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
 

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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

Canada Goose

Latin Name

Branta canadensis

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Poole Park had a healthy feral population and Middlebere in late summer can host up to 200 birds with other large gatherings at Arne, Brownsea Island, Swineham, Greenland’s Farm and Brands Bay. Released in Poole Harbour over 200 years ago for shooting, Canada geese are now sadly seen as a problem in urban sites like Poole Park where their poo is deemed unpleasant! Where else are the ducks and geese of a park supposed to poo???!!!


Carrion Crow

Latin Name

Corvus corone

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Found right across the harbour in rural areas. Winter flocks of up to 600 birds have been observed. ‘Fishing’ Carrion Crows can be observed along the Baiter car park in autumn and winter, picking up cockles and whelks before dropping them on to the hard tarmac, a behaviour we probably haven’t seen in the harbour for almost 200 years since corvids were heavily persecuted.


Caspian Gull

Latin Name

Larus cachinnans

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

A rare but increasing visitor to UK shores and inland sites with Dorset sightings rising considerably in recent years. Poole Harbour has only two records but its likely some Caspian Gulls go un-found due to the size of the harbour. Scanning gull flocks during the winter and spring could reward you with a Caspian Gull.

A 1st S was present briefly on 19th Feb 2003 at Corfe Mullen tip (J.Lidster)

A 1st winter in Wareham Channel on 17th October 2017 (M.Lawson)


Caspian Tern

Latin Name

Hydroprogne caspia

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Up to 2017 there have been 20 Dorset records with only 4 in the harbour and none have stayed long enough to be seen by birders. News of the next one will have birders dashing to their cars.

1 killed in July 1872 at Wareham
1 on 28th July 1984 off Brownsea Island (M.A.Hallett, R.Newton)
1 on 3rd August 2011 on Brownsea Lagoon (S Holmes et al)
1 on 6th July 2012 on Brownsea Lagoon at dusk. (C.Thain).


Cattle Egret

Latin Name

Bubulcus ibis

Status

Scarce but increasing Visitor

Site And Records Information

This species was rare in Britain and Dorset until 2006. A large influx occurred in late 2007. By 2009 it had been removed from the BBRC list. However the influx was not sustained and there had not been a record in the harbour for more than 3 years (up to Nov 2015). However, a large influx into the UK during 2017/18 saw a colony form on the Somerset Levels and breeding was also confirmed in West Dorset in 2017. Since then numerous records have been obtained from several sites around the harbour with a max count of 7 birds in the Frome Valley in autumn 2018 and by December 2018 a flock of 20 were frequent in the Frome valley.

1 on 26th Aug – 31st Dec 1996 at Ower (N.Symes et al). Also seen at Studland in the roost.
1 on 30th Jul 2001 at Middlebere (E.Thorpe et al)
3 on 2nd Nov 2007 at Arne (M.Singleton et al) then Bestwall on 4th – 12th Nov (B.Spencer et al)
4 flew north on 3rd Nov 2007 at Lytchett Bay (M.Gould, S.Robson et al)
1 on 27th Nov – 6th Dec 2007 at Upton Country Park (L.Kirton et al)
1 from 22nd Feb -18th Mar 2008 East Holme Water Meadows (D.Liley et al)
1 on 19th Apr – 1st Jun 2008 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson et al)
1 on 10th Aug 2008 at Ower (S.Robson, M.Smith) and the at various places in the southern harbour until 27th August (S.W. Smith et al)
1 on 18th Oct – 1st Nov 2008 at Ballard Down (S.W.Smith et al)
1 on 25th Oct 2008 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson, M.Smith)
1 on 3rd Jan 2009 at East Holme (K.Lane)
1 from 7th Mar 2009, joined by second from 11th Apr, at Wareham Water Meadows (J.Mitchell, I Pillow et al). Also seen Swineham & the Slepe/Arne Heronry. Last seen 9th May. No breeding attempted.
1 on 27th Mar – 8th Apr 2010 at Wareham Water Meadows (J.Mitchell et al)
1 on 20th – 23rd Dec 2011 at East Holme (I.Lewis et al)
1 on 10th – 13th Apr 2012 at Lytchett Bay (P. Morton et al)
1 on 11th – 28th Dec 2016 in cattle fields along Holme Lane (N.Hopper et al)
1 on 13th March 2017 on central island at Swineham GP (P.Morton and O.Slessor)
Between early 2017 and late 2018 singles and small groups were logged at several sites including 1-2 birds at Lytchett Fields in Sept 2018, singles at Arne and Wytch in Aug 2018 and a record count of 8 at Swineham in Sept 2018. Without doubt this species is fast becoming a regular occurrence in the harbour.
2 on 7th and 8th Oct 2018 at Wareham to Stoborough causeway (P.Morton)
11 on 4th Nov 2018 in Frome Valley near East Holme (K.Lane) This is a Poole Harbour record count.
A flock of 17 – 20 on 5th Nov to December 2018 at Bestwall, Stoborough and Nutcrack Lane (G Mutton et al)


Cetti’s Warbler

Latin Name

Cettia cetti

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

The first record for the harbour was a spring bird on Brownsea in April 1976 which was actually rejected by BBRC. Swineham, Lytchett Bay and Keysworth host breeding birds now and a third of Dorsets breeding birds are in Poole harbour. Listen out for their explosive song along the river banks of the Frome in April and May.


Chaffinch

Latin Name

Fringilla coelebs

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds right across the harbour in urban and rural areas. Large numbers can be viewed during visible migration watches at South Haven, Ballard and Glebelands. Large winter flocks of up to 300 birds have been recorded at places such as Arne, Swineham and Soldiers Road.


Chiffchaff

Latin Name

Phylloscopus collybita

Status

Common summer breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Site And Records Information

Found right across the harbour during the breeding season. Any woodland habitat will hold good numbers of breeding Chiffchaff. Passes through in large numbers on autumn migration during Sept-Oct. Winters in mild sheltered areas with available food such as Swineham GP and at the PC World Drain, Holes Bay.


Chough

Latin Name

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

Status

Former Breeding Species, No Recent Records

Site And Records Information

Future records are not impossible. In 2001 there were a series of records in the Portland/Weymouth area and in 2003 one spent 4 days at St Aldhelm’s Head in Purbeck.


Cirl Bunting

Latin Name

Emberiza hortulana

Status

Former Breeding Species, No Recent Records

Site And Records Information

Used to breed widely across Dorset. Declined dramatically from early 50’s to its extinction around 1974. Was still breeding in the harbour in 1968 with the last singing males at Scotland Farm and Greenland’s Farm in March 1968. No harbour records since, however with populations growing just next door in Devon we can at least dream of seeing see this stunning bird back one day. West Dorset recently experienced a mini influx.


Coal Tit

Latin Name

Periparus ater

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

This bird loves conifer plantations, of which Poole Harbour has plenty. Breeds throughout the area. Can often be seen feeding with Goldcrest in autumn and winter. Numbers occasionally swell with continental arrivals during late autumn.


Collared Dove

Latin Name

Streptopelia decaocto

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds in rural and urban areas around the harbour, and very common in parks and gardens. Large flocks have occurred with 57 at Poole Park on 24th October 2004.


Collared Pratincole

Latin Name

Glareola pratincola

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Pratincole are exceptionally rare in Dorset and not much commoner across the UK. Collared, Black-winged and Oriental Pratincole have all been recorded in the UK but only Collared has been recorded in Poole Harbour with just 1 record.

1 on 24th May 1977 at Holes Bay


Common Gull

Latin Name

Larus canus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Numbers build through the autumn starting in October and increasing towards December. Otherwise present all year in the harbour in tens rather than thousands, with less records from May to July. The Wareham channel, Poole Park, Lytchett Bay and Holes Bay on a low tide hold good numbers in the winter. The winter roost in Wareham Channel can be huge as large numbers build up then pass through the harbour in February and March on their way to Norway and Sweden.


Common Nighthawk

Latin Name

Chordeiles minor

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Likely to never occur again, or certainly not any time soon this amazing record still fills many local birders with envy.

1 at 11 a.m. on 23rd Oct 1983 at Studland Village (M.Massey, K.Massey, M.Howard). BB mistakenly published the date as the 25th Oct.


Common Rosefinch

Latin Name

Carpodacus erythrinus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

A remarkable first Poole Harbour record, feeding in an urban garden on sunflower hearts and mixed seed. Surely some more records will follow this one, albeit in a perhaps more traditional habitat and location.

1 from 28th Jan to at least 10th Apr 2013 in a Broadstone garden (E. Brodie et al). A remarkable first Poole Harbour record, feeding in an urban garden on sunflower hearts and mixed seed.


Common Sandpiper

Latin Name

Actitis hypoleucos

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Birds pass through the harbour in spring and autumn. Autumn passage actually begins during mid summer with the Brownsea lagoon, Lytchett Fields, Holton Pools and Holes Bay being hotspots, it’s also at this time that the maximum site count of 27 was at Studland on 29th July 1988 and the harbour maximum of 47 was in August 1990. Birds can be found at any quiet tidal bay or creek but Lytchett Bay, Brands Bay, Middlebere and Swineham all host birds.


Common Scoter

Latin Name

Melanitta nigra

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Numbers used to reach around 100 birds out in Poole Bay during the 1950’s, but in the late 1990’s around 20 birds was a more typical count. Now only single figures of settled birds can be found. Out in Shell Bay and off Knoll and Middle Beach are worth a look. Out in the centre of the Harbour viewed from Shipstal Point too can produce birds. Small flocks can be seen passing out in Poole Bay in spring and in winter.


Common Shelduck

Latin Name

Tadorna tadorna

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

One of the easiest birds to find on the southern sides of the harbour, and is evident in most other areas. Check the Middlebere Channel in late summer for large creches sometimes containing up to 30 juvenile birds with only two adults, with the record being 192 juveniles with just two adults in 1992. Numbers rise in October with birds returning from Germany with peak counts reaching up to 2000 birds by mid winter. Holes Bay, Brands Bay, Lytchett Bay and the Brownsea Lagoon are all good sites.


Common Tern

Latin Name

Sterna hirundo

Status

Summer Visitor & Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Brownsea is the only breeding site in the harbour for Common Tern. They outnumber the Sandwich Tern but both can be seen heading out of the harbour mouth to feed amongst the swimmers and yacht’s. Common Terns first bred in the harbour in 1951 and immediately populated the Dorset National Trusts tern islands when they were built in 1963. Eight pairs bred then and this built to 90 pairs in 1970. Numbers continued to rise and in 1990 when the Brownsea breeding colony reached 130 pairs and was classified of National importance. In 1997 pairs on nests reached 173 but heavy rain caused damage. In 2012 pairs bred, but only 1 chick fledged! There was a remarkable ringing recovery in 2000 involving a bird ringed at Brownsea in 1999 and found in Cape Province, South Africa after being hit by a train along with 45 other terns.


Continental Cormorant

Latin Name

Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Sinensis’ (continental) Cormorant are known to be more migratory than ‘carbo’ with juveniles dispersing long distances within two months of fledging in June, and what appear to be juvenile sinensis are in large numbers on Brownsea in August and September.


Continental Lesser Black-backed Gull

Latin Name

Larus fuscus intermedius

Status

Scarce Passage Migrant


Coot

Latin Name

Fulica atra

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds at certain sites like Hatch Pond, Little Sea, Poole Park and Swineham. Numbers can swell during the winter with many birds at Poole Park, but can remain very scarce in certain areas throughout the harbour. Its also recently been discovered that Coot are a regular night migrant with many passing over Poole Town centre during spring and autumn migration.


Cormorant

Latin Name

Phalacrocorax carbo

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Poole Harbour is nationally important passage and wintering area for ‘carbo’ Cormorant with over 3% of the British population. Breeding takes place on the cliffs of Ballard Down. This species is common at many sites around the harbour but numbers increase in autumn and winter with large rafts of up to 400 birds feeding birds in the deep channels off Shipstal, Brownsea and the Wareham Channel.Also recorded in the harbour each autumn and winter are Continental Cormorant ‘sinensis’. ‘Sinensis’ are known to be more migratory than ‘carbo’ with juveniles dispersing long distances within two months of fledging in June, and what appear to be juvenile sinensis are in large numbers on Brownsea in August and September. Large rafts of up to 600 sinensis Cormorant can occur by late October, feeding as one unit out in the centre of the harbour.


Corn Bunting

Status

Former Resident, now Rare Visitor

Site And Records Information

The 1968-72 Atlas found that the species was widely distributed across Dorset including parts of Poole Harbour. In Jan 1963 up to 17 were attracted to corn put out for waterfowl at One Acre Pool, Studland. This was during the prolonged freeze in that famous winter. A significant decline began in the 1970’s and continued until the mid-90’s. Looks like the best hope now is a fly-over during a visible-migration watch or there just may be one in a winter finch and bunting flock?


Corncrake

Latin Name

Crex crex

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Like the rest of the country, Corncrake was at one time a common summer resident but started to disappear around 1900. By 1950 it had virtually ceased to breed in Dorset. Since then only migrants have been found. There are 9 records since 1958 but none for 19 years. Most recently…..

1, possibly 2, on 16th Apr 1970 calling at Fitzworth Creek, Corfe River.
1 found dead on 10th Sep 1970 at Studland
1 on 25th Sep 1996 at Lytchett Bay was seen in flight as it was flushed from rank grass (S.Robson)


Crane

Latin Name

Grus grus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

With populations increasing in eastern and central-southern England it’s no surprise we’re seeing more records of Common Crane in the harbour in recent years

1 on 16th Aug 1975 at Lytchett Bay
6 on 2nd Dec 1978 at Brands Bay
1 19th & 22nd Sep and 3rd & 10th Oct 1999 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson et al)
1 on 13th Oct 2004 on the Brownsea Lagoon (many observers)
3 on 11th Apr 2014 over Stoborough (N.Hopper)
2 on 5th March 2016 over Holton Lee and Lytchett Bay (P.Morton)
1 on 3rd June 2016 over A35 (Poole Harbour boundary), Lytchett Minster (P.Morton)
4 on 8th November over the Ower at the Rempstone Estate, later seen over the Fleet at Portland.
1 on 10th April 2018 over Upton Heath (H.Murray)
2 over Poole Harbour Mouth on Sept 24th 2018 (C.Wilcox) and the following day found feeding at a private site in the harbour (B.Maxted). They were then heard calling at dawn near RSPB Arne on Sept 26th 2018. They were then later seen feeding on private farmland on the Rempstone Estate later that day.

There are various outstanding reports of between 1 and 4 Cranes at Holes Bay and/or Arne in Jan and/or Oct 2012. We would be pleased to receive any further details on these reports.


Crossbill

Latin Name

Loxia curvirostra

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Numbers of Crossbill around Poole Harbour are very much dependent on invasions. The actual underlying population which is centred around Rempstone heath is quite low, however irruptions are frequent and in those years they can be very common. In addition birds can also stay in the area for several years sometimes until the next invasion. Arne frequently hosts Crossbill in and around it’s pine areas. During August, September and October parties of Crossbill are on the move and can frequently be observed passing over head any habitat, but learning their contact/social calls in vital to their ID. Glebelands, South Haven and Ballard are best sites for hearing and seeing Crossbill on migration.


Cuckoo

Latin Name

Cuculus canorus

Status

Summer Visitor

Site And Records Information

Normally arrive mid to late April. The heathlands around the south and west of the harbour are good sites such as Coombe Heath (Arne), Middlebere, Stoborough Heath, Hartland Moor and Godlingston Heath. They can be heard through the day and night, especially moonlit nights until around late June and the adults are still around until mid July although harder to spot once they stop calling. The large number of nesting Reed Warblers would suggest that the harbour is a good breeding area however records of juveniles only occur once or twice a year.


Curlew

Latin Name

Numenius arquata

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Common throughout the harbour, especially during the winter. Large gatherings of up to 300 birds can be seen from the RSPB hide at Shipstal. Harbour maximums can reach up to 2000 with an almost equal spread throughout the southern and western bays. There has been proved breeding on Upton Heath in 1981 and 82 and they have been heard singing on Hartland Moor in breeding season too. Ringing recoveries show most of our wintering birds are from either, Sweden, Finland, Germany or the Netherlands. On a low tide during the winter Curlew can be found on almost any exposed mud around the harbour with Holes Bay, Brands Bay, Middlebere and Upton CP offering good views.


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