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 February, 2023

Harbour Update – posted 18/02/22

Posted on: February 18th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Although a number of over-wintering birds have already left, there were still really good numbers spread across the harbour from our low-tide cruise this afternoon. dark-bellied Brent Geese were well spread across the south of the harbour with c1000 still present. In Brands Bay there 300+ Pintail, c400 Black-tailed Godwit and good numbers of Teal and Wigeon. Near the harbour mouth 3 Black-necked Grebe were just off the Houseboats and 3 Spoonbill were in Newton Bay. In Whitley Lake, Sandbanks Med Gull numbers were increasing and c80 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding away from the Kite Surfers. At the top end of the Wareham Channel a minimum of 7 Marsh Harrier came into roost, c300 Lapwing, 25 Avocet, c400 Dunlin and thousands of gulls were on the on the mud. In Lytchett Bay a Spotted Redshank was off Rock Lea view , 1 off Swineham Point and another Spotted Redshank was in Middlebere. On Lytchett Fields Water Pipit ‘1K’ was present and at the harbour entrance at dawn 135 Pintail and 70 Red-breasted Merganser entered the harbour. A semi-decent count of 22 Sanderling were on the Sandbanks groynes near the Haven Hotel.

Harbour Update – posted 17/02/23

Posted on: February 17th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The building breeze made watching open areas of the harbour tricky today, but it was good to see a Great Northern Diver in Shell Bay seeing as numbers had dropped off in recent weeks. There were also 3 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay with another 5+ in Studland Bay along with 1 female Common Scoter. Brands Bay was full of Pintail again, and 2 Peregrine were actively hunting the c300 Black-tailed Godwit, c100 Dunlin and 20 Grey Plover that were also in the bay. There were 2 White-tailed Eagle seen around the Arne peninsular, 2 Marsh Harrier were at Swineham and a ringtail Hen Harrier was at Middlebere. There was also an odd report of a female Ring Ouzel in Poole Town near Tower Park. They can/do very rarely over-winter, so it’s not impossible, but it’s a tad too early for it to be an early spring migrant.

Reed Bunting and Greenfinch – Lytchett ‘Rock Lea’ view Feeders

Harbour Update – posted 16/02/23

Posted on: February 16th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was a bit more ‘February’ today with murk and gloom over much of the harbour, brightened up slightly by a stunning adult male Marsh Harrier that currently frequenting the Middlebere, Swineham area. We rarely see full adult male plumage but this lad is the real deal, and would be a welcome resident to the harbour should he decide to stay into March and April. The 2 White-tailed Eagle that have been spending a lot of time togther, G466 and G463 were both out in the Wareham Channel mid-morning but soon drifted off into the murk, not to be seen again. At Shipstal Beach, RSPB Arne, 6 Spoonbill were roosting.

Blackbird brightening up a dull day

Harbour Update – posted 15/02/22

Posted on: February 15th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Sorry for the late post, we’ve literally only just got back in from hosting our final Sunnyside ringing demo of the season. It was a great final session with 1 Jack Snipe, 2 Common Snipe, 1 Woodcock and 2 Lapwing ringed. In total 4 Jack Snipe were seen along with c15 Woodcock and c10 Lapwing. It was another belter of a day too in terms of warm weather which saw White-tailed Eagles G463 and G466 active high above the Wareham Channel, with a Marsh Harrier displaying there too. It was good to hear of some semi-decent ‘Barwit’ and Sanderling totals from Whitley Lake yesterday which included 104 Bar-tailed Godwit and 35 Sanderling on the inner-Sandbanks shoreline. A pale-bellied Brent Goose was in Brands Bay. In Holes Bay SW 2 Spotted Redshank were hunkered up and off Middle Beach, Studland 5 Black-necked Grebe were just off shore. In Brands Bay this morning a clonking 444 Pintail were counted, which is a great February total. The mass-Black-tailed Godwit group now seems to be dispersing around the harbour with all c3500 having been tucked away in Holes Bay in recent months. Now flocks of c500-c600 are being counted back at sites like Lytchett Bay, Brands Bay and the Brownsea Lagoon. A Red Kite was over Upton.

Woodcock – Sunnyside Ringing Demo – Brittany Maxted

Lapwing – Sunnyside Ringing Demo – Brittany Maxted

Harbour Update – posted 14/02/22

Posted on: February 14th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This weather can stay please! By mid-afternoon, the temperature had reached 14 degrees in some areas and it truly felt like a spring day. There was lots going on today and this morning our Winter Safari Cruise was treated to a decent range of species. Male White-tailed Eagle G463 briefly had a minor dispute with a Raven out over the sores of the Wareham Channel before heading off up the Frome Valley. There were 2-3 Marsh Harrier touring the Swineham/Keysworth area and 3 Spotted Redshank in the mouth of the Frome along with c200 Lapwing and c300 Avocet. Central Harbour had c80 Red-breasted Merganser but there were only 4 Goldeneye in the Wareham Channel. Shipstal Point at Arne only had 6 Spoonbill. This evening 3 Cattle Egret flew past Rock Lea viewpoint at Lytchett Bay and 2 Spotted Redshank were on Lytchett Fields with at least 1 Water Pipit. There was a good count of 306 Pintail in Brands Bay along with 9 Knot (which have been scarce this winter).

White-tailed Eagle and Raven – Winter Safari Cruise this AM – Fiona Liddiard

River Frome – Winter Safari Cruise this AM – Fiona Liddiard

Harbour Update – posted 13/02/22

Posted on: February 13th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

If there was ever a reminder to check those gull flocks properly then todays juvenile Ross’s Gull at Dorchester would be it! As we head into the latter part of February and into early spring, scarcer gulls should be on the radar with Ring-billed Gull, Caspian Gull, Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull all possible, hiding in amongst the more commoner species. A Ross’s Gull is a different level though, a dream Poole Harbour bird, a species thats currently missing from the official Poole Harbour list. Maybe todays Dorchester bird will do the kind thing and come and drop down onto Baiter over the next few weeks!

Forgetting dreamland for a moment, there were definitely more signs of spring today with the first early passages of Meadow Pipit trickling over Ballard. Not huge numbers, but certainly the beginnings of Meadow Pipit passage, plus there were up to 5 Water Pipit on Lytchett Fields, suggesting new birds are arriving in and staging in the harbour en route south. A White-tailed Eagle was in the Wareham Channel before drifting off high north with 2 Marsh Harrier also in the Wareham Channel. Yesterday, a stunning juvenile Goshawk buzzed through Middlebere and off Middle Beach 4 Black-necked Grebe were just off shore. The Wareham Channel had 6 Goldeneye, 5 Spoonbill were at Shipstal and 2 Common Chiffchaff were singing briefly in the PCW drain.


Harbour Update – posted 12/02/23

Posted on: February 12th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another brilliant boat trip this morning, starting with cracking views of Great Northern Diver in North Channel, followed by 2 Black-necked Grebe in Bramble Bush Bay, and a stunning encounter with a first winter male Eider in the Central Harbour. In total eight raptor species were recorded, the highlights being fourth calendar year male White-tailed Eagle G463 on Shag Loe, Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier hunting simultaneously on Arne Moors, a close flyby from a Sparrowhawk, and a Red Kite over Keysworth! Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe remain present in decent numbers throughout the harbour, particularly South Deep, the central harbour and the Wareham Channel, the latter of which also held 5 Goldeneye. Highlights from elsewhere in the harbour included 50 Redwing in the sheep fields in Upton Country Park, and the first Lytchett Bay Green Woodpecker record of the year along with 2 Marsh Harrier and 30 Mediterranean Gull.

Eider – Winter Safari Cruise – Alison Copland

Harbour Update – posted 11/02/22

Posted on: February 11th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It’s warming up and there were more signs of spring today. Woodlark were singing at a couple of traditional sites and the first singing Blackcap of the spring was heard in Oakdale. Buzzard were in full display mode and at Arne Dartford Warbler were sub-singing. In Holes Bay there were 3036 Black-tailed Godwit which is a great February total, 180 Avocet, 1220 Wigeon and 807 Teal. In Middlebere 2 Spotted Redshank were feeding on the low tide, 4 Black-necked Grebe were in Shell Bay. Firecrest seem to be everywhere at the moment, with individuals turning up at multiple sites including in private gardens at urban sites such as Oakdale, but totals of 2 or more were logged at the PCW drain, Upton CP, Norden sewage works, Swineham and Knoll Beach, Studland. There are still decent numbers of Marsh Harrier around with 2 in Lytchett Bay, 2 in Middlebere and 4 at Swineham. White-tailed Eagles were lurking too with 2 in and around the Wareham Channel area.

Spotted Redshank – Middlebere 

Harbour Update – posted 10/02/22

Posted on: February 10th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A tad quieter today but 3 Spotted Redshank, c200 Avocet and a ringtail Hen Harrier were seen in Middlebere. This morning 2 White-tailed Eagle were in the Wareham Channel but not seen throughout the rest of the day. Off Middle Beach 5 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Common Scoter were in Studland Bay and at Norden Sewage Work there were still 10+ Common Chiffchaff and 2 Firecrest.

Ringtail Hen Harrier – Middlebere – Garry Hayman

Harbour Update – posted 09/02/22

Posted on: February 9th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Much milder today and another flat calm harbour. A Bittern was seen to drop down into the main reed bed off Swineham Point this afternoon along with 1 Merlin, 1 Spotted Redshank, c100 Avocet and c300 Dunlin. Plus, there were 4 different Marsh Harrier including a stunning adult male off Swineham Point. A White-tailed Eagle was over Hartland Moor and was seen tracking towards the Wareham Channel this afternoon and 2 were seen circling over Wareham around 1pm. There were still 2000+ Black-tailed Godwit in Holes Bay north, a Black Redstart was in a private garden near Northmoor, Wareham. A single Spoonbill was feeding on the Swineham scrapes this evening.

Black-tailed Godwits, Pintail, Wigeon and Teal – Holes Bay – Martin Adams


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