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 16/02/19

Posted on: February 17th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today we hosted our first ever low-tide cruise, which saw us venture up the Wareham Channel towards the mouth of the Frome, before then making our way out across the rest of the harbour. Without wanting to blow our own trumpet, it’s safe to say it was a resounding success. One of the first birds seen was a ringtail Hen Harrier over gold Point, Arne before another (or possibly the same) gave us a great flying display over Arne Moors. We were then treated to several fly by’s of up to 4 Marsh Harrier and 10 Spoonbill which were originally in a distant channel came and settled really close to the boat feeding. Strangely a Common Scoter was settled in the west of the Wareham Channel, suggesting that some have begun their inland migration north already (peak is usually March). Along the mudflats Dunlin, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits and a few Grey Plover fed happily and in the shallows both Red-breasted Merganser and a few Great Crested Grebe were feeding. Out in South Deep a Great Northern Diver settled close to the boat and 2 Black-necked Grebe were off the west end of Brownsea. The Brownsea Lagoon hosted 3 Greenshank, c300 Avocet, c100 Bar-tailed Godwit and smaller numbers of the more regular species. The male Black Redstart was still in the courtyard behind the Thistle Hotel and at Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 3 Greenshank, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Spotted Redshank. Along Holme Lane 5 Cattle Egret were in the cattle field at dawn but soon moved to the fields along Nutcrack Lane by mid-morning and 2 Egyptian Geese were in fields along the Wareham bypass.

Spoonbill – Wareahm Channel – Derek Morgan

Harbour Update – posted 15/02/19

Posted on: February 16th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Highlight of the day definitely goes to a Glossy Ibis that was seen during a vigil looking for Bittern, at dusk over Swineham, seeming to leave the Arne Moors area and headed up the Frome Valley. The last Glossy Ibis in the harbour was spring 2018 and that too favoured this area and actually stayed for 4 days so it could well still be around. 5 Cattle Egret were seen heading into roost along the Wareham Channel but were seen earlier at both Nutcrack Lane and Holme Lane. A Jack Snipe was seen at Swineham Point and a Barn Owl was hunting along the edge of the gravel pit. Off Middle Beach, Studland 12 Black-necked Grebe were on the water. On Hatch Pond, Pochard numbers increased to 6 and the Great Crested Grebe pair were seen copulating. With the fine weather today it was amazing to hear that the southerly air flow from southern Europe and NW Africa actually deposited the springs first Swallows and House Martins down in Cornwall which is extremely early but a welcome sight!!!

Harbour Update – posted 14/02/19

Posted on: February 15th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This weather is just too much! A balmy 13 degrees in mid Feb? Mind you, this type of weather really primes you for the up and coming spring migration season, which is realistically only 3 weeks away from getting under way. There was some signs of movement this AM when 3 Pochard and 4 Tufted Duck were fresh in at Holes Bay south at another Pochard was at Hatch Pond. Along Nutcrack Lane 7 Cattle Egret were in the fields to the south of the road and 3 were seen along Holme lane earlier in the day. At Middlebere a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past the hide and c700 Avocet were roosting on the high tide. At Holton Pools 1 Water Pipit, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Kingfisher were logged and c40 Redwing and the Little Owl were seen in and around the reception building. At Upton CP good numbers of Shoveler and Pintail are still off the Stone Bench and in Holes Bay NE 600 Dunlin were feeding with 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 70 Avocet and 3 Goldeneye. Poole Park the Mandarin was joined by 2 Australian Black Swans. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel. The PCW Drain today saw a conservative count of 30 Chiffchaff along the channel which is a great mid Feb count…many of them were singing.

Pochard – Holes Bay South – Paul Morton

Tufted Duck – Holes Bay South – Paul Morton

Pochard – Hatch Pond – Rene Goad

Pintail – Upton CP – Clare Slade


Harbour Update – posted 13/02/19

Posted on: February 14th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Spring has well and truly sprung this week and with the warmth of the morning sun many birds seem to be ‘getting in the mood’. At the PC World drain this AM there were a minimum of 20 Common Chiffchaff, several of them singing and sub-singing in the scrub. These are all over-wintering Chiffchaff as its way too early for spring migrants to be arriving from southern Europe and North Africa, however our ringing research over the last few years has shown an increase in Chiffchaff numbers at this site during late January/early February which could be over-wintering Chiffchaff from other areas visiting this productive feeding site before they themselves move away on spring migration. Also singing there this AM were 2 Song Thrush, Siskin and Greenfinch.

At Lytchett Fields there was a single Spotted Redshank and Greenshank with 3 Med Gulls back out in the bay. Through the rest of February and into March Med Gulls will become more conspicuous as they return from over-wintering sites as their easily recognisable calls will be easily heard at sites like Baiter and Whitley Lake on the low tides. In Parkstone Bay 2 Goldeneye were settled with 7 Red-breasted Merganser also there and 11 Turnstone were on the beach. Out on the heathlands the first Woodlark song of the year was heard at Arne and Dartford Warbler were also enjoying the late winter sunshine as they became really active around midday.

Harbour Update – posted 12/02/19

Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Spring is creeping in slowly but surely with many birds now sub-singing at dawn, and in fact along the Frome Valley this morning a Skylark was in full song high in the sky near Holmebridge. Again, calmer weather helped with sightings and around the Studland Peninsular there was plenty going on with 18 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver off Middle Beach and 2 Sandwich Tern, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 4 Black-necked Grebe off Shell Bay. Off South Beach 4 Black-necked Grebe were off shore and on Knoll Beach 14 Sanderling were on the tide line. From the Houseboats the Black-throated Diver was off the SE corner of Brownsea before flying out of the harbour mouth and there were 3 Great Northern Diver in South Deep with 4 Black-necked Grebe. Along Holme Lane 3 Cattle Egret were in the field and 6 were in fields along Nutcrack Lane. The male Black Redstart was again in the courtyard of flats out behind the Thistle Hotel. We also set up a camera trap along the Frome Valley this last week and having not ‘camera trapped’ anything other than 3 Rats and a single Robin, we couldn’t belive it when we checked the memory card this morning only to find a small family of 3 Otters had triggered the camera in the early hours of the morning. They even took a snotty liking to the camera and gave it a good old sniff before moving on up the river!

Harbour Update – posted 11/02/19

Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Much calmer today making open water viewing a bit more straight forward. The Studland Peninsular is always worth checking after a few days of consistent wind as birds will often take shelter either in Studland or Shell Bay, or within the harbour its self. There was evidence of this  today as a Black-throated Diver was close in shore off Shell Bay and a new in female Eider was off the southern Brownsea shore. Off Middle Beach, Studland a decent passage of auks (Guillemots and Razorbills) headed out into Poole Bay to feed for the day with several settled off Old Harry. There were also 12 Black-necked Grebe, a single Slavonian Grebe and 4 Great Northern Diver (3 flying, 1 settled) off Middle Beach. Out from Cliff Drive, Canford Cliffs a tight flock of 28 Great Crested Grebe were off the beach. At dawn a Great White Egret headed up the Frome Valley, as did 6 Cattle Egret which were later in the field at Nutcrack Lane. There are currently now only 2 Marsh Harrier in the harbour and the single female Hen Harrier continues to endure her own company.  At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Spotted Redshank and Spoonbill (later seen on Holton Pools), 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 1 Water Pipit. In the Arne car park a Firecrest was in the holly by the Coombe Heath entrance track and Dartford Warbler were out enjoying the early spring warmth. We also conducted one of our first night recording sessions of the season, this time in the Piddle Valley, a potentially excellent and productive migration corridor in and out of the harbour. In terms of birds moving, it’s still very early in the year, however we still logged 2 Coot, 1 Water Rail, 2 Common Snipe, 2 Teal and 2 Redwing. Although these numbers are low, it’s a sign that some species are already beginning to move about, and by the first week of March (and certainly into the second week) winter thrush’s, waders and wildfowl will all be on the move in far greater numbers heading back north.

Harbour Update – posted 10/02/19

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Calmer today and dare we say it…rather spring like. A short sea watch from Branksome saw 1 Great Northern Diver, c15 Gannet, 10 Brent Geese west and c20 Great Crested Grebe. The lone Spoonbill was still on Lytchett Fields and strayed to Holton Pools briefly where there was a single Water Pipit. In Middlebere 3 Spotted Redshank, c300 Avocet and c400 Black-tailed Godwit. The Peregrine was again seen on the Asda building having been absent for most of the autumn and winter and in Holes Bay a big count of 866 Dunlin was logged with 7 Tufted Duck and 2 Coot (both notable here) also recorded in Holes Bay north. Brownsea counts consisted of 165 Avocet, 271 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 200+ Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 40+ Oystercatcher, 10 Shoveler, 63 Shelduck and 5 Gadwall.

Dunlin and Turnstone – Brownsea Lagoon – Rene Goad

Teal – Brownsea Lagoon – Rene Goad

Harbour Update – posted 09/02/18

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The rain subsided but the strong winds continued today which made viewing a tad tricky. As expected the Frome Valley was flooded and as a result a flock of c200 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding up near Holmebridge and 2 Egyptian Geese were on the flooded pools. At Lytchett Fields and Holton Poole the lone Spoonbill continued to commute between the two sites. Poole Park was still busy with bird and saw 90 Oystercatcher, 59 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 Goldeneye, 57 Coot, 8 Little Grebe, 11 Tufted Duck and the Mandarin Duck. Parkstone Bay saw 8 Goldeneye, 10 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Red-breasted Merganser and 165 Brent Geese were on the fields. In Middlebere a single Marsh Harrier, 1 female Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin and a few Sparrowhawk were logged.

Jay – Holme Lane – John Pick

Harbour Update – posted 08/02/19

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Storm Eric hit with a whollop toady which made for a productive sea watch at Branksome, although sadly the rain set in quite quickly and visibility was reduced to almost nothing after 20 minuets. There were a minimum of 50 Gannet and 150 auks (Guillemots and Razorbill) bombing around out in Poole Bay, also 1 Red-throated Diver passed west and diver sp passed east along with c15 Kittiwake west, 4 Red-breasted Merganser west, 11 Brent Goose east and 1 Great Northern Diver west. Out on Baiter an impressive 435 Brent Geese were feeding and in Poole Park the Greenshank was there again. In Middlebere there were 400+ Avocet, 250+ Lapwing, 2 Spotted Redshank and 11 Grey Plover.

Harbour Update – posted 07/02/19

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The calm before the storm saw a good return of birds including the Slavonian Grebe off Shell Beach with 3 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver there too. Spoonbill were on Shipstal (c20) and at Lytchett Fields/Holton Pools (1). The Brownsea Lagoon saw 70 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 9 Greenshank, 2900+ Dunlin, 135 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Knot, 260 Grey Plover, 8 Turnstone and 310 Avocet. Along Holme lane there were 6 Cattle Egret on the ‘dung heap’.  In brands Bay there were 7 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver. At Norden Sewage Works there were 10 Chiffchaff and a single Firecrest.

Cattle Egret – Holme Lane – Ian Ballam


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