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 September, 2018

Harbour Update – posted 28/09/18

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

This morning was our second school bird boat trip of the autumn where a nippy NW wind whipped across the harbour. The Brownsea Lagoon saw 10 Spoonbill and c250 Avocet but actually very little else other than 4 Greenshank and the usual Oystercatcher, handful of Curlew and c100 Black-tailed Godwit. On Shipstal Point, Arne the other Spoonbill flock of around 30 birds were still present on the high tide and in Middlebere Avocet numbers also seem to be building with c200 present. Marsh Harriers were seen at Swineham and Middlebere and a Hobby was over Hartland. At Lytchett Fields a Great White Egret was reported along with 1 Spotted Redshank, 57 Dunlin, 4 Greenshank, 2 Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Kingfisher. In Holes Bay NE a Great White Egret was seen and there were c200 Wigeon on the tide line but there were very few waders around.

Harbour Update – posted 27/09/18

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

How often do you get so excited about going birding that you forget to check the forecast? Last time we checked it was supposed to be clear sky and no breeze at dawn. Well, the no breeze bit was correct but a bank of thick fog was settled across the harbour, which was no use at all for our survey boat this AM up the Wareham Channel. Still, a count of 50 species exactly wasn’t too bad with highlights including several Bearded Tit in the mouth of the Frome, plus we believe there are now up to 43 Spoonbill in the harbour with 31 counted on Shipstal, Arne and 12 on the Brownsea Lagoon. There were also Kingfisher up the frome Valley, 57 Mute Swan in the Wareham Channel, several Cetti’s Warbler sub-singing and large numbers of Little Egret with c30 at Shipstal alone. Despite favourable conditions over night there was almost zero passage overhead at dawn and after the fog cleared, but it will be any night now that we encounter the first Redwings of the autumn passing over. At Holton Lee the Kingfishers were putting on a good show again and a Marsh Harrier made several passes. A Roseate Tern was seen off Salterns Marina near Parkstone and 5 Sandwich Tern were off Baiter. At Lytchett Fields the normal run of waders were spread across the site with 210 Redshank, 14 Greenshank, 61 Dunlin, 8 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 540 Teal, 1 Spotted Redshank and 3 Yellow Wagtail. At Middlebere the Barn Owl was seen and c300 Black-tailed Godwit were at the top end of the channel with 4 Grey Plover.   

A Foggy Morning in the Wareham Channel


Harbour Update – posted 26/09/18

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

Although sadly not seen, the 2 Common Crane from the previous two days were reported to be heard ‘bugling’ at dawn near/at Arne which must have been a great sound to hear. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Stonechat, 37 Dunlin, 1 Spotted Redshank, 150+ Common Redshank, 10 Greenshank, 6 Green Sandpiper, 100+ Meadow Pipit, 4 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Whinchat. At Middlebere a large total of 789 Black-tailed Godwit roosted on the high tide with 11 Knot, 12 Dunlin, 38 Redshank, 15 Wigeon and a Marsh Harrier also logged. Migration through Lytchett Heath consisted of 1 late Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 1 Firecrest. Whilst at Ballard Down 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 14 Chiffchaff and 59 Blackcap were logged.

Firecrest – Lytchett Heath – Shaun Robson

Harbour Update – posted 25/09/18

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

With summer seeming to steal the hand of autumn once more, a gorgeous day was to be had which saw the two Common Crane from yesterday being re-found, although sadly by an estate worker on private land with no access. Hey hoe, maybe they’ll have the decency to hop on about 100m so that they can be visible from a well known nature reserve in the harbour. At ringing and migration stations in the harbour Blackcap are certainly the most common species encountered currently with 64 logged moving through Ballard along with 12 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and 1 Stonechat. In Middlebere 2 different Marsh Harrier were seen and 11 Knot were in the channel. On the Brownsea Lagoon 11 Spoonbill were present which seem to be a separate flock from the current Shipstal birds. We’ll try and conduct a full count over the coming days to see how much the combined harbour flock has risen too.

Harbour Update – posted 24/09/18

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

Although its been ‘a slow’ autumn so far for rarities/scarcities, the sight of 2 Common Crane flying low in over the harbour mouth late afternoon must have been quite a sight for the one lucky observer who witnessed this today. They headed off SW and couldn’t be re-located sadly but there’s a possibility they could hang around. It was also reported that there were 3 Great White Egret in Middlebere late afternoon but no further details were provided. The Grey Phalarope was still on the Brownsea Lagoon for most of the day, showing well from the lower hide where there were also 3 Spotted Redshank and 250+ Avocet. A flock of what looked like 19 newly arriving Spoonbill flew in from the high north above the Sunnyside scrape at midday with a Hobby over too also 1 Whinchat and 2 Wheatear. Will we see a late surge of Spoonbill over the coming weeks? Migration through Ballard today was steady with 63 Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and 1 Sedge Warbler logged. Migration through Lytchett Heath seemed busier with 42 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 24 Blackcap, 1 Firecrest and 34 Meadow Pipit logged. On Lytchett Fields there were 10 Greenshank, 42 Dunlin, 1 Spotted Redshank, 8 Green Sandpiper, c200 Meadow Pipit, 1 Whinchat, 2 Yellow Wagtail, c30 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and 1 Marsh Harrier. In Holes Bay north there was a good count of 776 Black-tailed Godwit plus 1 Knot, 36 Dunlin, 178 Wigeon and 6 Shoveler. At Baiter 2 Wheatear were along the rocks of the main cycle path.

Harbour Update – posted 23/09/18

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

With yesterdays yucky weather lingering on until this morning but then clearing beautifully, it was enough to encourage our last Osprey chick, 002 to head south on migration. Leaving 10-days later than the last chick last year we were beginning to think he would never leave. However having had a decent feed three times a day for the last five weeks he would have left in the best possible condition and here’s hoping he has a safe and effortless journey south into southern Europe or West Africa. Its been a challenging year but we now have a good set of birds all heading south for the winter, and believe it or not, spring 2019 sees the possible first return of our released chicks from 2017. All we have to do is see out the long cold winter…something tells us its going to drag on…slowly. Here’s hoping for a Waxwing winter to help pass the time. One thing that could help pass the time is logging/counting Cattle Egret, and it was reported today that a flock of 8 (a Poole Harbour record) were seen in fields at Bestwall/Swineham although they could not be relocated late afternoon. At Lytchett Fields there were 11 Greenshank, 162 Redshank, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50+ Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Dunlin, 6 Green Sandpiper, 40+ Lapwing, 1 Whinchat, 300+ Meadow Pipit, 4 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Marsh Harrier. At Swineham there were 2 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Whinchat behind Curlews Cottage and off the Swineham Point 4 Greenshank, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Whimbrel and 3 Sandwich Tern. At Baiter there were 8 Turnstone, 11 Ringed Plover and 2 Wheatear with 2 Spotted Flycatcher in the copse at the back of the recreation ground. At Arne the Spoonbill flock was still at 30 and a Marsh Harrier was in Middlebere.

Osprey chick 002 (lower) and 008 before departing

Harbour Update – posted 22/09/18

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

Today wasn’t about the Birds off Poole Harbour, but in fact about the birds of the whole of the UK. Today a Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife was launched which provides 200 ideas; covering 17 topics in ways we can improve our impoverished environment. Sadly, the UK is in a sorry state of affairs when it comes to how we look after our landscapes and its inhabitants. Declines are rife and dramatic and drastic action is needed to help change not only these declines but our total mind set on what we really believe protection to be. Please read the manifesto HERE as it also provides many ideas as to how you as individuals can make small (and not so small) changes too. To launch the manifesto a walk for wildlife was held in London where c10,000 people gathered in Hyde Park before marching to Downing Street to hand over a large Peace Treaty that had been created as a symbol for change. Despite the rain the event felt like the beginning of a movement, one we were thrilled to be a part of.

Sadly, being in London did mean we missed a Grey Phalarope on the Brownsea Lagoon but I think we can handle that…just about. The rain pretty much stopped play by mid morning however the Sunnyside Scrape attracted 6 Ringed Plover and on Lytchett Fields 121 Black-tailed Godwit appeared with 1 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 30+ Snipe and 3 Yellow Wagtail. On Lytchett Heath, before the rain set in 29 Blackcap, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 19 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Warbler and 2 Sedge Warbler were ringed. At South Haven a strong passage of Meadow Pipitconsisted of  337 birds in 90 minutes. At Shipstal, Spoonbill numbers are now beginning to build with 30 present today, which is a bit more like it. At Baiter Park 8 Turnstone, 9 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin were along the shoreline.

The masses gathering before the Walk for Wildlife – Hyde Park


Harbour Update – posted 21/09/18

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

Still a bit blowy today with limited sightings reported but did include 1 Spotted Redshank, 11 Greenshank, 8 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Yellow Wagtail and a Marsh Harrier at Lytchett Fields. At the Sunnyside scrape there were still a few Yellow Wagtail around and at Holton Pools 3 Greenshank, 1 Kingfisher and a fly by Peregrine.

Harbour Update – posted 20/09/18

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

This wind isn’t going anywhere fast. Well, technically it is…about 30-40mph fast, but you know what we mean. These low-pressure systems are stuck in place until early next week. Most stuff was again keeping low today with highlights being now 30 Spoonbill at Shipstal, Arne. At Holton Pools there was 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Greenshank. At Lytchett Fileds a juvenile Arctic Tern was hawking over the fields, a Cattle Egret was on Otter Island, a Marsh Harrier flew through as did a Hobby and a Spotted Redshank was on the fields. In Middlebere there were 5 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 10 Grey Plover, 1 Little Stint and c100 Black-tailed Godwit. Spurn up on the north east coast saw the first large vis-mig movement of the autumn and with conditions looking near perfect next week, it looks as if Dorset could see its first big push of mid-late autumn migrants begin passing over our coastal areas too.

Harbour Update – posted 19/09/18

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

Highlights from today included a Cattle Egret at Lytchett Fields again with 12 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper and 2 Dunlin fields on the fields. At Sunnyside an Osprey flew over towards Hartland, struggling into the wind with a fish, with a Whinchat and Kingfisher also at Sunnyside.


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