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, 2020

Harbour Update – posted 20/03/20

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Brrrrrrrrrr, it was freezing today. All we need is some sun for a week or two with no wind and no rain, and we’re sure the nations mood will rise at least a few notches. The sooner spring can really spring into action the better.

Saying that, we’ve not done too badly for early spring migrants already with the first Little Ringed Plover, Sand Martin, Swallow and Osprey all already having been logged this week. All we were missing was a handsome Garganey…and then today, BOOM, right one cue…..two appear on the outskirts of Wareham. A male and female were on Wareham Common, right next to the by pass on the south side of the road in between Wareham and the Purbeck Sports Centre. There’s no doubt that a spring male Garganey is enough to take anyone’s mind off the current situation, so we hope they stick around a for a few days. Also logged today was a ‘new’ raptor crew in the Wareham Channel with a ringtail Hen Harrier (imm male) bombing about, a new migrant female Marsh Harrier and a female Merlin. In Middlebere there were 2 Spoonbill and 4 Spotted Redshank and 2 Red Kite drifted over Corfe Mullen. The Peregrine pair were on the tall Asda building still waiting for milk and eggs.

Harbour Update – posted 19/03/20

Posted on: March 19th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite yesterdays productive day…the mizzly yuk which sprinkled down on us for most of today didn’t do much other than dump a load of Chiffchaff across the harbour as well as a few Wheatear. There were 2 Wheatear at Baiter and another 3 at Greenlands Farm. In the Wareham Channel off Swineham the ringtail Hen Harrier was still around as was the lone Marsh Harrier and a single Peregrine dashed through. The Peregrine pair on the Asda building were still very vocal and active…..we wonder if they were able to buy any eggs or milk today?

Wheatear – Baiter – Clare Slade

Harbour Update – posted 18/03/20

Posted on: March 18th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was all about the staging! We’ve long known Poole Harbour acts as a ‘way marker’ for many a migrant bird during the spring and autumn, but to witness this is first hand is always quite a remarkable moment. There were three great examples of this today when firstly a female Wheatear was found on Baiter Beach, but was soon joined by another individual which came in flying low over the water from the Brownsea direction, only to then land on the rocks next to it’s friend. Both these birds had literally just arrived in Poole Harbour having probably been in Northern France only hours before…..but how many hours? And it surely wouldn’t have been long before they were again soon on their way.

Then, around midday an Osprey was seen flying in low over RSPB Arne, and was soon found to be feeding on a fish on a marker post in the mouth of the River Frome. Once it had finished it’s meal, it quite simply took to the air, circled a few times and then made a bee line north. It was in the harbour for an hour and a half max!

Then, at dusk, our third Swineham Bittern watch of the week got lucky, however, what we witnessed wasn’t the expected departure of a migrating Bittern, but in fact the arrival of one which approached Swineham from the south at 18:40 before dropping into the reedbed at Swineham, indicating that this bird will be staging in the harbour tonight, before likely dispersing tomorrow some time?

So, all in all, a pretty fascinating series of events. Other highlights today included c50 Sand Martin at Swineham, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine and 6 Buzzard over the Wareham Channel, viewed from Slepe Heath and a Red Kite west over Lytchett Bay. There were 4 Wheatear and 2 Egyptian Geese at Sunnyside and another Wheatear in Upton CP. On the Asda building the pair of Peregrines were still present looking down on all us minions. At the PC World Drain, 8 Chiffchaff were singing along the scrub along with a Blackcap. The Great Grey Shrike was still at Morden Bog.

Harbour Update – posted 17/03/20

Posted on: March 17th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Even though it was a tad chillier today, spring stepped up a gear by producing another good mix of spring arrivals. Wheatear were dotted around with 5 at Greenland’s Farm, 1 at Arne and 1 at Hartland. The harbours first Little Ringed Plover of the spring was (unsurprisingly) at Lytchett Fields on the approach pools. At Middle Beach, 3 Sand Martin whizzed by the beach and 5 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe were out on the water. At Little Sea the Great White Egret was feeding in a marshy bog viewable from the road at the southern end. Mid-morning saw 2 Red Kite enter the harbour and drift over the Wareham Channel. Further along the coast the first Puffin was seen off Dancing Ledge, which will hopefully be the first of at least several more!

We also managed to get a good look at the female Peregrine that’s been showing interest in the Asda building in Poole, only to find that she too had a ring on her leg…red on the left leg numbered 20. Thanks to Jason Fathers we were able to get some quick details which told us that she hatched from the New Milton Water Tower in 2018 and was ringed on 6th June.

And finally….we’re super thrilled to finally launch our new POOLE HARBOUR OSPREY NEST CAM which was installed by Wildlife Windows over the last few weeks and funded by our Christmas fundraiser last year. As a charity we’ve always strived to engage and educate as much as we can from right across the harbour, but with tough times approaching, we hope the new webcam provides a welcome break and exciting opportunity to witness all the comings and goings of one of Poole Harbours most exciting birds.

Harbour Update – posted 16/03/20

Posted on: March 16th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was the day that spring finally arrived. We’d had a few glimpses of hope with several Sand Martin arriving last week during cold windy conditions, but with the sun bellowing down today it really got things going. Wheatear’s finally arrived with 4 up on Nine Barrow Down and other 2 at Baiter. An Osprey was seen circling high above Studland before heading NE and a couple of Blackcap were in full song at Lytchett Bay and in the Piddle Valley. A Red Kite also drifted over Nine Barrow Down with a Merlin still active out in the Wareham Channel where a young male Hen Harrier was also logged. Singles of Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk circled over Swineham as numerous Meadow Pipit passed over head. Along Soldiers Road 12 Fieldfare were still at Hartland Stud and there definitely seemed to be an arrival of Stonechat with 6 on the fence line along Soldiers Road and 5 at Stoborough Heath.

In other good news, the Rutland Water Nest today saw their pair of Osprey’s ‘Maya’ and male 33 arrive back on the Manton Bay nest which means it could be any day now we see a Poole Harbour bird arrive back into the harbour. We’re keeping everything crossed for a positive piece of news to occur here over the next few weeks!

Mistle Thrush – Holton Lee – Tony Furnell


Harbour Update – posted 15/03/20

Posted on: March 15th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A count at Middlebere today reported 1 Spotted Redshank, 32 Curlew, 13 Shelduck, 11 Redshank, 1 Firecrest, and a Merlin and Peregrine flyover. Between Norden and Middlebere 17 Skylark were also counted. 2 Ringtail Hen Harrier were reported either side of the Wareham Channel this afternoon. The Peregrines are still present on the ASDA building. An attempted watch for Bittern leaving Swineham this evening was unfortunately not fruitful, but the calmer weather ahead looks promising. Despite no Bittern, 9 Sand Martin, 2 Water Pipit, 3 singing Chiffchaff and c.150 Black-tailed Godwit were recorded.

Sunset at Swineham

Harbour Update – posted 14/03/20

Posted on: March 14th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

What changeable weather! One minute there were blue skies and the next it was bucketing it down. A Great Northern Diver frequented Parkstone Bay and a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen again over Hartland Moor. A single Swallow was zipping around Corfe Castle this morning. The Corfe Castle – Swanage walk via Nine Barrow Down offered 2 singing Yellowhammer among Skylark, Stonechat and more numerous Meadow Pipit. Elsewhere, Swanage logged its first Wheatear at Peveril Point.

Mediterranean Gulls – Brownsea Lagoon – David Foster

Harbour Update – posted 13/03/20

Posted on: March 13th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

At least 2 Sand Martin were picked up over Swineham GP this morning, with more possible low over the water. Today’s highlight was a male Hen Harrier quartering over Swineham today, seldom recorded in the harbour this winter! Although, a male has been recorded around Wareham Forest on several occasions. Bramblebush Bay held 2 Great Northern Diver and 10 Red-breasted Merganser (5 male  & 5 female).  Outside of the harbour, a female Osprey turned up at Rutland Water today.

With south-westerlies today, turning southerly overnight, what will the weekend hold for the harbour?

Green Woodpecker – Piddle Valley – Julian Wardlaw

Harbour Update – posted 12/03/20

Posted on: March 12th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It’s official, spring has arrived in Poole Harbour! The first of our spring migrants have turned up… at least 12 Sand Martin were whizzing around Swineham gravel pits this morning before the first of many sporadic torrential rain showers set in. The welcome agile fliers were also accompanied by a Swallow, another aerial feeder returning to the UK.

Spring migration won’t peak until late-April and early-May, however March signals the start of an exciting few months ahead. Little Ringed Plover will being to appear at wetland sites, where they can appear as either individuals or sometimes in small groups. White Wagtail, the continental sub-species of our more familiar Pied Wagtail, also begin to pass through in March as they head towards their summer breeding grounds in Scandinavia. Other birds to look out for include Ring Ouzel at sites like Ballard Down and Challow Hill, Corfe or the handsome Garganey, a cracking duck that often favours Swineham GP and surrounding floodplains when they do appear. Wheatear has the potential to turn up anywhere with suitable open ground to feed on, with mild, wet mornings being the best time to look as migrating birds drop down at dawn due to rain. So, with an exciting season ahead, why not get out and see how many spring migrants you can log before April kicks in.

Avocet – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray
Mediterranean Gull – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray
Swineham Point – Adam Day

Harbour Update – posted 11/03/20

Posted on: March 11th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We can’t wait for this wind to die down, as we’re pretty sure it’s that simple break in the weather that will allow the first decent flurry of migrants to come in. It’s pretty amazing that It’s now March 11th and Dorset still hasn’t seen any Sand Martin or Wheatear yet, suggesting that the wind is keeping them at bay. The class on our school bird boat were treated to views of a Red Kite this morning as it entered the harbour over Sandbanks, soaring west over the harbour towards Brownsea Island and Arne and a second over Canford Heath. As the boat skirted around Brownsea, the lucky group also enjoyed views of a Great Northern Diver offshore. Among the many waders on Brownsea Lagoon, highlights included 2 Spotted Redshank, 8 Greenshank, 110 Bar-tailed Godwit, 36 Knot, 520 Dunlin, 150 Avocet and 30 Mediterranean Gull. With a handful of Spoonbill visiting the Lagoon over the last fews days, it’s certainly worth a visit as spring starts to ramp up. The Holton Lee the Little Owl was captured on camera this morning, this bird is regularly calling at the moment, offering a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of this diminutive owl. At the PC World Drain, 5 Common Chiffchaff were singing as was the male Blackcap, but there was no sign of the Siberian Chiffchaff. Off Baiter there was a single Great Northern Diver, c50 Med Gulls and 3 Turnstone. The Great Grey Shrike was at Morden Bog still along with several Crossbill. An Osprey was seen only 25 miles away this morning, cruising over Southampton at 9.41am! The harbour’s first wave of migrants are only days away…

The male and female Peregrines at Holes Bay continued to show great interested in the high rise section of the ASDA building. This recent activity is showing promising signs for a potential breeding attempt.

We will be running a free Peregrine Pop Up event this Sunday to help interpret and hopefully provide superb views of these impressive birds of prey. Join us anytime between 10am and 4pm on Sunday (15th March), where we will have several spotting scopes and binoculars primed, ready to enjoy these cracking birds. You’ll find us near the ASDA charity recycling banks in the ASDA car park.

Little Owl – Holton Lee – Tony Furnell

Spotted Redshank – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray


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