February 2013


Another cold and grey couple of days but birds seemed to be plentiful. Yesterday a Firecrest was showing well at the entrance of the PC World outflow drain. Baiter saw thousands of gulls on the big low tide with only a small percentage of Med Gulls found with a count of 30+ birds in total along with a decent sized flock of 28 Ringed Plover and a Dunlin. This morning a Merlin was at Lytchett Bay along with 2 Water Rail and 6 Little Egret. An RSPB School Bird Boat went out from Poole Quay with the highlights being a female Merlin Hunting out over the Lagoon, 1 Long-tailed Duck off Brownsea, 8 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver, 10 Spoonbill, 250+ Red-breasted Merganser, 15+ Goldeneye, 50+ Great Crested Grebe, 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Greenshank on the Brownsea Lagoon. This evening about 20 Med Gull were again off Baiter also there, 23 Ringed Plover. Off Redhorn tonight 18 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Knot and 1 Black-tailed Godwit, with anoth 12 on the Brownsea Lagoon late afternoon.

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  • Bar-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher on the Brownsea Lagoon

Still very cloudy and cold, but the wind seems to be easing, making birding a bit easier. Starting with Monday a flock of 42 Bar-tailed Godwit at Lytchett was a good site record, also there, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 5 Little Grebe. In the evening there was a huge low tide exposing large amounts of mud and beach at Baiter, which in turn attracted many thousands of Gulls. A quick count produced no less than 30 Mediterranean Gulls but if a full count had been conducted it would be no surprise to have found 100+ birds. On Tuesday an RSPB school bird boat went out around the harbour, and despite the icy wind a good selection of bird were spotted...highlights included 1 Merlin on the Brownsea Lagoon, 1 Great Northern Diver, 4 Black-necked grebe, 1 Marsh Harrier, 180-200 Red-breasted Merganser, 15+ Goldeneye, 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Ringed plover and 1 Knot. A Barn Owl was again spotted at Upton CP early morning. Holes Bay saw a few Black-tailed Godwit start to arrive back to Poole Harbour, also there, 126 Avocet, 2 Spoonbill, 1 Grey Plover (rare for this site), 1 Common Sandpiper and a Spotted Redshank. Lytchett Bay had 1 Water Pipit, 65 Snipe, 1 female Marsh Harrier and 23 Lapwing.

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  • Brent Geese - Baiter Park

A slow weekend to begin with but eventually sightings started coming in thick and fast. So a round up from the last three days include....

Lytchett Bay where 2 Spoonbill, 1 female Merlin, 1 female Marsh Harrier, 1-2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 4 Water Rail, 4 Snipe, 1 Grey Wagtail and 9 Little Egret. Holes Bay saw 5 Spoonbill, 1 Firecrest at the PC World Drain and a Spotted Redshank. Shore Road produced an incredible 238 Bar-tailed Godwit and 28 Sanderling. The Swineham Barn Owl is putting on a great show at the moment also a different female Marsh Harrier, 1 pale morph Buzzard, Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler. There was a female Merlin on Hartland with a ringtail Hen Harrier and Spoonbill at Middlebere, also 14 Ringed Plover at Baiter. Mediterranean Gull numbers continue to rise with birds popping all over the harbour like Baiter, Lytchett Bay, Middle Beach, Arne and Shore Road. Finally the Hamworthy Hoopoe has re-appeared in Lulworth Crescent, Hamworthy.

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  • Spoonbill - Private site in the north of Poole Harbour

Not much coverage from the last couple of days with a cold northeasterly blasting most places around the harbour. This morning Lytchett Bay had a decent sized finch flock in the large arable filed to the north of the bay which contained Brambling, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Also out on the water 9 Little Grebe, 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 28 Brent Geese and 32 Shelduck. Med Gull numbers are rising in the harbour with birds obvious at Baiter Park most mornings. Also there the over-wintering Sandwich Tern keeps putting in an appearance. Hen Harriers continue to be seen at Middlebere and Swineham. Arne Moors saw Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl and Peregrine all hunting at the same time on Tuesday evening. Two Woodcock and a Tawny Owl were seen early morning at Soldiers Road, with a Woodlark in full song there too. 6 Spoonbill were in Middlebere with a Merlin dashing across the path there.

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  • Hen Harrier - Middlebere, Bernie Champ

A fine but chilly day with a stiff breeze from the northeast. Highlights today were an over-wintering Sandwich Tern off Baiter Park in the morning. An evening watch at Lytchett Bay saw a Bittern flying from Holton Lee, out over the bay towards the Wareham Channel, also there 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 43 Shelduck, a Sparrowhawk and a Water Rail. 14 Spoonbill were again off Shipstal Point, Arne. 

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  • Oystercatcher - Baiter

A busy weekend with some glorious weather, finally! Starting with Friday 15th, there was very little coverage of the harbour with only a Hen Harrier at the Wytch Causeway, 3 Waxwing in Poole and a male Manderine Duck and 3 Snipe at Holmebridge reported. Interestingly a Smooth Snake was seen on Upton Heath, which is an exceptionally early record for this species. Saturday the 16th saw much more coverage with Brownsea holding 4 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 200 Avocet, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and 17 Black-necked Grebe off the southern shore was a great record. An evening watch at Lytchett Bay produced 14 Little Egret, 19 Snipe, 50+ Avocet, 1 Med Gull and 4 Water Rail. Best at Middlebere was a Hen Harrier and 2 Barn Owls. Finally, Sunday the 17th was a glorious day with Swineham seeing most attention with 2 Marsh Harrier, a Bittern, 2 Firecrest, 11 Spoonbill, 4 Cetti's Warbler, Water Pipit, 4 Spotted Redshank, a Peregrine and 2 Med Gulls being the highlights. Another great record was a flock of 20 Barnacle Geese flew northeast over Lytchett Bay, also there a Tawny Owl and 2 Woodcock. Middlebere saw 9 Spoonbill (same flock recorded at Swineham in the morning), 4 Knot, 17 Grey Plover and 13 Black-tailed Godwit.

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  • Spoonbill over Swineham

Today a school birdboat went out around the harbour. Highlights included 3 Great Northern Diver, 5 Black-necked Grebe, 14 Spoonbill, 100+ Red-breasted Merganser, 20+ Goldeneye, 50+ Great Crested Grebe, 100+ Avocet, 40+ Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover and Dunlin. Black-necked Grebe were off Redhorn, Middle Beach and South Haven with 2 Common Scoter also off Middle Beach.


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  • Red-breasted Merganser - Shipstal

A round up from the last few days. Not much to report from 12/02/13 only other than the Green-winged Teal was seen again at Upton CP with 2 Spotted Redshank, 250+ Avocet and 300+ Redshank there too. At Middlebere 400+ Avocet, 300-400 Brent Geese, 300 Lapwing and 4 Grey Plover. Today the Poole RSPB group launched their first mid-week Harbour Tour, which I'm pleased to say was a great success. Passengers were treated to 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 5 Black-necked grebe, 13 Spoonbill, 2 Med Gull, 30+ Goldeneye, 100+ Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Peregrine Falcon, plus on the Brownsea Lagoon Avocet, Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. A Sandwich Tern was off Baiter this morning.

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  • Great Crested Grebe - Baiter

This is an update of sightings over the last three days. On the 09/02/13, the Green-winged Teal remained at Upton CP. At Lytchett Bay a Firecrest was in Slough Lane, with 2 Water Pipit on RSPB land. From Soldiers Road looking towards Arne Moors 2 Marsh Harrier went into roost with a Barn Owl out hunting. On Hartland Heath there was 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Short-eared Owl and a Barn Owl. At Swineham 13 Spoonbill flew down river and on the gravel pits there was 1 Goldeneye 18 Pochard and 12 Tufted Duck, also there, 1 Brambling on the lane with Chaffinches. A male Merlin was at East Stoke. Weather on the 10/02/13 was pretty poor all day but some minor coverage produced 52 Black-necked Grebe from Middle Beach car park, also 1 Slavonian Grebe and 11 Great Crested Grebe. South Haven had 1 Great Northern Diver and 5 Sanderling. What a difference a day make with the 11/02/13 being a perfect still day for harbour watching as a school bird boat left the quay. Highlights included a female Scaup and 13 Spoonbill off Arne. Also out in the harbour 3 Great Northern Diver, 5 Black-necked Grebe, 30+ Goldeneye, 150 Red-breasted Merganser and 80+ Great Crested Grebe. The Brownsea lagoon saw good counts of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Avocet, Shoveler, Oystercatcher and Curlew. Out over Swineham this evening 2 Marsh Harrier, a Hen Harrier and a Barn Owl. At dusk 3 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Sanderling and a Med Gull were on Pilots Point.

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  • Song Thrush - Arne RSPB Reserve

A good selection of birds today. The Green-winged Teal was showing well again at Upton CP from the concrete bridge just outside the park boundaries, also there a Barn Owl early morning. 3 Siberian Chiffchaff were present at outflow drain behind PC World, along with 5 'Common' Chiffchaff, 10 Goldcrest, 2 Siskin, Redpoll, 2 Grey Wagtail and a Common Sandpiper. A Bittern was seen in flight a couple of times over towards Swineham and also there 2 Marsh Harrier and 3 Hen Harrier (1 grey male and 2 juvs) and a Barn Owl early morning. The Whopper Swan was visible from East Stoke. Middle Beach produced 14 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe. A Green Sandpiper was at East Holme and an 'Eared' Owl, presumably a Short-eared Owl was at Soldiers Road. 

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  • Sanderling - Shore Road, Phyl England

Exciting news today when a Green-winged Teal was discovered at Upton CP amongst many Eurasian (Common) Teal. This North American relative of our more familar Teal is a very rare winter visitor with the last Poole Harbour sighting being several years ago. Once discovered they usually stay within the teal flock for several weeks, so well worth heading to the hide at Upton CP to try and pick it out...always good fun! Also at Upton CP today 1 Med Gull, 1 Spotted Redshank and a Pintail. Other news, there were 8 Spoonbill in Holes Bay with 2 Spotted Redshank. At Swineham the Red-throated Diver remains on the Wareham Channel, also there 5 Spoonbill, a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier, 1 Yellow-legged Gull and on the Gravel Pits 10 Pochard, 10 Shoveler and 11 Tufted Duck.

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  • Green-winged Teal - Upton CP, Ian Ballam

Today, the Poole Harbour WeBS count took place giving the whole harbour good coverage at 9am. Numbers of commoner wildfowl seem to be down such as Teal and Wigeon, but a rise in diving ducks were evident. Highlights included....

1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 30+ Goldeneye, 24 Bar-tailed Godwit (one in full summer colours) and a Scaup all off Shipstal Point. In Arne Bay 1 Spoonbill, 46 Pintail and a Peregrine Falcon were present. Upton Park saw a good count of 12 Little Grebe under the railway bridge. A female Marsh Harrier flew over the Wareham-Stobourgh Causeway and a male Hen Harrier was present at Swineham with a ringtail Hen Harrier present at Wytch. Lytchett Bay held 4 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank and 3 Greenshank. An impressive 656 Shelduck were in Brands Bay, also a Red-necked Grebe off Knoll Beach and a Jack Snipe at Holmebridge. The Barn Owl was again hunting early morning around Swineham Farm. 37 Sanderling and 187 Bar-tailed Godwit were at Shore Road. The Wytch Channel held 1 Spoonbill, 566 Avocet and 35 Knot, and at Ower a Long-tailed Duck and 2 Scaup. Off Redhorn 1 Great Northern Diver and a Slavonian Grebe and the Knoll Beach Grebe roost contained 36 Black-necked Grebe. The Hoopoe was showing exceptionally well in Freshawater Drive and Dawkins Road, Hamworthy. 

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  • Red-throated diver - Off Shiptal Beach

Today was the 'BoPH' launch walk at Arne  with a full account viewable here... 

Highlights were 16 Spoonbill at Shipstal, a Scaup off Shipstal Viewpoint, 500+ Avocet in the Middlebere Channel, Dartford Warbler up on Coombe Heath plus all the usual Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe out on the water. On Swineham GP 50 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 20 Pochard, 16 Tufted Duck and just 1 Teal and at Swineham Point a Water Pipit and 2 Snipe. Also around Swineham just one Marsh Harrier and two Hen Harrier and a male Merlin. Over towards Studland, Middle Beach saw 7 Black-necked Grebe, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 7 Great Crested Grebe. Holmbridge could only produce a Greenshank and 5 Snipe. The Brownsea Lagoon webcam picked up 6 Greenshank and 3 Spotted Redshank very close in. The Hoopoe was again in/near Dawkins Road Hamworthy.  


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  • (Distant) Scaup off Shipstal Point , Roger Starbuck

First of all a comment regarding the recent occurrence of many seabirds being washed up Dorset beaches. At the moment it seems to be beaches in the west of the county that are experiencing most birds, however it was also stated that they are spreading east with birds also being found at Swanage and Lulworth. If you are out on any of the Poole, Sandbanks or Studland beaches and you do find a bird then please do not touch the birds as they are covered in an unknown substance. Please call the RSPCA and inform them of your find or contact us here and we will seek help. Anyway on to todays sightings....An incredible 3 Siberian Chiffchaff were found at the back of the PC world drain along with at least 20 'Common' Chiffchaff. The Studland area saw Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe and a healthy Razorbill. Creekmoor Ponds hosted a regular Firecrest, with another in Parkstone on Cotes Avenue. Holmebridge and High Tor saw the Whooper Swan and 4 Ruff. There are still large numbers of Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and Goldeneye out on the water best viewable from Evening Hill or Shipstal Point. There is currently a huge Brent Goose flock of around 250 birds using the Baiter Park area to feed and roost along with 2-3 Med Gulls in amoungst the Black-headed Gulls.The Starling roost put on another good show last night at around 17:15 again. Check out the video taken last night on our videos page. 

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  • Mediterranean Gull - Baiter Park
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