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, 2023

Harbour Update – posted 30/01/22

Posted on: January 30th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was another busy raptor morning with 19 Marsh Harrier out of the west harbour roost and yet again 7 different Hen Harrier were recorded today. A Merlin was seen at Middlebere and another was seen at Lytchett Bay. Considering Merlin have been so scarce this winter, could these already be a few new birds moving into/through the area? Also, 2 White-tailed Eagles were in the Wareham Channel, a Red Kite was over Studland. There was a Spotted Redshank at Middlebere with 2 at Lytchett Fields. This evening 8 Spoonbill headed up the Frome Valley at dusk and off Middle Beach 10 Black-necked Grebe were counted. Best of all today, was how spring-like it felt with Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming again in a few areas and both Blackbird and Song Thrush singing. Snowdrops are emerging en mass in traditional spots  and daffodils are appearing nicely, with even a few Red Admiral on the wing again today.

Wigeon – Wareham Channel

Harbour Update – posted 29/01/23

Posted on: January 29th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Today was our Big Poole Harbour Bird Count which saw great coverage across the harbour, despite a cold wind whipping across the area by later afternoon. A dawn start logged 2 Barn Owl at Middlebere and 7 calling male Tawny Owls along a stretch of the Piddle Valley. Scotland Farm had 6 Woodcock and 1 Jack Snipe, whilst last night a Woodcock was re-caught at Sunnyside having originally been ringed at the same site in 2016. From Old Harry this morning we had a decent sea watch with the recent 5 Eider arriving in from way out beyond Durlston, passing Old Harry, before then entering the harbour 10 minutes later. Also off old Harry were a minimum of 7 Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver and 5 diver sp, also 1 Fulmar, 5 Gannet, c200 Guillemot and Razorbill, 3 Common Scoter and 4 Red-breasted Merganser. Meanwhile in Studland Bay a decent total of 16 Black-necked Grebe were counted along with another Great northern Diver, 10 Common Scoter, 6 Great Crested Grebe. The Black Redstart was on the red tiled building roof at North Haven, beach side, opposite the angled groyne and 18 Sanderling were on the groyne rocks. There were 2 White-tailed Eagle with one over Lytchett Fields around midday and one in Arne Bay. A decent count of 10 Marsh Harrier were in the evening roost and 7 different Hen Harrier were identified being present in the harbour during the course of the day. . At lytchett Fields 2 Water Pipit were on the fields and a Slavonian Grebe, 4 Black-necked Grebe plus a Velvet Scoter were off the Houseboats, near Jerry’s Point. A Golden Pheasant was seen seen on the lawn of Furzey Island during WeBS. In the mouth of Middlebere 9 Spoonbill were feeding/roosting. At the PCW Drain, 16 Common Chiffchaff were feeding along the channel, plus there was 1 Firecrest, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Grey Wagtail and 16 Teal. 

Little Grebe – Wareham Channel

Harbour Update – posted 28/01/23

Posted on: January 28th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another brilliant Winter Safari Cruise this morning with the flat calm conditions permitting excellent views of 1 Black-throated Diver in the North Channel, along with a distant Velvet Scoter, 3 nearby Great Northern Diver, 2 Sandwich Tern, and a flock of 60 Bar-tailed Godwit. In the southern reaches of the harbour we encountered 750 Brent Geese, 1 Spoonbill, 6 Black-necked Grebe, 6 Eider (the usual group of five in the central harbour and a single female off Goathorn), plus 12 Goldeneye: one of our highest counts this winter! In the Wareham Channel there were 4 Marsh Harrier interacting as they quartered the reedbeds, where a small flock of Bearded Tit was heard and briefly seen. Another 2 Spoonbill were feeding on the rising tide, along with 90 Avocet, 25 Lapwing, 300 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank. Both Grey and Common Seal were also seen on the trip, along with the briefest glimpse of an Otter in the entrance to the River Frome!

Elsewhere between Studland and Shell Bays there was 1 Black-throated Diver (possibly the same individual seen from our cruise), 2 Great Northern Diver, 5 Common Scoter, 11 Black-necked Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 22 Sanderling, while just inside the harbour off Jerry’s Point there was also 1 Slavonian Grebe. In Lytchett Bay from Rock Lea View 150 Avocet, 50 Oystercatcher, 15 Lapwing, 30 Curlew and 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and in the Middlebere Channel a ringtail Hen Harrier was present this morning.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the Big Poole Harbour Bird Count, so if you’re able to head out please count as many birds as you can and submit your sightings to us, and maybe even join us at one of our pop-up sessions between 11am and 1pm (more details below)!
Spoonbill – Wareham Channel (from Winter Safari Cruise) – Michael Applegate

Harbour Update – posted 27/01/23

Posted on: January 27th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Conditions were perfect for our Winter Safari Cruise this morning, with the flat calm water making it ideal for picking up open water species. There had seemed to be a drop off in the number of Great Northern Diver in the harbour in the last couple of weeks, but this morning provided a good opportunity to log as many as we could. We logged at least 5 or 6 present around the harbour, including 2 were together SW of Brownsea, 1 on the north shore of Brownsea, 1 off Baiter and 2 off Hamworthy. The Velvet Scoter was present near the harbour entrance, 2 Goldeneye south of Furzey Island, and 1 Black-necked Grebe and 5 Eider were in the central harbour. c.120 Red-breasted Merganser and 100 Great Crested Grebe were seen across the harbour. Wader and waterfowl counts around Newton Bay and Ower Bay included 500+ Brent Geese, 180 Pintail, 100 Wigeon, 200 Teal, 200 Oystercatcher, 20 Curlew, 9 Grey Plover, 30 Avocet, 20 Redshank and 400 Dunlin. 12 Spoonbill were also present at Shipstal. With the very low tide, numbers on Brownsea lagoon were low with c.120 Avocet, c.200 Black-tailed Godwit, c.40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Shelduck and 10 Redshank. Later in the morning, 102 Brent Geese moved onto the lagoon. The Wareham Channel was quiet, apart from the exciting interactions between at least 5 Marsh Harrier, beginning their courtship displays. At Middle Beach, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Black-necked Grebe and 3 Great Crested Grebe were reported today. The Black Redstart was also present again at Sandbanks.

Marsh Harriers – Wareham Channel – Alison Copland

Harbour Update – posted 26/01/23

Posted on: January 26th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another magic morning exploring the harbour with our School Bird Boat Project. A trip to remember with today’s class enjoying stunning views of a White-tailed Eagle flying over the Arne Peninsula! Other highlights from the trip included a Pochard flying east from the Wareham Channel into the Central Harbour, 3 Black-necked Grebe in Arne Bay and stunning views of Avocet and Dark-bellied Brent Goose flocks several hundred strong. Elsewhere, a Velvet Scoter was still present from Jerry’s Point plus 5 Black-necked Grebe and a single Great Northern Diver. South Haven featured 3 Redpoll and a single Slavonian Grebe was again from Pilots Point, Studland. Holes Bay featured over 2,000 Black-tailed Godwit today, as well as 3 Spoonbill and 188 Avocet. Meanwhile at least six Woodlarks occupied the the ARC reserve on Holme Lane.

Black-tailed Godwit flock – Holes Bay – @BayHoles

Harbour Update – posted 25/01/23

Posted on: January 25th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There was an atmospheric start to the morning with a thick frost and fog, with the low tide at Holes Bay offering an early feeding opportunity for c70 Avocet, amongst the Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Wigeon. Early birding from Baiter saw a count of 41 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Greenshank present. Lytchett Fields was busy today, with 88 Dunlin, 2 Green Sandpiper and 50+ Snipe feeding, as well as Water Pipit ringed “1K” recorded again in the Approach Field. A nice sighting of a drake Pochard also seen in flight over Lytchett Bay, headed towards the fields. 5 Woodlark were seen at Bog Lane this morning, and 1 Siberian Chiffchaff was reported at the Sewage Works near Corfe Castle. Within the harbour, 1 Velvet Scoter was present again in South Deep. Just outside of the the harbour, 2 Slavonian Grebe were reported in Shell Bay off Pilots Point. Finally, 1 White-tailed Eagle was seen over Morden Bog this morning.

Water Pipit “1K” – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 24/01/23

Posted on: January 24th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A fantastic School Bird Boat this morning produced 1 ringtail Hen Harrier high over Arne, 1 Velvet Scoter in South Deep, 4 Eider the central harbour and another 2 in South Deep, 3 Great Northern Diver, and c150 Red-breasted Merganser. Most unusual of all however a Whimbrel at Shipstal Beach! Whimbrel are typically a spring and autumn passage species for the harbour, with most individuals currently expected to be on their wintering grounds in SW Europe and W Africa. This isn’t the first overwintering individual we’ve had in the harbour, but it is an unusual record and perhaps reflective of the various extremes in weather conditions we’ve experienced this winter.

Elsewhere there were 2 Common Scoter off of Middle Beach and a single Razorbill in the harbour entrance, where the Black Redstart was still present on the rooftops on Sandbanks. In Holes Bay this morning a Green Sandpiper was seen briefly in front of the Stone Bench, along with 500+ Dunlin, 700+ Black-tailed Godwit roosting in the SE, plus Goldcrest and Chiffchaff in the entrance of the PC World Drain. There were 2 White-tailed Eagle seen near Norden Sewage Works, which headed towards Corfe Castle.

Juvenile Razorbill – Harbour Entrance – Clive Hargrave

Harbour Update – posted 23/01/23

Posted on: January 23rd, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This weather is so stunning. Yes, frostbite may set in briefly, but it’s worth it for these sunrises and sunsets….and everything in-between. More great birds today with a male Hen Harrier and ringtail Hen Harrier in Middlebere and the stunning male marsh Harrier was at Swineham again. There were a couple of sightings of White-tailed Eagle with one flying east along the Wareham Channel and another over Wareham heading west up the Frome Valley. At Lytchett Fields a Cattle Egret was seen near dusk and the Velvet Scoter was off Jerry’s Point again along with 2 Eider. Along Holme Lane 8 Woodlark were in the cattle field next to the big barn, viewable from the road and at Holmebridge a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine went over. At Baiter there was 1 male Goldeneye, 1 Great Northern Diver, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 21 Cormorant, 5 Turnstone, 1 Rock Pipit and c150 dark-bellied Brent Geese. A few Crossbill were vocal in the Corfe Valley, Wytch Farm side and a Woodlark was sub-singing near Hartland. There’s plenty of Raven activity as pairs are now in full display mode, especially in the middle of the day and the first Sparrowhawk display flights have also been observed.

Raven – Hydes Heath, RSPB Arne – Alison Copland

Harbour Update – posted 22/01/23

Posted on: January 22nd, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The raptors stole the show again today with plenty of White-tailed Eagle activity in the Wareham Channel, where visitors to both Swineham and Arne enjoyed views of two birds perched and on the move. Plus, at around 9am this morning, yet another new eagle arrived into the area….this time 3rd cal year male G816. This means that there are now currently five eagles mooching around south, central Dorset. Also around Swineham were several Marsh Harrier including a stunning adult male. Highlights elsewhere included the single Bearded Tit still present at Hatch Pond along with 5 Snipe, 3 Teal, 2 Gadwall and 1 Water Rail. Over at Sandbanks a Black Redstart was present on the rooftops along the beach side of North Haven, whilst inside the harbour there was 1 Velvet Scoter and 1 Slavonian Grebe off of Jerry’s Point, Studland. At the harbour mouth at dawn 5 Eider flew into the harbour and a Great Northern Diver flew out high over Sandbanks.

White-tailed Eagle perched at Swineham – Alison Copland

White-tailed Eagle in flight – Wareham Channel – Jane V Adams

Harbour Update – posted 21/01/23

Posted on: January 21st, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, they keep on coming! We’ve now gone from just 1 White-tailed Eagle in and around the harbour at the beginning of the week to 4 today. Late yesterday afternoon saw the arrival of another new individual in the shape of 4th calendar year male G463, meaning this week we’ve had 3rd cal year female G801, 3rd cal year male G812, 4th cal year female G466 and yesterdays new arrival G463. Big thanks to the Roy Dennis foundation for this info, it’s fascinating to see so many individuals continually return to the harbour. Whether it’s because it’s a favoured feeding site, or because it’s a suitable potential territory, only time will tell, but today people were treated some incredible spectacles as several of the birds were seen interacting over the Wareham Channel. Most notably, a pre-longed interaction between the two male individuals G812 (M) and G463 (M). With the settled weather due to continue we could see more arrivals (and departures) over the coming days, but with two 4th calendar year birds now present it could be an exciting couple of months.

Also today, there were 2 Marsh Tit in trees next to the Norden Sewage works and there were also 6+ Common Chiffchaff, a Siberian Chiffchaff and 2 Firecrest, and at the PCW Drain, 6+ Common Chiffchaff and a Firecrest. At Hatch Pond the Bearded Tit was there again on the eastern edge. Off Jerry’s Point there were 6 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe. In Middlebere 3 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank and 2 Marsh Harrier were logged and on Swineham GP there was 1 Pochard. 

Thanks also to Garry Hayman who recently consolidated all the info from the 2022 Middlebere Hide diary which provides totals, first dates etc over the course of the year. In total there were 121 different species recorded in the diary for 2022 (105 in 2021).


1st sighting / entry of the year: 1 on the 1st April
Last sighting / entry of the year: 1 on the 1st October
Highest count:  4 seen on 26th August
Total number of days an osprey was recorded for the year:  45 days   (41 days in 2021)
March: 0   (1 in 2021)
April: 19     (11 in 2021)
May: 2       (4 in 2021)
June: 0       (0 in2021)
July: 1        (2 in 2021)
August: 20    (16 in 2021)
September: 10 (7 in 2021)
October : 1      (0 in 2021)
White Tailed Eagle:
There were 10 White Tailed Eagles sightings recorded on the: 2nd Jan, 26th Aug, 18th Sept, 13th Oct, 22nd Oct, 23rd Oct 7th Nov, 13th Nov, 16th Nov and 24th Nov
There were 14 days of a Goshawk sighting.
There were 24 days in which a Merlin was recorded in the Diary and the first Autumn entry (arrival) was on the 15th October.
Hen Harrier
There were 59 days in which a Hen Harrier was recorded in the diary, 27 days at the start of the year and another 32 days at the end of the year. The first Autumn arrival was on 6th Oct and highest count was 2 ringtails on 29th Jan, 12th & 13th December.
Marsh Harrier
There 84 days in which a Marsh Harrier was recorded in the diary, with the highest count of 4 seen on the 12th January
Red Kite
There 3 red Kite sightings / entries on the 13th March, 22nd April and 26th June
Other Significant entries / rarities / High Counts in date order…..
2 Great White Egrets on 23rd Jan
10 Golden Plover on 10th Feb
81 Shelduck 16th Feb
50 Grey Plover on 25th Feb
4 Red Breasted Merganser on 21st March
6 Pochard on 21st March
2 Swallows on 5th April (first of the year)
19 Bar-tailed Godwits on 6th April
1 Woodlark on 6th April
1 Yellow Wagtail 6th April (first of the year)
2 House Martins on 11th April (first of the year)
1 Cuckoo (heard) on 19th April, first of the year
1 Whimbrel on 20th April (first of the year), 12th July (first of Autumn) and the highest count was 4 on 24th April.
1 Common Whitethroat on 21st April (first of the year)
1 Ruddy Shelduck on 26th April
1 Wheatear on 27th April (1st of the year)
1 Spotted Flycatcher on 11th May (1st of the year)
3 Cattle Egret on 11th May
1 Hobby on 19th May (1 of the year)
1 Swift  on 26th May (first of the year)
1 Cetti’s Warbler  was heard calling outside the hide on 4th, 14th, 15th and 17th June
1 Spotted Redshank on 5th July, first of the Autumn / winter  & the highest count was 8 on the 25th Sept & 6th Oct
220 Curlew on 11th July (highest count)
10 Greenshank on 30th July (highest count)
1 Yellowhammer on 29th August
1 Gannet (poss Avian influenza) on 4th Sept
20 Spoonbill on 5th Sept (highest count)
2 Whinchat on 5th Sept
3 Curlew Sandpiper on 23rd Sept (highest count)
750 Black-tailed Godwit on 25th Sept (highest count)
85 Pintail on 25th Sept (highest count)
1 Whooper Swan on 8th Oct
1 Glossy Ibis on 21st Oct
First Autumn / Winter Fieldfare and Redwing on 22nd Oct
1 Ruff on 30th Oct
1 Goosander (f) on 10th Dec
1 Jack Snipe on  10th Dec

White-tailed Eagles G466 and G812 over the Wareham Channel – Paula and John Thorpe


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