Latest Sightings

Harbour Update - posted 20/04/18

Well, things seem to be getting better and better. The warm morning sun wrapped up in a blanket of thick fog certainly ‘downed’ a lot of birds and when it cleared prompted birds to move. Up on Ballard Down a good sweep of migrants could be found including c15 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Blackcap, c10 Willow Warbler, c5 Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatear, c10 Swallow, c10 House Martin and several flocks of migrating finches. Then, as the fog cleared 5 Red Kite migrated their way along the Ballard ridge heading NE quickly followed by a Marsh Harrier. Red Kites were also passing over other areas of the harbour with 3 over Oakdale, 2 more over Studland later in the day, 1 over Grip Heath, Arne and 1 over Sandford. 3 Hobby were counted over the Middlebere/Hartland area and Cuckoo were calling at Arne, Swineham and Hartland. At Middlebere there were 3 Spoonbill in the channel, c400 summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Wheatear along the track, 1 Lesser Whitethroat near the ‘Dartford Hide’ plus good numbers of Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing. At Sunnyside Farm there was a male Whinchat and 10 Wheatear. At Lytchett Bay there was a single Little Ringed Plover. Yet again, Dartford Warbler were really active out on the heathlands, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Skylark were all singing on Slepe Heath. 

Common Whitethroat - Ballard Down 

Lesser  Whitethroat - Ballard Down 

Marsh Harrier migrating over Ballard Down 

Red Kite migrating over Ballard Down 

Grey Heron soaring up high over the Hartland/Corfe ridge

Harbour update - posted 19/04/18

Well, the plug well and truly became unplugged today with migrants flowing right the way through the harbour. At dawn, with the sun already blazing down, 2 Spoonbill came in from high west, traveling along the Wareham Channel before dropping into Middlebere. Recent monitoring and research efforts for this species would suggest that these were two fresh in, newly arrived migrants. A Pied Flycatcher along the Coombe Heath trail at Arne was another welcome addition to the year list and a pretty scarce bird for the harbour. Red Kites were on the move in small numbers with birds over Hatch Pond and Oakdale. It seems the Wheatear blockage is now unblocked with 5 at Sunnyside Farm, 3 on Hartland and a thin spread across Greenland’s Farm again. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Whimbrel, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Whitethroat, lots of Blackcap and 2 Reed Warbler. This high pressure is certainly getting birds of prey moving and late afternoon saw a migrant ringtail Hen Harrier arrive in from the south over Hartland before drifting off high north towards Wareham Forest. At Swineham warblers were plentiful with 6 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 possible Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff with Cuckoo there too. At Middlebere 2 stunning male Whinchat were along the track with 6+ Dartford Warbler. Interestingly a Barn Owl was seen hunting along the edge of Pergins Island, Holes Bay at dawn, which is a good semi-urban sighting. At Holmebridge a Marsh Harrier was hunting. Both Tree Pipit and Woodlark are now back singing on traditional breeding sites in the south of the harbour. If there’s ever a time to try and see Dartford Warbler now’s the time. The heathlands around Arne, Hartland, Middlebere, Slepe Heath and Stoborough Heath are great areas to watch Dartford’s display flying, a sight quite wonderful to see from the usually skulking bird. 

Swallows are now back at breeding sites across the harbour like these in Stoborough 


Migrant Hen Harrier drifting through the harbour - Slepe Heath


Blackcap - Swineham - Keith Rawling


Harbour update - 18/04/18

Hooray! Spring finally arrived today and did so in style. High-pressure systems always allow birds to get moving and with 3 Common Crane over Wareham mid-morning it was obvious birds were arriving. There had also been Poole Harbours biggest arrival of Wheatear today (for this spring) with 8 at Sunnyside Farm, 2 at Lytchett Bay, on Hartland, 6 at Greenlands Fram and 3 at Arne. Whitethroat were heard singing at Chads Copse, Lytchett Bay, up on Ballard Down and at Greenland’s Farm. A Red Kite drifted over Holton Lee late afternoon. The springs first Cuckoo was singing away at Arne at first light and stayed for most of the day. There were 3 Spoonbill in Middlebere and Whimbrel could be heard calling overhead at Swineham, Arne and Brownsea. Its also great to see Swallow now settling on telegraph wires, resting up having just arrived and with the hot weather due to continue it will allow hopefully many more to arrive safely.  A nocturnal sound recording session on Lytchett Heath was fairly busy and produced 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 2 Water Rail and several Curlew flocks moving over in the dark. 

Harbour Update - posted 16/04/18

With the mid week forecast looking to reach scorchio levels, it looks like we have to put up with just a couple more days of nippy April weather. The wind built throughout the day and still made mid April feel like mid February. Still, a Little Ringed Plover made it through on to Lytchett Fields with 2 Green Sandpiper still there and a Greenshank. Despite the cold a few Swallow were making their way through and at Arne Wheatear were on Shipstal and Coombe Heath. The ringtail Hen Harrier was still taking up residence in the west of the harbour commuting between Swineham and Hartland mid morning but with high pressure arriving mid week will we see him disappear soon? Willow Warbler are still trickling through but Chiffchaff are well and truly back in force now with birds singing on territory right around the harbour. At the PCW drain, Fleets Bridge 3 Willow Warbler were singing as were 2 Blackcap and 6 Chiffchaff.

Harbour Update - posted 15/04/18

Today we hosted our first spring bird boat tour of the season which was aptly named ‘Up with the Lark’. We did indeed hear Skylark singing high above the Frome Valley but were also treated to great selection of other birds too, most of which could make you think it was a winter bird boat rather than a spring tour. In the Wareham Channel there were 2 Great Northern Diver with another off Pottery Pier, Brownsea. On Arne Moors a ringtail Hen Harrier and over Giggers Island a female type Marsh Harrier. A small passage of Swallow, Sand and House Martin were over Swineham GP and 2 newly arrived Common Sandpiper were present, one at Swineham and another on Round Island. We also had a fly by Kingfisher up near Wareham Quay. Other spring migrants included the first Reed and Sedge Warblers with 4 Whimbrel out on the Swineham flood plain (seen from the footpath and not our boat). There were also a number of Sandwich Tern around the harbour with c30 present seen fishing in various areas and single lonely Brent Goose was left in the mouth of Middlebere. Elsewhere a Common Tern was on the Brownsea Lagoon, the springs first Common Redstart was seen on the outskirts of Wareham and also the first Yellow Wagtail flew low over Lytchett Fields early morning. This coming week looks set to see more migrants arrive with high pressure coming in from the east and some sun finally; great migrating conditions for species such as Cuckoo, Hobby, Swift and the odd rarity or two. 

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