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 March, 2023

Harbour Update – posted 21/03/23

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

No more sign of any Alpine Swift today, but there were some Chiffchaffs….lots of them! It seemed like multiple scrubby areas and woodland edges had lots of Chiffchaff moving through today, and Wareham Common had a three figure count of Sand Martin bombing about. The 3 Cattle Egret at Lytchett Bay were off Rock Lea this evening and the White-tailed Eagle pair left the Wareham Channel around mid-morning and headed towards Wareham Forest, with at least 3 others still lingering around the harbour boundaries.

Harbour Update – posted 20/03/23

Posted on: March 20th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was difficult to see beyond a few hundred meters for most of the day, but that didn’t stop the springs first migrant Osprey powering on through, with one seen heading over the Wareham bypass this morning, heading up the Frome Valley. A search for yesterdays Alpine Swift in Poole returned no news, although an intriguing sighting of a long winged, ‘Hobby-like’ bird seen dashing high over Wareham train station got excitement going. A search for it from Wareham Walls couldn’t find the mystery bird, but did see 8 Golden Plover fly north. On the Brownsea Lagoon 1 Little Ringed Plover, 6 Spoonbill and 11 Sandwich Tern were the highlights amongst the remaining Avocet, Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank. As usual, the 2 White-tailed Eagles were in the Wareham Channel this morning and again later this afternoon, and there were 2 others just beyond the harbour boundaries near Wareham Forest and Kimmeridge.

Stunning summer-plumaged Black-tailed Godwit – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 19/03/23

Posted on: March 19th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

As we’d hoped, an Alpine Swift was reported over Poole Harbour airspace, on the northern edge of Poole Park, near the tennis courts. Several other sightings were still received from just east of us with 1-2 individuals still around the Christchurch Harbour/Bournemouth area, so there’s still a chance one could still be over this way over the coming days. There was still plenty to keep things interesting though with c50 Sand Martin over Swineham GP this evening and 2 Cattle Egret there too. There were also 3 Cattle Egret seen again this morning from the Rock Lea viewpoint, Lytchett Bay. A Merlin and 4 Spoonbill were at Shipstal, Arne this afternoon and 2 White-tailed Eagle flew along the Wareham Channel this evening. At dusk 7 Marsh Harrier went to roost as did 25 Little Egret into the heronry along the Wareham Channel. There was also another small movement of Red Kite with 2 over Middlebere, 1 over Swineham and 2 over Upton.

Bar-tailed Godwits – Brownsea Lagoon – Clive Hargrave

Harbour Update – posted 18/03/23

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

Todays highlight wasn’t even within Poole Harbour, but the event its self suggests Poole birders should be keeping their necks craned tomorrow in search for anything swooping high above them. First off, just to the west of us an Alpine Swift was seen over Swanage around 15:30, which considering the number that have arrived in the UK in the last few days, wasn’t wholly unexpected. Then, this evening, just to the east of us an incredible SIX more Alpine Swift were seen feeding over a site close to Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch. What a site that must of been. These are huge Swifts with white bellies that have been delivered here with the deep southerly air flow from southern Europe thats occurred in the last week. There’s every chance a straying individual from this batch, or possibly even more could arrive over the coming days and find them selves over a Poole Harbour area….Wareham? Poole Town? Studland? Upton? Who knows but Alpine Swift should be on everyones radar over the coming days.

There was a harbour highlight today which consisted of a booming Bittern at Swineham around 9am. This is really unusual for us in the harbour, although migrating Bitterns stopping off at staging sites do occasionally ‘Boom’,  so it could be a oneoff migrant practising before getting back to it’s breeding grounds (wherever that may be)? Or do we dare dream that one could settle in the harbour one day. An effort was made this evening to see if any left on migration at dusk, but the watch returned zero migrating Bitterns! Suggesting our ‘boomer’ is waiting for another night, or…..it quite likes it here??!! Elsewhere the White-tailed Eagle pair were active in the Wareham Channel this morning before heading off towards Middlebere. A Black-necked Grebe was off Jerry’s Point, 1 Spoonbill was on the Brownsea Lagoon and 5 more flew over Middlebere. There was a single Wheatear at Swineham and the springs first Swallow flew over Wareham Common with 18 Sand Martin. At Lytchett Fields 2 Spotted Redshank were off Rock Lea View, Red Kites passed over Ridge, Worgret and Swineham, a Goshawk was photographed flying towards Corfe and there were 8 Sandwich Tern on the Brownsea Lagoon. There are still good numbers of dark-bellied Brent Geesea round the south of the harbour with up to c500 still present and c350 Dunlin were at the top end of the Wareham Channel with c250 Avocet still on the Brownsea Lagoon.

Harbour Update – posted 17/03/23

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

It was all go today, with plenty of new arrivals and some interesting activity logged of a certain species. Firstly, it was definitely a Wheatear day with 7 at Greenlands Farm, 5 at Sunnyside, 1 at Lytchett Fields and 1 at Stoborough Heath. Today also saw the first Little Ringed Plover with 1 at Lytchett Fields. A Common Crane flew over Middlebere mid-morning and headed towards Arne Moors before heading off south east again. A Goshawk dashed through Middlebere this afternoon, hunting godwits and at Swineham 6 Sand Martin were feeding. On the Brownsea Lagoon, 13 Sandwich Tern were now back and a single Spoonbill was feeding. This evening 3 Cattle Egret settled on Sherford Pools at Lytchett Fields and 1 Black-necked Grebe was off Middle Beach . This morning, an interesting photo was taken of the White-tailed Eagle pair, G466 and G463 sat on an old dilapidated Osprey nest platform. This doesn’t really mean too much, other than it was a good place to sit, but it seems their bond is strengthening. It will be fascinating to see what happens as the spring develops with these 2 birds as to whether they choose a preferred location within the harbour to settle. Finally, it seems we’re probably only days away from seeing our first migrant Osprey in the harbour as more arrived on breeding grounds further north today. Regarding our Osprey nest cam, we’re currently getting asked quite a bit about when our’s will be up and running and we’re glad to say it won’t be long at all now. After doing some final last minute tweaks today, all being well it should be up and running in the next couple of days.

White-tailed Eagles – Clive Hargrave

Harbour Update – posted 16/03/22

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

With the influx of Alpine Swift in the last couple of days, you never know what might turn up – the southerly winds are definitely kicking the Osprey season off to a good start across the country. The highlight of the sightings today was a Ruff present at Lytchett Fields, regularly moving between Sherford and French’s Pools. Also present at Lytchett Fields was a decent flock of c.100 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank, Dunlin and Redshank. At Swineham, a count produced 12 Shoveler, 27 Gadwall, 137 Teal, 87 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Marsh Harrier.

Ruff amongst Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 15/03/23

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

Spring migration is really coming into its own and it really won’t be long now until the first Poole Harbour Wheatear of the season is reported, with an exciting count of 50 individuals at Portland and the first Swallow seen in Dorchester today. Sand Martin numbers continue to rise, with 3 reported over Wareham Common this morning, along with 6 Black-tailed Godwits. 2 Cattle Egret were also logged flying up the River Piddle this morning. 1 Spotted Redshank was present in Lytchett Bay again today, with a distant Goshawk seen over Lytchett Fields. A count Holes Bay produced 13 Avocet, 51 Pintail, 7 Shoveler and 30 Dunlin, as well as high numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and Wigeon still present. 1 White-tailed Eagle was seen over Arne and the Wareham Channel this morning, also being reported at Hartland Moor along with one ringtail Hen Harrier over the site.

White-tailed Eagle – RSPB Arne – Kate Plater

Harbour Update – posted 14/03/23

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

Although still windy (and cold), today was actually pretty eventful for mid-March. Our Spring Safari Cruise this AM saw plenty of action including the White-tailed Eagle pair G463 and G466 soaring and interacting with one another over RSPB Arne, directly opposite the new Ham Common viewpoint at Rockley. If anyone had been stood on there, they would have had a great view! Amazingly we also had a Great Northern Diver just off the Brownsea shore, which is a species thats been nearly totally absent for the last month. There was also a distant Black-necked Grebe of Jerry’s Point and c80 Red-breasted Merganser spread across the harbour. With Brownsea now open again for the season, it was great to see the lagoon still so busy with 3 Spoonbill, c250 Avocet, c80 Bar-tailed Godwit, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, c100 Dunlin, c15 Grey Plover, c100 Oystercatcher, 2 Pintail and smaller numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler. At Swineham an adult male Merlin dashed across the gravel pit, with another (or the same) snatching a Sand Martin at dusk this evening. Until the Merlin attack, there had actually briefly been 6 Sand Martin at Swineham this evening, accompanied by 1 Barn Owl and 3 Marsh Harrier off the point and 2 Spoonbill were on the Swineham scrapes. At the PCW drain c10 Chiffchaff were enjoying the sun this morning and 3 were in full song and around mid-morning and there was a Spotted Redshank at Lytchett Fields. There were also 4 summer plumaged Sandwich Tern dotted around (2 Shipstal, 2 Brownsea). The Poole Peregrines were seen mating and dropping down onto the nesting ledge, suggesting they could be laying eggs any day now. And finally, although not Poole Harbour, the first Osprey of the season was seen landing on a nest up at Rutland Water, in Leicestershire which heralds the start of what will hopefully be another exciting year. We don’t anticipate our Poole Harbour pair to arrive back until very early April, but the first migrant Osprey could start passing through any day now, although in recent years the first observation seems to be anytime from March 20th onwards.

Of note, with so many people enjoying Lytchett Bay, Lytchett Fields and the new Rock Lea Viewpoint, you may be interested to read the recently completed and excellent Lytchett Bay 2022 Bird and Nature report.

Great Northern Diver – Brownsea shoreline – Alison Copland

Spoonbills – Swineham scrapes this evening

Harbour Update – posted 13/03/23

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

Last nights and todays wind didn’t seem to deliver anything too unusual to the harbour area, certainly not 7 Alpine Swift feeding above Poole Town. Now that would be something. The best that could be mustered once the wind had died down a bit was 4 Sand Martin over Swineham GP this evening. Also a White-tailed Eagle flew low over Lytchett Fields heading towards the Wareham Channel. around 5pm. This afternoon 2 Spotted Redshank were in Middlebere and Chiffchaff were singing at Hatch Pond (2), PCW Drain (2) and Norden Sewage Works (3).

Baiter Starling 

Harbour Update – posted 12/03/23

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

Surprisingly clear conditions this morning made for an enjoyable Spring Safari Cruise: Brownsea Lagoon was busy with 120+ Black-tailed Godwit, 30 Bar-tailed Godwit, 60 Avocet, 3 Grey Plover, 70 Dunlin, 8 Curlew, 10 Redshank, and 1 Greenshank. The recent spring tides and much awaited rain have resulted in considerable flooding at Swineham, where there were 10 Shoveler, 22 Shelduck, 23 Gadwall, 64 Teal, 12 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Lapwing, plus 5 Tufted Duck on the gravel pit. Despite the strong winds, 2 Sand Martin (perhaps some of yesterday’s arrivals) were on the wing, along with 1 Peregrine, 2 Kestrel, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 White-tailed Eagle and several pairs of displaying Buzzard.

Elsewhere a single Black-necked Grebe was seen off Bramble Bush Bay. In Lytchett Bay highlights were 318 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Spotted Redshank. And at Arne 10 Spoonbill were at present at Shipstal once again.

Great Crested Grebe – @twamers on Twitter


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