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

Magpie

Latin Name

Pica pica

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Found breeding right across the harbour, with semi large roosts of up to 100+ birds congregating in the winter at Hatch Pond.


Mallard

Latin Name

Anas platyrhynchos

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Presumed to breed on wetlands everywhere. Common throughout the harbour but as common around the world, the best place to see Mallard is in the park, so Upton Country Park and Poole Park are a dead cert. Numbers do rise in the winter, with the spartina around Middlebere, Wytch and Brand’s Bay hiding many birds. They’re also frequent in Arne Bay and off the southern shorelines of the harbour during the winter.


Mandarin Duck

Latin Name

Aix galericulata

Status

Scarce Feral Visitor

Site And Records Information

Hatch Pond and Poole Park were the best places to check although are now very rarely seen. Also been seen at Upton Country Park and Lytchett Bay. Bred just outside the area at Broadstone golf course and Merley. Most recently sighted at Poole Park.


Manx Shearwater

Latin Name

Puffinus puffinus

Status

Summer Visitor & Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Recorded annually in Poole Bay. Best looked for from Branksome or Flaghead Chines between May and July with other records off Studland Bay. The highest count of 93 was recorded in just 50 minutes, including one flock of 37, on the 11th July 2001 at Studland Bay. Other relatively large counts include 45 on 21st Jun 2007 and 38 on 15th June 2005. Sea watching out in Poole Bay from April to July in a south-east wind could/should produce Manx Shearwater.


Marsh Harrier

Latin Name

Circus aeruginosus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Back in the 1940s Poole Harbour had as many as 60% of the entire UK breeding population of Marsh Harriers with nesting recorded around Wareham Channel, Middlebere, Little Sea and Brownsea Island. However, breeding ceased in 1963 as the species suffered a catastrophic national decline and breeding wasn’t recorded again breeding in Poole Harbour until 2013 when a pair raised three young at Swineham. Since then one to two pairs nested successfully in the west Harbour area each year with a clear potential for more, although sadly since 2017 none have attempted to breed which is odd considering the numbers present during the winter.

Winter numbers have also increased with double figure roost peaks now recorded in most years and a maximum count of 15 on the morning of 13th January 2015. The birds` use of specific roosting locations can vary and although the main sites are found in the Wareham Channel reed beds, alternatives may be favoured at different times by either individuals or groups, e.g. Lytchett Bay, Middlebere, the Wytch Channel and Hartland Moor. During the winter foraging Marsh Harrier can be seen at Middlebere, Lytchett Fields, Holton Pools, Arne and Swineham.


Marsh Tit

Latin Name

Poecile palustris

Status

Scarce Resident

Site And Records Information

The 1987 – 1994 Tetrad breeding survey described the central and southern parts of Poole Basin as a stronghold for a species that was at that time widespread in Dorset. Between 1968 and 1993 the number of pairs at Arne increased from 2 to 15. Arne car park was a guaranteed location to find this species until at least 2010. The 2008-2011 National Atlas survey revealed a 27% national decline in the 20 years leading up to the survey, though local declines in Poole Harbour, in distribution at least, were not identified.


Marsh Warbler

Latin Name

Acrocephalus palustris

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

A very, very rare bird in Dorset with only a handful of records, despite its abundance on the near continent as a breeding species. Poole Harbour only has 1 record but its thought/hoped they could become more frequent over the coming decade as populations across Europe increase and now people are more familiar with their song.

1 on May 9th 2009 at Hatch Pond. Sound recorded (E.Brodie)


Meadow Pipit

Latin Name

Anthus pratensis

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds on all the local heathlands with good numbers at Arne, Studland and Godlingston. Numbers fluctuate in autumn and winter especially out on open heathland where numerous groups of 50+ birds spend the winter feeding together. Meadow Pipit migration in the autumn can be quite spectacular with counts of 500+ passing over various parts of the harbour in the right wind conditions. Early morning at North or South Haven and Ballard Down in September and October are good places to watch.


Mealy Redpoll

Latin Name

Carduelis flammea

Status

Rare Visitor


Mediterranean Gull

Latin Name

Larus melanocephalus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Once a very scarce breeder, numbers have now soared with over 100 pairs breeding in the harbour. In the spring and summer they can be identified by their load cat like ‘meow’ as they fly to and from feeding sites. Their flight line takes them over the north-west of the harbour with Lytchett Bay and the Wareham channel seeing most records. In the winter birds are a bit harder to find within the harbour but hansom winter plumage birds can be seen feeding off the Studland Beaches mixed with other gulls. In spring many summer-plumaged birds can be found feeding along the shoreline of Whitley Lake and Baiter Beach on the low tide.


Melodious Warbler

Latin Name

Hippolais polyglotta

Status

Vagrant

Site And Records Information

Whilst Dorset occasionally attracts late spring migrants this has not yet been the case in the harbour. August is the peak month and Studland and Ballard Down the most likely areas to find one.
The western sibling to Icterine Warbler is an almost annual visitor to Dorset. There have only been 3 blank years since 1957. In 1979 there were 17 records but in most years only low single figures are found. In the harbour it remains a very good find, a ‘twitchable’ individual would be very welcome.

1 on 17th Aug 1975 at Studland (S.J.Aspinall)
1 on 1st Aug 1977 at Little Sea, Studland
1 on 25th Aug 2001 at Ballard Down (J.A.Lidster et al)
1 on 27th Aug 2001 at Swineham GP (N.Hull, J.Hull et al)
1 from 20th – 21st Aug 2002 at Ballard Down (I.Prophet et al)
1 on 13th Sep 2014 at Greenland’s Farm, Studland (Ma Constantine, Mo Constantine)
1 on 11th Aug 2015 at South Haven, Studland (G Armstrong, S Morrison, SW Smith)
1 on 14th Aug 2015 at Lytchett Bay (I Ballam, IM Lewis)
1 on 12th Aug 2017 at Greenland’s Farm (M Constantine)

There is also a report that was never submitted or assessed. It is included here for completeness and any further information would be welcomed. 1 on 4th Sep 2004 at South Haven, Studland;


Merlin

Latin Name

Falco columbarius

Status

Passage Migrant & Winter Visitor

Site And Records Information

Merlin are best seen in autumn over heathland and tidal inlets around the Harbour when several birds may gather to take advantage of migrant passerine passage. Some will then remain to over-winter and can be seen hunting most often in the Middlebere / Hartland Moor area although single birds can appear over any open ground where small prey is readily available, e.g. the Studland heaths, the Arne heaths, Arne Moors, Brownsea Island lagoon and Lytchett Bay.
Wintering Merlin will roost either in bushes or on the ground in wetland and heathland areas. Two or three birds may be seen together wherever this occurs. They can sometimes be seen alongside Hen Harriers at the end of the day when the two species may hunt in tandem before settling for the night.


Mistle Thrush

Latin Name

Turdus viscivorus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Seen in ones and twos around the harbour with Greenlands Farm, Arne, Holton Lee and Studland being reliable sites. Recently post breeding flocks of up to 50 birds frequent Arne in late summer/early autumn with other post breeding flocks occurring at sites including Canford Heath and the Corfe River Valley.


Montagu’s Harrier

Latin Name

Circus pygargus

Status

Scarce Passage Migrant

Site And Records Information

Montagu`s Harriers have tended to be seen either in spring (May is the peak month) or late summer (August) as occasional individuals passed through the area on the way to and from established nesting areas. These included Dorset up to 2004 although not since. As a consequence records of this species have become less frequent. As this species has become scarcer, Pallid Harrier is becoming more frequent, in a British context if not yet a Dorset one. Observers of suspected Montagu’s Harriers in the future need to bear this prize in mind, especially in autumn.

Sightings tend to be from along the southern shores of the harbour with Arne/Hartland and Studland being the favoured areas.

The earliest record is of a ringtail over Godlingston Heath on 15th April 1983. The latest, is an old record which is particularly notable, 1 on 28th Dec 1959 in “Poole Harbour” (BoD, GG, 2004)

All recent records:

Ringtail on 6th and 7th May 1967 at Arne (H.G.Alexander)
Ringtail on 7th May 1967 at Ninebarrows Down (S.P.W Corbett) possibly same as above?
Ringtail on 18th to 23rd May 1969 at Hartland Moor/Arne (P.Hawkins et al)
Ringtail on 23rd May 1969 at Godlingston Heath (P Hawkins et al)
Male on 26th May 1969 at Arne (B.Pickess)
Melanistic ringtail on 10th May 1981 at Godlingston Heath
Ringtail on 15th Apr 1983 at Godlingston Heath
Ringtail on 25th Apr 1988 at Poole Hospital which stunned the observer as he cycled past (Ma Constantine)
1 on 2nd Sep 1990 at Arne
Male on 22nd Jul 1991 at Upton CP
1 on 23rd and 25th Jul 1993 at Bourne Bottom, Parkstone
Ringtail on 26th Apr 1995 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson, N.Symes)
Ringtail on 3rd Aug 1996 at Keysworth (I.M.Lewis, S.Robson et al)
Ringtail on 28th Aug 1996 at Ower (H.G.Wood-Homer)
Male on 26th Jul 1997 at Arne (I.H.Southworth)
Juv on 9th Oct 1998 at Middlebere (Ma.Constantine)
Ringtail on 6th May 2000 at Studland (Mo.Constantine)
Ringtail on 13th May 2000 at Arne Moors (Ma Constantine & Mo Constantine)
Ringtail on 13th May 2003 at Bestwall (I.Prophet)
Female east on 25th Aug 2007 off Ballard Down (S.W.Smith)
2nd Cal yr Male from 13th to 20th May 2008 at Harland Moor (J.A.Lidster et al)
1 juv on Coombe Heath, Arne on 31st Aug 2012 (J.Mitchell)


Moorhen

Latin Name

Gallinula chloropus

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

Breeds in Poole Park, Little Sea, Upton Country Park, Brownsea Island, Hatch Pond, Lytchett Bay, PC World drain and many other sites throughout the harbour. Its a common passage night migrant too with birds passing over many parts of the harbour after dark.


Mute Swan

Latin Name

Cygnus olor

Status

Resident

Site And Records Information

There about 10-20 breeding pairs scattered throughout the harbour each year. There are usually a pair or two on the River Frome, River Piddle, Brownsea Island, Hatch Pond, Poole Park, Brands Bay, Little Sea, Ham Common, Arne, Middlebere, Swineham and Holes Bay.
There is also a non and post-breeding herd at the mouth of the Piddle in the Wareham Channel that builds up in the summer and regularly holds 150 birds, with a maximum of 219 on the 16th August 1999. The water meadows besides the Frome between Worgret and East Holme also hold non breeding Mute Swan with 44 birds there in the 1978 census. Young Mute Swans arrive here to moult in the winter from Abbotsbury and other local breeding populations may also be moving back and forth across the channel. A bird ringed in Poole Park on 15th January 2000 was found dead near Charbourg in France on 9th Sept 2002.


Call 01202 641 003