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Poole Harbour List

The Poole Harbour list is 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, 330 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 escape 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.

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Goldeneye - Poole Park, Aidan Brown
Goldeneye
Latin Name
Bucephala clangula
Status

Regular 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.

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Goldfinch - Middlebere, Aiden Brown
Goldfinch
Latin Name
Carduelis tristis
Status

Increasing breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

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.

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Goosander - Poole Park, Aidan Brown
Goosander
Latin Name
Mergus merganser
Status

Annual 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.

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Goshawk - Middlebere - Steve Smith 21/10/17
Goshawk
Latin Name
Accipiter gentilis
Status

Very rare visitor. This species remains genuinely rare across Dorset where it is not recorded annually

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)

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Grasshopper Warbler - Fleets Corner
Grasshopper Warbler
Latin Name
Locustella naevia
Status

Spring and autumn 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.

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Great Black Backed Gull - Ballard Down, Aidan brown
Great Black-backed Gull
Latin Name
Larus marinus
Status

Resident breeding bird

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.

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Great Bustard - Holme Bridge - Nick Hopper
Great Bustard
Latin Name
Otis tarda
Status

Extinct Dorset breeder with the last one shot around 1888

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 Poole Harbour record coming on the 29th Dec 2008 at Holme Bridge (N.Hopper, S.Robson)

 

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Great Crested Grebe - Hatch Pond
Great Crested Grebe
Latin Name
Podiceps cristatus
Status

Resident breeding bird and winter visitor

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.

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Great Grey Shrike - Arne RSPB Reserve
Great Grey Shrike
Latin Name
Lanius excubitor
Status

Occasional winter visitor and passage migrant. Nationally the trend for this species is increasing since 1990. Though whilst that is true over the last 6 years it is not our experience over the last 25 years.

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.

Records since 2010
1 on 15th Nov 2010 - 8th Apr 2011 at Coombe Heath, Arne
1 on 24th and 28th Mar 2011 at Godlingston Heath
1 on 15th Nov 2011 at Arne
1 on 30th Nov 2012 - Coombe Heath, Arne
1 on 30th Nov to 11th Dec 2013 spent its time between Middlebere and Arne
1 on 28th Nov 2014 at Arne
1 on 24th Jan - 4th Apr 2015 at Godlingston Heath and Studland
1 on 11th Jan 2016 at Upton Heath
Maximum of 3 present during Dec 2016 with individuals seen at Godlingston, Hartland and Canford Heath.
Maximum of 3 present during Jan, Feb & Mar 2017 with individuals seen at Wytch Causeway, Hartland Moore and Canford Heath.
1 on Hartland Moor April - 12th May 2017

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Great Northern Diver - Brands Bay, Aidan Brown
Great Northern Diver
Latin Name
Gavia immer
Status

Winter visitor and passage migrant

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. There have been 263 British records of this “monster acro” to the end of 2013. 10 of these have been in Dorset but only 1 in the harbour.

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

Extreme vagrant to the harbour. 1 very old record. Remains extremely rare in Dorset with less than 15 records ever

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

Mainly scarce spring/autumn passage migrant, but also the skua most likely to be seen in winter.

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

Extreme vagrant with 2 records from the 19th century. It is highly unlikely to occur again as the populations closest to Britain have declined dramatically during the late 19th and early 20th century.

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

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Great Spotted Woodpecker - Holton Lee
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Latin Name
Dendrocopos major
Status

Common breeding 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.

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Great Tit - Swineham, Peter Moore
Great Tit
Latin Name
Parus major
Status

Common breeding 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.

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Great White Egret  - Littlesea, Studland - Steve Smith
Great White Egret
Latin Name
Ardea alba
Status

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 2003 the total number of records for Dorset was eleven.

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!

 

 

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Green Sandpiper - Lytchett Bay
Green Sandpiper
Latin Name
Tringa ochropus
Status

Passage migrant

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.

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Green Woodpecker - Glebelands
Green Woodpecker
Latin Name
Picus viridis
Status

Common breeding 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.

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Green-winged Teal - Upton CP, Ian Ballam
Green-winged Teal
Latin Name
Anas carolinensis
Status

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.

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)

Greenfinch
Latin Name
Carduelis chloris
Status

Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Site and Records Information

Possible slight decline due to the trichomonosis disease, but evident right across the harbour as a breeding bird. Winter flocks do occur but passage is much more evident in October and November. Over Ballard, Glebelands and South Haven Greenfinch can pass over on migration in good numbers during October, although numbers have fallen. Easily located in spring with their melodic and tuneful song.

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Greenshank - Brownsea Lagoon
Greenshank
Latin Name
Tringa nebularia
Status

Passage migrant and winter visitor

Site and Records Information

It's actually possible for Greenshank to be present in Poole Harbour every month of the year, with August - October seeing peak passage. Brownsea, Lytchett Fields and Middlebere being key sites. Infrequent before the fifties, the two quietest months are May and June. For example Brownsea had one bird in June 2002 building to 15 in August peaking at 33 (mainly juveniles) in October and dropping again to 5 in December. Their easily recognisable 'tew tew tew' call is regular call they give on night migration.

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Grey Heron - Lytchett Bay
Grey Heron
Latin Name
Ardea cinerea
Status

Breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Common throughout the harbour, Brownsea used to host the largest heronry in Dorset. Unfortunately due to predation the numbers dropped and the colony moved on over to the Wareham Channel where they now breed in a mixed colony with Little Egret. Wareham Water Meadows, Swineham, Holes Bay, Lytchett Bay, Brownsea, Arne, Middlebere and Upton CP all record Grey Heron regularly.

Grey Partridge
Latin Name
Perdix perdix
Status

Rare visitor and occasional wanderer from feral populations

Site and Records Information

Has been recorded throughout the farmland in the harbour and on Ballard. The final stronghold was Greenland's Farm in the mid sixties and two were seen here in 1994, also recorded at Arne in 1994. Not many recent sightings, and the final stronghold was Greenland's Farm in the mid sixties!! A recent flock of 23 at Lytchett Bay in 1999 were deemed escapes as were a small flock in the Frome Valley near Worgret in 2014.

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Grey Phalarope, Arne Moors, September 2017
Grey Phalarope
Latin Name
Phalaropus fulicarius
Status

Scarce autumn visitor (during/after strong storms)

Site and Records Information

Usually a storm driven wader into the harbour, mainly in the autumn. There have been a number of records over the last couple of decades, turning up on small pools and even the Poole Park boating lake once or twice. In August 2017 a remarkable occurrence of both a Grey Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope on the same small pool pleased a good number of birders who travelled to go and see them on Arne Moors.
The following records have occurred since 2000
1 on 15th Oct 2002 at Branksome Chine
1 on 20th Oct 2002 from boat off Shipstal Point
2 on 22nd Nov 2004 at Holes Bay
1 on 3rd Nov 2005 at Branksome Chine
1 on 6th Nov 2005 from RSPB bird boat in Wareham Channel
1 on 14th Nov 2007 at Brownsea Island
1 on 2nd Sep 2008 at Middlebere
2w on 5th Sep 2008 at Branksome Chine
1 on 24th Nov 2008 in Poole Bay
1 on 23rd Nov 2009 in Poole Park
1 on 29th Nov 2011 at Studland
1 on 29th Sep – 9th Oct 2013 at Brownsea Island
1 on 28th Oct 2014 at Studland
1 from 17th-23rd September 2017 on Arne Moors
1 from Sept 22nd -23rd 2018 on the Brownsea Lagoon (G.Armstrong)

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Grey Plover - Brands Bay, Aidan Brown
Grey Plover
Latin Name
Pluvialis squatarola
Status

Winter visitor and passage migrant

Site and Records Information

In the past 80% of Dorset's wintering population used to occur in Poole Harbour and the tremendous regional importance of the roost on the Brownsea Lagoon is shown by the four highest ever Dorset counts, all of which were at this site; 490 in January 1986; 560 in February 1995; 518 in January 1988 and the Harbours maximum count of 599 in February 1999 and 646 in Feb 2001. Nowadays roosts of up to 100-200 occur on the Brownsea Lagoon at high tide, with favoured feeding areas being along the southern and western shores of the harbour such as Brands Bay, Fitzworth and Holton Shore. On passage birds appear in the Middlebere Channel fairly often.

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Grey Wagtail - Wareham, Aidan Brown
Grey Wagtail
Latin Name
Motacilla cinerea
Status

Resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

Site and Records Information

Used to breed at Lytchett Bay, Keysworth, Corfe Castle, Wareham Quay and Poole Park and probably many other sites. Still numerous breeding pairs and numbers swell ever so slightly in the winter. Very evident as a passage bird in September and October as birds can be heard passing over head most mornings at coastal sites. Over-winters regularly at the PC World Drain and Norden Sewage Works.

Grey- headed Wagtail
Latin Name
Motacilla flava thunbergi
Status

This race of Yellow Wagtail breeds from Scandinavia eastwards to western Siberia and winters in sub-saharan Africa and SE Asia. It is very rare in Dorset with only 7 Dorset records. 

Site and Records Information

1 on 31st May 2014 on top of Old Harry/Ballard, Studland (S.Smith)

 

 

 

Greylag Goose
Latin Name
Anser anser
Status

Resident feral breeder and rare winter visitor

Site and Records Information

Poole Park has around 10-15 birds throughout the year. Swineham GP, Wareham Water Meadows and Bestwall all host birds during the year. Three birds with collar rings were found some years ago almost certainly confirming that we get true winter migrants from northern Europe.

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Guillemot - Studland Bay, Aidan Brown
Guillemot
Latin Name
Uria aalge
Status

Winter visitor

Site and Records Information

Small numbers of around 4-6 over winter in and around the bays just outside harbour, usually hanging around the harbour mouth but they do come up as far as Poole Quay sometimes giving great views. A harbour maximum of 36 on 27th May 1988 in Poole Bay. They all pass in good numbers out in Poole Bay during the spring and if watched constantly, its possible many hundreds could be logged during peak migration.

Gull-billed Tern
Latin Name
Sterna nilotica
Status

There are 13 accepted records for Dorset. 11 in the west of the county and 2 from Christchurch Harbour, we are still waiting for our first. There is one published claim in the harbour.

Site and Records Information

1 on 4th and 12th July 1970 at Little Sea, Studland (PG Hawkins, D Macgregor et al)

For reasons unknown this record was never submitted BBRC and consequently it was not assessed. It was not included in BoD04 by GG but it was published in DBR70 and BoD83 by P&B. The species is therefore not on the Poole Harbour list. However it is published here so that the report is not lost.

Gyr Falcon
Latin Name
Falco rusticolus
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour. There have been 370 British records to the end of 2013, 177 of these since 1950

Site and Records Information

Whilst Dorset only has 3 records. All from the 19th century, Devon has had 4 records since 1985 and Cornwall has recorded 8 in the same period. Future records are therefore not impossible.

1 white Greenland race bird on the 5th Feb 1912 at Ballard Down after a blizzard.

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Hawfinch - Ridge - Brian Whally
Hawfinch
Latin Name
Coccothraustes coccothraustes
Status

Very rare visitor, best opportunity arising during autumn visible migration.

Site and Records Information

Very rare visitor, best opportunity arising during autumn visible migration at South Haven, Ballard Down and Glebelands. However, In autumn 2017 an unprecedented irruption from southern and eastern Europe saw many thousands arrive into the UK. Sightings began in Poole Harbour at the expected coastal locations, however by November they were regularly being seen at inland sites like Lytchett Fields and Lytchett Minster, Arne, Wareham Churchyard and Holmebridge. They even began appearing in suburban gardens in Upton. It’s unknown exactly how many over-wintered during the 2017/18 winter period but estimates suggest several hundred in Poole Harbour alone and possibly over 1000 across Dorset. There is also remarkably a historic breeding record. On the 8th Sep 1966 a pair was seen in a Poole garden, a week later the female was seen with two young.

1 on 7th Apr 1973 at Studland
1 on 1st Oct 1992 at Rempstone
1 on 2nd Dec 2001 over Corfe Castle
1n on 26th Oct 2005 at South Haven, Studland
1n on 28th Oct 2008 at South Haven, Studland
1 on 11th May 2010 in garden at Norden
1n on 24th Oct 2012 at South Haven, Studland
2n on 6th Nov 2012 at Constitution Hill, Poole
1n on 2nd Oct 2015 at South Haven, Studland
1 on 6th Oct 2015 at Arne car park
1 on 15th Oct 2015 over Arne car park

2017/18 winter period : -

8 Middle Beach, Studland
1 Greenlands Farm, Studland
3 in Wareham Churchyard, Feb 2018
4 at Priory Farm, Holme Lane
4 Norden Park and Ride
2 Arne Farm
3 Lytchett Minster Churchyard
1 Upton Garden
2 Stoborough garden

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Hen Harrier - Middlebere, Aidan Brown
Hen Harrier
Latin Name
Circus cyaneus
Status

Annual winter visitor

Site and Records Information

Numbers have declined since the late 1980s when individual winter roosts of up to six birds were recorded with a Harbour maximum of eight and 6% of the UK wintering population recorded during one co-ordinated roost count. In more recent years regular surveying rarely shows more than four birds present at any one time although six were briefly in the Harbour during February 2014 and 7 were present in Feb 2018.
The use of roost sites has to remain confidential but remains unpredictable with frequent changes in numbers, groupings and locations.
Birds can most reliably be seen by day either from the Middlebere hide, at Arne RSPB or at west Harbour locations such as Lytchett Bay, Arne Moors and Swineham. Less frequently, they may be seen on Godlingston Heath, around Rempstone and 'just outside the Harbour' area over the wet bogs of Wareham Forest.
A juvenile male that wintered in 2013-14 had been ringed and originated from Argyllshire. Other local recoveries have involved birds from nests in Cornwall, Lancashire and Aberdeenshire.
A second calendar year male that had remained from the winter cohort was seen to display above Swineham in mid-April 2016 and in August 2018 a fresh juvenile male spent a week around Swineham and Keysworth which is an exceptionally early date and possibly suggesting it fledged somewhere in southern England.

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Herring Gull - Harbour Mouth
Herring Gull (argenteus)
Latin Name
Larus argentatus
Status

Declining breeding resident and common winter visitor

Site and Records Information

The last 50 years has seen a huge decline in breeding numbers where it was said that Brownsea Island used to host 400-600 nests in the 1960's, then compare that to only three nests in 1980. In 2016 a breeding gull survey was conducted showing that a population of 811 pairs now breed within our Poole Harbour recording area. Still easy to see in most places around the harbour, with Poole Quay being a good place to look as they hunt down free chips! Despite the breeding problems the non-breeding numbers are still strong with 2000- 3000 in the harbour at peak times. Also recorded in Poole Harbour is the sub-species Scandinavian Herring Gull

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Hobby - Hartland Moor, Aidan Brown
Hobby
Latin Name
Falco subbuteo
Status

Summer breeding resident and passage migrant

Site and Records Information

In spring Hobby are typically very active and relatively easy to see as they gather over heathland, conifer plantations and bog sites within the harbour after migration from wintering areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Large feeding groups of up to 12 have been recorded on the south side of Wareham Channel during mid-May though smaller groups can appear almost anywhere. The birds that then remain in the area to breed become less conspicuous during the nesting cycle when individuals are best seen around the Arne RSPB heaths, Middlebere and Hartland Moor, although fledging success varies according to the availability of large insect prey. During most years there is also a presence to the north of the Harbour at both Swineham gravel pits and Lytchett Bay. The wet bog surrounds of nearby Wareham Forest are just outside the Harbour boundary but routinely hold hunting birds with nesting within the forest boundaries recorded annually.

The earliest record is 27th March 1994 at Godlingston Heath and the latest is 20th Nov 2010 at Hartland Moor

Honey Buzzard
Latin Name
Pernis apivorus
Status

Very scarce passage migrant

Site and Records Information

Could potentially pass over anywhere on migration. Seems to have become scarcer in recent years. Year 2000 saw a record influx into Britain at the end of September involving at least 500 birds. Dorset enjoyed between 143 and 159 sightings involving a min of 77 individuals. The harbour recorded 5 of these. There was a further influx in 2008 but the harbour missed out completely.

1 on 9th Jun 1967 over Arne
1 on 1st Sep 1969 at Salterns Copse, Arne
1 on 12th Jun 1975 over Shipstal, Arne
1 on 17th Jul 1980 Holton Heath, disturbed excavating a wasps nest
1 on 25th Apr 1982 over Godlingston, Studland
1 on 10th Sep 1990 at Arne
1 on 15th Sep 1992 at Lytchett Bay (E.S.Brodie)
1 on 1st Jun 1994 at Branksome
1 on 20th Aug 1994 at Canford Cliffs
1 on 20th Jul 1996 at Arne (P.J.Coslett)
1 on 24th May 1997 at Holes Bay (M.Constantine)
1 on 13th May 1999 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson)
1 on 7th Sep 2000 at Middlebere
1 on 28th Sep 2000 over Arne
1 on 28th Sep 2000 over Branksome
2 on 30th Sep 2000 over Brownsea
1 on 20th July 2002 at Holton Lee and Lytchett Bay (T.Elborn et al)
1 on 21st May 2004 at Holton Lee (R.Howell)
1 on 23rd May 2004 past Brownsea (E.D.Lloyd)
1 on 15th Sept 2004 at Studland (M.Constantine, M.Constantine)
1 on 16th Sep 2006 at South Haven, Studland (M.Constantine, M.Constantine, I.Prophet)
1 on 22nd Aug 2007 at Brands Bay (N.Hopper)
1 from 14th – 15th Aug 2011 at Lytchett Bay (S.Robson et al)
1 on 15th June 2013 over Brownsea Island (P.Morton et al)

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Hooded Crow - Glebelands - Peter Moore
Hooded Crow
Latin Name
Corvus corone cornix
Status

Vagrant to the harbour

Site and Records Information

A close relation to our more common Carrion Crow, the Hooded Crow is a rare visitor from the north with only five Poole Harbour records.
1 from 6th Jan to 15th March 1953 at Sandbanks
1 on 29th- 30th April 1967 on Brownsea
1 on 21st March 1980 on Brownsea
1 on 16th Feb 1991 on Brownsea
1 on 26th - 28th August 2017 at Manor Farm and Glebeland Farm Fields, Studland (S.Smith et al)

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Hoopoe - Hamworthy, Peter Moore
Hoopoe
Latin Name
Upupa epops
Status

Scarce visitor to the harbour, almost annual in recent years. Nationally this species is a scarce migrant. Its occurrence is fairly stable with 10 year means varying from 93 (1990’s) to 147 (1960’s). The current decade mean is 124.

Site and Records Information

Scarce visitor to the harbour, almost annual in recent years. Nationally this species is a scarce migrant. Its occurrence is fairly stable with 10 year means varying from 93 (1990’s) to 147 (1960’s). The current decade mean is 124. There are many historical records from various places around the harbour. Below is a complete list since 1980. Spring records are very much the norm, with only 8 of the following records relating to autumn. There is one winter record from 2013 when a bird spent the winter on a housing estate in Hamworthy!

1 on 8th May 1980 at Arne
1 on 26th -28th May 1981 at Arne
1 on 13th Nov 1982 at Lilliput/Sandbanks
1 on 23rd Apr 1984 at Studland
1 on 3rd May 1984 at East Holme
1 on 6th Apr 1985 at Parkstone
1 on 10th Apr 1985 at Nine Barrow Down
1 on 5th May 1986 at Knoll Beach, Studland
1 on 15th Apr 1989 at Brownsea
1 on 27th May 1991 at Studland
1 from 8th-11th Apr 1992 at Greenlands Farm, Studland
1 from 20th to 22nd Sep 1992 at Corfe Castle
1 on 24th-25th March 1996 on Middlebere
1 on 29th Apr 1998 at Hartland Moor
1 on 22nd Apr 2000 at Nine Barrow Down
1 on 5th Sep 2002 at Coombe Heath, Arne.
1 on 16th Apr 2003 on the Turlin Shore, Lytchett Bay
1 on 24th Mar 2004 at Ham Common
1 on 25th -29th Mar 2004 at Holton Lee (presumed same as above)
1 on 10th May 2004 at Ham Common
1 on 27th Jun 2006 at Wareham
1 on 3rd Oct 2006 at Canford Heath
1 on 3rd Oct 2006 at Sandbanks (same as above?)
1 on 21st May 2008 at Nine Barrow Down
1 on 24th – 25th May 2008 at Canford Heath
1 on 21st Mar 2011 at Swineham GP
1 on 31st Mar 2011 at Holton Lee
1 on 14th Apr 2011 at Coombe Heath, Arne
1 on 23rd Apr 2011 at Arne (same as above?)
1 on 3rd Nov 2012 on Godlingston Heath, Studland
1 from 23rd Jan- 19th Mar 2013 around Lytchett Bay and Hamworthy
1 on 24th Oct 2013 at “Poole Harbour” (per DBR13 in press)
1 on 24th Apr 2014 at Greenlands Farm, Studland
1 on 5th Jul 2014 at Sandford Lane Ind Est, Wareham
1 on 5th May 1986 in Knoll Beach car park
1 from 13th to 14th May 1978 at Arne
1 at Corfe Castle from 20th to 22nd September 1992
1 from 8th to 11th April 1992 at Greenlands Farm
1 on 24th March 1996 on Middlebere Heath
1 on 16th April 2003 on Turlin Shore, Lytchett Bay
1 January 2013 in the Turlin Moor/Hamworthy area
1 on 24th April 2014 at Greenlands Farm, Studland
1 on 11th March 2017 at Wytch Causeway (M&M Constantine)

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House Martin - Ballard Down, Aidan Brown
House Martin
Latin Name
Delichon urbica
Status

Declining breeding summer visitor and common passage migrant

Site and Records Information

Sporadic breeding sites around the harbour with the manor house at Upton CP hosting nests. Passage migrants arrive mid April and pass through feeding over the many moors and fields around the harbour and then start to depart early September and all the way through October. Large counts of up to 1000+ are always possible if watching from a good migration vantage point such as Ballard. In mid-summer feeding colonies can be found over Swineham GP nad Lytchett Fields.

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House Sparrow - Hamworthy Park
House Sparrow
Latin Name
Passer domesticus
Status

Breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Many breeding colonies in urban and rural areas around the harbour, but declines are evident in various places such as Brownsea and Ham Common. Can occur as a passage migrant in September and October with Ballard Down and South Haven logging passing birds on migration.

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Iceland Gull - Kerry Foods, March 2009 - Nick Hopper
Iceland Gull
Latin Name
Larus glaucoides
Status

Very rare winter visitor.

Site and Records Information

Very rare winter visitor. Most Dorset records occur between Feb and May. In 1984 there were 22 Dorset records and in 1998 and 2000 there were at least 15. Having become almost annual in the 1990’s and after 4 in 2000, there have been only 8 birds in the harbour in the last 15 years!

1 in 1893 in “Poole Harbour” was the first record for Dorset (GPG2004)
1 on 1st May 1970 on Brownsea Lagoon
Ad from 18th May – 6th Jun 1981 at Brownsea Lagoon
1stW from 8th -10th Feb 1984 at Canford Heath tip.
1s W on 23rd Feb and 31st Mar 1984 at Brownsea (presumed same as above)
2ndW on 19th Feb and 31st Mar 1984 at Little Sea, Studland
2ndW on 6th Mar 1988 in Redhorn Bay, Studland
Imm on 9th Feb 1991 in Holes Bay
Imm on 14th and 20th Feb in Poole Park (presumed same as above)
2ndW on 10th Mar at Studland
Ad on 8th Feb 1992 at Shell Bay
Ad on 14th Feb 1993 at Holes Bay
Imm on 30th Apr 1995 in Poole Bay
1stW on 23rd Mar 1996 in Poole Park
1stW on 15th Mar 1997 in Lytchett Bay
1stW on 7th Mar 1998 in Lytchett Bay
1stW on 15th Mar 1998 in Holes Bay (presumed same as above)
1stW on 16th Apr 1998 at Poole Quay
1stS on 17th Jun 1999 at Kerry Foods, Holes Bay
1stW on 1st Jan 2000 at Swineham Point
1stW on 4th and 29th Jan 2000 on Brownsea Lagoon
1stW on 6th Jan 2000 at Sandbanks (presumed same as above)
1stW on 20th Jan 2000 at Corfe Mullen Tip
1stW on 20th and 22nd Jan 2000 at Hatch Pond (presumed same as above)
1stW on 29th Jan 2000 at Poole Park (presumed same as above)
1stS on 28th - 29th May 2000 on Brownsea lagoon
Imm on 16th Mar 2001 over Hatch Pond
2 (1stW and 1stS) between 5th - 23rd Mar 2002 at Corfe Mullen Tip and Lytchett Bay
Imm on 16th Jan 2005 at Bestwall, Wareham
Juv from 16th -29th Mar 2008 at Lytchett Bay
Juv on 24th Apr 2008 at Sandbanks
Juv on 6th - 8th Mar 2009 at Holes Bay
Juv on 3rd - 4th Mar 2014 at Poole Park
1stW on April 11th 2016 at Upton CP Richard Webb et al

Kumliens Gull
Larus glaucoides kumlieni
This darker winged race of Iceland Gull breeds from SW Baffin Island to NW Quebec has only occurred in Dorset on 2 occasions (2 more recent records pending). There is one record from the harbour, this record was the first to have been seen alive in the County.

1stW on 11th Apr 2001 at Corfe Mullen Tip (J.Lidster et al)

Icterine Warbler
Latin Name
Hippolais icterina
Status

Vagrant to the harbour

Site and Records Information

This species is a declining rare migrant to Dorset. In the peak years of the 80’s and 90’s 10 - 12 might be seen in the County in a year. However it has become much rarer since the turn of century with 6 blank years already. 80% of the county’s records are on Portland. The bird is truly rare in the harbour. There have been 6 records.

1 on 9th Sep 1962 on Studland Heath
1 on 1st Aug 1977 at Little Sea
1 on 31st Aug - 1st Sep 1979 on Brownsea
1 on 2nd Sep 1997 at Ballard Down (J.Lidster et al)
1 on 5th – 6th Sep 1997 at Ballard Down (C.Conroy et al)
1 on 12th Aug 2003 at Greenlands Farm, Studland (I.Prophet et al)

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Jack Snipe - Sunnyside Farm
Jack Snipe
Latin Name
Lymnocryptes minimus
Status

Scarce but annual winter visitor

Site and Records Information

This species is rarely seen sitting in the open. Observers experience is more likely to involve flushing birds from under your feet during the winter months whilst you're looking up at the skies. They are undoubtedly under recorded and sometimes Snipe are misidentified in their place. A fairly good ID feature when accidentally flushing Snipe/Jack Snipe is that when you flush a Jack Snipe it quite often only fly's a few meters and drops back down into the vegetation, whereas Common Snipe will often rise and tower far out of sight. Common Snipe typically flush well ahead you whilst 'Jacks' will wait until you almost stand on them.

Sunnyside Farm, Wareham Water Meadows, Lytchett Bay, Swineham and Arne all have regular reports each winter. Ringing at Sunnyside Farm on 2 nights in autumn 2010 produced 12 different birds. Winter site fidelity has also been proven. A bird ringed at Sunnyside on 13th March 2010 was recaptured there the following winter on 6th November. It was also discovered in Jan 2017 Jack Snipe also feed out on the urban playing fields of Baiter during the night.

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Jackdaw - Wareham © Marcus Lawson
Jackdaw
Latin Name
Corvus monedula
Status

Common breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Breeds right across the harbour with birds now nesting in urban chimneys therefore becoming a common garden bird. Large winter roosts of 1000+ birds can occur in the Arne, Studland area with autumn migration evident in October/November across the harbour.

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Jay - Upton CP, Aidan Brown
Jay
Latin Name
Garrulus glandarius
Status

Breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Breeds in suitable areas, including urban sites around the harbour. Very vocal in autumn and can be seen at Lytchett Bay, Poole Park, Arne, Studland, Holton Lee, Upton CP and Canford Heath. Occasionally autumn irruptions can occur with birds being displaced from the continent due to lack of food. The autumn of 2012 saw good numbers passing through the harbour at many sites with counts of up to 20+ birds at a time.

Kentish Plover
Latin Name
Charadrius alexandrinus
Status

Rare visitor to the harbour

Site and Records Information

This species is declining significantly in terms of its national status. 1993 produced 59 records (the best year since collation of records began in 1986) and 2013 produced only 8 (the worst year). Dorset remains one of the best counties with Ferrybridge, Weymouth being the preferred site. There have only been 9 records in the Poole Harbour.

1 on 24th - 27th Apr 1925 at Shell Bay beach
1 on 27th Apr 1934 at Shell Bay beach
1 on 24th Oct 1950 at Shell Bay beach
1 on 9th Apr 1953 at Shell Bay beach
1 on 22nd – 25th Aug 1977 at Brownsea Lagoon
1 on 14th May 1983 on Shipstal beach, Arne
1 on 20th April 1988 at Arne
1 from 27th Nov - 15th Dec 1991 at Studland (R Price et al)
1 on 1st Sep 2015 on Brownsea Lagoon (G.Armstrong et al)

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Kestrel - Arne RSPB Reserve
Kestrel
Latin Name
Falco tinnunculus
Status

Declining breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Sad to see such a decline in this species but the RSPB webcam in April, May and June gives a great insight to a Poole Harbour nest. Other breeding sites include Studland Heath, Greenland's Farm and the Upton Dual Carriageway area. Individuals can be encountered anywhere within the harbour but Slepe heath, Hartland Moor, Lytchett Fields, Greenlands Farm and Ballard are all good sites.

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Kingfisher - Middlebere, Aidan Brown
Kingfisher
Latin Name
Alcedo atthis
Status

Breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Breeds up the river valleys that feed in to Poole Harbour and then they head down to coastal spots during autumn and winter. Lytchett Bay, Holton Pools Holes Bay and the mouth of the River Frome are all good spot to check in early autumn (Aug and sept). Can be encountered at any quiet back water or creek like Middlebere, Arne, Swineham, Brownsea and Little Sea when post breeding dispersal takes place. During the winter they even occur regularly at urban sites like Poole Park, Poole Quay and Holes Bay.

Kittiwake
Latin Name
Rissa tridactyla
Status

Resident

Site and Records Information

Although they don't breed within the boundaries, Kittiwake are regularly seen passing out in Poole Bay if looking from Branksome Chine and Studland, more so in Autumn gales. There are a few inner harbour records on Brownsea and Lytchett Bay. The harbour maximum is 509 south in Studland Bay on 20th October 1980.

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Knot - Brands Bay, Aidan Brown
Knot
Latin Name
Calidris canutus
Status

Passage migrant and winter visitor

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

Lapland Bunting
Latin Name
Calcarius lapponicus
Status

Very rare autumn passage migrant

Site and Records Information

Familiarising yourself with the flight call will enhance your chances of seeing this species in the harbour. Most recent records have been fly-overs. Studland and Ballard Down are the favoured sites but there have been recent records from Wareham and Lytchett Bay proving that they can occur anywhere. Studland is the most favoured site with 9-13 birds between 1962-1993.

Records since 1993:
1 on 22nd Sep 1996 at Ballard Down (Mark Constantine)
1 on 11th Oct 2006 at Studland
1 on 14th Oct 2006 over Lytchett Bay (I.M.Lewis)
1 on 24th Sep 2010 over Stoborough (N.Hopper). Sound recorded.
1 on 21st Sep 2014 over Glebelands, Studland (N.Hopper). Sound recorded.
1 on 19th Oct 2015 over Lytchett Heath, Lytchett Bay (P.Morton)

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Lapwing - Middlebere, Aidan Brown
Lapwing
Latin Name
Vanellus vanellus
Status

Declining breeding resident and winter visitor

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

Very rare autumn/winter passage migrant. Autumn and winter storms can occasionally result in large numbers of petrels being forced into Dorset coastal waters.

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

Scarce breeder, common passage migrant and winter visitor

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

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Lesser Grey Shrike - Corfe River Valley
Lesser Grey Shrike
Latin Name
Lanius minor
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour with just 1 record.

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)

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Lesser Redpoll - Arne RSPB Reserve
Lesser Redpoll
Latin Name
Carduelis cabaret
Status

Uncommon breeding resident, regular passage migrant and winter visitor

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.

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Lesser Scaup - Hatch Pond - Dec 1992
Lesser Scaup
Latin Name
Aythya affinis
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour

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)

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Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Lytchett Fields - Martin Wood
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Latin Name
Dendrocopos minor
Status

Very rare breeding 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.

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Lesser Whitethroat - Fleets Corner
Lesser Whitethroat
Latin Name
Sylvia curruca
Status

Regular passage migrant and scarce breeder

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.

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Lesser Yellowlegs - Brownsea Lagoon - Brian Hill 08/12/14
Lesser Yellowlegs
Latin Name
Tringa flavipes
Status

Very rare vagrant from North America. 10 Dorset records since the first in 1963.

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.

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Linnet - Arne RSPB Reserve
Linnet
Latin Name
Carduelis cannabina
Status

Breeding resident, passage migrant and winter vistor

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

Storm driven winter visitor

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

Extreme vagrant to the harbour

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 pusilla
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour

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). 

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Little Egret - Brands Bay
Little Egret
Latin Name
Egretta garzetta
Status

Breeding resident and winter visitor

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.

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Little Grebe - Lytchett Bay
Little Grebe
Latin Name
Tachybaptus ruficollis
Status

Resident breeding bird and winter visitor

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.

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Little Gull - Swineham GP, Aidan Brown
Little Gull
Latin Name
Larus minutus
Status

Spring/autumn passage migrant

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

Formerly widespread 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

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Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Shaun Robson
Little Ringed Plover
Latin Name
Charadrius dubius
Status

Scarce spring and increasingly frequent autumn passage migrant, very rare breeder

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.

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Little Stint - RSPB Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam 08/09/14
Little Stint
Latin Name
Calidris minuta
Status

Autumn passage migrant, occasional winterer

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

Extreme vagrant to the harbour. There only 25 British records up to the end of 2015. There have only been 2 in Dorset.

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.

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Little Tern - Ian Ballam - Lytchett Bay 22/09/15
Little Tern
Latin Name
Sterna albifrons
Status

Sporadic 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 -eared Owl
Latin Name
Asio otus
Status

Former breeder, and regular winter visitor, now very 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.

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Long-tailed Duck - Brands Bay - Aidan Brown
Long -tailed Duck
Latin Name
Clangula hyemalis
Status

Uncommon 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

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Long-billed Dowitcher - Poole Park - Shaun Robson
Long-billed Dowitcher
Latin Name
Limnodromus scolopaceus
Status

Vagrant to the harbour

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-tailed Skua
Latin Name
Stercorarius longicaudus
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour.

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.

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Long-tailed Tit - Lytchett Bay
Long-tailed Tit
Latin Name
Aegithalos caudatus
Status

Common breeding 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.

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Magpie, Poole Town, October 2017, Marcus Lawson
Magpie
Latin Name
Pica pica
Status

Common breeding 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.

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Mallard - Poole Park
Mallard
Latin Name
Anas platyrhynchos
Status

Common breeding resident and winter visitor

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.

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Mandarin Duck - Holmebridge, Peter Moore
Mandarin Duck
Latin Name
Aix galericulata
Status

Small Feral Population.

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

Annual spring/summer passage migrant in small numbers. Stormy summer weather offers the best opportunity to see one.

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.

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Marsh Harrier - Middlebere, Aidan Brown
Marsh Harrier
Latin Name
Circus aeruginosus
Status

Present all year round. Breeding annually. Increasing.

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.

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Marsh Tit - Arne RSPB Reserve
Marsh Tit
Latin Name
Parus palustris
Status

Declining breeding resident. has become rather scarce in last 10 years.

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.

In practice Poole birders have noted a recent decline. The species has become harder to find at all of its historical sites though it is still very occasionally recorded at Arne, Studland, Holton Lee, Corfe Castle NT car park and rarely elsewhere. We would ask anyone who observes this species to please submit their record to us.

Marsh Warbler
Latin Name
Acrocephalus palustris
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour. 

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)

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Meadow Pipit - Lytchett Bay
Meadow Pipit
Latin Name
Anthus pratensis
Status

Resident, passage migrant and winter visitor

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.

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Mediterranean Gull - Sandbanks
Mediterranean Gull
Latin Name
Larus melanocephalus
Status

Increasing breeding 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.

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Melodious Warbler - South Haven, Studland - Steve Morrison
Melodious Warbler
Latin Name
Hippolais polyglotta
Status

Vagrant to the harbour

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;

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Merlin - Middlebere - Simon Kidner
Merlin
Latin Name
Falco columbarius
Status

Regular Passage migrant and 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.

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Mistle Thrush - Swineham, Peter Moore
Mistle Thrush
Latin Name
Turdus viscivorus
Status

Breeding resident and winter visitor

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.

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Montagu's Harrier - Hartland Moor, Aidan Brown
Montagu's Harrier
Latin Name
Circus pygargus
Status

Rare spring/summer 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

Common breeding 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.

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Mute Swan - Middlebere, Peter Moore
Mute Swan
Latin Name
Cygnus olor
Status

Breeding resident and winter visitor.

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.

Night Heron
Latin Name
Nycticorax nycticorax
Status

Extream vagrant to the harbour

Site and Records Information

This species was dropped from the BBRC list in 2002 due to its increasingly frequent occurrence. It is remarkable that there are so few records in Dorset. There have now been a little more than 20 Dorset records but only 2 in Poole Harbour. Surely another will be found soon, perhaps at Swineham or Little Sea, Studland?

1 shot in mid November 1891 near Seymers on Brownsea
Adult on 8th November 1949 at Wareham Water Meadows

Nightingale
Latin Name
Luscinia megarhynchos
Status

Very scarce passage migrant and rare breeder.

Site and Records Information

The number of Nightingales in Britain has declined by 90% in the last 40 years and their range has also retracted by 43%. It is therefore not surprising that its occurrence in the harbour has also reduced. With this in mind, its sad to state that we have now too lost our breeding Nightingale here in Poole Harbour from Challow Hill, Corfe.

In the 1960's and 70's breeding occasionally occurred around Brownsea, Studland, Corfe Castle, Holton Heath. During the 80's breeding records disappeared and it looked like we had lost the species as a breeding bird in the harbour. In the 90's occasional records came from Stoborough but breeding was not proven, Bushey and in 2000 a pair bred at Studland Golf Course. In 2009 breeding birds were discovered near Corfe Castle and at least two pairs bred there up until 2016 but none have been heard since.

The species is best detected on spring migration as it is likely to be singing and the following records have been logged since 2000

Given Nightingale's skulking nature it is not surprising that it is rarely recorded on autumn migration. In fact the only records that we could find are as follows:

The species is best detected on spring migration as it is likely to be singing and the following records have been logged since 2000

1 on 7th Aug 2000 at Ham Common
1 on unspecified dates 2001 at Stoborough Heath
1 on 8th May 2002 at Ham Common
1 on 19th Apr 2003 at Sandford
1 on 20th Apr 2003 at Fleets Lane, Poole
1 on 30th Apr 2004 at Ham Common
1 on unspecified dates 2006 at Stoborough Heath
1 on 21st Apr 2007 at Holes Bay
1 on 20th Apr 2008 at Ballard Down
1 on 24th Apr 2011 at Upton CP
1 on 1st May 2012 at Lytchett Bay
1 on 5th May 2014 at Stoborough Heath

Given Nightingale’s skulking nature it is not surprising that it is rarely recorded on autumn migration. In fact the only records that we could find are as follows:

1 on 15th Aug 1984 at Brownsea
1 on 27th Aug 1991 at Lytchett Bay
1 on 28th Aug1993 at Keysworth (trapped)
1 on 12th Sep 2009 at Greenlands Farm.

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Nightjar - Brownsea Island, Peter Moore
Nightjar
Latin Name
Caprimulgus Europaeus
Status

Regular breeding summer visitor

Site and Records Information

Any heathland surrounding the harbour will hold good numbers of Nightjar. Arne, Godlingston, Slepe Heath, Canford Heath, Holton Lee, Studland, and Hartland Moor are all top sites. Arne had 47 pairs in 2018 and birds can arrive back in late April, but the main bulk of activity doesn't start until mid to late May and will carry on all the way through June and July, with juveniles hanging on into August and September. There is truly no better birding experience in Dorset than watching Nightjar on your local heathland on a balmy hot summer evening.

Nutcracker
Latin Name
Nucifraga caryocatactes
Status

Extreme vagrant to the harbour with one famous record.

Site and Records Information

In 1968 there was a massive irruption of the slender-billed race N.c.macrorhynchos from Siberia into Britain involving c315 birds. Seven of these occurred in Dorset. Oh how we would welcome another such event!

1 from 13th - 21st September 1968 on Brownsea

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Nuthatch - Arne RSPB Reserve
Nuthatch
Latin Name
Sitta europaea
Status

Fairly common breeding resident

Site and Records Information

Breeds at Arne, Brownsea, Hatch Pond, Holton Lee, Upton Heath, Upton CP and probably many more sites. Arne and Holton Lee gives great views as they come and feed on the feeders in the car park usually only 2-3 meters away.

Ortolan Bunting
Latin Name
Emberiza hortulana
Status

Extremely rare visual passage migrant in Autumn, becoming an increasingly regular night time migrant in late august and early september thanks to night monitoring efforts.

Site and Records Information

Prior to 2015 there had only been one record of Ortolan Bunting within the Poole Harbour area.

1 on 4th Sept 2007   Glebelands, Studland (N.Hopper)

Then in 2015 sound recording efforts at prominent migration spots such as Glebelands and Ballard Down produced another record of one passing by with Linnet.

1 sound recorded on Sept 19th 2015 Glebelands, Studland (P.Morton)

Then, in 2016 everything changed with the setting up of a nocturnal listening station in Old Town Poole where the monitoring of night-time migrants could be accurately assessed on a nightly basis during peak migration times. As autumn migration got under way big movements of Tree Pipit and wader species were a nice insight as to what was going on above our heads whilst we were sleeping, but the most incredible discovery came along at 2:24am on August 23rd when an Ortolan Bunting passed over the listening station. Its well documented that Ortolan Bunting are a vocal night time migrant in mainland Europe, within their range. But over Poole Town Centre? Over the following 21 nights another TWELVE Ortolan Bunting were recorded migrating over the listening station bringing the total to 13. Dates Ortolan Bunting were recorded flying over the nocturnal listening station were…..

1 on 23rd August 2016 @ 2:47am

1 on 24th August 2016 @ 2:00am & 2:40am

1 on 25th August 2016 @ 1:31am, 2:27am & 3:08am

1 on 27th August 2016 @ 2:03am

1 on 29th August 2016 @ 9:37pm

1 on 30th August 2016 @ 3:34am

1 on 1st September 2016 @ 2:33am

1 on 5th September 2016 @ 8:53pm

1 on 7th September 2016 @ 2:46am

1 on 12th September 2016 @ 1:12am

The discovery was made in partnership with the Sound Approach and a full write up of the discovery can be found on the Sound Approach website titled Things that go Plink in the night

In addition to the night migration discovery another Ortolan Bunting was seen and heard flying along Soldiers Road on September 3rd 2016 at 8:10am

 

Ortolan Bunting - Ballard Down 19/09/15 6:09am

 Ortolan Bunting - Calls of a night time migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station 2am 24/08/16

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Osprey - Middlebere, Aidan Brown.
Osprey
Latin Name
Pandion haliaetus
Status

Regular spring/autumn passage migrant

Site and Records Information

Several Ospreys will generally pass through the harbour area in spring and individuals may even linger for part of the summer, but they are most easily seen during autumn (Jul-Sept) when up to ten may be present simultaneously during the peak migration time of mid-August to early September. They can then be seen feeding or resting in favoured locations, notably at the back of the Middlebere Channel where two-four may be present together. Alternative day roost sites include Morden Bog (just outside the Harbour boundary), Lytchett Bay, Holton Heath and private grazing land at Keysworth.
Ospreys fish in open water all around the harbour though they are most often seen off the Arne Peninsula or in the Wareham Channel. There are also annual records of birds fishing in Brands Bay and Wytch Lake in addition to all of the above sites.
Several artificial nests were erected within the Harbour in 2010 by the RSPB under the expert guidance of Roy Dennis. It was hoped that nesting would occur in due course but, although birds have been recorded on the nest platforms, no indication of breeding has yet been observed.
The earliest date on record is on 7th Mar 2007 at Arne and the latest is 30th Nov 2001 at Holes Bay. These are also the earliest and latest dates for Dorset.

In July 2017 an Osprey translocation was given the go ahead to take place in Poole Harbour as a first stage in establishing a south coast breeding population of this spectacular bird. The project was led by us, 'Birds of Poole Harbour', Scottish charity the 'The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation' and local Poole based-business 'Wildlife Windows'. Over a five year period (2017-2021) 60 Osprey chicks will be translocated from Scotland to Poole Harbour in an effort to restore a south coast breeding population.

Ospreys, which feed exclusively on fish, historically bred across the whole of Britain and NW Europe; but populations drastically declined in the Middle Ages and became extinct in England by the mid 1800’s. The five year project looks to restore Ospreys to their former breeding grounds in the south of England where they used to have the local nickname “Mullet Hawk”. At the same time the project will provide an important stepping stone between breeding populations in Britain and northern France, with the aim of enhancing the long term survival of the Western European population as a whole. The project is part of a wider conservation recovery plan of Osprey in Western Europe and the Mediterranean region.

A Conservation Recovery Plan

Ospreys are annual visitors to Poole Harbour as they pass through on their northward and southward migrations between their breeding grounds in Scotland and central England and their over-wintering grounds in West Africa. Over the last 8 years, efforts within Poole Harbour have been made by the RSPB, Natural England, The Forestry Commision, The National Trust and private landowners to try and attract Osprey to stay and breed by erecting artificial nesting platforms in the hope that the birds will adopt them as their own nests. Osprey are semi-colonial and often choose to nest in areas where other Osprey are nesting and in 2009, the RSPB went as far as placing decoy birds, supplied by Roy Dennis, on one of their nesting platforms on their Arne Reserve. Although there has been some interest by Osprey in these nesting platforms over that 8 year period, none have decided to stay and breed and it’s now thought a translocation project is the next logical step to try and encourage these incredible birds of prey to settle on the south coast of England.

Previous Restoration Success

Translocation has proved a highly successful means by which to restore ospreys to areas from which they have been lost. The much-admired population at Rutland Water in the East Midlands was established by a pioneering translocation project in the late 1990s and similar work has since taken place in two regions of Spain as well as in Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

This pan-European experience means that the Poole Harbour project, which will involve licensed collection of five-six week-old chicks from healthy, sustainable populations in Scotland, has the best-possible chance of success. Once collected the chicks will be safely brought down to Poole Harbour and held in large holding pens at a confidential site for just two - three weeks to acclimatise to their new home and prepare for their first flights. Once released they will be provided with fresh fish on artificial nests, to replicate normal osprey behaviour, and so are likely to remain around Poole Harbour for a further six weeks (the normal post-fledging period) before beginning their long migration to West Africa. During this six week period the birds will imprint on the area and adopt Poole as their new home.

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