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 13/05/21

Posted on: May 13th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Limited coverage of the harbour today. A survey of Holes Bay resonated with the season, only 4 Oystercatcher and a single Redshank representing the wader assemblages today, accompanied by vocal Reed Warbler, Swallow, Blackcap, Chiffchaff all present, along with 1 Common Whitethroat. Elsewhere, 20 Swift were feeding over Swineham this afternoon, and another 5 over Parkstone.

Exciting news – Our Nightjar experience walks are back! 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. Join Birds of Poole Harbour to learn about and see some of the important areas for these heathland specialists whilst taking in stunning views out across the Wareham Channel. The grand finale will be listening to (and hopefully watching) Nightjar as they become active at dusk, before they then head out in to the darkness. Booking essential. Visit our events page for more details and bookings.

Common Whitethroat – Holes Bay – Holes Bay Nature Twitter Account @BayHoles

Harbour Update – posted 12/05/21

Posted on: May 12th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Nice spread of warblers to be heard and seen across Poole’s urban gem, Holes Bay, this morning with Common Whitethoat, Sedge, Reed and Cetti’s Warblers all singing. Young birds are also being observed on a more regular basis now with Woodlark and Stonechat recorded feeding young across Poole Harbour’s southern heathlands.

Common Terns – Studland – Seb Haggett

Harbour Update – posted 11/05/21

Posted on: May 12th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was an interesting sighting of an Osprey over Holes Bay, which isn’t a regular hunting spot for CJ7, so was likely to be a migrant passing through. The Osprey flushed 6 Whimbrel, and 3 Swift were also reported over the bay. At Lytchett Fields, in addition to 2 Lapwing and a Turnstone flyby, the highlight was a Wheatear in whimbrel field. At Baiter, 13 Turnstone, 7 Oystercatcher and 1 Common Tern was reported.

Otherwise, it was a quiet day for sightings in the harbour, but some exciting reports outside of the boundary… As well as a male Golden Oriole fly over at Durlston yesterday morning, a Chough was reported at Portland. So, if you are spending any time at Studland in the coming days, it’s worth scanning the corvids.


Harbour Update – posted 10/05/21

Posted on: May 10th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With the wind swinging round and now coming from deep south there’s a chance of another pulse of migrants to arrive. Highlighted yesterday with a Turtle Dove in a Studland garden yesterday, a real Poole Harbour rarity these days. An Osprey was seen heading NW over Upton Heath today and was likely to be a migrant rather than CJ7 and a Spoonbill was at Lytchett Fields this morning. At Brands Bay there were still 4 Brent Geese and 11 Sanderling were on the beach. Good numbers of Swift were again over Swineham GP and up on Hartland 4 Wheatear were near Scotland Farm. A Lesser Whitethroat was along the Middlebere track and 2 Cuckoo were on Slepe Heath. A Nightjar was churring on Brownsea this evening…..we just need the balmy summer evenings now and summer would have properly arrived.

Swallow and Swift – Swineham – Peter Moore

Harbour update – posted 09/05/21

Posted on: May 9th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The persistent southerlies continued overnight, but poor visibility dampened seawatching potential first thing this morning. That said, observers from Branksome Chine enjoyed 1 Arctic Skua, 2 distant skua sp., 4 Great Northern Diver, 5 Guillemot, 1 first winter Kittiwake, 1 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin, 3 Turnstone and steady passage of Swallows, Gannet, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern. The Abbotsbury Whiskered Tern has relocated to Longham Lakes today, could it have passed through the harbour in the process?? Single summer-plumage Turnstone still on Baiter Park and 1 Swift was logged over Quay cottages, Brownsea Islandalong with a Swallow. Early doors at Lytchett Fields produced 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Dunlin, 6 Whimbrel, 4 Oystercatcher, 3 Greenshank and a Curlew. Two Swift and a Cuckoo were recorded from Coombe Viewpoint, RSPB Arne, along with c.60 Dunlin, Curlew, Shelduck, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Sand Martin, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel.

Turnstone (summer-plumage) – Baiter – Martin Adams

Harbour Update – posted 08/05/21

Posted on: May 8th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As predicted, decent seabird passage could be enjoyed if appropriate cover was found. Hunkered down along Branksome Chine at first light, several Poole Harbour birders enjoyed. Four Great Northern Diver (including 3 in breeding plumage), 1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 Common Scoter, 1 Oystercatcher, 10 Ringed Plover, 20 Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 62 Dunlin, 2 Kittiwake, 14 Fulmar, 51 Gannet, 104 Common Tern, 145 Sandwich Tern, 1 Shelduck, 7 Swift and 14 Swallow. Despite poor visibility for most of the time, the watch produced lovely views  Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit, passing a a single flock, which coupled with plenty of terns and gannets feeding made for a very enjoyable morning. Another seawatch from midday (to 1.30pm) from up on Old Harry offered 1 Storm Petrel, 7 Manx Shearwater, 3 Great Northern Diver, 4 Fulmar, 17 Common Tern, 50+ Guillemot, 41 Gannet plenty of Swallow & House Martin in off. Swift were also picked up over Wareham Common and East of Bog Lane Green Space, with Cuckoo calling from the West.

Harbour Update – posted 07/05/21

Posted on: May 7th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Although the weather forecast doesn’t look particularly inspiring over weekend, we can’t wait to get out into the field! Winds coming in from south and south east overnight could set up some interesting seabird passage over the next two days. Brave the heavy rain and a scope out into Poole Bay could produce the likes of skuas, seaducks and shearwaters… all difficult species to record from elsewhere in the harbour. Today’s glorious sunshine welcomed more spring arrivals, with a notable 21 Wheatear (including 2 Greenland ssp. candidates), 2 Spotted Flycatcher and a Whinchat logged across Greenlands Farm. A Cuckoo was also heard calling from Newton Heath and 3 Cattle Egret were observed in Frome Valley. A Whinchat was at Lytchett Fields.

CJ7 – Lytchett Bay – Tony Furnell

Harbour Update – posted 06/05/21

Posted on: May 6th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was a fine still day for most of the day, which aesthetically looked good for a big fall of migrants, with dark a sky looming and spring chill in the air. However a large bank of rain sat out just off the Dorset coast seemed to halt any early new dawn arrivals but it didn’t matter as there was sill plenty on offer. At Swineham there was a Sanderling on the Stilt Pools which is a major Swineham rarity, and it was feeding with 2 Dunlin and 1 Ringed Plover. There were 5+ Sedge Warbler and 10+ Reed Warbler and also 2 Marsh Harrier off Swineham Point. It was great to see so many Swift back with c20 over Swineham and another c20 over Hamworthy. Up on Hartland 6 Wheatear were in the top fields near Scotland Farm as was a Lesser Whitethroat and a Hobby went over. In the Holes Bay area there were 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler and 2 Blackcap in the PCW Drain and 9 Whimbrel in Holes Bay NE. The Brownsea Lagoon had good numbers of Common Tern but very few waders with just 2 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Avocet, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit. There were still c20 Great Crested Grebe out on the open areas of the harbour which was interesting for early May and Gadwall were conspicuous in many places around the harbour including the Wareham Channel and Brownsea. Gadwall have always been a scarce/rare breeding bird in the harbour but if the 30+ seen today are breeding residence then the breeding population has grown considerably.

Juvenile Stonechat – Holton Lee (currently closed to public) – Tony Furnell

Harbour Update – posted 05/05/21

Posted on: May 5th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There seemed to be a mini arrival of birds today as the cold wind began to build early/mid morning. In the PCW Drain there was a single Garden Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Whitethroat along with 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcap all on territory. In Brands Bay this evening there were c50 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 4 dark-bellied Brent Geese (they still think its winter)!, 2 Whimbrel plus 2 Willow Warbler in scrub and c30 Swallow around. At Stoborough Heath a Red Kite passed over and a Cuckoo was on Slepe Heath. It’s been a tough cold spring but for some reason Sedge Warbler have been present in good numbers at some sites with more than usual around Swineham plus plenty of individual migrants popping up in scrub areas along the river valleys and one was up on top of Hartland. A Hobby was over Wareham Hospital with 13 Swift present over Wareham too. Whitethroat are certainly back on territory up on Ballard with 5 males singing but Lesser Whitethroat have been incredibly scarce this spring. There were 2 Wheatear up on Hartland with up to five Woodlark, several Dartford Warbler, 1 Cuckoo, 9 Swift, a few Swallow and (finally) 2 Lesser Whitethroat. Only 1 Little Ringed Plover was seen at Lytchett Fields.

Dunlin – Brands Bay – Garry Hayman

Common Swift – Swineham GP – Peter Moore

Harbour update – posted 04/05/21

Posted on: May 5th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The previous nights gale force winds eased today but there was still a stiff NW wind making birding efforts a tad tricky. Swift were logged over Wareham and Poole but seemed to be passing rather than scoping out nesting sites. On a chilly night the first Nightjar of the season was on a southern harbour heathland which must have been a shock to the system for the freshly arrived visitor from southern central Africa. Another first for the harbour this spring was a Spotted Flycatcher at Parkstone Heights playing field. Also this afternoon, female Osprey CJ7 laid her 3rd and final unfertilised egg as she finished off her breeding cycle for the season. This process each spring is strengthening her bond with the harbour, and hopefully with the potential arrival/return of some of our 2019 chicks over the coming weeks or months she could get some company soon!

CJ7 moments after laying her third unfertilised egg.

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