Birds of Poole Harbour launch walk = Sun-kissed success!

Today was the ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ launch walk, kindly supported by Arne RSPB nature reserve. A group of 20 keen and eager people booked on to what was hopefully going to be an unforgettable first excursion.

The weather was our first tick for the day. A low, warm sun drenched us for the whole two and a half hour walk around some of the harbours most pristine areas.

With a short introduction at the visitors centre we headed for Coombe Heath in search of waders in the Middlebere Channel. We were welcomed by the sight of 100 Lapwing and 150 Dunlin feeding/roosting on the mud at the top of the channel with Teal and Wigeon busily keeping an eye on two hunting foxes out on the salt marsh. Then out of no-where a Spoonbill appeared on the mud feeding happily all on it’s own, and in a great spot for us to get telescopes on to see these wonderfully hansom birds.  As we headed towards the mouth of Middlebere a white raft like shape appeared in front of the viewing screen, which evolved into an Avocet flock of 500 strong. I’ve seen this sight a hundred times, but it still gives me shivers every time I see this spectacle. Literally minutes after watching all the Avocet, right on a cue a Dartford Warbler posed on top of a small pine tree beautifully lit up by sun and posing as if it had come straight out of the Collins Field Guide.

Feeling thoroughly spoilt, but also quite greedy we headed for Shipstal Point to see try and better the first hours bonanza. Well we were welcomed by the sight of not one Spoonbill this time but 16! This was the whole Poole Harbour flock and they were artistically bordered by Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and Brent Geese.

Up on Shipstal Viewpoint we made the most of the sun and what I think is one of the best harbour sea watching spots. Trying to locate some of the diving species that occur we watched and pinned down some funky looking Red-breasted Merganser, bold and bright Goldeneye, elegantly sleek Great Crested Grebe and best of all a female Scaup, a real Poole Harbour scarcity. Also Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Little Egret and many more Brent Geese kept us entertained.

On the way back to the car park, point blank views (I’m talking less than 2 feet away) of Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit allowed for close observation whilst Nuthatch and Treecreeper welcomed us back at the visitors centre.

Many thanks to everyone that joined me on the walk, and don’t forget  these walks are happening once a month at various locations around the harbour so keep an eye on our events page.


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