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 19/11/17

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

Perfectly still days can be a rare occurrence in late November, but today was as perfect as they come. A crisp early winter sun hanging low over the harbour, with not a breath of wind, making viewing open water bodies nice and simple, and allowing accurate counts to be made. Each evening, off Shipstal Point, Arne a roost forms out on the water beyond Long Island. When you have a big low tide before sunset and perfectly still conditions like we did tonight, standing up on the viewpoint looking out provides a great birding spectacle. This evening out in the roost 32 Goldeneye came in along with 59 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 67 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great Northern Diver and 1 Common Scoter. As the tide was low big numbers of birds were feeding along Shipstal Beach, down towards Wytch Lake and also out in Arne Bay with c400 Avocet, c200 Brent Geese and 38 Spoonbill were on the Long Island shoreline. A roost count out in Studland bay was also made with 25 Black-necked Grebe counted at sunset. The main lake at Poole Park was also surveyed today which saw 3 Goldeneye, 11 Tufted Duck and an amazing 21 Little Grebe. At Lytchett Bay, yesterdays Hawfinch was seen again briefly in and around French’s Farm, a ringing session at Lytchett Heath produced the sites 50th and 51stBearded Tits to be ringed this autumn along with a Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff. In Holes Bay NW from the Stone Bench saw 368 roosting Black-tailed Godwit, 98 Avocet, 190 Dunlin and 12 Little Grebe under the railway bridge and in Holes Bay NE were 562 Wigeon and a single Kingfisher. Firecrests were at Middlebere, Arne car park and Upton CP. Two Hen Harrier were in Poole Harbour west, out around the Swineham area with Merlin also at Middlebere, Hartland and Slepe Heath. A Great White Egret flew towards Middlebere over Scotland Farm.

 Siberian Chiffchaff Call – Lytchett Heath – 19/11/17

Bearded Tit – Lytchett Heath – Shaun Robson


Harbour Update – posted 18/11/17

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

The day started fine but a chilly NW wind blew for most of the day. It was a bit of a raptor fest in the Middlebere area with a colour-ringed Peregrine causing trouble in amongst the waders, a fine adult male Hen Harrier was seen in the west of the harbour at midday near Swineham with two separate ringtails also seen in that general area. Also at Swineham the winters first Bittern was seen flying across the main Gravel Pit late afternoon. Merlin are fairly prominent in the Hartland, Slepe Heath, Middlebere area at the moment too with several birds now settled it seems. At Lytchett Bay a settled Hawfinch was sat in trees near the new SANG at French’s Farm and on Lytchett Fields there were 2 Ruff, 4 Green Sandpiper and 2 Water Pipit. On the Brownsea Lagoon 47 Spoonbill were roosting. 


Harbour Update – posted 17/11/17

Posted on: November 18th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning we led a school bird boat out around the harbour with mostly calm waters, although a gentle NE breeze kept a cold ripple across the surface of central harbour. Highlights included a Great Northern Diver off the Brownsea north shore and a Great White Egret on the southern shore. 34 Spoonbill were on the lagoon and out in central harbour were 7 Goldeneye, 2 Black-necked Grebe, c50 Red-breasted Merganser and c30 Great Crested Grebe. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Water Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit and 2 Ruff. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen flying across the Arne Road, and at sunset the Wareham Channel was full of gulls on the low tide with thousands of Black-headed and Common Gull, also 8 Spoonbill, a Marsh Harrier and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Teal and Wigeon. In Shell Bay a Great Northern Diver fed really close in shore with a Sandwich Tern there and a flock of 35-40 Bar-tailed Godwit back at Shore Road on the low tide this evening. Brent Geese numbers are definitely rising with birds present in many areas of the harbour now. Merlin were seen at Middlebere and Hartland with flocks of Fieldfare now in evidence on numerous hawthorn and holly bushes. 

Goldeneye – Central Harbour – Paul Morton

Brent Geese – Central Harbour – Paul Morton

Fieldfare – Middlebere – Phyl England


Harbour Update – posted 16/11/17

Posted on: November 18th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Lots of common, over-wintering birds around now but reports sent through were limited with just 2 ringtail Hen Harrier in to roost in Poole Harbour west, a Great White Egret on the western shore of Brownsea, 5 Water Pipit at Lytchett Fields and 12 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay. 


Harbour Update – posted 15/11/17

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

Today was a stunningly still day with all the harbour’s standard mix of over-wintering waders and wildfowl showing nicely from various locations around the harbour on the low tide. Avocets, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Red-breasted merganser, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe were all viewable from the Brands Bay hide at low tide. In Holes Bay NE, close views of Spotted Redshank, Wigeon, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit were easily had. Off Baiter, 17 Brent Geese were feeding in the shallows, 8 Turnstone and 10 Ringed Plover were on the beach. Winter thrush are still arriving with two flocks of Fieldfare in low over Middlebere at dawn and Redwing much in evidence elsewhere around the harbour. 


Harbour Update – posted 14/11/17

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

Today the Pink-footed Goose was still at Holmebridge but was seen later in the day flying east towards the harbour, perhaps to roost? Another Hawfinch was seen in the Ridge/Stoborough area, 1 one settled near Nutcrack Lane briefly with a Golden Plover also flying over there. A Great White Egret was seen flying over Creekmoor/Fleets Bridge heading west and in Lytchett Bay there were 5 Spoonbill with 4 again in Holes Bay NE. There was also a late Ring Ouzel on Stoborough Heath next to Hartland. In Studland Bay 12 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Common Scoter, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Great Crested Grebe were feeding. In Poole Harbour west 3 Marsh Harrier, 1 Merlin and 2 Peregrine were causing panic over and around Swineham/Arne Moors. 


Harbour Update – posted 13/11/17

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

After an absence of a few days, the Pink-footed Goose was back again at Holmebridge with Mute Swans so hopefully it will stick around for several days/weeks now. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Ruff still out on the fields and in Lytchett Bay there were 4 Spoonbill and 25 Avocet. There were also 4 Spoonbill using Holes Bay NE today with c30 Avocet and 230+ Dunlin there too. Hardly earth shattering news, but interesting in its self was when a Lapwing came and appeared on our Brownsea Lagoon webcam, a species that’s actually exceptionally rare on the lagoon its self despite in common status around the harbour. We also heard late that during our Poole Harbour WeBS on Sunday a flock of 35 Golden Plover were out on the mud mixed in with Lapwing, this is a really decent total for Poole Harbour, with cold weather events usually producing such totals. At Arne, Brambling and Lesser Redpoll were heard flying over Arne Farm and there were also 2 Brambling at the Holton lee feeders. In Central Harbour 7 Goldeneye were in a raft of 53 Red-breasted Merganser and up to 100 Great Crested Grebe are now using the area between Round and Furzey Island. 

Lapwing with Avocet, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Shelduck – Brownsea Lagoon Webcam


Harbour Update – posted 12/11/17

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

Poole Harbour WeBS days (Wetland bird Surveys) always produces good totals and range of species as the whole harbour gets surveyed at a certain time on a single day. Although a cold and icy wind blew in from the north, almost the whole harbour covered with highlights being a Great White Egret on Littlesea, Studland, a Goosander in Holes Bay SE, 22 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay and 16 in the mouth of the Middlebere/Wytch Lake area. Also in the mouth of Wytch Lake were c750 Avocet, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Peregrine. Over Brands Bay 2 Peregrine were having an aerial dispute, therefor spooking all the waders and wildfowl. Brent Geese totals seem to be low for the time of year with only c150 off Shipstal, Arne and another 200 off Goathorn. In Middlebere a late (or over-wintering) Curlew Sandpiper was reported in with 21 Knot. On Lytchett Fields there was a single Ruff and 340 Lapwing with a single Woodcock seen mid-evening during a survey and a Sandwich Tern was fishing in the bay. At South Haven there was some finch passage first thing as 1 Brambling, 4 Bullfinch, 10 Siskin and 18 Meadow Pipit passed over and there were 7 Sanderling back on the beach with a Razorbill offshore. In Brands Bay 44 Pintail, 112 Wigeon, 100 Shelduck, 19 Turnstone, 15 Ringed Plover and 120 Lapwing were counted. In Poole Harbour west there were 4 Marsh Harrier and this morning 2 Hen Harrier were counted although only one came back into roost this evening and there were 2 Merlin on Hartland. At Ridge a Hawfinch flew over the entrance of Sunnyside Farm, suggesting one or a few may be settled in the area with another photographed in the same area last week. 

Hen Harrier – Middlebere – Simon Buckell (02/11/17)


Harbour Update – posted 11/11/17

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

As winter progresses and autumn days fade away, trying to squeeze in a full days birding before the late afternoon darkness descends can be a fun challenge. Winter provides an all round spectacle in each corner of the harbour so weekend days spent circumnavigating the harbour can be really rewarding. Admittedly the weather this AM didn’t fill many people with enthusiasm as the rain lashed down but an early trip out saw the Pink-footed Goose still present although it was flushed mid-morning by wildfowlers and never returned. All the usual suspects were noted in their usual haunts with 44 Spoonbill on Shipstal, 2 Merlin in Middlebere with c700 Avocet and out over the western end of the Wareham Channel 3-4 Marsh Harrier. Redwing are pretty conspicuous now and the higher numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush in hedgerows each morning suggest new birds are continuing to arrive in. 

Pink-footed Goose – Holmebridge – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 10/11/17

Posted on: November 11th, 2017 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A cold SW wind blew for most of the day but the discovery of a Pink-footed Goose at Holmebridge late afternoon took the edge of things. This species is less than regular and last occurred in Jan 2013, but records prior to this have been fairly sporadic. The last one was also found at Holmebridge and stayed for several weeks so hopefully it will settle and stay for a while. In the Wareham Channel 44 Spoonbill came in to feed just off Giggers Island with 54 roosting in Arne Bay later in the day, however dawn and evening harrier watches have proved fruitless for Hen Harrier, although there are still 3 Marsh Harrier about. Off Shipstal, Arne there was a Slavonian Grebe and 3 Goldeneye plus the building numbers of Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. Off South Beach, Studland there were 21 Black-necked Grebe and 2 pale-bellied Brent Geese in amongst 20 dark-bellied Brents. Migration through/over Ballard was much slower today with minimal numbers of birds ringed. 


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