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 February, 2019

Harbour Update – posted 27/02/19

Posted on: February 28th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It sounds as if this we’re going to come crashing back to normality with a bump tomorrow as the February ‘heatwave’ comes to sudden end. So, we enjoyed a team day out today clearing the last areas of scrub around the new Middlebere Osprey platform/nest which we hope will begin getting used either as a pit stop hang out platform for any migrant birds that start to arrive into the harbour or even more exciting, by any potentially interested new settlers. We’ve written a blog about this coming spring HERE.

Sightings from today included 5 Common Scoter settled out in Studland Bay and a big drop in Black-necked Grebe numbers with just 2 out in the bay. There were 6 Cattle Egret along Nutcrack Lane with another (or the same?) 6 at Bog Lane later in the afternoon.

Harbour Update – posted 26/02/19

Posted on: February 28th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another blissful sunset saw just 1 Short-eared Owl around the Hartland area this evening and the ringtail Hen Harrier was  again seen at Middlebere. The female Peregrine was on the Asda building in Holes Bay, but no sign of the male it was displaying with a couple of days ago. Hopefully he’ll reappear and a pair bond can be formed here in Poole. In terms of suitable nesting sites there are plenty of options but it would great to be able to find a location to place a nest box up if we can. The male Black Redstart was still in the small courtyard behind the Thistle hotel, we wonder if with all this glorious spring weather, whether it may start singing some time soon? At Arne the Spoonbill flock has now reduced to just 9 but there was a single ringed bird on Lytchett Fields too.

Don’t forget its our HQ 1ST Birthday this Weekend where our March Raffle begins, so why not pop down for cup cakes a chat and your chance to win some excellent prizes.

Harbour Update – posted 25/02/19

Posted on: February 26th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We could get used to this! Another scorcher of a day, albeit scorcher in a late February context, meaning 17 degrees. It was however the warmest winter day ever recorded today though, with temperatures in Wales reaching a balmy 20 degrees! It looks to stay settled for another couple of days and then it all comes crashing down again. Still, we’ve had a decent arrival of early spring migrants across Dorset these last few days, so lets just hope we don’t get a last minute cold rush. In the sun, 2 Great Northern Diver looked gloriously in sync out in south deep as they slid across glass like water. Around Hartland, Stoborough Heath and Arne Moors 3 Short-eared Owl were hunting and the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen along the Middlebere track. Out in the west harbour roost, possibly up to 5 Marsh Harrier dropped into the roost and 9 Spoonbill headed out to feed at dusk in the Wareham Channel. A Red Kite drifted low over the piddle Valley and Common Buzzard were very active everywhere. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel and a pair of Peregrine were seen displaying over Holes Bay and a Green Sandpiper was in the Creekmoor Channel that leads into Holes Bay north and a Jack Snipe was seen at Sunnyside Farm.

Tales from the River Bank update: In the last week we’ve had plenty more Otter action plus a different Mink to last weeks animal passing our camera in the dead of night.

Harbour Update – posted 24/02/19

Posted on: February 25th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Wow, if the recent cold weather is what was needed to produce today, then we really didn’t mind. It could have easily been Easter Bank Holiday as masses of people basked in glorious sunshine along Poole Quay, and boats full of people ventured out across the harbour. Our own Wareham Channel cruise left the quay at 9am, and never have we seen the harbour so flat, certainly not in February! As a result, spotting open water species was nice and straight forward with 2 Great Northern Diver, 7 Black-necked Grebe, c100 Red-breasted Merganser, c50 Great Crested Grebe, c20 Shag and c80 Cormorant, On Shipstal Point 12 Spoonbill flew gracefully around before settling again, a single Cattle Egret was on Patchins point and a 2nd year male Marsh Harrier flew down the Frome Valley. A single Sandwich Tern was also fishing off Baiter and after about 100 attempts, we finally saw a Golden Pheasant on Furzey Island…albeit a female! Numerous Buzzard were out soaring across the tree line and on the Brownsea Lagoon there were c300 Avocet, c40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, c100 Black-tailed Godwit, c40 Grey Plover, c300 Dunlin and a small number of Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel, a Great White Egret flew over Lytchett Bay, a Siberian Chiffchaff was ringed in north Poole and a single Cattle Egret was along Holme Lane. At dusk a Short-eared Owl was seen along the edge of Hartland and the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Middlebere. Med Gulls are really numerous now with plenty flying around the harbour now, calling regularly and single Sand Martin was still flying around the north edge of Wareham.

Shag – Brownsea shoreline – Robin Sumsion

Great Northern Diver – North Channel – Robin Sumsion

 Siberian Chiffchaff – North Poole – Stephen Menzie 

Harbour Update – posted 23/02/19

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Finally, the warmth they’ve been predicting all week hit today and it felt like an Easter bank holiday with masses of people down the Quay enjoying a pie, a pint and a visit to our HQ! The foul fog yesterday gave way to blissful sun and our re-scheduled boat was able to depart on time as we headed out towards the Wareham Channel. It was certainly more like a spring boat today rather than the late winter trip it was advertised at, that said a great range of species were logged including many singing birds. Highlights were 4 Black-necked Grebe off Brownsea, one of which was sin full breeding plumage, the White-fronted Goose was on Arne moors but flew over to Swineham GP where a Peregrine flew over and 3 Pochard were on the lake. Reed Bunting were singing all the way along the River Frome as was Grey Wagtail up on Wareham Quay. Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe were logged but their numbers are already decreasing and no Goldeneye were logged. On the Brownsea Lagoon c300 Avocet, c120 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, c300 Dunlin, c60 Grey Plover and c200 Black-tailed Godwit were also counted along with a few remaining Shoveler, Pintail and Gadwall. Many Shag and Cormorant (carbo & sinensis) are in almost full breeding attire. In the mouth of the Wareham Channel 3 Sandwich Tern were hunting and another 2 were on the Brownsea lagoon later in the day. The adult male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel. At Holton Lee good numbers of Siskin and the lone Lesser Redpoll continue to feed at the feeder hide.

Singing Grey Wagtail – Wareham – Nick Mudge

Sandwich Tern – Wareham Channel – Nick Mudge

Reed Bunting – Holton Lee – Brain Smith

Harbour Update – posted 21/02/19

Posted on: February 23rd, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There were a few sightings of note today despite the cold wind. A Sandwich Tern was out roosting in the middle of the drained Poole Park lake along with 3 Med Gulls and the Mandarin Duck was still on the middle lake. The male Black Redstart was behind the Thistle Hotel and the ringtail Hen Harrier was at Swineham. At Arne only 12 Spoonbill remain now and at both dawn and dusk a Short-eared Owl was hunting on Arne Moors which was viewable from up on top of Slepe Heath. At Lytchett Fields there was a single Water Pipit, 6 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Green Sandpiper and 12 Med Gulls.

Sandwich Tern – Poole Park – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 20/02/19

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As you may have seen last week, we’ve been deploying a camera trap/trail cam at a site along the River Frome, just outside Wareham out of pure interest to see what ‘tales from the riverbank’ we can capture on film. This last week we left it deployed without checking the memory card as to give us the best chance of capturing as many species as possible on film. We struck lucky again with the Otter family terrorising our camera and giving it a good sniff, as well as the ‘dog’ Otter strutting on past again, spraying as he went. We also caught footage of a Wood Mouse, Brown Rat, Grey Wagtail, Moorhen, Mute Swan and then a largeish, bulky, very furry creature which didn’t show its face, but the profile gave it away. After a few discussions we were happy we’d caught footage of a Mink, an aggressive species which can cause numerous issues along our river banks, especially for Water Voles. However, after some discussions on it sounds as if Otter normally ‘trump’ Mink in the aggression and territorial disputes, so maybe this lone mink is just a passer through the area due to the more regular presence of the Otters we’ve been filming.

Mink – River Frome, outside Wareham – 19/02/19

Bird wise, the Sand Martin was still feeding over the River Piddle at dawn and a Green Sandpiper in Holes Bay NE near the Upton CP boundary outflow was a rare sight, and the 2 over-wintering Coot in Holes Bay NE were still near the bridge. Mediterranean Gulls continue to arrive into the harbour, some of which were night-sound recorded entering the harbour coming down the Piddle Valley. At Swineham, better views of the White-fronted Goose were obtained suggesting that it is the same bird from earlier in the winter, but having now obtained more of its ‘white front’. A Ruff was off Swineham Point, the gravel pits held 9 Pochard and 48 Coot but there seemed to have been a clear out of Shoveler. There were still 6 Cattle Egret in fields along Nutcrack Lane at midday.

Harbour Update – posted 19/02/19

Posted on: February 21st, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was due to get a lot warmer this week, but although we’re seeing signs of spring in terms of new birds arriving (and departing) and numerous birds beginning to sing etc, there’s still a blimmin chilly wind taking over. This is due to settle down by the end of the week and then some south-easterlies are due to kick in, when we could begin to see even more signs of spring. Perhaps the first Wheatears, Garganey or Little ringed Plover? After all, March 1st is only 8 days away. This is a stark contrast to this time last year when the beast from the east had already hit us hard once, and was then prepping for another dumping of snow in early March. We can do without that this year please…the birds really didn’t like it! A vigil from the north Wareham Walls mid-morning to look for displaying raptors produced the Sparrowhawk pair again several Common Buzzard, along with a thermalling Marsh Harrier above the Piddle Valley. A Sand Martin was also actively feeding over the River Piddle too with a Grey Wagtail singing  near the bridge. At Swineham, there was another Sand Martin and Marsh Harrier there too and the White-fronted Goose was seen on the gravel pits.

Harbour Update – posted 18/02/19

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

That spring feeling continued when 2 Sand Martin flew in over Swineham at dusk, possibly having just arrived in to the harbour. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel and a Great Northern Diver was off Baiter. We’ve also been carrying out some night monitoring work in the Piddle Valley and have been recording numerous Common Snipe, Coot, Little Grebe and Teal moving up (and out)? of the harbour.

 Little Grebe – Night migrating trill call – Piddle Valley 16/02/19 @ 23:07

Harbour Update – posted 17/02/19

Posted on: February 18th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

What a mix of a day. It began bright, still and calm but then a building SSW wind built and by the end of the day it was a tad chilly. However, there were some remarkable sightings, including the springs first Swallow! This is in line with a small arrival of both Swallow and House Martin in to the UK at the end of last week due to the high pressure and southerly airflow that’s currently coming up from southern Europe and North Africa. We wouldn’t normally expect to see the fist until at least the third week of March but hey…we’re not complaining! Hopefully this has now opened the floodgates and we’ll be littered with summer migrants by March 1st! The Glossy Ibis that was seen briefly at dusk on Friday was again seen, this time at dawn (07:10) flying from the Swineham direction over towards Arne Moors. Despite numerous search’s from Slepe Heath it sadly couldn’t be relocated. A single Ruff was in the lower Frome Valley next to Bestwall and in the Piddle Valley a pair of Sparrowhawk displayed beautifully at around 7:30am. At Bestwall a White-fronted Goose was found feeding which looks to be a different bird than the juv present late last year and early into this year with todays individual showing a full ‘white-front’.  Ringtail Hen Harrier were logged at Swineham, Middlebere and Lytchett Fields. Spoonbill were logged feeding in Middlebere, off Shipstal, in the Wareham Channel and Lytchett Bay. The adult Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel and a Great White Egret was at Little Sea, Studland. Cattle Egret commuted between Holme Lane (6 in the morning) and Nutcrack Lane (5 in the afternoon). An adult Black Brant was logged during the Poole Harbour WeBS count off the Green Island shoreline, 2 Crossbill flew over Slepe Heath, 1 Yellowhammer flew over Soldiers Road (good record for here) and at Holton Lee a Lesser Redpoll was on the feeders. A semi-respectable count of 4 Marsh Harrier left the west harbour roost at dawn and at Swineham GP 4 Pochard, 24 Shoveler, 2 Bearded Tit and 3 Rock Pipit. At Poole Park, as well as a large lorry stuck in the mud, the Mandarin looked on in amusement as did the 2 newly arrived Black Swans and there were 122 Black-tailed Godwit, 79 Oystercatcher, 13 Redshank and 3 Little Egret. Med Gull numbers continue to build with several birds heard calling at sites around the harbour on the low tide. In Parkstone Bay 4 Goldeneye and 7 Great Crested Grebe were off the beach. 

White-fronted Goose – Bestwall – Trevor Warrick

Goldeneye – Parkstone Bay – Rene Goad



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