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 May, 2019

Harbour Update – posted 31/05/19

Posted on: May 31st, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A nice smattering of sightings from across the harbour today. A short sea watch at Branksome Chine produced 3 Sanderling west, with 1 Gannet, 11 Sandwich Tern and c20 Common Tern. On Brands Heath a Cuckoo was still calling and in Brands Bay 2 Curlew were the only birds of note. At Arne female Osprey CJ7 was seen first over Coombe Heath and then later over at Hydes Heath. On the Brownsea Lagoon 14 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding and a night sound recording session in the Corfe Gap produced 1 Little Grebe, 1 Dunlin, 1 Moorhen and several calling Tawny Owl and an active Barn Owl.

Harbour Update – posted 30/05/2019

Posted on: May 30th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

While it has been lovely and sunny, it has been relatively quiet on the birding front today. The highlight being one, two even possibly three Osprey, with one over Branksome Chine mid-morning, one over the Arne Raptor Trail in the mid-afternoon and a third heading NW over Lulworth. These could well be the same bird though looking at the timings of the sightings. The Sandwich Tern chicks continue to hatch on Brownsea Lagoon, though we have recorded two incidents of Black-headed gulls predating them today. Black-headed gull numbers are now up to 150, with 24 chicks, while the sarnies are at 102 adults and the Common terns are at 130.  In slightly less grim news, 20 Shelduck ducklings were seen along with 105 adults. Swifts have been heard on the Quay, fingers crossed they’ll start using our newly installed nest boxes! Over at Holton Lee, the Great spotted woodpeckers have been showing nicely on our feeder cam. On Slepe Heath 4 Nightjar were heard and seen and from Coombe Heath a Spoonbill was seen feeding in the Middlebere Channel and both Dartford Warbler and Woodlark were logged. 

Harbour Sighting – posted 29/05/19

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

A dreary cold day with highs of 15°C have seen the Sandwich Tern chicks on Brownsea Lagoon being kept warm and dry under their parents, so only a few glimpses of them seen today! The Common Tern have also been hunkered down on their eggs with not a lot of movement. There have also been some Shelduck ducklings whizzing around in the water with their parents who don’t seem to be phased by the rain. With weather conditions hampering the distance the cameras could focus, only 4 Avocet, 2 Dunlin and the 4 Spoonbill were spotted. Over at Holten Lee 6 Goldfinch, a Great-spotted Woodpecker were seen and a Wheatear was seen at Coombe Heath. Over at Hatch Pond a Juvenile Great Crested Grebe was photographed preening itself. 

Raven Family – Corfe Castle – 29/05/19 @ 05:15

Harbour Update – posted 28/05/19

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

Passage is easing up a bit now, with many birds having already fledged their first broods. Right across the harbour the calls of Long-tailed Tit parties can be heard and the first Chiffchaff youngsters have been logged, as have Blackcaps at the PC World drain. Incredibly, species such as Blue Tit and Great Tit usually only have one brood per year, so to think that many have now completed a successful breeding season already, and it’s only the end of May is a bit sad really. It won’t be long before we turn our thoughts to Autumn migration (which normally starts end of June/early July) when our Long-tailed Tits will be joined by the likes of young Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatchers. At Morden Bog, despite being just outside our recording area it has also seen a decent fledge rate of regular species for the site including young Dartford Warbler, Yellowhammer and Woodlark already logged. Also at Morden Bog, 2 Cuckoo, 2 Hobby, 3 Common Whitethroat, 2 pairs of Spotted Flycatcher and plenty of Siskin. On the Brownsea Lagoon 4 Spoonbill appeared at around midday and a few more Sandwich Tern chicks hatched as well. Also present were 6 Avocet, 14 Dunlin, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit and a fly over Hobby.

Harbour Update – posted 27/05/19

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

Today the first Sandwich Tern chicks hatched on the Brownsea Lagoon, which is excellent news. With 228 sitting pairs counted on Saturday, and the only pair of Med Gulls vacating a few weeks ago (which often eat tern chicks), it looks as if Sarnie Terns could have a bumper summer this year. Also on the lagoon were the first Shelduck ducklings of the year. Each year one (sometimes two) pairs of Nightjar breed on Brownsea and can often be seen bombing around at dusk up near the lake hide. Well today one of them was discovered roosting right in front of the Lake Hide providing excellent photo opportunities. At Upton CP a singing Garden Warbler was a good find as was a Firecrest with good numbers of Reed Warbler and Blackcap along the fringes of the park and harbour shoreline.

Nightjar – Brownsea Island – Peter Moore

Newly hatched Sandwich Tern chick – Brownsea Island – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – posted 26/05/19

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

After yesterdays high from the Puffin boat, there wasn’t the need for too many good birds today, with the smattering of spring regulars doing just enough to top us up! At Swineham there were a minimum of 3 Cuckoo calling with another 2 on Hartland. Swift totals around Poole are a bit sporadic currently with only a small handful over Poole Old Town, but 13 reported over the Lake road area of Hamworthy, which is a usual breeding area too. A Peregrine Falcon dashed over Fleetsbridge towards Upton Heath and a reed bed survey at Lytchett Bay noted stable totals of breeding Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting compared to the last full 2011 count. At Sunnyside Farm there were 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Lapwing and a couple of newly fledged Stonechat. On Upton Heath 5 different Common Whitethroat were heard singing which is actually (and sadly) a ‘high’ count for the harbour.

Common Whitethroat – Upton Heath – Rene Goad

Harbour Update – posted 25/05/2019

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

Quiet day in terms of sighting reports. Poole park had usually wildfowl with lots of juv’s, Mute Swan 4 cygnets, Mallard 14 ducklings, Coot 3 young, Greylag 9 gosling, Canada Geese 3 gosling and Cormorant. Dartford Warblers seen with young over Hartland Moor. Behind the Brownsea webcams we have counted c267 Black-headed Gull on the islands with c48 chicks, there were more than this out of view no doubt! Also on the lagoon were Shelduck, Gadwall, 6 Avocet, Oystercatcher, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderling, 2 Knot, 52 Dunlin, 2 Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, 36 Great Black-backed Gull, 228 sitting Sandwich Tern (no eggs hatched yet but expecting next week!), Common Tern colonies have started nesting this week, 18 Cormorant, Grey Heron, 2 Spoonbill, and toward the end of the day 2 Little Tern were seen on the islands with Sandwich Tern flocks.

First Puffin Boat Cruise

Phew… What an amazing bird boat! We started with the list seen above at Brownsea Lagoon, catching sight of the 2 Little Terns seen an hour before the trip on the webcams as well as a Buzzard being mobbed by corvids over Brownsea. Five minutes after we left the harbour we had astonishing views of a beautiful summer plumage Arctic Skua chasing and harassing gulls and terns, just 100 yards off the boat! We had a few good minutes observing the light phase skua steal fish from other birds, before it flew off high north. Just breathtaking!

Before we left our Poole Harbour recording boundary, we managed to observe some early Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill and Fulmar. We also saw Swallow, flocks House Martin, 1 Peregrine perched on the cliffs at Old Harry’s and unusually a Little Egret. On our return trip past Old Harry’s we recieved a beautiful sunset over the harbour, and some Med Gulls in the Studland Bay area. From Durlston to Dancing Ledge we saw good (Dorset) numbers of Shag, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, 22 Kittiwake and finally 5 Puffin at the end as well as some Rock Pipit, Swift, Swallow. All with decent close view from the boat. An all round happy boat!!! 

Harbour Update – posted 24/05/19

Posted on: May 24th, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Westerly winds today brought a welcomed sighting of an Osprey at 09.25 over at Arne thismorning. An Iberian Chiffchaff was reported at Corfe Castle, 300m up the path to the hill, west side of the castle, but sadly a further search couldn’t find/relocate it.  Another interesting find was a Yellow-legged Gull at Lytchett Fields which also hosted 40 Ringed Plover, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 12 Lapwing.

Over at Brownsea Lagoon c321 Sandwich Tern and c155 Common Tern are still busy nesting with no reports of chicks. The Great Black-backed Gull populations are healthy at c33 individuals, along with the Oystercatcher numbers with 71 spotted today. 4 Gadwall, 4 Avocet, c5 Bar-tailed Godwit, c10 Black-tailed Godwit, c2 Ruddy Turnstone, c2 Knot, c5 Dunlin, 2 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Spoonbill were also counted.

Harbour Update – posted 23/05/19

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

Having not been on any of our nest platforms for 10 days, it was good to see female Osprey CJ7 on one this AM. She spent about 15 minuets on the platform before two Buzzard then took umbrage and saw her off. She was then later seen with a fish which was interesting as a second ‘fishless’ bird was then seen about 15 minutes later, suggesting 2 different birds were in the area at the same time. Another revelation came today in the form of a second Nightingale being discovered to be singing in the Piddle Valley. Our recent recordings of the 1st bird (which were always from quite some distance away) made it sound like that the same bird was moving about the area. It wasn’t until sound recordists Mark Constantine and Magnus Robb took a listen and pointed out that the difference in sound level was due to the fact a second bird was singing further away. They still remain a frustrating pair to hear with both birds only singing during the hours of darkness. There is a reason for this though, and that’s because they’re un-paired. According to Mark and Magnus, un-paired birds sing through the night, whereas birds on territory with a female will sing during both the day and night. So it sounds like these poor lads won’t be fulfilling their summer dreams this year as we move closer to June, but lets hope they return next year and try try again.

Harbour Update – posted 22/05/19

Posted on: May 22nd, 2019 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Southerly winds have brought some relief from the warm weather we are experiencing in the harbour today. The Tern colonies are still exhibiting healthy numbers of breeding pairs with c153 Common Terns and c153 Sandwich Terns, eggs are not far off hatching now! 3 Gadwall,Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Black-tailed Godwit,Sanderling,Grey Heron, c50 Oystercatcher,Spoonbill and 2 Avocet were busy wading across the Lagoon. Over in the Piddle Valley a Tree Pipit called overhead on night migration, Nightjar was heard churring and the (night only) singing Nightingale was singing perfectly at 3am! Over at Lytchett Fields, with the lack of rain, it was a lovely sight to see Alison Copland’s video of a flock of House Martin collecting mud for their nests. This is a positive sign for the Upton House Martin population and the wider UK population and has given us inspiration to research Poole Harbour’s population later this year. The best record of the week only reached us today sadly, and that was of a Turtle Dove seen and photographed at Greenland’s Farm, Studland by NT Ranger Ben Cooke. And these days, there’s only one thing rarer than a Turtle Dove in Poole Harbour and that’s a photo of one in Poole Harbour, so thanks to ben Cooke for sending this through.

Turtle Dove – Greenlands Farm – Ben Cooke


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