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 October, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 30/10/17

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

Nothing beats a ‘pure’ autumn day, and by this we mean not a breath wind, a warm sun but still with a snap of cold in the air. This morning saw our first frost of the year and a 6:30am start on Shipstal Point, Arne saw a flock of 12 Barnacle Geese arrive in from the north in the twilight before circling high above Middlebere and Ower Bay before eventually settling in Arne Bay next to 41 Spoonbill. The geese were then re-found a bit later at Swineham GP where a 13th individual joined them. Also at Swineham were 11 Bearded Tit, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Ruff , 37 Black-tailed Godwit and small numbers of Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Shoveler. Overhead Bullfinch were passing over in good numbers across the harbour and a Marsh Harrier was over Long Island. The harbour was like a Mill Pond so the Velvet Scoter was easy to pick out, out in central harbour. There were also 27 Red-breasted Merganser out in central harbour with 35 Great Crested Grebe. It looked as if Woodpigeon migration was going to get going again but in never really mounted into much with c3500 going west. Up at Glebelands, Ballard a good passage of finches were counted with 4 Hawfinch over at dawn, also 33 Brambling, 87 Bullfinch, 688 Goldfinch, 121 Lesser Redpoll, 163 Chaffinch, 39 Siskin along with 13 Reed Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer, 186 Starling, 22 alba Wagtail, 5 Skylark and 6 Swallow. A male Brambling was ringed at our Ballard ringing site along with 1 Firecrest, 1 Blackcap, 12 Goldcrest, 15 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Bullfinch and 20 Goldfinch. The Ruddy Shelduck was on the Brownsea Lagoon again and 1-2 Merlin were on Hartland late afternoon. Last night, our listening station was much quieter as a bright, clear moonlit night made it easy for birds to migrate, therefor not needing to call as frequently. We did record another Hawfinch though, our 9th in just three nights, also 3 Goldcrest and a spread of Fieldfare, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing over the course of the night. Its amazing to think that a bird as small and delicate as a Goldcrest is able to navigate through the hours of darkness in 0 degree temperatures. Such hardy little birds.

Goldcrest – Call of a night migrant – Old Town Poole Listening Station 30/10/17 @ 01:44

 Barnacle Geese – 12 arriving at dawn over Shipstal, Arne – 30/10/17 @ 07:21

Barnacle Geese – Swineham GP – Paul Morton

Brambling – Ballard Down – Olly Slessor

Harbour Update – posted 29/10/17

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

A cold steely grey morning gave way to a picture perfect autumn afternoon, as October moon, rusty skies and ever changing feelings faded to brisk, crisp sub zero temperatures. Autumn did its best to turn into winter today with the presence of a Great Grey Shrike on Slepe Heath but summer grappled back as the late Hobby dashed through Arne Moors for its second day. There was also a Hen Harrier in Middlebere, 1 Merlin and 4 Marsh Harrier over the Wareham Channel reed beds. A Ruddy Shelduck turned up on the Brownsea Lagoon mid afternoon although sadly the origins of these handsome birds are always questioned as feral populations occur here in the UK as well as through France. It seems a shame though to rule out genuine vagrancy when the time of year is correct and the bird acts in a wild manner. Regardless of its origins it’s not a bird we see in the harbour often and it’s a pleasure to have it here. A comedy moment at Lytchett Bay today when the sites first Pochard since Nov 2012 flew in and landed briefly before moving off but then was quickly followed 30 minuets later by a second….talk about waiting for buses! There were also 2-3 Red Kite over Lytchett Bay today with others over Stoborough and Hatch Pond. There were 5 Ruff on Lytchett Fields plus 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine and a few Swallow through. Ringing at Ballard was a little slower today, probably due to the early wind strength but the sites first Redwing was ringed along with 16 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff and 1 Bullfinch

Pochard with Pintail – Lytchett Bay – Shaun Robson


Harbour Update – posted 28/10/17

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

Each autumn we wait impatiently for ‘Pigeon Day’…yes…Pigeon Day.  Each year at the end of October or early November when the weather conditions are suitable we see huge numbers of Woodpigeon migrating across and over Poole Harbour. The conditions need to be bright and clear from dawn with a NE wind ideally. They start arriving from the east, having left the New Forest area earlier in the morning, coming over the top of Evening Hill and crossing over the top of Brownsea heading SW. They’re often so high that if you’re not looking for them then you can easily miss them, despite being in their thousands. This morning 50,536 travelled over the harbour in just a few hours. Whilst monitoring the Pigeons a surprise Honey Buzzard also drifted over central Poole. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 9 Spoonbill, 20 Grey Plover, 300+ Avocet and 15 Spotted Redshank with a further 40 Spoonbill at Shipstal, Arne. A late Hobby was out over Arne Moors and in Middlebere a Hen Harrier and Merlin were seen. At dawn two new/different Hen Harrier left their west harbour roost having only arrived the day before and promptly lifted higher and higher, heading off south…presumably leaving. Incidentally these were the 5th and 6th different Hen Harrier to visit the harbour this autumn. Some vis-mig at Lytchett Bay view produced a single Brambling, 2664 Woodpigeon, 19 Chaffinch and 3 Bullfinch. On Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, and 1 Curlew Sandpiper and in Lytchett Bay 2 Spoonbill and 2 Brent Geese. Ringing up on Ballard was a bit slower today but the first Fieldfare of the autumn was ringed along with a new Dartford Warbler, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 19 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap, and 36 Goldfinch. A Brambling was back at the Arne feeders. A night sound recording session from our Old Town Poole Listening station produced an impressive 5 Hawfinch, the first notable wave of Fieldfare, 1077 Redwing calls, 468 Blackbird calls and 412 Song Thrush calls. 

Woodpigeon migration – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

 Hawfinch – Call of a night time migrant – Old Town Poole Listening Station 28/10/17 @ 00:42

Harbour Update – posted 27/10/17

Posted on: October 27th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Visible migration watching took place at several places, starting at Glebelands, Ballard Down where 72 Bullfinch (the second largest UK passage of this species), 653 Goldfinch, 32 Brambling, 19 Reed Bunting, 407 Linnet, 116 Siskin, 48 Lesser Redpoll, 203 Chaffinch and 28 Skylark were all logged along with singles of Fieldfare, Golden Plover, Marsh Harrier and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker. At South Haven, Studland totals included 1 Hawfinch, 47 Bullfinch, 187 Goldfinch, 5 Brambling, 385 Linnet, 37 Siskin, 26 Redwing, 5 Swallow, 2 Skylark and 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Wood Pigeon migration began to ‘bubble up’ with 6185 heading high SW over Evening Hill towards Brownsea. A night migration sound recording session from our listening station in Old Town Poole was really productive and produced 3 Hawfinch, 4-5 Ring Ouzel, c2000 Redwing calls, c1500 Song Thrush calls and c500 Blackbird calls along with 1 Golden Plover, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Skylark and 1 Gadwall. There were 2 Yellow-browed Warbler in the busy urban part of Poole with one in a private garden and another calling at the north end of Pitwines (Sainsbury’s) car park. Ringing up on Ballard was slower today with 20 Lesser Redpoll and 10 Goldcrest the highlights. Out towards Swineham 3 Marsh Harrier were hunting loosely together and this afternoon a fresh juv female Hen Harrier was seen with the juv male around the Slepe Heath area. On Brownsea there were 28 Spoonbill and 1 Little Stint and at Lytchett Fields there were 2 Ruff, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier, 10 Skylark over and the autumn/winters first Water Pipit.  

 Ring Ouzel night Passage – Old Town Poole Listening Station 27/10/17 @ 4:00am

 Hawfinch – Single call of night time migrant – Old Town Poole Listening Station 27/10/17 @ 03:47 

Yellow-browed Warbler – Poole garden – Marcus Lawson

Harbour Update – posted 26/10/17

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

Finally the wind subsided and the sun even shone for most of the day. This prompted good numbers of finches to move across the harbour, north to south. Both South Haven and Ballard saw good totals with our ringing station ringing over 200 birds, including 58 Lesser Redpoll, 50 Goldfinch, 8 Bullfinch, 1 Firecrest, 6 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff and 19 Goldcrest. Nick Hopper whom is carrying out an 18 month ‘Herons of Poole Harbour’ study for us discovered 3 roosting Great White Egret. Off Shipstal Point, Arne the female type Velvet Scoter was in Arne Bay and Spoonbill totals were 56. A summer plumaged Great Northern Diver was in Studland Bay with 7 Black-necked Grebe. At Middlebere the Stilt Sandpiper was roosting with the Black-tailed Godwit, the Yellow-browed Warbler was in the wood around the hide and another Hawfinch was seen flying over the access track. Firecrests were still busy with 2-3 around the Villa on Brownsea, 2-3 in the Arne car park, 1 at Knowle Beach and 1 along Holes Bay.  On Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, at Sunnyside 1 Green Sandpiper and as the day drew to a close, Redwing and Song Thrush passage picked up overhead during the night. 

Avocets ‘up-ending’ – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray

Goldcrest – Brownsea  – Hamish Murray

Harbour Update – posted 24/10/17

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

The jokes gone too far now. A few days of SW winds in October would be acceptable, even a week or two, but an entire month takes the biscuit. With easterly dreams fading away fast and the vis-mig spectacle only available for a few more weeks we’re in desperate need of a wind swing. A few more passes of rain and strong winds on and off throughout the day hampered any decent birding opportunities but our first night survey of the ‘winter’ proved semi productive with the first 2 Woodcock of the winter back on winter territory in the Lower From Valley along with 50-75 Common Snipe and 1 Jack Snipe ringed. The Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere, the juv male Hen Harrier was on Hartland Moor with 3 Merlin. Firecrests were on Brownsea, in the Arne car park, Knowle Beach, Studland and Upton CP. 

Jack Snipe – Lower Frome Valley – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 23/10/17

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was pretty grim for most part of the morning but it eventually cleared by mid-afternoon. Best of the day included a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Arne car park along with 2 Firecrest in a tit flock. Saturdays juv Goshawk was seen again, this time over the Arne Road, heading towards the Wareham Channel getting nailed by corvids. A Hen Harrier was also over the Wareham Channel area as were 2 Merlin and a Peregrine. Also on the southern edge of the Wareham Channel were 6 Ruff, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover an adult Yellow-legged Gull. The Stilt Sandpiper was out in front of the Middlebere hide again along with c350 each of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit, 1 late Whinchat, 1 Kingfisher and a Merlin. A Ruff was on the beach at Shell Bay which was an odd record and a good Studland record. On Slepe Heath/Hartland up to 3 Merlin were reported bombing around late afternoon. Yesterdays reported Nutcracker was also looked for but sadly couldn’t be confirmed but a Firecrest in a mixed-tit flock was a worthwhile runner up. The Redstart was still at Holton Pools, Spoonbills were on the Brownsea Lagoon, Shipstal Point, Arne, Lytchett Fields and in the Wareham Channel. 

Harbour Update – posted 22/10/17

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was another interesting day with some more rarities/scarcities turning up. Star bird today was Poole Harbours only second ever Caspian Gull which was on the edge of the Wareham Channel, with the first appearing on Corfe Mullen tip back in 2003. This species should be more regular and to be quite honest could feasibly be a weekly/monthly visitor to the harbour, but with Poole Harbour being so vast and the Wareham Channel gull roost quite hard to monitor, pinning them has proved to be quite difficult over the years. Another great bird today was a Turtle Dove that was seen on wires along Slough Lane, Lytchett Bay. Sadly this is only the second record for the year of what used to be a fairly regular autumn migrant.  Then, as the day was drawing to a close a report of a possible Nutcracker was sent through, seen in flight over Knowle Beach car park entrance. Now this really would be an exceptional end to what’s been an exceptional year of birding in Poole Harbour. Sadly, the bird in question flew deep in to the woods and couldn’t be re-found. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Spoonbill, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Merlin, 12 Skylark and 1 Lesser Redpoll with the female Common Redstart still at Holton Pools. A juvenile Hen Harrier appeared in Poole Harbour west at Slepe Heath this afternoon and 2-3 Merlin have been favoring Hartland Moor this October, often venturing towards Middlebere. There are still only 3-4 Marsh Harrier frequenting the Poole Harbour west roost. In Middlebere the Stilt Sandpiper was still present in the company of 2 Spoonbill, 3 Greenshank, 6 Knot, 1 Green Sandpiper and c200 Avocet.

Caspian Gull – Wareham Channel – Marcus Lawson

Caspian Gull – Wareham Channel – Marcus Lawson

Common Redstart – Holton Pools – Richard Stephenson

Harbour Update – posted 21/10/17

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

Horrid day today but with at least one star bird. A juvenile Goshawk was seen several times flushing waders in Middlebere and was superbly captured on film by birders in the Middlebere hide. Despite increasing populations in the New Forest and even here in Dorset these are still really rare birds in Poole Harbour, with this individual consisting of only the second record this year (the first also at Middlebere in September). The Stilt Sandpiper was again in the channel for most of the day until the high tide pushed all the waders off. Merlin, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine were also in Middlebere along with 3 Knot, 3 Spotted Redshank and c200 Avocet.

Goshawk – Middlebere – Steve Smith

Harbour Update – posted 20/10/17

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

The wind blew strong this morning but eased off through the day. Despite the constant SW winds a few more Yellow-browed Warbler are trickling through with one at Holton Lee in front of the feeder hide briefly with a Firecrest, one at Branksome and another ‘YBW’ along the access track to Middlebere. The Stilt Sandpiper was showing well in Middlebere too with 2 Whimbrel also present, 1 Great White Egret in Wytch Lake and 54 Spoonbill at Shipstal and 9 on Brownsea. On Hartland 2 Merlin were buzzing about. In front of the new hide at Holton Pools a female type Common Redstart and a Wheatear were feeding on the mud and a Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 2 Kingfisher with 6 Lesser Redpoll also overhead. On Studland Beach 100 Med Gull were feeding and 2 Brent Geese flew across Studland Bay. Out in central harbour 6 Red-breasted Merganser were bobbing about along with c50 Great Crested Grebe.

 Stilt Sandpiper with Knot – Middlebere – Simon Buckell (Simon Buckell blog)

Stilt Sandpiper_2822 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

 Spoonbill – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray

 Spotted Redshank – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray


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