April 2013


Another fine couple of days allowed birds and birders to soak up some sun, despite a chilly northerly wind at times. Highlights included…..

28th April – A survey at Lytchett Bay produced Whimbrel 2 + 6 later on pools, Greenshank 1, Black wits 334, Redshank 6, Curlew 8, Little Egret 8, Teal 3, Mallard 5, Shelduck 26, Snipe 1, Little Gull 1 (1st w), Med Gull at least 2 over calling, Blackcap 3, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 2 singing, Cetti's Warbler 2, Reed Warbler 8, Sedge Warbler 4, Reed Bunting 8, Peregrine 1 male, Buzzard 2 and a Lytchett Bay mega… A COOT! From the west of the harbour up on Ballard there were 2 Red-legged Partridge, 1 Hobby, 1 Whimbrel and 1 Wheatear. In Brands Bay still 1 Brent Goose, 3 Grey Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank, 6 Dunlin and a Turnstone and at the Arne triangle a Hobby. At Swineham the Osprey was spotted over the Wareham Channel again, also there a ringtail Hen Harrier, Common Sandpiper, many Swift, 4 Whitethroat, 5 Sedge Warbler and 5+ Cetti’s Warbler.

April 29th was fairly quiet for sightings. On Upton Heath 3 Dartford Warbler territories were noted on a small section of the heath. At Fleets Corner, there was a singing Lesser Whitethroat and also still plenty of Whitethroat and Blackcap. In Lytchett Bay the mega bird of the week a Coot was seen with a mate! Probably the best sighting of the day was of a singing Wood Warbler in Slepe Copse, which eventually showed really well.


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  • Still shot from webcam of Arctic Tern - Brownsea Lagoon

It’s safe to say that the last few days have been spring migrant days, with various areas around Dorset reporting incredible numbers of birds…700 Wheatear alone at Portland, not to mention 500 Blackcap. The Harbour didn’t fair too badly either with the following sightings…..

Friday 26th April saw some of the best weather conditions for migrants, a clear moonlit night followed by a wall of rain heading in from the north just before dawn. In and around Holes bay there were 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 10’s of Whitethroat, Blackcap and Willow Warbler, good numbers of Reed Warbler and a few Sedge Warbler. The female Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel is still very active. At Lytchett Bay the 1st Winter Little Gull was still present along with a cracking male Whinchat, 6 Whitethroat and 3 Whimbrel. Some fantastic records from Swineham included Blackcap 4, Hobby 2,Sand Martin 69, Swallow 6, Linnet 4, Teal 4, Gadwall 15, Chiffchaff 7 , Whitethroat 4, Cetti's 7, Reed Warbler 16, Red-throated Diver 1 on main pit then flew into harbour at 14:30, Sedge Warbler 11, Wheatear 1, Siskin 3, Common Sandpiper 1, Swift 47, Grasshopper Warbler 1 flushed from beside path and showed well in a bush for a minute or so, Greenshank 1, Med Gull 1, Whimbrel 36, Peregrine 1, Shelduck 108, Skylark 1, Scaup 2 female on west of main pit, Bearded Tit 1, Willow Warbler 1, Cuckoo 1 and a Marsh Harrier. An evening gull count was conducted on Brownsea where an incredible 1500+ Herring Gull came into roost, also an Arctic Tern came into roost. Also on Brownsea 3 Little Ringed Plover, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, a pair of Golden Pheasant, 1 Common Redstart, 6 Spotted Redshank (some in full summer plumage), 12 Turnstone, still 9 Avocet, 4 Greenshank, 2 Ringed Plover and 8 Knot.

Saturday 27th April was cold and clear but still a few migrants hung around. Nice to hear that a pair of Dartford Warbler are back on territory on Lytchett Heath. Also at the Bay the Red-throated Diver is still hanging around, 13 Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, Little Gull and Cetti’s Warbler numbers seem to be doing better. AT Holton Lee a possible Spanish Wagtail was located, also there a Jack Snipe and Common Sandpiper. An Osprey was seen again out in the Wareham Channel. Migrants in and around Fleets Corner included Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler. Sandwich Tern numbers seem to be increasing on the Brownsea Lagoon webcam, best viewed around 08:30 in the evening.

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  • Great Crested Grebe - Holes Bay, Ian Ballam
  • Lesser Whitethroat - Poole Harbour ringing station
  • Garden Warbler - Poole Harbour ringing station

Spring is still rolling along nicely with new birds turning up everyday. Spring migrants are popping up at many locations around the harbour so keep you eyes peeled for your first Swift or even Spotted Flycatcher……

Wednesday 24th was a bit overcast and cold to begin with but soon evolved into a pleasant spring day. Lytchett Bay produced a 1st winter Little Gull, 1 Common Swift, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Cuckoo, 5 Yellow Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 5 Reed Warbler and the Red-throated Diver is still hanging around out in the bay. There was a great report of a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker calling on Brownsea near the vinery. At Middlebere there were 2 Swift, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, a Ringtail Hen Harrier and 1 Grasshopper Warbler reeling. At Sunnyside there was a Ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 1 Lapwing and 1 Snipe.

Thursday 25th started off really foggy but soon cleared. Reed Warbler numbers around Upton CP seem to be increasing in good numbers. There were an interesting count of 8 Great Crested Grebe out in Holes Bay with 4 Sedge Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 3 Whitethroat along the Holes Bay outfall drain. Lytchett Bay saw it’s first ever Blue-headed Wagtail, also there 3 Yellow Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 2 Whitethroat, the 1st Winter Little Gull, Red-throated Diver, 360 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin and a Cuckoo was heard over at Holton Lee. 

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  • Red-throated Diver - Lytchett Bay, Shaun Robson
  • Screen grab of Turnstone - Brownsea Lagoon webcam
  • Reed Warbler - Upton CP , Ian Ballam

Highlights from the last few days include…..

Monday 22nd April where at Greenland’s Farm there where 28 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Common Whitethroat and a number of Swallows north. Out on Grange heath a pair of Woodlark singing, a Tree Pipit and a Cuckoo. There seemed to be a drop in Dartford Warbler numbers with only a single bird present. 

Tuesday 23rd April  saw the Osprey sat on the feeding post at Middlebere at around 8am.  The harbours first Swift of the year went over Parkstone and there were a handful of Whitethroat and Blackcap in the PC World Drain.


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  • Linnet - Middlebere, Ian Ballam
  • House Sparrows - Hamworthy Park

A slightly nippier day today, but pleasant all the same. Again some good coverage was received from around the harbour starting with Greenland’s Farm where there 1 Cuckoo, 21 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler and 5 Chiffchaff. In Brands Bay 1 Brent Goose remains and 2 Pintail there. At Swineham an Osprey was touring the Wareham Channel for 45 minutes, also there 6+ Cetti’s Warbler, 6 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Water Rail and a drake Garganey on one of the freshwater Pools near the cottage named ‘Curlews’. At Lytchett Bay a 1st winter Little Gull was present, also a sky-watch produced a Marsh Harrier, Ringed Plover and a Snipe. In woods between Corfe and Nine Barrow Down there was 1 Lesser and 3 Common Whitethroat, 2 Nightingale and a few Willow Warbler. In Slepe Copse a Wood Warbler sang very briefly. There seemed to be a movement of Red Kite across the county too so keep your eye’s to the skies over the next few days.

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  • Poor record shot of Osprey over Swineham

Today was a glorious spring day with some nice sightings from around the harbour. Starting with Sunnyside/Soldiers Road where there were 2 Cuckoo, 4 Wheatear, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Peregrine, 5+ Willow Warbler, 3 Blackcap and a scattering of resident birds. At Swineham there was 1 female Marsh Harrier, 1 Greenshank, 100+ Black-tailed godwit, 15 Sedge Warbler, 8 Reed Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 11 Chiffchaff, 1 Spoonbill and a Yellow Wagtail. At Ballard a Peregrine, 2 Red-legged Partridge, 3 Whitethroat and a few Yellowhammer back on territory. At Studland Church there was a Black Redstart and at Brands Bay a Whimbrel and Greenshank were present. Lytchett Bay produced another Little-ringed Plover and the Red-throated Diver remained. The PC World drain seemed much quieter today, but still Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Blackcap all present. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 41 Sandwich Tern (still yet to visit their nesting islands), 1 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 33 Avocet and 6 Knot. There was a Whimbrel in Holes Bay with a clam attached to its foot. An Osprey flew south over Holton Lee heath at 5pm

If you didn’t already know the Brownsea Lagoon webcam NOW HAS SOUND, so you can listen to all the chaos and mayhem live as it happens.


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  • Sedge Warbler - PC World, Ian Ballam

Spring is well and truly here with lots of nice birds around. Highlights from the last few days include….

Wednesday 17th April had 15 Whimbrel in Shell Bay, along with 2 Common Sandpiper in the area. At Lytchett Bay the Bittern was seen again along with the Red-throated Diver where a sparse scattering of migrants included Blackcap, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler and 9 Whimbrel roosted up on the Turlin Shore.

Thursday 18th April was a wild and windy day, where birds were certainly keeping low. However Reed Warbler were seen back at Upton CP. At the PC World drain there was 6 Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 20+ Willow Warbler and 10+ Chiffchaff. In and around Swineham the usual suspects of Cetti’s Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Great spotted Woodpecker and a few wildfowl out on the lake. There was a report that a Nightingale was back on territory near Corfe. At Lytchett Bay there was a 1st year Little Gull, 1 Common Sandpiper and the Red-throated Diver put in appearance.

Friday 19th of April was a real treat when Poole Harbours first Subalpine Warbler was discovered at the east end of the PC World drain. Unfortunately it was only seen by 2 lucky observers and wasn’t seen since. Also in the area a Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler, lots of Blackcap and Willow Warbler. At Middlebere there were 3 Spoonbill, 9 Wheatear at Greenland’s Farm and 3 at Soldiers Road. On Brownsea 53 Avocets, 5 Greenshank, 3 Spotted Redshank, 3 Common Sandpiper. A Nightingale was singing at Corfe again this evening.


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  • Male and Female Blackcap at ringing station in the west of the Harbour

Sorry for the lack of reports over the last few days but have been away. I was keeping tabs on various sighting and reports while I was away and it looked like a bad time not to be around. Some great birds combined with great weather certainly seemed to give everything the lift it needed…….

Sunday 14th April saw lots of nice birds dotted all over the place. Starting with an Osprey and Yellow Wagtail over Swineham Point, also there 2 Spoonbill, female Marsh Harrier, 2 Greenshank, 10 Grey Plover and a steady trickle of Swallow and Sand Martin and Barn Owl and ringtail Hen Harrier in the evening. On the Brownsea Lagoon a single Common Tern, 3 Whimbrel, 29 Sandwich Tern, 6 Turnstone, 1087 Black-tailed Godwit, 47 Avocet, and 1 Sanderling. A brief sea-watch off Branksome produced 2 Great Skua and a House Martin in off the sea. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling on the west side of Holes Bay.

Monday 15th April started off with a real cracker as a ringtail Montague’s Harrier drifted over French’s Farm, Lytchett Bay in the morning (only the 2nd record for Lytchett Bay). The Osprey was seen again over Swineham Point and the female Marsh Harrier was over the reedbed at the point.

Tuesday 16th April was a beauty of a day. Only a handful of reports in. One of a Red-throated Diver out on the water in Lytchett Bay, also the first Reed and Sedge Warblers there. 

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  • Avocet with 'gammy' leg - Holes Bay, Ian Ballam
Saturday 13th April

Saturday the 13th of April was wet, wet, wet, but despite the driving drain a handful of decent sightings were recorded. Starting with Swineham where there was no sign of the Long-eared Owl but a 1st winter Little Gull was over the main pit, also 4 Sandwich Tern up the river Frome, 30+ each of Swallow and Sand Martin, 2 House Martin, 1 Greenshank, 1 (singing) Skylark, 1 (singing) Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Cetti’s Warbler and at least 6 Brambling still near the pumping station at Church Lane, Wareham. Out on Slepe Moor a Jack Snipe was flushed and an Osprey was seen carrying a fish also there a single Wheatear and many Water Rail. Along the PC World drain still many Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, 1 Common Sandpiper and a mystery Egret was photographed out in Holes Bay, which resembles a Great White Egret, but at 500m away it was hard to clinch!

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  • Brambling (taken yesterday) -  Church Lane, Wareham - Peter Moore
Late news from Swineham and Brownsea yesterday.....

Late news came in last night from 2 local birders of a Long-eared Owl that had been spotted roosting in some trees along the main footpath at Swineham. They both headed down there and were rewarded with seeing the bird leaving its roost site. Despite it almost being pitch black they managed to get a couple record shots to confirm its identification. Long-eared Owls are a very rare occurrence in the harbour so this is a truly significant sighting. There is also a very good possibility that it’s still in the area. Also at Swineham yesterday was a Barn Owl, Marsh Harrier, 2 Sandwich Tern, 5 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler and also still 10+ Brambling and 3 Willow Warbler near the pumping station at the east end of Church Lane in Wareham.

Almost as incredible was the sighting of 11 Little Ringed Plover on the Brownsea Lagoon yesterday afternoon. We'll have to check the records but that must be the highest spring gathering of this species on record for the harbour?

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  • Long-eared Owl (honestly) - Swineham, Peter Moore

The weather over the last 3 days has certainly been a lot better, and the birds are now coming through thick and fast. Starting with…..

Wednesday 10th April where a thick fog hampered any birding for the first hours of daylight. However it soon cleared producing some decent reports. Starting at Lytchett Bay where there were 3 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and a Woodlark was singing over on Holton Lee Heath. At Arne there were displaying Dartford Warbler on Coombe Heath, also a Great Northern Diver in the Middlebere Channel. The Red-throated Diver was off Swineham Point, also a Jack Snipe, Spotted Redshank and 2 Swallow. In a private garden in Broadstone the Common Rosefinch and 14 Brambling continue to visit a feeding station. On Brownsea there were 3 Spoonbill, 3 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank and 27 Sandwich Tern

Thursday 11th was again fine for most of the day. Holes Bay hosted 960 Black-tailed Godwit, 62 Shelduck, 3 Med Gulls and 12 Little Egret. A really interesting sighting of a female Marsh Harrier nest building at a private site, however, unfortunately no male to be seen! There was a ringtail Hen Harrier on Arne Moors and a Ring Ouzel on Stoborough Heath. At Lytchett Bay 2 Swallow, 10 Sand Martin, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, and a Peregrine Falcon.

Friday 12th was a mixture of sunshine and showers but fairly mild. The female Marsh Harrier continued to nest build as 2 ringtail Hen Harrier are now present around the moors area. At Lytchett Bay there was 1 Shoveler (rare for this site), 3 Swallow, 7 Willow Warbler, 2 Greenshank, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Kingfisher and 94 Black-tailed Godwit. There was also an obvious fall of Willow Warbler on the south coast today as around 50 lined the banks of the PC World drain with a few Chiffchaff still mixed in. Swallows were very much in evidence across the harbour today with twos and threes passing over many sites. Finally, at Sunnyside a ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Wheatear, 2 Woodlark, 12 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler and 3 Kestrel.


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  • Red-throated Diver - Swineham, Peter Moore

This is more like it…drizzle with a gentle south easterly breeze, great for migrants. Sightings over the last few days have really picked up and it looks like spring migration has FINALLY taken off?

Sunday the 7th April was sunny but still a bit chilly, however some lovely birds about. Starting with Studland area where at Greenlands Farm there were 5 Snipe, 1 Woodcock, 9 Wheatear, 6 Fieldfare, 12 Redwing and 1 Chiffchaff. At Brands Bay only 103 Black-tailed Godwit, 52 Dunlin and 1 Chiffchaff. There were two very nice sightings from Swineham GP of an adult winter Little Gull and winter plumaged Red-throated Diver. A surveyor was out on Arne Moors and recorded 2 Spoonbill flying over the Frome Valley, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and 1 Barn Owl. A sea watch from Branksome produced a stunning Black-throated Diver, 6 Common Scoter and 4 Common Terns. Along Shore Road at least 22 Sanderling and 30 Bar-tailed Godwit. The Yellow Wagtail remains on the little pond at Lytchett Bay, also there Green Sandpiper and White Wagtail. A Snipe was heard drumming over Hartland Moor and a Red-legged Partridge was spooked of a road there. There was also a mouth watering report of a summer plumage Red-necked Grebe of Canford Cliffs car park.

Monday 8th April still saw some decent reports. At Lytchett Bay there was 1 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 8 Chiffchaff, 18 Redwing, 20+ Song Thrush, 1 Peregrine Falcon and 7 Little Egrets. An Osprey was reported sat in a dead tree on Pergins Island, Holes Bay. A female Marsh Harrier, ringtail Hen Harrier and Barn Owl were around Swineham.

Tuesday 9th April saw drizzle and low cloud…excellent for dropping migrants on to our coastline. A successful survey at Lytchett Bay saw 1 male Redstart, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Sand Martin, 1 Blackcap, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Gadwall, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Greenshank, 68 Black-tailed Godwit on the pools. Another mini fall of migrants occurred around Holes Bay where more Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were seen along with a Common SandpiperBlackcap and a good number of migrant Robins, Blackbirds and Song Thrush. A Red Kite drifted over Corfe mid afternoon.

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  • Common Sandpiper - Holes Bay, Ian Ballam

I know, I know, today was what we’ve all been waiting for right? Well, yes and no. For a birder good weather means good weather for birds and although the glorious sunshine was a well received break from the sub zero temperatures it still didn’t herald the arrival of many (if any) spring migrants. The northerly wind, albeit light, still kept the birds at bay. Highlights from the last few days included…..

Friday 5th April saw still a scattering of Chiffchaff at the PC World Drain along with 5 Sand Martin. At Lytchett Bay a Yellow Wagtail a White Wagtail and 2 Green Sandpiper were around the Pools. A wing-tagged Red Kite flew over the Purbecks.

Saturday 6th was glorious, no doubt about that, but still not many reports. At Sunnyside there was just 1 Wheatear, 4 Chiffchaff and 2 Woodlark. At Lytchett Bay the Yellow Wagtail and White Wagtail remained on the pool with either a Rock or Water Pipit in flight, also a Kingfisher there. There was a great record of a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker drumming near Bestwall. Woodlark were singing up on Hartland Moor.


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  • Chiffchaff - Sunnyside
Next BoPH event and Poole Harbour Survey...

Don’t forget that the next ‘Birds of Poole Harbour walk will be taking place on Saturday 20th of April. There are a handful of places left so don’t miss out. Word on the grapevine is that it’s due to warm up soon, so we may even have some sun and warmth! Check out the event here……

Poole Harbour Survey

We were kindly forwarded this link today by the ‘Two Owls Birding’ group ( which is a survey looking at the recreational uses of Poole Harbour. It’s a specific bird watching survey so please take the time to look at it and complete it….

Some sightings from the last few days….

A Stone Curlew was reported on Brownsea Island yesterday, which is a fantastic Poole harbour record. Also on Brownsea 2 Spoonbill, 3 Spotted Redshank, 54 Knot, 1 Woodcock and 8 Sandwich Tern. The Yellow Wagtail remained at Lytchett Bay for its fourth day, also there a Bittern, 19 Snipe, 28 Redwing and 29 Brent Geese.  In Holes Bay, not much change but still many 10’s of Chiffchaff, 6 Sand Martin, 2 Kingfisher 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Pintail and 4 Great Crested Grebe. A single Sandwich Tern was a Shore Road. The Scarlet Rosefinch and 14 Brambling are still feeding in a private garden in Broadstone. There was a Black Redstart at Studland Church. Also in the area there was just 1 Black-necked Grebe and 8 Common Scoter at Middle Beach and an incredible 330 Med Gulls at South Beach. A Red Kite drifted over Little Sea, Studland.

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  • Long-tailed Tit - Lytchett Bay
March 30th/31st and April 1st/2nd

Well a new month and a not so new cold wind still blows from the east, but……not for much longer I hear on the news! Apparently the weather is on the turn by the weekend but please don’t hold me to that. Yet again, despite the cold wind some hardy spring migrants battled through to reach the harbour over the Easter bank holiday.

Saturday 30th March was fairly quiet. There was just 1 Spoonbill at Holes Bay. 44 Knot and 83 Med Gulls at Shore Road. A ringing session at the PC World drain produced 9 new Chiffchaff and 5 re-traps.

Sunday 31st March wasn’t much better with a Red Kite that drifted over Lytchett Matravers heading towards the harbour.

Monday 1st April where the only joke was the cold wind but there were some decent birds about. At Lytchett Bay a cracking count of 4 Little Ringed Plover, 1 male Marsh Harrier, 1 Bittern, 1 stunning male Yellow Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 3 Wheatear and 4 Green Sandpiper.  At the PC World drain 12 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Sand Martin and a Grey Wagtail. Out in the bay 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Peregrine and a male Pintail.

Tuesday 2nd April was a gloriously sunny day, which in turn produced a whole chorus of 7-8 Chiffchaff that started singing at the PC World drain, with at least 30 birds present in total.  Still plenty on the Brownsea Lagoon with 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 15 Knot, 50 Bar-tailed Godwit, 100 Black-tailed Godwit, at least 6 pairs of Med Gulls, and 1 Ringed Plover.

There should be lots of exciting birds starting to arrive in the next few weeks so be on the look out for possible Redstart, Whinchat, Pied Flycatcher and even listen out for a wandering Nightingale!


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  • Yellow Wagtail - Lytchett Bay
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