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 March, 2018

Harbour update – posted 29/03/18

Posted on: March 30th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Yup, we’re pretty sure its just going to rain for the rest of the spring and summer with no let up in the regular down pours this AM! Will it ever improve? A quick dash around this AM produced the Velvet Scoter, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Gannet and 1 Kittiwake off of Middle Beach, Studland. At Swineham GP there was a single Swallow and 6 Sand Martin

Little Egret – Holes Bay – John Pick Grendon

Black-tailed Godwit – Holes Bay – John Pick Grendon

Harbour update – posted 28/03/18

Posted on: March 30th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It seems (although unreported to us) that the Great White Egret that was on Holton Pools briefly yesterday reappeared again today before moving to French’s Pools on Lytchett Fields. This evening the harbour’s first Willow Warbler of the spring was at Swineham GP where there was also 12 Sand Martin and 1 Swallow over the main pit too and 3 Egyptian Geese and 1 Hen Harrier were seen on the surrounding flood plains. There were 3 different ringtail Hen Harrier in the west of the Wareham Channel mid morning before dispersing to different areas. Lytchett Bays first Sand Martin of the spring dashed through, which for late March normally wouldn’t be that noteworthy, but considering the harbour (and the county) has still hardly seen any others yet, we deemed it worth a mention! Local surveyor Nick Hopper carried out some nocturnal sound recording during the nights of March 25th and 26th over Stoborough and highlights included 1 Little ringed Plover, 1 Golden Plover, Water Rail, a Wigeon flock, Coot and Moorhen.  A full Brownsea Lagoon count was made by Hamish Murray of the DWT with highlights consisting of 105 Avocet (still a lot for this time of year), 5 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 46 Knot, 430 Dunlin, 95 Grey Plover, 82 Bar-tailed Godwit, 401 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 9 Sandwich Tern and a single male Wheatear on the sea wall. There was also singing Blackcap, Firecrest and Chiffchaff within the woodland. 

Avocet – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray

Black-tailed Godwit – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray

Harbour Update – posted 27/03/18

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

The rain and cold set in again this morning but 8 Sand Martin over Swineham GP were a welcome sight quickly followed by a Red Kite over there too. A new male Marsh Harrier entered the harbour too but could have just been a migrant in transit. Also, one of the grey male Hen Harriers also returned having been absent for several days in Poole Harbour west. At Lytchett Fields a Great White Egret was seen dropping onto Holton Pools before relocating on to Lytchett Fields for 15 minuets before flying off towards the Bakers Arms and there were also singing Chiffchaff at Lytchett Fields, the PCW Drain, Soldiers Road, Sunnyside Farm and Greenland’s Farm and the first this spring for our Ballard ringing site was also ringed suggesting there had been a bit of a mini fall this morning.

We also announced news the other night about the sad demise of one of our Osprey chick’s LS6, who’s body was recently found down in the Gambia. Our project partner Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife foundation wrote a blog tonight to give a full over view of the finding. You can read the blog HERE. However, to take the sad edge of the story, and completely by chance….no sooner had Tim posted the blog when he received a photo from a birder who had been down in Africa at the beginning of the year and unbeknown to us at the time, had taken a photo of LS6 alive on Jan 16th 2018. Although this doesn’t ‘bring him back’, its far nicer seeing an image of him looking regal and smart rather than the sad crumpled heap of feathers we saw a few days ago. 

RIP LS6 – Photographed in the Gambia 16/01/18 – Paul Hill

Great White Egret – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 26/03/18

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

Spring is edging its way into our lives slowly but surely each day and there was a nice selection of birds reported today. At South Haven a fine male White Wagtail on the beach with 2 Wheatear also on Shell Bay beach. There were 54 Sanderling near the house Boats at low tide and single of Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebe were in Bramble Bush Bay, also 5 Lesser Redpoll were in trees around the bay.  The last pair of Goldeneye on Poole Park boating lake were seen leaving mid morning before moving off high north. Talking of departing birds yet another Bittern left Swineham at dusk, well in fact this one left in total darkness but was heard calling for several minuets over the gravel pit trying to lure any others out of the reeds before disappearing off north into the darkness. A Swallow dashed through Ridge, but we should really be seeing a few more of these by now and we also set up our sound recording gear at a new nocturnal listening station up on Ballard Down. It sounded promising and we ended up with 208 Redwing Calls, 1 Common Snipe and 1 Oystercatcher but when migration really picks up it could be really good to carry on doing night listening up there. At Arne, Dartford Warbler were enjoying the sunshine and 2 Spoonbill were in the Middlebere channel. 

Harbour Update – posted 25/03/18

Posted on: March 26th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Great and sad news today; first the good news. The harbours first Osprey of the spring was seen and photographed in Poole Harbour today with an un-ringed bird seen hunting briefly in Lytchett Bay before being chased off by Herring Gulls. This will hopefully now be the floodgates well and truly opened with many more passing through over late March and April. Now some sad news; we recently received information that the rings of one of our Osprey chicks from last years translocation had been found down in the Gambia. Other than that we didn’t know much more. Well, this evening we were sent photos of LS6’s corpse which had been found in the Kartong region of the Gambia. The local people that found LS6’s body couldn’t see any signs or cause of death so it could have been one of one hundred reasons ranging from Eagle Owl attack to exhaustion. The fact it had made it all the way down to the Gambia showed it was strong enough to make its first migration south, and to an extremely popular area for over-wintering Osprey too. It’s just sad it couldn’t see the winter through. However, we’ve now had information back relating to three of our eight chicks (LS3, LS6 and LS7) from this first winter alone, which despite the outcome for one of them, is an unbelievable return rate. Lets hope LS3 and LS7 continue to thrive down in Western Senegal. Elsewhere around the harbour a new immature Hen Harrier was seen bombing around the west Wareham Channel area with the other juv male seen too. Off Shipstal there were 3 Great Northern Diver still and there had been a mini fall of Chiffchaff around the harbour with birds singing along Soldiers Road, Hartland and at Arne. 

Osprey – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

Osprey – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

Osprey chick LS6’s corpse found down in the Gambia recently


Harbour Update – posted 24/03/18

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

Brownsea is still very productive (not surprising as it still thinks its winter), and now that the island is ‘open for business’ there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go over and indulge one last time before the winter is out. There were 800+ Black-tailed Godwit, 182 Avocet, 65 Grey Plover, 1 Spoonbill, 40+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and still a number of Brent Geese, Pintail and Shoveler. At Swineham 4 Sand Martin were feeding early morning. Off the southern shore of Brownsea a Black-necked Grebe was feeding and a scattering of Red-breasted Merganser were still present. Rain set in by late afternoon and it all then went quiet!

Harbour Update – posted 23/03/18

Posted on: March 24th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another (and the last of the winter season) school bird boat headed out today and tallied up 3 different Great Northern Diver out in central harbour. In Lytchett Bay there were 32 Avocet and the single Grey Plover still with highlights from Lytchett Fields consisting of 1 Spotted Redshank. We also received news from local harrier watcher Peter Hadrill today that the adult male Hen Harrier and female left the harbour high north two mornings ago with the young male leaving yesterday morning too which was sad for a whole host of reasons. One, because it’s never nice to see them go, but secondly, their fate away from safe havens like Poole Harbour is a horrid unknown. This winter has been exceptionally good for Hen Harriers here in the harbour with up to 7 different individual birds visiting (albeit very briefly) the area in recent months. Post New Year, roosts of 4 to 5 birds have been regular and views from elsewhere around the harbour abundant! A huge well done to Peter for keeping a track on each of their movements, arrivals and departures over a very long, cold winter period and for gathering such an important and valuable data set.

Harbour Update – posted 22/03/18

Posted on: March 24th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Things were a little quieter today but a school bird boat picked up 1 Great Northern Diver and 4 Black-necked Grebe in the Bramble Bush Bay area. There were 3 Spoonbill, 1 Merlin and 5 Spotted Redshank in Middlebere and a Firecrest in the Arne car park.  

Harbour Update – posted 21/03/18

Posted on: March 24th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another nice snippet of spring today as 2 Swallow dashed through over Hartland Moor with a Spoonbill feeding out in the Wareham Channel and 2 male and a female Hen Harrier were seen in that area too. There were 2 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe in Studland Bay with 1 pale-bellied Brent Goose and 61 dark-bellied Brents. In Lytchett Bay there was a single Grey Plover (scarce here). At Holton Lee a Crossbill was photographed and 2 Green Sandpiper were on Holton Pools. Hamish Murray from DWT conducted a full Brownsea Lagoon count today with highlights consisting of 185 Avocet, 2 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 45+ Knot, 690 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling, 220 Grey Plover, 435 Black-tailed Godwit, 130 Bar-tailed Godwit, 22 Med Gulls, 7 Sandwich Tern, 44 Shoveler, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Firecrest and a singing Chiffchaff. Finally, Swineham played host to 3 more departing Bittern tonight which were the 4th, 5th and 6th to leave that area in just over a week. Over the last 18 months we’ve been conducting a full ‘Herons of Poole Harbour’ study, which will be published this spring. It will feature feeding, roosting, breeding and over wintering behaviour of Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Bittern and Spoonbill. 

Harbour Update – posted 20/03/18

Posted on: March 24th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The Holton Pools scrape had its first Little Ringed Plover of the spring. Sunnyside Farm had an impressive 13 Golden Plover and hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing still. The Spotted Redshank was still at the PC World outflow in Holes Bay NE. There were also 2000+ Fieldfare and Redwing on the Stoborough Heath Nature Reserve. 


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