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 November, 2017

Harbour Update – posted 29/11/17

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

Wow its cold! Often with these icy blasts from the north we see arrivals of scarcer species into the harbour like ‘grey geese’ species such as White-fronted Geese, Pink-footed etc and even birds like Bewick’s and Whooper Swan, so if when out and about you see flocks of wildfowl or swans flying over, certainly in the Frome and Piddle Valley area its well worth giving them all a good look. Golden Plover is another bird to look out for during cold weather and with snow forecast north of us in central and eastern England in the coming days then it could well force some of these birds down our way. Today saw a light passage of thrush first thing this morning with both Redwing and Fieldfare on the move in small numbers overhead. Lytchett Bay on the low tide was full of birds as was Holes Bay and Upton Country Park with Lytchett Bay holding 13 Spoonbill, 32 Brent Geese, 73 Avocet, 181 Black-tailed Godwit and an adult ringtail Hen Harrier. In Holes Bay mid afternoon the low tide produced c50 Avocet in Holes Bay NE and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Teal Shelduck. Poole Park boating had only 3 Goldeneye on it today but 11 Little Grebe, 1 Kingfisher and 3 Grey Wagtail around the site. At Arne around 300 Avocet were spooked in the mid morning sun by a Peregrine, which provided startled beauty in as much it looked incredible with black and white twisting and turning in the sun beams, but not very beautiful for the Avocets. There were also 2 Marsh Harrier a Merlin at a Water Pipit in Middlebere too. In Poole Harbour west it seems the Hen Harriers were unsettled by a large herd of Sika Deer moving through their normal roosting spot with neither the recent male or female settling down tonight. Our ringing site up on Ballard, which will soon be drawing to a close for the season in the next couple of days ringed another stunning adult male Brambling. Woodcock numbers seem to be building with 3 seen flying over the Arne Road at dusk, and according to the Woodcock network website, an arrival in from Scandinavia over the last 24 hours has swelled numbers.  

Male Brambling – Ballard Down – Olly Slessor

Rock Pipit – Whitley Lake, Sandbanks – Ian Ballam

Water Pipit – Middlebere – Ian Ballam

Avocet – Middlebere – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 28/11/17

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

A dark, cold, blustery grey day where it seems most people stayed in doors! In Poole Harbour west the grey male Hen Harrier came back in late afternoon having gone missing for a few days, joining the regular female. On Hartland a male Merlin was on its standard post near Middlebere at dusk. In Poole Park boating lake there were 4 Goldeneye, 4 Sandwich Tern and 12 Little Grebe and in Lytchett Bay the highlight was 6 Spoonbill feeding. All exposed areas on the low tide were busy with birds making it well worth the effort to pop out and have a look at places like Holes Bay NE or even Baiter if you don’t fancy tracking all the way over to the southern shores.

Turnstone – Whitley Lake, Sandbanks – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 27/11/17

Posted on: November 28th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Over night a strong wind had built and heavy rain set in mid morning but it soon cleared. Its always worth checking favored sheltering spots when weather turns iffy and on Poole Park boating lake 6 Goldeneye were settled out in the middle with 13 Little Grebe, 11 Tufted Duck and 2 Sandwich Tern hunkering down. Off Baiter a single Great Northern Diver was feeding and 2 Sandwich Tern were hunting in Fisherman’s dock. At Lytchett Bay the Hawfinch was still using the trees around the new French’s Farm SANG and another flew over Stoborough. mid-afternoon. On Brownsea the Stilt Sandpiper was still present, having a ‘to-do’ with Redshank, also present were 39 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 1 Whimbrel, 10 Spotted Redshank, 15 Greenshank, 3 Spoonbill, 2 Sandwich Tern and 6 Crossbill were in the woods around the Villa. In Middlebere 1-2 Marsh Harrier were playing in the wind and Merlin were on Hartland Moor, Slepe Heath and at Shipstal. At North Haven 11 Sanderling were roosting on the groynes with 10 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin. In Holes Bay NE Avocet were feeding really close to the cycle path again along with Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Teal and Wigeon.

Male Goldeneye – Poole Park boating lake – Ian Ballam

Female Goldeneye – Poole Park boating lake – Ian Ballam


Avocet – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 26/11/17

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

The day began bright, calm and still, but by 10am a cold NW wind had picked up and an overcast chilly sky had descended over the harbour. The day began with a Bittern on Arne Moors, which then flew over towards Swineham GP. Out from Middle Beach, Studland 7 Black-necked Grebe were feeding as were 2 Great Crested Grebe and 1 female type Common Scoter. At Swineham 10-15 Chiffchaff were on the main island out on the gravel pits, a Firecrest was along the access track, 2 Marsh Harrier were off Swineham Point with 3 Bearded Tit and 10+ Rock Pipit. Of note on the main gravel pit its self were 35 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck, 4 Shoveler, 4 Little Grebe and 1 Kingfisher. Today only a single ringtail Hen Harrier was seen with the male from the last couple of days being a no-show. A Brambling was in an Upton garden. Firecrests were again seen in the Arne car park and Merlin seemed pretty busy in Middlebere. On the high tide there were c400 Avocet roosting at Middlebere and on Shipstal 40+ Spoonbill.

Brambling – Upton – Shaun Robson

Harbour Update – posted 25/11/17

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

Today a group headed out over to Brownsea Island on an RSPB/DWT/NT bird boat where the Stilt Sandpiper was viewable from the Lower Hide, also present 12 Spoonbill, c200 Avocet, good numbers now of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, several Knot, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Firecrest and 2-3 Kingfisher and the usual spread of commoner over-wintering wader and wildfowl species. At Lytchett Fields the Hawfinch was back again at French’s Farm and in Middlebere the Great White Egret was feeding for a short period. Merlin, Peregrine, Marsh and Hen Harrier were all present around Middlebere and the mouth of the Frome Valley at different times during the day. Fieldfare numbers seemed to increase slightly with birds passing over Brands Bay, Slepe Heath and Arne. Firecrests were in the Arne car park, Knoll Beach car park and 1 was on Ballard. At Holton Lee, several Crossbill were on view out on the heath which is good to hear as they’ve been extremely scarce so far this year. 

Crossbills – Holton Lee – Ian Brown

Harbour Update – posted 24/11/17

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

As we’d hoped, with the weather settling down, there were a few more people out in the field today. Highlights from dawn included a Hawfinch over Stoborough Heath and another one at French’s Farm, Lytchett Fields. A ringtail Hen Harrier was around Slepe Heath mid morning before being seen at Lytchett Bay with a female Merlin at Hartland and 43 Spoonbill flew into the Wareham Channel to feed. Towards the end of the day both a male and female Hen Harrier bombed around Poole Harbour west before settling in to roost. At Whitley Lake, Sandbanks no less than 14 Sandwich Tern were on the posts at East Dorset Sailing Club, providing a decent early winter total. A Great White Egret was seen in the mouth of the Frome mid afternoon with another sighting in Middlebere later in the day. Most surprising (re)find of the day was the Stilt Sandpiper on the Brownsea Lagoon, seen during a school bird boat. Although the island is closed for the winter, there’s a good chance this bird could head back to Middlebere on the low tides so its well worth looking out for it as it seems to now be over-wintering. Out around the harbour there were 13 Black-necked Grebe and a juv Great Northern Diver was off the eastern Brownsea shoreline and still good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and Goldeneye.

Harbour Update – posted 23/11/17

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

As expected, the wind increased the number of Great Northern Diver using the harbour with 5 flying in at dawn along with 19 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Common Scoter and 95 Shag with another Great Northern Diver on the water off Shell Beach plus a Gannet left the harbour suggesting it had sheltered in the harbour somewhere over night. At Middlebere the standard raptor haul showed on and off during the afternoon with 2 female type Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and 1 Merlin with Fieldfare along the entrance track. The Hawfinch total at French’s Farm, Lytchett Bay rose to two and there were 9 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay and a Ruff out on the Lytchett Fields. With the weather calming down tomorrow we hope for some better coverage and a good range of sightings.

Marsh Harrier – Middlebere – Chris Snook

Harbour Update – posted 22/11/17

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

Unsurprisingly there was little reported today as the wind and rain battered the harbour. As mentioned the other day, when things settle down, it will be well worth checking for species blown in to the harbour. The main harbour entrance and the open water body between the harbour mouth and Green Island would be good places to check, along with the North Channel off Whitley Lake, Sandbanks for the winters first Black-throated Diver? Today just the Hawfinch at Lytchett Fields was reported to us along with Spoonbills in Lytchett Bay and on Shipstal, 2 Great Northern Diver off Brownsea and 4 Sandwich Tern along Baiter. Despite the lack of reports for today, the harbour is currently full of birds, so when things perk up, get out and enjoy! 

Harbour Update – posted 21/11/17

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

Today a Hoopoe was reported in Upton CP, on the west side of the reserve in trees on the track leading down to Hamworthy. This may seem like an odd record for mid November but back in the winter of 2013/14 one actually over-wintered in Hamworthy, giving many birders the run around for several weeks. Its likely that if re-found the bird will hang around in the general area for a while longer, but like the last one that over-wintered, it could quite literally turn up anywhere. Roadside verges and peoples back gardens were favoured areas last time so keep your eyes peeled. The Hawfinch fest continued with two hanging around Arne Farm for most of the day with another still at French’s Farm, Lytchett Bay. The Spoonbills were roosting at Arne as usual, and Merlin, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier were all recorded at Middlebere. 

Harbour Update – posted 20/11/17

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

With the wind blowing strong from the west, there was hope of a few waif and strays getting blown in. November is classic for birds like Little Auk to get blown into the harbour and with the strong winds forecast later in the week it will be well worth checking open areas of the harbour when things settle down again. We tend to see a rise in the number of Great Northern Diver within the harbour after strong winds too as birds enter the harbour to shelter, and with them can often be the odd Red-throated and Black-throated Diver. Long-tailed Duck are another bird to keep a look out for after this week along with Black Guillemot and our last Surf Scoter turned up after a period of strong winds from the South West, so even though the weather may seem a little anti-social the potential for good birds is mouth watering. Sightings from today were limited though being a wet and windy Monday withShell Bay/South Haven seeing 11 Sanderling and 1 Great Northern Diver. Jerry’s Point had 51 Oystercatchers, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Brent Geese, 2 Grey Plover, 10 Turnstone and 1 Goldeneye. Brands Bay reported 8 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 101 Wigeon, 12 Pintail, 20 Teal, 48 Lapwing, 51 Curlew, 40 Great Black-backed Gulls, 123 Shelduck, 123 Brent Geese, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit. Studland Bay from Middle Beach saw 1 Razorbill, 1 Great Northern Diver and 14 Black Necked Grebe. And finally at Middlebere there was 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine,1 Yellow legged Gull, 470 Teal, 16 Curlew, 14 Dunlin, 22 Shelduck, 12 Wigeon, 1 Great White Egret and 1 Chiffchaff along the track. There was also a really nice selection of duck species viewable at close range from ‘The Stone Bench’ at Upton CP which included Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Mallard. There’s no doubta good selection of commoner over-wintering species would havebeen present in their usual haunts, but you just need to enthusiastic enough to get out and look!




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