Recent Sessions

Hear all about the latest ringing activity in Poole Harbour.........

All Poole Harbour ringing data is logged on THE MIGRATION WEBSITE TREKTELLEN. For full data set CLICK HERE. Three main sites are ringed in Poole Harbour. Daily, monthly and annual ringing totals, data and information for each of these sites can be found by clicking on the appropriate links below......




Visible and night migration totals through Poole Harbour are also logged through the Trektellen website. There are three main sites and totals for each of these sites can be found by clicking on the appropriate links below.

OLD TOWN POOLE - Nocturnal Listen Station


SOUTH HAVEN, STUDLAND – Visible Migration 

When you click on a link you will be taken to a page (like shown below) showing data for that site for a specific day. To browse data for other months and dates simply select a different month from the drop down menu and choose a date within that month.


This morning a mid autumn ringing session took place on Lytchett Heath in the hope of ringing the last of the summer migrants and a few newly arrived winter visitors. Thrush’s were moving at dawn as Redwing and Song Thrush passed overhead in reasonable numbers resulting in the capture of 3 Redwing and 2 Song Thrush. One each Chiffchaff and Blackcap were likely late summer migrants and a re-trap Kingfisher, 6 Reed Bunting and a surprise Water Rail made the session well worth-while. A Short-eared Owl was flying around in the net rides last night but unfortunately it was too wise to go near our nets, despite sitting on the pole for several minuets. 


Water Rail – 1

Redwing – 3

Song Thrush – 2

Chiffchaff – 1

Blackcap – 1

Reed Bunting – 6

Cetti’s Warbler - 1

Wren – 2

Blue Tit – 2

Robin – 2

  • Redwing - Age 4
  • Water Rail - Age 3
  • Chiffchaff - Age 4

Stour Ringing Group 2014 Annual Ringing Totals Summar

Below are the 2014 ringing totals for the Stour Ringing Group. This is the group in which our ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ charity carries out all its ringing activities through.

These figures represent annual totals from all group members, which include totals from several sites across Dorset, and a few in Hampshire. The groups main ringing sites consist of Durlston CP, Lytchett Bay, Brownsea Island and Southampton Common.


Our over wintering Chiffchaff site in the north of the harbour once again proved productive this year with between 15-30 birds present on and off throughout the winter. So far this winter we have ringed 15 Chiffchaff at the site, but I’m pretty sure some birds use this site less frequently than others, maybe being attracted to the shelter and abundance of small flying insects the area provides during colder weather, and then moving off again when the weather improves. Either way, today’s session was well worth the effort.

Chiffchaff x 7, including one Siberian Chiffchaff and a re-trap from two years ago.

Firecrest x 1 female

Goldcrest x 2 a male and a female

Greenfinch x 6

Robin x 1

  • Siberian Chiffchaff
  • Firecrest
  • Common Chiffchaff - first ringed 2 years ago

After a week of getting the net rides ready, Stour Ringing Group now have most of their autumn ringing sites ready for the autumn season ahead. Amazingly the autumn ringing season stretches from mid July all the way through to early November with certain species passing through and certain times. During these late summer, early autumn sessions we tend to encounter many young birds that have fledged locally which is exactly what happened today. The fine summer has provided a platform for many of our local breeders to successfully raise one, two or more broods, which was evident this morning with a 25-bird catch, and all but two were juveniles. The two most common species this morning were Blackcap and Chiffchaff all of them (bar one adult male Blackcap) still in juvenile plumage. All newly fledged Blackcap have brown crowns so sexing them isn’t possible until they start going through their post-juvenile moult. The Chiffchaff were touring the area with a large mixed Tit flock which contained roughly 15 Long-tailed Tit (although none were caught), 15 Chiffchaff, 10 Blue Tit and several Great Tit. It won’t be long until species Willow Warbler and Goldcrest will tag along to these feeding parties too.

This Mornings Totals –

Blackcap x 11

Chiffchaff x 8

Robin x 2

Dunnock x 1

Blackbird x 1

Wren x 2

  • Juvenile Robin going through post-juvenile moult
  • A typical juvenile Blackcap tail. Very slim and pointed feathers
  • Adult male Blackcap

On the evening of June 9th 2014 Stour Ringing Group visited Lakeviews B&B at Swineham to ring the Barn owl chicks they had in one of their barns. These chicks are the result of a successful fund raising project in which we managed to raise enough money from our public field trips to erect two Barn Owl boxes and a Kestrel Box.  Within weeks two adult Barn Owls moved in to the box that was placed in the barn and by the following spring the female was incubating 6 eggs. On the 21st of April the first egg hatched and over the coming weeks another three emerged. Luckily we placed a camera in the box so were able to monitor the size of the chicks on a day to day basis, allowing us to visit the site at the appropriate time. Jason Fathers of Wildlife Windows built and erected the boxes led the ringing session and also installed a new night vision and audio system in the box afterwards. The chicks were carefully removed from the box taken to the ringing station just outside the barn where they were ringed, aged, sexed and weighed before being carefully put back in soft bags and put back in the box. It was thought that all four chicks were female due to the amount of black flecking on the breast and the tiny black spot on the small vestigial feather on the leading edge of the wing. Its even possible that if these young fledge quickly enough then the adults could even produce a second brood.

  • Barn owl Chick - Swineham
  • Owl chick being ringed
  • Barn owl Chick - Swineham

On Saturday 30th of November a ringing session took place on a wetland site in the west of the harbour, hoping to find some of the over-wintering species that frequent this habitat. Previous sessions at this site have been up and down with some nights only catching one or two birds and other nights up to ten birds.  This session however turned out to be the most successful at this site ever with a total of 20 birds caught a ringed. The success was probably down to a number of factors such as low cloud cover, lots of decent feeding habitat, the recent northeasterly winds and cold temperatures. The final counts were.....

Teal - 2

Jack Snipe - 6

Common Snipe - 6

Woodcock - 1

Green Sandpiper - 1

Lapwing - 4

  • Woodcock
  • Jack Snipe
  • Lapwing
With the number of migrants piling through the country at the moment, our Fleets Corner site is certainly seeing its fare share of birds. Since the beginning of August migrants have been taking advantage of bramble bushes thick with blackberries and the four ginormous elderberry bushes, not to mention the abundance of small insects to gorge on.
Ringing sessions throughout august have produced a good number of birds and todays session highlighted the variety of birds passing through the area. Several highlights included a Lesser Whitethroat which was the first bird of the day, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, three Reed Warbler and a Sparrowhawk. As well as the usual good numbers of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and the local breeders like Dunnock, Robin, Blue and Great Tit.
Final totals – 37 birds of 13 species
Reed Warbler 3
Garden Warbler – 1
Lesser Whitethroat – 1
Whitethroat – 1
Chiffchaff – 3
Willow Warbler – 10
Blue Tit – 6
Great Tit – 5
Long-tailed Tit – 1
Greenfinch – 1
Dunnock – 1
Robin – 3
Sparrowhawk - 1
  • Sparrowhawk - male
  • Garden Warbler - stained with blackberry juice
  • Willow Warbler - lovely lemon yellow juvenile

Over the last week a number of Sand Martins and Swallows have been roosting in a reed bed in the north of the harbour, quite often 500+ at a time.  With this in mind we decided to run a double ringing session targeting the Martin and Swallow flock last night and migrant warblers this morning. It’s no picnic ringing and monitoring birds with our evening session not finishing until 11:45pm and our morning session beginning at 5am! It was well worth it though with a total of 113 birds caught over both sessions.

The evening session resulted in 83 new birds, mainly juvenile Sand Martins, with only four adults. Swallows were less numerous with juveniles out numbering adults. Also ringed 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Bunting and 2 Reed Warbler.

This mornings session was pretty bread and butter with 12 Sedge Warbler, 11 Reed Warbler, 5 Reed Bunting , 1 Blackcap and 1 juvenile Cetti’s Warbler ringed.


  • Sand Martin
  • Juvenile Cetti's Warbler
  • Juvenile Swallow

This morning another ringing session took place at a wetland habitat in the north of the harbour. The focus of the session to ring the early moving passerines that make their way through the harbour’s dense reed beds, as well as the local breeding birds and their recently fledged young. All in all, a really successful session for what is still very early in the season.

We arrived on site at 5am to put the nests up which had done by 05:30am. The weather was warm, calm and still with 1-2 knots of wind and 5% cloud clover.

As expected, the session was mainly dominated by Reed Warbler but a total of 22 birds of 7 species was the final count.

The highlight of the morning was two newly fledged Kingfishers probably just passing through the area. We can tell they are juvenile birds by the brown tops to their feet as highlighted in the photo below, their plumage as a whole is not as bright and vivid as you would expect an adult to be. Also ringed this morning was the first Sedge Warbler of the autumn, hopefully the first of many. Also ringed were a fledged family party of 6 Reed Bunting, 1 juvenile Chiffchaff, 1 Goldfinch and 1 Blue Tit

  • kingfisher - juvenile
  • Brown tops to juvenile Kingfisher feet
  • Sedge Warbler - 1st of the autumn

The last few weeks have been a long hard slog getting the net rides ready for the 2013 autumn ringing season, but finally after lots of brush cutting and hedge trimming the rides were finished on  Thursday allowing the first ringing session of the autumn to take place today. As a group, we (Stour Ringing Group) have several locations around the harbour where we focus our ringing activity, targeting a mixture of habitats from vast reed bed to over grown ditches.

Today we were at our reedbed site in the north of the harbour, and although still slightly early in the season a moderate number of birds were caught. The total combined of 5 new Reed Warbler, 2 Greenfinch and 1 Chiffchaff along with 3 re-trap Reed Warbler and a re-trap Reed Bunting. This small tally is only a tiny fraction of the potential number of birds we should be ringing over the next 6-8 weeks.


With the majority of migrants now at their breeding grounds our focus has now changed to monitoring the local breeding birds around the harbour. This morning we focused on a reed bed in the north-west of the harbour hoping for the numerous species that take refuge in this deep dense habitat. In total we had the nets open for two and a half hours and ended up catching 10 birds. Variety wasn’t exactly huge but that’s not always important. We ended up with 7 new Reed Warbler, 2 new male Bearded Tit and a Bearded Tit already with a ring on it’s leg. All 10 of these birds were aged as ‘4’ which doesn’t mean they’re 4 years old, but means the bird definitely hatched before the CURRENT calendar year, but the exact year is unknown.

We can come to this conclusion because we know that Reed Warbler go through a complete winter moult down in Africa meaning they have a mixture of slightly worn and fresh feathers this time of year, and also it’s still too early for this years young Reed Warbler to have left the nest yet, when they do they will be age ‘3’, a bird that hatched during the CURRENT calendar year.

Adult Bearded Tits go through a full post-breeding moult as do newly fledged birds meaning that both adults and last years young look exactly the same this time of year meaning we can’t give a definitive year of hatching.

  • Reed Warbler
  • Bearded Tit - male
  • Bearded Tit - back and wings

A ringing session took place yesterday in the north of the harbour and nothing could have prepared us for the excitement that unfolded throughout the morning. Spring ringing sessions can be VERY hit and miss as birds don’t necessarily always use the same spring stop of spots as they would do in the autumn. That said, if you’re lucky enough to experience a spring fall then you can really turn the heat up. The session begun with 4 birds netted before we had even finished putting the nets up, and a further 19 birds were caught on the first net round 20 minuets later. Visually, it was obvious that there were a lot of Willow Warbler and Blackcap around, but other goodies were just lurking around the corner. Our first ‘unusual’ bird of the morning was a Garden Warbler, a species seldom seen in the spring in Poole Harbour. We were then lucky enough to catch a Grasshopper Warbler, another spring rarity and then a Sedge Warbler. This combined with many Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler made for a terribly enjoyable morning. The final total of birds ringed was 81, which consisted of….

Grasshopper Warbler x 1
Garden Warbler x 1
Sedge Warbler x 1
Willow Warbler x37
Chiffchaff x
Blackcap x 19
Whitethroat x 8
Greenfinch x 4
Goldcrest x 1
Robin x 1
Blackbird x 1

  • Grasshopper Warbler - Ringing station in the west of the harbour
  • Sedge Warbler - Ringing station in the west of the harbour
  • Common Whitethroat - Ringing station in the west of the harbour

Around 5 years ago, it was noticed that a few Chiffchaff had started to over-winter in the scrub that runs along the outflow drain behind PC World, Holes Bay, and since 2009 a ringing programme was introduced to try and monitor exactly how many use the site. Were they just random birds arriving each winter or was there any evidence of birds being faithful to the area? Well the answer is, a bit of both. Over the last 5 years a total of 28 different birds were ringed and in 2013 birds that were originally ringed in 2009 were re-trapped again proving site fidelity.

It was never considered that the area was a possible passage zone for migrants until this weekend when a large fall of Chiffchaff into the UK channelled around 100 birds into the ringing area, meaning that subsequently on Saturday the 23rd of March, 68 new birds were ringed and on Sunday the 24th another 12. Within these totals were 2 ‘tristis’ birds, a control and 4 re-traps from previous sessions.

  • Siberian 'tristis' Chiffchaff

After focusing on Pied Wagtails mid week, we decided to focus on some of the wading birds that have arrived for the winter or passing through the harbour at the moment. Our main focus was both species of Snipe, Common and Jack. Our habitat choice was a favoured wetland sight in the west of the harbour known to support a good variety of wintering and passage birds. The weather looked a bit dodgy to begin with but two birds were caught even before the nets were fully up with a Common Snipe and a Teal being the culprits. After that a gorgeous clear moonlit sky made for a very interesting next few hours. Our next net-round found both Common and Jack Snipe caught giving a great comparison opportunity (see photo). Common Snipe are fairly numerous in winter and could even possibly still breed in the harbour somewhere, where as no Jack Snipe breed in the UK at all, with birds starting to arrive from their Arctic breeding grounds around October time and pass through and use suitable feeding areas. The grande finale was a Barn Owl that was caught on the last net-round, which was amazing in it's own right, but what made it even more special was that it already had a ring on it's leg. The ring number was sent away to the BTO who have now confirmed that the owl was ringed as a chick in 2011 at Shapwick, near Blandford.

  • Barn Owl wing
  • The bird was ringed as a chick in 2011 at Shapwick

During October Pied Wagtails can form vast roosting flocks right across the harbour, from the safe and quite reed beds of Swineham and Lytchett Bay to the very urban high streets and hospitals of Poole town Centre... basically, anywhere they can find warmth. Tonight a wagtail roost located in the north of the harbour was the focus of our latest ringing session. Pied Wagtails can travel vast distances over their lifetime with birds ringed in Poole Harbour being controlled in Spain, France and even Albania!
Tonight 62 birds were ringed, most being juveniles from this year and a handful of adults including only one adult male which is pictured. Also ringed were a female Reed Bunting and a Wren.

Today a small ringing session took place in the north of the harbour trying to target migrating Meadow Pipits. Although many birds of various different species were moving about from bush to bush and passing overhead the total amount of ringed birds was very low. Just three birds ringed, two Meadow Pipit and a Goldfinch. All three birds caught were young from this summer which had all started their moult into adult plumage. This time of year many thousands of Meadow Pipits are migrating across the country often dropping into large arable crop fields to feed.

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