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 September, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 17/09/17

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

Today was the first Poole Harbour WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) of the season which sees 30 volunteers head out into the harbour and count all waders and waterfowl present. This continues all the way through the winter until the end of February and sees a really accurate picture painted as to how healthy (or not so healthy) our over-wintering waders and wildfowl populations are. Being only mid-September many birds are yet to arrive but the first signs that winter is just around the corner became evident today as rising numbers of Wigeon, Pintail, Teal and Shoveler were all recorded as were rising numbers of over-wintering waders. Highlights from around the harbour included the Great White Egret in the mouth of Wytch Lake, the Scottish ringed Osprey caught a fish in the same area. A Grey Phalarope was found on a small pool in the NW corner of Arne Moors with 2 Wheatear and a Marsh Harrier there too. What was almost certainly a Pink-footed Goose came and landed on the Brownsea Lagoon for only 30 seconds before sadly lifting off again and disappeared west. A Brent Goose was also on the Southern shores but its hard to say whether this is an early returning bird or one of the two that over-summered in the area which haven’t been seen for around a month. At Lytchett Fields there was 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Pintail, 239 Dunlin, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Yellow Wagtail. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Spotted Redshank and 3 Spoonbill. Out in the Wareham Channel 14 Spoonbill were feeding. Migration through Ballard was slow with only 16 Chiffchaff and 9 Blackcap ringed which compared to yesterday was a stark difference. A visible migration watch up on Glebelands, Ballard Down was slow but gave an insight of things to come as small groups of Goldfinch, Linnet, Siskin and Chaffinch passed over heading NE with stronger totals of Meadow Pipit and Hirundines, along with 1 Ringed Plover and the first small arrival of Song Thrush. At Greenlands Farm there were 2-3 Redstart, 2 Whitethroat and again, small totals of Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch passing overhead. Brands Bay was heavily disturbed by walkers for most of the afternoon but 7 Spoonbill and an Osprey were highlights during the WeBS. 

To get a more detailed understanding of Poole Harbours over wintering birds, why not have a read through our 2008 Waders and Waterfowl of Poole Harbour study carried out by Nick Hopper. This gives a great insight into the feeding, roosting and distribution of all our over-wintering species during the 2008/09 winter period. 

Great White Egret – Wytch Lake 

Brent Goose – Southern shores, near Wytch Lake

Harbour Update – posted 16/09/17

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

For most of the morning and early afternoon there was a strong passage of Meadow Pipit passing overhead, all passing on a broad front across the entire harbour along with a strong hirundine movement with many thousands of Swallow and to a lesser extent Sand Martin and House Martin moving WSW. The Spoonbill flock in Middlebere was 22 with 5 on the Brownsea Lagoon and 1 on Lytchett Fields. Ospreys were seen over the Wareham Channel and 1 in Brands Bay. 1-3 Marsh Harrier are currently present with birds moving about the Wareham Channel, Middlebere area.  The Baird’s Sandpiper was again on the Brownsea Lagoon and the Great White Egret was reported in Middlebere and then over the mouth of the Frome, Wareham Channel. Wheatears, Whitethroat and Whinchat were seen along Soldiers Road and 4 Yellow Wagtail were at Hartland Stud. Migration through the Ballard area was strong with 84 Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warbler, 43 Blackcap, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 5 Whitethroat and 53 Sand Martin ringed. At Greenlands Farm there were 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Wheatear, 28 Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcap at Brands Bay a single Osprey and at Manor Farm, Studland the Hooded Crow was still present. At dusk we also headed out into the Lower Frome Valley to try our first lamping session of the autumn/winter to assess whether any early Jack Snipe had arrived in. None were seen but 7 Common Snipe were flushed and the only bird ringed was in fact a Wheatear!

Wheatear ringed during lamping session – Lower Frome Valley

Harbour Update – posted 15/09/17

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

With all these American waders turning up in Dorset it would be nice if the Brownsea  Baird’s Sandpiper hooked up with a familiar friend but so far its not to be. At Lytchett Fields a Wood Sandpiper was still present along with 18 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spoonbill, 165 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover, 8 Greenshank, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap and lots of Chiffchaff. Marsh Harriers were noted at Swineham, Middlebere and Shipstal, Arne. Migration through Ballard was reasonable again with 55 Chiffchaff and 34 Blackcap ringed along with 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Whitethroat, 4 Sedge Warbler and 1 Willow Warbler

Harbour Update – posted 14/09/17

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

The highlight from today was when a Tawny Pipit flew low across the Brownsea Quay having arrived in from the south by the looks of things, heading into the northerly wind. It carried on north traveling along the Brownsea sea wall, heading towards Baiter.  This coincided with a small flurry of Meadow Pipit and 2 Wheatear following the same flight line north. The lagoon its self still had the Baird’s Sandpiper, 7 Spoonbill and Garganey on it and a Peregrine sat watching and waiting for almost the entire day. At dawn 3 Merlin zipped around Poole Harbour west with one in transit heading up the Frome Valley and 2 around the Slepe Heath area. At Lytchett Fields there was a single Curlew Sandpiper amongst the 100+ Dunlin, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Whinchat but no sign of the Wood Sand. The cold WNW wind kept much at bay but out on Whitley Lake 38 Sandwich Tern and a single Arctic Tern hunkered down on the low tide whilst up on Ballard just singles of Redstart, Wheatear, Whinchat and Common Whitethroat were noted. At Sunnyside Farm passerine numbers were low with just a Whinchat and several Chiffchaff seen. At Middlebere there were 675 Black-tailed Godwit, 100+ Dunlin, 30 Avocet, 4 Greenshank and 1 Knot. An Osprey was out in the Wareham Channel at dawn too.

We mentioned yesterday that Brownsea hosted a large total of 360 Great Black-backed Gulls coming in to roost which is a larger than normal amount. Knowing and learning where these birds are coming from poses an interesting question which we’d like to learn more about. Back in 2008 Nick Hopper carried a ‘Gulls of Poole Harbour’ study which gives an excellent account and insight as to where all our gulls are roosting and how far they’ve travelled to get here. You can read the full report here – Gulls of Poole Harbour

 Baird’s Sandpiper and Redshank – Brownsea Lagoon – Olly Slessor

Harbour Update – posted 13/09/17

Posted on: September 14th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Again Brownsea saw the lion’s share of sightings as the Baird’s Sandpiper continued to show nicely from the Mac Hide, the Garganey from the Lower Hide and the Black Tern commuting between the two! Two Black Tern were also feeding out in the tidal race of the SE Brownsea shore. An Osprey also drifted over, Crossbill, Firecrest, Wheatear and Tawny Owl were recorded from terrestrial sites around the island and on the lagoon 2 Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Sandwich, Common and an Arctic Tern, 2 Kingfisher, Spoonbill, Peregrine, 1 Whimbrel and Avocet were all recorded too with a decent total of 360 Greater Black-backed Gull coming into roost. On Lytchett Fields there was 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper and c15 Ringed Plover and in Holes Bay NE there was a single Spotted Redshank. A Branksome sea watch produced 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Arctic Tern, 15 Common Scoter, c10 Gannet and numerous Common and Sandwich Tern.

Black Tern – Brownsea Lagoon – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 12/09/17

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

Today Brownsea remained on good form with the Baird’s Sandpiper, 1 Black Tern, 1 Garganey, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 juv Sanderling, 25 Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank, 25 Avocet, 2 Kingfisher, 1 Wheatear and 200+ Teal along with 8 Wigeon, 17 Shoveler and 20+ Gadwall. At Lytchett Fields the Wood Sandpiper remained but the fields were really flooded so most birds had moved off. At Middlebere there were 32 Spoonbill, the Scottish ringed Osprey and a nice selection of migrants along the access track including Hobby, Whinchat, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat. In the harbour mouth a single Arctic Tern fed briefly. Migration through Ballard included 47 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Sedge Warbler, 6 Grasshopper Warbler, 25 Blackcap and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Our daily PM check on this summers translocated Osprey juv’s revealed that two more have now gone leaving just LS6 here all on his lonesome. LS0 left some time during Monday and LS2 left some time today. This was slightly surprising as the weather wasn’t exactly ‘departure friendly’ but at least it was a SW wind meaning any birds moving south across the English Channel would be blown over mainland Europe rather than out over the Bay of Biscay. 

Spotted Flycatcher – Ballard Down – Olly Slessor

Kingfisher – Brownsea Lagoon – Paul Morton

Juvenile Swallow – Brownsea Lagoon – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 11/09/17

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

The ludicrous scenes at Lodmoor this evening couldn’t be replicated within Poole Harbour unfortunately despite lots of trying. With Lodmoor hosting both a Stilt Sandpiper (only 3rd Dorset record) and a Least Sandpiper (first Dorset record) at the same time, sometimes within a few cm’s of one another and with Poole Harbour hosting a Baird’s Sandpiper for over a week, which was again on Brownsea today…it just goes to show that anything is possible if the effort is put in. Elsewhere around the harbour it was pretty quiet in comparison to recent days with 3 Redstart along the track at Middlebere and 28 Spoonbill, 15 Greenshank 1 Spotted Redshank, 5 Wigeon and 7 Stonechat, 1 Merlin seen in the channel. Out from Branksome Chine only 8 Common Scoter, 6 Gannet, 1 Kittiwake and several Med Gulls were noted. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 17 Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank, 1 Whinchat and 2 Stonechat. Holton Pools was Kingfisher central again with 2 birds showing off in front of the new Holton Pools hide. The Scottish ringed Osprey was in Middlebere again and it looks as if we’re now down to 3 Osprey chicks left over from the translocation project with LS3 leaving sometime on Saturday afternoon. 


Harbour Update – posted 10/09/17

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

With the recent strong SW winds it wasn’t going to be long before a Grey Phalarope showed up and this morning one did!! Seen by boat crew in between the Brownsea and Sandbanks Quay, bobbing along on rough waves. An un-ringed Osprey also drifted low across the Brownsea Lagoon and over the Brownsea Quay early morning. For the Arne raptor weekend another 3-4 Osprey were seen including a Scottish ringed juvenile and several fly-by’s of Osprey carrying fish. Interestingly a satellite tagged bird from Kielder Forest also arrived and spent the night in the harbour; you can read about UV’s journey HERE. In Middlebere there were 27 Spoonbill, 30 Avocet and along the Middlebere track 1 Whinchat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Redstart, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Wheatear. In Studland Bay there was a single Common Scoter, 1 Guillemot, 8 Gannet, c20 Med Gull and 2 Kingfisher in off the sea! At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Osprey, 1 Peregrine and a continued ‘good spread’ of common waders. There were 2 late Swift over Swineham GP with lots of hirundines with 1 male Marsh Harrier over the area there. Migration through Ballard included another decent fall of Chiffchaff with 84 ringed also 9 Blackcap, 7 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Sedge and 1 Reed Warbler

Harbour Update – posted 09/09/17

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

The Baird’s Sandpiper was still on the Brownsea Lagoon, this time accompanied by 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Black Tern, 2 Spoonbill, 22 Greenshank, 6 Spotted Redshank, 1 Peregrine and 2 Kingfisher. For the first day of the Arne raptor weekend 3-4 Osprey were seen along with 1 Marsh Harrier, 2 Hobby and 2 Peregrine. A Cattle Egret was at Lytchett Fields with 2 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 44 Ringed Plover, c300 Dunlin, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Osprey and 20+ Yellow Wagtail. A ringing session at Lytchett Heath produced 1 Redstart, 7 Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler 4 Sedge Warbler, 4 Reed Bunting and 2 Kingfisher. Migration through Ballard consisted of 46 Chiffchaff, 19 Blackcap, 7 Common Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler

Plenty of Chiffchaff and Blackcap moving through the harbour now

Harbour Update – posted 08/09/17

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

This morning the Baird’s Sandpiper showed up again on the Brownsea Lagoon with a good number of other birds including 21 Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank, 158 Redshank, 62 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 130 Black-tailed Godwit, 59 Avocet, 695 Oystercatcher, 38+ Sandwich Tern, 19+ Common Tern, 400+ Teal, 3 Spoonbill, 3 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine, 5 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Wheatear with 3 Firecrest near the church and a fairly sick looking Guillemot off the Brownsea Quay. A Great White Egret was feeding off Goathorn Point in the evening during the low tide and a single Arctic Tern was in the harbour mouth. In Middlebere there were still 23 Spoonbill, a Red Kite roosted out in Poole Harbour west and lifted off at dawn heading over Stoborough Heath.  At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 16 Greenshank and a strong supporting cast of Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Green Sandpiper and Common Snipe. From Coombe Heath, Arne 1 Osprey, 2 Hobby and a Sparrowhawk were noted along with 200+ Black-tailed Godwit in Middlebere. 

Guillemot off the Brownsea Quay

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