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 November, 2018

Harbour Update – posted 28/11/18

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

The storm and strong winds continued into today and sadly we weren’t able to conduct a sea watch, which could have been quite productive. The only main highlights from a pretty dire day were 17 Cattle Egret in Nutcrack Lane and then along Holme Lane. On Poole Park boating lake a single (now scarce) Pochard was present with 7 Goldeneye. In the west of the harbour 3 Marsh Harrier were a welcome site around Swineham seeing as they’ve been pretty scarce this autumn/winter so far.

Pochard – Poole Park – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 27/11/18

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

We love a bit a wind! What a classic day for a sea watch as the strong SE wind blew. We did a watch from Branksome Chine before the really horrid weather front came in mid afternoon. It proved quite successful as saw divers on the move with 6 Great Northern Diver passing west out in Poole Bay and another settled on the water, plus 4 Red-throated Diver including one settled just off the beach too, plus a possible Black-throated Diver. Also logged were 6 Kittiwake (mostly 1st winters), 3 Med Gulls, 24 Auk sp, 1 Dunlin, 1 Gannet, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Great Crested Grebe all heading west. Baiter Park is always worth a check in foul weather at this time of year with the added bonus that you can use your car as a bird hide! Out on the playing fields were 112 Brent Geese, 72 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 4 Common Redshank, 3 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Med Gull, 1 Sandwich Tern and c70 Oystercatcher. At the harbour mouth 2 Sandwich Tern were fishing in Shell Bay. In Middlebere the c500 strong flock of Avocet were still present and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, lapwing, Teal and Wigeon.


Harbour Update – posted 26/11/18

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

The calm before the storm! A fairly foul weather system is due to set in tomorrow so it was nice to take advantage of a cold, crisp November day. The Upton CP ‘stone bench’ was offering excellent views of a range of species including c500 Black-tailed Godwit, c20 Dunlin, c20 Redshank, 5 Pintail and plenty of Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck and several Shoveler. Its also a good place to stand and familiarise yourself with calls of species that would otherwise be tricky to learn. The inane chattering of Black-tailed Godwit can easily be heard from the bench, as can the excited whistle of Wigeon and gentle ‘pinging’ of Teal. Its well worth learning these sounds at places you can marry the call to the bird visually so that when your next at a location where the visibility isn’t too good, you can still ID species by call…a great way to boost your day list! It was another three-egret day today with 18 Cattle Egret at Nutcrack Lane, 1 Great White Egret in the Little Sea roost and the usual spread of Little Egret dotted around the harbour. Off Jerry’s point there were 3 Black-necked Grebe and 3 Eider (2 females and a 1st winter). In Lytchett Bay there were 150 Avocet, 57 Brent Geese and a Marsh Harrier quartering over Otter Island. In the PC World drain there was a minimum of 5 collybita (Common) Chiffchaff with one even in full song, however there are currently no signs of any tristis (Siberian) Chiffchaff yet.

Cattle Egret – Holme Lane – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 25/11/18

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

Today we hosted our first Wareham Channel & Poole Harbour cruise of the winter, which we’re thrilled to say was a belter. The forecast strong winds didn’t pick up until mid-morning which was great as it stayed settled as we made our way up the River Frome. Highlights included a Cattle Egret across the Wareham Channel, a drake Long-tailed Duck off the southern Brownsea shoreline, 30+ Spoonbill on Shipstal, 5+ Sandwich Tern along the Hamworthy shoreline, on the Brownsea Lagoon there were c100 Avocet, c40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1000+ Dunlin, c30 Grey Plover, 7 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 40+ Shoveler, 10 Brent Geese but weirdly only 2 Black-tailed Godwit. A Peregrine was also on/over the lagoon and a Marsh Harrier quartered the marsh along Keysworth. In the Frome Valley the flooded fields played host to several large Lapwing flocks and c100 feeding Curlew. Out on the open water several small rafts of Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye were seen and in the mouth of Middlebere c300 Brent Geese were feeding on the spartina. Elsewhere there were 19 Cattle Egret along Holme Lane, with 3 in fields along the Stoborough causeway. Plus a Firecrest in holly next to the Cattle Egret field along Holme Lane. On Slepe Heath both a male and female Hen Harrier were seen briefly. At Sunnyside the pools first Water Pipit was logged. Middlebere was looking spectacular with c900 Avocet settled for most of the time and another large Lapwing flock of around 700. In Holes Bay north, there were still plenty of  close views of wildfowl to be had with Shoveler, Pintail, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon and Mallard all glistening in the afternoon sun.

Long -tailed Duck – BoPH Bird Boat – Chrys Mellor


Harbour Update – posted 24/11/18

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

Despite the weather a few birds were logged today. Out in central harbour there were 2 Common Scoter, 3 Black-necked Grebe and a good scattering of Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. On the Brownsea Lagoon 7 Spoonbill, c300 Avocet and c1000 Dunlin were visible on the lagoon webcam. The Cattle Egret were spread out today across the Frome Valley with birds along Holme Lane, at the Stoborough causeway, Nutcrack Lane and East Holme.  


Harbour Update – posted 23/11/18

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

There haven’t been many Black Redstart around this autumn so it was nice that one turned up on the Sandbanks crazy golf course this morning, feeding in amongst the windmills and helter-skelters of the golf course. The Cattle Egret flock seemed to have swapped their favoured feeding field from Nutcrack Lane to Holme Lane with 17 there this morning, although several did make their way back to Nutcrack Lane later in the afternoon.  And there were 2 Egyptian Geese on the Gravel Pit to the south of Holme Lane. At Lytchett Fields/Bay there were 612 Lapwing, 90 Avocet, 100+ Redshank, 2 Marsh Harrier, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Yellow-legged Gull along with good numbers of regular winter species. On the Poole Park boating lake 10 Goldeneye were present again in the SW corner. 


Harbour Update – posted 22/11/18

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

This morning we hosted our first Poole Town Urban Bird Walk initiative which will be taking place most Thursday mornings from now until the end of February (For full list of dates and info click here). The purpose is to highlight the diversity of Poole Town’s bird life during the winter, which is actually far greater than many may realise. Starting at our HQ on Poole quay we took the simple root along Poole Quay and up to Baiter, around the cycle path before then cutting into Poole Park and doing a full loop around the main boating lake. For a first walk we were treated to a whole host of great birds including 3 Kingfisher on the quay, 1 Sandwich Tern and 5 Ringed Plover along the marina sea wall, 10 Goldeneye, 7 Little Grebe, 3 Little Egret, 1 Mandarin, 3 Jay, 2 Goldcrest and 1 Kestrel in Poole Park plus c10 Turnstone, 3 Brent Geese and 5 Red-breasted Merganser at Baiter and we even jammed in on a Peregrine causing mayhem over Poole Park boating lake. Not bad for a two hour stroll in the centre of town. If you can make it to any of these walks over the winter, it would be great to see you. Elsewhere around the harbour the Cattle Egret flock peaked at 19 in the Nutcrack Lane field. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit on the approach pools and in Holes Bay north, large gatherings of Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet were wheeling around on the outskirts of the country park.

Turnstone – Baiter Beach – Alison Copland

Goldeneye – Poole Park – Alison Copland

Pintail – Holes Bay – John Pick

Black-tailed Godwit flock – Holes Bay north – John Pick


Harbour Update – posted 21/11/18

Posted on: November 22nd, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Todays forecast was sunshine and showers, and they couldn’t have been more correct! This morning we had another school bird boat, and for some reason there seemed to be far fewer open water species in the South Deep/Harbour mouth area. A nice flock of 26 Goldeneye off Green Island was nice to see and across the open areas of the harbour there were c50 Red-breasted Merganser and at Shipstal c30 Spoonbill, c100 Brent Geese and 2 Sandwich Tern. The Holes Bay and Upton CP area were really productive with 136 Avocet, 7 Lapwing, c290 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 34 Dunlin, 9 Pintail, 589 Wigeon, 14 Gadwall and 14 Shoveler. Along Nutcrack Lane 18 Cattle Egret were still present in the first field on the right (to the south). At Lytchett Fields a flock of 44 Avocet were roosting on French’s Pools and 2 Water Pipit were along the field edges.

Goldeneye – flying over central harbour (in the rain) – Paul Morton

Spoonbill – Roosting on Shipstal (in the sun) – Paul Morton


Harbour Update – posted 20/11/18

Posted on: November 22nd, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was a pretty savage NE wind this AM which added a certain ‘biting coldness’ to the days proceedings, however the school we took out for our school bird boat trip didn’t mind in the slightest and were some of the hardiest year 5’s we’d ever seen! Sightings were good as well with c30 Spoonbill, c20 Goldeneye, c70 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Black-necked Grebe, c 30 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Peregrine, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Kingfisher and c200 Brent Geese. There was also a  late report of 6 White-fronted Geese flying east along the Middlebere Channel yesterday afternoon, which sadly couldn’t be relocated today anywhere. At Nutcrack Lane 18 Cattle Egret were still in the cattle field to the south of the road, and seem pretty settled for the time being. There was some thrush passage again at dawn and over Lytchett Bay view 235 Redwing and 57 Fieldfare passed over. In Middlebere the male Merlin was again making use of the post outside the front of the Middlebere Hide and a Great White Egret was present briefly before flying off west. At Arne a male Brambling was feeding behind the welcome hut for most of the day and Lesser Redpoll were also noted on the reserve today (currently scarce this winter). At Lytchett Bay a flock of 17 Tufted Duck was really unusual (they’re barely annual here) and in Holes Bay ducks and waders of numerous species, including Avocet, Redshank, Snipe, Curlew, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon and Gadwall were all giving almost point blank views from the cycle path bordering the northern edge.

Avocet – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam

Common Snipe – Holes Bay NE – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 19/11/18

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Middlebere was the place for raptors this afternoon with the adult female Hen Harrier seen passing close to the Middlebere Hide and a male Merlin perched on the fence post outside the hide, as well as flyby’s of Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk. There were also several large wader flocks consisting of Avocet, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. Spoonbills were over Lytchett Bay (3), Upton CP (2), Middlebere (4) and Shipstal Point (c30). Along Nutcrack Lane 17-20 Cattle Egret were still feeding in the field to the south of the road. On the Upton CP/Holes Bay boundary there was a great total of 120 Pintail, also 1 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Avocet, 86 Avocet, 500+ Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine and 2 Firecrest by the walled garden. There was some thrush passage at dawn over Poole Town, suggesting numbers must have been moving over through the night too despite the strong wind. Several hundred Fieldfare and Redwing were logged over Poole Town and Lytchett Bay view. We also received information of 10+ ‘dead birds’ underneath/next  the Asda building at Holes Bay. Slightly concerned to begin with, it suddenly dawned on us that it’s also where Peregrine often take their prey back pluck and eat. With an easterly wind it seems the remains of several prey items were blown off the feeding ledge 100ft up and became strewn across the street. What was most interesting is that many of the remains were of Redwing, Fieldfare and Song Thrush which are all night migrants that are currently passing over Poole Town at night having just arrived from Scandinavia. Therefor it seems the Poole Peregrines are utilising the town lights to stalk their prey at night.  Also found was 1 Dunlin, 1 Knot and 1 Feral Pigeon. AMAZING!!!

Merlin – Middlebere – Phyl England

Hen Harrier – Middlebere – Phyl England


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