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 October, 2018

Harbour Update – posted 30/10/18

Posted on: October 31st, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was some good open water coverage today as another school bird boat headed out in the cold NW wind. The highlight being the first 6 Goldeneye of the winter to return with 3 off Goathorn and 3 in central harbour. There was also a marked increase in Red-breasted Merganser with c50 present across South Deep and Central Harbour. There were c150 Brent Geese back with some on the Baiter shoreline and c40 on Studland Beach. On Shipstal, Arne c30 Spoonbill were roosting. In Lytchett Bay 2 Marsh Harrier were over Lytchett Fields. In Studland Bay there were 6 Black-necked Grebe, 12 Common Scoter and 5 Great Crested Grebe. Brands Bay held 65 Pintail, 185 Wigeon, 40 Avocet, 10 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, 144 Black-tailed Godwit and 223 Dunlin. A nice urban record of a Marsh Harrier over Poole Town, near the Lighthouse Art Centre was noteworthy. From Coombe Heath, Arne a Merlin dashed through the Middlebere Channel upsetting and aggravating the c200 Avocet that were roosting when a/the Hen Harrier arrived to chip in with the chaos. A nocturnal lamping session was carried out in the lower Frome Valley in the hope of ringing the first Woodcock of the winter, however it proved fruitless with only 2 Common Snipe seen across the entire area!

Brent Goose – Studland Bay – Phyl England


Harbour Update – posted 29/10/18

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

Despite the good conditions vis-mig was pretty poor, although the conditions also looked perfect for the first big Woodpigeon migration of the late autumn but it didn’t materialise sadly. However if any similar conditions occur over the next 2 weeks then we could see many thousands of Woodpigeon migrate high across Poole Harbour from the east, usually appearing from over the top of Evening Hill. There was evidence of more Fieldfare having arrived with good numbers at Middlebere again and there were 41 Spoonbill on Shipstal and 7 Spotted Redshank in the end of the Middlebere Channel. Hen Harrier were seen at Middlebere, Swineham and Lytchett Fields with one of them being a new arrival in to the harbour in the shape of a young ringtail male bombing around Poole Harbour west.

Fieldfare – Middlebere – Ian Ballam


Hen Harrier – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 28/10/18

Posted on: October 29th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another fine but chilly day which seems to only look as if its going to last a few more days before warmer weather from the west arrives later in the week. With these clear sky’s and big bright moonlit nights its no surprise that winter thrush’s such as Redwing and Fieldfare were more conspicuous today, certainly at Arne where good flocks of both were seen in the hedgerows at dawn along with several Brambling and a Firecrest in the car park. There were 41 Spoonbill out on Shipstal and 100+ Brent Geese in Arne Bay along with 300+ roosting Oystercatcher on Shipstal Spit. There was also some thrush passage at Lytchett Bay with 60+ Redwing and 20+ Fieldfare. In the Frome Valley just a single Cattle Egret was feeding in with cattle along Swanage Road which is nice, but considering there’s currently a flock of 50+ over at Abbotsbury we’re sure they wouldn’t mind at the Swannery if we borrowed at least 20 for a week or so! Last night we also witnessed some amazing nocturnal migration using our Pulsar XQ50 Thermal Imaging scope. Although it doesn’t allow you to positively ID each bird flying over it does give you an insight as to how intense migration is on certain nights. We saw on twitter the evening before that a huge number of birds had been seen (via a radar track) leaving the Dutch coast, heading in a SW direction towards the UK. So, we thought we see if we could see any moving last night and we were astonished at just how many birds were on the move, although so high that that there was no chance of being able to hear them, even when using our sensate sound recording equipment. What’s even more amazing is when you consider that we were only looking at one patch of sky and that there must have been thousands more birds passing over other areas too. A true nocturnal spectacle.

Eurasian Spoonbill – Brownsea Lagoon – Nick Gadenne


Harbour Update – posted 27/10/18

Posted on: October 29th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today we went out on a survey boat to check the Wareham Channel, Brownsea Lagoon, Frome Valley and open areas of the harbour. Despite the cold wind it was extremely productive with 57 species logged with highlights including the ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 adult female Marsh Harrier, 209 Avocet, 46 Spoonbill, 134 Brent Geese, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 21 Greenshank, 650 Oystercatcher, 280 Cormorant, 7 Little Grebe, 12 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and smaller totals of expected over-wintering species such as Wigeon, Teal, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew etc. Great White Egrets were seen at Shipstal, Arne and over Studland heath leaving the Little Sea roost. A Red Kite drifted low over Lytchett Fields. At Lytchett Bay 20 Fieldfare flew over at dawn and in the bay were 34 Avocet and the first Brent Goose of the winter for Lytchett Bay. The ringtail Hen Harrier made several other appearances too and was seen in Middlebere, just below the Coombe Heath viewpoint and also out on Hartland. At dawn a Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin and 4 Marsh Harrier were in Poole Harbour west near the mouth of the Frome. Also in Middlebere were 100+ Fieldfare, a Peregrine, c500 Black-tailed Godwit, c500 Avocet and 100 Lapwing.


Harbour Update – posted 26/10/18

Posted on: October 29th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was more about the totals todays and with the constant run of northerly winds its no surprise that wader and wildfowl numbers are increasing nicely. In Holes Bay NE the Wigeon flock had reached 854 and there were just under 1000 Black-tailed Godwit roosting there too plus a group of 16 Shoveler had arrived too. There were also 200 Lapwing on Lytchett Fields which was an autumn/winter high count this season and also a Marsh Harrier and Water Pipit out on the fields. At Arne it looks as if the over-wintering flock of Spoonbill will be around 40 birds, which was the count on Shipstal today, but there could be other roosting elsewhere the over-wintering flock could be just over 40.


Harbour Update – posted 25/10/18

Posted on: October 29th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was another good morning for visible migration along the Ballard ridge near Glebelands. Yet again it was a NNW wind but it still produced some good totals including 19 Brambling and 21 Crossbill along with 1 Woodlark, 204 Chaffinch, 219 Goldfinch, 85 Siskin, 11 Reed Bunting, and smaller numbers of Redwing, Song Thrush and Skylark. The ringtail Hen Harrier was still out over Slepe Heath/Hartland area and 2 Merlin were commuting between Middlebere and Hartland. The Fieldfare flock at Middlebere had reached over 100 and there were c300 Avocet, c1000 Black-tailed Godwit, 150 Lapwing, 5 Grey Plover, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Water Pipit, 1 Marsh Harrier and a fly over Woodlark. On Little Sea, Studland a Goosander was feeding which is the first record of this species here for 10 years and could hopefully be attributed to the cleaning of the lake due to the Carp removal NT have been carrying out over the last 4 years. Also there was the Great White Egret again. In the Arne overflow car park there were 2 Firecrest. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 24 Spoonbill, 7 Greenshank, 24 Grey Plover and c20 Knot.

Brambling – Calls of Autumn Migrants – Glebelands, Ballard – 25/10/18 @ 07:44

Crossbills and wingbeats – Calls of Autumn Migrants – Glebelands, Ballard – 25/10/18 @ 07:54

Firecrest – RSPB Arne


Harbour Update – posted 24/10/18

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

Quieter today but the arrival of an adult male Hen Harrier on Hartland briefly mid morning made things exciting, although sadly it disappeared off towards Corfe Castle after having a wash and wasn’t seen again. Later in the afternoon yesterdays ringtail female Hen Harrier was out on Hartland with 1 Merlin perched up on a stump. Out on Arne Moors (viewed from Slepe Heath) another 2 Merlin were seen with catching a Meadow Pipit supper just before sunset. On Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit and another on Holton Pools and a late Ruff was also on Lytchett Fields. At Arne a female Brambling was feeding behind the visitors centre in car park with Chaffinch and another was at Sunnyside Farm in a Chaffinch/Linnet flock. In Middlebere there were 3 Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, c400 Black-tailed Godwit, c150 Avocet, 123 Lapwing, 96 Redshank, 10 Dunlin, 293 Wigeon, 4 Pintail, 1 Merlin, 1 Marsh Harrier and 46 Fieldfare.

Water Pipit – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam



Harbour Update – posted 23/10/18

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

Today was a classic autumn day with a good range of autumn passage migrants and newly arrived winter arrivals. The day began with a visible-migration session up at the Glebelands end of Ballard where quite a bit was on the move despite the strong westerly wind. Highlights included 1 Woodlark, 18 Crossbill, 3 (probably more) Brambling, 102 Siskin, 144 Linnet, 280 Chaffinch and 2 Peregrine causing small groups of Wood Pigeon hassle. Another vis-mig session was carried out at South Haven too where it was slightly quieter with 10 Crossbill the highlights but also a Black-throated Diver entered the harbour at dawn as did 58 Shag and 7 Red-breasted Merganser. On the Wareham to Stoborough causeway the 2 Cattle Egret were on the east side next to the road. On Slepe (and then Hartland) a freshly arrived adult female Hen Harrier was quartering over the heath where a Merlin was logged at dusk along with a Short-eared Owl out near Arne Moors too. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was a Great White Egret, 30 Spoonbill, 1 Peregrine and c400 Avocet. In the Lower Piddle Valley near Wareham train station a flock of 46 Lesser Redpoll were feeding in an Alder Tree which is a good count considering they’ve been non-existent this autumn. In Middlebere the separated over wintering flocks of both Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit have almost reached peak counts with c500 of each this afternoon. At the mouth of the Middlebere track a flock of 56 Fieldfare were moving through the area.

Crossbills – Calls of Autumn Migrants at Dawn – Glebelands, Ballard 23/10/18 @ 08:37

 Woodlark – Call of Autumn Migrant at Dawn – Glebelands, Ballard 23/10/18 @ 08:52


Harbour Update – posted 22/10/18

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


Harbour Update – posted 21/10/18

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

Quick update today with a Yellow-browed Warbler up on Ballard Down, Great White Egrets at Lytchett Fields and Little Sea, Studland.


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