July 2013

Keep em coming - posted 31/07/13

After somewhat of a quite spell wader passage has picked up again with more and more bird arriving all around the harbour. Common Sandpiper are appearing in groups of 3-4 in places such as Holes Bay, Lytchett Bay, Swineham, Brownsea and Middlebere. Redshank numbers are increasing on the Brownsea lagoon, with some stunning juvenile birds being picked up at close range on the webcam. Also on Brownsea Spotted Redshank continue to be a feature with 6 birds still present and 12 Greenshank as well as 50+ Dunlin, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and 100+ Oystercatcher. At Holes Bay Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit are making a marked return. Lytchett Bay is not holding 4-6 Green Sandpiper, also there a Spotted Redshank, 2 Teal, 3 Greenshank, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and 15+ Lapwing. Hobby are still busy picking off House Martins and Swallows at various locations such as Arne, Stoborough and Swineham. Sedge Warbler are well and truly underway with birds now pulsing through the harbour on a broad front heading south, hopefully with Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Pied Flycatcher all starting to follow suit in the next week or so. The reed beds bordering parts of the harbour have been holding nightly roosts of Sand Martin and Swallow often with 500-1000 birds present late evening.

We love receiving your sightings and photos, so with the excitement of autumn just around the corner please email us your photos and sightings no matter how common or scares they are.

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  • Reed Bunting - Ian Ballam
  • Common Sandpiper - Lytchett Bay- Ian Ballam
  • Little Egret - Ian Ballam
Marsh Harriers about to fledge....

News came in from Swineham today that the first view of a Harrier chick was confirmed. The youngsters are probably still a day or so away from fledging, but they will be strengthening their wings, lofting just above the reed bed for short periods of time. Once fledged they will hang around the nest site area for a number of days whilst they continue to be fed by the parents. Young Marsh Harriers are a rich chocolate brown with a striking golden crown, however the ‘adult’ male of the parents has also got a very similar plumage to it’s offspring, meaning dad may not be a fully grown adult.

Elsewhere in the harbour, waders continue to be the main feature. On the Brownsea Lagoon 112 Dunlin arrived in, 6 Spotted Redshank, 12 Greenshank, 243 Oystercatcher, 103 Redshank, 56 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Ringed Plover and 1 Avocet.  At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 3 Snipe and 2 Lapwing. Elsewhere in the county the first Willow Warblers and Grasshopper Warblers of the autumn are passing through and many young birds are now dispersing from their breeding grounds, so be on the look out for young Terns, Waders even birds like Skua’s along the coast.


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  • Reed Warbler - Lytchett Bay, Ian Ballam
  • Grey Heron - Hatch Pond, Ian Ballam
  • Little Egrets - Holes Bay, Ian Ballam
Marsh Harrier breed in Poole Harbour

The breaking story of the day is that Marsh Harrier have successfully bred in Poole Harbour this year. The birds were seen courting in late April and were monitored on an almost daily basis to see if a breeding attempt would be made. By mid May it was obvious that the birds were going to settle and by June the female was settled on eggs. The young hatched about four weeks ago, so the young should be fledging anytime in the next week. For the full story follow this link to our news page.....

Although the late spring had a serious affect on the arrival of birds, it seems to have been a successful breeding year for many birds as Whitethroat were seen today still carrying food to a nest site today. Also, at Lytchett Bay today 6 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Sedge Warbler and a Kingfisher. In Holes Bay 4 Common Sandpiper were just south of the railway line. On the Brownsea lagoon were 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Greenshank


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  • Marsh Harriers over nest site - Wareham Channel
  • Common Buzzard - Poole, Jo Grierson
  • Silver-studded Blue - Arne
Finally some rain.....

The ferocious thunderstorm and down pour that the whole of Poole experienced last night was a welcome relief for many plants and animals as the rain drenched everything in its path. All the dried out cracked bare patches of dirt are now lovely wet, muddy pools that look perfect for attracting waders such as Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint and possibly even Pectoral Sandpiper….wishful thinking I know, but they have all appeared in the UK over the last couple of days, so why not?

Over the last few days, a number of exciting birds are begging to pass through the harbour in drips and drabs. Over the centre of Poole yesterday a Honey Buzzard was seen carrying what looked like part of a wasp nest. At Lytchett Bay a Wood Sandpiper went over calling with 7 Green Sandpiper, also there 5 Snipe, 3 Greenshank, 1 Ruff, 8 Sedge Warbler and 8 Teal. Some exciting news from Brownsea where it was confirmed that Teal had bred this summer, not a common sight in Dorset. Also on Brownsea 2 Roseate Terns again made an appearance, 6 Spotted Redshank, 7 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 Dunlin. An Osprey keeps popping up at various locations around the harbour so keep a look out for a large bird of prey out fishing on open bodies of water. Already large flocks of 500+ Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow are gathering at reed bed sites around the harbour to feed and roost before heading south.

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  • Hobby - Arne RSPB Reserve
  • Kestrel - Swineham
  • Poplar Hawk and Peppered Moths
Late broods this summer?

Due to the extremely cold spring and this recent glorious weather it seems there could be a number of birds that are still trying to squeeze a late brood in before the summers end. Blackcap can still be heard at various sites around the harbour for mid July is almost unheard of. The Great Crested Grebes at Swineham have just hatched a new second brood of the season and commoner species such as Greenfinch, House Sparrow and Goldfinch have all been reported in the last few days feeding newly fledged chicks. If you see any late breeding activity we’d be really interested to hear about it.

Wader movement continues with the arrival of the first 3 Snipe of the autumn at Lytchett Bay. Also there the Ruff remains, 6+ Green Sandpiper, 10+ Lapwing, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and good Curlew numbers.  At Holes Bay a wholesome 200+ Redshank were feeding, also 60+ Curlew, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel and a number of juvenile Little Egret. The first Sedge Warbler of the autumn was ringed on Wednesday, as were two juvenile Kingfishers that had made their way down into the harbour.

A White-rumped Sandpiper was recently found at Lodmoor, Weymouth, in amongst a small flock of Dunlin, so it’s well worth checking through any wader flocks you come across thoroughly for a lovely hidden gem!


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  • Reed Bunting -  Ian Ballam
  • Great Crested Grebe and chick - Swineham , Ian Ballam
  • Curlew - Holes Bay, Ian Ballam
Summer continues

It’s been quite quiet over the last few days. The Ruff, 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 13 Lapwing were still at Lytchett Bay.  At Swineham the Kestrel family have now fledged with 3 young noisily screeching near the Curlews Cottage. Hobby are now active over numerous ponds and lakes catching Swallows and House Martins rather than Dragonflies as to fatten their chicks up. Still no early signs of passerine movements, but we will expect birds such as Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Garden Warbler to start passing through the area in about two weeks.

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  • Pied Wagtail - juvenile
  • Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Bay
  • Hobby - Holton Lee
Hottest day of the year so far....

The heat is definitely having an effect on the birdwatchers more than the birds, as more and more birds arrive on their journey south. At Lytchett Bay an impressive list of 11 waders which included 1 Ruff, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank, 5 Green Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper, 20+ Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank, along with 18 flyover Crossbill and a Hobby. At Bestwall a Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling, along with 3 Sedge Warbler and 3 Med Gulls at Swimeham.


Wandering waders

I’ll stop banging on about it being autumn soon I promise. I should just be enjoying the sun, but when you start seeing the very beginnings of autumn migration it just gets you thinking of things to come. More birds, mainly waders continue to pass through the area. On Brownsea today there were 4 Spotted Redshank, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Avocet, 3 Greenshank and the fledged Yellow-legged Gulls. At Lytchett Bay 8 Green Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 19 Lapwing, 4 Greenshank, 18 Teal, 4 Redshank, 38 Curlew, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hobby, 85 Swift and a Cetti’s Warbler. An Osprey was at Morden Bog this evening meaning it will probably be fishing in the harbour somewhere in the next few days. A total of 119 Sandwich Terns fledged from the Brownsea colony by early July, which is a fantastic total. 

Waders on the move....

The passage of waders continues right across the harbour with many different species popping up at various site. On Brownsea still at least 3 Spotted Redshank are present as too are Common Sandpiper, 1 Avocet, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. At Lytchett Bay up to 5 Green Sandpiper, 1 juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 40+ Curlew, 5 Redshank and 18 Lapwing. Nightjar are putting on spectacular displays on many of the harbour’s heathlands as young are now beginning to emerge.  The long hot days are helping young birds along too as insects have become plentiful with young Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Dartford Warbler and Stonechat all noted in the last couple of days.

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  • Little Ringed Plover - Juv, Lytchett Bay
  • Yellow-legged Gulls - Brownsea, Lorne Bissell
  • Swallow - Lytchett Bay, Ian Ballam
Forget autumn, summer is here

Today was an absolute scorcher with the sun blazing down and drenching everything all day long.  Highlights from the last few days have to be the quite significant rise in wader numbers at various sites. At Holes Bay there was a decent count of 80 Redshank, 45 Curlew, 19 Black-tailed Godwit and 9 Oystercatcher, interestingly also a Wigeon there too. At Lytchett Bay a great total of 12 Green Sandpiper, 44 Curlew, 17 Little Egret and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. A ringing session targeting on Nightjar in the north of the harbour was successful with a second year male being ringed.

Autumn presses on

More evidence of wader passage today from Brownsea with 3 Spotted Redshank, 11 Redshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Avocet. Also on Brownsea at least 10 broods of Shelduck ducklings of various ages.  At Lytchett Bay 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Lapwing, 5 Teal, 1 Hobby over, several Bearded Tits and a Grey Wagtail.  At Swineham the wader theme continued with 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Lapwing, also there a large group of 50+ Swift, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler still active in the reedbed and a Common Seal made it’s way up into the Wareham Channel.

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  • Common Seal - Wareham Channel
  • Shelduck - Middlebere
  • Lapwing - Swineham
Birds of Poole Harbour is now a registered charity

I am thrilled to announce that the ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ group is now a registered charity.  Our aim is to boost the profile of bird watching and bird conservation in the harbour using a variety of public engagement projects.  We strive to provide the general public with as much information as possible about this nationally and internationally important site.

What we will be offering

Educational monthly field trips for the public

Educational bird boat tours for local schools with the local Poole RSPB group

Public talks programme

Free specially commissioned surveys to give the public access to various scientific studies from around the harbour

The opportunity to help contribute towards various conservation projects across the harbour

Plus all the usual access to the stunning Brownsea Island webcam, regular sightings updates, video footage of some of the harbours best birds and other interesting events.

As a small charity we understand it is vital to work closely with the larger conservation NGO’s such as the RSPB, DWT and NT with whom we will continue working with in order to promote all their main aims and values. 

Registered Charity Number 1152615 BIRDS OF POOLE HARBOUR

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