Poole Harbour sightings blog

A record of all interesting and notable sightings from around the harbour throughout the year.

Latest Sightings

Archive for September, 2023

Harbour Update – posted 30/09/23

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

Passage is still in full swing with a number of migrants seemingly dropping in today. Another good cruise round the harbour this afternoon with brief views of 2 White-tailed Eagle in the Wareham channel as well as 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and a single Osprey hunting over Shipstal Bay. On view at the Brownsea Lagoon from the boat were 56+ Spoonbill and 50+ Avocet. The eclipse Garganey was still present at the lagoon today as well as 4 Curlew Sandpipers. Another 4 Curlew Sandpipers were seen at Lytchett Fields among various other waders including 1 Spotted Redshank. At Arne the Forster’s Tern was still providing great views as is pictured below. Also at Arne was a passage Ring Ouzel briefly settling near the RSPB car park before taking off and a flyover White-tailed Eagle above the cafe. Middlebere is continuing to provide a good variety of passage and wintering species with 1 Osprey still being seen as well as several Pintail and 1 Wood Sandpiper.


Forster’s Tern,  RSPB Arne – Mark Wright

Harbour Update – posted 29/09/23

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

It was back to the balmy weather again today with plenty butterflies and dragonflies on the wing, including loads of Red Admirals. This attracted in several juv Hobby that started hunting over the Piddle and Frome Valley, Hartland and Middlebere. The first Hen Harrier (a ringtail) of the autumn was seen over Hydes Heath this morning heading west, and what could have been the same individual was briefly seen at Swineham yesterday too. The Forster’s Tern was putting on a good show in Middlebere where there was also an adult male Scottish Osprey, ring number ‘511’. This has been reported to the Scottish ringers and info has come back that it was ringed as a chick in the Black Isle, Northern Scotland in July 2021. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Ruff,Spotted Redshank and 3 Crossbill passed over. On the Brownsea Lagoon an arrival of some waders was evident with 13 new Grey Plover, 9 Knot and 8 Ringed Plover all present, all of which were absent on Wednesday. Other highlights on the lagoon were 58 Avocet, 19 Greenshank and 405 Teal. In Brands Bay there was another Ruff, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Knot also an increase to 20 Pintail, plus 1 Osprey and 1 Peregrine over. The White-tailed Eagle pair were moving about, first sighted high over the Frome Vally, then low over the Piddle Valley, heading towards the harbour.

Harbour Update – posted 28/09/23

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

After the storm last night some passage migrants may have been forced to drop into the harbour for shelter. The bad weather has certainly meant Ospreys are still being sighted in good numbers as they haven’t all migrated yet! With 3 different individuals catching a fish each from Middlebere this morning. Single birds were also spotted at Ham Common, Lytchett Bay and Holes Bay. Good variety of waders at Lytchett today with 10 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 7 Common Snipe, c25 Dunlin and 3 Curlew Sandpiper all being seen. The long-staying Forster’s Tern was still at Shipstal today amongst Sandwich Terns as well as a single Spotted Flycatcher and Hobby at Arne. In Holes Bay 1 Wheatear and 8 Pintail were present. Out to Poole Bay from Sandbanks 1 Gannet and 8 Common Scoter flew past heading west. The Forster’s Tern was at Shipstal still and the White-tailed Eagle pair were mooching around the Wareham Channel.


Osprey with fish in the Middlebere Channel – John Thorpe

Harbour Update – posted 27/09/23

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

It was real day of hirundine migration with what must of been tens, if not hundreds of thousands passing through and over the harbour (and Dorset) during the course of the day. At Lytchett Fields alone an estimated c5,300 went through during an hour period this morning meaning if the passage rate remained the same during the course of the day then c47,700 could have passed over Lytchett Fields today. They were still passing through and over many areas up until about 18:00, so the combined area total today would have been huge. Interestingly the majority were Swallows, then followed by House Martin, with only 1 lonely Sand Martin logged over Swineham! Meadow Pipit were also moving this AM, but far, far fewer with just a few hundred logged, mostly over Swineham and Arne Moors. The White-tailed Eagles put on an incredible show in the Wareham Channel as they powered out, low across the water, initially looking as if they were going to try and hunt one of the c275 Cormorant that were feeding in a large raft. However, having spoken to Tim Mackrill, he’s explained to us that they were almost certainly looking to steal fish from the Cormorants, therefore acquiring an easy meal rather than having to hunt their own. What made it even more spectacular was it all happened off the side of our Autumn Safari Cruise this AM, which then produced 3 Osprey, one of which flew directly over the boat, eye-balling everyone on board. The Brownsea Lagoon seemed quite quiet, although 61 Spoonbill were still present along with 21 Avocet, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 186 Black-tailed Godwit, 332 Oystercatcher and 211 Redshank. Weirdly there were no Ringed Plover, Knot or Grey Plover on there today. A Garganey was found by Brownsea vols on the lagoon today and another was seen on the wet pools at Swineham where there was a Ruff on the ‘Stilt Pools’. At Lytchett Fields there was 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Ruff and 1 Spotted Redshank. Off Middle Beach, Studland 4 Common Scoter flew west and off Shell Beach another 8 flew west. A Peregrine was hunting over Poole Quay and out between Brownsea and Baiter. An Osprey was seen hunting in Holes Bay and the Greenland Wheatear was still along the Holes Bay cycle path and there were another 2 Osprey in Lytchett Bay. The 2 over-summering Eider were in Bramble Bush Bay, Studland. Finally, a Wryneck was in the Ulwell Gap, leading to Swanage and the Forster’s Tern was seen again off Shipstal Beach, RSPB Arne.

‘Pirate’ White-tailed Eagle chasing down Cormorant flock for an easy meal from Autumn Safari cruise this AM – Rob Chace

Harbour Update – posted 26/09/23

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

Things are pretty samey at the moment. Maybe tomorrows stronger winds that are forecast for later in the day will deliver an American warbler or two. Unlikely, but at least the current range of birds are decent enough for the interest to remain daily. There were 3 Curlew Sandpiper on Lytchett Fields today along with 1 Ruff, 3 Spotted Redshank, 14 Greenshank, 5 Green Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper. A few Ospreys are still clinging on with fish catches in Middlebere, Brands Bay, Lytchett Bay and Wareham Channel. The Brownsea Lagoon had c50 Spoonbill, the 2 White-tailed Eagles were in the Wareham Channel briefly, there were 2 Wheatear along the Holes Bay cycle path, the male looking to be a Greenland race and 3 Marsh Harrier were at Swineham. The Forster’s Tern was also still hanging out at Shipstal, Arne.

Northern Wheatear – Holes Bay – Rene Goad

Greenland race Northern Wheatear – Holes Bay – Rene Goad

Harbour Update – posted 25/09/23

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

It really is feeling like autumn now with a chilly nip in the air and both dewy dawns and dusks as crane flys bounce their way over garden paths. And with October just around the corner (and therefore the first Redwings being only a few weeks away), it feels like these may be the last few days of summer. It’s great to still see so many Osprey around with at least 3 still around today, including one that was happily hunting along the Holes Bay cycle path this afternoon in the SE sector, giving a fantastic display to any commuters driving past. There were several sightings in Lytchett Bay throughout the day and others seen in Middlebere, the Wareham Channel and Brands Bay. This afternoon 2 White-tailed Eagles were seen over Ham Common viewpoint and a few Hobby were still off Hydes Heath with 2 Marsh Harrier in the mouth of the Frome. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank, 40 Dunlin, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Whinchat. On Brownsea there were still 61 Spoonbill, c50 Avocet, c40 Dunlin, c50 Ringed Plover and 2 Kingfisher. There was a Whinchat on Hartland and big numbers of hirundines, mostly Swallow, were on the move again with several thousand high over Frome and Piddle Valley around lunchtime. The Barnacle Goose was on Holme Lane GP again with 7 Egyptian Geese.

Reed Bunting (left) and Whinchat (right) – Hartland Moor – Garry Hayman

Harbour Update – posted 24/09/23

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

Raptors stole the show on this morning’s Autumn Safari Cruise, with close views of a Scottish ringed male Osprey hunting in the top end of the Wareham Channel, followed by a Marsh Harrier soaring low over the reedbeds at Swineham, a direct flyover by a Peregrine in the mouth of the Frome, and topped off with a hawking Hobby right next to the boat as we departed the channel! With today’s neap tides the majority of waders were to be found on the Brownsea Lagoon where there were 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 38 Avocet, 1 Knot, 1 Sanderling, and 1 Spotted Redshank, along with 595 Teal and 61 Spoonbill. Highlights from elsewhere included a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper on Lytchett Fields and 1 Whinchat in the Arable field. At Arne the Forster’s Tern was present at Shipstal, whilst Kingfisher, Peregrine and another Scottish ringed Osprey – this time a juvenile – were reported further up the Middlebere Channel.

Greenshank – Lytchett Field – Paul Kirby
Peregrine – Middlebere Lookout – Kate Plater

Harbour Update – posted 23/09/23

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

Still no American warblers in Poole Harbour yet, but almost equally rare these days was a Tree Sparrow that was in scrub at Shell Bay, Studland this morning. There was a Garganey on the Brownsea Lagoon and Avocet numbers have increased up to 93. At Lytchett Bay a Wryneck was at Lytchett Fields but couldn’t be relocated. There were still 3-4 Osprey around, spread between Lytchett Bay, the Wareham Channel, Middlebere and Brands Bay. The Forster’s Tern was hunting in Middlebere where there were also 11 Spoonbill.

Harbour Update – posted 22/09/23

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

It was definitely a big migration day today, certainly for 4 typical late September species. Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were all on the move in good numbers. Swallow were passing through and over from dawn until dusk, so goodness knows how many in total headed West during the course of the day, but we’re talking thousands and thousands. In the Piddle Valley alone c5000 went through during the afternoon, with big numbers reported across many skylines all day long. For the first 4-5 hours of the day Meadow Pipit were on the move and certainly many hundreds were seen passing over the Wareham Channel this morning and flocks of 50+ were feeding in the wet meadows around the harbour fringes. For a second day in a row bushes and scrub were ‘dripping’ with Chiffchaff, with their hoooweet calls coming from every bush for the first few hours after daylight. Finally, Blackcap, which always move in good numbers in late September were seen gorging on blackberry and elderberry bushes with 40 ringed at Lytchett Heath alone this AM in just a couple of hours. All in all it felt like a proper September day with 5 Ruff on Arne Moors/Swineham with 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank and c100 Black-tailed Godwit. A Golden Plover flew over Swineham, calling as it headed off high west. The Brownsea Lagoon held 56 Spoonbill, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, c50 Ringed Plover, c80 Dunlin, 2 Knot, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Wheatear and 2 Kingfisher. The Forster’s Tern was off Shipstal Beach. This morning 7 Marsh Harrier came out of the west harbour roost and there were a minimum 4 Osprey around with 2-3 around the Wareham Channel/Middlebere area, another in Brands Bay and 1 in Holes Bay. In Middlebere a Cattle Egret and Great White Egret went over, there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 7 Pintail and 2 Spotted Redshank. Singles of Hobby (which have been in low numbers this summer) were over Hartland and Middlebere, a Red Kite was over Hartland and a Goshawk was having a fight with a Sparrowhawk over the Wareham causeway.

Red Kite – Hartland

Harbour Update – posted 21/09/23

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

Nationally, today will go down as one of the most fascinating days in recent birding history. After yesterdays storm and low pressure system that swept across from North America, the last two days has seen more rare North American land birds arrive into the UK than ever before. Ok, we agree, it’s not all about rarities, but when such an unprecedented fall of vagrants arrive from the other side of the Atlantic, it highlights the true scale and challenge many birds face when moving north to south. To provide some context, a good year would see one, maybe two Red-eyed Vireos in UK. Today there were 6. Before today there had only ever been 14 historic UK records of American Cliff Swallow. Today 7 turned up!! Now the warblers….oh the warblers. Any North American warbler turning up in the UK is a big deal. Today FIVE different species turned up including 1 Bay-breasted Warbler, 2 Black and White Warblers, 1 Magnolia Warbler, 1 Tennessee Warbler and 1 Blackburnian. Just crazy!! Then, to add to the mix, the UK’s 3rd Alder Flycatcher, a Bobolink and a Baltimore Oriole. Who knows what else will turn up over the next few days but it’s well worth being on high alert!

Here in the harbour we did manage our own North American speciality, but it was one that turned up a few months ago in the shape of the Forster’s Tern which was off Shipstal and hunting in Middlebere. Best bird of the day was a Bittern which was seen flying across the main pit at Swineham before settling in the reedbeds on the far side and a Red-rumped Swallow which was seen flying over Godlingston Heath. There was also 1 Cattle Egret and 9 Ruff at Swineham. At Middlebere 4 Spoonbill were feeding and there were 4 Spotted Redshank, 5 Knot, 9 Pintail, 12 Wigeon, 1 Hobby, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Goshawk and an Osprey. There were 2 Osprey over Lytchett Bay, 27 Spoonbill off Shipstal and a big Chiffchaff group of 50+ birds was along the Studland Peninsular near East Lake. At Upton CP/Holes Bay there were 163 Wigeon, 9 Pintail, 14 Shoveler, 1 Whinchat near the Boardwalk, 2 Common Sandpiper and 3 Kingfisher. 

Spoonbill – Middlebere – John Thorpe


Call 01202 641 003