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February 2014

Changing Seasons - 26/02/14

Spring continues to force its self upon us with 3 Sand Martin in off the sea in Weymouth yesterday. Typically Sand Martin, Little Ringed Plover, Garganey and Wheatear are the first to arrive back with Ring Ouzel and Chiffchaff very close behind.  Its worth checking any open body of fresh water like Poole Park Lakes or Swineham GP for feeding Sand Martin and checking open short grassy areas for feeding Wheatear and possibly Ring Ouzel. Other signs of spring include the partially summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe in Studland Bay yesterday and a few of the Black-necked Grebe also starting to show signs of moulting. At a private site in the south west of the harbour 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were observed along with Marsh Tit, 12 Crossbill and a handful of Lesser Redpoll. At Lytchett Bay the Water Pipit remained on the pools field along with 11 littoralis Rock Pipit, 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank and 53 Avocet. At Arne at least 17 Spoonbill are still present, and 2 different Marsh Harrier were seen at there are still at least 4 Hen Harrier in the harbour. 10 Marsh Harrier were again observed leaving the roost but 2 were witnessed flying off high south-east towards Ballard. The 3 Scaup were present again on Swineham GP and over 100 each of both Shoveler and Gadwall and 2 tristis Chiffchaff and 2 colybita Chiffchaff. Off Ower the Surf Scoter was still present along with 3 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 61 Knot and 65 Grey Plover. In Poole Park the redhead Goosander remains along with 7 Goldeneye and 2 Blackcap (one singing). On Brownsea a Firecrest was near the castle and a pair of Yellow-legged Gull were on the lagoon. From Banks Road, Sandbanks yesterday 42 Sanderling, c100 Bar-tailed Godwit and also a Great Northern Diver off one of the groynes. 

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  • Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff - Swineham - Peter Moore
  • Common (colybita) Chiffchaff - Swineham - Peter Moore
  • Scaup - Swineham GP - Peter Moore
They're Coming - posted 22/02/14

It was only yesterday that I was saying it could be worth keeping an eye out for the first Wheatear and Sand Martin of the year when low and behold the UK’s first Sand Martins of the spring turn up today! 3 were seen in Waterford, southern Ireland this afternoon. I understand this is quite some distance from Poole Harbour but it shows that birds are making progress and that within the next three to four weeks we should all be enjoying the various spring migrants. From the harbour, 9 Marsh Harrier came out of the roost this morning with a male Hen Harrier amongst them and a second male Hen Harrier joining them later. At Swineham 3 Scaup (all female) were on the main GP along with 100 Shoveler, also around Swineham 5 singing Chiffchaff, a Siberian Chiffchaff and a Marsh Harrier. Some late news that a Barn Owl has been spotted around the Upton CP area a couple of times this week. At Lytchett Bay 30+ Snipe, 150 Lapwing, 4 Greenshank and 30 Brent Geese. At Middlebere there was 1 Barn Owl, 1 Hen Harrier, 200 Black-tailed Godwit and 100 Avocet. The Barn Owl at Middlebere posed long enough on a branch for me to get some video footage that you can view HERE

Great White Gone - posted 21/02/14

It appears from the sporadic sightings of Great White Egret this winter that an individual is over-wintering either in the harbour or somewhere close by. Yesterday afternoon it was seen flying over the flooded fields to the south of Swineham, before disappearing not to be seen again for the rest of the day. This is the sixth sighting of potentially the same bird this winter yet it seems impossible to pin down to one particular spot for everyone to enjoy. This elusive characteristic is an unfortunate but common trait of this species in the harbour with most past records consisting of birds flying over and disappearing into the distance. In other parts of the country GWE will happily sit out in the open, feed in large bodies of water and generally be quite easy to spot, lets hope this bird does make grand entrance one day soon! Elsewhere there were 3 Siberian Chiffchaff together at Swineham, 3 Marsh Harrier over the Wareham Channel, and a Woodlark in full song on Soldiers Road. Dartford Warbler are also starting to get active out on the heathlands and Mistle Thrush are very vocal at the moment too. 9 Spoonbill were seen flying up the Frome Valley yesterday evening, 2 Hen Harrier, 3 Marsh Harrier and 2 Bearded Tit were off Swineham Point along with a Barn Owl. At Knoll Beach Studland at least 1 Firecrest remains and in Brands Bay 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver, 7 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe. I know I’m being a bit premature but over the next few weeks we should start looking for our first Wheatears and Sand Martins. Normally the first don’t arrive until the beginning of March but there are exceptions to the rules as Portland saw their first Wheatear on Feb 23th in 2011.

Just Great Birds - posted 19/02/14

The harbour saw a fantastic range of birds today as a number of areas were covered by local birders and an RSPB bird boat went on a harbour tour this morning. Bird of the day has to go to the first year Glaucous Gull that was discovered at around 4pm on the Brownsea Webcam. There are currently only around 8 previous records for the harbour so it was a welcome find. Chances are it will roost on Brownsea tonight, so if you’re out around the harbour tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled for a large, chunky, pale white-winged gull. There were actually 10 species of Gull in the harbour today as the 2 Little Gull were still present at Baiter, 2 Kittiwake were off Poole Quay, a Yellow-legged Gull at Middlebere, numerous Mediterranean Gull were dotted about plus the usual Common, Black-headed, Herring, Greater and Lesser Black-backed. From the RSPB bird boat 3 Black-throated Diver, 7 Great Northern Diver, 11 Black-necked Grebe, the Surf Scoter, 24 Spoonbill, 11 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Sandwich Tern, many Great Crested Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye, 30 Avocet, 100 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Greenshank. At Swineham 3 Siberian Chiffchaff were seen together and a male Hen Harrier and Jack Snipe were noted. The Goosander was on Poole Park lake again today. 

                                               

            Glaucous Gull with Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull - Brownsea Lagoon

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  • Glaucous Gull - screen grab off Brownsea Webcam
  • Turnstone - Poole Quay
  • Redshank - Poole Park
Gulls Galore - posted 18/02/14

There was an impressive 9 species of Gull found in the harbour today. Along with the usual Black-headed, Greater and Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Common Gull, 2 Little Gull were at Baiter along with 2 Kittiwake at Fisherman’s Dock, Poole Quay and Mediterranean Gull number continue to increase in the harbour with 23 out on Hamworthy Park and many others dotted around the northern shores. Watch new videos HERE of this mornings Kittiwake and Med Gulls. 2 Great Northern Diver were also off Baiter along with 1 Razorbill and 18 Ringed Plover on the sea wall. Off Hamworthy Beach a lone Guillemot bobbed around as Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe numbers seemed to have increased ten fold since the storm with birds right across the harbour. 6 Spoonbill were feeding in Holes Bay this evening and a Bittern was again seen flying around the Swineham area this morning. Also around the Wareham Channel 6 Marsh Harrier, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine and numerous Buzzard soaring. At Lytchett Bay 761 Dunlin, 112 Avocet, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Peregrine. At Middlebere there were 200 each of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Marsh Harrier and a Yellow-legged Gull.

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  • Ringed Plover - Baiter, Ian Ballam
  • Common Gull - Poole Park
  • Little Gull - Poole Quay
Golden Delight - posted 17/02/14

The rare orange ball that seems to have deserted us for most of the winter was hanging beautifully in the sky yesterday, beaming down rays of warmth, which I have to say felt glorious. The storms have obviously left a trail of destruction and a number of birds seemed to have been displaced due to the weather. Another Little Gull was out on Baiter on Saturday morning along with 15 Med Gull. The Surf Scoter is still present out in Ower Bay with a Slavonian Grebe, 5 Great Northern Diver and 7 Black-necked Grebe. There were 16 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver off Goathorn and 4 Great Northern Diver and a Common Scoter in Studland Bay. There were also 2 Firecrest in the wood at South Beach. A male Hen Harrier was on Slepe Moor and a juv Marsh Harrier at Middlebere. At Swineham 600 Lapwing, 2 Bearded Tit, 20 Redwing, 5 Fieldfare, 1 Marsh Harrier, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 5 Spotted Redshank, 1 Smew, 14 Pochard, 93 Shoveler and 3 Little Grebe. A ringing session in the center of Poole produced a nice surprise with a Common Buzzard ringed along with 3 re-trap Chiffchaff, one of which was originally ringed at the same site in January 2012. An impressive 2000 gulls roosted at Parkstone Bay containing 120+ Mediterranean Gull. The Goosander is still present in Poole Park and a sea-watch off Branksome Chine produced 12 Pintail, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 8 Kittiwake, 2 Razorbill, 2 Guillemot and a Great Crested Grebe. A Bittern was seen flying along Arne Moors.

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  • Common Buzzard - Poole
  • Little Gull - Baiter, Ian Ballam
  • Gull flock - Parkstone Bay, Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 14/02/14

Not much to report from around the harbour recently although Baiter continues to hold good birds. Yesterday the Slavonian Grebe a Black-throated and Great Northern Diver, 6 Goldeneye and 18 Great Crested Grebe were off the car park, whilst today on the playing fields 23 Ringed Plover, 500+ Dunlin, 20+ Turnstone, 300 Oystercatcher, 1 Pale-bellied Brent, 50 Redshank and 2 Greenshank all took shelter. At Lytchett Bay a ringtail Hen Harrier flew through and 11 Red-breasted Merganser were out on the water. The Goosander and Scaup are still at Poole Park.

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  • Greenshank - Baiter, Ian Ballam
  • Goosander - Poole Park, Ian Ballam
  • Mediterranean Gull - Baiter, Ian Ballam
Storm Force - posted 12/02/14

Yet another 50mph storm blew through today with enough rain to last us into next winter, when will it ever stop? The strong winds did get a few sea-watchers out at Branksome this morning, which produced an interesting sighting. After a few Kittiwake had passed east to west two Greater Black-backed Gull were spotted picking at small Auk off the surface of the water. Initially it was considered to be a Little Auk but when one of the gulls plucked the dead auk right out of the water a triangular beak was noted showing the bird to actually be a Puffin! This has to be one of the rarest ‘local breeders’ to occur in Poole Harbour with only two other historic dead records and an unconfirmed report of one on Brownsea back in the 70’s. It’s been a sad state of affairs as many Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin have been washed up on beaches right across the south coast from Cornwall to Hampshire. Lets just hope things settle down in the next few weeks and these birds get reported alive rather than dead. Also on the sea-watch 2 adult Little Gull, 33 Kittiwake and 1 Black-throated Diver. The Goosander, Scaup and Goldeneye have all been present at Poole Park lakes this week. At Baiter the Pale-bellied Brent was still present, 20+ Turnstone, 387 Oystercatcher, 2 Little Gull and 500+ Dunlin and both the Slavonian Grebe and Black-throated Diver just off shore. Spoonbills have been present at Lytchett Bay, Middlebere and Arne. The Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers have dropped down to 8 and there are still 4 Hen Harrier around. 

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  • Pale-bellied Brent Goose - Baiter, Peter Moore
  • Slavonian Grebe - Off Baiter car park, Peter Moore
  • Goldeneye - Poole Park, Shaun Robson
Harbour Highlights - posted 07/02/14

Apologise for the lack of updates this week. With the strong winds and heavy rain its made birding difficult but a few hardy birders have been out and reported some nice birds. Starting off with Baiter Park where two 1st winter Little Gull were reported out on the playing fields along with a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 460 Dark-bellied Brent Goose and a Merlin. Off shore there was the Slavonian Grebe and Black-throated Diver and at Poole Park the redhead Goosander remained. The Poole Harbour Marsh Harrier roost contained 11 birds this morning and male Hen Harriers were seen at Middlebere and Hartland. In the sunshine today Dartford Warbler were displaying despite the chilly wind and out in the harbour Great Northern Diver, Black-necked Grebe and 150 Red-breasted Merganser were present.

Harbour Magic - posted 02/02/14

Two events over the past two days saw quite a bit of coverage from around the harbour. The first was our ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ field trip to Brownsea Island and the second was an RSPB bird boat tour around the harbour…both were a huge success. Despite the choppy seas and strong wind the field trip to Brownsea yesterday saw the lagoon filled with birds. This is great news as Brownsea opens again to the public next weekend. Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Greenshank, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Shoveler, 2 Spoonbill, Gadwall, 1 Peregrine Falcon and numerous Turnstone all looked immaculate in the stormy winter sun. The RSPB bird boat trip today saw an almost identical list to yesterday on the lagoon as well as 1 Black-throated and 7 Great Northern Diver, a further 18 Spoonbill, 2 Sandwich Tern, 2 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot, 7 Black-necked Grebe, 150+ Red-breasted Merganser, 50+ Great Crested Grebe, Surf Scoter, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Common Seal elsewhere in the harbour. An incredible 11-15 Marsh Harrier have been seen to leave their roost site over the last couple of days and 3 Hen Harrier are still present. At Swineham 3 Cetti’s Warbler were singing, 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Water Rail and good numbers of winter duck were present on the GP.

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  • Guillemot and Razorbill - Poole Quay and Brownsea, Simon Kidner
  • Common Seal - Shipstal Point, Simon Kidner
  • Red-breasted Merganser - Poole Harbour, Simon Kidner
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