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 10/01/22

Posted on: January 10th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Good conditions today, with Studland particularly well monitored. A scan from Middle Beach early this afternoon showed 10 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver, 7 Common Scoter and 2 Red-breasted Merganser. This morning, Shell Bay gave sightings of 4 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-necked Grebe, with another 4 South of Pilots Point, 1 Razorbill near the harbour entrance, and 3 Common Scoter arriving in. On the boardwalk to Shell Bay 1 Siberian Chiffchaff was reported. Continuing at Studland inside the harbour, several Sanderling were present in Bramble Bush Bay near the House Boats, 4 Great Northern Diver were reported between Bramble Bush Bay and Brands Bay, as well as 3 Common Scoter, 4 Scaup, 1 Spoonbill, and 1 Slavonian Grebe near Redhorn Point. At Lytchett Fields, colour-ringed Water Pipit “1K” was present this morning, and 1 female Marsh Harrier was reported over Lytchett Bay. 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 drake Goldeneye were seen in Poole Park this morning. Not one of today’s sightings, but excitingly the Goshawk activity in the Middlebere Channel continued yesterday, with 1 photographed yesterday (see below)

Sanderling – House Boats, Bramble Bush Bay – @BirderOtbt

Goshawk – Arne – Mark Wright (@markwright12002)

Harbour Update – posted 09/01/22

Posted on: January 9th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

An absolute treat to be out exploring the open water by boat today during our first in a new series of Winter Safari Cruises, a new event designed to make the most of epic winter birding scene here in Poole Harbour. The beautifully still and sunny conditions offered a chance to enjoy Brownsea Lagoon in all its glory. Carpetted in probing Dunlin, a personal highlight was the close views of Common and Spotted Redshank wading next to Greenshank. In fact, it was so still we could hear the calls of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover and Shelduck as we scrutinised the wildfowl and enjoyed watching a Sparrowhawk briefly inspect the Lagoon. The cruise passed the 10 Spoonbill roosting at Shipstal Point, Arne, while 2 individuals optimistically clinged onto the last of the mud during the flooding tide as the cruised along the Wareham Channel. Sitting off Swineham Point quickly added Marsh Harrier and Pochard to the species list. The Central Harbour held a Common Seal and Great Northern Divers were encountered off the Hamworthy and Brownsea shorelines. Most notable was the presence of Guillemot throughout the trip with 4 enountered off Poole Quay, Brownsea Island and the Wareham Channel, the latter offering a fly-by around the boat. This is highly unusual, typically we expect to encounter the odd bird around Poole Bay and the southern shorelines during the winter, but this sustained presence across the harbour is surely linked to a issue with food availability at a wider level. Elsewhere, the rewards for scoping South Deep from Jerry’s Point came in the form of 2 Slavonian Grebe, 4 Scaup, 3 Black-necked Grebe and a further 4 Great Nothern Diver. The Siberian Chiffchaff continues to show from the Shell Bay board walk, while a scan out into Studland Bay clocked up 3 Great Northern Diver and 6 Black-necked Grebe in Studland Bay.

We still have places available on our new Winter Safari Cruises running in January and February. All the event and booking information you need to know can be found on our website here. And don’t forget the Big Poole Harbour Bird Count takes place a week today! Simply get out birding in your local area and share your records with us to join in. Details on what to record and how to share your sightings with us can be found here.

Brownsea Lagoon – Brittany Maxted

Harbour Update – posted 08/01/22

Posted on: January 8th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Strange to see rain today??!! (Note the sarcasm)! It between the rain drops, at least some birds were logged including 2 Spoonbill, 38 Grey Plover, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, c120 Dunlin, c 30 Curlew and c100 Lapwing at Middlebere. Around Jerry’s Point and Brands Bay there were 4 Scaup, 2 Common Scoter, 262 Teal, 202 Wigeon, 99 Pintail, 83 Lapwing, 10 Grey Plover, 188 Black-tailed Godwit and 478 Dunlin. Out in Poole Bay a Black-throated and Red-throated Diver passed Alum Chine and there was a Great Northern Diver off the Houseboats. There was a Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay and 2 Black-necked Grebe off Shell Bay. At Baiter there were 208 Brent Geese and on Poole Park lake there were 5 Little Grebe and 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Egyptian Geese were at Sunnyside.

Brent Geese – Shipstal

Harbour Update – posted 07/01/22

Posted on: January 7th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Sightings highlights today were over at Studland, with a Red-necked Grebe reported off Jerry’s Point, along with 4 Scaup. In Studland Bay from Middle and South Beaches, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 10 Black-necked Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 13 Common Scoter, 14 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Razorbill counted. 1 ringtail Hen Harrier was seen over Lytchett Bay this morning. Holes Bay provided excellent views of 597 Dunlin, c.1000 Black-tailed Godwit and 100+ Avocet from the Stone Bench, as well as 11 Brent Geese and 2 Red-breasted Merganser in the South. At RSPB Arne, sightings across Shipstal Point included 27 Spoonbill, 15 Red-breasted Merganser, 30 Brent Geese and a Marsh Harrier. Coombe Heath also featured a Merlin and ringtail Hen Harrier. At Baiter this afternoon, 148 Brent Geese, 57 Oystercatcher, 300+ Starling and several Turnstone were counted feeding on the fields. Finally, we’ve received some great info back from Mark Thomas at RSPB, regarding a ringtail Hen Harrier that was photographed near Middlebere yesterday by Nigel Gidey which had a colour ring A1Z. It was ringed in Northumberland in 2021. Brilliant!

Dark-bellied Brent Geese – Baiter – Martin Adams

Hen Harrier – near Middlebere – Nigel Gidney


Harbour Update – posted 06/01/22

Posted on: January 7th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, that didn’t last long. Beautiful sunshine on Wednesday, pouring rain today! Oh well….at least spring is on its way with Song Thrush, Great Tit and some Blackbird already beginning to sing. Also, some Great Spotted Woodpecker are starting to ‘drum’ too with individuals heard at Upton CP and RSPB Arne. Out across the Wareham Channel a Great White Egret flew across and two separate Marsh Harrier were active. Off Jerry’s Point there were 2 Great Northern Diver with another 2 off Shell Bay and 1 off Baiter. At Lytchett Fields 5 Jack Snipe were logged during a ringing session and on Holme lane GP there was a winter peak count of 8 Pochard along with 23 Gadwall. 

Peregrine Falcon – Middlebere – Mark Wright (@markwright12002)

Harbour Update – posted 05/01/22

Posted on: January 5th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’ve had a nice range of sightings with the sun and blue skies out today. Reports from Studland this morning included 4 Great Northern diver in Shell Bay, along with 1 Slavonian Grebe and 26 Brent Geese. 1 Siberian Chiffchaff was also seen from South Haven, as well as 28 Linnet heading North. Later in the morning, 4 Great Northern Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe and 3 Common Scoter were seen in between Redhorn and Jerry’s Point. At Middlebere, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Merlin (f), 1 Kestrel, 3 Spotted Redshank and c.450 Avocet were present. The White-tailed Eagle G461 was seen in flight from Lytchett Fields and Ham Common, seemingly dropping down to Holton Lee this morning. The nice range of raptor sightings continued at Swineham, with 1 Hen Harrier and 1 Marsh Harrier reported, as well as 1 Goosander and 2 Great White Egret amongst the highlights. In Middlebere, a rare occurrence of an adult Goshawk which ploughed through around midday. And even rarer, it was photographed too! An stunning and rarely recorded bird in the harbour. There was 1 Purple Sandpiper was reported on the Sandbanks groynes amongst Sanderling this morning. Finally, we hosted our penultimate public ringing demo last night and caught a record 12 Jack Snipe, 9 of which were new and 3 were previously ringed earlier this winter (October 2021). Also logged were 5 Woodcock (with 1 caught) and plenty of Common Snipe (with 1 ringed).

Purple Sandpiper – Sandbanks – Andy (@nikodogtwite on Twitter)

Goshawk – Middlebere – Peter Twamley (@twamers Twitter)

Harbour Update – posted 04/01/22

Posted on: January 4th, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A reduced number of sightings today, but at least some sunshine for a while this afternoon, and unbelievably, tomorrow os due to be sunny…..all day!!

At South Haven, Studland today there were 5 Great Northern Diver around the harbour entrance, with 2 Black-necked Grebe at the harbour mouth (with one flying in), 29 Sanderling, 34 Grey Plover and 2 Razorbill. The 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the rocky Sandbanks groynes and 3 Scaup were off Jerry’s Point. Male White-tailed Eagle G461 was seen again near Middlebere and 3 Goosander flew up the Piddle Valley at dusk. At Lytchett Fields there was 1 Merlin, 1 Firecrest and a Spotted Redshank, with another Merlin bombing across Brands Bay. Plus, there were 2 Firecrest at Creekmoor Ponds.

Pintail – Brands Bay 



Harbour Update – posted 03/01/22

Posted on: January 3rd, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The Christmas and New Year buzz all comes to an end for many tomorrow….typical, just as it’s forecast for the sun to come out. Anyway, still plenty to see today with male White-tailed Eagle seen several times, firstly in Brands Bay at around 11:30am, before then heading to Brownsea where he was seen and photographed from Baiter and Whitecliff, then at around 16:00 he was seen over the Wytch Channel heading towards Middlebere. Off the Houseboats there was a Great Northern Diver, 4 Black-necked Grebe, 3 Scaup and a Razorbill. In Brands Bay there were 2 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Scaup, 2 Common Scoter and 1 Guillemot. A Red-necked Grebe flew into the harbour entrance at dawn and there were 6+ Great Northern Diver around Studland/Shell Bay area and 3 Razorbill. Out from the Middlebere ‘lookout’ there were 2 Hen Harrier logged and 2 different Merlin, with a Peregrine causing havoc at the top of Middlebere a few times. Out in central harbour there were 3 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver. At Holme Lane 3 Woodlark were in the usual cattle field feeding and a Cattle Egret was at the end of the Bog Lane footpath. The 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the groynes at beyond the Haven Hotel and there were 3 Spotted Redshank and 7 Spoonbill in Middlebere. Finally, a Norwegian colour-ringed Rock Pipit was seen in the Wytch Channel area, which we’re currently waiting to receive the ringing details for.

Merlin – Middlebere – Mark Wright (@markwright12002)

Red-breasted Merganser – Poole Park – Rene Goad (@GoadPhotography)


Harbour Update – posted 02/01/22

Posted on: January 2nd, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Once again more people were out birding again today with rewards had in Brands Bay with 2 Tundra Bean Geese in Brands Bay. The Upton/Creekmoor birds weren’t there today, so could suggest it was two of the three. However some plumage characteristics suggest these could have been in fact be two different (new) individuals. Sadly they didn’t stay long and flew off SE and couldn’t be re-located. A Hen Harrier was hunting for over an hour at the back of Greenlands farm and over the salt marsh. It was accompanied by a Merlin, with the Merlin sat on a gorse bush as the Hen Harrier hunted all around it. This partnership is quite a regular occurrence each winter with Hen Harrier and Merlin often complementing each other with different hunting techniques, but often both rewarding one another with prizes! there was a Razorbill in Brands Bay with  7 Goldeneye, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 4 Scaup, 1 Common Scoter, approx  350 Common Gulls, 7 Turnstones, 400 Dunlin, 10+ Grey Plover and Sandwich Tern. Male White-tailed Eagle was in Middlebere again today and was beautifully captured on camera (see image below). Off Knoll beach this evening there was disappointingly only 12 Black-necked Grebe in the roost…..in Jan 2011 there were 80!!! Also 10 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 7 Common Scoter this evening.

White-tailed Eagle G461 – Middlebere – Pennhillman

Harbour Update – posted 01/01/22

Posted on: January 1st, 2022 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Firstly……HAPPY NEW YEAR! With 2021 now behind us, all of us here at BoPH are excited for the year ahead and the opportunities that may present themselves. Poole Harbour and South Dorset are certainly going to be an exciting place to be over the next several years, with multiple progressive and game changing projects in place. Ospreys, Sea Eagles and (hopefully) Beaver releases, landscape scale land regeneration schemes, wetland creation projects! Of course, these aren’t all being carried out by us, but by other local organisations and partnerships too. Regardless of who’s doing them, it currently feels like there’s no better time to be a birder and naturalist in Dorset…..so we’re raising a glass not only to 2022, but what the future brings as a whole over the next many years. Chin chin.

A good list of species kicked off the new year with 2 Siberian Chiffchaff at Shell Bay, Studland also 15 Gannet and 5 Kittiwake south there. In Shell Bay there were 3 Great Northern Diver and a sea watch from Branksome produced 5 Red-throated Diver, 3 Kittiwake, 2 Fulmar and a Razorbill. From the Bog Lane footpath the Cattle Egret was seen again in the Lower Frome Valley and at Middlebere there were 2 Spotted Redshank, a ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Merlin and male White-tailed Eagle G461 was seen a couple of times, once in Brands Bay and again in Middlebere. At Lytchett Fields a Jack Snipe was flushed and off Middle Beach, Studland 9 Common Scoter and 1 Black-necked Grebe. At the Houseboats at Studland there were 20 Sanderling and the 3 Scaup were distant off Jerry’s Point. The Tundra Bean Geese were originally in fields next to the main Upton CP car park but later flew to the fields back at Longmeadow Lane again. There were 27 Spoonbill on Shipstal, Arne, another Spotted Redshank at Lytchett Fields.

Group of Spoonbill yesterday at Middlebere which contained 4 Dutch ringed individuals – Mark Wright


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