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 19/03/18

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

The cold really got birds moving with 4 Golden Plover at Lytchett Fields and a 1stRinged Plover of the year there too. At Middlebere there were another 2 Golden Plover, plus the over-wintering Whimbrel, lots of Redwing and Fieldfare still and 3 Chiffchaff along the track. Upton CP was busy with birds along the northern shore towards Holes Bay NE with the Spotted Redshank in its usual place, bust still good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin, also Pintail and Wigeon still about. At Arne there were 5 Brambling at the feeders next to the visitors centre and a Wheatear was on Shipstal early evening and a ringtail Hen Harrier at Middlebere, also 2 Woodcock flushed near the car park. A single Hawfinch was still at St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham. A Red Kite drifted along South Haven at dawn. 


Harbour Update – posted 18/03/18

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, the snow came back with a dump last night. Not quite as bad as a few weeks ago but still enough for many birds to adopt emergency landings and take cover. Fieldfare were abundant again with flocks of hundreds feeding in numerous fields where the snow hadn’t quite managed provide a full covering. Redwing and Meadow Pipit were also downed in good numbers and Stonechats had obviously been moving through too but had been grinded to a halt with individuals appearing in Poole Park, Holes Bay, Baiter, and Sandbanks.  At Arne there had been a mini Brambling arrival behind the visitors hut with a few feeding in amongst the Chaffinch and Goldfinch on the floor. Spotted Redshank were in Holes Bay and on Lytchett Fields with 1 each of Green Sandpiper and Greenshank at the latter site. Singles of Wheatear were at Sunnyside and Shipstal Beach, Arne. Ringtail Hen Harrier were seen at Lytchett Bay and Swineham with a Marsh Harrier out in the Wareham Channel too.  At St Mary’s in Wareham there was still a single female Hawfinch present. At Holton Lee there was a first year Spoonbill feeding in front of the new hide on Holton Pools plus a Water Pipit and several Meadow Pipit. In Holes Bay NW, 14 Golden Plover seen out from the Stone Bench was another indicator of downed birds due to the snow. 

Brambling – RSPB Arne car park – Peter Moore

Wheatear – Sunnyside Farm – Peter Moore


Harbour Update – posted 17/03/18

Posted on: March 18th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Snow…again! It didn’t seem to amount to too much but it’s supposed to build over night. It didn’t stop it from being blimmin cold though and enough to keep most people in doors. You’d fully understand if most spring migrants just ‘didn’t bother’ today, however a hardy first Swallow of the spring appeared with 2 Sand Martin at Swineham GP, with a back drop of 120 Fieldfare to counter balance the seasonal interest.  A male Hen Harrier was seen at Arne and Middlebere mid afternoon and also seen by the Wareham causeway. At Holes Bay the low tide and cold weather saw a small increase of birds with Avocet, Redshank, Curlew, Pintail, Wigeon and a few Gadwall all fairly easy to see from the footpath. 


Harbour update – Posted 13/03/18

Posted on: March 14th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Spring certainly arrived today with the years first Wheatear which was seen running along the edge of Soldiers Road with another seen at Sunnyside Farm later in the day. Also, 5 Sand Martin were hawking over Swineham GP again. At dusk another Bittern left Swineham too making that the third to leave in just over a week. How many more will we see leave over the coming weeks? Also at Swineham was a ‘nasal-saddled’ Teal (an alternative to the ringing of a birds leg) which looks like it may have come from a Spanish project. In the Lower Frome Valley a lot of the flood plain was under water and fields around Bestwall and Redcliff held 98 Shoveler, 15 Pintail, c800 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Egyptian Geese.  At Holton Pools a Spoonbill dropped on to the new scrapes and another Spoonbill was near Swineham. At St Mary’s churchyard in Wareham 3-4 Hawfinch were in trees around the edges of the churchyard. In Upton CP 3 different Firecrest, 3 (over-wintering) Blackcap and a singing Chiffchaff were all logged.

Below is a sound recording made last spring on March 13th 2017 at Swineham of a Bittern departing at dusk (18:45 to be exact). Within the recording you can hear the soft  ‘bark like’ call of the Bittern as it responds/interacts to the calls of a near by Grey Heron. The Bittern then promptly disappeared into the darkness having arrived in at dusk over Swineham before heading off NE.

Bittern – Call of a migrant leaving at dusk – Swineham – 13/03/17 @ 18:45

Wheatear – Soldiers Road, near Ridge – 13/03/18


Harbour Update – posted 12/03/18

Posted on: March 13th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was good coverage today and the arrival of another spring migrant in the shape of 5 Sand Martin hawking over Swineham GP late afternoon. At Middle Beach, Studland there was 5 Common Scoter and the Velvet Scoter still, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver with another 2 Great Northern Diver in Shell Bay. Off Jerry’s Point and ‘the Houseboats’, (inner harbour Studland) there were 11 Turnstone and 1 Purple Sandpiper on the concrete blocks, 1 Greenshank, 3 Grey Plover 22 Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Black-necked Grebe and 14 Great Crested Grebe. In Brands Bay there were a further 23 Grey Plover, 262 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 20 Curlew, 45 Shelduck and 11 Pintail. At Middlebere there were 4 Spoonbill, 25 Avocet and 1 Spotted Redshank. Out on Baiter Park the 9 Bar-tailed Godwit were still feeding with c30 Black-tailed Godwit. At Lytchett Fields a Water Pipit was present for most of the morning.  

Bar-tailed Godwits – Baiter Park – 12/02/18


Harbour Update – posted 11/03/18

Posted on: March 13th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A fairly slow day today, with the only ‘new arrival’ being a drake Pochard out on Poole Park boating lake, which may not sound notable but these days certainly is! Also still 4 Goldeneye and 7 Red-breasted Merganser out on the lake. At Arne a Firecrest was in the car park and 3 Spoonbill were in Middlebere. A Hen Harrier was seen in the Wareham Channel near Swineham and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Shoveler are using the flood plains in the lower Frome Valley near Bestwall and Swineham. Wader numbers are still reasonable with good numbers of Avocet, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher around on the low tides and a few Little Egret seem to be returning having vacated the area during the cold snap. Below is another video we made earlier in the year this time one of the over-wintering Hawfinch at Norden park and ride. The thought of having a chance of seeing one of these everytime you headed out this winter certainly added a new dimension to a cold and blustery day in the field. 

Hawfinch – Norden park and ride – 21/02/18


Harbour Update – posted 10/03/18

Posted on: March 13th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This evening it looked good for Bittern to depart at dusk so a watch at Swineham (the best place in Poole Harbour to watch for this type of birding event) was undertaken. One was seen, although it didn’t leave, rather it headed across the main gravel pit calling a few times before dropping back down into the reeds. At Lytchett Fields a record count 41 Avocet were using the fields as a feeding zone, the previous highest total only ever being a handful. The coming days look good for the first spring migrants to arrive so keep an eye out for the first Sand martin to dash through or even an elusive Ring Ouzel on some of the higher ground around the harbour. We’ve also been uploading various videos we’ve made during the couple of months which we’ll be uploading over the coming days. 

Spotted Redshank – Holes Bay NE – 04/03/18


Harbour Update – posted 09/03/18

Posted on: March 11th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Still no sign of any spring migrants yet but that didn’t stop us from looking. This morning was fine but a horrid front moved through by lunchtime halting any efforts to find the springs first Little ringed plover or Wheatear. Still, a good range of bird were seen in the Frome Valley and in central harbour with the flooded fields of North Bestwall and Swineham hosting big numbers of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit with Jack and Common Snipe seen also, 3 Egyptian Geese, 2 Ruff, 6 Pintail, 40 Shoveler and 10 Shelduck also in the area. A female Merlin dashed through Bestwall towards Wareham and a single Hawfinch was in the Priory gardens near St Mary’s churchyard. On the rising tide in the Wareham Channel there were 60+ Grey Plover, 60+ Avocet, 250 Brent Geese, 20 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver and good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser with another Great Northern Diver in central harbour with 2 Black-necked Grebe too. 


Harbour Update – posted 07/03/18

Posted on: March 8th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’re now at the very beginnings of spring migration so we’ll be doing as much night recording as possible. March nights are often busy with thrush’s heading back north and are often joined by a few waders and duck too. Last night we set up our gear at a site 3 miles NW of Poole Harbour and were amazed at the strength of Redwing passage with totals similar to what you’d expect in late October. Between 8pm and 5am we logged 1059 Redwing calls, 109 Blackbird calls, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Skylark and 3 Curlew all presumably heading north. Also, at dusk another Bittern left Swineham GP. In Studland Bay the Velvet Scoter was still with a single Common Scoter and in central harbour there were 3 Black-necked Grebe. In St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham Hawfinch totals had risen to 3. The Brownsea Lagoon saw some incredible totals considering the time of year including 285 Bar-tailed Godwit, 325 Grey Plover, 8 Greenshank, 28 Knot, 2300 Dunlin, 247 Avocet, 2 Spotted Redshank, 180 Oystercatcher, 315 Med Gulls, 1 Little Gull, 110 Shelduck, 110 Teal and 1 Firecrest, plus good totals of commoner waders and wildfowl. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen in Middlebere.

 Curlew – 07/03/18 @ 00:35 Lytchett Matravers – Nocturnal calls of an early spring migrant

Curlew and Redwing 07/03/18 @ 00: 30 – Lytchett Matravers – Nocturnal calls of early spring migrants


Harbour Update – posted 06/03/18

Posted on: March 8th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was a really nice mix of birds around today mostly out in the harbour area. We’re still yet to see any signs of spring migration but give it a week and the first Wheatears and Sand Martins will be appearing. Today out in central harbour there was a Red-throated Diver, 5 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe. At Holmebridge 4 Spoonbill were resting with another 3 at Shipstal Point, Arne. At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Merlin, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank with 21 Avocet back on the fields. At Sandbanks there were 34 Sanderling with a single Purple Sandpiper at North Haven. At St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham a single Hawfinch was still present. And finally, just outside our Poole Harbour recording area, along Holme Lane a Corn Bunting was seen to fly east which if entered through Poole Harbour airspace would be an absolute local mega!


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