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, 2021

Harbour Update – posted 30/05/21

Posted on: May 30th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

What glorious weather to celebrate a bank holiday weekend. With Portland logging 2 species of shrike in the same number of days and Pomarine Skuas still passing in small numbers, there must be birds for the finding inside the harbour! Dorset is poised for some excellent birding with these easterly winds set in for the coming days. Surely a Bee-eater over Ballard is on the cards? In fact, 7 years ago tomorrow saw the incredible encounter of a Short-toed Eagle over Coombe Heath, Arne RSPB reserve on May 31st 2014! Today featured a Red Kite over Ashley Cross late morning. Further afield, 3 more individuals drifted east over Worth Matravers and 2 were logged over Chapman’s Pool Valley.  Holes Bay featured Common Whitethroat in bushes south of the railway line, Kestrel crossing NE section and Shelduck pair with ducklings by Pergins Island. Both Peregrines were on the ASDA highrise and 2 Swift passed over.


Looking for ideas for half term? Why not join our free Better Birding, Better Birds Course in partnership with Livability Holton Lee. Join us in the field on Thursday mornings for an introduction to birding – suitable for beginners, improvers and those looking to learn more about bird identification, behaviour and conservation. The walks will encompass the full suite of habitats available, with a focus on target species such as Hobby, Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. The well-situated viewpoint provides a perfect setting to survey the Wareham Channel for hunting Ospreys, while the gull islands to the south offer a great opportunity to get to grips with the separation of the closely-related Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls. As well as identification tips and fieldcraft, the walks will touch on topics such as bird habitats, behaviours and adaptations with the aim of honing in and unlocking your birding abilities. Places are limited, so please reserve your place on our bookings page here: https://www.birdsofpooleharbourbookings.co.uk/event/intro-to-birding

Canada Goose with young – RSPB Arne

Harbour Update – posted 29/05/21

Posted on: May 29th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Certainly experiencing a passage of Red Kites at the moment, with 9 logged gliding over Parkstone this afternoon, 2 over Nine Barrow down and another 2 over Studland earlier in the day. A Hobby dashed passed Ridge heading towards Arne and 3 Ospreys were recorded over Morden Bog, one of which was confirmed to be blue colour-ringed, so almost undoubtedly our pair, but who were they interacting with?!

Marsh Harrier – Middlebere – Penn Hill Man 

Harbour Update – posted 27/05/21

Posted on: May 28th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Wow…it was actually sunny AND warm today. An actual proper late spring day, even exceeding 20 degrees briefly. With the weather set to continue on this trajectory could we be in for some nice late spring surprises?  A Wood Warbler singing briefly 100 meters west of RSPB Arne Car Park is an unusually late spring record, but this has been an unusual spring! Spring Wood Warblers are incredibly rare and typically pass through Poole Harbour in mid-April and would normal have all passed through by early May. Lytchett Bay featured 2 Whimbrel early morning and 2 Crossbill east overhead. Both Ospreys CJ7 and 022 continued to be active on the nest webcam. In fact, CJ7 was at the nest site pretty much for the whole day. For a while, and certainly during the foul weather we thought that a breeding attempt would become unlikely but as the weather has improved over the last few days, they both seem really interested in the nest again, even bringing in more nesting material. The next 3-4 days could be really exciting and we’ll all be eyes on the webcam to see if CJ7 lays any eggs at all.

Male 022 and female CJ7 on the nest cam

Harbour Update – posted 28/05/21

Posted on: May 28th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today’s Purbeck Puffin cruise was an absolute delight… The calm conditions made for perfect viewing opportunities and the auks did not disappoint. Five Puffins were observed from the cruise, including the very showy individually photographed below, which makes for the highest total recorded so far this year! And an unexpected flock of 7 Eider west added extra excitement – a species we haven’t recorded from our Puffin cruises before. It was so nice to be out exploring the harbour, enjoying the Purbeck coastline and sharing the experience with a boat of likeminded people. Within the harbour area, 6 Turnstone were logged at Sandbanks, along with a constant passage of Common Terns commuting between Brownsea Island and Poole Bay.

Puffin – Purbeck Puffin Cruise – Louise McKenna

Harbour Update – posted 26/05/21

Posted on: May 26th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It finally began to feel like some sort of summer could begin today. With the temperatures reaching 15 degrees could this now be the true start of a season we’ve all been so desperate for? There are currently still some trees that are yet to bloom into full leaf so with plenty of water in the last month and now some warmth hopefully plants and insects will begin to flourish meaning plenty of food entering the food chain and helping breeding productivity.

This morning we were out surveying the important gull colony in the Wareham Channel, a small set of islands that several thousands of breeding Black-headed Gulls and several other species. In total there were 3706 Black-headed Gull nests and 109 Mediterranean Gull nests. Mediterranean Gull are a schedule 1 species and are also a Poole Harbour SPA (Special Protection Area) feature species, so assessing their population is an important task. Also logged on the islands were 5 Oystercatcher nests, 2 Gadwall nests, 2 Mallard nests as well as 17 migrant Dunlin and 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. Elsewhere there are still 4 Brent Geese in Brands Bay that seem to be enjoying the cold spring and c30 Sanderling were were along the shoreline at Redhorn, Studland. There were 2 active Hobby over Middlebere and both Osprey’s CJ7 and 022 were active on the nest cam today, still mating and seeing off the local Raven that’s been visiting recently. There was no sign of the Scottish individual today.

Black-headed Gull chicks in the nest – Wareham Channel

Sandwich Tern – Clare Slade – Poole Harbour

Harbour Update – posted 25/05/21

Posted on: May 26th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’re so sorry…we lied! We said yesterday was going to be the last rain. Then this evening, we encountered another very soggy and damp late spring down pour! It is forecast to improve….we promise! And this morning fine weather allowed us to discover that there are currently three Osprey in the harbour.

An exciting moment occurred in Arne Bay around 10am when 3 different Osprey appeared, initially 2 males, and then CJ7. But who was the new mystery bird? Without good views of its legs we didn’t even know whether it was ringed or not. However, good fortune occurred when late in the afternoon we were sent a photo by a Jayne Brooks who visited Arne on Sunday and captured a stunning photo of an Osprey near Middlebere. The bird in Jayne’s photo was identical to the new comer we saw this morning and the photos were so good we could see that it was in fact a Scottish individual (metal ring on right leg, blue left) and a male. So, sadly not another of ours from the project, but still great to see more two-year olds pass through. Plus, there’s still plety of time for some more of of 2019 crew to show. Also around Arne today was a summer plumaged Grey Plover in Arne Bay and a Cuckoo by Shipstal. At Shell Bay, Studland there were 21 Sanderling and a Cuckoo flew across the harbour mouth.

Newly arrived Scottish male Osprey – Arne – Jayne Brooks

Harbour Update – posted 24/05/21

Posted on: May 24th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

All being well, today should be the last wet day for quite some time. The wind also subsides throughout tomorrow, meaning after two months of bitterly cold, and soaking wet conditions, we may actually get to see some sun at last!

It really has been quite hard work this spring with wader passage slow for the most part and dawn choruses barely getting going at all. The return of male Osprey 022 has been a highlight for many and his bond with CJ7 has certainly added some warmth to this spring. Although he really doesn’t like sharing any of his hard earned fish, and is still yet to present any to CJ7. For a successful nesting attempt this year, he really needs to learn how to start provisioning her with fish so that when and if she does lay some fertile eggs, he’ll be then know how to supply his new family with enough to keep them going. It’s all a learning curve for these birds so at present we’re just taking each day as it comes and learning new things all the time. It’s been nice in the last 24 hours also seeing Woodlark, Nightjar and handsome Ravens on the nest too.

022 failing to share with CJ7

Harbour Update – posted 23/05/21

Posted on: May 23rd, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Huge thank you to Megan McCubbin and Chris Packham for inviting us on to the final episode of The Self-Isolating Bird Club to provide an update on the Osprey project. Watch the birds providing an incredibly magical moment with impeccable timing below. You can catch up with the full programme and stream all 91(!) episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/SIBirdClub

A Nightjar paid its first visit of the season onto the Osprey nest cam at 00:47. Beginning Thurs 3 June, we are resuming our Slepe Heath Nightjar Experience Walks. The southern heaths of Poole Harbour are a stronghold for Nightjar – and Slepe Heath is no exception. This mysterious bird and its quirky lifestyle add to their endearing personality and haunting ‘churr’ rings out across the heathland at dusk. More info and bookings available here: https://birdsofpooleharbourbookings.co.uk/event/nightjar-experience

Beyond the livestream Osprey webcam, 19 mainly summer-plumaged Sanderling made for an enjoyable surprise on the west side of Arne this afternoon during a harbour-wide Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) for the BTO. The Two Rivers walk around Swineham offered male Marsh Harrier, Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, Swift, Swallow, House and Sand Martins.


Harbour Update – posted 21st and 22nd May

Posted on: May 22nd, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The strong winds deterred any ideas of birding across the harbour yesterday. CJ7 and 022 made few appearances on the 21st, most notably on the livestream webcam early morning before the stormy conditions ramped up and forced the pair to hunkered down away from the nest. Despite field conditions improving overnight, the 22nd failed to yield many birds, with limited coverage of the harbour. Most notable was a Little Tern fishing in Lytchett Bay for all of 15 minutes. Perhaps tomorrow will reveal the windblown goodie that’s kicking around?

Little Tern – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 20/05/21

Posted on: May 20th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The day was dominated by strong winds, making field conditions for our new Osprey pair and general birdwatching around the harbour very difficult! To capitalise on the strong southerly winds before turning too westerly through the afternoon, a late morning seawatch surveying Poole Bay from Branksome Chine yielded 20 Manx Shearwater, a summer plumage Black-throated Diver, another small diver sp. (likely also Black-throated), 45+ Dunlin flock and a young Peregrine.

Our Puffin Cruise this Saturday May 22nd has been postponed due to the weather forecast. If you’re booked on then you should have received an email from us. If not, please contact our bookings team via email – bookings@birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk

Thank you for understanding.


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