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 March, 2019

Harbour Update – posted 17/03/19

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

This should by all accounts be the last windy day for a while as a ridge of high pressure builds from the south. This should allow a few more early spring migrants through, but until then, we needed to stay ridged on our feet and well balanced today as we conducted the last Poole Harbour WeBS count of the 2018/19 season. Despite being mid/late March there were still good numbers of wildfowl and waders about. Off Middle Beach a single Great Northern Diver was settled with 2 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Sandwich Tern, whilst off Pilots Point, Studland there were 29 Sanderling, 1 Ringed Plover and 1 Dunlin. In the mouth of Middlebere 7 Spoonbill were feeding and a Great White Egretdropped into the end of Middlebere. 8 Cattle Egret were along Holme Lane commuting between the cattle field and Bog Lane field. At Sunnyside Farm another male Wheatear was on the short grass leading down to the scrapes and in Poole Park 214 many partial summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit were feeding just off the footpath along with 42 Oystercatcher. There are now a minimum of 50 Med Gulls back on the gull islands with many thousands of Black-headed Gulls now present too.


Harbour Update – posted 16/03/19

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

Today saw another slight hint of spring with harbours second Swallow of the year dashing over the Wareham by pass, being blown east against its will. There was also a slight increase in Sand Martin with c12, possibly up to 15 over Swineham GP at midday. We were also sent a photo of a Common Chiffchaff that had made landfall in Langton Matravers which was not only sporting a nice BTO metal ring, but also a full face of pollen too, indicating that this was a freshly arrived migrant and not a hanger on from the winter. With so many Chiffchaff over-wintering in the area now it’s difficult to know whether the Chiffchaff we see and hear at this time of year are true, fresh arrivals from the south, but with faces full of pollen like the bird below, there’s really no question. In Middlebere there were 3 Spoonbill and in Poole Park, 281 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding, many of them almost in full summer finery. The female Hen Harrier was seen again at Middlebere and it seems there has been a small amount of exchange in the number of Marsh Harrier visiting the harbour in recent weeks with 2 young males since early March which seemed to have moved on, but three others (looking all female types) leaving the west harbour roost this AM. Many thanks Peter Hadrill for this info. Will this be another blank breeding season for Marsh Harrier in the harbour? We really hope not!!!

Common Chiffchaff – Langton Matravers – Pete Christie

Black-tailed Godwit – Poole Park – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 15/03/19

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

Very slow going today, with strong winds still battering the landscape. These constant weather systems are effectively acting as a barrier for any migrant birds to push up through from the south. It all looks set to change early next week though with winds easing off during Monday and settling right down through the week. Hopefully unblocking the hole! A night lamping/ringing session carried out by Stour Ringing Group saw 3 Jack Snipe, 1 Common Snipe and 1 Woodcock logged around the Sunnyside farm area. Despite the wind and rain showers, its seems some Common Chiffchaff are getting through with numerous individuals singings at non over-wintering sites. The Holton Lee Little Owl were seen to be scaring off a Stock Dove from around its nesting box which is a positive sign, although the last check of the camera trap (2 weeks ago) showed no footage of them using or inspecting it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed! 5 Sand Martin were again over Swineham GP and in Middlebere 3 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank and 3 Grey Plover were on the mud.


Harbour Update – posted 14/03/19

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

The exciting news didn’t come from the harbour today, but in fact from Rutland Water where the regular breeding female Osprey, Maya, returned safe and well to her nest. Although this bird is nothing to do with our project, it’s good to see that breeding birds are now arriving back, and with next week’s fine(er) weather due to set in we’re hoping for a few more transit Osprey to grace the harbours shores. We’ll be writing a full blog post in due course about what we’re up to this spring and what we’re hoping to see, but in the meantime, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for some sightings of Osprey over the coming weeks. The strong wind is really keeping the birding enthusiasm low at the moment, but a few outings today saw 6 Sand Martin reported to us over Swineham GP, the Great White Egret was at Little Sea, Studland. A single summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe was in Studland Bay and 3 Cattle Egret were in fields along the Wareham/Stoborough causeway. The big female Peregrine was settled on the Asda building again, and then was later seen mayhem in Holes Bay NE later in the day. A Kingfisher was also still in the PC World drain channel and at Hatch Pond 2 Cetti’s Warber were heard singing.


Harbour Update – 13/03/19

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

Two exciting bits of news today and two potential ‘spring firsts’. Firstly the harbour’s first Wheatear of the spring made its way through grotty weather and made landfall at Sunnyside Farm. A cracking adult male was feeding in the approach field down towards the Sunnyside Scrape. This coincided with a mini arrival of Wheatear into Dorset today with 6 at Maiden Castle and a few along the Dorset coastline. Secondly, it was reported that an Osprey was seen flying over Stoborough Heath, heading towards Middlebere. Sadly there were no further sightings over the course of the day, so it could have just been a bird passing through the area. Either way, it’s certainly about now when adults from sites like Rutland should be arriving back to their nest sites so it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see our first ‘viewable’ Osprey of the spring in the coming days/weeks. The wind is really putting off peoples efforts to get out and explore during this early part of the spring, but looking at the forecast by Monday next week the wind and rain ease away and are replaced by lighter southerly winds and sun…hoorah!

Black-tailed Godwit – Poole Park – Ian Ballam


Harbour update – 12/03/19

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

With the wind starting off southerly this AM it gave a good opportunity for some sea watching at Branksome and for only a 30 minute watch it was quite productive. Totals included 14 Fulmar, 8 Gannet, 5 Kittiwake, 1 Med Gull, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Shelduck, 1 Curlew, 1 Sandwich Tern and 1 duck species that we couldn’t clinch as it passed out in the murk, but it was small and seemed to show a pale forewing, giving the impression of a Garganey. The wind didn’t ease up all day rain came lashing down by midday and a decent gathering of birds hunkered up on Baiter with 199 Brent Geese, 189 Black-tailed Godwit and 14 Turnstone.


Harbour update – 11/03/19

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

It wasn’t quite the calm before the storm, as the winds were still bellowing at 25mph, but the rest of the week is due to deteriorate at some pace and at least we had sunshine today. A school bird boat headed out and highlights were 8 Spoonbill on Shipstal, a single summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe off Goathorn, c50 Red-breasted Merganser still and c20 Great Crested Grebe. A Great White Egret was reported at Lytchett Fields and still, the 1st winter White-fronted Goose was at Bestwall. At Bog Lane, 8 Cattle Egret were still in the field and at Holton Pools 1 Green Sandpiper and plenty of Siskin were on the feeders. 


Harbour update – 10/03/19

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

It’s amazing at how consistent this wind has been. Despite the bright conditions 20-30mph winds have stayed in place all week and look to build even more next week, which would act as a real blocker for any would be migrants trying to get into the UK currently. A Red Kite was seen over Hartland Moor and possibly the same was seen again over Hamworthy a short while later. The White-fronted Goose was still at Bestwall, this time quite close to the footpath. In Middlebere 3 Spotted Redshank were feeding, as was a single Spoonbill. The Poole Park Black-tailed Godwit flock had reduced down to a couple of hundred but some are in near full breeding plumage. 


Harbour update – 09/03/17

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

There were c900 Black-tailed Godwit (possibly including some of the Poole Park birds) at Middlebere. Off Baiter a drake Goldeneye remained with 3 Great Crested Grebe. On Pilots point there were 25 Sanderling, 3 summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebe and c50 Brent Geese headed off out to sea east. At Bestwall the 1st winter White-fronted Goose was still on the fields, several Cetti’s Warbler were singing as were 2 Chiffchaff. At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper and at Baiter a single Sandwich Tern was hunkered down. 


Harbour update – 08/03/19

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

The foul weather is due to stay set in until well into next week which won’t make it easy for any early returning migrants. It seems we’re in that lull period as many birds seem to have moved out but not much has returned. A survey of the harbour saw 80 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 different Peregrine, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 10 Spoonbill on Shipstal and 5 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay. A single Sand Martin was bombing around Brands Bay where there were still 235 Wigeon and 55 Pintail. The female Eider was still off Shell Bay with 2 Sandwich Tern. The White-fronted Goose was still at Bestwall. In Poole park a whopping 598 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding.


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