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Today started off strangely when a male Wood Duck flew through over the Holton Lee reed bed at around 8:15am. Ok, there are several feral populations around the UK but as far as we can recall there haven’t been any Dorset, let alone Poole Harbour records for this species for a number of years. We also did another survey up the Wareham Channel today too, and although a cold westerly blew we still counted 3 Swift and reasonable numbers of Swallow, House and Sand Martin over Bestwall. There were still plenty of singing Reed and Sedge Warbler along the River Frome walk and 3 Common Sandpiper, 8 Whimbrel and 2 Oystercatcher were around the Swineham area. Out in central harbour it seems all over-wintering wildfowl have now moved on with just c20 Great Crested Grebe hanging on. At Arne both singing Wood Warbler and Redstart were seen down near the Shipstal Wood, with 12 Whimbrel in Middlebere. On Brownsea 32 Common Tern and 62 Sandwich Tern were counted with Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Dunlin, Knot and 80 Med Gulls also recorded.
Things seemed much quieter today with a Hobby feeding over the Corfe to Studland road, a good number of Whimbrel in Middlebere, 2 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed plover, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank and 120+ Black-tailed Godwit at Lytchett Fields.
The wind eased off a bit today and a good mixture of species were seen. The Osprey was again in the Wareham Channel. A Cattle Egret was in fields just west of the Stoborough causeway. In Middlebere a good spring count of 22 Grey Plover were feeding on the low tide with c 200 summer plumaged Dunlin, 1 Knot, 2 Ringed Plover, 5 Redshank and c70 Black-tailed Godwit. At Challow Hill there were 5 Whitethroat on territory, 3 Yellowhammer, 7 House martin, 4 Blackcap and a female Stonechat feeding newly fledged chicks. On the Brownsea Lagoon 2 Ringed Plover, 24 Sandwich Tern, 10 Dunlin, 6 Avocet, 1 Knot, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Greenshank were counted. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Ruff, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and 7 Dunlin dropped in. At Arne a Cuckoo was singing late afternoon and a Marsh Harrier went over the Wareham Channel.
Ruff - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
The cold wind blew strong today and through any layers trying to prevent frost bite kicking in! The sun did offer some warmth but precious few migrants made their way into the harbour. An Osprey was seen fishing off Swineham Point mid-morning and the Great Grey Shrike was still in the SE corner of Hartland Moor. At Lytchett Fields the 3 Ruff were still on Sherford Pools with 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank with a Swift over and 1 Garden Warbler, 4 Whitethroat and 3 Willow Warbler in scrub around the site. At Sunnyside Farm there were 5 Wheatear. At Swineham 3 Whimbrel and the Egyptian Goose were on the ‘Curlews’ Cottage paddock with c200 Sand Martin overhead. In more positive news, there was finally some interacting between 2 newly arrived Marsh Harrier in Poole harbour west whilst 2 others watched on. Is it too late for a breeding attempt? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
This evening, something really rare was seen, something we haven’t seen for quite some time…….Rain! Along with some building wind from the SW which was just as novel considering northerly winds have dominated since late March/early April. Still, even in a strengthening wind migrants continued to arrive, albeit in smaller numbers. At Arne, where we today started our Dorset Discovery Spring Tour there was Redstart, Hobby, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Blackcap and Tree Pipit as well as the standard 7+ Dartford Warbler, 1 Woodlark, Stonechats, Siskins, Meadow Pipits, Mistle Thrush and Green Woodpecker. Up on Hartland the Great Grey Shrike was still happily feeding from wires in the SE corner of the Moor next to Scotland Farm. Another Cattle Egret was found, this time at Bestwall Meadows. At Swineham the Egyptian Goose was still present behind ‘Curlews’ Cottage with 7 Whimbrel and over the main pit c200 Sand Martin, c30 House Martin and Swallow. At Lytchett Bay there were still 3 Ruff, 3 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Whimbrel.
Dartford Warbler - Hartland moor - Chris Snook