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 December, 2023

Harbour Update – posted New Years Eve, 31/12/23

Posted on: December 31st, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, as 2023 finally draws to a close, our Birds of Poole Harbour team would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone that’s helped, followed, supported and/or donated towards our work. This year has been our best ever in terms of income generated through our events and charitable activities and it’s been a thrill to see such an increase in audience size with folk getting excited and enthused by a whole range of topics and species. Whether it’s Ospreys, White-tailed Eagles, Swifts, Bearded Tits or the humble Blackbird, there’s been a real buzz around the harbour this year, with pretty much every corner of the area now being closely monitored during the entire course of the year. As a result, a whole range of great birds have been found including the Bramble Bush Bay Spotted Sandpiper and the over-summering Forster’s Tern, both new to the harbour. We’ve got a whole lot more planned for 2024 and with a re-enforced team, we should be a lot more active both out in the landscape and online, so make sure to follow all our updates and social posts to see what and how you can get involved this coming year.

So, for the final time this year, sightings for today included 2 Green Sandpiper on Wareham Common, a male Hen Harrier at Lytchett Fields, a White-tailed Eagle was in the Wareham Channel and there were up to 6 Great Northern Diver around the Studland Peninsular this morning.

With the sun now set, and 2024 just about to appear, why not watch this stunning video made by one of our volunteers Alison Copland, which highlights the story of our Osprey family this summer, and which will hopefully get you all geed up for a big 2024. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Osprey season 2023 – By Alison Copland


Harbour Update – posted 30/12/23

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

Having been a fairly calm and settled night last night, we were hopeful for a more settled day today, but alas, as the curtains were drawn back this morning, more wind and rain was hammering the windows, making birding, once again, quite tricky. We also saw today (like we see most winters) that there’s a proposed cold spell developing, very similar to the Beast from the East that occurred in 2018. The early suggestion is that sometime later in January things could turn pretty snowy, cold and wintery. Whether it will or not, we’ll just have to wait and see, but with daffodils already in flower and frog spawn already being laid (in Cornwall), it could be quite a shock to the (eco) system if this does come to fruition.

Today there were some excellent wildfowl counts including a massive total of 312 Shoveler in Holes Bay NW (a site record) and 366 Pintail in Brands Bay (2nd highest site count). The Cattle Egret flock were on Wareham Common again this morning with 21 counted, but the others probably weren’t far away. Also off Jerry’s Point and around Brands Bay were 4+ Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 4 Goldeneye and 28 Red-breasted Merganser. In Middlebere there were 3 Spotted Redshank and 12 Spoonbill.

Mistle Thrush – Carey Secret Garden

Stonechat – Carey Secret Garden

Harbour Update – posted 29/12/23

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

A quite fine, but tad windy day in the end with highlights being 25 Cattle Egret on Wareham Common again this morning. White-tailed Eagle sightings were reported from Swineham, Lytchett Bay and Bakers Arms. There was a Spotted Redshank on Lytchett Fields, a Black-throated Diver and 3 Great Northern Diver were off Shipstal Point, RSPB Arne and off Jerry’s Point the Long-tailed Duck was still there along with 1 Slavonian Grebe and 2 Black-necked Grebe and in Studland Bay there were 4 Great Northern Diver and 1 Common Scoter.

Cattle Egrets – Wareham Common 

White-tailed Eagle and Raven – Swineham – Annabel Sharpe

Harbour Update postsed 28/12/23

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

It was pretty wild last night, but as of yet, nothing different or new was found sheltering in the harbour today. That said, there could have been a whole raft of Long-tailed duck and we’d never have known seeing as the sea state was incredibly choppy all day. In Middlebere today there was a Goshawk and male Hen Harrier. The flock of 24 Cattle Egret were on Wareham Common again and at the harbour entrance this morning 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver and 1 Razorbill all entered through the harbour entrance. A Jack Snipe was flushed from Slepe Heath.

Harbour Update – posted 27/12/23

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

Thats it, the post Xmas Waxwing hunt is now on. With news today that one was found in a Torquay garden, down in Devon means there just HAS to be a/some Dorset/Poole Harbour Waxwing somewhere?! With this in mind, everyone should make a mental note to check the top of every tree they pass on their way to work, during post-xmas shopping, whilst gazing out of the kitchen window or when booze shopping for New Years Eve. This broad sweep observation style will come good eventually, and someone will jam in on a jingling flock high upon a supermarket car park tree somewhere. But where will that be?

Whilst trying to ignore the cross-boarder jealousy, birds that were actually in Poole Harbour today included 24 Cattle Egret on Wareham common, we’ll need to double check, but we think this may be a Poole Harbour record. Also, today 3 Great Northern Diver and a likely Black-throated Diver flew in through the harbour mouth and a White-tailed Eagle was over Brownsea. There was a Spotted Redshank on Lytchett Fields and a Hen Harrier was at Middlebere.

Great White Egret – Middlebere (yesterday) – Kate Plater


Harbour Update – BOXING DAY 26/12/23

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

It was lovely to see a still, calm day for once, having felt a bit grey and overcast for some weeks now. Boxing Day often offers an opportunity for folk to get out and walk off the Christmas calories and it was nice to see a good selection of birds logged today. the White-tailed Eagle pair were causing trouble between Middlebere and Shipstal this morning and a male Hen Harrier was in Middlebere. Off Jerry’s Point there were 7 Great Northern Diver, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Long-tailed Duck. At Lytchett fields there was a single Spotted Redshank and there were another 3 Great Northern Diver off Hamworthy Beach, 1 off Brownsea north shore and 1 off Shipstal Beach, RSPB Arne. A Great White Egret was in Middlebere.

Great Northern Diver – Brownsea north shore – Nicki Tutton

Harbour Update – CHRISTMAS DAY, 25/12/23

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

With a fine drizzle and grey sky’s, there wasn’t much to report today. So, with that in mind we’d like to wish all our friends and followers a very MERY CHRISTMAS and hope you all have an amazing day. It’s been great fun in 2023, and we can’t thank you all enough for believing in us and continuing to support us in various different ways. We can’t wait to get cracking in 2024, but until then, we have oodles of Christmas Pudding to devour. Have a great day ⁦all!! X

Harbour Update – Christmas Eve

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

It’s felt so grey for so long now, we’re keeping everything crossed that the New Year brings a change in weather and in birds. Not that there hasn’t been good birds around this winter! In fact it’s been a great end to the year. However, with Christmas Eve now in full flow, and with many folk probably nicely lubricated already, it’s a good chance to settle down and look back at whats been a busy year for the Poole Harbour birding scene and conservation sector. Whether you’re a local, or have visited the area this year, the harbours offered a stunning variety of birding experiences and education opportunities which wouldn’t have been comprehensible 10 years ago. Therefore we hope you’ve you’ve enjoyed your time here and with that in mind, regardless of what your plans are for the next few days….relax, enjoy and we look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Highlights from today included 23 Spoonbill and 1 male Hen Harrier in Middlebere. On Wareham Common 12+ Cattle Egret were still with the cows and in Studland Bay there were 4+ Black-necked Grebe with 1 Great Northern Diver. At Lytchett Bay there were 3 Spoonbill, 2 Marsh Harrier and a White-tailed Eagle was in the Wareham Channel.

Spoonbill – Middlebere – Mark Wright

Harbour Update – posted 23/12/23

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

All quiet on the western (and southern, and eastern and northern) front today! It seems that last ditch Christmas shopping took president with sightings few and far between. The only main highlights that were logged were c600 Avocet and 12 Spoonbill in Middlebere, 1 Spotted Redshank in Holes Bay, the White-tailed Eagle pair were back in the Wareham Channel, a Hen Harrier was at Shipstal and a decent count of 115 dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Brownsea Lagoon.

Of course, each day there are thousands of regular wetland species that occur around the harbour that we don’t report on because they’re considered ‘common’. That doesn’t mean they’re not important and each month they’re all counted as part of the important monthly ‘Wetland Bird Surveys (WeBS), a census some of our team have managed since 2011. For interest below are the totals for our latest survey which was carried out on Dec 10th which logged an incredible 23,649 waterbirds.

Species of Poole Harbour importance: Dec10th total and our max count since 2011 in brackets.

  • dark-bellied Brent Goose – 1001 (2442)
  • Shelduck – 572 (1826)
  • Wigeon – 4467 (5606)
  • Pintail – 359 (443)
  • Red-breasted Merganser – 147 (299)
  • Avocet – 1485 (1829)
  • Black-tailed Godwit – 2838 (5156)
  • Spoonbill – 33 (66)
  • Little Egret – 46 (242)

Harbour WeBS Records: On Dec 10th, no less than four post Nov 2011 records were broken (previous record in brackets)

  • Dunlin – 3139 (2850)
  • Great Black Backed Gull – 211 (207)
  • Great Northern Diver – 16 (12)
  • Eider – 6 (4)

Diving/Open water species Species: Other than Great Northern Diver, Eider and Red Breasted Merganser, diving species numbers were low during the Dec 10th WeBS due to the choppy water, but a good variety was reported, as follows:

  • Great Crested Grebe x 139
  • Goldeneye x 15
  • Black-necked Grebe x 3
  • Red Throated Diver x 2
  • Slavonian Grebe x 2
  • Black Throated Diver x 1
  • Long Tailed Duck x 1
  • Common Scoter x 1

Many thanks to Rod Brummit for consolidating and bringing this info together.

Avocet flock – Middlebere – John Thorpe

Harbour Update – posted 22/12/23

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

A pretty mild day in the harbour today with 2 Eider, Great Northern Diver being seen at the harbour mouth this morning as well as 65 Shag flying into the harbour. The male White-tailed Eagle G463 was seen from the Middlebere Lookout at RSPB Arne as well as 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 21 Spoonbill, amongst Grey Plover and hundreds of Avocet. A juvenile Peregrine was visible in Poole Town today.

Juvenile Peregrine – Poole Town – Rene Goad


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