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 19/10/17

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

As we know birds are currently arriving or moving through the harbour in numbers at present and it’s always nice to receive info of high profile birds using the harbour. We recently received info from the RSPB’s Skydancer Project informing us that two sat-tagged Hen Harrier had recently used the harbour.  First there was a juvenile male Hen Harrier, which was tagged in mid-Wales in summer 2017 and after roosting in Poole Harbour on 5th October he then continued another 333km SSE and roosted not far east of Chateaubriant in Pays de la Loire region of northern France on the night of the 6th. He then moved another 85km south west and roosted just south of Nantes on the 7thbefore moving another 55km to the coast near Challans on the 8th where he seems to have settled. Then a juvenile female Hen Harrier that was tagged in Scotland in summer 2017 moved south out of Scotland on 1st October spending 1 night in the North Pennines, 1 night on the North York Moors, 2 nights on the east side of London and 1 night to the east of Portsmouth. She roosted in Poole Harbour for 2 nights on 6th and 7th October before moving off north-west to Exmoor National Park. Seeing these incredible birds is often nice enough, but having a back-story to them is a wonderful added bonus. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere for most of the morning before heading off around 15:30. With wind and rain intermittent throughout the day birding was pretty tough going with just the Wood Sandpiper, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 5 Ruff on Lytchett Fields. There as a late Hobby hawking insects over Slepe Heath with 1 Merlin and 4 Marsh Harrier frequenting Poole Harbour west. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 64 Spoonbill and 14 Spotted Redshank counted. 

Juv male Hen Harrier – mid-Wales – RSPB Skydancer project

Harbour Update – posted 18/10/17

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

A slightly slower day in terms of visible migration but birds did get moving in small numbers eventually. At South Haven, Studland 3 Redwing, 175 Siskin, 2 Brambling, 5 Bullfinch, 1 Woodlark, 2 Firecrest and small numbers of Goldfinch, Linnet and Chaffinch headed north along with 9 Swallow and 1 Common Scoter through the harbour mouth. At Arne 2 Hawfinch settled briefly in trees above the Arne café before moving off. Studland churchyard had good numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush moving around the bushes. Up on Ballard, 3 more Brambling headed north with c150 Linnet and 20 Goldfinch and 2 late Common Redstart were also ringed. The Stilt Sandpiper re-appeared in Middlebere, hanging out with the Black-tailed Godwit and the Great White Egret was also present again. At Lytchett Fields a late Wood Sandpiper also appeared with a Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Ruff and the standard Redshank and Dunlin

Common Redstart – Ballard Down – Olly Slessor

Wheatear – Holes Bay – John Pick Grendon

Harbour Update – posted 17/10/17

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

 Today was a classic autumn day with a great range of species seen and true signs of autumn migration. The first Yellow-browed Warbler to be ringed in Poole Harbour this year was up on Ballard Down where 2 Firecrest were also ringed along with 23 Lesser Redpoll and 22 Chiffchaff, 9 Blackcap and 8 Goldcrest. A Cattle Egret also arrived in low over Ballard before heading NW over Studland Village. On top of Glebelands, Ballard a strong passage of Linnet, Goldfinch and Siskin went through west with Meadow Pipit and alba Wagtails mixed in. Out on a flat calm Poole Harbour 6 Red-breasted Merganser were in South Deep off the southern Brownsea shore with 20 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Black-necked Grebe. Out in Studland Bay another 7 Black-necked Grebe were feeding with 1 Guillemot, 1 Common Scoter, c30 Med Gull and 1 juv Gannet also settled out in the bay. Another Hawfinch passed over Poole Town mid-morning and another 4 bounded south along Middle Beach Studland. On the Brownsea Lagoon 60 Spoonbill were settled on the high tide. Kingfishers were in Holes Bay NW (Upton CP, Poole Park, Holton Lee and at Shipstal, Arne. At Lytchett Fields 34 Skylark passed overhead, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 4 Ruff were on the fields and both Peregrine and Marsh Harrier were touring the area. 

Yellow-browed Warbler – Ballard Down – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 16/10/17

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

A fairly slow news day with info of another Yellow-browed Warbler moving through with a tit flock near Wareham train station. At Lytchett Fields a single Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff and good numbers of Redshank, Snipe and Lapwing. On Hartland a single Merlin has been regular most days recently but by this evening 3 were perched up together. On Brownsea 45 Spoonbill were roosting along with 10 Spotted Redshank and c200 Avocet. A sea watch from Branksome Chine produced c30 Gannet West along with 7 Common Scoter east and 3 Brent Geese west. 

Poole Harbour sunset by air – Simon Buckell (Simon Buckell Blog)

Harbour Update – posted 15/10/17

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

Well well well. We were only saying yesterday that finch passage had picked up across the harbour and low and behold 3 Hawfinch were heard and seen flying over Holes Bay at around 13:30. Hawfinch in Poole Harbour are exceptionally rare however over the last few days good numbers had been on the move across the UK with other Dorset sites seeing them pass over too, so it was more likely a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ any would get seen within the Poole harbour area. The Poole Harbour WeBS counts seemed initially disappointing as the tide wasn’t particularly low but the Great White Egret was seen in Wytch Lake and Middlebere, the Velvet Scoter was out in central harbour and 46 Spoonbill were on Brownsea. The Yellow-browed Warbler was again in trees around the Middlebere Hide and the Stilt Sandpiper was out on the mud in front of the hide with 6 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, c500 Avocet, 1 Spoonbill and a fly by Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Ruff, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Little Stint. Additional goodies on Brownsea included 2 Little Stint and 1 Ruff. There were 33 Brent Goose in the Wareham Channel with 3 Pintail and 555 Black-tailed Godwit. In Poole Harbour west there are currently 5 Marsh Harrier and single of both Hen Harrier and Merlin are frequent around Hartland Moor. 

 Merlin – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Merlin (juv)_2755 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

  Great White Egret – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Great Egret@Middlebere.MVI_2745 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

 Peregrine – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Peregrine@Middlebere. from Waderworld on Vimeo.


Harbour Update – posted 14/10/17

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

Although the winds subsided today, the only new arrival was a Yellow-browed Warbler around the hide at Middlebere with the Stilt Sandpiper still out on the mud and Merlin, Marsh and Hen Harrier all noted too. At Lytchett Fields there was 1 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Med Gull and 1 Marsh Harrier. Along footpath 12 of Lytchett Bay there were still good numbers of Bearded Tit around in the reedbeds. More winter wildfowl are arriving in drips and drabs with c30 Brent Geese seen in Studland Bay and Pintail and Wigeon numbers had increased in Arne Bay. Spoonbills were on Shipstal Point Arne and a few were on Brownsea. Finch passage is currently taking place overhead across most of the harbour with some areas more concentrated than others. Currently with these SW winds its difficult to find these migration corridors where concentrated numbers of birds move en mass but Ballard Down seems to have good numbers of Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Chaffinch and Goldfinch moving overhead. The best wind direction for vis-mig in the harbour is a northerly or north-easterly wind with the South Haven, Glebelands, Studland, the Corfe Gap and Lytchett Bay viewing mound on Boarder Road all good places to watch from. Finches (and wagtails and pipits) will all move in smaller numbers at any point across the harbour so its well worth learning the flight and social calls of species like Siskin, Linnet, Grey Wagtail and even scarcer species as at this time of year you never quite know what will fly over!

Marsh Harrier – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Merlin – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Hen Harrier – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Marsh Harrier and Avocet – Middlebere – Simon Buckell

Harbour Update – posted 13/10/17

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

As we approach mid October, its quite amazing how mild it still is, and with only a tiny tiny number of winter thrushes having arrived yet it looks that with the right weather window in the coming days/weeks we could see a mass arrival here on the south coast. There was little change today as a rather grey and blustery day seeing the Velvet Scoter still in central harbour, this time viewed from the Hamworthy Park beach. The Stilt Sandpiper was still in Middlebere as was the Great White Egret, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 female Merlin and a ringtail Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Fields there were still 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Grey Plover and lots of Wigeon on the fields. 

Harbour Update – posted 12/10/17

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

Even when you’ve been birding a site or area for many years you sometimes (if you’re very lucky) get to experience something so new and so different it makes you sit back and think…what else are we missing? This morning during a routine reedbed ringing session at Lytchett Heath big numbers of Bearded Tit could be heard ‘pinging’ in the reed beds. Although the numbers seemed slightly higher than normal, it wasn’t unexpected to see them at this spot. However, as the sun grew in the sky and the day began to unfold, the Bearded Tits began calling each other out of the reed beds, signalling to one other that time was up and it was time to leave. Every few minutes a group of 5-10 would fly above the reedbed with some quickly dashing back down again into the thick cover, whilst others would climb higher and higher into the sky, heading off in a NW direction before they became tiny specks in the sky, never to be seen again! Within a twenty minuet period we had 21 Bearded Tit migrate off out of the harbour in small parties of between 3-8 birds. Where they’re going we don’t know, but seeing as we had a colour-ringed bird from Radipole here the other day it could be that they’re making local movements between large reedbed sites in Dorset. Or, it could be that some move off further to larger reedbed systems in other areas of the country. Still, to witness this dispersal was pretty fascinating and is certainly worth watching out for again on still calm October mornings. The best place to try and see these birds is either at the end of footpath 12 off Boarder Road, Lytchett Bay or from the new Lytchett Bay/Boarder Road viewing mound. Also in that area were c60 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wheatear, 1 Kingfisher, c50 Reed Bunting and 1 Lesser Redpoll over. In Poole Harbour west there were 2 Merlin, 2 Hen Harrier and 5 Marsh Harrier. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere and on Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Peregrine. Firecrests were in the Arne car park, Knoll Beach and Greenland’s Farm, Studland. Winter thrush numbers are still non-existent with just a small handful of Song Thrush moving through during the early part of the mornings. 

Ruff – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 11/10/17

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

Not much change today with little variety reported. Just the Stilt Sandpiper still in Middlebere and still with 2 legs. At Lytchett Fields 1 Little Stint, 2 Ruff and 2 Curlew Sandpiper with another 3 at Middlebere. 

Yellowhammer – Ballard Down – Olly Slessor

Harbour Update – posted 10/10/17

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

A stiff SW breeze kicked in fairly early yet the sheltered northward side of Studland stayed fairly sheltered as numerous finch flocks tried to get moving. Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll were all moving in small number as were a few Skylark and about 200 Swallow. 2 Ring Ouzel were up on the Ballard Ridge. A school bird boat also went out this AM and a nice surprise was the years first Velvet Scoter in Arne Bay alongside a drake Common Scoter. There were also still just 2 Red-breasted Merganser, c40 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Sandwich Tern, 11 Brent Geese around the rest of the harbour and 25 Spoonbill on the Brownsea Lagoon. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere this time with 2 legs. We’ve given up on this drama and have just accepted that there is a Stilt Sandpiper in Poole Harbour which is good enough for us. If it wants to play about taking its leg on and off just to confuse birders than its more than welcome to, but we’ve now stopped caring 😉 There was also 1 Curlew Sandpiper in Middlebere. Brownsea was still looking busy with good variety including 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 15 Spotted Redshank, 25 Greenshank, 1 Knot and 2 Kingfisher along with 300+ Avocet. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Little Stint

Lesser Redpoll – Ballard Down – Paul Morton



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