichever direction it fancies. The other exciting news today was that the Hobby on the Arne VC camera have hatched young! It will be a fascinating few weeks watching this pair deliver food to their new offspring and we highly recommend heading down there to take a look…the image quality is great and then after you’ve watched those for a while you can go and head out and see Osprey which was also present in Middlebere again. In Poole Harbour west local raptor watcher Peter Hadrill noted the first juvenile Marsh Harrier coming into the area to roost. It’s thought that this would be a juvenile from further afield rather than a local fledgling as there was no nest site confirmed within the harbour this year, although a niggling part of us still wonders that with regular Marsh Harrier activity during the summer, whether this could still potentially be a locally fledged bird from an unknown nest site? At Lytchett Fields there were 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 1 Kingfisher, 1 juv Willow Warbler and 1 Great Crested Grebe in Lytchett Bay.

Finally, we’ve been able to extract some footage from our CCTV within the pens which shows two of the Osprey chicks feeding and wing flapping quite vigorously. Our team have been constantly monitoring this behaviour since their arrival almost a week ago now. Over time the wing flapping will grow stronger and once we’re happy they’ve grown enough strength in their wings we’ll open up the fronts of the enclosures. We’re still a little way away from that yet but things are currently looking really positive. 


Please follow this link too for a write up from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation about their involvment in the project up in Scotland – http://www.roydennis.org/2017/07/14/translocation-to-poole/

Osprey chicks feeding and wing flapping 16/07/17

Harbour Update – posted 15/07/17

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

Its been a busy year for rare breeders across the UK with Cattle Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Spoonbills, Little Bittern and Bee-eaters all wowing the crowds and paving the way for the future landscape of British breeding birds. However what may be common to some counties as a breeding species can still be rare for others. Take Avocet for example where good numbers breed at sites like Minsmere and other east coat sites but in Dorset Avocet are (were) a non-existent breeder despite over-wintering totals of over 1500. The Brownsea Lagoon has always looked right for breeding Avocet and in 1999 two pairs did hatch young which were sadly predated after a day. So, it was welcome news today when we heard that three and then four young Avocet chicks had hatched on the lagoon. A pair were seen swapping nest duties about 3 weeks ago and a close eye have been kept on them ever since. Then, today 3 chicks were spotted on the far side of the lagoon which was a welcome sight. Lets just keep everything crossed those hungry gulls stay away in the mean time. The ‘autumns’ first Great White Egret appeared today too with one in the Wareham Channel early morning feeding with Little Egrets. Breeding totals on the Somerset Levels are soaring so its no surprise we’re seeing an increase in wandering, passing, visiting GWE year on year with September and October now the peak months to see this species arrive. An Osprey was again on the Middlebere pole early morning and Spoonbill totals have now reached 7, all of which were on the Brownsea Lagoon along with 11 Common Sandpiper.  On Lytchett Fields there were 15 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 2 Dunlin and 1 Little Ringed Plover.

Harbour Update – posted 14/07/17

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

 After going missing for several days an Osprey turned back up again on the Middlebere post early morning. There were 5 Spoonbill on Lytchett Fields with 5 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Kingfisher and an adult Yellow-legged Gull again. A ringing session on Lytchett Heath saw the first Sedge Warbler of the autumn passing through with 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 15 Reed Warbler and 2 Blackcap also ringed. In Middlebere late evening there were 4 Greenshank, 1 Barn Owl and c150 Black-tailed Godwit.

Osprey Translocation update

Not much change today, all birds doing well with LS4 eating a whopping 23 pieces of fish in 8 minutes! 

Spoonbill – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

 Juv Willow Warbler – ringed at Fleets Corner (12th July)

Sedge Warbler – Lytchett Heath 

Harbour Update – posted 13/07/17

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

The Osprey chicks are doing really well with some guzzling food back like there’s no tomorrow! Our team now has a flowing process which sees the birds fed 3 times a day, with food that’s to be eaten as well as un-eaten weighed out so we can gage how much the birds are taking on board. The coming weeks will see us providing the chicks with as much food as they need as to get them in peak condition, ready for fledging. We still don’t know when that will be just yet but the end of July/beginning of August is a good benchmark. We’ll try and get some video footage from the pens shortly so we can introduce you to each of the 8 chicks. We were hoping to take photographs and provide a profile for each bird when they arrived but it was raining so hard that we just wanted to get them into the safety and security of their pens as quickly as possible.

Monitoring HQ

Sightings from around the harbour consisted of 6 Spoonbill on Lytchett Fields with 2 Dunlin, 5 Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper, 8 Green Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel and 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull. The Hobby on the Arne camera in the main visitors centre is well worth a visit to watch. In Middlebere there were 2 Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper. On the Brownsea Lagoon an excellent 110 Common Tern chicks were counted with many beginning to fledge already. 

Spoonbill – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 12/07/17

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

We’ll do a longer blog soon we promise! But the last few days have been a bit full on, getting our new arrivals all settled in and our set up running smoothly. So in the mean time, just enjoy this screen grab taken today from our CCTV monitoring system, which shows two of our birds happy and settled into their temporary new homes. All 8 have been feeding well again today and already some are beginning to wing-flap quite hard.

Screen grab of Osprey Pen CCTV 


Sightings from today included the first juv Willow Warbler of the autumn ringed in Poole harbour north with this surely the first of many thousands over the coming weeks to push through the harbour. At Lytchett Fields the 6 Spoonbill were on French’s Pools and there were 2 Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 1 Whimbrel. On Brownsea there were 3+ Roseate Tern which were viewable on one of our Brownsea Webcams. 


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