June 2013

Last few days....

The rains held off the last few days and the temperature continues to make it feel like summer. A mixture over overcast sky’s and bright sunshine has provided a stark contrast as more and more young birds continue to surface.

At Swineham a late Cuckoo has been very active still, calling continuously over the last few days. Also there the Sedge Warbler’s seem to been starting a second brood and Reed Bunting, Goldfinch and Greenfinch all have young. Bearded Tits seem to be doing very well in the reed beds around the Frome with many dashing over the tops of the reeds from Swineham Point. Unfortunately the Swineham flood pools have totally dried up now, reducing the chances of passage waders using them as feeding station. Some excellent news from Brownsea where a minimum of 100 Sandwich Tern chicks look like they’re going to fledge. Compare that total to only 70 fledged birds in the last 3 years makes this year a huge success. The Common Tern chicks have just begun to hatch and the Roseate Terns are still present on Brownsea, and 1-2 Common Sandpiper keeping putting in an appearance. At Lytchett Bay the autumn continues to creep up with another 4 Green Sandpiper and 8 Teal arriving, with a Lapwing, 2 Common Tern, 5 Sand Martin and 2 Cetti’s Warbler present. 


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  • Sedge Warbler - Swineham, Ian Ballam
  • Newly fledged Blackbird - Upton
  • Common Tern - Brownsea Lagoon
Warm and Muggy

A warm and sticky last few days means lots of midges about, never nice when trying to watch Nightjar or an taking an early morning stroll to look for early migrants. Either way, the birds are still keeping us entertained with young birds being fed by mum and dad, and some birds gearing up for a second brood. Great Crested Grebe are with young at Swineham and Hatch Pond. The Roseate Terns are still present on Brownsea , also there  2 Common Sandpiper, only 1 Avocet left and the Yellow-legged Gull chicks are almost ready to fledge. At Lytchett Bay, possible breeding evidence of Redshank was seen as a tight group of 5 birds hid in channel. Also at Lytchett Bay Bearded Tits were pinging from the large reedbed to the north of the bay, and a Lesser Whitethroat continued to sing.  Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Linnet and Meadow Pipit all seem to be having good breeding years out on the heaths.

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  • Reed Warbler - Hatch Pond, Ian Ballam
  • Great Black Backed Gull - Hatch Pond, Ian Ballam
  • Great Crested Grebe - Swineham GP, Ian Ballam
Monday 24th June 2013

The wind gradually died down throughout the day to leave a nice pleasant,  summers evening for us to enjoy. A few nice snippets from today included either one or two Roseate Terns back on Brownsea Lagoon webcam for several periods of the day, also on Brownsea another Spotted Redshank. An Osprey was seen over Arne RSPB reserve this evening. At Lytchett Bay a flock of 11 Linnet must have contained at least 8 juvenile, which was notable, also there a Reed Warbler singing from an Oak tree in a wooded lane seemed odd! Freshly fledged Grey Heron were noted as were several family parties of Pied Wagtail.

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  • Roseate Tern on Brownsea Lagoon webcam
  • Sandwich Tern - Brownsea Lagoon
Ringed Black-tailed Godwit.....

A few weeks ago we showed a photo of the below ringed Black-tailed Godwit at Swineham. Local birder Ian Ballam has emailed me with information on where it was ringed and it's movements over the last year......

He states that his team ringed this bird on 9th  July 2012 at Langhus, SW of Siglufjordur, N Iceland as a big chick. The yellow flag indicates that the bird was ringed in Iceland.

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Autumn is here already!

I’m afraid to say it but summer has already started to wane, making way for autumn to creep its way into our lives, well in the bird world it has.

I would like to apologies for the lack of news over the last week, but as ‘autumn’ migration is now starting to get underway then our sightings blog should almost now be daily.

The first birds to have reached us on their journey south are Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper. These are all birds that breed much further north (as high as the arctic), but their breeding season is so short that it is quite common for their journey south to begin in mid June. Spotted Redshank have a strange relationship in that when their egg hatches the female leaves to head south leaving the male in charge of raising the chick. Green Sandpiper are another early breeder with peak counts reaching us by late August. Just like the smaller passerines, many waders are heading south down to Africa for the winter but stopping off at any wetland, coastal, reservoir, muddy pool feeding site on the way to refuel.

There are still lots of young birds being reported with Siskin being a strange but regular addition to the list and young birds such as grey Heron, Little Egret and Med Gulls are being seen dotted around the harbour.

The recent winds have kept many bird’s heads low, and our recent Nightjar walk at Arne unfortunately only rewarded us with the sound of 1 male churring very briefly. You can’t have it all!

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  • Privet Hawk Moth - Arne RSPB reserve
  • Black-tailed Godwit - Swineham, Ian Ballam
  • Green Sandpiper - Lytchett Bay
15th and 16th June 2013 - Brownsea

This weekend saw the Dorset Wildlife Trusts Wild about Brownsea weekend where members of the public could visit the island and get involved in a whole manner of activities and learn about Brownsea unique wildlife. The DWT kindly invited us to sit in the Mac Hide all weekend and talk to people about the birds of Poole Harbour and the conservation work that is carried out to protect them. Obviously some bird watching took place in between talking to people and some great birds were seen. The biggest surprise was when a Honey Buzzard drifted across the lagoon upsetting all of the Common Tern colony.  Other highlights included 3 Roseate Terns on Sunday afternoon along with an Arctic Tern earlier in the afternoon.  There were 6 Avocet including a colour-ringed bird I couldn’t quite make out the colour combination, also 2 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin, 240 pairs of Sandwich Terns, 100+ pairs of Common Tern plus all the usual Oystercatcher, Gadwall, noisy Black-headed Gulls and the lovely breeding Yellow-legged Gulls. Also a newly fledged Med Gull, but as none have bred on Brownsea this year it must have come from somewhere else in the harbour. All in all a total of 34 species were recorded on the lagoon over 2 days including four species of Tern and six species of Gull. If you haven’t been to witness one of Dorset’s best bird spectacles I highly recommend you get over there in the next couple of weeks

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  • Honey Buzzard - Brownsea Lagoon
  • Sandwich Tern - Brownsea Lagoon
  • Arctic Tern - Brownsea Lagoon
Friday 14th June

 Friday 14th started of overcast and still, but ended warm sunny and fairly breezy. Sightings from the Brownsea Lagoon included a 1st summer Little Gull, Arctic Tern, 8 Avocet, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin and a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker has been seen in the woodland on the DWT reserve. A late report of the Poole Harbour Osprey was received from yesterday. At Swineham 30+ Swift were feeding over the main gravel pit, only 2 Black-tailed Godwit were on the pools and at least 15 Reed Bunting counted. 

It's also the time of year when local raptor experts carry out their monitoring of hawk and owl boxes to ring the young and monitor the increase/decrease in local populations. I was lucky enough to join them one morning and although most of the boxes we checked were out of the Poole Harbour area, it's very obvious that many Barn Owls are at least a month behind and that Kestrels seem to have had a bit of a tough time this spring, with the number of chicks fairly low across all boxes checked.

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  • Kestrel Chicks - 2 healthy individuals ringed
  • Little Owl chicks - 2 individuals only a couple of days old
  • Swallow - feeding young
Wednesday 12th June

Wednesday 12th was a wet and horrid day, with no let up in the wind or persistent rain all day. Unsurprising that reports were few and far between. The summer plumaged Ruff was still at Swineham, as were the two Little Ringed Plover and a new colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit. The two Roseate Terns on Brownsea lagoon are beginning to look rather settled as Sandwich Tern chick numbers carry on increasing, also there 11 Avocet, 5 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and numerous Shoveler and Gadwall.

There has been a special request by an out of county ringing group for any birders who are out and about in Poole Harbour to keep an eye out for colour ringed Shelduck and Black-tailed Godwit. If you do see either of these species with a ring or combination of rings on their legs could you please note the colours, and what legs they’re on and email us the information, or better still email us in a photo. Thank you.

It's "Wild About Brownsea" this weekend - Come and meet Birds of Poole Harbour in the 'Mac Hide' .....


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  • Ruff - male at Swineham, Ian Ballam
  • Black-tailed Godwit , colour ringed bird at Swineham, Ian Ballam
  • Little Ringed Plover - Swineham, Ian Ballam
Monday 10th June

With a warm muggy morning awaiting us when we woke up, and a very light SE breeze it felt like a few birds may have arrived, and sure enough they did.

A likely Great White Egret was photographed flying over Lytchett Bay at around 8:30am heading SW. The attached photograph shows an Egret sp with very long broad wings and long trailing legs. If accepted, it would be the second record for the site in two years. Even more stunning was a full summer plumaged Ruff that was found on the muddy pools at Swineham. Also the there 225 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 adult Little Ringed Plover, which are either very late on migration north, or very early on migration south. The 2 Roseate Terns on Brownsea Island were showing brilliantly on the webcam all afternoon and also still on Brownsea 5 Avocet, 2 Sanderling, 1 Little Tern, 1 pair of Yellow-legged Gulls and good numbers of Shelduck ducklings and Gadwall.

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  • Ruff - male at Swineham, Peter Moore
  • Roseate Terns - Brownsea Lagoon
  • Probable Great White Egret - Lytchett Bay
Saturday 8th June

Saturday 8th had very few reports. Some lovely images were sent in though from the Brownsea Lagoon where 2 Roseate Terns were frequenting the islands in front of the Mac Hide. They were picked up on the webcam for a few minuets showing really well, but flew off before news could be put out. Also still Mediterranean Gull present and more and more Sandwich Tern chicks are hatching. Also on Brownsea still 5 Avocet.

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  • Roseate Tern - Brownsea Lagoon, Peter Moore
  • Sandwich Terns with chick - Brownsea Lagoon, Peter Moore
  • Mediterranean Gull - Brownsea Lagoon, Peter Moore
Thursday 6th June

Thursday 6th June – Another hot, muggy day with a gentle NE winds blowing through. Not much coverage of the harbour today but sightings included….

3 Ringed Plover and a summer plum Dunlin at Lytchett Bay were a bit of surprise at Lytchett Bay, also there of note was 3 Lapwing, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Skylark, 4 Linnet, Moorhen with chicks, Pied Wagtail with young, Grey Heron with two young and a very pale morph Buzzard. The Roseate Tern was again on Brownsea Island along with 5 Avocet and a Sanderling. Another Nightjar ringing session on Canford Heath resulted in another male being caught and ringed. Sandwich Tern chicks are now popping up here and there on the islands in front of the Mac Hide. Keep an eye out on the webcam for them here….

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  • Kestrel and Carrion Crow having a ding dong - Wareham
  • Blackcap chicks - Upton CP
  • Buff Tip Moth - Arne RSPB reserve
Wednesday 5th June

The next 'Birds of Poole Harbour' field trip will be at the fabulous Arne RSPB reserve look at the myserious Nightjar. Follow this link to find out how to book on to this FREE event.....

Wednesday 5th – Yet another blissful day of hot sun and gentle breezes. More and more young birds are emerging with Stonechat broods becoming a common site on all the local heathlands.  Highlights included….

A male Redstart was seen down near the Shipstal Hide at Arne. On Brownsea the Roseate Tern remained along with a handful of passage Sanderling. At Swineham a passing Marsh Harrier drifted over the reedbed, where Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting and a pair of Sedge Warbler all seem to be doing well. Nightjar are really active at the moment most heathland sites with some great views on the RSPB’s Nightjar walk at Arne last night. At Middlebere 2 possible Green Sandpiper were seen near the NT hide and a Grey Plover was at Lytchett Bay. There is still some passage in evidence with Swift and small parties of Swallow passing through. 

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  • Stonechat - juvenile Arne RSPB
  • Sundew - Arne
3rd and 4th June 2013

Do you know any or are you a teacher from a Poole or Purbeck school and teach years 4-8? then the new RSPB/BoPH Educational Bird Boat timetable is now ready. If you think your pupils could benefit from learning about the birds and wildlife of Poole Harbour then please contact us on 01202 641003. For more info floow this link..,

Finally summer is here and all our breeding birds are well under way pretty much. Already there are plenty of young birds around from family parties of Gadwall and Mallard to young Mistle Thrush and Siskin. Everywhere you look there is evidence that birds are working their socks off  to succeed.

Best from the last couple of days include…..

Monday 3rd - The long staying Poole Harbour Osprey was again seen over Middlebere. A Brent Goose is still at Brands Bay. Good numbers of Swift can now be seen over Poole and Wareham Towns. in good numbers. At Swineham still at least 5 Cetti’s Warbler singing, 2 Sedge Warbler, 3 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Teal. A ringing session took place on Canford Heath where 2 Nightjar were successfully ringed. A Roseate Tern was on the Brownsea Lagoon briefly.

Tuesday 4th - A ringtail Harrier sp was seen over South Haven and then over Brownsea showing characteristics of Montagu’s Harrier.  Also at South Haven 45 Swift north, 3 Jays crossed the harbour mouth along with Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Lesser Redpoll were found. 

Late news from Friday a Red Kite and Honey Buzzard drifted over Brownsea Island


Sightings update.....

Apologies for the lack of news in the last week, we’ve been having a few back office issues which are now resolved.

The new ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ walk is available to book on to. This month we’ll be looking for Nightjars at Arne…..

Highlights from the last week include……(in date order)

May 28th - A large fall of House Martin at Lytchett Bay with 150+ hawking over the wetland areas

May 29th - On Brownsea over 140 Sandwich Tern nests were counted on the lagoon. Also on Brownsea the 2 Nightjar are still in the center of the Island and the Yellow-legged Gulls are still raising young at the back of the lagoon. At Lytchett Bay a pair of nesting Redshank was notable, also there  Whitethroat on territory, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 4 Linnet, 15+ Reed Warbler,  1 late Sand Martin, 30+ House Martin, 20+ Swift.

May 30th – No reports

May31st – An early morning walk at Greenlands Farm saw 3 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 late Wheatear. In Brands Bay 1 Brent Goose, 9 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel and 2 Turnstone and at South Haven a Red Kite over, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Reed Warbler, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Teal and 35+ Sandwich Tern.

June 1st – 1 Roseate Tern on the Brownsea Lagoon

June 2nd – At Old Harry just 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 Siskin and a t Little Sea 1 Hobby and 1 Reed Warbler. On Knoll Farm road there were 2 Red-legged Partridge. There was also a Nightjar sat on the road in Ridge, plus 2 birds churring on Hartland. 

Of local interest Portland BIll saw just under 1000 (yes 1000) Spotted Flycatcher arrive in a single morning on June 1st!

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  • Black-heaed Gull - Baiter, Quincey
  • Carrion Crow - Baiter, Quincey
  • Nuthatch - Arne RSPB reserve
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