Poole Harbour sightings blog

A record of all interesting and notable sightings from around the harbour throughout the year.

Latest Sightings

Archive for April, 2018

Harbour Update – 29/04/18

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

Today we hosted our second spring bird boat of the weekend and it wouldn’t be inaccurate to state that it was actually colder on todays trip than some/all of our winter tours during December and January! Still, despite the cold, good spirits were held high and chattering teeth grinned and bared it as we were treated to a Little Tern off Shipstal beach a (distant) Osprey on the Arne shoreline, singing Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warbler up the River Frome, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Kingfisher, numerous Common and Sandwich Tern, 5 Swift, c50 Sand Martin and 2 Wheatear. There was an almighty fall of spring migrants at Portland today too, suggesting that a major fall had occurred across the southern Britain and signs of this rang true in the harbour with 11 Common Whitethroat, 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Redstart and 1 Spotted Flycatcher at Lytchett Bay, at Swineham there was another Redstart, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Common Whitethroat and a Wheatear. Up on Ballard a Spotted Flycatcher was in the scrub at the end of the headland with c 20 Willow Warbler and 6 Wheatear were along the Ballard coastal path. In Middlebere there was a single Spoonbill, 5 Grey Plover (one in summer plumage), 1 Spotted Redshank, 6 Whimbrel and an Osprey flew over Coombe late afternoon with a Red Kite over Coombe mid morning. In Poole Park a pair of Common Tern were resting on the concrete bridge for their second day…maybe there should be some tern rafts installed on the lake? Along Baiter Beach/cycle way there were 5 Wheatear.

Whinchat and Wheatear – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Lesser Whitethroat – Swineham – Peter Moore


Our spring bird boat – Swineham – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – 28/04/18

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

Today was our first of two spring bird boat trips this weekend and they got off to a great start with Swallow and Swift passing over the Quay before we’d even left, suggesting that birds were on the move. A party of 5 Common Terns heading off north high over Hamworthy Park was a great example of true migration in action. As we made our way into the Frome Valley an Osprey came in and circled above us before having a minor ding-dong with a Raven. It was then left in peace to hunt over the channel for a further 20 mins before carrying on east up the Wareham Channel and then subsequently being seen off Poole Quay over Brownsea from our new HQ on Poole Quay. Up the River Frome 2 Common Sandpiper on the riverbank, both Reed and Sedge Warbler were singing as were plenty of Cetti’s. Swifts were definitely on the move with several small parties traveling over Swineham and Swallows were constantly streaming low over the water heading north. On the Spartina on Shipstal Beach Black-tailed Godwit were resting, 3 migrant Bar-tailed Godwit passed over us and a small party of Whimbrel were calling. At Lytchett Fields a flock of 20 Whimbrel were on French’s Pools with 137 summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 1 Little Ringed Plover and a single Wheatear. At Swineham and along the River Frome walk 1 Cuckoo, 2 Blackcap, 14 Cetti’s Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 24 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroat and 7 Reed Bunting were logged. Along Baiter Beach/cycle way there was 1 Wheatear and inPoole Park 2 Common Tern.

Whimbrel flock – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – 27/04/18

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

We’re really looking forward to our two boat trips this weekend…hopefully spring migrants will be on the move. Lytchett Fields had been a bit too dry over the last few days to attract birds but with tide submerging much of the site today it attracted in an incredible 710 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, and a small passage of Swallow and House Martin. In Middlebere there was a good spring record of 2 Golden Plover with 11 Grey Plover along with 2 Wheatear, 1 Tree Pipit and passage Swallows along the main track. At Holton Lee there was a Wheatear in the southern fields and several Siskin feeding in front of the feeder hide. 

Harbour Update – posted 25/04/18

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

A first spring visit to Challow Hill, Corfe this year was pleasant if not a little chilly still. But last nights ‘mizzle’ had departed and we were once again basked in sunshine. Along the footpath leading up to Challow Hill there was only 2 Common Whitethroat back on territory and a Cuckoo flew along the ridge strongly NW along with a small passage of Swallow and House Martin. There were also 2-3 Yellowhammer singing along the track as were 2 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff and a Stonechat. At Arne a Hobby drifted over the main car park. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was still a decent spread of waders including c50 Dunlin, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ringed Plover, 4 Redshank and 7 Avocet including a pair that were displaying and mating which is an encouraging sign that they’ll attempt to nest again this year, and also 27 Common Tern and 55 Sandwich Tern.

We still have spaces on our up and coming summer and autumn tours later in the year. For full information see below…

Dorset Discovery Summer Tour – CLICK HERE

Dorset Discovery Autumn Tour – CLICK HERE


Greenshank – Brownsea Lagoon – Nick Mudge

Harbour Update – posted 24/04/18

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

The weather was back to its more traditional April format today with wind and light rain setting in by mid afternoon but waders still seem to be coming through  in small numbers. In Middlebere there were 5 Grey Plover, 8 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel and 3 partial summer plumaged Spotted Redshank. On Brownsea Dunlin numbers reach 42 and there were 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, c200 Black-tailed Godwit and still 11 winter plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit. Common Tern numbers are still building slowly but we hope there’ll be a steady arrival of birds over the coming week in which they should then start using the tern islands in front of the hides. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 813 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 House Martin and 4 Swallow. The first Swifts were over Swineham GP and 1 flew west past Slepe Heath mid morning. Another search for reptiles during the second day of our Dorset Discovery tour turned up a nice ‘pile’ of Adder at a survey spot near Arne. 

Slow Worms and Adders – Hartland

Harbour Update – posted 23/04/18

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

Today was the first day of our Dorset Discovery Spring tour, an event we really look forward to each year that see’s us getting show guests the best Poole Harbour and other areas in Dorset has to offer. This event is one of four we host each year with summer, autumn and winter tours also available with each focussing on different aspects of local wildlife relevant to the time of year. Today we began at Arne where Dartford Warbler were fairly active despite the wind and an Osprey circled above the Arne car park before heading towards Middlebere.  We don’t just focus on birds on the tours and with a rich heathland habitat layered across the Arne peninsular reptiles are also a main focus with numerous Slow Worm and a stunning male Sand Lizard found. At Holton Lee the male Golden Pheasant that turned up un-expectantly last week was still feeding out in front of the feeder hide. However the big dangling metal ring around its leg sadly rules out it being a true long distant migrant all the way from Brownsea. Also at Holton Lee was a stunning male Whinchat, which are a really scarce bird here during the spring. Around Lytchett Bay there was a single Wheatear on Lytchett Fields along with 11 Dunlin, 422 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover and Bearded Tit calling from the reed bed at the end of Lytchett Heath. 

Male Sand Lizard – RSPB Arne – Nick Mudge

Harbour Update – posted 22/04/18

Posted on: April 23rd, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

After a run of days without any Osprey sightings it was good to see a couple reported today and amazingly one was a sat-tagged bird from Kielder Forest, named ‘blue UV’. We were contacted by Joanna D on Twitter who explained that the sat-tag data from blue UV indicated he passed over Poole Harbour around 8am, and coincidently moments before we’d received news from Barbara Bisset, Arne volunteer that a blue ringed Osprey had just been photographed over Arne. Putting two and two together we assumed this must have been blue UV. However, later in the day a second Osprey then appeared on the Middlebere platform which also seemed to be ringed but no details could be obtained sadly. There was also another small passage of Red Kite with singles over Parkstone, Arne and Corfe. At Sunnyside Farm, Wheatear numbers were down to 4 and just a single Swallow went through. The Brownsea Lagoon was quite productive with 5 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 130 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Avocet, 80 Dunlin, 35 Sandwich Tern, 11 Common Tern and 2 Spoonbill present. At South Haven there was a Green Sandpiper, 1 Wheatear and 1 Sanderling and there was a single Gannet off Knoll Beach. At Lytchett Fields a surprise female Merlin was around for much of the morning and there were also c400 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 4 Whimbrel present. At Swineham a Common Redstart was along the main track, 1 Cuckoo, 6 Reed Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler and 2 Egyptian Geese

Harbour Update – posted 21/04/18

Posted on: April 23rd, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another hot one today which got more Red Kite moving with 2 over Lytchett Bay View mid afternoon. Another Hobby was over Harland mid-afternoon and 2 Spoonbill were on the Brownsea Lagoon. At Lytchett Bay there were 657 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 7 Reed Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 15+ Blackcap and a Red Kite. A Cuckoo was calling on Slepe Heath along the Arne Road and there were 6 Wheatear at Sunnyside Farm. On Brownsea, Sandwich Terns were finally beginning to prospect on the islands in front of the hides and Common Tern numbers are building nicely with 17 present today. 

Harbour Update – posted 20/04/18

Posted on: April 21st, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, things seem to be getting better and better. The warm morning sun wrapped up in a blanket of thick fog certainly ‘downed’ a lot of birds and when it cleared prompted birds to move. Up on Ballard Down a good sweep of migrants could be found including c15 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Blackcap, c10 Willow Warbler, c5 Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatear, c10 Swallow, c10 House Martin and several flocks of migrating finches. Then, as the fog cleared 5 Red Kite migrated their way along the Ballard ridge heading NE quickly followed by a Marsh Harrier. Red Kites were also passing over other areas of the harbour with 3 over Oakdale, 2 more over Studland later in the day, 1 over Grip Heath, Arne and 1 over Sandford. 3 Hobby were counted over the Middlebere/Hartland area and Cuckoo were calling at Arne, Swineham and Hartland. At Middlebere there were 3 Spoonbill in the channel, c400 summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Wheatear along the track, 1 Lesser Whitethroat near the ‘Dartford Hide’ plus good numbers of Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing. At Sunnyside Farm there was a male Whinchat and 10 Wheatear. At Lytchett Bay there was a single Little Ringed Plover. Yet again, Dartford Warbler were really active out on the heathlands, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Skylark were all singing on Slepe Heath. 

Common Whitethroat – Ballard Down 

Lesser  Whitethroat – Ballard Down 

Marsh Harrier migrating over Ballard Down 

Red Kite migrating over Ballard Down 

Grey Heron soaring up high over the Hartland/Corfe ridge

Harbour update – posted 19/04/18

Posted on: April 21st, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, the plug well and truly became unplugged today with migrants flowing right the way through the harbour. At dawn, with the sun already blazing down, 2 Spoonbill came in from high west, traveling along the Wareham Channel before dropping into Middlebere. Recent monitoring and research efforts for this species would suggest that these were two fresh in, newly arrived migrants. A Pied Flycatcher along the Coombe Heath trail at Arne was another welcome addition to the year list and a pretty scarce bird for the harbour. Red Kites were on the move in small numbers with birds over Hatch Pond and Oakdale. It seems the Wheatear blockage is now unblocked with 5 at Sunnyside Farm, 3 on Hartland and a thin spread across Greenland’s Farm again. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Whimbrel, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Whitethroat, lots of Blackcap and 2 Reed Warbler. This high pressure is certainly getting birds of prey moving and late afternoon saw a migrant ringtail Hen Harrier arrive in from the south over Hartland before drifting off high north towards Wareham Forest. At Swineham warblers were plentiful with 6 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 possible Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff with Cuckoo there too. At Middlebere 2 stunning male Whinchat were along the track with 6+ Dartford Warbler. Interestingly a Barn Owl was seen hunting along the edge of Pergins Island, Holes Bay at dawn, which is a good semi-urban sighting. At Holmebridge a Marsh Harrier was hunting. Both Tree Pipit and Woodlark are now back singing on traditional breeding sites in the south of the harbour. If there’s ever a time to try and see Dartford Warbler now’s the time. The heathlands around Arne, Hartland, Middlebere, Slepe Heath and Stoborough Heath are great areas to watch Dartford’s display flying, a sight quite wonderful to see from the usually skulking bird. 

Swallows are now back at breeding sites across the harbour like these in Stoborough 


Migrant Hen Harrier drifting through the harbour – Slepe Heath


Blackcap – Swineham – Keith Rawling



Call 01202 641 003