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March 2014

Red-breasted Goose Re-found - posted 30/03/14

Earlier in the week a Red-breasted Goose was reported in Middlebere but unfortunately flew off before the news broke, however it was re-found on todays Poole Harbour WeBS count out on the mud off Fitzworth Point with a Brent flock. This is a private access area, however the fields visible from Shipstal Point, Arne and Middlebere would all be worth checking as the flock often moves around. (Many thanks Steve Smith for photos - http://birdingpooleharbourandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/ ) At Lytchett Bay 2 Little Ringed Plover were present for most of the morning before the rising tide flushed them off. At Holton Lee a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was found on the NE edge of the site, also there a Willow Warbler, 20+ Med Gull, 2 Dartford Warbler and a soaring group of 9 Common Buzzard. The Surf Scoter was in Brands Bay again with a Spoonbill and there was a Great Northern Diver in wing moult off Middle Beach. Brownsea saw an incredible count of 1950 Black-tailed Godwit roosting which is one of the highest counts for some time. Also on Brownsea 63 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Knot, 1 Sanderling, 3 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank and 1 Little Ringed Plover. At Swineham 4 Bearded Tit were present also 1 male Goldeneye on the GP and 2 Marsh Harrier present. 2 Eider were just outside the harbour mouth and Sandwich Terns are building in numbers.

Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

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  • Red-breasted Goose - Fitzworth - Steve Smith
  • Red-breasted Goose - Fitzworth - Steve Smith
  • Chiffchaff - Ringed last week in Poole
Harbour Update - posted 28/03/14

There were a few minor snippets of news from the last couple of days including a small fall of Wheatear around the harbour shorelines this morning with 8 at Baiter, 4 Hamworthy Park, 1 at Holes Bay and 1 in Poole Park. Out in Studland Bay a few more Sandwich Tern arrived and a Great Northern Diver was still present. The Surf Scoter was out in Brands Bay again and 12 Fieldfare were up on Hartland Moor. On Pilots Point, Studland 16 Sanderling were feeding before dark last night and a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe was out on the water as 10 Red-breasted Merganser flew out of the harbour. Over Swineham 2 Marsh Harrier were still very active near the nest site again which is looking promising for a repeat performance this year. Finally, at the beginning of the week I promised that the Barn Owl cam would be up and running on the site by the end of today. However, unfortunately due to illness our web developer hasn’t been at work all week but has said he’ll look to get it up and running for Monday. We’re really sorry for the wait, please bare with us just a couple more days. Thank-you.

Wheatear - Baiter Beach - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 26/03/14

Migrants are still taking their time at to arrive in any numbers with only very small totals of Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Sand Martin reported so far. However its still early days and I’m pretty sure over the coming weeks numbers will really pick up. There is still plenty to report with the springs first Osprey with one flying low over Baiter Park and another reported in Brands Bay yesterday afternoon also a Little Ringed Plover was at Lytchett Bay. At Swineham 3 Marsh Harrier were very active near last years nest site and 4 Spoonbill flew over the gravel pits. A Red Kite drifted over Middlebere yesterday afternoon and a Red-breasted Goose was reported with 150 Brent Geese. The Surf Scoter is still in Brand Bay with 5 Red-breasted Merganser. There was some interesting newsfrom a ringing session yesterdayinthe north of the harbour where a migrant Chiffchaff that was ringed on the 19th of April last year was re-trapped again yesterday in almost exactly the same bush having migrated south for the winter and come back again highlighting the remarkable precision migrants use when heading back and fourth to their breeding grounds. And finally, some even more exciting news that our Swineham Barn Owls are already sat on one egg! This is such a phenomenal result having only put up the boxes just before Christmas. It’s likely that over the coming days more eggs will be laid until a clutch of between 4-6 eggs are present. Obviously with things going so well there had to be a problem somewhere along the line. Unfortunately due to hardware issues the infra-red bulb inside the box has blown. With the birds now breeding it is not possible to do any camera maintenance as this would create too much disturbance at this stage. The picture during daylight hours is still fantastic but at night the box is plunged into darkness. We will seek to replace the infra-red bulb whilst the chicks are being ringed at about 2.5 weeks old. We're really sorry about this technical glitch, it just means for the time being you'll have to watch the birds during the day…. you’ll all be in bed when it’s dark anyway!

THANK - YOU - posted 24/03/14

We would like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE thank you to every who has helped towards our Barn Owl webcam appeal by donating via text, online or by attending our monthly field trips. Without your support this venture would never have been able to take place. The project objective to boost Poole Harbour’s Barn Owl population was born at the beginning of this year when it was decided all money raised from our guided walks would go towards the construction of two Barn Owl boxes. All we needed then was a location and this is where Lakeside B&B at Swineham kindly stepped in. The boxes were erected just before Christmas with a temporary camera in place to monitor any comings and goings, however we were utterly gob smacked when a pair on Barn Owl moved in within two weeks! It was then decided that an appeal would be set up to raise funds for the streaming of the owls live on the ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ website. Well, we’re thrilled to announce that after just a couple of months we have raised enough money to get the live stream set up which will be available to watch on the website sometime this week. Our only issue is that the owls moved in so quickly that we didn’t have time to put the good camera in! So, to reduce the risk of the birds deserting the box, we’re going to wait until (hopefully) any chicks that come along over the next few months, have fully fledged the nest before swapping the camera over. Don’t worry the image is still good as you’ll see when we go live this week. We’d also like to thank Wildlife Windows who have been efficient as ever at setting up and installing the live stream for you all to enjoy. Bird wise there been some nice snippets from around the harbour including the first migrant Blackcap singing away near Holes Bay this morning. Out on Arne Moors an adult female Marsh Harrier was present along with a ringtail Hen Harrier. At Arne a Crossbill was on Arne Hill along with 1 Woodlark, 2 Dartford Warbler and 2 Raven. Around the Soldiers Road area 1 Wheatear was present, 2 singing Woodlark, 2 Fieldfare, 5+ Chiffchaff and 2 Buzzard. In Brands Bay the Surf Scoter was there again and a Great Northern Diver was out in Studland Bay.

p.s Just as I finish writing this blog post I checked the Owl cam to make sure all was working ok and witnesed the below sequence of events......

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  • Barn Owls chatting.....
  • Barn Owls flirting.....
  • Barn Owls errrm.....
Keeping The Old And In With The New – posted 22/03/14

There has been a good smattering of birds right across the harbour over the last few days including a small selection of migrants. Firstly some exciting news that a pair of Marsh Harrier have been seen to begin nest building again along the Frome Valley near to last years site, and potentially it looks like two different individuals from last year. There are actually at least 4 Marsh Harrier still in the harbour so it’s not inconceivable that two pairs may stay and breed. Also there are still 9 Spoonbill remaining, mainly commuting between Shipstal and the Frome Valley. At Swineham 40 Sand Martin were over the GP and 19 Little Egret were seen going in to roost.  A guided walk went out this morning around the Greenland’s Farm area and was rewarded by an incredibly early Hobby flying through the area and heading towards Rempstone. We’ll need to check the records but this must be one of the earliest Dorset records for this species. Also at Greenland’s there were 2 Wheatear, 4 Dartford Warbler, 100+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Mistle Thrush and 4 Stonechat. Out in Brands Bay the Surf Scoter was re-found close into the hide with 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Sandwich Tern and 1 Great Crested Grebe. Out off Middle Beach there was 1 Common Scoter, 6 Sandwich Tern and 3 Med Gulls whilst out on Arne Moors 3 Wheatear were noted. Finally there were 4 Greenshank and 104 Teal at Lytchett Bay.

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  • Marsh Harrier - Swineham - Peter Moore
  • Sand Martin - Swineham GP - Peter Moore
  • Spoonbill - Swineham - Peter Moore
Slow Go - posted 19/03/14

Despite early morning vigils and avidly watching the sky’s there’s still sign of migration picking up just yet. No more Sand Martin have been reported since 3 flew over Studland Heath last week and no more Wheatears either. There’s certainly been an increase in Chiffchaff numbers right across the harbour with birds singing from numerous woodlands. At Swineham Cetti’s Warbler are very active with birds calling right around the whole Bestwall/Swineham area. There was an arrival of 400 Black-tailed Godwit back on the Brownsea Lagoon which are likely to be birds arriving back from the Avon Valley. There are still 7 Marsh Harrier leaving the pre dawn roost at the moment and a single ringtail Hen Harrier is still present. There are still at least 10 Spoonbill present on Shipstal Point, Arne and a single Great Northern Diver and Common Scoter were off Middle Beach Studland. Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Linnet, Greenfinch and Woodlark are all very busy on the local heathlands and Great Spotted Woodpecker are very active drumming in the woodlands. Its well worth trying to listen out for Lesser-spotted Woodpecker in any wet, boggy woodland as they’re very active at other Dorset sites at the moment.

Glaucous Release - posted 15/03/14

In the dense thick fog of yesterday morning a 2nd year Glaucous Gull was released onto the Brownsea Lagoon having spent six weeks in care at ‘Wildlife in Need’ in Bournemouth. It was originally found bruised and battered at Gumwharf Quays in Portsmouth after one of the brutal storms and was handed to the wildlife rescue home by the RSPCA. Wildlife In Need is a small independent rescue centre that operates 365 days a year. For advice, or if you find a seabird in distress along the coast, please call 01202 428129. Along with the released bird, another Glaucous Gull was seen leaving the harbour this morning, this bird being a 1st year.  At Swineham three Marsh Harrier were seen displaying with two birds calling very near to last years nest site. Also at Swineham a handful singing Chiffchaff, 5 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Bearded Tit, 6 Curlew and 12 Meadow Pipit. At Soldiers Road 3 Fieldfare headed north, 2 Woodlark were singing, also 3 Dartford Warbler, 3 Stonechat and a good number of Greenfinch were all singing. At Middlebere a ringtail Hen Harrier was still present. At Holes Bay a Great White Egret was reported, also there 1 Pochard, 2 Avocet and a Yellow-legged Gull. At Lytchett Bay there was 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, 3 Med Gull, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Cetti’s Warbler.  2 Sand Martin were seen over Studland Heath with 3 Sanderling on Studland Beach. There were 14 Sandwich Tern on the Brownsea Lagoon. Finally I want to say a HUGE thank -you to ‘A Focus on Nature’ for their wonderfully put together videos highlighting and talking about our School Birdboat Project. Please watch the videos by clicking HERE

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  • Glaucous Gull - Released on to the Brownsea Lagoon
  • Little Egret - Holes Bay
  • Nuthatch - Arne
First Wheatears Arrive - posted 11/03/14

Poole Harbours first Wheatears of the spring arrived yesterday with 2 out on the Baiter playing fields mid morning. There’s been a big dispersal of many of the over-wintering species, and with many of the spring birds yet to arrive a small dip in activity has occurred over the last few days. A small number of Chiffchaff have also arrive with birds singing from various places around the harbour. Sandwich Tern numbers on the Brownsea Lagoon rose to 9. An Iceland Gull was reported at Upton Country Park. At Swineham/Bestwall an adult female Marsh Harrier and a ringtail Hen Harrier were present with a minimum of 15 Cetti’s Warbler whilst a male Hen Harrier was at Middlebere. And finally, the mystery gull at Holes Bay a few days ago was confirmed as a leucistic Herring Gull, but an easy oversight to think it may have been an Iceland Gull at first sighting.

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  • Leucistic Herring Gull - Holes Bay
  • Reed Bunting - Swineham
  • Cormorant - Harbour Mouth
Spring Arrives - posted 08/03/14

There’s no denying that spring officially arrived today as a warm sun and gentle breeze made it very pleasant to be out and about. Early signs of spring migration are still taking there time, but I’m sure things will start to ‘kick off’ over the next week or so.  Despite the lack of migrants there was still plenty to talk about starting with a mystery gull that was photographed in Holes Bay which initially looked to be an Iceland Gull but on closer inspection the dark primaries and tail seem to actually point to something else, possibly a Kumlien’s Gull or even a leucistic (white pigmented) Herring Gull. We’ll let you know if there are anymore comments on this bird over the next few days. The Yellow-browed Warbler is still at Knoll Beach car park, Studland and off the beach 1 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 2 Great Northern Diver.  At Lytchett Bay a Bittern was present in the reedbeds near Turlin Moor, also there both a male and female Hen Harrier, 2 Spoonbill, 3 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Spotted Redshank, 57 Brent Geese, 6 Rock Pipit, 3 Greenshank and 1 Green Sandpiper. Around the Swineham/Bestwall area there was a male Hen Harrier, 1 Spoonbill, 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 Bearded Tit and a Kingfisher. On Brownsea a Firecrest was singing near the public hide, 3 Sandwich Tern were on the lagoon and a Black Redstart was around the quay buildings. A Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was recorded again on private land near Ower and one was seen in the woods next to Holmebridge. 

Tern Arrival - posted 06/03/14

There have been two or three Sandwich Tern over-wintering in the harbour this winter, often seen fishing along the shorelines of Baiter, Arne and Sandbanks and are currently still in their winter plumage. However, today 4 summer plumaged birds arrived on the Brownsea Lagoon, found with the webcam. This is a pretty early arrival for migrant Sandwich Tern, so they could potentially be birds that have over-wintered a bit nearer than West Africa. Also in the harbour today seen from a School Birdboat was the Surf Scoter, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver, 1 Razorbill, 1 Guillemot, 16 Spoonbill (15 Arne, 1 Brownsea), 1 Black-necked Grebe, 100+ Red-breasted Merganser and 20+ Great Crested Grebe whilst on the lagoon 100+ Bar-tailed and 300+ Black-tailed Godwit, 120+ Grey Plover, 300+ Dunlin, 8 Greenshank, 50+ Avocet and 100+ Oystercatcher. The Iceland Gull was reported again from Poole Park (4th and 5th) and the Black-necked Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe, female Goosander and 3 Goldeneye are all still present on the main boating lake. At Lytchett Bay 2 Spotted Redshank were on the pools field and in the bay 30 Brent Geese, 8 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Greenshank and 3 Skylark were singing in the stubble field. Off Baiter a Red-throated Diver was present with a Razorbill. 2 Crossbill were on Arne Hill yesterday

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  • Crossbill - Arne hill - Sue Paxton
  • Newly arrived Sandwich Terns - Brownsea Lagoon
  • Goosander - Poole Park - Ian Ballam
Very Ice Find Indeed - posted 03/03/14

Its about time Poole Harbour had a scarce gull with the Weymouth/Portland area seeing its fair share and Hengistbury/Stanpit also cashing in. Apart from the 5 minute Glaucous Gull that appeared on the Brownsea webcam we’ve not had a sniff, that was until this morning when an Iceland Gull was found sitting on some rocks at Poole Park. March is a great time for gull watching, so it wouldn’t surprise me if a few more appear at various locations around the harbour. Also on Poole Park the Goosander is still present and at least 6 Goldeneye and the Scaup. Elsewhere, off Baiter there was 1 Razorbill, 1 Sandwich Tern, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 11 Ringed Plover and 20+ Med Gulls. Around the Studland area 1 Red-throated Diver off Jerry’s Point with 25 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Avocet, 8+ Grey Plover, 5+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot and 2 Sanderling.

 

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  • Iceland Gull - Poole Park - Ian Ballam
  • Iceland Gull - Poole Park - Ian Ballam
  • Herring Gull - Baiter Park
Spring Song - posted 02/03/14

The warmth of yesterdays sun really got many birds ‘in the mood’ as apposed to todays wind and rain that just put everyone in a bad mood! At Soldiers Road 3 Woodlark were chasing each other with one bird producing a full repertoire of notes and song. Alongside the Woodlark at least 6 Dartford Warbler were very vocal and 5 Stonechat including 3 males battled for territory. Mistle and Song Thrush have been very vocal for a few weeks now and the odd Chiffchaff can be heard in the early spring sunshine. Other sightings include a Spotted Redshank, Water Pipit, 5 Greenshank at Lytchett Bay. In Studland Bay 1 Eider, 28 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Med Gull, 3 Sanderling, 2 Grey Plover and 20 Brent Goose. Still at least 8 Marsh Harrier have been leaving the winter roost. At Shore Road there were 150 Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Sanderling, 7 Med Gull and 1 Sandwich Tern. Out in the harbour still at least 3 Great Northern Diver, but there’s also been a mass departure of Merganser and Goldeneye with only around 50% left compared to previous months. There are still 20 Spoonbill at Arne. Elsewhere in the country Wheatear, Garganey, Common Whitethroat and Swallow have all made landfall in single figures so keep your eyes peeled for more spring migrants arrive.

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