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 November, 2023

Harbour Update – posted 30/11/23

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

We had the first snow of the winter this morning making for a very cold, fresh day which may push some more winter visitors into the harbour. This didn’t stop the White-tailed Eagle pair from being active with some amazing footage of them this morning hunting a Cormorant on the Brownsea Lagoon. They then took off and cruised over the north shore although by the sounds of it, without their prey!

We were also running one of our Poole Quay walks this morning, although just too late to see the eagle action. We were still rewarded with plenty of good birds despite the cold including, 112 Brent Geese on Baiter Park, 8 Ringed Plover, 20 Turnstone, Dunlin, 15 Common Redshank, 25 Oystercatcher, Shag and 1 Mediterranean Gull at Baiter that had a colour ring on it’s leg which we are still awaiting the life history on, but the ringing scheme would suggest it was ringed in Belgium or the Netherlands.

At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Great White Egret and 227 Dunlin and at Jerry’s Point, Studland, the Long-tailed Duck was still present as well as 1 Slavonian Grebe, Great Northern Diver and 3 Goldeneye.


Harbour Update – posted 29/11/23

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

Another blissful day across the harbour with flat calm waters and a very light NE wind, bringing with it an almost (dare we say it) Christmasy chill to the air. There was plenty going on again all day with our Winter Safari this morning logging a decent haul of birds including 11 Great Northern Diver spread across the area including birds off Jerry’s Point, in central harbour, off Baiter and in the Wareham Channel. There was a Slavonian Grebe off Jerry’s Point and a marked increase of 13 Goldeneye with 8 in the Wareham Channel and others in central harbour and now up to 100 Red-breasted Merganser. The White-tailed Eagle pair, G466 and G463 were active in the Wareham Channel for most of the morning and the younger female eagle with the deformed beak, G801, was seen over RSPB Arne first thing, before she was later observed flying over Ballard Down and settling on Swanage Beach. A Great White Egret was over Swineham and there were 3 Marsh Harrier around the mouth of the Piddle and Frome Valley. The Spoonbill flock seem to have de-camped from Shipstal in recent weeks and are favouring the shorelines along the south of the harbour with 25 roosting off Fitzworth Point this morning. On the Swineham Scrapes a Green Sandpiper was feeding and there were 4+ Bearded Tit in the reedbeds. The Brownsea Lagoon was packed with birds including c350 Avocet, c1600 Black-tailed Godwit, c800 Dunlin, c20 Ringed Plover, 8 Grey Plover and c200 Oystercatcher. Another vis-mig session was carried out up at Glebelands on Ballard Down, and amazingly yesterdays Tree Pipit was still around, which was heard calling somewhere along the ridge. Also logged were 153 Chaffinch migrating NE, also 2 Brambling, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 35 Goldfinch, 2 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Hen Harrier sightings were logged at Lytchett Bay, Lytchett Fields, Middlebere and Swineham with both ringtail and adult males logged. Out in Studland Bay, from Middle Beach there were 6 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Northern Diver, 5 Common Scoter and 2 Sandwich Tern. Another Great White Egret was at the top end of Middlebere and in the PCW Drain at Holes Bay a minimum of 7 Chiffchaff were active. A 1st winter Little Gull was in Brands Bay late this afternoon plus the Long-tailed Duck was off Redhorn early afternoon where there were also 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver (near the harbour entrance), 3 Goldeneye and 42 Great Crested Grebe.

Masses of waders (Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets) on the DWT Brownsea Lagoon – Alison Copland

Masses of waders (Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin & Avocet) on the DWT Brownsea Lagoon – Alison Copland

Harbour Update – posted 28/11/23

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

A really late record today of 1 Tree Pipit over Glebelands, Ballard this morning. It just shows how late autumn migration can push on into November, with another record this week on the East coast, long after their peak passage in late August and early September. Elsewhere in the harbour the Long-tailed Duck was seen again in Brands Bay today along with 5 Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, 31 Red-breasted Merganser and 7 Goldeneye. On the other side of Studland, at Middle Beach there were 5 Black-necked Grebe, 6 Common Scoter and 3 Great Northern Diver and 2 Sandwich Tern. 2 White-tailed Eagles were sat on Gold Point, from the Shipstal Hide at Arne this afternoon. In Lytchett Bay 1 ringtail Hen Harrier was present from Rock Lea View as well as 1 Great Northern Diver and 1 Common Scoter in the bay and 1 Spotted Redshank on Lytchett Fields. In Holes Bay the Black-tailed Godwit flock was at least 1500 strong along with 256 Avocet. We also had a School Bird Boat this morning with highlights of 2 Marsh Harrier at Swineham, 3 male Goldeneye in the Wareham Channel, 3 Great Northern Diver off the north shore of Brownsea and c350 Avocet and c400 Black-tailed Godwit on the Brownsea Lagoon.


Harbour Update – posted 27/11/23

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

Sightings have been few and far between today, but a busy count on Brownsea Lagoon this morning with 1088 Black-tailed Godwit, 326 Avocet, 1666 Dunlin, 73 Grey Plover, 15 Knot and 64 Redshank, with a Peregrine putting up all of the birds. The male Hen Harrier was seen again at Lytchett Fields this morning, and a male Merlin was also reported from Rock Lea View perched in the salt marsh in Lytchett Bay. 2 Black-necked Grebe were present in Studland Bay this afternoon. This afternoon the Long-tailed Duck was off Redhorn Quay, Brands Bay where there was also 1 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Northern Diver, 18 Great Crested Grebe and 14 Red-breasted Merganser. 

Harbour Update – posted 26/11/23

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

What a difference 12 hours makes. When we went to bed it was still cold, and crisp with a bright clear moonlit sky. When we woke up the drizzle had arrived and the rest of the day din’t much improve. The best from the day was 9 Cattle Egret that flew past Rock Lea View at Lytchett Bay and 3 Spoonbill were in the bay this evening. There was also 1 Water Pipit at Lytchett Fields and the male Hen Harrier was also in and around the Lytchett Fields/Bay area for the morning. In Studland Bay there were 4 Great Northern Diver on the water and a minimum of 3 Black-necked Grebe plus there was a Slavonian Grebe in Brands Bay. The weather really hampered WeBS efforts today, with limited visibility and constant rain which is a shame considering the weather yesterday.

Harbour Update – posted 25/11/23

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

The harbour was at it’s very best today, bar a few exceptions (Red-necked Grebe for example), it provided everything you could possibly hope for from a winter days birding. Yes the calm weather helped, but when conditions like this occur, not only does it deliver new birds, it also allows for great coverage and today pretty much every corner of the harbour was observed returning a great mix of species. We’ll start with our Low-tide Cruise this afternoon which produced an incredible 24 Great Northern Diver spread across the entirety of the harbour. We were then treated to great views of a Black-throated Diver close to the harbour entrance and then 2 Red-throated Diver close to the boat in central harbour. There was a single Goldeneye off Pottery Pier, 1 Black-necked Grebe in Brands Bay, c20 Red-breasted Merganser in central harbour, 2 Kingfisher, the White-tailed Eagle pair were in the Wareham Channel, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew across in front of the boat in the Wareham Channel and there was also an adult male and female Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel. We also only logged 1 Spoonbill (also in the Wareham Channel), c200 Avocet off Fitzworth, c400 dark-bellied Brent Geese around the harbour fringes, 1 Great White Egret (in the Wareham Channel), c400 sinensis Cormorant, c300 Black-tailed Godwit and really good numbers of typical winter birds such as Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Curlew and Redshank. The best bird of the day was a newly arrived Long-tailed Duck in Brands Bay late this afternoon and there were singles of Slavonian Grebe off Jerry’s Point and off Middle Beach Studland. Also off Middle Beach were 7 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Northern Diver and 4 Common Scoter. The male Hen Harrier was doing the rounds being viewed at Swineham, Lytchett Bay and Middlebere, as was the female ringtail Hen Harrier which was also seen at the same locations. This morning 3 Great White Egret settled in Lytchett Bay and 5 Cattle Egret headed up the Frome Valley just after dawn. There was a single Brambling in Arne Village and at Middlebere 1 Merlin, 1 Spotted Redshank and 6 Spoonbill. Fieldfare were moving around in small numbers this morning, there were also 7 Cattle Egret logged over Wareham Common, 1 Spotted Redshank was in Holes Bay and 12 Spoonbill were in Lytchett Bay this afternoon.

Black-throated Diver – South Deep, from Low-tide Cruise – Dorothy Windall

Red-throated Diver – South Deep, from Low-tide Cruise – Dorothy Windall

Great Northern Diver, from Low-tide Cruise – North Channel

Goshawk – RSPB Arne – Mark Wright

Great White Egrets – Lytchett Bay – Alison Copland

Harbour Update – posted 24/11/23

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

The cold snap certainly kicked in today which will hopefully deliver a few more birds. Strangely a small late push of Wood Pigeon went through just after sunrise with c2000 going over Lytchett Bay, but it didn’t look or sound like many others were moving elsewhere. With the northerly wind a flock of c80 Fieldfare arrived in over Lytchett Minster and were being followed by a female Merlin. There was both an adult male Hen Harrier and female ringtail Hen Harrier in Lytchett Bay this morning and an adult (perhaps the same) male Hen Harrier at Swineham this afternoon. The Great Northern Diver and Common Scoter were in Lytchett Bay again, there were 2 Great Northern Diver in central harbour and another off Jerry’s Point.

Harbour Update – posted 23/11/23

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

Our first Intro to Urban Birding Walk at Holes Bay this afternoon was very successful in the early evening sun. As we looked out onto the rising tide there were huge flocks of waders swirling around including c1600 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Avocet and c300 Dunlin. Red Kite slowly soared west over the bay as well as a couple of Common Buzzard. Short views of 1 Kingfisher darting past were well received as well as distant views of c30 Pintail and 500+ Wigeon.

An adult Peregrine was seen on the Brownsea Lagoon feeding on a Wigeon as well as 14 Spoonbill, 211 Avocet, 336 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit and 9 Greenshank. At Lytchett Fields this morning were 2 Great White Egret and a grey male Hen Harrier as well as 1 Great Northern Diver still in Lytchett Bay. 3 Common Scoter were seen off South Haven, Studland and 2 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach. Middlebere had c300 Avocet, Grey Plover, c200 Dunlin and 2 White-tailed Eagle.


Afternoon Sun at Holes Bay

Harbour Update – posted 22/11/23

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

It was beautifully calm, cold winter day but sightings wise it was a bit thin on the ground. Out in Studland Bay there were 6 Black-necked Grebe and 6 Common Scoter. Off Jerry’s Point there were 3 Great Northern Diver and the Black-throated Diver was in the River Frome again off the footpath at Swineham Point, as you look south out down the river. At Rockley viewpoint a White-tailed Eagle was just off the beach then settled over on the Arne shoreline and in Lytchett Bay a male Hen Harrier was over the fields and the Common Scoter and Great Northern Diver were still in the bay. Also, a ringing session targeting Water Pipit at Lytchett Bay saw success with 3 new birds colour-ringed as part of a national Water Pipit colour ringing scheme.

Harbour Update – posted 21/11/23

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

It properly began to feel like winter today as the wind swung round from the north, delivering us a consistent and chilly breeze all day. The birds didn’t seem to care with various areas offering some top birding despite the cold. Up on Ballard down a small, ringtail harrier sp drifted in along the ridge and headed west. Sadly it couldn’t be confirmed to species, but it’s size and structure suggested that Pallid Harrier was a possibility. It frustratingly drifted out of view pretty quickly, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye out for over the coming days. Also up on Ballard were 2 late Swallow, 2 Brambling, a good count of 363 Chaffinch and best of all a flyover Snow Bunting. Our Winter Safari this morning produced the goods right around the harbour with a great mix of birds. This included a Black-throated Diver at Swineham, in the river just off the public footpath, 8 Great Northern Diver spread around with 3 in central harbour, 3 near the harbour mouth and 2 in the Wareham Channel, 2 distant Slavonian Grebe off Round Island, 1 Black-necked Grebe off Jerry’s Point, 3 Eider off Brownsea north shore, 5 Marsh Harrier at Swineham including 2 displaying high over Giggers Island, 1 Goshawk hunting over Rempstone, 16 Spoonbill off Fitzworth, 1 Great White Egret over Swineham GP and c10 Bearded Tit at Swineham Point, c300 Avocet, c10 Ringed Plover, 7 Greenshank, c30 Bar-tailed Godwit, c300 Eurasian Teal, c15 Curlew and a mix of Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler all on the Brownsea Lagoon. There were also c300 Dunlin in the Wareham Channel and another c500 in Brands Bay where there were also 3 Goldeneye and another Great Northern Diver plus a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at RSPB Arne.

Black-throated Diver at Swineham from Winter Safari Cruise – Robin Morrison

Eider in Central Harbour from Winter Safari Cruise – Clive Hargrave

Spoonbill and Fisherman off Fitzworth from Winter Safari Cruise – Annabel Sharpe

Goshawk causing havoc over Ower Bay from Winter Safari Cruise – Annabel Sharpe


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