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, 2020

Harbour Update – Posted 30/05/20

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

Today was another scorcher, but started off cool with a 4:30am visit back to Bestwall to see if the Marsh Warbler was still there and singing. Thankfully it was, and this time showing really well too. It’s song and mimicry in the still morning air was just breath-taking as it swapped with ease from calls of Blackbird, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Song Thrush, Whitethroat, Wren, Chiffchaff! Even when it was preening! It was accompanied by 2 Cuckoo which spent the early part of the morning chasing each other around the Marsh Warbler.

Elsewhere, there were signs that confirmed many peoples worst fears. Yep, autumn is well and truly here with the first Green Sandpiper already arriving at Lytchett Fields. This is rather early (only by several days) with the first Green Sands usually arriving on site in early June with numbers building through the month and then peaking in July. It was likely a failed/non-breeder but it still heralds the first southward movement. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of great birds to experience yet this summer before autumn passage really kicks back in in late July/early August. Also at Lytchett Fields were 3 Ringed Plover (heading north), 17 Lapwing (potential local failed breeders), 2 Redshank, 9 Gadwall and a Yellow-legged Gull. Red Kite were on the move again, this time heading north and east with birds over Studland, Upton, Ridge, Swanage, Lytchett and Poole. At East Holme a pair of Spotted Flycatcher were found in the woods. There was good news too at Swineham with Common Redshank chicks photographed off Swineham Point.

Marsh Warbler – Bestwall – Peter Moore


Harbour Update – posted 29/05/20

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

It’s always nice when the sun shines, and even nicer when the sun shines and a rarity turns up. Today local patch walker Peter Moore was out for his morning walk out around Swineham/Bestwall when an ‘exciting warbler’ gave a snippet of song at the beginning of the Two Rivers walk just outside Wareham. It gave a section of song that suggested Marsh Warbler but it was rather lack-luster to say the least which you wouldn’t expect from Marsh Warbler. Sadly it wasn’t then heard for the rest of the day, suggesting it may have disappeared. A dialogue was started with Mark Constantine and Magnus Robb from the Sound Approach who kindly provided comments on criteria relating to sections of song that should be listened out for should the bird be re-found later on, particularly the classic ‘pi-chow pi-chow’ call that Marsh Warbler produce in amongst their repertoire of mimicry. Thankfully Peter returned again this evening and the bird was re-found in the same spot, this time singing much more frequently and loudly and producing the full vocabulary you’d expect from Marsh Warbler. An excellent find. This evening it spent it’s time mimicking the local Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Whitethroats and Goldfinches. Just an incredible song.

Also in the area were 2 Hobby, 1 Cuckoo, 20+ Swift, 3+ Cetti’s Warbler and 5+ Reed Warbler. Female Osprey CJ7 wasn’t seen on the nest today for the first time since April 8th, but was seen out over the Wareham Channel around midday. Strangely 24 Lapwing turned up on Lytchett Fields this evening suggesting either local foraging or perhaps more worryingly failed local breeders already moving about. On Shell Beach there were 6 Sanderling feeding highlighting that passage is still underway and the White Stork was seen again up the Frome Valley near Wool.


Harbour Update – posted 27/05/20

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

Where on earth did May go????? It seems like only yesterday that CJ7 arrived, and now its almost June, we can begin to start thinking about a birders favourite time of year….autumn!

We say it, year after year, and never get bored of saying it, but the birding autumn actually begins in mid June as the first Green Sandpipers begin to move south, soon followed by Little Ringed Plovers. Then, the glory of autumn migration continues right the way through to mid-November….bliss!

In all honesty, there was some weird sightings today that could suggest failed breeding has already become a factor and birds are on the move ‘south’ already. A Little Ringed Plover at Bramble Bush Bay is an exceptional late May record and surely constitutes a departing bird? Also, 4 Lapwing were on Lytchett Fields already suggesting local failed breeders are already looking for places to spend the rest of the summer. Strangest of all were 35 Barnacle Geese which flew over Brownsea and towards Brands Bay…..where the hell did they come from????? Suggesting it’s almost autumn is one thing, but nearly mid-winter???!! 🙂

Also in Brands Bay was a fishing Osprey which is site we don’t believe CJ7 visits so it could have been a migrant. Other interesting birds of prey consisted of Red Kites over Ballard and Ridge with 2 Hobby and 1 Peregrine also over Ridge. The male and female Peregrine were on the Asda building still and Firecrest were heard singing at Sherford Bridge.

Terrapins – Hatch Pond – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 25/05/20

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

It was a quiet Bank Holiday for bird news with the White Stork at Wool being the most notable sighting. We haven’t seen this bird ourselves yet, so are not sure of its origin or whether it has any rings on, but that really doesn’t matter and we hope that White Stork soon become a regular spring visitor to these areas now, especially as 2 pairs are now breeding a bit further up the coast, east at the Knepp Estate. At Lytchett fields there were 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel and 1 Cuckoo. Hobby now seem more dispersed with 2 over Hartland, 2 over the Frome Valley and singles seen over Swineham and Stoborough Heath. An Osprey was seen over Stoborough but it’s unclear as to whether it was CJ7 or a newly arrived migrant. The two Roseate Terns were still on the Brownsea Lagoon moving about to different areas and more Sandwich Tern chicks have hatched.

Swallow – Stoborough


Harbour Update – posted 24/05/20

Posted on: May 25th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With the wind easing it seemed things were a bit better over at Wareham Forest though 150 Fire Fighter remained on the scene. Incredibly though, a reptile search out on Hartland Moor yesterday morning found two newly used disposable BBQ’s right on the edge of Hartland Moor, in amongst the brittle dry gorse and heather. It really does beggars belief that some people haven’t taken note or understood the serious of the situation and carry on regardless. It was a true case of beauty and brainlessness, as not 30m away from the BBQ’s a stunning male Nightjar was found perching on a log which allowed for some wonderful photos as it sat motionless only 1m away from the finder. Another lovely scene was the interaction between 2 Roseate Terns on the Brownsea Lagoon which we were able to STREAM LIVE on our Lagoon webcam. Roseate Terns are one of the UK’s rarest breeding sea birds and don’t usually breed in Dorset, but in 2009 one pair successfully raised chicks on the lagoon which was fantastic. Roseate Terns drop in and use the lagoon each spring whilst on migration, and we have actually had them on our cameras before but not since 2014 so it was great to have some back today that the public could enjoy whilst Brownsea is closed. A White Stork was seen further up the Frome Valley at Wool and 2 Hobby were active over Bog Lane. And finally 4 Crossbill went over Meyrick Park Golf Club.

Roseate Tern – Brownsea Lagoon webcam

Newly used disposable BBQ’s found on Hartland Moor today


Harbour Update – posted 23/05/20

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

Well, the wind built all day today, and sadly by the end of the day 200 Fire Fighters were back on scene at Wareham Forest. Fire Crews from across southern Britain were helping out by creating controlled burns elsewhere in the forest to help stop the spread. The chief fire officer said this was an ‘unprecedented situation’ and asked pleaded with the public to please stay away over the Bank Holiday weekend as the safety of the general public is paramount, and with the situation not improving it’s just too dangerous to be in the area. So, we’d also like to advise that birders please stay away from Wareham Forest, including Morden Bog as the fire has slowly bit surely made it’s way in that direction and the situation is very unstable. Thank you.

Bird news saw the first Roseate Tern on Brownsea settled briefly on one of the Sandwich Tern islands. It’s been some time since one has been on these islands and previously we’ve been able to get them live on the webcam so lets hope that can be the case over the coming days. The wind kept female Osprey CJ7 at bay today as she only visited the nest cam very briefly mid afternoon, no doubt sheltering somewhere for most of the day. At Swineham it seems the Temminck’s Stint has definitely moved on, but there was a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Cuckoo. At Lytchett Fields 2 Little Ringed Plover dropped in as did a few Ringed Plover and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.


Harbour Update – 22/05/20

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

Well, we’re sad to say that with the wind building today, it was enough to really get the Wareham Forest fire going again and by 5pm this evening 150 Fire Fighters were back on site trying to tackle the blaze. The fire service investigation announced today that the cause of the fire was due to a disposed of BBQ or left bonfire. And now with the fire raging again it looks as if more habitat and wildlife will be destroyed. It’s estimated that it will take roughly 30 years for the heathland to fully restore, and although heathland burning can have a positive impact, it’s all about scale and control, and in no instance would you ever want such a huge area (currently c200ha) lost in one go, in one area. So, with the Bank Holiday upon us, we urge everyone to refrain from having BBQ’s in sensitive areas, especially when it hasn’t rained for weeks and the ground is tinder dry.

The wind kept the birding low key today, but Swifts were loving the SW blast, with c50 over Swineham at lunchtime. At Lytchett Bay, 2 summer-plum Sanderling were on the rising tide and 8 were present on Shell Beach yesterday. Hobby were over Ridge, Hydes Heath and Slepe Heath.

Common Lizard on burnt tree stump – Wareham Forest – Terry Bagley


Harbour Update – posted 21/05/20

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

A quieter day today after all the Osprey excitement of yesterday. There was a selection of waders on Lytchett Fields including 1 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Lapwing, 3 Curlew and 3 Oystercatcher. On the Brownsea Lagoon some of the Sandwich Tern chicks have already begun to hatch, and can be watched live on our Brownsea Lagoon webcams. Red Kites were logged over Lytchett Minster, Upton and Hamworthy. There were 6 Hobby back over Arne Moors and the Marsh Harrier was seen again out over the Wareham Channel.

Common Whitethroat – Ballard


Harbour Update – posted 20/05/20

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

Wow, if things hadn’t been eventful enough over the last couple of days things really ramped up today when we received some exceptionally exciting news, not from here in the harbour though, but from the western edge of Wales. At around midday a mystery Osprey was spotted on the Dyfi Osprey project webcam, trying to land briefly on the nest with Telyn, their breeding female. Telyn wasn’t really happy about this and the intruder was forced away and eventually settled on one of the perches near by, still in camera view. Thanks to the excellent zoom function on the Dyfi nest cam, the team up there were able to zoom in the newcomer, only to see it was a blue-ringed individual on the right leg…..an British bird! Was it another returning Welsh youngster, or perhaps even a Rutland youngster doing the rounds? Nope. After an agonising wait for the bird to reveal the ring number it eventually did, revealing the code 014!!!! This is a female 2018 Poole Harbour translocated chick. EXCELLENT! As you may remember 2018 was a difficult year for the team and the project with the intense heat wave of that summer sadly impacting on some of the chicks development with several sadly not making it through to migration. However, out of the six that did leave (3 male and 3 female), we knew they were all strong birds and there was a chance we could see one or two back, especially 013 and 014 which were always really big and strong birds from the very start. And now here we are, two years later and 014 is now back in the UK. Her arriving in Wales is pretty typical of a two-year old as youngsters often spend their first summer back in the UK touring the country, interacting with other Ospreys before often then returning to their natal sites later in the summer/early autumn for a short period of time. They’ll then leave south for the winter before hopefully returning back to their natal sites the following spring. The truth is, with 014 being female, she could quite easily be tempted away to breed at another established site, like Wales or Rutland, but we hope we can have enough returning males visiting Poole Harbour each spring over the next 4-5 years that will do their best to make her want to stay here instead! The dyfi team have put this excellent video together documenting 014’s visit to the nest today

Plus, this morning, the Loch of the Lowes youngster from the day before, female Osprey PT0 joined CJ7 on the nest again, with both eye-balling each other from opposite sides of the nest before CJ7 saw off PT0 who wasn’t then seen again for the rest of the day, assumed to have carried on with her migration.

Other bird news today saw the Temminck’s Stint still present at Swineham on the new scrapes along with 1 Little Ringed Plover. At Lytchett Fields 13 Ringed Plover dropped in and a Cuckoo was calling. At Slepe Heath 4 Hobby were active over the area and a migrating Marsh Harrier was seen over central Poole.

What will tomorrow bring??

Female Osprey 014 when she arrived with us in July 2018

Here’s her a couple of days after fledging, settled on a telegraph pole in Poole Harbour (Aug 2018)

And here she was today at the Dyfi nest site, Wales. Photo credit Dyfi Osprey Project.


Harbour Update – posted 19/05/20

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

Wow, what an eventful couple of days. We apologise for no sightings yesterday but we were closely following the unfolding drama and devastation of the Wareham Forest fire which is now thankfully (mostly) out. In total 183ha were lost, mostly pristine heathland habitat. Today we were out with a host of other individuals and organisations trying to rescue any stranded reptiles before the corvids, kestrels and Buzzards arrived. Between all the helpers a good number of common Lizard, several Sand Lizard, Smooth Snake and Slow Worm were all retrieved off the scorched ground and placed onto suitable habitat beyond the burnt area. It’s unknown how the fire started but sadly, many that occur this time of year are started deliberately and the combination with the dry conditions and steady wind that day meant it really took hold badly. We have to give huge credit to the fire service and Forestry Commission who did a great job in limiting the damage as the fire tore through large parts of the forest with everyone working exceptionally hard in protecting certain areas and keeping people safe.

Secondly, there was excitement of a different kind this evening when a ‘new’ Osprey suddenly appeared on the Osprey nest cam. A quick glance of the camera showed an Osprey sat preening but with a blue ring on the left leg….a Scottich Osprey! With the HD camera quality allowing us to read the ring number as PT0, a quick chat with our project partner Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation highlighted that this particular bird was a 2018 bird from the Loch of the Lowes nest. But, the big question was is it male or female. The ringing data at the time stated this bird was a male, but discussions later in the 2018 season suggested that perhaps it was in fact a female based on size. Fast forward to this evening and PT0 really showed an interest in the nest and CJ7 but CJ7 seemed less than impressed and chased PT0 off several times. At no point did they sit on the nest together and it all seemed a bit fractured, which would support the theory PT0 is in fact a female. Also, the breast band and similar size to CJ7 would also support this.

Lastly, local patch watcher Peter Moore found Poole Harbours 5th Temminck’s Stint on the new Swineham Scrapes. This is a great find and was always on the radar seeing as numerous east coast sites were seeing good numbers over the last few weeks. Also on the scrapes was a Little Ringed Plover and a Greenland race Northern Wheatear was in St Mary’s churchyard. There were up to 8 Hobby again up and around the Slepe/Hydes Heath area with a Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel too. Lytchett Fields had a Little Ringed Plover and 5 Ringed Plover too. Hartland Moor had a Red Kite as well as singing Willow and Sedge Warbler with 3 more late Wheatear there too.

Temminck’s Stint – Swineham – Peter Moore

Female Ospreys – CJ7 & PT0

Male Sand Lizard rescued from Wareham Forest


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