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 May, 2018

Harbour Update – posted 19/05/18

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

Today we had a selection of Moths in our HQ on Poole Quay which had been caught, collected and recorded from Holton Lee as part of our on going moths of Poole Harbour study. Each Saturday (when weather permits) we’ll be showcasing a selection of species that are common (and some not so common) place in gardens and sites around Poole Harbour. Its not only until you start learning about the variety of species you can find and then begin looking at them in detail that you realise just how incredible and interesting moths are. Moth trapping has become incredibly popular and it’s a great way of carrying out your own piece of citizen science by catching, recording and then reporting the species you catch in your very own garden. There are numerous sites you can buy equipment from but we’ve found ASL Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies very good and efficient and have found Robinson Traps the most effective. With the weather warming up but the nights still cold catches are still pretty slim but towards the end of May and into June and July ‘bumper hauls’ of moths can be common place and a fascinating challenge for any beginners taking up this hobby. Bird-wise today 130 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit on Brownsea were logged. With the sun beaming down across the harbour Dartford Warbler were widely reported and very active across the heathlands and Sand Lizard were very conspicuous on heathland path edges. At Lytchett Fields a single Cuckoo was calling and there were 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin and 7 Black-tailed Godwit. Two more Red Kite drifted over Upton headed towards Upton Heath and Nightjar were churring at Sunnyside, Arne, Hartland and Studland.

Eyed Hawkmoth – BoPH HQ

Moth selection – BoPH HQ

Harbour Update – posted 18/05/18

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

With spring now leading into summer and migration now tailing off (not that its really got started this year) the drive is just to be out and to enjoy Poole Harbour’s spectacular scenery and diversity. There are still plenty of good birds to see and a visit to any of our local heathlands at dusk will reward you with ‘churring’ Nightjar and up until the end of May calling Cuckoo still too. Common and Sandwich Terns are now well established on some of their islands on Brownsea, most of which are now on eggs. There has also been a call out from the BTO asking for House Martin sightings over the coming weeks. There’s been a big decline in the number of House Martin reported this year, along with several other summer migrants and the  RSPB and BTO are asking for information on any House Martin that are now settled and breeding at traditional or new sites. For mor information or if you see or know of any within our Poole Harbour recording area (or beyond) then please report them HERE.

Harbour Update – posted 17/05/18

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

Today we carried out our annual gull census on ‘Gull Islands’ in Poole Harbour. Its fair to say the colony has had its ups and downs over the last few years with a mass illegal harvest of eggs in 2016, flooding in 2015 and a cold late spring in 2017. Not quite sure what to expect we headed out and were pleased to find that we arrived just in time as some of the chicks were just beginning to hatch out of their eggs. Since the first survey in 2008 where 87 Med Gull nests were found we’ve always struggled to better that total and have in fact seen a year on year decline of Med’s on the islands. However, this year felt different and one of the islands was definitely ‘Med Heavy’, which was proven in the overall totals with 155 Med Gull nests located, which is an incredible total. Although we saw no signs of illegal activity/egging Black-headed Gull nests were down to 4115 but we think this was down to a set of natural causes and could well be in part down to the increase of Med Gull which have a habit of bullying and often predating gull (and tern) nests.

Mediterranean Gull nest totals

2008 – 87

2015 – 64

2016 – 38

2017 – 33

2018 – 155

Black-headed Gull nest totals

2008 – 8951

2015 – 6400

2016 – 2589 (illegal harvesting of eggs occurred)

2017 – 5736

2018 – 4115

Elsewhere around the harbour today an Osprey was again in the Wareham Channel although only seen this afternoon so could have been a new migrant passing through? On Brownsea a Nightjar was visible from the heathland hide, up behind the villa, which is always nice to see before the bracken takes over. In the Corfe River Valley leading down to Wytch Lake 2 Cuckoo were calling. On Lytchett Fields a Spoonbill appeared out of nowhere! With no reports for a week or two it’s good to know that maybe one is trying to over-summer? Around midday a few Red Kite passed over too (they’re almost becoming to common to even mention now) with birds over the Arne Road and Slepe Heath and Lytchett Minster. At Hatch Pond 2 Common Sandpiper flew across the lake indicating some kind of wader passage had taken place if nowhere else showed signs of this! Along Hartland Moor Cuckoo and Woodlark were singing and a Hobby was over central Hartland.

Different stages of Black-headed Gull hatching on ‘Gull Island’ 2018 survey

Harbour Update – posted 16/05/18

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

At Lytchett Fields there were 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 3 drake Shoveler and 3 Gadwall. Over Swineham GP 2 Hobby were hunting, 4 Egyptian Geese were on the flood and there was some Bearded Tit activity off Swineham Point with birds calling and moving about in the reeds. An Osprey drifted over the western part of the Wareham Channel mid afternoon and a Red Kite was over Wareham.

Harbour Update – posted 15/05/18

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

The main highlight today was another good passage of Red Kite through the county, most in the west near Weymouth but the harbour saw its fair share with birds over Brownsea, Upton Heath, Lytchett Minster, Lytchett fields, Wareham, Canford Heath and Arne. We were also sent a photo of some Red-eared Terrapin sun-bathing in Poole Park Lake. We weren’t aware they were present there but apparently they’ve been there for quite some time. We also received news of a Marsh tit on Brownsea Island which would be the first record on Brownsea for quite some time which is great.

Red-eared Terraprin – Poole Park – Clare Slade

Harbour Update – posted 14/05/18

Posted on: May 15th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With more high pressure and clear skies there were more Red Kites moving today with birds over Canford Heath, Lytchett Matravers, Morden Bog, Sandford and Greenland’s Farm. A Wood Warbler was a great find in a private garden in central Poole and at Holton Pools a Little Ringed Plover was on the scrapes before the high tide set in. On Lytchett Fields there were just c30 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 4 Redshank and 4 Ringed Plover.

Little Egret – Holton Pools – John Pick

Harbour Update – posted 13/05/18

Posted on: May 15th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today we hosted what was going to be our last Spring boat tour of the season, however they’ve been so well received that we’re planning to run several late spring and some summer tours now too so please keep an eye out on the website for more details. Todays trip was idyllic in terms of setting….bright sunshine, calm waters and a great crew of guests. Highlights included an Osprey circling high over Arne, a Marsh Harrier was over Giggers Island briefly and out on Arne moors (not viewable from the main land) 4 Lapwing, 5 Redshank and a skulky male Ruff were on a flooded pool. Over Swineham Swifts were swooping over the boat and Reed (44) and Cetti’s Warblers (20) were really vocal in the reed beds a Cuckoo was calling near the B&B and several Reed Bunting were on territory along the northern river bank with 3 Bearded Tit at Swineham Point and a Kingfisher. Out on the water there were still several Great Crested Grebe lingering on from the winter although they’re now all in their summer finery. On the Brownsea Lagoon  there were 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and 211 Black-tailed Godwit, c40 Oystercatcher, c10 Dunlin, c100 Sandwich Tern and c100 Common Tern with 2 summer plumaged Turnstone on the Brownsea Quay. Elsewhere up to 7 Hobby were active commuting between Hartland, Slepe Heath and Arne. Over Wareham a Red Kite drifted low over the town. At Lytchett Fields there were 98 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin, 4 Redshank and 2 Whimbrel.

Up with the lark public bird boat – Swineham

Kingfisher – Swineham – Peter Moore

 Reed Bunting – Swineham – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – posted 12/05/18

Posted on: May 15th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was another great day to be out, as although it was overcast there was zero wind making looking and listening for birds a sheer delight and much easier. We were keeping an eye on the Brownsea Lagoon all day as it felt like the kind of day when birds could just ‘drop in’ and sure enough early morning saw a mixed flock of 30 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling and 1 Ringed Plover settle on the ‘boomerang’ all day before heading out to feed on the afternoons low tide. By mid afternoon it was worrying to see that no Common Tern were settled on the main breeding island on the lagoon although several were there in the morning. Its possible they only went out to feed and breeding evidence may evolve over the coming week but several Canada Geese and Graylags are also making the islands a regular dinner and supper spot it seems so are we seeing a level of disturbance that’s preventing the terns from settling? At Lytchett Fields there were just shy of 100 Black-tailed Godwit (98) feeding all bar three were still in winter plumage, also 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 2 Whimbrel there.

Oystercatcher – Baiter – John Pick

Harbour Update – posted 11/05/18

Posted on: May 15th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Pretty quiet today but last night our surveyor Nick Hopper was out doing some night-time wanderings having a listen for any night singers that could well be going un-noticed. Surveying at night opens up a whole new world and you often experience things you wouldn’t see or hear during the day. Last night Nick managed to sound record a migrant Dunlin that actually began giving sections of song out on Arne Moors. Now Dunlin definitely don’t breed in Poole Harbour but you’ll often get birds that give bursts of song whilst on migration practicing and warming up for when they arrive on territory much further north. At Lytchett Fields today a single winter-plumaged Grey Plover was on French’s Pools along with c150 Black-tailed Godwit before a Peregrine flushed them off. On Upton Heath a Whinchat was photographed and on Slepe Heath 3 Hobby were overhead.


Dunlin singing – Arne Moors – Nick Hopper

Grey Plover – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 10/05/18

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

With a bit of a chill in the air, birds were keeping their heads a little lower than of late and as the wind built over the course of the day it was certainly reminiscent of the good old days i.e the spring so far! Still, there were Cuckoo calling at Holmebridge, Slepe heath, Swineham and Godlingston. An Osprey was fishing mid-morning in the Wareham Channel but wasn’t seen later in the day at any of the usual hang-out spots. Small parties of Swift were still very active above Swineham GP and small flocks of Sand Martin were feeding in amongst them. A single Red Kite was over Bourne Valley nature reserve in Poole. Despite the cold it seems there’s been a great increase in the number of displaying Tree Pipit and Woodlark with plenty of new and suitable habitat having been created on the southern shores of the harbour in recent years. As both are red data list species we can’t say exactly where they are but by learning their song you can teach your self how to locate these tuneful songsters with Tree Pipit offering a lovely varied and mixed set of notes in an excited and rather chaotic manner whilst Woodlark offer a slightly more melodic, descending set of notes…just perfect for listening to when out on a Poole Harbour heathland this spring and summer.


Tree Pipit – Poole harbour southern shores 

 Tree Pipit song – 13/05/14 – Poole Harbour, southern shores.

 Woodlark, Meadow Pipit And Great Spotted Woodpecker – May 2014 – Near Arne, Poole Harbour

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