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 April, 2020

Harbour Update – posted 29/04/20

Posted on: April 30th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Although the day started off ok, by 10am the wind had really hit so with a combination of weather and lockdown sightings were rather thin on the ground. However, bird of the day was undoubtedly a Turtle Dove that was seen flying over a central Poole garden, which is likely to constitute the only harbour record this year! We barely get rural records of this species so to get an urban record, during lockdown is pretty remarkable. A group of 8 Swift were over Poole Town centre and a couple of pairs of Firecrest were located near Branksome Chine.

Female Osprey CJ7 arrived back on the nest today and was present until midday at least before going off for the afternoon. It’s now getting to the stage where if LS7 doesn’t arrive back within the next 10 days then he would have missed the breeding window for this year, which to be honest, may not be a big deal for him seeing as he’s only 3-years old. Lets simply just hope he returns at some point so he can continue to build his bond with CJ7 this summer, and if we see a breeding attempt, well, then even better.

Siskin (male) – ringing Lytchett Matravers


Harbour Update – posted 28/04/20

Posted on: April 29th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A wash out of a day…..or was it? It seemed the deluge grounded some waders with a good passage through Lytchett Fields which included 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 68 Dunlin, 24 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Curlew.

Female Osprey CJ7 had the right idea and went into hiding all day with today being the first day since April 8th that she didn’t appear on the nest web cam.


Harbour Update – posted 27/04/20

Posted on: April 27th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, it was nice whilst it lasted, but the sad reality that we are still only in April returns tomorrow with heavy rain forecast all day. But to be honest, the gardens could do with a drink and all this fine weather has actually been so good for the birds that many migrants just haven’t bothered to stop. Hopefully a decent bit of rainfall might encourage some passage waders to take refuge in the harbour, or may force a few warblers, chats or flycatchers in to people’s gardens, offering an unexpected lockdown tick.

Talking of peoples gardens, it was all happening in Poole Town centre when a local birder not only managed to log a migrant Whitethroat and Swifts in and over his garden, but also managed to clock a passing Hobby and could see a Cuckoo in the Toby Carvery garden. It’s great to see that the Bournemouth Peregrines have now hatched 2 chicks. With our Brownsea tern cameras, the Poole Harbour Osprey cam and the Bournemouth Peregrines, there’s certainly plenty to choose from the local TV channels. More Red Kite were logged today with a group of 6 together over Lytchett Matravers. Around the Studland area there were 3 Whimbrel in Brands Bay, 3 Sanderling on Shell Bay and a possible Purple Heron was noted over Little Sea. There was a Spotted Flycatcher near Wareham Walls along the Piddle and the Grey Wagtails have fledged young at North Mill plus 4 Swift were over Wareham. At Lytchett Bay a Tawny Owl nest was located with 2 chicks seen inside and a Lesser Whitethroat was singing there too.

Finally, we’ve been trying to provide as much content as possible, to keep people updated with the historic and future story of the Poole Harbour Osprey project. Today our Osprey project officer Brittany Maxted provides an overview of our current star of show & screen and her current no-show bad boy of a mate.


Harbour Update – April 24th – 26th 2020

Posted on: April 26th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

What a glorious weekend. It was hoped that the cloud cover tat crept in over Friday and a bit of Saturday would help down a few migrants, and a few were logged but there’s still no real great numbers appearing. Many will be going straight through with all this glorious weather, but with next week seeing ‘a turn’ in the weather, will our fortunes change?

The best of the weekend involved the occupation of the tern islands by both the Common and Sandwich Terns on Brownsea Island which can both be watched live on our website HERE. We know everyone’s been getting a bit obsessed with the new Poole Harbour Osprey cam, but this is arguably more exciting (and certainly a bit more entertaining….currently! More Swifts have been arriving with birds seen over Poole Town, Swineham, Wareham and Corfe. Cuckoo’s seem to be back in reasonable numbers so far with birds singing on all the local heathlands and up the river valley’s. Another Nightjar was logged, only it wasn’t on a traditional heathland site, rather it was sat in the middle of a sub-urban road in Broadstone getting mobbed by a Blackbird before it decided to take flight off over the houses. Firecrest seem to be having an INCREDIBLE year with territories being recorded right around the perimeter of the harbour. Considering this was a rare breeding bird less than 10 years ago, we’d predict there’s a minimum of 10-20 pairs currently in the harbour, and possibly more. Migrating passerines have been limited to just a couple of Yellow Wagtail and a Lesser Whitethroat at Lytchett Fields, 3 Willow Warbler and 2 Wheatear along Soldiers Road, good numbers of Reed and Cetti’s Warbler and to a lesser extent, Sedge Warbler along the Frome. A Black Redstart was in St Mary’s Churchyard, Wareham. Female Osprey CJ7 has had her share of action the last couple of days (not that kind of action). She was ‘buzzed’ by not only the local Ravens and Carrion Crows, but also Cuckoo and what looked like a Hobby too. She obviously got a bit bored a couple of time this weekend as our camera traps on other harbour nest platforms photographed her dropping in, we guess in the hunt for LS7!

Common and Sandwich Terns gathering on breeding islands – Brownsea Lagoon


Harbour Update – posted 23/04/20

Posted on: April 24th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It seems summer has officially arrived and with the weekend set to get even warmer will we be swapping our bino’s this weekend for Bacardi whilst spending time in the garden? People are certainly still having plenty of fun watching the birds in and over their gardens with more Red Kite’s today over Canford Heath, Lytchett Bay, Lytchett Matravers, Upton and Parkstone. Lytchett Bay also saw an Osprey heading north (not LS7 sadly) with another (or the same) seen over a Lytchett Matravers garden . A summer plumaged Cattle Egret was seen along Bog Lane and Cuckoo’s were at Ridge, Sunnyside, Swineham and Morden Bog. From Slepe Heath, 3 Hobby were seen dashing back and fourth above Arne Moors and up on Ballard 2 Wheatear, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Common Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler and 3 Whimbrel were noted.

Common Whitethroat – Ballard Down (taken last year)

Northern Wheatear – Ballard Down (taken last year)


Harbour Update – posted 21/22 April 2020

Posted on: April 22nd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The days are getting warmer and warmer and the birds are getting hard and harder to find. High-pressure systems always kill of any chances of finding good numbers of passage migrants with birds able to pass right through quickly with no need to make landfall on Dorset coast lines. Still, it gives us a good opportunity to watch the sky, and with Swifts and Hobby now arriving, there are more chances to add new species to your garden lists. Talking of Swifts and Hobby, both were logged today with a Hobby over Slepe Heath and another reported at Swineham. Also at Swineham were 2 Swift and a single was over Poole. Bird of the day was a late spring record of Short-eared Owl out on Arne Moors. A mid-afternoon sky watch at Lytchett Bay produced 6 Red Kite. Also at Lytchett Bay/Fields were a migrant Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. Cuckoo were still calling at Ridge and Swineham. Around Little Sea there was 1 Reed Warbler and 2 Willow Warbler and off Redhorn 7 Whimbrel and 3 Sandwich Tern. At Greenland’s there were 3 Wheatear and a fine adult male Redstart. And just below North Wareham Walls there was a Little Ringed Plover, 1 Whinchat and 1 Wheatear.

Finally, it’s been a busy week for female Osprey CJ7 despite her mate having not turned up yet, but to give you all the latest updates, BoPH Osprey Project assistant Liv has done a weekly round up for you to enjoy.


Harbour Update – posted 20/04/20

Posted on: April 21st, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite the lockdown, this is turning out to be one of the harbours best springs for scarcities in a while. Two weeks ago saw Hoopoe and White Stork, last week saw Cattle Egret turn up again and this evening, a local to Stoborough was out walking at Bog Lane and saw a Purple Heron flying up the Frome Valley, heading west. This is only the 6th Poole Harbour record and just goes to show what’s out there at the moment. With these easterlies continuing right into next week too, it’s possible more goodies are on the way (or are already here), so whilst out on your fitness walks be sure to keep an eye on the sky. Also in the Bog Lane area were 6 Egyptian Geese and 1 Wheatear. A Red Kite was over Soldiers Road this evening and one of the wardens on Brownsea found a very early Nightjar back on the heathland there. At Swineham a Cuckoo was still calling away and there were 2 Swift over the gravel pit. A migrant Marsh Harrier was seen over a central Poole garden and at Lytchett Fields the first Common Sandpiper of the spring arrived and there were 4 Whimbrel in the bay. At Hamworthy Beach there were still c30 Turnstone and on Ballard there were 4 Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail flew over.

Now for an Osprey update. For those of you that are giving up hope, there was good news yesterday that one of the 2017 chicks from a Welsh nest at Dyfi, a bird named Aeron, returned to his natal nest during the afternoon. This is good because although this bird is from a Welsh nest, Aeron is the same age as LS7 meaning these 3-year old Osprey are still arriving into the UK. All we can say is keep watching and those fingers crossed because with the forecast over the coming week (or two), then if LS7 is on his way, then the weather should hopefully help him.

Tawny Owl on nest – Lytchett Matravers


Harbour Update – Weekend 17th, 18th & 19th April 2020

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

rain and heavy low cloud Saturday. That said, the rest of the county saw a good fall of migrants yesterday which we sadly couldn’t replicate anywhere. Highlights from the last few days have included an exciting moment when someone spotted an Osprey high over Ridge and Swineham whilst CJ7 was on the nest cam. Then, after about 5 minutes CJ7 left and the observer saw the two birds interact for a short while which must have been an exciting moment. However, the encounter was short lived as CJ7 soon returned back to the nest cam and the ‘visitor’ carried on up the Wareham Channel to Lytchett Bay and soon disappeared off north. Again, its good to see these younger Osprey beginning to come through now meaning LS7 (or other available males) may not be too far behind.

Also, yesterday afternoon saw 4 Cattle Egret head up the Frome Valley. Cuckoo’s have been very vocal at sites like Swineham, Bestwall, Slepe Heath and Hartland. Also at Swineham were 14 singing Cetti’s Warbler,15 Reed Bunting, 16 Reed Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler and 2 Lapwing. At Hamworthy Beach there were signs of passage too with 1 summer plumaged Dunlin and 29 Turnstone. There was a Red Kite over Bourne Valley nature reserve and 2 over a house in Sandford. The Wareham Channel was stuffed with Med Gulls with many calling over Upton and Lytchett Minster as the passed over peoples house on their way in land. Swallows continued to pulse through for a lot of the day. There were 12 Common Tern on the Browsnea Lagoon and 2 late Wigeon too. A resident at Fleetsbridge had 4 Common Whitethroat outside their house along with a Willow Warbler and Blackcap. At Alum Chine a Marsh Harrier drifted over a birders flat and yesterday an Osprey was over another residents house in Poole Town (home birding can be great). Around Baiter yesterday there were 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, several House Martin and a Sparrowhawk. Yesterday was a Swallow day with several hundred having passed high over the harbour during the course of the day. At Morden Bog there were 5 Wheatear, 2 Woodlark, 2 Cuckoo, several Stonechat and Linnet and good numbers of Skylark in surrounding fields. The first Swifts of the season were over Swineham briefly, with more on the way soon hopefully. A migrant Marsh Harrier lifted out of Swineham on Friday but hasn’t been seen since. Whimbrel are coming through in decent numbers now with small flocks logged at Lytchett Bay, Holes Bay, Swineham and several flocks sound recorded migrating at night.

Sparrowhawk in Lytchett Minster Garden


Harbour Update – posted 16/04/20

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

Another gorgeous day with droplets of excitement dotted around the harbour throughout the day. It started off at Lytchett Fields where the early morning cloud cover saw a series of waders drop on to the fields. This consisted of 14 Ringed Plover arriving in from the south in several small groups which stayed only for several minutes before carrying on north, and they were also joined by 2 summer plumaged Dunlin. There were still 2 Spotted Redshank present, one in full summer plumage also 1 Whimbrel, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Lapwing, 2 Willow Warbler and 11 Swallow. At Swineham 3 Cattle Egret were on the scrapes and 7 Reed Warbler, 9 Cetti’s Warbler and 3 Redshank were also logged. On the Brownsea Lagoon 6 Common Tern arrived in which are the first of the season and Red Kites were logged (again) over Hartland, Upton, Lytchett and Sandbanks. A young male Marsh Harrier passed north of Upton mid afternoon. At Wareham Common there was a single Little Ringed Plover, 1 Sedge Warbler at the base of Wareham north walls and a distant Cuckoo was calling there early morning.

There was also a heart in mouth moment when we received photos from one of our remote trail cams on a different Poole Harbour nest platform which initially showed female Osprey CJ7 having a bit of breakfast all on her own, but she was quickly joined by a second bird which looked to be a male but sadly it didn’t have any rings on, so it wasn’t LS7. The encounter was all to brief and she looked like she was more interested in protecting her snack than showing any signs of wanting ‘befriend’ him. What this does indicate though is that the younger sets of birds (like LS7) are now beginning to pass through, so once we get this band of rain out of the way tomorrow he could be arriving any day now.

CJ7 and mystery male on harbour platform briefly

Cattle Egrets – Swineham – Garry Hayman


Harbour Update – posted 15/04/20

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

Well, for a brief moment we were able to take our minds off Osprey’s when we received some really exciting news mid afternoon, but more on that in a moment. Firstly general sightings from the harbour included Osprey sightings at Lytchett Bay and the Wareham Channel with Lytchett Fields seeing 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Lapwing, 2 Stonechat and plenty of Blackcap singing around the area plus Whimbrel and a partial summer plumaged Spotted Redshank in the bay. At Swineham, warbler song is all kicking off with 21 Cetti’s, 12 Reed and 1 Sedge Warbler all singing around the two rivers walk with several Swallow and Sand Martin about too. Over Meyrick Park Golf Club a flock of c20 Crossbill flew over and a Hobby passed over Corfe Castle.

However, the news of the day (which will provide nightmares for us tonight) was the news we’d been waiting for, for almost a year when Tim Mackrill called to say that he had just received data that showed that one of the Isle of Wight Sea Eagles was heading right towards the harbour. Without a second to spare various bedroom windows and verandas quickly became observation points to try and scan the sky for the 8ft winged monster. Sadly it seems we had received the news just a few minutes too late as the next set of data that came through 10 minutes later showed the bird had carried on west towards Wareham and then SW towards Weymouth and ultimately down in to Devon. Below is a map showing the different fixes from the sat-tag as it crossed the harbour, with each point marking 5 minutes of time between each point. As frustrating as it was that no-one saw this spectacle as it shadowed the harbour it seems there will be plenty of opportunity over the coming months and years for these kinds of experiences to become a bit more frequent as the Sea Eagle reintroduction grows.

Sea Eagle journey across the harbour today

And finally, a day wouldn’t be complete without talking about our favourite female who had so much press coverage today we’re surprised she hasn’t vacated to Hollywood! Female Osprey CJ7 was in the Mail Online and printed Daily Mail, the Telegraph online and then Radio 4 this afternoon on the PM show. It’s fair to say that she certainly has ‘the will of the nation’ behind her hoping to see ‘her man’ turn up soon. We’ve made a nice update video for you which covers her behaviour and activity from the last week….


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