Archive for May, 2019

Winter Geese of Poole Harbour – December 2018

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With a record number of White-fronted geese all the way from Greenland sighted at Abbotsbury over the past few days, we thought we’d compile a list of the geese that frequent Poole Harbour over the winter. All species listed are Amber listed, except the Red listed White-fronted geese, and protected by The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). The geese of the ‘Branta’ (meaning black) genus are characterised by dark plumage. Those from the ‘Anser’ genus take on a more generally grey appearance.

Brent Geese

Brent geese (Branta bernicla) are small geese of a similar size to Shelduck and are Poole’s most regular and abundant winter goose. We are visited by the dark-bellied race of Brent Geese. Dark-bellied Brent Geese fly from the Russian Arctic tundra after raising chicks in just two months of good weather. They feed on vegetation, particularly seagrasses.

Studland is a regular haunt for these geese in the winter where they can be seen as dark shapes bobbing on the waves. Another good place to find them is Middlebere, where a group 1000 strong can be seen by late winter. January is the best time to catch huge peak numbers. For close encounters, visit Baiter Park in January and February where a flock of c150 feed on the playing fields on the high tides and on the beach shoreline on the low tides.

Confusingly ‘bernicla’ means ‘barnacle’ in medieval Latin as Brent and Barnacle Geese were previously considered one species. Bizarrely, they were also considered to be the same animal as the barnacle. This myth, which began after it was claimed the birds emerged from barnacle shells, persisted from the 12th to 18th century.

Brent Goose – Baiter Park, Dec 2015 – Ian Ballam

Barnacle Geese

Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) are medium sized sociable geese, with a dark neck and upperparts contrasted with a white belly and face. They feed on grasses and their seeds and roots and overwinter in the harbour after breeding high up on the Arctic cliffs of Svalbard. Their gosling’s terrifying leaps of faith were captured by the BBC Earth team for the series Life Story. Try looking at Swineham Gravel Pits, Holmebridge, Brands Bay and Bestwall for a chance to see Barnacle Geese, although their occurrence in Poole Harbour is only very sporadic with flocks appearing once every couple of years. Keep an eye out for any unusual looking geese accompanying them as hybrids have been seen hanging out with Barnacle geese at Swineham!

Barnacle geese can be remembered as the black and white geese as ‘Branta’ means black and ‘leucopsis’ means white.

Barnacle Geese – Swineham GP, Oct 2017 – Paul Morton

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) are medium sized geese. They are characterised by grey upperparts, a brown breast, belly and neck and pink legs and feet. A pink lateral band can be seen on their dark bills. They feed on grains, grass and winter cereals and are overwintering from Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland.

Pink-footed geese are Britain’s most numerous wintering goose but are much rarer on the south coast than in Scotland and the north and east of England. Best times to see this scarce visitor is between November and January in the Frome Valley and Holmebridge floodplains. Let us know if you spot one – the average record for Pink-footed Geese sightings is 1 or 2 bird every 1 to 2 years.

Pink-footed Goose (left) – Holmebridge, Oct 2017 – Kevin Lane

Bean Geese

Bean Geese (Anser serrirostris) are large to medium sized geese. They can be easily confused with Pink-footed Geese, and historically have been considered the same species. However, where the Pink-footed Goose beak is pink the Bean goose is orange with bright orange legs and feet and an orange lateral band on the bill. Though distinct in good lighting, the soft rosy glow of winter dawn and dusk could show pink legs as orange or vice-versa.

Cold snaps in Russia will trigger small groups (<10) of Bean Geese to escape to the comparatively warmer UK and so they are a much rarer sight on our shores. Just two Bean Geese were found in 2014 which is the last known record. Your best chances of catching a sighting of these scarce visitors are Frome valley, Swineham Gravel Pits and Bestwall.

Bean Geese – Swineham GP, Dec 2014 – Joe Mitchell

White-fronted Geese

White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) are grey medium sized geese characterised by orange legs and bills and a large white patch surrounding the bill on the front of the head. The race of White-fronted Goose most likely to grace our shores are those from Greenland, just like those visiting Abbotsbury earlier in the week. The Siberian race can be distinguished with pink bills, as opposed to orange. They feed on grasses, grains and winter wheat.

Small flocks used to occur in the harbour most winters but usually only for a brief period. Though they used to be semi-annual visitors they have become relatively scarce. There have been no sightings in the harbour in the last five years!

White-fronted Geese – Bestwall, Jan 2011 – Neil Gartshore

Greylag Geese

Greylag Geese (Anser anser) is the largest of our native geese and characterised with a grey-brown body, buff breast, orange bill and pink legs. They feed on grasses, cereals and grains. This bulky goose is the ancestor of our domesticated geese. Its Latin name translates to the rather uninspired ‘Goose goose’.

Those familiar with Poole Park will be well acquainted with the sizeable and semi-tame feral population there. They are often mixed with Canada geese. In winter however, Greylag numbers are augmented with migrants from Northern Europe. They make their way over to sites along Frome valley.

Greylag Goose – Poole Park, Oct 2017 – Neale Smith

Canada Geese

Canada Geese (Anser canadensis) are the only non-native species in our harbour line-upThis rather conspicuous large goose is characterised with a brown body, buff breast, a long black neck and legs and a prominent white chinstrap.

Numbers peak in August with the emergence of youngsters following breeding. Large groups can be found in Poole Park mixed with the resident Greylag geese. In winter, Canada geese will roost in the harbour and visit local farmlands to feed on grasses and cereals.

Canada Goose – Lytchett Fields, Dec 2017 – Ian Ballam

New record number of Spoonbill recorded in Poole Harbour – October 2018

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A new record number of 75 Eurasian Spoonbill have been counted in Poole Harbour during a survey carried out by a local environmental charity, making it the largest gathering of this species ever recorded in the UK. Spoonbills, which are closely related to herons and are large, white charismatic looking birds, were once rare visitors to Dorset but in recent years numbers have been rising due to population increases on the near continent.

The discovery was made on Oct 10th when Poole based charity ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ were conducting a survey for the species as part of a long term 18 month herons of Poole Harbour study. The Spoonbill ‘mega flock’ was spit over two areas with 40 on Shipstal Point at RSPB Arne nature reserve and the other 35 on the Dorset Wildlife Trust Brownsea Island Lagoon. It’s thought that some of these birds will carry on moving south-west into Devon and Cornwall over the coming weeks with the main bulk of the flock hopefully remaining in Poole Harbour during the winter.

Numbers of over-wintering Spoonbill have been increasing in Poole Harbour year on year for almost a decade as breeding populations in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and now the UK have increased. Each August, Spoonbill begin to arrive in Poole Harbour having left their breeding grounds and gather at favoured sites within the harbour. At present Spoonbill only over-winter in Poole Harbour but local conservationists hope that over time they will stay and become a breeding species by setting up a small colony within the harbour.

Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity explained;

“Discovering this new record number of 75 Spoonbill within Poole Harbour is great news. Not only does it show how important the area is as an over-wintering site for this species, it also increases the chances of some deciding to stay and breed in future years. They’re a real asset to the harbour and are great fun to watch”

Eurasian Spoonbill is an extremely rare breeding bird in the UK with only a handful of nests each year, most regularly at a site in North Norfolk. However, this summer a pair pioneered a new site at RSPB Fairburn Ings in Yorkshire, proving that the population is looking to expand.

Paul Morton added..

We’re lucky here in Poole Harbour to have some of the best nature reserves in the country and visitors will be able to visit places like RSPB Arne this winter to try and see the Spoonbill. I remember growing up in Poole Harbour through the late eighties and you’d be lucky to see one Spoonbill, let alone 75”

Spoonbill behaviour in Poole Harbour is predictable with the whole flock roosting on Shipstal Point, Arne or the Brownsea Lagoon on a high tide, and then heading out to feed in shallow channels in the Wareham or Middlebere Channel on a low tide. During the colder months, they can even be found feeding close to the cycle path in the urban setting of the Holes Bay nature park, normally in the north-eastern area of the bay. This annual increase of over-wintering Spoonbill in Poole Harbour is likely to continue, as the record has been broken every year since 2013.

Winter Thrush’s – The Nocturnal Invasion from the North – October 2018

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Its October, you’re now wearing walking boots and wellies rather than flip-flops and sandals. Fleeces and woolly thick jumpers keep you warm as you stand next to a glowing, crackling bonfire and the leaves tumble past your face as a chilly northerly breeze dislodges the last remnants of summer from the branches of nearly naked trees. No longer are you able to watch the aerial acrobatics of Swallows and Swifts as they’re now back south in an African setting which for many is a whole new experience. But as the famous saying goes, ‘out with old and in with new’, we now soon find new visitors arriving into our countryside and gardens that have ventured down from the north en mass, secretly in the dead of night. Getting your head around ‘winter thrush’s’ can often provide bit of a headache in its self, as there are actually six different species you could encounter by late October. Lets start with the humble Blackbird, a bird you’re all familiar with. Although a common sight right the way through the year, by late October many tens of thousands arrive in from Scandinavia to join our local birds and in the last week of October if you have fruit trees in the garden you could go from seeing two to twenty in a single bush over the course of a weekend. Then there’s the secretly shy Song Thrush, a cryptic bird that likes to keep its self to its self. During the spring the Song Thrush gives it’s self away by its incredibly rich song, however in autumn a single ‘tic’ is all it offers as it fly’s over your garden at first light having also travelled over night in huge numbers from northern Europe. Joining both Blackbird and Song Thrush on their nocturnal travels are two not so familiar visitors that we wouldn’t have seen since last winter. The harsh ‘chack chack chack’ of the Fieldfare and the fine, thin, descending  ‘zeeeep’ of the Redwing are a joy to listen to on dark autumn nights as they venture over our houses right the way through the night. Having left the Dutch coastline at dusk, all these thrushes individually navigate their way through the darkness using singular calls to stay in contact with one another until sunrise when they then begin forming large flocks and start following visual landmarks before simply dropping out of the sky to feed. The Ring Ouzel (a blackbird with a crispy white collar) is actually a late migrating summer visitor that will be heading back down to Africa for the winter, but likes to join its Scandinavian cousins for the journey south. And finally, the only non-nocturnal thrush is the Mistle Thrush, which loves to feed on Rowan berries during October in flocks of between 10-50 before dispersing later in the month to areas unknown!

So during October, don’t retreat to warm lounges and comfy sofa’s, get out and herald the welcome arrival of our handsome winter thrush’s. Listen to the below recording that was made on the 29/10/16 over Poole Town centre which allows you to hear the scale of thrush migration on late October nights. 

Harbour Herring Gulls: Are you a gull friend?

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Seagulls do not exist.


That’s right. There is no such thing as a seagull. Now that’s not to say the birds themselves do not exist – they are undeniably present, with a confident pitter patter of webbed feet along rooftops, eyeing up sausage rolls and chips held tight by wary folk below.


But what do we really know about them? They have as bad a reputation as pigeons, sometimes worse, a coastal flying rat which does not deserve an association with nature or urban wildlife because it is a pest – nothing more and nothing less. It is therefore difficult to imagine that all species of gull in the UK are protected by the European Birds Directive and that all are either on amber or red conservation status.


Take the herring gull, the large gull species most people have troublesome encounters with. They have flocked to urban areas over the past few years, nesting on roofs. Their numbers are on the decline nationally by over 50% since 1970, and are the only species to have decreased in number between all 3 major national censuses (Mitchell et al. 2006). And yet they seem so abundant? This is down to a classic situation of nature taking advantage of our lifestyles; as they decline in their natural habitat they move in to ours, appearing more abundant simply because we see them on our doorstep more.


Their move from the rural coastal cliff sites is down to a lack of their fish prey due to overfishing and loss of coastal cliff habitat (Mitchell et al. 2006). In Poole Harbour, these factors were combined with their persecution as pests, and 930 breeding pairs on Brownsea Island in 1973 were reduced to just 100 pairs five years later. Since the Clean Air Act of 1956, which prevented the burning of household waste, open landfills tempted these opportunistic birds closer to urban areas where they discovered other feeding opportunities; rubbish bags left unprotected outside homes, litter left discarded on streets, and people who were willing to chuck them a chip or two.


The herring gulls moved in.


What is the herring gull? A beady-eyed individual, they make fiercely protective parents who will continue feeding their chicks, even when failed-fledge attempts dislodge them from the nest. They are slow-maturing and long lived animals, with an individual that was ringed in 1965 being seen in 1997, making it at least 32 years old. It will take a herring gull four years to take on fully adult plumage, which explains why quite often it is young-looking individuals you see. They are also far from being bird-brained, with documented cases of tool-use and intriguing behavioural techniques of obtaining food and killing live prey (Henry and Aznar 2006; Young 1987). Another marker of their intelligence is their complex social behaviour with a wide variety of vocal and visual signals- they have been known to display frustration by pulling at plants (Nelson 1980)! They provide ecosystem services that we are perhaps loath to acknowledge; namely clearing up our discarded organic waste and litter (including dog mess…) and dispersing seeds within their droppings.


In the interests of fairness however, there have been a handful of incidents where they have been linked to the spread of harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Enterococcus (Fogarty et al. 2003). Their intelligence is ranked lower than corvids and parrots, even garden birds (Zorina and Obozova 2012). Like some other bird species in the harbour, including corvids, herons and other gulls, herring gulls will sometimes predate chicks and eggs of other birds. And it is undeniable that at times they can be somewhat of a nuisance.


Ultimately their proliferation within our towns and failure to survive within their natural habitat is our fault – Poole town centre now has the highest density of herring gulls in the harbour. They have learnt that humans will give them what they need to not only survive but thrive within our towns and cities, but are less and less abundant on coastal cliffs and rural sites, or found fishing at sea. When humans occupy greater areas, habitat loss occurs and the displaced wildlife must adapt or risk local extinction – foxes and starlings also face similarly complex relationships with urban landscapes. Greater understanding of urban gull ecology is necessary before we quantify them as a ‘problem’ (Rock 2005).


So spare a thought for the animal behind the beady eyes, as they adapt to an increasingly urban world that they are tempted into by our wastefulness; now persecuted when they behave like pests. Will you be a gull-friend?



Chris Packham crosses UK Bioblitz finish line at our BoPH HQ

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham crossed the finish line of his UK Bioblitz campaign tour at the Birds of Poole Harbour HQ on Poole Quay on Monday, ending 10 days of intensive wildlife surveys around the UK.

Chris Packham’s BioBlitz campaign aimed to highlight the biodiversity of British wildlife across the nation, visiting 50 wildlife sites across the UK in just 10 days. The results will provide a benchmark with which future surveys can be compared, and see how the populations of different species rise and fall over time whilst at the same time assessing the current health of the British countryside. Chris Packham started in the Scottish Highlands on July 14th, criss-crossing the UK and helping the survey effort along the way; from the smallest insect to the largest deer and everything in between. Specialists, amateurs, and enthusiastic naturalists have helped immeasurably along the way, including members of the public who have come along to events to listen and learn about the UK’s fantastic biodiversity.

Crowds follow Chris over the finish line 

Arriving at Poole Quay with his BioBlitz crew, Chris Packham boarded a ferry with 50 lucky Poole school children and the Birds of Poole Harbour charity team. Chris and his crew were treated to a cruise around Poole Harbour for a spot of birding, passing the internationally important Brownsea lagoon site and seeing common and sandwich terns in flight. The ferry docked back at the quay at 8pm, returning to an audience 200 strong to hear Chris’ rousing speech about the campaign and the future of British biodiversity. He then crossed the finish line at the HQ of local conservation charity Birds of Poole Harbour, where he then spent an hour meeting and speaking with visitors about wildlife and the environment.

Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour charity explained

“To have Chris and his team finish his campaign here in Poole Harbour was a real privilege. Over the ten days they visited some areas that were in dire need of environmental change but they were keen to finish here on the south coast because of how rich our biodiversity is and to highlight how some areas are getting it right”

You can get involved with Chris Packham’s campaign by contacting Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and telling him your concerns for the state of british biodiversity and the threats it faces. Chris Packham is also calling for everybody who cares about wildlife to join him in central London on September 22nd 2018 for The People’s Walk for Wildlife as a nature-inspired call to arms.

Check out his website for more information:

For more information about Birds of Poole Harbour, check out their website:

Chris Packham UK Bioblitz tour finishes in Poole!

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’re excited to announce that on July 23rd 2018 Chris Packham and his Bioblitz campaign team will be finishing their 10-day UK Bioblitz tour here on Poole Quay, in our new Birds of Poole Harbour HQ. You can read and learn more about the campaign HERE. The campaign, which looks to highlight the issues facing our countryside will see Chris and his team visit Dorset for the last leg of their national Bioblitz tour. Our BoPH HQ will be open on the evening of July 23rd between 8pm and 9pm, which is where the campaign will be signed off by Chris himself.

A Bioblitz is a survey of all bio-diversity (wildlife) within a chosen area, providing a measure of how successful or un-successful that area is ecologically. Last year Chris Packham decided that the whole of the UK needs surveying due to the collapse of numerous species and habitats across our country, which is how the campaign began. Over the 10-day period Chris and his team will be traveling the length and breadth of the county meeting and speaking with individuals and organisations who are doing their part to help the wider environment and advocating for a new approach to environmental protection. Nowadays, it seems we’re content with getting our nature fixes on well managed and maintained nature reserves, but what about outside those boundaries? How healthy and productive is the wider landscape?

As part of the campaign Birds of Poole Harbour are also helping co-run a full Bioblitz of the Liveability Holton Lee site near Lytchett Minster in partnership with Livability, RSPB and the Back from the Brink project. Holton Lee is a wellbeing discovery centre nestled in amongst a beautiful range of habitats and run by national charity Livability. On July 23rd between 10am and 5pm a team of volunteers will be surveying the site of all its fauna and flora, including the surveying of Livabilities Flourish project, a gardening and growing initiative that Chris will be talking about on the campaign. To learn about the site and explore Holton Lee the event is open to the public where the survey volunteers will be able to talk you through the species they’ve logged for the campaign.

The message is loud and clear: As important as they are – NATURE RESERVES ARE NOT ENOUGH!

You can follow all the progress of Chris’s UK BIoblitz Tour on

Twitter – @ChrisGPackham

Facebook – @ChrisGPackham

Sunnyside Freshwater Pool Restoration

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As a charity we like to try and identify and set up new opportunities that will be of benefit to both birds and the public. Last year we spoke with Natural England about the possibility of helping to restore a set of freshwater pools at Sunnyside Farm, a site that over the years has been quite productive but under-watched. Although only a very small site, restoring a set of freshwater scrapes offers a new and different feeding site for passage waders passing through Poole Harbour and it’s hoped that by opening up the site like in years gone by, passage waders such as Green, Common, Wood and Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Stint and Spotted Redshank may all make use of the site again.

This is by no-means a landscape scale piece of restoration but in fact the reverting of a small area that was once open and free of thick vegetation. The Sunnyside site has a natural fresh water spring that runs through the centre of it and despite all the recent dry, hot weather is still surprisingly wet and boggy. However over the last decade the fields have become ‘clogged up’ with thick Juncas and its hoped that by re-opening up a small area in the south west corner then birds will be able to take advantage of the newly created pools. It’s also planned that the rest of the site will be cut right back where possible, although because the site is so wet in areas its just not possible to get into those spots with heavy plant machinery.

When Sunnyside was first created and opened up as a ‘site’ a small viewing screen was installed by Natural England, which initially was very good but as the site became overgrown lost its viewing appeal. The viewing screen is still in place and acts as good birding spot and you can locate it by following the red route on the map below. The car park is along the Arne approach road on your right hand side just after exiting the village of Ridge.The walk from the car park to the viewing screen will take you around 10 minuets and there is a small set of steps off the main track leading down to an access gate through one of the access fields. We’d be interested to know if and when you visit this site what species you see.


Poole Harbour Night Flight Calls – 2015 to 2017

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The study of nocturnal migration is a fascinating subject and one that’s certainly grown in popularity over the last 12 months. By sound recording or simply just listening to the night sky during peak migration times you can hear and listen to the calls of birds that migrate through the night. In the spring and autumn many thousands of birds choose to migrate under the cover of darkness for a number of reasons, but by listening to and analysing these calls we can begin to understand more about the timings, totals and routes a whole host of bird species are taking in and out of and across the UK.

In early 2015 we began ‘noc-migging’ with advise and guidance from Magnus Robb from the Sound Approach which allowed us to monitor night migration over our own gardens and even our offices in urban Poole. A friend and work colleague Nick Hopper was also recording at his house and later began night recording over at Portland Bill, which provided good night coverage across Dorset.

Within a few months it was obvious that we were beginning to ‘open up a can of worms’ and over the following couple of years, Nick, Magnus and Birds of Poole Harbour started recording and piecing together a picture as to what was happening over Dorset air space at night during migration time.

Its now great to see that this type of night monitoring has been taken up by many of the birding fraternity across the UK adding to the overall knowledge base with many people now recording night migration over their own back gardens. There has even been a great new website titled ‘Noc-Mig – All You need to Know, set up by Simon Gillings and Nick Moran from the BTO which introduces equipment options and techniques as well as an overview of the concept of ‘Noc-Mig’.

The recordings below (which we’ll be adding to over time) we hope will act as a (limited) set of reference material for anyone wishing to learn Night Flight Calls (NFC’s) of common or regular birds that migrate at night. Please use and listen to all the examples taking note of dates and times of recordings. The recordings below aren’t the only NFC’s from each of these species, with many birds using a variety of calls whilst migrating at night. We hope that over time we can add numerous call types to the list from around Poole Harbour, helping build and expand our knowledge base.


Paul Morton

Meet our BoPH HQ Manager – Dr Georgia French

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Hello everyone! I’m really pleased to have the chance to introduce myself to you all and tell you a bit about how my first two months (where has the time gone?!) as HQ Manager for Birds of Poole Harbour have gone.

About Me

I have loved birds since I was a child and remember clearly learning my first bird species (magpie) and watching yellowhammers in my dad’s garden. During my Undergraduate Degree in Zoology at Cardiff University I was lucky enough to do some project work on puffins, great black-backed gulls and Manx shearwaters over on Skokholm and Skomer Island off the Pembrokeshire coast. I fell in love with seabirds and felt in awe of my supervisors as they identified birds by their calls. After I graduated, I went on to do some field work for a PhD student on lesser black-backed gulls on Flatholm Island where I spent two months being attacked for intruding on a 2000 strong colony and measuring their eggs. It was brilliant! If being pooped on is considered lucky, I must be one of the luckiest people alive.

I then went on to do my Master’s degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation with Reading University. Here I was fortunate enough (thank you gulls?) to win a scholarship that paid for my field work in the Seychelles. I worked on a sooty tern reintroduction project on Denis Island with the legendary Professor Feare, and it was here that my career really took off. The Critically Endangered Seychelles paradise flycatcher had recently been reintroduced to the island and after I completed my MSc I was hired by Nature Seychelles to monitor those birds. I spent 7 months following the birds around, mapping their territories, recording breeding attempts and habitat data and collecting blood samples from their chicks. I also helped out with the Seychelles magpie robin monitoring and mynah eradication, and the ‘magpies’ remain one of my favourite birds of all time. Denis was also where I bumped into my first shark; a meeting that radically altered the course of my career.

I’ve always held a fascination with sharks, partly stemming from when I watched Jaws when I was far too young – thanks Dad! When I bumped into a small blacktip reef shark when out for a snorkel, it was one of the pivotal moments of my life. I looked at the shark, it looked at me and for a split second that felt like minutes we shared the same thought; “What is that?!”. I was exhilarated. At the end of my flycatcher contract I discovered that the Marine Conservation Society, Seychelles were looking for a Project Coordinator. I applied and instead of heading back home to the UK, I was offered the post and stayed in the Seychelles for another 3.5 years, gaining experience in shark, turtle and coastal management science and conservation.

When I came back to the UK, I spent a brilliant six months working for the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, helping to map the distribution and model the abundance of natterjack toads and great crested newts before I started my dream PhD on great white sharks. I conducted my field work in South Africa with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics, collecting photographic data and muscle biopsies from free-swimming white sharks. My favourite sharks include ‘Frowny’, the first shark that I named, and ‘Maureen’, a 4.6m female that I have actually spotted in two separate nature documentaries! I’m ecstatic to say that earlier this week, I was awarded my PhD with an unconditional pass. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m a Dr!

During my PhD, it became clear to me that the sharks around the UK are hugely underrepresented and appreciated. Most people in Dorset don’t realise that we have many species off our coast, that that’s a really good thing and that several of these species are Endangered and could do with our help. To help rectify this situation myself and my soon-to-be husband Chris set up SharkStuff, a Registered Charity dedicated to education and research for the benefit of sharks, especially those off Dorset. SharkStuff has some really exciting projects happening this summer!

Why Birds of Poole Harbour?

I first found out about BoPH when I booked onto an osprey cruise last year. I was seriously impressed with the project, and the knowledge and passion demonstrated by the BoPH team. When I saw the HQ job advertised, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of being involved in some really worthwhile bird work. I was blown away by the superb new HQ and meeting the Trustees sealed the deal for me; their passion and dedication are infectious!

The first two months have flown by and it has been brilliant being able to engage with the public over our spectacular bird life and learning more about the different projects that BoPH are running. I feel like I have learned an incredible amount already from the Trustees and our wonderful volunteers, and my eyes have been truly opened to how lucky I am to live here. I’m excited for the osprey project’s second year to kick off in July and I hope to help to build the charity over the next few months. If any knowledgeable birders out there are keen to volunteer in the HQ, I’d love to hear from you!

New Birds of Poole Harbour engagement HQ to open on Poole Quay on March 1st 2018

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Local environmental education charity ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ opens the doors to its new engagement HQ on Poole Quay at midday on March 1st 2018. The new visitor center styled space looks at interpreting the harbour’s rich and varied bird life, as well as offering a range of interactive experiences that showcases the harbour’s ecological importance. The new quay front location will have touch screen maps allowing visitors to plot and plan routes around the harbour, several listening stations so you can familiarise your self with the calls of local birds, several screens streaming exclusive content and local mini documentaries and it even has its own indoor bird hide!

Set up in 2012, the registered charity has spent the last six years working hard to interpret the harbour’s birds by setting up a range of people engagement initiatives that benefit both the environment and the people who wish to enjoy it. In 2017 Birds of Poole Harbour began their flagship project, an Osprey translocation which see’s them try to restore the Osprey as a breeding bird in Poole Harbour after a 200 year absence due to persecution. As well as this, the charity also engages with around 1400 local school children with their popular school bird boat project whilst also investing in habitat improvement and creation work providing new and different places for people to try and connect with wildlife.

Paul Morton, the charities co-founder explained

“this really is a milestone for us, we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who our audience is and making sure everything we do supports and engages with those people and extends their understanding of Poole Harbour, its beauty and its importance for birds. We’ve seen a huge spike of interest in our work in relation to people wanting to learn more about their local environment as well as birds and with our new HQ opening on March 1st this will hopefully act as a ‘go to’ focal point in which visitors can get a full overview of just how rich and important Poole Harbour is not only birds but wider biodiversity too”

With its prime location on Poole Quay front the charities new visitor center hopes to engage with a whole new audience of visitors and tourists to the area as well as them looking forward to meeting and speaking with locals who also have a keen interest in local environmental and bird related topics.

Paul Morton concluded,

“We’ve met many wonderful people during our first six years as a charity and we can’t thank everyone enough for their support up until now. Our new engagement HQ is now going to provide a focal point for our work allowing us to speak with and enthuse with people whom perhaps hadn’t heard of us before, or who simply just want a bit of advise on where they can see an Avocet or two!

The harbour is recognised as nationally and internationally important area for several different species of bird and is also afforded SPA (Special Protection Area) designation. It is also a specially protected RAMSAR site and has numerous SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) bordering the harbour.

Call 01202 641 003