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 January, 2022

Harbour Update – posted 31/01/22

Posted on: January 31st, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

One down, two to go! January is now officially over. We’re never wanting to wish our lives away, but already spring can’t come soon enough. Plus, with news yesterday that one of our translocated Ospreys, female 019, was seen in the Gambia again, for a second winter in a row then the thoughts and dreams of returning spring and summer migrants will soon become a reality.  February definitely heralds the start of change with wader and waterfowl numbers often dropping considerably by the end of February. We lose a third of our Avocet during February, half our Spoonbill, and generally a third of all our wildfowl. So, if there are species you still need on your winter year lists then February is the time to get them.

Today 2 Hen Harrier were logged, with an adult male clocked in the Wareham Channel and a ringtail in Middlebere. The Common Sandpiper was in the mouth of the PCW Drain at Holes Bay, a Great White Egret was at Littlesea along with a Firecrest, a Spotted Redshank was in Holes Bay SW, in Middlebere there was another Great White Egret, 2 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank, 105 Avocet and 1 Marsh Harrier.

Finally, we have some numbers for you! The Big Poole Harbour Bird Count brings together the community to carry out an in-depth census of the birdlife in Poole Harbour, and we are excited to announce that the results are in! The Birds of Poole Harbour team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that got involved on the big day. Thanks to you, we have generated another incredible harbour-wide dataset, providing a fascinating insight into Poole Harbour’s important wintering birdlife. Explore the results and comb through the data from the record-breaking big day on our interactive webpage.

Join us for a virtual presentation exploring the data and run through of the highlights from the big day delivered by Birds of Poole Harbour on Thursday 10th February, 7:30PM to 8:30PM. Gain a deeper understanding of some of our most charismatic species, hear about the species that have fluctuating populations locally, and discover which species put in an unexpected appearance during the count. Register to watch the talk by booking a free ticket below. As always, donations are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

We’re keen to make this a quarterly tradition, dedicating one day during each season throughout the year to monitoring the birds in and around Poole Harbour. Hot off the press, the next Big Poole Harbour Bird Count will take place on Sunday 17th April 2022 and you’re all invited to join in! Get the date in your diaries.

Poole translocated female Osprey 019, photographed yesterday in the Gunjar Quarry area of the Gambia – Joanna Dailey


Harbour Update – posted 30/01/22

Posted on: January 30th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Everything aligned for today’s Low Tide Cruise, magical light and staggering abundance of birds. Most of our boats take place in the morning, so it was a real treat to watch the sun setting from the Wareham Channel as Spoonbill, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit fed frantically on the expansive mudflats and thousand’s of Common and Black-headed gull began their commute into the harbour to roost. Unusually, the best views of Marsh Harrier were picked up on Brownsea working the reedbeds that fringe the lagoon. The 3 Scaup put in an appearance in South Deep, and 2 Black-necked Grebe featured in the Central Harbour.  Two of the recent Tundra Bean Goose dropped into Lytchett Bay early doors before becoming unsettled by wildfowlers and reappeared in 13 Acre Field, Upton CP. Looking out into Studland Bay from Middle Beach offered 23 Black-necked Grebe and 12 Common Scoter. Continuing down to South Beach added Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, 123 Dark-bellied Brent, 10 Mediterranean Gull and 1 Ring-necked Parakeet. Goshawk put in another fleeting appearance through Middlebere and the Holes Bay Common Sandpiper continues to show along with 3 Turnstone in Holes Bay SE. Small numbers of Knot, Grey Plover and Lapwing broke up the impressive carpet of Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. A Peregrine caused a commotion while 4 Goldeneye and 22 Red-breasted Merganser observed offshore.

Sunset over Arne from today’s Low Tide Cruise – Brittany Maxted


Harbour Update – posted 29/01/22

Posted on: January 29th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite the low pressure system that came through, and the building wind, some goods were still delivered today in the shape of the 3 Tundra Bean Geese reappearing, this time on Lytchett Fields. Looking at bill and feather patterns it looks to be the same 3 from Upton CP, but the quaetion is, have they been around since the early New Year, but just hiding in a local field somewhere, or are they now passing back through en route to somewhere else? This is a first record for Lytchett Bay and a welcome return for many year listers that missed them on Jan 1st before they then disappeared.

We also hosted a low-tide cruise today which (despite the wind) produced good numbers of birds out across the mud, however open water species remain ‘scarce’ with only 1 Great Northern Diver logged, along with 3 Black-necked Grebe and only 5 Great Crested Grebe! Red-breasted Merganser were still well represented with c80 seen along with 2 Scaup and c15 Goldeneye. The Black Brant was seen round the back of Green Island along with c800 Brent Geese in total. Wildfowl numbers seemed reasonably high with Wigeon, Teal and Pintail all in good numbers along the tideline of the southern shores and in the Wareham Channel 10 Spoonbill were feeding, 2 Marsh Harrier were active and wader totals consisted of c400 Lapwing, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Grey Plover, c300 Dunlin and c80 Great Cormorant. In Middlebere on the high tide c500 Avocet were roosting.

Eurasian Spoonbill – Wareham Channel – Seb Haggart

Black Brant (central) – Southern Shore – Garry Hayman

Tundra Bean Geese – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 28/01/22

Posted on: January 28th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

After so much fine, still and cold weather, we get a bit of a windy shock tomorrow, but this mornings frost was another beautiful start to the day. A flock of c20 Lesser Redpoll at Shipstal, RSPB Arne was a great find, with this certainly being the highest count of the winter so far with only ones and twos logged so far. The Cattle Egret was still in the far cattle fields on the opposite side of the Frome Valley viewable from the end of Bog Lane. A Marsh Harrier was at Holmebridge and there were 7 around Swineham late afternoon. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Middlebere and around the Studland Peninsular from Middle Beach this pm 1 Great Northern Diver, 18 Black-necked Grebe and 11 Common Scoter including 1 adult male. In Shell Bay there was 1 Great Northern Diver and off Jerry’s Point 3 Scaup. At Shipstal there were 20 Spoonbill and there was a decent count of 172 Pintail in Brands Bay.

Spoonbill – Middlebere – Mark Wright

The Loch Middlebere Monster or an Otter – RSPB Arne Middlebere Lookout Camera this AM


Harbour Update – posted 26/01/22

Posted on: January 26th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A Golden Plover was a welcome find at Lytchett Bay, remaining distant throughout it’s presence until 12:30 out on the mud. This is after we received news yesterday of 2  in Middlebere with Lapwing about 5 days ago, so there’s obviously a few about and worth keeping an eye out in amongst the Lapwing flocks. Poole Park pulled out all the stops today with Firecrest, Water Rail and Kingfisher all making appearances through the  day. Brand’s Bay clocked up 406 Teal, 542 Wigeon, 141 Pintail, 7 Avocet, 24 Grey Plover, 269 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Knot. Most notable along the Studland peninsula was a Greenshank picked up near the houseboats in Bramble Bush Bay, accompanied by a supporting cast of 3 Common Scoter, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Scaup and 4 Goldeneye. Elsewhere a female Merlin was over Arne, 9 Marsh Harrier came out of the west harbour roost this AM, there were 25 Spoonbill at Arne, 7 Yellowhammer at Challow Hill and the Cattle Egret was once again in the Frome Valley, viewable from the Bog Lane side of the Valley. In Poole Park there was a Firecrest and at Holton Lee a Water Pipit. Off Middle Beach 8 Black-necked Grebe were counted and the Siberian Chiffchaff was seen again in the PCW Drain.

Grey Plover & Knot – Brownsea Lagoon – Hamish Murray

Harbour Update – posted 25/01/22

Posted on: January 25th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The Glossy Ibis roosted on Otter Point, Lytchett Bay last night, but there was no sign of the bird in it’s favoured Lytchett Minster field through the day. Holes Bay South West featured the Spotted Redshank and a notable flock of 13 Dark-bellied Brent Goose. A small mobile flock of Siskin passed through Upton CP and the delicate calls of Goldcrest graced the woods. A dedicated watch at Coombe Heath viewpoint, RSPB Arne enjoyed Marsh Harrier, Great White Egret, 3 Spoonbill, Avocet and a flock of Redwing. A further 3 Marsh Harrier quartered Lytchett Bay airspace and only the second site record of Pale-bellied Brent Goose was logged off footpath 12 (Lytchett Way).

Curlew – Wareham Channel – Robin Morrison (@robinmmorrison)
Captured on a Bird of Poole Harbour Cruise last weekend

Harbour Update – posted 24/01/22

Posted on: January 24th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Nice conditions for a school bird boat around the harbour this morning, first stopping off at Brownsea Lagoon, where numbers of c. 200 Avocet and c.300 Black-tailed Godwit were present, as well as 3+ Greenshank and good numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank. Along with high numbers of Red-breasted Merganser across the harbour, 5 Black-necked Grebe were present off between Shipstal and Long Island, c.20 Spoonbill roosting at Shipstal Point, as well as 1 drake Goldeneye seen in the central harbour. The Glossy Ibis is still present at Lytchett Minster, in the cattle field behind the Courtyard Centre off Post Green Road, and was seen returning to roost in Lytchett Bay at 16:27, viewed from the Turlin screen. Sightings from Middle Beach today included 1 Great Northern Diver and 3 Black-necked Grebe. 1 Purple Sandpiper was also reported on the groynes at North Haven this morning.

Glossy Ibis – Lytchett Minster – Mark Wright (@markwright12002)

Harbour Update – posted 23/01/22

Posted on: January 23rd, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Conditions similar to yesterday made for another beautifully calm public cruise around the harbour this morning. This time one of our new Winter Safaris which took us different route to usual, past Round and Long Island – where a large flock of Oystercatcher were roosting on the beach – to the mouth of the Middlebere and Wych Channels. Here we enjoyed hunting Marsh Harrier and Buzzard interacting over the saltmarsh, Dark-bellied Brent GeeseCurlew, Little Egret and Shelduck on the shore, and Red-breasted Merganser and Great-crested Grebe on in the water alongside 3 inquisitive Common Seal. As we passed Shipstal Beach in each direction, the flock of Spoonbill were just visible on the sandspit tucked up in Arne Bay.

Back out in the Central Harbour we encountered dozens of Red-breasted Merganser in loose groups and pairs, along with several more solitary Great-crested Grebe and Common Gull, at least 3 (though likely more) Goldeneye, and a single Guillemot. Continuing on around the back of Green Island and out through South Deep, 3 Scaup and 2 Common Scoter (including one drake of each) were spotted between Jerry’s Point and Redhorn quay.

Our final stop, the Brownsea Lagoon, was buzzing with Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shelduck, Black- and Bar-tailed Godwit, AvocetDunlin, Curlew, Redshank, and singles of Grey Plover and Greenshank. There was a great deal of excitement from our boat full of onlookers when many of the waders took to the sky: usually a sure sign of a raptor intrusion! But alas, the cause was a sika deer bounding across the lagoon. On our return leg to Poole Quay we were treated to a Great Norther Diver amongst the buoys alongside the Main Channel north of the island.

Elsewhere, from early morning the Glossy Ibis was once again associating with the cows, Little Egret, Black-headed Gulls, and Pied Wagtails in the field adjacent to the Courtyard Centre in Lytchett Minster (west of Huntick Road and south of Post Green Road). At 16:49 it repeated its usual evening routine and flew south west towards Lytchett Bay, but rather than alighting in the eastern channel off Turlin Moor, this time it appeared to continue onwards in the Holes Bay direction.

Common Gull – Central Harbour – Clive Hargrave

Sika Deer with Avocet and Dunlin – Brownsea Lagoon – Clare Slade

Harbour Update – posted 22/01/22

Posted on: January 22nd, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another stunning morning and another stunning winter cruise! This time our Wareham Channel & Harbour cruise saw us explore at high tide, enjoying glorious views of open-water species (that’s your Great Northern Divers, Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers) across the harbour which was flat as a pancake. Marsh Harriers offered close views, even dropping down into the nearby reedbeds with prey, while the scarcer Hen Harrier (adult female) delighted the cruise with a brief showing over Arne Moors. Swineham Gravel Pits delivered with a Goosander, Pochard and Spotted Redshank (latter at Swineham Point) before a meander behind the islands to pick up the 3 Scaup and Common Scoter. A bustling Brownsea Lagoon also produced brilliant views of chattering Bar-tailed Godwit, feeding Avocet, needling Dunlin and frantic Sanderling among the more composed Greenshank, Curlew and Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Other notables from the trip included Guillemot, Spoonbill and particularly good views of a perching Peregrine.

We’re back out again tomorrow making the most of these perfectly still conditions and there’s still a ticket or two left! Book your place on our Winter Safari Cruise here, departing Poole Quay at 10AM tomorrow. And if you can’t make the boat, try searching for the Glossy Ibis which was seen feeding in a cow field behind the Courtyard Centre in Lytchett Minster. Elsewhere, a Black-throated Diver was off Middle Beach, Studland until 11:30, when it flew high south beyond Old Harry. The watch also logged 1 Great Nothern Diver, 12 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Common Scoter and 1 Slavonian Grebe.

Glossy Ibis – Lytchett Minister – Mark Wright


Harbour Update -posted 21/01/22

Posted on: January 21st, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was so beautiful this morning, that almost every inch of the harbour looked to have been sprinkled with ice dust. Quite literally one of the most scenic days of the winter so far. The high pressure is due to stick around too, so hopefully more beauty days on the way. Watching the open harbour and water bodies was great today with the Black-throated Diver still off Knoll Beach, along with 1 Great Northern Diver, 6 Common Scoter this evening and 21 Black-necked Grebe were in the evening roost. Once again the Glossy Ibis came into Lytchett Bay again this evening, viewable from the Turlin shoreline, and a minimum of 10 Marsh Harrier went into the west harbour roost. Off Redhorn Point there was a Slavonian Grebe, 3 Common Scoter and a Great White Egret flew into Brands Bay. A single Purple Sandpiper was on the 3rd groyne along from the Haven Hotel.

Sub-adult male Marsh Harrier – Arne -Mark Wright


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