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

Lapland Bunting

Latin Name

Calcarius lapponicus

Status

Scarce Autumn Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Never really numerous in Poole Harbour at any time but most easily seen on Brownsea Lagoon or in Brands Bay from August to October. Recently started to use Middlebere fairly frequently. Although not as numerous in the winter there are semi-recent counts of 146 in Dec 2001 and 100 in Jan 2001. During the winter of 2011/12 the harbour maximum was only 12. Summer plumaged Knot can also appear on the Brownsea Lagoon during spring migration and also on Lytchett Fields during both spring and autumn migration


Lapwing

Latin Name

Vanellus vanellus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

In winter vast flocks of up to 2000-3000 birds can occur, especially during extreme cold weather. They quite often commute between the mudflats at Middlebere and the fields behind. Other smaller flocks occur around the harbour in Lytchett Bay, Brands Bay and on the fields around Bestwall and Swineham. Breeding is less successful with only a handful of pairs at Sunnyside Farm and dwindling numbers out on Arne Moors. Lytchett Fields tends to see the first returning birds in the early autumn.


Leach’s Storm-petrel

Latin Name

Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Status

Rare Visitor (after storms)

Site And Records Information

Very rare autumn/winter passage migrant. Autumn and winter storms can occasionally result in large numbers of petrels being forced into Dorset coastal waters. Check Poole and Studland Bays during or just after a severe gale. 10 on 29th Nov 2009 from Branksome Chine (many observers) with 2 off Brownsea Island inside the harbour. These birds were part of Dorset’s biggest ever “wreck”. Chesil Cove held more than 600 birds mid-afternoon and 582 past Portland Bill. Remarkably not a single bird was recorded in the county the following day.

7 on 31st Oct 1952 in Poole Harbour (these were a small part of a large influx including 400 in Chesil Cove)
1 on 18th Oct 1987 at Studland.
30 on 24th Dec 1989 from Branksome Chine, with 12 there the next day.
1 on 9th Oct 1997 from Branksome Chine (I.Prophet)
2 on 2nd Feb 2002 from Branksome Chine (J.Lidster, S.Robson et al)
1 on 13th Oct 2005 from Branksome Chine (G.J.Armstrong)
3 on 8th Nov 2005 from Barnksome Chine (G.J.Armstrong, M.Constantine)
1 on 31st Dec 2006 from Branksome Chine (G.J.Armstrong)
1 on 7th Oct 2008 from Flaghead Chine (S.Robson)
1 on 9th Oct 2009 from Branksome Chine (G.J.Armstrong)
10 on 29th Nov 2009 from Branksome Chine (many observers) with 2 off Brownsea Island inside the harbour. These birds were part of Dorset’s biggest ever “wreck”. Chesil Cove held more than 600 birds mid-afternoon and 582 past Portland Bill. Remarkably not a single bird was recorded in the county the following day.


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Latin Name

Larus fuscus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Lesser Black-backed Gull has always been a rare breeder in Poole Harbour. It first bred on Brownsea Island in 1971 with subsequent annual attempts until 1982, peaking at 4 pairs in 1981. It was first recorded on factory roofs near Holes Bay in 1996 and 1997 and Poole Town centre in
1999. Since then intermittent reports have appeared in various Dorset Bird Reports of 1 or 2 rooftop pairs. A Poole Harbour breeding gull survey in 2016 showed there were in fact 76 breeding pairs within Poole Harbour! Also occurring rarely in the harbour each winter is the sub-species Continental Lesser Black-backed Gull


Lesser Grey Shrike

Latin Name

Lanius minor

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

The 4th for Dorset proved very confiding during its protracted stay. Remarkably photographs proved that it had previously been seen in Norfolk from 21st -24th June 2008. Where it had been in the interim?
To the end of 2014 there were 192 British records.
A female from 2nd – 15th August 2008 at Corfe River Meadows (P.Williams, S.W.Smith et al)


Lesser Redpoll

Latin Name

Carduelis cabaret

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeding certainly fluctuates at certain sites, but historic breeding sites include Studland, Canford Heath, Hartland Moor and Arne. Studland, Arne, Upton Heath and Hartland can all host decent winter flocks of 50-100 birds whilst in October and November up to 100-500 birds can pass per morning on migration over South Haven and Ballard.


Lesser Scaup

Latin Name

Aythya affinis

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

The change in the status of this species at a National level has been dramatic. At the time it was found the 1992 bird was only the 5th record for Britain! From 1st January 2015 the species is no longer considered to be a British Rarity. There have now been 189 records.

1st W male on 28th Nov, 4th – 5th Dec1992 at Hatch Pond, Poole (S.F.Smith, S.Robson, M.Constantine, I.M.Lewis et al). Subsequently reported at Little Sea, Studland on 6th and 10th – 11th Dec.
1st W male on 11th Nov – 15th Dec 2001 at Swineham Gravel Pits (S.Robson et al). This bird then moved to Little Sea, Studland from 19th Dec – 29th Apr 2002.
Male from 19th Dec 2002 – 31st Mar 2003 at Little Sea, Studland (same as above)
Male from 15th Oct 2003 – 26th Feb 2004 at Little Sea, Studland (same as above)


Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Latin Name

Dendrocopos minor

Status

Scarce Resident

Site And Records Information

Very tricky to catch up with in the harbour. Formally bred at Arne, Ower, Brownsea and Upton Country Park now only breeds very sporadically at a couple of private sites in the west of the harbour and occasionally at Holton Lee. Most likely to be encountered in February, March and April when drumming/calling males can be heard. They can also rarely be observed on migration, moving around in mixed Long-tailed tit/warbler flocks during August and September.


Lesser Whitethroat

Latin Name

Sylvia curruca

Status

Summer Visitor & Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

It’s distinctive call can be heard from any large, amture hedgerow in spring but very few stay to breed. Ballard in spring and autumn is a good site but also Studland, Sunnyside Farm, Lytchett Bay, Arne and Upton CP all report birds most years. Breeding was recently confirmed at Ballard Down.


Lesser Yellowlegs

Latin Name

Tringa flavipes

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

There have only been 2 records of this rare elegant shank from North America in Poole Harbour, both in recent years. Both birds have been found in amongst feeding Redshank flocks during the autumn so it’s worth checking every bird at sites like Brownsea, Lytchett Fields and Holes bay where gatherings of Redshank occur during August-November.

1 on 8th Dec 2014 at Brownsea Lagoon (G.Armstrong et al). This first for the harbour created a comical lunchtime twitch by the keenest listers. Sadly the bird had already moved on.

1 from 18th Sep – 6th Nov (at least) 2016 at Lytchett Fields (I.Ballam et al). Already the longest staying individual recorded in Dorset.


Linnet

Latin Name

Carduelis cannabina

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Maybe not as evident as a breeding bird perhaps say as 10-15 years ago, but can still be seen and heard singing during the summer at Arne, Holton Lee, Canford Heath, Studland, Godlingston and Upton Heath. Whilst on passage, large numbers pass the coastline with counts of up to 700+ passing in just a few hours between over Ballard Down and
between South and North Haven in mid to late October. Winter feeding flocks occur where farmers fields have been left.


Little Auk

Latin Name

Alle alle

Status

Rare Visitor (after storms)

Site And Records Information

Very scarce winter visitor usually in November and December. Studland Bay, The harbour entrance and off Brownsea are the favoured locations. Though has been recorded at Hamworthy and Poole Quay. All records since 1st Jan 2000 are listed below.
1 on 10th – 12th Nov 2001 at Poole Harbour entrance and Pilots Point.
1 on 26th Jan 2002 at Branksome Chine
1 on 5th – 6th Feb 2003 at Sandbanks and Poole Harbour entrance
1 on 13th Nov 2004 in Studland Bay, then moving to just off Brownsea
1 on 30th Nov 2005 at Poole Harbour entrance
1 on 31st Oct 2007 at Studland Bay
1 on 12th Nov 2007 at Poole Harbour entrance.
1 on 14th Nov 2007 at Hamworthy near yacht club.
1 on 15th Nov 2007 at Studland Bay.
1 on 16th Nov 2007 off Brownsea Island Quay.
1 on 2nd Dec 2007 flew past Middlebeach, Studland.
1 on 8th – 10th Dec 2007 off Brownsea Island Quay.
1 on 30th Nov 2009 off south side Brownsea Island.
1 on 5th Dec 2010 off Brownsea Island Quay.
1 on 3rd Dec 2015 south past Middle beach, Studland.


Little Bittern

Latin Name

Ixobrychus minutus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Little Bittern is a much sought after bird in Poole Harbour with only one historical record. With birds now breeding up on the Somerset Levels its hoped that migrating birds moving north and south may be seen more frequently in Dorset. The habitat in Poole Harbour could be good but deer pressure in the reed beds may prevent any from settling.

3 shot near “the Wareham River” on an unspecified date in 1866


Little Bunting

Latin Name

Emberiza schoeniclus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

With people now familiarising themselves with the calls made by migrating birds in autumn, species such as Little Bunting are now being logged far more frequently at sites across the UK than ever before. Although very discreet the migration call of Little Bunting can be picked out on a cold autumn morning in October or November which is how the one and only Poole Harbour record was found. With more people ‘vis-migging’ (watching visible migration) these days Little Bunting will surely occur again some time soon

Just one record of a bird passing over South Haven ‘vis-mig’ station on 1st November 2006 (J.Lidster).


Little Egret

Latin Name

Egretta garzetta

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

The first record for the harbour was on 23rd Feb 1946. Now common throughout the harbour, these birds first bred in the UK for the first time ever in 1996 on Brownsea Island. There is now one colony and three main roosts around the harbour, but you still can’t help but see these stunning little herons wherever you may be. Numbers rise in the autumn (Jul-Sept) with Arne, Brownsea, Lytchett Fields and Middlebere seeing noticeable increases as does Holes and Lytchett Bay.


Little Grebe

Latin Name

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Easiest to see in winter when fishing out in shallow channels in certain bays like Lytchett Bay, Holes Bay and the Wareham Channel. Breeding takes place on the Brownsea lagoon, Hatch Pond and Little Sea. The most important winter site and a dead cert to see them (although distant) is around the railway bridge in the western part of Holes Bay, viewable from Upton CP hide also on the main Poole Park boating lake (much closer views) where 15 were counted in Jan 2018.


Little Gull

Latin Name

Hydrocoloeus minutus

Status

Scarce Visitor

Site And Records Information

Birds often come into the harbour for shelter during or after periods of bad weather during spring and autumn and can stay for several days. Swineham GP, Lytchett Bay/Fields and the harbour mouth are all well worth checking, especially during adverse weather. Baiter park has seen several records in recent years, hunkering down during foul weather. They also pass out in Poole Bay in small numbers during spring and autumn migration and can also sometimes be seen at the harbour mouth.


Little Owl

Latin Name

Athene noctua

Status

Former Resident, now Rare Visitor

Site And Records Information

In the 1990’s the species was widespread in Poole Harbour. Birds could be relied upon at Lytchett Bay, Upton CP, Swineham, Arne and these were just the well-known sites. In the latter part of the decade, when access to Middlebere farm was granted, birds were there too. At the turn of century finding Little Owl started to become more difficult. The last sighting of birds that had been around the cottage at Lytchett Bay for more than 30 years occurred on 6th Jan 2003. Suddenly all of the sites above seemed to lose their birds.

This trend is not limited to the Harbour. The CBC/BBS trend for Little Owl in the UK shows very wide variation, but a downturn in recent decades suggests that a rapid decline now lies behind the observed fluctuations. However, in the summer of 2018 a pair were found nesting at Holton Lee but sadly the nest wasn’t successful due to the heat wave. The birds remained into the winter and its hoped they’ll try again in future years. Observers of this species in the Poole Harbour recording area are urged to report the details to the Bird of Poole Harbour.

Since the end of 2002 birds have become very rare:
2003 – Upton CP on 17th Aug and 17th Oct
2004 – no records
2005 – Middlebere on 28th Apr
2006 – no records
2007 – Upton Heath on 29th Jul and Holes Bay on 17th Oct
2008 – Upton Country Park and Bushey. Both calling birds on single dates.
2009 to 2014 – no records
2015 – Arne on 16th Sep
2016 – Hartland Moor on 19th Sep
2018 – Breeding attempt at Holton Lee


Little Ringed Plover

Latin Name

Charadrius dubius

Status

Scarce Summer Visitor & Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

This species is one of our earliest spring migrants with the first birds turning up from mid-March onwards. There are a few breeding records, these having normally occurred opportunistically when temporary habitat has been created due to gravel extraction. A pair bred on the private Arne clay pit site in 2011 and possibly on Arne Moors in 2018. Autumn passage begins as early as late June with most birds having departed by the second half of August.

Birds prefer pools on wet grassland. Consequently Lytchett Fields has become the premier site for this species in harbour with the species recorded on 67 dates in 2015. Maximum counts there are 5 in spring and 12 in autumn.

The species is recorded infrequently at other sites including Arne Moors, Sunnyside Pools, Swineham and Brownsea Lagoon.


Little Stint

Latin Name

Calidris minuta

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Normally an autumn passage migrant, best seen on either the Brownsea Lagoon with a maximum of 17 in 1990 or more recently on RSPB Lytchett Fields with between 1-5 present each autumn between 2013-18. Usually only in ones and twos with other sites worth checking including, Holton Shore and Middlebere. August and September are undoubtedly the best months to find Little Stint in Poole Harbour.


Little Swift

Latin Name

Apus affinis

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

1 on 26th Nov 1983 at Pilot’s Point, Studland (D. Bryher-Ash, J.R.Cox, N.P. Spring et al). A county 1st and the 5th for Britain at the time. The following day this bird attracted over a thousand birdwatchers but it was not present. Rather beautifully the BB Rare Bird report for the year described “The large turnout of “would-be” observers the following day soon degenerated into the inevitable “social event” and only the discovery of a Lapland Bunting prevented an early adjournment to the cafes and pubs of nearby Poole”. This, along with the Western Sandpiper in 2008, was the largest twitch the harbour has seen.


Little Tern

Latin Name

Sternula albifrons

Status

Scarce Summer Visitor & Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

This species is highly erratic in the harbour. The Brownsea lagoon holds the harbour record of 105 in August 1983, but majority of sightings are of ones and twos that enter the harbour during migration in spring and autumn. Can be seen passing out in Poole Bay in small flocks April-May from Branksome and also out in central harbour and Middlebere in April. The Brownsea Lagoon from mid-April to late May attracts passage terns and Little Tern are almost annual here.


Long-billed Dowitcher

Latin Name

Limnodromus scolopaceus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

There are 248 British records of this Nearctic wader up to the end of 2015. There are 8 Dorset records involving 9 birds and 3 have been in Poole Harbour.
1 on 3rd Aug 1976 at Arne
A juv/1st W on 7th – 11th Nov 2000 at Middlebere (H.G.Wood-Homer et al)
1st W on 31st Jan to 14th Feb 2011 at Poole Park (finder unknown, many observers)


Long-eared Owl

Latin Name

Asio otus

Status

Rare Visitor

Site And Records Information

This species remains very rare in Dorset and extremely rare in the Harbour.
Formally bred at Arne and near Studland back in the early 1900’s. There are only 2 records this century.
A pair were present in the breeding season in 2000 at Holton Heath NNR and 1 on 12th Apr 2013 at Swineham (P.Moore, S.W Smith)
However, the harbour holds plenty of good habitat for Long-eared Owls including numerous river valley’s and conifer plantations so another sighting won’t hopefully be that far away.


Long-tailed Duck

Latin Name

Clangula hyemalis

Status

Scarce Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Winter average 10 year peak counts for the harbour are as follows. 1950’s – 3, 1960’s – 3, 1970’s – 4, 1980’s – 6, 1990’s – 4, 2000’s – 5. Since the turn of the latest decade numbers have declined. 2012 became the first year in 22 that there were no records.
Peak counts are 14 during Jan – Mar 1989 and 9 during Feb – Mar 2002.
A pair in Shell Bay during 12th -16th June 1993 was notable.
The best place to see the species is to check the large body of water in the middle of the harbour between December and February. This area is best viewed from Shipstal Point at Arne or a better alternative is to join a Birds of Poole Harbour bird boat.
1 on Swineham GP’s on 30th – 31st Dec 2013 was exceptional.
1 adult drake on south shore of Brownsea from Birds of Poole Harbour bird boat – Nov 25th 2018


Long-tailed Skua

Latin Name

Stercorarius longicaudus

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

This is the rarest of our Skuas with very few records in Dorset each year, mainly in autumn.
There are only 3 records for the harbour, however given the frequency of sightings at Hengistbury Head, at the eastern end of Poole Bay, we might have expected more. Anyone with the patience to watch the sea at Branksome Chine for long enough might eventually be rewarded…….
2 in Oct 1891 (shot)
1 west on 24th Sep 1982 at Canford Cliffs
Juv west on 31st Aug 1998 at Hartland Moor (S.Robson, R. Howell). This bird occurred in a SE gale and had presumably entered the harbour at Sandbanks. It was seen to fly off toward Creech Gap having passed over the shocked observers heads.


Long-tailed Tit

Latin Name

Aegithalos caudatus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds all around the harbour, but easiest seen in August, September and October when large mixed tit flocks gather together and pass through the woodland in a big convoy. This phenomenon can occur anywhere, for example places such as Upton Country Park, Arne, Studland, Lytchett Bay, Holton Lee and Brownsea Island and can quite often consist of up to 10 species. Now also a frequent garden visitor to many urban and rural gardens around the harbour.


Call 01202 641 003