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 February, 2018

Harbour update – 27/02/18

Posted on: February 28th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Yep, its certainly getting colder and with just one more day to go until our new Birds of Poole Harbour visitor HQ opens, will we see a total white out before the big day? Who knows, but regardless of sun, snow or storms we’ll be opening at midday on March 1st, to celebrate the unofficial start of spring…and we really mean ‘unofficial’!

Despite the cold today a nice list of birds emerged including 2 Great Northern Diver and 2 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay, with another Black-necked Grebe flying through the harbour mouth early evening. In Bramble Bush Bay were 4 Ringed Plover, 32 Sanderling, 1 Greenshank and a Lesser Redpoll. At Littlesea the Great White Egret was seen (also seen from Coombe Heath) and there were 60+ Grey Plover in Brands Bay. At Whitley Lake on the low tide c120 Med Gulls gathered and there were 40 Sanderling and a single Sandwich Tern. At Norden sewage works there was a single Firecrest 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Hawfinch at Norden park and ride. 3 Crossbill flew over Poole Town and Blackcaps seem to be visiting more gardens than normal In Holes bay NE c10 Pintail, 2 Spotted Redshank and c20 Avocet were present. From Lytchett Bay view this AM, 5 Spoonbill were on Otter island and a female Merlin zipped over the marsh. There were 3 Hen Harrier still in the west of the harbour late afternoon and 2 Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel with c50 Bar-tailed Godwit which is unusual. On Lytchett Fields a single Spoonbill was feeding and there were 3 Water Pipit.

As we mentioned, our new engagement HQ opens on March 1st, but if you can’t make it then, we’ll be open over the weekend too. For a full overview of the project you can read our recent press release HERE. 

Cold bleak scene at Poole Park – Paul Morton

Snow descending on Old Harry and Ballard Down – Paul Morton

Harbour update – 26/02/18

Posted on: February 27th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

At Lytchett Bay late afternoon a decent-ish gull roost formed in the bay on the rising tide, consisting mostly of Black-headed and Common Gull. 6 Med Gulls also dropped in but despite constant scanning in minus 1 degree nothing ‘juicer’ could be found. It seems Weymouth is currently hogging all the good gulls. 76 Avocet were feeding in the bay and just 3 Red-breasted Merganser could be seen. In Holes Bay NE another c50 Avocet were feeding in the channel, 11 Pintail were in amongst the Wigeon and Teal, the Spotted Redshank was in its usual place by the outflow and a Peregrine was on Pergins Island briefly. A quick scan off Baiter couldn’t relocate yesterdays reported Red-necked Grebe but 8 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Red-breasted Merganser and 5 Med Gulls were just off the beach. In Lytchett Minster, 2 Hawfinch were settled in trees by the church briefly. There were also 3 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay, 2 on Holton Pools with a Water Pipit there too. In Poole Park Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye were showing superbly down to a few meters, allowing close study of plumage detail and features. 

Red-breasted Merganser – Poole Park – Ian Ballam

Harbour update – 25/02/18

Posted on: February 27th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The beast from the east is building slowly but the clear sky is allowing the sun to generate some minor warmth in sheltered areas and you can see birds taking advantage of this by sheltering on the leeward side of Spartina banks and muddy fringes. The cold wind is stall making viewing difficult but a Red-necked Grebe was reported off Baiter/Parkstone Bay and a Golden Plover was seen heading west over Holmebridge, indicating the possible beginnings of a cold weather movement. Also in the frome Valley near Holmebridge were 2 Egyptian Geese, 1 Spoonbill and 4 Little Egret. There was also a report of a possible Common Crane see flying over Organford late afternoon. 

Harbour Update – posted 24/02/18

Posted on: February 25th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With most people over Weymouth way twitching the (immaculate and stunningly cute) adult Ross’s Gull it seemed, reports from around the harbour were thinly spread. So, we’ll just provide a series of photos taken by local birder Ian Ballam, that highlights just how approachable the birds are along the Holes Bay cycle path and what an incredible place it is to hone in on your ID skills. These photos were taken early morning too when the light is best for Holes Bay NE.

Spotted Redshank – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Common Redshank – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Wigeon – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Little Egret – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Rock Pipit – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 23/02/18

Posted on: February 25th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The beast from the east really had set in today and 2 degrees felt like minus 22 degrees in the wind. A survey at dawn produced 11 Spoonbill in the Wareham Channel, with one then heading out onto Bestwall. Three were then seen heading up the Wareham Channel late afternoon having passed over Sunnyside Farm. Five Hawfinch were seen with 2 at Lytchett Minster church on the outskirts of Upton, another single at French’s Farm, Lytchett Fields and 2 at Norden park and ride. Two Marsh Harrier were seen grappling very briefly which seemed encouraging however it was so brief that it could have just been a bit of playful/territorial banter. A single Great Northern Diver was in the mouth of the Wareham Channel and a Peregrine was sat on ‘gull islands’. 

Spoonbills – Wareham Channel – Paul Morton

Spoonbills – Wareham Channel – Paul Morton

Hawfinch – Norden park and ride – Keith Rawling

Harbour Update – posted 22/02/18

Posted on: February 25th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Very little reported today with just 2 Purple Sandpiper at North Haven, 3 Firecrest in the Arne car park, Med Gull numbers building along Baiter Beach and the standard spread of wader and wildfowl across the low tide. 

Firecrest – Arne RSPB car park – Keith Rawling

Med Gull – Fishermans Dock, Poole Quay – P Brown

Harbour update – 21/02/18

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The harbour and surrounding area is looking just superb at the moment with these cold, crisp mornings and the sun glowing like a large orange balloon as it rises on the horizon. Mistle and Song Thrush can be heard singing through the still morning air, Dunnock are getting frisky in people’s gardens and singing contently from shed roofs and Great Spotted Woodpeckers are drumming their way to success in cold, shadow filled woodlands. There was a great variety of birds logged today including 2 Hawfinch that were in the top of trees opposite the Norden park and ride. Along Holme Lane, 2 Egyptian Geese were in ‘the egret field’ at the eastern end of the road with 14 Little Egret in there too and a Woodlark sub-singing nearby. Off of Middle Beach, Studland the Velvet Scoter was with 3 Common Scoter and there was a single partial summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe. From the houseboats at South Haven 2 Great Northern Diver were off the beach as were 4 Black-necked Grebe and a Common Guillemot. In Whitley Lake, Sandbanks a Black Brant was found in amongst the small Brent Goose flock and in Poole Park 6 Goldeneye (3 male and 3 female) were still courting. There were c15 Spoonbill on Shipstal, Arne and 3 on the Brownsea Lagoon where 5 Greenshank and c50 Avocet were also present. Med Gulls are now entering the harbour in good numbers on the low tide giving good comparison opportunities as they settle down with Black-headed Gulls.

Common Guillemot – Brownsea shoreline – Marcus Lawson

Hawfinch – Norden park and ride – Paul Morton

 Med Gull and Black-headed Gull – Shore Road, Sandbanks – Paul Morton

Black Brant – Shore Road, Sandbanks – Paul Morton


Harbour update – 20/02/18

Posted on: February 22nd, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With a nice bit of high pressure sat over southern England this AM and the sun shining it obviously got some Red Kite moving. February through to the end of April is a great time to try and see Red Kite in Poole Harbour as migrant birds depart over-wintering grounds (often in central and southern Europe) before returning north to breeding grounds. Some populations in England are sedentary and don’t move off very far, but the birds we see and experience on migration during the spring are birds that have moved south for the winter. They’re still a pretty scarce bird in Poole Harbour but in the right conditions good numbers can move through the county in a single day. Today was a good example of this with individuals seen heading north over Poole Quay, Lytchett Fields, Upton and Sandford over the course of the day. Only a very small number breed in Dorset, mostly in the north of the county so watching this stunning birds of prey as they glide overhead (often very low) is a very welcome spring sight. Out in Studland Bay, off Middle Beach the Velvet Scoter was with three Common Scoter, Spoonbill were on Shipstal, Lytchett Fields and the Brownsea Lagoon, the male Merlin came into his usual roosting post on Hartland and 2 Hen Harrier were seen around Middlebere and Arne during the day. 

Red Kite – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour update – 19/02/18

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A dank mist sat over the area for most of the morning but flat calm waters made viewing open water species easier. 1 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver were off the Brownsea north shore.  The high-tide count at Lytchett Fields included c200 Lapwing, c150 Dunlin, 1 Avocet, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 1 Water Pipit and a good number of Snipe, Redshank, Teal, Shelduck and Black-tailed Godwit, whilst close by at Holton Pools were 1 Spoonbill, 1 Greenshank, 1 Avocet and 62 Lapwing. In Holes Bay NE the Spotted Redshank was near the PC World outflow and a single Med Gull was with Black-headed Gulls. Med Gull numbers continue to grow near the harbour mouth and northern shores, especially on the lower tides. Poole Harbour is in desperate need of a good gull too! With the west of the county seeing regular Glaucous and recent Iceland Gulls and Blashford to the East hosting  Ring-billed, Caspian and Thayer’s Gull there just has to be a goody in the harbour somewhere! 

Spoonbill – Holton Pools – Trevor Wilkinson

Harbour update – 18/02/18

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A perfect Poole Harbour day today with a warm early spring sunshine beating down across the area. Whether it lasts into the end of the month is a different question all together, with what looks like a pretty exceptional cold spell on its way. Still, places like Arne were busy with a good selection birds including the Black Brant again in Middlebere with 1 Great White Egret, 1 Hen Harrier and off Shipstal were 20 Spoonbill, 2 Great Northern Diver and 8 Black-necked Grebe. Off North Haven late afternoon/early evening 5 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver and a Sandwich Tern were in South Deep. A HUGE number of gulls were feeing along the southern shores too on the early evening low tide consisting mostly of Common and Herring Gull but also a build in numbers of Mediterranean Gull, many of which are now in almost near full breeding plumage. Firecrest were at Upton CP, Arne car park and Norden Sewage Works. There were even several over-wintering Chiffchaff that had been fooled into thinking spring really had arrived with one or two in full song at the PC World outflow. 

Water Pipit – Holton Pools – Mark Wright (Twitter @markwright12002)


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