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 10/03/20

Posted on: March 10th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With a ridge of high pressure reaching us on Sunday (well, thats what it says at the moment) we could be in for a nice week next week, and potentially the first decent arrival of early spring migrants with the harbour (and Dorset) still to record it’s first Wheatear, Sand Martin or Little Ringed Plover. The wind was still whipping across the harbour today (like it has been for most of the winter) but there were still some good birds to be had. One of the Siberian Chiffchaff was singing at the PC World Drain conveniently in time with a Common Chiffchaff which offered a good comparison of their song. Also present were several other Common Chiffchaff including some with sticky pollen on their bills and foreheads indicating that they’re newly arrived migrants from further south. On the tall section of the Asda building there were 2 Peregrine Falcon which consisted of the male ‘HF’, a male which hatched from the Bournemouth clocktower nest back in 2016, and a newly arrived female who seems very interested in ‘HF”s urban pad. We’re watching carefully and noting their behaviour and hoping we may see a first Poole Town nesting attempt of Peregrines for many many years.

Also today a Great Northern Diver was off Baiter with 6 Great Crested Grebe, c20 Med Gulls and 6 Turnstone. In Holes Bay SE a further c50 Med Gull came in late afternoon on the massive low tide and began to feed on the mud. At Holton Pools there were 5 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and at Lytchett Fields 1 Spotted Redshank, 76 Redshank and 1 Peregrine.

We’ve also just published info on the new Osprey feeding platform we’ve installed on Pergins Island, Holes Bay which you can read about HERE.

Male Peregrine ‘HF’ being ringed as a chick – June 2017 – Jason Fathers

Male Peregrine ‘HF’ now a full adult – Asda Poole – Paul Morton

Harbour Update – posted 09/03/19

Posted on: March 9th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A beautiful start to the day ended with more grey, wet murk, but that didn’t stop a good variety of birds being logged. A Woodlark survey in the south of the harbour produced several singing birds but a highlight was a small party of 9 Crossbill in conifers in the Corfe River Valley next to Wytch Oil Farm. There also seemed to have been a decent arrival/movement of Stonechat with males everywhere on southern harbour heathlands. On Upton Heath 10 Dartford Warbler were counted, 5 in full song and at Holton Lee there 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 3 Reed Bunting.

Other highlights included……..

Shell Bay saw 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 1 Great Northern Diver.

Bramble Bush Bay; 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Jerry’s Point; 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Slavonian Grebes, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Common Scoter.

Brand’s Bay; 102 Shelduck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 157 Wigeon, 32 Teal, 33 Curlews, 136 Brent Geese, 3 Redshank, 6 Pintail, 10 Oystercatchers, 8 Grey Plover, 3 Turnstone, 13 Dunlin, 5 Great Crested Grebes.

Middle Beach; 2 Common Scoter, 3 Black-necked Grebes, 3 Great Crested Grebes.

Corfe Sewage Works, Norden; 3 Chiffchaffs, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest.

Swineham; 10 Curlews, 10 Oystercatchers, 6 singing Cetti’s Warbler

Morden Bog offered good views of the Great Grey Shrike.


Harbour Update – posted 08/03/20

Posted on: March 8th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A cold westerly wind whipped across the harbour today but there was still plenty to see with some nice highlights. Best bird was an adult Glaucous Gull which was found in the Brownsea gull roost this evening by Graham Armstrong. The Black Brant was still in the Brent Goose flock off Ower Bay and a Great White Egret was off the end Goathorn Point late afternoon during the Poole Harbour WeBS. Mid afternoon saw a tag team effort of 2 Merlin and the ringtail Hen Harrier chasing down a lone (and unfortunate) Meadow Pipit out in the mouth of the Frome off Swineham. There seemed to be some birds on the move as a ‘skywatch’ from the Slepe Heath viewpoint saw good numbers of finches and Meadow Pipit heading west along with a few alba wagtails. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 5 Spoonbill and 3 were logged off Arne during the WeBS. An adult male Hen Harrier was seen at Morden Bog, along with another monochrome species in the shape of the Great Grey Shrike. Off Jerry’s Point there were 3 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Slavonian Grebe along with 3 Great Northern Diver.

We’ve also had our SM4 recorder out in the Lower Frome Valley this week. We haven’t really strated going through it properly yet, but did check one file and found this nice recording of a Red Fox calling which alarmed some Water Rail briefly as a small group of Grey Plover could be heard calling overhead…..departing perhaps?

Red-breasted Merganser – Central Harbour – Ian Lewington

Harbour Update – posted 07/03/20

Posted on: March 7th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Jerry’s Point offered views of four Black-necked Grebe (most of which in summer plumage) and a Great Northern Diver. A scan over Poole Quay from our office also produced a Great Northern Diver towards Brownsea Island. Morden Bog enjoyed the full song of Woodlark throughout the day. The Great Grey Shrike was again flitting around the favoured Old Decoy Pond area. Due to the recent rainfall, Upton Heath featured a Grey Wagtail along the running water on one of the paths. The Peregrine was once again seen perching on the ASDA building near Holes Bay this afternoon.

Be sure to check out the Peregrine webcam situated on clock tower at Bournemouth College…


Great Grey Shrike – Morden Bog – Aidan Brown

Harbour Update – posted 06/03/20

Posted on: March 6th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This morning we surveyed the harbour from a boat with a great range of species in fine conditions logged. Highlight was a male Golden Pheasant seen on the Furzey Island lawn as 2 Long-tailed Duck circled the boat a few times before heading towards the harbour mouth. Also out on the water were 6 Great Northern Diver (4 Jerry’s point and 2 in central harbour), 7 Black-necked Grebe (most in summer plumage), 1 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Goldeneye, c150 each of Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe and 10 Spoonbill on Shipstal. Up the Wareham River 8 Reed Bunting were singing as were 9 Cetti’s Warbler with a pair of Bearded Tit logged. Also 3 Chiffchaff in full song, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and 2 Merlin on Arne Moors and c30 Gadwall dotted around. Brownsea Lagoon saw 1 Spotted Redshank, c40 Bar-tailed Godwit, c70 Avocet, c20 Shoveler and 2 Greenshank. Add to that cronking Ravens, singing Skylarks and warm sunshine then it made for a great mornings birding.

Elsewhere a Short-eared Owl and ringtail Hen Harrier were seen off Swineham Point this evening and a Firecrest was at Middlebere this morning with 1 Spotted Redshank and 2 Grey Plover seen from the hide. Over Hartland/Slepe 3 Woodlark were heard and a Merlin was also on Slepe Heath. The Peregrine was on it’s usual balcony ledge on the Asda building.

Common Gull – Hatch Pond – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 05/03/20

Posted on: March 5th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite the naff weather, birds are beginning to arrive. The first Sand Martin was recorded on the Isles of Scilly and Gloucestershire saw its first Wheatear of spring. We are fast approaching the harbour’s first arrival of spring migrants. In recent years, Wheatear have been picked up making landfall at Sunnyside Farm, Baiter Park and Hartland Moor… It’s a chilly start tomorrow morning but this is an exciting time to get out into the field!

An evening of lamping at Sunnyside last night produced quality if not quantity. Large numbers of birds were out feeding in the fields, however catching any was providing difficult. Woodcock, Common Snipe, Jack Snipe and Skylark constantly encountered. The constant drizzle rendered our thermal imagers useless and the light field conditions meant the birds could see us approaching. However, despite the challenge, we still managed to produce a Jack Snipe which is always a joy to see in the hand.

Harbour Updated – posted 04/03/20

Posted on: March 4th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

More evidence of spring today, with the first territorial Redshank song heard in the Lower Frome Valley on the floods around Swineham and Arne Moors. Lytchett Fields produced 2 Water Pipit, starting to come into summer plumage, along with 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank and 2 Green Sandpiper. 1 Great Northern Diver was reported in Parkstone Bay, along with 8 Great-crested Grebe, 6 Red-Breasted Merganser, and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit on Baiter playing field.

Water Pipit – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 03/03/20

Posted on: March 3rd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With numerous checks made throughout the day of various ‘bird news’ platforms to check whether the UK’s first Wheatear or Sand Martin had arrived yet, we were keen to get out our selves early doors to see what other signs of spring could be located. As it happened, no Wheatear or Sand martin were yet logged in the UK today so the first ones are still up for grabs. Our dawn vigil from Slepe Heath didn’t yield the Common Crane as hoped, but we were still rewarded with a fine female Merlin dashing along the Wareham Channel chasing a Meadow Pipit with 4-5 Skylark ascending above Arne Moors for potentially their first song flights of the season. Both Black-headed and Mediterranean Gull were out on ‘Gull Islands’ prospecting for the breeding season ahead and a very small trickle of Meadow Pipit headed north. Along Soldiers Road a small flock of 29 Fieldfare were in fields at Hartland Stud and 4 male Stonechat were on a fence line close together suggesting some sort of arrival from somewhere. There were also 2 Spoonbill out in the Wareham Channel and 3 Raven cronking out over Slepe Heath. Late afternoon saw a stunning Red Kite drift over Upton and at Swineham Point 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Marsh Harrier and the ringtail Hen Harrier were active commuting between Ridge Wharf, Swineham and Arne Moors. A nocturnal recording session at Lytchett Bay didn’t produce too much other than 2 fly over Coot which are extremely noteworthy in Lytchett Bay along with plenty of Water Rail and Wigeon calls.

Cormorant – Hatch Pond – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 02/03/20

Posted on: March 2nd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A nice varied day today with spring wrestling winter to the ground and trying to stamp its authority on March. At dawn 1 possibly 2 Short-eared Owls were out hunting in the Lower Frome Valley between Swineham and Arne Moors whilst the ringtail Hen Harrier dashed out across the Wareham Channel. Along Soldiers Road it was nice to hear a small flock of Redwing sub-singing and engaged in ‘community song’ before darting out of the woodland and announcing their more familiar ‘zeee’ as they headed off. A Woodlark was also high in the sky above Stoborough Heath singing and battling against the northerly wind. Without doubt, bird of the day was a Common Crane which flew in over Ridge, Wareham, heading south towards Hartland. At Morden Bog the Great Grey Shrike was near the decoy pond and on the Brownsea Lagoon saw 2 newly arrived Spoonbill drop down for an afternoon feed. At Lytchett Fields the 1st Skylark of the summer was heard singing and there was 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Peregrine.

Adder – Ballard Down

Harbour Update – posted 01/03/20

Posted on: March 1st, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Swineham Point produced ringtail Hen Harrier quartering beyond the mouth of the Piddle, 20 Lapwing, 6 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Bullfinch, Meadow Pipit and 1 Reed Bunting. The nearby Gravel Pits offered 2 Pochard, c.100 Coot, 20 Tufted Duck, 15 Gadwall, 11 Shoveler, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Mallard, 26 Canada Geese and 2 Little Grebe. The scrape held 20 Curlew, 2 Gadwall and 2 Shelduck. A single Great Northern Diver was seen off north of Brownsea Island this morning.

Today’s winter sun encouraged plenty of reptile activity across the harbour, with 6 Adder recorded at Swineham and Sand Lizard, Common Lizard and Adder all observed on various Heathland across Poole.

Cracking views of Marsh Harrier from the Holton Pools hide this morning.

3 of 6 Adders recorded at Swineham – Gary Hayman



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