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 September, 2020

Harbour Update – posted 30/09/20

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

September certainly ended with a splash, but also ended with a goody as the Long-billed Dowitcher re-appeared on Lytchett Fields again today albeit distant, feeding near the islands at the back of French’s and Sherford Fields. It was joined by 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, good numbers of Redshank, Teal and 400+ Dunlin. Holes Bay north had 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 27 Knot, 2 Pintail, 8 Shoveler and 180+ Wigeon. The/a Merlin was back on its favourite post on Hartland Moor this morning too.

We’ve also secured a new nocturnal recording location in Old Town Poole, thanks to Quay Living lettings, we’re now able to place one of our long-term deployment recorders on top of a 12 story block of flats over looking the harbour which we hope should produce excellent returns, especially when the winter thrush’s start arriving in a couple of weeks. We’ve just done two ‘tester’ nights recording and already logged the first several migrating Song Thrush of the autumn so the signs are looking good!

Kingfisher – PCW Drain 

Harbour Update – posted 29/09/20

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

It was a ‘good bird day’ today with the discovery of a Dowitcher species at Lytchett Fields, found by Ian Ballam. The photos seem to show a Long-billed Dowitcher but without a call being heard (diagnostic between Long-billed and Shorted-billed Dowitcher, listen to two excellent examples on the Sound Approach to Birding web-book HERE) or the tertial pattern being fully assessed then we guess there’s always a remote outside chance it could still be a Short-billed….or is that too much wishful thinking? Possibly not, with the UK’s first Short-billed Dowitcher occurring on exactly this date at Cleveland in 1999, there’s still a chance. Sadly it stayed distant and then disappeared after about 40 minutes of observation but hopefully any other photos that emerge from this morning can confirm it as a Long-billed Dowitcher and there’s always the chance it will pop up again at Lytchett Fields again tomorrow. The fields were looking incredible with 468 Dunlin, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 1 Grey Plover and plenty of Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. At Middlebere there were 650 Black-tailed Godwit, 500 Avocet, 11 Dunlin, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Great White Egret, 1 Greenshank, 1 Kingfisher and 1 Whitethroat along the approach track. There was a Wheatear at Baiter and on the night of Sept 27th-28th 2 Redwing were sound recorded over Upton. South Haven saw a Hobby and over the Piddle Valley 21 Crossbill and 3 Lesser Redpoll flew south.

(presumed) Long-billed Dowitcher – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Little Egret (left) and Great White Egret (right) – Lytchett Fields – Shaun Robson (Sept 27th)

Harbour Update- posted 28/10/10

Posted on: September 28th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Middlebere excellence continued this morning with 2 Barn Owl, c250 Cormorant, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Great White Egret, c400 Avocet, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Common Snipe and Common Whitethroat, with a supporting cast of Chiffchaffs, Meadow Pipits, Stonechats.

Kingfishers continue to return to numerous urban sites in the harbour, having left the rivers as we progress into winter. Records coming in today from Poole Park and Holes Bay. Holes Bay also held 1290 Black-tailed Godwit , 50 Knot, 20 Dunlin, 5 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 2 Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail.

Today’s rising tide at Lytchett Bay saw 438 Teal, 4 Wigeon, 114 Redshank, 87 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Oystercatchers, 15 Curlew, 9 Dunlin and 3 Greenshank and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull.

Avocet (yesterday) – Middlebere – Peter Moore


Harbour Update – posted 27/09/20

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

A fantastic morning at Middlebere produced the first ringtail Hen Harrier of the autumn, Osprey, Great White Egret and SpoonbillThe Lytchett Fields Wood Sandpiper showed briefly at times and Dunlin numbers continue to increase, reaching 308 in the bay with 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Great White Egret and 2 juv Peregrine were causing havoc. A Barnacle Goose also made an unusual appearance on the fields, and a large flight of 300+ Continental Cormorant passed over.  An additional three Lesser Redpoll were ringing at a Lytchett Bay ringing session. A morning visit to the Old Pier at Hamworthy saw 14 Sandwich Tern, 13 Turnstone and a Grey Wagtail. In Poole Town, a Peregrine was recorded on the Holes Bay ASDA block. It was also the Poole Harbour Sept WeBS today which produced the first 6 Brent Geese of the winter along the southern shores of the harbour along with the first Merlin at Greenlands Farm. In Brands Bay there was a Great White Egret and 40+ Great Crested Grebe. There was no sign of the Pectoral Sandpiper at Swineham but there were 2 Cattle Egret, 3 Yellow-legged Gulls  and the Barnacle Goose from Lytchett also made an appearance.

Our free Holes Bay guided walks are back! Situated at the most northern part of Poole Harbour, the large shallow tidal bay is a busy winter birding site, hosting several hundred (often thousands) of Teal and Wigeon, as well as smaller wader flocks of Avocet, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Oystercatcher. Join our team as we explore these rich shorelines and gain an insight into our more unfamiliar winter visitors. Booking essential. Full list of dates and booking information here:


Woodlark – Thermal Image ringing session at a private site in the west of the harbour


Harbour Update – posted 26/09/20

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

An excellent ringing session at Lytchett Bay this morning racked up 11 Lesser Redpoll, scarce finch for the site. The session also recorded  8 Cetti’s Warbler, Firecrest, Dartford Warbler and a late Sedge Warbler. The nearby Fields attracted 225 Dunlin, and a Wood Sandpiper showed well in the morning. The additions of Common and Green Sandpiper made for a good trio for late September in the Bay. The juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was still on Stilt Pools at Swineham this morning, as was the Bestwell Cattle Egret still associating with the cattle. This morning’s high tide roost at Holes Bay topped 663 Black-tailed Godwit, along with highlights of 13 Knot, 6 Shoveler, 2 Pintail and 2 Kingfisher, making appearances at both PC World and Creekmoor drains.

Our free winter birding walk dates are out now! Join our team for a weekly guided tour, exploring the riches of the urban side of Poole Harbour. Poole Quay, Baiter and Poole Park are incredibly important feeding grounds for a range of winter visitors including Kingfisher, Brent Geese, Goldeneye, Great Northern Diver, Turnstone and more. Booking essential.


Lesser Redpoll – Lytchett Bay – Shaun Robson


Harbour Update – 25/09/20

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

It was 4 degrees this morning when we left for work! Then a cold wind set in and then some leaves fell off a tree….well, 2 leaves to be precise, but still, autumn seemed to progress once more. Hirundines were pushing through the harbour for most of the day, initially in bigger numbers but then smaller totals by late afternoon. It seemed to mostly be Swallow with lesser numbers of House Martin and Sand Martin. At Swineham 1 Pectoral Sandpiper was still on the scrape along with 23 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Lapwing and 1 Dunlin with 1 Cattle Egret near the Swineham access road. In Holes Bay NW there were 16 Knot, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 539 Black-tailed Godwit, 96 Redshank, 10 Curlew, 250+ Wigeon, 7 Shoveler, 2 Pintail, 2 Kingfisher and 16 Little Egret. At Lytchett Fields the Wood Sandpiper was seen again and at Holton Lee there were 12 Stonechat.

BREAKING NEWS: As a charity, we’ve also decided to host our popular Big Poole Harbour Bird Count FOUR TIMES A YEAR, building on last years community led data gathering format which saw around 100 data submissions in early January 2020. With autumn rumbling on we thought it would be great to kick start the autumn Big Poole Harbour Bird Count on October 25th 2020. Keep an eye out on our website and social media channels for more information, but in the mean time……BOOK THE DAY IN YOUR DIARY AS ‘BIRDING DAY’

Cattle Egret – Swineham – Trevor Warwick

Harbour Update – posted 24/09/20

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

We welcomed back autumn today with cold showers and blustery wind, just the kind of weather that could drop one or two new North American waders our way. Not that we’re bored with the Pectoral Sandpipers, but a Buff-breasted would do just nicely right about now. One of the Pectoral Sandpipers was still on the Swineham Scrape today, but most noticeably so was an early returning Jack Snipe, which is a great September record. We don’t tend to see the first until at least the second week of October. Also at Swineham were 2 Cattle Egret, 1 Spotted Redshank, 34 Black-tailed Godwit, c30 Dunlin, 4 Curlew, 1-2 Yellow-legged Gull and a few Wigeon and Pintail. Lytchett fields was looking fantastic with a Great White Egret present all day, along with 203 Dunlin, 115 Black-tailed Godwit, 120+ Redshank, 9 Greenshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 300+ Teal, 2 Marsh Harrier and 1 Peregrine. Holes Bay north saw c350 Wigeon, c80 Teal, c350 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Pintail. Finally there were 16 Sandwich Tern on the spit opposite Shipstal Bay, Arne.

Harbour Update – posted 23/09/20

Posted on: September 23rd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Winter is creeping up on us by the day… the Holes Bay Wigeon flock sat at 374 this morning, accompanied by a supporting cast of 12 Dunlin, 32 Redshank, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit and singles of Pintail, Knot and Kingfisher. The first Osprey sighting for several days came today. Veiwed from Hyde’s heath, the bird was seen flying over towards towards Coombe heath. Lytchett Fields offered a Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshank and just shy of 100 Dunlin this morning. Baiter Beach was busy with activity this morning, with 17 Ringed Plover, 31 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin and 2 Mediterranean Gull all logged. Such close views offer a real opportunity to study the ageing of birds. Take the pale fringing on the upperparts of the juvenile Ringed Plover, for example, compared to the uniform upperparts of an adult. One of the long-staying Pectoral Sandpipers was still on the Swineham Scrape along with 1 Cattle Egret  and a Marsh Harrier flew over. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 48 Spoonbill highlighting that numbers are building nicely for another record count which tends to be achieved around mid-October.

Harbour Update – posted 22/09/20

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

Kingfisher post-breeding dispersal is well underway with records coming in today from at Holton Lee and Whitecliff. After breeding along the river valleys feeding in to Poole Harbour, birds head down to coastal spots during autumn and winter.

Swineham Stilt Pools held 6 species of gull (Blacked-headed, Herring, Yellow-legged, Common and both Lesser and Great black-backed). Waterfowl consisted of 3 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler, 16 Teal and Mallard present. The Pectoral Sandpipers continued to feed actively, accompanied by a supporting cast of 2 Dunlin, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Lapwing, 1 Snipe and a Green Sandpiper. Also of note was a Cattle Egret loitering among the cows in the fields nearest to wareham.

Middlebere featured large numbers of Wigeon and Avocet, with additional highlights from Great White Egret and Peregrine flyovers.  A notable 28 strong Mistle Thrush flock was also present, and Siskin continue to move with 82+ logged this morning, as well as 3 Crossbill.

Harbour Update – posted 21/09/20

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

The warmth (and the good times) are apparently coming to an end as colder unsettled weather beds back in again by mid-week with autumnal wetness heading our way, so many birders were out this AM making the most of the late summer sunshine. The first Ring Ouzels of the autumn were seen up on Ballard Down with 3 together. October tends to be ‘Ouzel Month’ but with the NE winds recently it’s obviously delivered a few early arrivals. Vis-mig was much quieter for Siskin with only c300 logged but 108 Lesser Redpoll was notable. A likely dark-morph juvenile Honey Buzzard was seen over Wareham Common heading south, when what was possibly the same bird was then photographed over Durlston an hour or so later. On Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper on French’s Pools with 33 Dunlin. At Swineham, the long staying Pectoral Sandpipers were still on the Stilt Pools with 2 Cattle Egret still in the same field. In Holes Bay the Wigeon flock hit a new high of 364 which for mid to late Sept is a good total, plus there were 9 Pintail, 2 Shoveler, only 198 Black-tailed Godwit and 110 Redshank.Little Sea hosted at least 3 Great White Egret when visited at high tide. 23 Little Egret and 4 Grey Heron were also present.

Crossbill – Lytchett Fields (yesterday) – Ian Ballam


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