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

Gadwall

Latin Name

Anas strepera

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Before 1968 it was thought to be about as rare as Velvet Scoter, with only two or three records per year, then a regular flock built up on Little Sea and flocks are now found regularly on Hatch Pond, Little Sea and Brownsea. Hatch Pond and Swineham GP host breeding birds as well as wintering birds, whilst Holes Bay, Lytchett Bay and Little Sea are worth a look too.


Gannet

Latin Name

Morus bassanus

Status

Erratic, but Regular Coastal Species

Site And Records Information

Can be seen fishing in Poole Bay throughout the summer in flocks of up to twenty birds. Can also be seen passing Branksome Chine and Old Harry in onshore winds from March to November. Rarely enters the harbour but do occasionally feed in and around the harbour mouth. During a Branksome sea watch in autumn and spring Gannet can pass in good numbers out in Poole Bay, especially in a south-east wind.


Garden Warbler

Latin Name

Sylvia borin

Status

Summer Visitor & Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Can be seen on passage at Ballard, Greenlands Farm, Fleets Corner, Studland, Arne, Lytchett Bay and other sites with suitable scrub habitat. Very sporadic breeder with records from the Corfe River Valley and Lytchett Bay. Very scarce on spring migration and much more frequent on autumn migration.


Garganey

Latin Name

Anas querquedula

Status

Scarce Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Our only summer migrant waterfowl the ‘Summer Teal’ occurs annually in very small numbers mainly in spring with fewer in autumn. Can arrive very early and March records are not unusual.
Records come from many sites but well vegetated fresh water locations are favoured. Swineham and Bestwall, Middlebere, Wareham water meadows, Arne, Holes Bay, Hatch Pond, Brownsea and Lytchett Bay have all produced records in recent years.


Glaucous Gull

Latin Name

Larus hyperboreus

Status

Rare Visitor

Site And Records Information

A large brut of a gull, Glauc’s mainly appear in February and March and can be tracked down at sites where large gatherings of other gull species can be found. There are plenty of Poole Harbour records, although sightings do seem to have dwindled somewhat over the last 10 years.
1 on 29th Aug 1940 at “Poole Harbour” (per GPG2004)
1 from 24th Jan – 22nd Mar 1952 at Poole Quay
1 on 1st Oct 1956 at Poole Harbour entrance
1 on 18th Apr 1964 at Little Sea
Ad on 27th Jan 1982 at Flaghead Chine
1st W on 22nd Jan 1983 at Little Sea
1st W on 10th Feb 1984 at Canford Heath Tip
1 on 20th Dec and 28th – 29th Dec 1986 at Studland Bay / Little Sea
1 on 31st Jan 1987 at Studland
2nd yr on 22nd Oct 1988 at Brownsea
Two 2nd W on 28th Dec 1988 at Little Sea
2nd W on 31st Jan 1989 on Littlesea (presumably one of the above birds)
1 on 24th Feb 1991 in “Poole Harbour” (per DBR1991)
1st W on 12th Jan and 29th Mar 1992 at Little Sea
1st W on 12th Feb 1995 at Brands Bay
1st W on 6th and 14th Jan 1996 in Brands Bay
Ad on 5th Dec 1996 at Studland
1st W on 14th Mar 1998 at Brands Bay
1st W on 25th Nov 2000 on Brownsea Island
1st W on 29th Mar 2001 on Brownsea Island
1st S on 10th Mar 2002 at Ower and Brownsea Island and through harbour mouth on 12th.
1 on 10th Dec 2006 and at Arne (Unusual amongst recent records in that it was unaged (per DBR2006)
Imm on 28th Feb 2009 in Bramble Bush Bay
Ad on 1st Mar 2009 in Brownsea Roads
1st W on 19th Feb 2014 on Brownsea lagoon – discovered via the Brownsea webcam!


Glossy Ibis

Latin Name

Plegadis falcinellus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

After 5 records involving 15 birds in the 19th century we had to wait more than 130 years for the next. Despite the resurgence in Glossy Ibis records in Dorset and the UK since 2010 the species still does not occur in the harbour as often as one would expect.

1 shot in 1839 in “Poole Harbour” (per LGRE94)
2 shot in Aug 1842 at Lytchett Bay
1 shot in 1857 at Wareham (per LGRE94)
7 “obtained” in late Sep 1857 in “Poole Harbour” (per GPG2004)
4 in 1877 in “Poole Harbour” (per LGRE94)
1 on 13th Aug 2010 at Holes Bay (R.Collier)
1 from 12th – 26th Feb 2012 was seen around Wareham, Bestwall and Swineham (N.Gartshore et al). It originated from Coto Donana, Spain where it was colour ringed on 12th May 2004. It was seen at Oued Massa, Morocco on 29th Apr 2005.
1 on 30th Nov 2013 at Middlebere (M.Wright)
1 on 11th -13th May 2016 at Lytchett Fields (Ian Ballam et al)
1 on 1st May 2018 – Lytchett Fields and then flew past Shipstal, RSPB Arne (R.Howes). Stayed until May 6th and was seen on Arne Moors several times


Goldcrest

Latin Name

Regulus regulus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds in any suitable habitat throughout the harbour, particulary in the large strands of coniferous forest near the southern and western shores. Breeds at Arne, Upton Country Park, Canford Heath, Sandbanks, Studland, Middlebere and Lytchett Bay. Good numbers can be evident in the woodlands and hedgerows around the harbour during October mixing with various warbler and tit species. The headlands around Ballard and along the Studland peninsular can see large falls in October during irruption years.


Golden Oriole

Latin Name

Oriolus oriolus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

A joy to find on a late spring day, surely a male Golden Oriole is a birders prize find. With 14 Poole Harbour records it’s obviously an area they like, but trying to track one down across all that suitable habitat is surely one of the reasons they’ve been impossible to re-find once discovered and why so few birders have been able to connect with one.

1 noisy male on 4th June 1960 on Studland Heath
1 male on 14th May 1967 at Studland
1 on the 1st July 1967 at Arne
2 on 23rd May 1968 near Arne
2 males on 23rd May 1977 at Brownsea
1 calling on the 1st -3rd June 1977 at Shipstal/Arne
1 on 11th June 1979 at Swineham
Singing male on 20th – 21st May 1981 at Arne
Singing male on 20th May 1993 at Lytchett Bay (E.Brodie)
Singing male on 3rd Jun 2004 at Studland (I.Prophet, G.Armstrong)
1 male on 18th May 2017 on the edge of Hartland Moor (R.Webb)
1 male on 19th May 2017 on 7th Hole of Purbeck Golf Club (H.Murry)


Golden Pheasant

Latin Name

Chrysolophus pictus

Status

Scarce Resident

Site And Records Information

Only found on Brownsea and Furzey Island. They’re not easy to see, these birds are sometimes visible at great distance from the mainland at Studland looking back across on the slipway of Furzey Island, or learn the call and hang around the old vinery in the centre of Brownsea and listen for the strangled Jay like sounds to give it away.


Golden Plover

Latin Name

Pluvialis apricaria

Status

Scarce Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Sporadic in their appearances around the harbour, the fields around Bestwall and Swineham are usually the best places to look as they ‘hang out’ with Lapwing. Some passage does occur with records over Ballard and Studland in October. The Harbour maximum is over 300 at Bestwall but birds are erratic in their appearance, some years they can be ever present on the meadows at Bestwall but the following year barely recorded at all. Without doubt cold weather movements make Golden Plover more conspicuous and in recent cold spells birds have been found sheltering and feeding in very urban sites like Baiter Park, Holes Bay and Whitecliff.


Goldeneye

Latin Name

Bucephala clangula

Status

Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Poole Harbour is a nationally important site in winter and holds over 80% of the counties birds. Numbers have increased over the last sixty years with a maximum estimate for the harbour of 500 in 1963 and an actual count of 405 in February 1998. Often witnessed tossing their heads back and displaying they are easily seen anywhere across the whole of the open water of the harbour during winter, however from Shipstal Point at Arne and out in Brands Bay good numbers can be viewed. Poole Park boating lake is also good for watching Goldeneye, especially from early January to late February.


Goldfinch

Latin Name

Carduelis carduelis

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Easily now one of the most common birds in urban and rural gardens around the harbour. Easily monitored on migration during October and November at sites like South Haven, Ballard and Glebelands often with thousands passing in a single morning. Now nearly all garden feeders around the harbour support Goldfinch.


Goosander

Latin Name

Mergus merganser

Status

Scarce Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Another bird drawn in by extreme cold weather. Check the warmer waters of Holes Bay during a big freeze or the Swineham GP. Birds have also been recorded off Arne, Hamworthy Beach, Lytchett Bay, Brands Bay and the Holton shoreline. Goosander is an annual visitor to the harbour mostly during late autumn passage. They usually only stay around for a day or two and move on. The closest wintering birds are up the River Frome and the Piddle. Occasionally these birds stray downstream to get in the recording area (R. Frome). Weekends are a good day to look for them within the harbour as this is when most duck shooting occurs and they are flushed downstream into the Wareham Channel. Little Sea at Studland has also recently seen a few Goosander.


Goshawk

Latin Name

Accipiter gentilis

Status

Rare Visitor

Site And Records Information

There seems to be no real pattern regarding Goshawk in the harbour. It was regularly recorded in the 80’s with records in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1988. These came from various sites including Arne, Brownsea, Studland, Wareham Water Meadows, Holton Heath and Holes Bay.
In the last 20 or so years records have declined and also the area of occurrence has shifted focus to the northern half of the harbour. Its now estimated that there are at least 10-20 pairs nesting in Dorset now so sightings are surely due to increase over time.

1 on 4th Apr 1994 at Lytchett Bay (E.Brodie, R.Howell)
1 on 11th Feb 1996 at Lytchett Bay (D.Philpott)
Male on 20th Feb 1996 at Swineham (I.M.Lewis)
1 on 25th Oct 1997 at Lytchett Bay (P.Benham)
1 on 16th Jan 2000 in Broadstone (E.Brodie)
Female on 25th Feb 2003 at Keysworth (H.Wood-Homer)
1 on 19th Feb 2007 at Holes Bay (E.Brodie)
1 on 21st & 23rd Oct 2017 at Middlebere and Wareham Channel (S.Buckell et al)


Grasshopper Warbler

Latin Name

Locustella naevia

Status

Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Massively under recorded due to their shy nature, ringing totals from Lytchett Bay, Ballard Down and Keysworth show good numbers pass through the harbour especially in Autumn. A staggering 446 birds were ringed over 8 consecutive Autumns (1991-1998) and on August 25th 2017 73 were ringed up on Ballard in a single morning. Spring birds do ‘reel’ occasionally with Bestwall and Wareham Water Meadows, Ballard and Lytchett Bay being good sites in recent years.


Great Black-backed Gull

Latin Name

Larus marinus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

First bred in Poole Harbour in 1957 and has bred most years since. The two favourite breeding spots are on top of Old Harry and the Brownsea lagoon, with varying levels of success. Can be encountered at most places around the harbour with the Holes Bay area attracting good numbers in winter. A 2017 breeding Gull survey showed 28 nests within the Poole Harbour recording area.


Great Bustard

Latin Name

Otis tarda

Status

Vagrant (One Historical & Recent Reintroduction Record)

Site And Records Information

Pulteney, writing in 1813, says: “The Bustard is now becoming very scarce even in Wiltshire ; a few stragglers make their appearance now and then about Woodyates and Ashmore Downs ; single birds have been killed in Langton parish, in Studland. On this basis Great Bustard is included on the Poole Harbour list.

Dorset has seen a recent surge in Great Bustard records since the reintroduction program on Salisbury Plain. Some of these birds migrate away from their reintroduction sites and head south. The only two Poole Harbour records coming from Holme Bridge (N.Hopper, S.Robson) and Lytchett Minster (I.Ballam)


Great Crested Grebe

Latin Name

Podiceps cristatus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Along with Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe is one of the easiest birds to see in the winter out on the open water bodies of Poole Harbour, with central and southern harbour hosting good numbers of 200+. Evening roosts between Furzey Island and Round Island can hold up to 100 birds. Breeding now takes place at Hatch Pond, Little Sea, Studland and Swineham GP..


Great Grey Shrike

Latin Name

Lanius excubitor

Status

Scarce Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Any of the heathland sites surrounding the harbour could host an over wintering Great Grey Shrike. Records over the last 35 years emanate from Studland, Arne, Hartland Moor, Canford Heath, Upton Heath and Holton Lee/ Holton Heath NNR. During the winter of 2016/17 three different birds were present in the harbour (Wytch Heath, Hartland Moor, Arne) and in spring 2017 an individual stayed until May 12th which is the latest date for Great Grey Shrike in Poole Harbour.


Great Northern Diver

Latin Name

Gavia immer

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

The most common of the three diver species. Found inside and outside of the harbour. Outside they can be seen in Poole Bay from Branksome round to Old Harry, whilst inside the harbour they prefer the deep channels around Brownsea, Brands Bay and the harbour mouth. Can be encountered off the beaches at Shipstal, Hamworthy, Baiter and Shore Road on cold, still winter mornings and have even turned up on Poole Park boating lake in recent years. A max count of 16 around the harbour on February 12th 2017 was exceptional.


Great Reed Warbler

Latin Name

Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Further potential spring records aren’t impossible and listening during April in May at Swineham or Lytchett Bay for their distinctive song is the best chance of trying to find the next Poole Harbour record, although to date there is only one record for the harbour.

1 from 6th – 22nd June 1969 at Little Sea (J.R.Cox, P.G.Hawkins et al)


Great Shearwater

Latin Name

Puffinus gravis

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

One on 7th June 1877 ‘at Poole Harbour’ (per GPG2004). This record may seem extraordinary both in terms of location and the early date. However 1877 is famous in meteorological terms for the Atlantic hurricane season. This was the most active ever and it started in Bermuda in mid-May.


Great Skua

Latin Name

Stercorarius skua

Status

Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Watching the outer harbour bays in strong on-shore winds during spring or autumn could eventually produce a Great Skua. This is the commonest of the family in its occurrence in the area. Very rarely recorded in the harbour itself although one did spend two days on the Brownsea Lagoon in autumn 2017. The harbour maximum involving between 16 and 23 individuals through Studland Bay on 18th Oct was as a result of the famous 1987 hurricane. Up to five birds were seen resting on the water.


Great Snipe

Latin Name

Gallinago media

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

An undated record of 1 shot at Worgret Farm in the 19th century (H.Garland per MP). The exact location of the farm at the date of the record unknown though it seems that it was within the recording area boundary.

The second record is more convincing in terms of its certainty with regard to the recording area. 1 shot on 10th Oct 1896 at Wareham Water Meadows


Great Spotted Woodpecker

Latin Name

Dendrocopos major

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Any wooded area will hold Great Spotted Woodpecker, even in the urban north of the harbour. Arne tends to have 4-5 Breeding pairs each year with Lytchett Bay, Upton Country Park, Studland, Ridge, Holton Lee, Swineham and many other areas recording breeding birds. Their is a small passage of local birds in the autumn that can be witnessed flying across the harbour mouth in ones and twos early in the morning during October.


Great Tit

Latin Name

Parus major

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Found in gardens, parks, woodland, urban and rural areas across the harbour. For the best views, go to the Arne car park and watch them feeding on the live feeder webcam in the visitors centre. Also at the Holton Lee feeding station Greeat Tit are numerous. A small autumn passage occurs in September and October with some birds logged passing over Ballard and across the harbour mouth. There is a chance these could be continental Great Tit.


Great White Egret

Latin Name

Ardea alba

Status

Scarce Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

The ‘rise of the white herons’! Originally a vagrant to the harbour but records are increasing rapidly. The first for the harbour and Dorset was at Ridge, Wareham on 5th Aug 1951. As recently as 2003 the total number of records for Dorset was only eleven. However, since 2013 records have become almost monthly with some incidents of multiple birds in late summer. Great White Egret now over-winter in small numbers (one-three) and in August 2018 a flock of 7 were found at Lytchett Fields. As the population increases up on the Somerset Levels and NW Europe its likely Great White Egret will become a coloniser of Poole Harbour within the next 5-10 years.

1 on 12th Jun 1974 over Brownsea Lagoon

1 on 2nd and 3rd Feb 1998 at Shipstal Point, Arne (J.Badley, D.N.S.Burgess et al)

1 on 14th Apr 2005 at Little Sea, Studland (G. Armstrong, H.G.Wood-Homer)

1 on 18th Sep 2009 at Brownsea Lagoon (D.J.Chown et al)

1 on 27th Oct 2011 at Brands Bay, Studland (B.Hunt)

1 on 15th Apr 2012 over Lytchett Bay (P.Morton)

1 on 15th Oct 2013 at Shipstal Point, Arne (P.Morton et al) went on to winter in Poole Harbour also being seen at Middlebere, Swineham, Stoborough and Holes Bay. There were records each month until 22nd Jun 2014. It is presumed that all records refer to the same bird.

1 on 13th Aug 2014 at Studland (many observers) stayed in the harbour until at least 31st Mar 2015. During which time it visited Middlebere, Newton Bay, Brownsea Island and Lytchett Bay.

1 on 28th Sep 2014 at Studland (many observers) where it joined the above bird and two were seen together in the harbour for the first time. Visiting Arne, Holes Bay, Slepe Heath, Upton CP, Brownsea Island. At least 2 birds remained until at least 17th Oct.

1 on 6th Jun 2015 at Brownsea Lagoon (G.Armstrong)

1 on 3rd Sep 2015 at Studland (G.Armstrong). Still present (Jan 16) having visited Arne, Stoborough, Rempstone, Middlebere and Brownsea Island,

1 on 18th – 20th Oct 2015 at Arne/Middlebere (many observers) where it joined the above bird and 2 were seen together.

1-2 birds present on the Brownsea Lagoon, Lytchett Bay and in the Middlebere area September 2016

Individuals seen through the autumn of 2017 including a max of 3 on December 4th (Simon Kidner)

An amazing 7 birds arrived and landed on Sherford Pools, Lytchett Fields on July 14th 2018 (Ian Ballam)

Autumn 2018 saw 1-2 birds present around Middlebere and Little Sea, Studland through October and Novemeber.

1 in the reedbed edge of Poole Park on Dec 3rd 2018 (I.Ballam) A crazy record!


Green Sandpiper

Latin Name

Tringa ochropus

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Green Sandpiper turns up from late June onwards at favourite sites such as Sunnyside Farm, Lytchett Fields, Bestwall, Swineham, in fact anywhere with lush wet fields and muddy pools. Peak migration occurs during July and Aug. Thanks to habitat changes at Lytchett Fields numbers have increased in recent years. A maximum count of c30 in Aug 2018 was a new record for the harbour at a single site. For as long as records have been kept a small number of individuals have wintered at the same sites and the odd bird can be found in any month of the year. As with Greenshank birds can be heard leaving the harbour shortly after dark over Hartland Moor. Spring migration is weaker but it can still be significant. 11 at Wareham Water-meadows on 5th May 2000 was record spring count for the County.


Green Woodpecker

Latin Name

Picus viridis

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

The Green Woodpeckers laughing yaffle can be heard in any rural area around the harbour. Arne, Upton House, Slepe Heath, Lytchett Bay, Sandford Forest, Middlebere, Holton Lee and Studland all hold reasonable numbers.


Green-winged Teal

Latin Name

Anas carolinensis

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Vagrant to the harbour. 15 accepted records up to the end of 2014 involving at least 8 individuals. 12 of the records have fallen in the first 4 months of the year, the best time of year to find this species. As yet understandably there are no records of female birds.

1 from 22nd – 29th Jan 1983 at Little Sea, Studland (G Dutson, P.V. Harvey, J.A. Lucas)
1 on 2nd Feb 1985 – 4th Mar at Brands Bay (M.J.Massey et al). Also seen in Newton Bay.
1 on 14th Feb 1985 at Holes Bay (D.R.Collins) (same as above)
1 on 20th Nov 1985 at Brands Bay (per M. Cade) (presumed returning individual as above)
1 from 16th to 28th Apr 1989 at Middlebere (P.M.Troake)
1 on 12th Feb – 5th Mar 2000 in Holes Bay (I.M.Stanley et al)
1 from 14th – 17th Apr 2000 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson et al) (presumed same as above)
1 from 2nd Feb – 3rd Mar 2001 at Holes Bay ( I.M.Stanley et al) (presumed returning individual as above)
1 on 23rd Dec 2001 and 1st Jan 2002 at Holes Bay (N.P.Hopper et al) (presumed returning individual as above)
1 on 10th Mar 2002 at Brands Bay (N.P.Hopper) (presumed same as above)
1 on 3rd – 15th Mar 2005 at Holes Bay (many observers)
1 from 1st – 2nd Feb 2007 at Holes Bay ( I.Prophet, H.G.WoodHomer)
1 from 7th – 12th Feb 2013 at Upton CP (N.P.Hopper et al)
1 from 1st – 3rd Mar 2013 at Middlebere (W.Clayton et al) (presumed same as above)
1 on 31st Dec 2014 at Brands Bay, Studland (S.W.Smith et al)
1 on 5th Dec 2016 at Lytchett Fields present throughout Dec 2016 (I.Ballam et al)

(Of interest there is also a record of a hybrid Green-winged X Common Teal at Holes Bay on 29th Feb 2004)


Call 01202 641 003