An official account of all species that have been recorded and reported by birdwatchers and naturalists since records began.

The data for this list has been extracted from various sources, but George Greens 'The Birds of Dorset', Mansel-Pleydell's Birds of Dorsetshire, Naylor’s reference manual of rare birds and the back catalogue of Dorset bird reports have provided most information. Data is currently still being researched and records will be updated accordingly.

You can view this information in two different ways. Our alphabetical list provides information on the status of each species within the harbour, finder dates and names, photos and favored locations. By clicking on the Systematic List button you will be presented the full Poole Harbour systematic list which includes status of species, pending records and historical accounts.

To date, 331 species have occurred and have been accepted within the Birds of Poole Harbour boundaries. A further 11 distinct subspecies have also been seen. In addition, we have two species/subspecies which have been recorded, but are awaiting acceptance by the appropriate records panel.

There are a handful of historical records, for which there is currently insufficient information to allow their inclusion onto the Poole Harbour list, but are believed to be genuine records. They are listed at the end of the list.

Finally, there are a number of feral or escaped species that have been recorded within the Birds of Poole Harbour boundaries. They are included for completeness, but are not included on the Poole Harbour list.

We would be interested in hearing details of any species that do not appeared on this list.

The Birds of Poole Harbour systematic list is a PDF which you can view by clicking on the button below. It was last updated on December 2019.

Full Poole Harbour Systematic List
 

Filter our birds:

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y

Baird’s Sandpiper

Latin Name

Calidris bairdii

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Poole Harbour has a good record for attracting rare North American vagrant waders but it certainly took a long time for Baird’s Sandpiper to finally get added to the Poole Harbour list with just one record. As is the case for most wader ‘firsts’ in Poole harbour, Brownsea played host to the only record

1 on 1st – 16th Sept 2017. Just one Poole Harbour record of a juvenile found on the Brownsea Lagoon September 2017. It fed on algae mats and the far shoreline of the lagoon (P.Morton et al)


Balearic Shearwater

Latin Name

Puffinus mauretanicus

Status

Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Almost all records are from Branksome Chine of birds passing out in Poole Bay in late summer/early autumn, but can also be seen off the Studland beaches in the right wind/weather conditions.


Bar-tailed Godwit

Latin Name

Limosa lapponica

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Nowhere near as common as Black-tailed Godwit, but still reliably seen feeding or roosting on the mud off shore road, moving to Brownsea if disturbed by windsurfers or bait diggers. Average totals of 60-100 with birds frequenting the shores of Furzey, Middlebere and Arne through the winter. Obvious passage can be observed out in Poole Bay during April with birds heading back to their breeding grounds. The birds passing in spring are a different race to the birds that winter in the harbour.


Barn Owl

Latin Name

Tyto alba

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Bred recently at Arne and Middlebere, but during severely cold winter birds from further afield can occur anywhere around the harbour in the search for food. Unfortunately it has declined as a breeding species with up to 5 pairs around 10-15 years ago. A bird that was ringed as a chick at Shapwick in 2011 was recently re-seen at Sunnyside farm in the west of the harbour. Now also breeds at Ridge, Worgret, Swineham and Greenlands Farm


Barnacle Goose

Latin Name

Branta leucopsis

Status

Feral & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Most sightings in the harbour relate to feral individuals that mix with Canada Geese. In 2014, 2 were with a flock visiting sites in the north of the harbour.

There are recent good examples of birds that were considered to be wild.
In Dec 2010 a very cold spell of snowy weather drew a flock of 42 to Brands Bay on 6th. They remained until 8th before deciding that the fields of Lytchett Bay were a far more attractive proposition. They remained here from 12th Dec until 14th Jan 2011.
In Dec 2011 12 flew through Lytchett Bay on 17th, before 13 were found at Middlebere on the 18th. 4 continued to be seen until 21st Feb 2012 at various sites in the southern harbour. It is likely that remainder of these birds moved on to join the wintering flock at The Fleet which was established at the time.
On 17th Feb 2013 20 flew NE over Lytchett Bay at dusk. It was considered that these were from the wintering flock in the Fleet at the beginning of their return migration.
On 20th November 2015 25 flew east over Littlesea, Studland
On 24th November 2016 24 were settled in Lytchett Bay during the morning
10 over Sunnyside Farm on October 10th 2018 – (B.Whally)


Bean Goose

Latin Name

Anser fabalis

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

This rare goose species only occurs very infrequently and has only occurred in Poole Harbour on six dates, although one of those occurrences was of 14 individuals on Dec 6th 2004 which were confirmed as Tundra Bean Goose. The Frome Valley, Swineham, Bestwall and Arne Moors would be classic places to look during the winter in amongst the Canada and Greylag Goose flocks.

5 “secured for eating” on 24th Nov 1876, site unspecified
1 on 11th Dec 1976 in Poole Park
1 from 31st Dec 1982 to 27th Feb 1983 at Swineham
2 on 30th Jan 1994 at Little Sea, Studland then Keysworth. These birds were confirmed as Tundra Bean Geese (A.f.rossicus).
14 on 6th Dec 2004 at Wareham Meadows (D.Liley et al). The following day they were seen at Middlebere. These birds were confirmed as Tundra Bean Geese (A.f.rossicus).
2 on 6th – 8th Dec 2014 at Swineham (P.Morton, M.J.Lawson et al) moving briefly to Arne Moors on 7th. These birds were not assigned to species level.


Bearded Tit

Latin Name

Panurus biarmicus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

First colonised the harbour in the mid 70’s. Most regularly recorded from Lytchett Bay and Swineham. Breeding has been confirmed at Lytchett Bay, Holton Heath and Arne. Can be eruptive, “A massive immigration in the second half of October 1972” with a maximum of 44 on 17th at Arne. 20- 25 regularly present thereafter to the end of the year. Migrants have been confirmed with 2 Dutch ringed birds controlled at Arne in 1972. The reed beds along the north edge of lytchett Bay are the most productive, certainly in autumn where flocks of 40+ can occur.


Bee-eater

Latin Name

Merops apiaster

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Without doubt, Bee-eater is top of every birders target list in spring and is an extreme vagrant to the harbour. Records of this species in Britain are steadily increasing and with breeding taking place on the Isle of Wight in recent years. Hopefully we can look forward to a twitchable bird in the harbour soon. May looks like the best month!

6 on 7th May 1988 at Brands Ford
1 on 9th May 1998 on Ballard Down
3 on 24th May 2009 flew SE over a Broadstone garden (K.E.Lane)


Bewick’s Swan

Latin Name

Cygnus columbianus

Status

Scarce Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

The fly way population of Bewick’s Swans declined by 27% between 1995 and 2005. The occurrence of the species in southern England has been further effected by mild winters and the species preference to winter in eastern England. Numbers are now very low and appear to depend on the severity of the weather. A wild swan in Poole Harbour is now just as likely to be a Whooper as it is a Bewick’s.

This species used to be regular at Little Sea in the 60’s, since then the water meadows at East Holme has become the most reliable place to see this species with occasional birds wandering to Bestwall at Wareham. A maximum of 40 was seen on 2nd Mar 1980. Whilst 27 were seen flying to roost on the Wareham water meadows with seventeen White-fronted Geese in balmy weather in the evening of Sat 8th Feb 1982.

Records this century:
4 on 13th Feb 2000 at Wareham Water Meadows
4 on 1st Jan 2001 at East Holme
2 on 15th Dec 2002 at East Holme
Up to 14 between 4th Jan and the end Feb 2004 at various sites in the Frome and at Arne
2 from 22nd Jan – 3rd Feb 2006 in the Wareham area
2 on 20th Nov and 1 from 15th Dec 2007 to 2008 at East Holme
1 (the bird above) remained at East Holme until 1st Feb 2008. 1 was then seen at the same site 14th -16th Dec.
4 from 10th – 14th Jan, increasing to 5 on 17th Jan 2010 at East Holme. A single at Middlebere on 10th Jan 2010.
2 on 2nd – 4th Jan 2014 at Wareham Water Meadows.


Bittern

Latin Name

Botaurus stellaris

Status

Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

In 1997, at the start of the EU LIFE Bittern project, only 11 booming males were found in the UK at seven sites. By 2014, there were 140 ‘boomers’ across 61 sites. This has increased again to 150 in 2015. This species is one of Britain’s conservation success stories. The birds visiting Poole Harbour come from far afield. The species does not yet breed in Dorset. The British wintering population is estimated to be c600 with the indigenous population supplemented by migrants from the continent.

Hatch Pond is included in the Poole Harbour recording area and between 1997 and 2013 this species was present every winter. It was relatively easy to see with up to 4 birds regularly over wintering at this very urban site. However for reasons unknown no birds returned in the winter of 2013-14 or 14-15 and to date none have been seen in the winter of 15-16.

Sightings from the rest of the harbour have increased too. Swineham, Middlebere, Arne and Lytchett Bay all have produced records in the last 5 years, whilst its also recently been discovered that by watching reed beds at dusk (especially Swineham) migrant Bittern depart just before sunset, calling to other Bittern in the darkness before lifting up off NE into the darkness. Truely magical. They can often turn up in unusual locations during cold weather.


Black Brant

Latin Name

Branta bernicla nigricans

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

This distinctive race breeds in eastern Siberia and western Canada. They are increasingly found with Brent Geese flocks in Britain. As of 30th June 2005 records of this species were no longer reviewed by BBRC.

1 from 10th Feb – 14th Mar 2003 at Middlebere (J.Lidster, B.Spencer et al)
1 on 10th and 17th Nov 2005 at Studland (J. Lidster)
1 from 5th Feb – 27th Mar 2006 at Middlebere (many observers)
1 from 19th Nov until 21st Feb 2007 at Middlebere (T.Elborn, J.Phillips et al ). This bird was also seen at Wytch and Arne. (Presumed returning adult from above)
1 from 16th Jan – 1st Mar 2009 in Studland area (G.Armstrong et al)
1 on 8th – 15th Jan 2017 off Gold Point and Middlebere (N.Hopper et al)
1 on 20th Dec 2017 in Brands Bay (S.Smith)
1 on 21st Feb 2018 at Whitley Lake, Sandbanks (N.Hopper et al)
1 on 4th Nov 2018 in Wareham Channel (N.Hopper)
1 in on 11th – 13th December in Lytchett Bay (S.Robson et al)
There is one additional undocumented record of 1 on 10th – 14th Jan 2004 at Middlebere. This record was noted as pended in 2004 DBR, we would welcome further details on this report.


Black Grouse

Latin Name

Tetrao tetrix

Status

Former Breeding Species, No Recent Records

Site And Records Information

Sadly a bird that no longer breeds on the open heaths of Poole Harbour where it was once a common bird almost 150 years ago.


Black Guillemot

Latin Name

Cepphus grylle

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

An increasing winter visitor to the harbour, seen during winter where they often pitch up at favourite feeding sites for days, sometimes weeks at a time. The south-east corner of Brownsea has been a favoured over-wintering site in recent years, with birds leaving the harbour on a falling tide and feeding out in Shell and Studland Bay.

1 on 4th Feb 1933 in “Poole Harbour”
1 on 27th Dec 1999 in Studland Bay (J.F.Phillips, S. Woolley)
1 from 3rd to 25th Oct 2001 at the harbour mouth (many observers)
1 on 19th to 22nd Nov 2010 nr Furzey Island, Brands Bay and Studland Bay (H.G.Wood-Homer et al)
1 from 13th Dec 2014 to 8th Feb 2015 at the harbour mouth (many observers)
1 on 14th – 23rd Dec 2015 off Brownsea (P.Morton et al). Last winters’ returning bird?
1 on Nov 13th – 15th 2018 off Brownsea southern shore – (G.Armstrong et al)


Black Kite

Latin Name

Milvus migrans

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

There have been 29 accepted records for Dorset up to 2012 but only 2 accepted record in Poole Harbour. This species ceased to be classed as a national rarity by BBRC in 2005. Records are now assessed by the DRP.

1 on 12th and 14th Apr 1981 at Corfe Castle (M.Read, E.Read, R.E.Scott, E.A.Scott et al)

1 on 31st Aug 2014 over Slepe Heath, headed SE towards the harbour mouth (P.Morton)


Black Redstart

Latin Name

Phoenicurus ochruros

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Ballard Down was the premier site with regular sightings in early spring and late autumn. Other favoured sites include the Knoll/Middle Beach area, Arne Farm, Middlebere, Poole Quay, Old Town Poole and Sterte/Holes Bay but they can, and do, turn up almost anywhere during the autumn and winter even on the Sandbanks Crazy Gold Course like in Nov 2018. They can often be spotted out of office windows during October and November on the old roofs of Old Town Poole, brightening up a dull meeting.


Black Stork

Latin Name

Ciconia nigra

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Middlebere has 80% of all harbour records for this species. There have only been 11 Dorset records.

1 historic report of one shot on 22nd Nov 1839 at Middlebere with another shot there in Nov 1849
1 on 28th May 1977 at Middlebere
1 on 16th Jul 1988 at Arne/Middlebere (A.Gouldstone, C.Kitchen et al)
1 on 1st May 2011 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson)
1 on 8th – 9th Aug 2015 in Middlebere/Wytch Lake area (many observers)


Black Tern

Latin Name

Chlidonias niger

Status

Scarce Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Usually at least one or two records each year mostly in autumn. An average of 4-5 birds per year 2008-2012. However the range was large, from 12 in 2008 to 0 in 2009. Brownsea is a favoured stop off point. More recently Swineham GP has proven attractive. Seawatching from Branksome also offers opportunities in early May. Larger groups can rarely occur with flocks of 10-20 birds in the records at Studland and Holes Bay. An incredible record on the 18th August 1952 saw 1000+ Black Terns arrive in Studland Bay, “these were assembled on the beach at Studland Bay, and at the time consisted of the largest concentration ever recorded in the British Isles”


Black-eared Wheatear

Latin Name

Oenanthe hispanica

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

1 on 25th – 26th Jun 2000 at Upton Heath (many observers). This record of a 1st summer male was accepted as the eastern Mediterranean race O.h.melanoleuca. To some this adjudication remains in dispute and in their minds the case that it was the nominate western race remains open.

There have only been 4 Dorset records of the stunning wheatear. All between 16th May and 26th Jun.


Black-headed Gull

Latin Name

Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Probably one of the most numerous birds in the harbour. Can be encountered on any habitat at any time of year. There is a large breeding colony of c6000 pairs off the Holton shore which it shares with 120+ pairs of Med Gull. Sadly the colonies of Little sea, Studland and Holes Bay are long gone due to the erosion of the spartine marsh they used to nest on.


Black-necked Grebe

Latin Name

Podiceps nigricollis

Status

Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Poole Harbour hosts nationally important numbers of this species. By far the best place to watch is Studland Bay and Shell Bay with numbers reaching as many as 80 in 2010. It is the most important wintering site in UK. Small groups do move in to the harbour, with the body of water between Brands Bay and Brownsea worth checking as birds swim into roost in the evenings.


Black-tailed Godwit

Latin Name

Limosa limosa

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Poole Harbour is an internationally important site for Black-tailed Godwit. With harbour counts exceeding 2000 it makes them an easily seeable bird in many of the bays and water meadows. Middlebere holds around 300-400 mid winter as does the Brownsea lagoon. Other large flocks can be found in Brands Bay, Lytchett Bay, Holes Bay and Arne Bay. Also found on the water meadows and fields of Bestwall and Swineham all the way up to East Stoke ! There is a regular small flock of summering birds now.


Black-throated Diver

Latin Name

Gavia arctica

Status

Scarce Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

The least common of the three Divers, they can arrive and spend time in the bays outside the harbour mouth during the winter. They are scarcely recorded in the inner harbour apart from most recently when a bird was seen off Parkstone Yacht Club on New Years day 2013. Their favourite over-wintering zone seems to be the north channel off Evening Hill and Salterns Marina.


Black-winged Stilt

Latin Name

Himantopus himantopus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

There are 16 Dorset records. The pattern of occurrence is interesting. There are 2 records from the 19th century. Next there were 3 records between 1956 and 1960. 25 years passed before the next (1985) but there were a further 5 by 1990. Another 21 years (2011) passed before the County then enjoyed another 6 records up to the end 2014. 4 harbour records.

1 on 3rd Aug – 6th Sep 1960 at Wareham sewage works
1 on 7th Jun 1978 on Brownsea Lagoon
2 on 12th-13th Apr 2014 on flooded fields at Swineham/Bestwall (P.Morton et al)
3 from 21st – 25th May 2014 at Lytchett Fields (I.Ballam et al)
1 on 11th -14th May 2016 at Lytchett Fields (D.Jones et al)


Blackbird

Latin Name

Turdus merula

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Common throughout the harbour with numbers rising especially during autumn migration and hard weather. In late October many hundreds (sometimes thousands) can be heard migrating overhead in the darkness in the company of Redwing and Fieldfare. South Haven is a good spot to watch migrating Blackbirds.


Blackcap

Latin Name

Sylvia atricapilla

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Territories are found throughout the woodland bordering the harbour. Poole Park, Upton Country Park, Lytchett Bay, Arne and Studland are regular spots with passage birds flooding through the area in September and October. Regular on migration in scrubby habitats like Ballard, Middlebere, Lytchett Bay, Greenlands Farm and good numbers in the PC World drain during September and October.


Blue Tit

Latin Name

Cyanistes caeruleus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Found in gardens, parks, woodland, urban and rural areas across the harbour. Common but very very beautiful.


Blue-headed Wagtail

Latin Name

Motacilla flava flava

Status

Scarce Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

The first Poole Harbour record came from Wareham in on 4th June 1903. It has always been rare and this is demonstrated by the fact that there have only been 4 recent records.

A male on 25th April 1999 at Ballard Down (T Elborn)

A male on 25th April 2013 at Lytchett Bay (S Robson)

A male on 27th April 2013 at Holton Lee (N Hopper)

A female on 22nd April 2014 at Lytchett Bay (I Ballam)


Bluethroat

Latin Name

Luscinia svecica

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

This is a scarce species in Dorset, it does not occur annually. All of the Poole Harbour records are believed to refer to the red-spotted race L.s.svecica. In recent years, early spring influxes of the white-spotted race L.s.cycanecula have occurred, particularly around Portland. The first of these for Poole Harbour is a very realistic prize for local rarity searchers.

1 on 22nd Sep 1960 at Baiter Point
1 on 13th Apr 1968 in Serpentine Road, Poole
1 from 26th to 29th Sep 1971 in the north-west corner of Lytchett Bay
1 (male) on 14th Oct 1984 at Little Sea, Studland
1 on 29th May 1989 at Arne
1 trapped and ringed on 27th Aug 1993 at Keysworth (R.Gifford)
1 trapped and ringed on 29th Aug 2015 at Lytchett Fields, Lytchett Bay (R.Gifford et al)


Bonaparte’s Gull

Latin Name

Chroicocephalus philadelphia

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

One at Brownsea Island was re-identified several hours later from a photograph taken on the afternoon of 30th July 2017 (per Rare Bird Alert). Thankfully it was still present the following morning when it was found feeding on the lagoon (N.Hopper et al). It was still present at the time of writing (2nd Aug) and is thought to have been a 2nd calander year bird.


Bonelli’s Warbler sp.

Latin Name

Phylloscopus sp.

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Bonelli’s Warbler was split into two species in 1997. Western Bonelli’s P.bonelli and Eastern Bonelli’s or Balkan Warbler P. orientalis. Separation of the two species in the field is difficult and relies largely on differences in call. Consequently records of each and “either or’s” are considered by BBRC.

To the end of 2015 there have been 7 Western’s, only one of the much rarer Eastern and 3 Bonelli’s Sp in Dorset.

A Bonelli’s Warbler Sp on 19th Aug 1974 at Brownsea Island. It has not been possible to identify this bird to one of the “new” species.


Call 01202 641 003