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 09/10/17

Posted on: October 10th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

After Sundays boat survey, where our team noted high numbers of Spoonbill at Arne and on Brownsea, we thought it best to carry out a coordinated count to get a definitive total. Well, we’re glad we did because we managed to break not only the Poole Harbour record but also the British record for the largest gathering of Spoonbill recorded. In total we reached 75 Spoonbill with 40 at on Shipstal Point, Arne and 35 on the Brownsea Lagoon. The previous highest total was 60 in 2015 and 64 in 2016. This upward trend has been in place for almost a decade now but still we see no birds staying on to breed. Whether they will or not we’ll just have to wait and see but having these numbers over-wintering turns a dull dark winter day into a crisp white special one. The one-legged Stilt Sandpiper was back in Middlebere with a very pale Curlew Sandpiper and a Hen Harrier went through. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Spotted Redshank and 27 Greenshank. On Lytchett Fields there was 1 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Ruff, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 77 Black-tailed Godwit, 52 Dunlin, 12 Greenshank, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Skylark over. At Lytchett Heath 34 Bearded Tit were caught and ringed including a colour-ringed bird that had arrived in from Radipole Lake, Weymouth. An evening watch at Pilots Point, Studland saw 41 Shag leave the harbour to roost with 3 Sanderling and a Ringed Plover on the beach, 8 dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Sandwich Tern and a roost of 18 Pied Wagtail. Migration through Ballard was slower but Lesser Redpoll numbers are increasing with 5 ringed along with 1 Firecrest, 48 Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrest. The first small flurry of Redwing passed over Arne at sunrise. 

Bearded Tit – Lytchett Heath – Nick Hull

Harbour Update – posted 08/10/17

Posted on: October 9th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Correct us if we’re wrong, but we were under the impression that as autumn progressed the weather was supposed to deteriorate? Today was beyond a nice autumnal experience and had re-winded back to a full-blown summers day. This made a survey we were carrying out around the harbour even more pleasant with not only great weather but great birds too. Throughout the year we try and survey as much of the harbour as possible by exploring hard to reach areas, such as the Wareham Channel and river valley’s normally from a Brownsea Island Ferry. This allows us to learn and discuss new ideas about how birds use the harbour, when they arrive and count the numbers of birds that are currently within the harbour its self. We finished on a respectable 84 species with highlights including 3 Marsh Harrier in the mouth of the Frome, a minimum of 60 Great Crested Grebe indicating a big arrival within the last few days along with a Black-necked Grebe near Redhorn Quay. We also believe we reached a new Poole Harbour Spoonbill record with 65 present, split between Arne, Brownsea and Lytchett Fields but this is yet to be clarified. A ringtail Hen Harrier drifted over Arne and 2-3 Peregrine were noted over various locations with other raptors including a Merlin over Ower Bay, 2 Sparrowhawk and 1 Kestrel. On Arne Moors 2 Ruff lifted off with c50 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Yellow-legged Gull were also day roosting. There were still only 2 Red-breasted Merganser back and a single Common Scoter was in central harbour. On the rocks of the marina wall at Poole Quay c10 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 1 Wheatear and 1 Kingfisher were present. The Brownsea Lagoon was busy with 2 Curlew Sandpiper the highlights, also Grey Plover, 300+ Avocet, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Spotted Redshank and 10+ Greenshank. A Great White Egret flew over Holes Bay around 9am and another was in Brands Bay at the same time proving there are currently 2 around.  The Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere again late afternoon, still hobbling around sadly on its one leg. There were Ring Ouzel on Ballard and Stoborough Heath. At Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, 1 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 5 Green Sandpiper and in other areas of Lytchett Bay there were 6 Bearded Tit along footpath 12 with 8 others and a colour-ringed bird caught during an evening Pied Wagtail roost ringing session where 25 Pied Wagtail were also ringed. Cetti’s Warbler were pretty vocal and you can’t blame them considering how warm it was with a minimum of 10 heard along the Frome Valley and 3-5 around Lytchett Bay. At Swineham a Firecrest was in North Bestwall Wood with a Reed Warbler and 2 Blackcap in a mixed-tit flock. 

Harbour Update – posted 07/10/17

Posted on: October 9th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was a strange occurrence today when the Stilt Sandpiper, which had been feeding quite happily in Middlebere, arrived at Lytchett Fields mid morning with just one leg! Hopping around it eventually began feeding before then moving off high over the Bakers Arms a few hours later.  How this happened we don’t know, but will this see it remain in the harbour even longer or does it highlight the beginning of the end for this pretty incredible long-distance trans-Atlantic migrant? Also at Lytchett Fields 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Ruff, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Yellow-legged Gull in Lytchett Bay. The Brownsea Lagoon was given a full count and produced 330 Avocet, 21 Greenshank, 15 Spotted Redshank, 245 Common Redshank, 2 Little Stint, 160 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot, 2 Grey Plover and 36 Spoonbill. There are now 3 Hen Harrier about, with the adult male again seen near Middlebere and now 2 ringtails were seen together briefly. 

Hen Harrier – Middlebere –  Mark Wright (Twitter) 

Harbour Update – posted 06/10/17

Posted on: October 9th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning we hosted a school bird boat which provided more signs of winter as the first 2 Red-breasted Merganser appeared in the harbour and 3 fly-over Goldeneye went over Arne. A small number of Brent Geese had arrived and were feeding along the southern shores. Spoonbills were on the Brownsea Lagoon with 15 present. There is still a good spread of Ruff around the harbour and today there was 2 on the Brownsea Lagoon, 1 at Lytchett Fields 1 in Middlebere and 4 on Arne Moors. Again, the Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere for most of the day. Hen Harriers were seen in Middlebere and over Hartland with the adult male still present and a ringtail. There are still 4 Marsh Harrier in the harbour, ranging widely from Lytchett Fields to Sunnyside Farm, Middlebere and Arne. Migration through Ballard was again very Chiffchaff heavy with 88 ringed along with 1 Dartford Warbler, 3 Meadow Pipit and a single Goldcrest. Meadow Pipit were on the move along with a few Swallow but no concerted effort was made to do a full vis-mig count. 

 Little Stint – Lytchett Fields – Simon Buckell

Little Stint (juv) MVI_2701 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

Harbour Update – posted 05/10/17

Posted on: October 8th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It felt like October was trying to make up for some of the wet, grotty weather we had back in late July/early august as temperatures soared to an almost tropical 20 degrees. This wouldn’t have felt so strange as an isolated occurrence but when 3 Whooper Swan appeared in Lytchett Bay there was certainly a backwards feeling to the moment as brow wiping rather than chattering teeth was the main bodily function! Viewable from anywhere around Lytchett Bay they stayed settled until around 15:15 before drifting out of the bay, but Bearded Tits were also logged in the reed beds near the viewing mound at Boarder Road. Spoonbill were spread out across the harbour with 7 on Brownsea, 1 in Holes Bay, 1 on Lytchett Fields and 20+ at Arne. There was a single ringtail Hen Harrier at Arne and the male was seen again near Middlebere along with a Merlin. The Stilt Sandpiper was still in Middlebere along with 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 300 Avocet, 1 Knot and 3 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, 7 Ruff, 9 Green Sandpiper, 9 Greenshank and a Whinchat. Firecrests were at Arne with 3 in and around the car park, 1 a Knoll Beach and 1 in Upton CP. 

3 Whooper Swan – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 04/10/17

Posted on: October 5th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today heralded the first returning Hen Harriers with not one but two seen by the end of the day. An adult grey male was seen in several locations including Middlebere and the Wareham Channel with a ringtail female appearing over the Brownsea Lagoon late afternoon before then being seen again near Arne. Another surprise was when a flock of 6 Goosander were found ‘snorkeling’ in Newton Bay. Goosander are a scarce visitor to the main area of Poole Harbour normally appearing during cold snaps later in the winter or when there is increased shooting activity up the river valley’s. The Spoonbill flock seems more spread out now but there are collectively still between 40-50 (maybe more) still present. Up on Ballard vis-mig picked up slightly with a small passage of Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and alba wagtails along with 2 Golden Plover and a Ring Ouzel along the Studland Road. Brownsea got full coverage today and produced the goods with totals including 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 130 Avocet, 14 Spotted Redshank, 245 Redshank, 27 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 65 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 4 Grey Plover, 375 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 520 Oystercatcher, 65 Shoveler, 1 Pintail, 550 Teal, 3 Brent Goose, 5 Spoonbill, 42 Little Egret, 3 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine and the flyover Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Fields a Sanderling on the Sherford Pools was the first ever record for the fields and the 33rd species of wader to be recorded here since the site was created in 2013. Also on Lytchett Fields were 8 Ruff, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 150 Dunlin, 14 Greenshank. The long-staying Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere. Will we see another North American wader over-winter this year as we did with Lytchett Bays Lesser Yellowlegs last year? The Great White Egret was also in Middlebere with 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Spoonbill, 135 Black-tailed Godwit, 119 Avocet, 9 Knot, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, the 6 Goosander and 4 Pintail. An amazing 19 Ruff were on Sunnyside Farm fields near Ridge. Migration through Ballard was again strong but variety low as big numbers of Chiffchaff pushed through and to a lesser extent Blackcap.

A few months ago we launched our winter bird boat schedule and places are booking up fast! If you’d like to join us and learn about Poole Harbours spectacular birdlife then don’t miss out and book on NOW – WINTER BIRD BOATS

Wheatear – Baiter – John Grendon

Oystercatcher – Baiter – John Grendon

Black-tailed Godwit – Baiter – John Grendon


Harbour Update – posted 03/10/17

Posted on: October 5th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There’s still plenty of great birds around to keep you interested and with most of October still ahead of us and some interesting weather systems heading our way in the coming weeks, we could see even more great birding along the way. With so much opportunity around every corner, even when heading out to see birds that you know are there, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for ‘hidden extras’ tucked away. In Middlebere the Great White Egret was feeding in the top of the channel before lifting off and headed towards Arne. Spoonbills were commuting between Shipstal, Arne and Middlebere with 25 on site. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere with 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 5 Knot, c700 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Avocet and 6 Greenshank. On Lytchett Fields a decent count of 16 Greenshank was noteworthy as was 11 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 1 Spoonbill, 150+ Dunlin and 1 Marsh Harrier. An Osprey was hunting in the Wareham Channel at dawn and 4 Marsh Harrier came out of the west Poole Harbour roost, 1 Merlin was on Slepe heath along with 2 Peregrine. Out in Studland Bay there were 4 Black-necked Grebe and 77 Med Gulls. Migration through Ballard Down was pretty strong too with 87 Chiffchaff, 18 Blackcap, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Firecrest, 5 Goldcrest, 1 Stonechat and 6 Meadow Pipit ringed. In Holes Bay NE a Common Sandpiper was near the PC World outflow with 460 Wigeon present in the bay with 125 Teal, 55 Redshank, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Kingfisher. There were also 4 Little Stint on the Brownsea Lagoon. 

Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit – Middlebere – Simon Kidner

Harbour Update – posted 02/10/17

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today the Stilt Sandpiper ventured back to Lytchett Fields where it stayed for most of the day until it upped and left before being re-found again at Middlebere around 17:40. Also at Lytchett Fields were 10 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Marsh Harrier. At Sunnyside Farm there were 4 Wheatear. Marsh Harriers were at Hartland Moor, Holton Lee and the Wareham Channel. On Brownsea there were only 6 Spoonbill but also 1 Ruff, 6 Spotted Redshank, 10 Greenshank and 2 Kingfisher. At Baiter Wheatear have been seen along the beach and rocks over recent days and Sandwich Terns are still fishing along the shoreline. 

Sandwich Tern – Baiter – John Grendon

Sandwich Tern – Baiter – John Grendon

Harbour Update – posted 01/10/17

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

For most of today the weather was pretty yuk but it did clear away eventually by late afternoon and early doors it wasn’t too bad. Not much change on the bird front with the Stilt Sandpiper still in Middlebere for most of the day with 9 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 4 Knot, 378 Avocet, 490+ Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Osprey. A Lytchett Bay record of 10 Ruff were counted with 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Little Stint and 2 Spoonbill. There was a report of a Wryneck flying over the Holton Pools hide mid afternoon, calling but it couldn’t be relocated. At Baiter there was a single Wheatear, several Ringed Plover and Turnstone. A Marsh Tit at Arne in a mixed-tit flock was a good record. On Arne moors there were 6 Ruff, 23 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Common Snipe

Harbour Update – posted 30/09/17

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A very autumnal start to the day with the first 21 Brent Geese of the autumn entering the harbour just after dawn, along with the first 3 Black-necked Grebe being found out in Studland Bay, viewed from Middle Beach. In the Middle Beach car park there were 3 Firecrest along with another in Knoll Beach with a large mixed tit flock. There was a large pulse of Chiffchaff and Blackcap moving through with the early rain at dawn bringing a lot down. Passage through the Ballard area reflected this with 68 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 22 Meadow Pipit, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Redstart all ringed early on. In Studland church yard there were another c50 Chiffchaff along with another Firecrest. The Stilt Sandpiper remained faithful to Middlebere, feeding there for most of the day along with the Osprey which went on several fishing jaunts throughout the day. There was an incredible flock of 18 Ruff on Arne Moors, a sight very rarely seen these days. On Lytchett Fields there were 8 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 175 Dunlin and 11 Greenshank. There was a single Spoonbill on Holton Pools and 2 Kingfisher. At Greenland’s Farm there were 6 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. Around the harbour Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Pintail numbers are rising by the day with now over 500 Wigeon in Holes Bay NE. 


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