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April 2014

Harbour Update - posted 29/04/14

Starting with Lytchett where a Little Gull has been loitering for a few days, also present there 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank and 2 Wheatear. At Swineham the 3 Garganey remained along with 3 Little Gull and bizarrely a Barnacle Goose turned up out of nowhere, also present 1 Pochard, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler and 4 Cetti’s Warbler. 10 Whimbrel were in field next to Woodland walk at Upton CP. There was also some sad news stating that the incubating Marsh Harrier doesn’t seem to be on the nest any more possibly due to either to a flooded nest or predation from fox/corvid? Both male and female were watched actively adding to and repairing the nest so hopefully they’ll re-attempt to lay again, we’ll keep you posted. Frustratingly it seems the/a Great White Egret is up to its old tricks again by only showing its self for about one minute to one person every few days with two reports of the bird flying both up and then down the Frome Valley at Stoborough and East Holme. At Middlebere the 9 Spoonbill are still about, 5 Teal and a fly through Marsh Harrier. At Greenland’s Farm 3 Cuckoo, several Wheatear, 1 Common Whitethroat and a singing Firecrest

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  • Little Gull - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Barnacle Goose - Swineham Floods - Ian Ballam
  • Shag - Off Brownsea
Barn Owl chick hatches and Harbour update - posted 26/04/14

BREAKING NEWS – The Barn Owls have hatched their first chick; watch all the action unfold LIVE HERE. No exotics over the last few days but still plenty about. Starting off on Upton Heath where 1 Wheatear, 1 Cuckoo and the first Dartford Warbler fledglings were noted. At Greenland’s Farm 1 Cuckoo, 20 Wheatear, 2 Whitethroat and 3 Whimbrel. At Middlebere 6 Spoonbill are still around, 1 male Wigeon, 3 Whimbrel, and 162 Black-tailed Godwit. The 2 singing Nightingale at Corfe continue to battle it out. Regular observations of the Poole Harbour harriers by Peter Hadrill have confirmed that there now two separate pairs of Marsh Harrier present in the Wareham Channel with one female looking like she is already on eggs and the other still nest building. There is also another un-paired female about too. At Lytchett Bay 1 Whimbrel, 1 Wheatear, 2 Greenshank, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. At Swineham 3 drake Garganey were on one of the flooded pools along the main track and a Cuckoo was being perused by a Peregrine. Also at Swineham a 1st summer Little Gull, 1 Bearded Tit, 200+ Sand Martin and 4 Cetti’s Warbler. Finally at Brands Bay 8 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Cuckoo and 3 Common Tern.

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  • Garganey - Swineham floods - Peter Moore
  • Nightingale - Corfe - Peter Moore
  • Bar-tailed Godwit - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
Double Whammy - posted 24/04/14

This morning the day looked as if it was panning out to be a quiet day in the office, that was until I got a phone call from Nick Hopper stating that local birder Graham Armstrong had found a ‘large pipit’ at Greenlands Farm, Studland. The possibilities of a large pipit could be Tawny, Richards or Blyth’s Pipit; any of the three would be real Poole Harbour MEGA. Pipits are notoriously difficult to ID so time was taken going through all the features, and luckily the bird was calling quite often as it flew from feeding spot to feeding spot. As Graham was watching the bird Steve Smith (http://birdingpooleharbourandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk) made his way to help with the ID when he just happened to stumble on a Hoopoe feeding in a field not 100m away from where the Pipit was. Stuck in two minds he watched the Hoopoe briefly and called Graham who was still watching the pipit. The Hoopoe was ‘enjoyed’ for a few minuets before the pipit became the main focus again. By this point Graham was happy that the bird was indeed a Richards Pipit, not only exceptionally rare in Poole Harbour, but exceptionally rare anywhere in the country in spring!  The bird was re-found and enjoyed by a small number of birders who made their way to see it. I was lucky enough to see it and sound record the bird which is what you can hear in the recording below. The Pipit is the loud chheeeow you can hear every 2-3 seconds with Linnet calling in the background, and you can even hear Wheatear 'chacking' at the very end. Also at Greenlands Farm 50+ Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Whitethroat and 2 Stonechat. On Brownsea Lagoon the male Garganey remained and 7 Spoonbill. The 2 Nightingale were again singing at Corfe. At Lytchett Bay 1 Cuckoo, 8 Wheatear, 1 Redstart, 3 Whimbrel, and 1 Greenshank. There were 3 Wheatear at Holes Bay. At South Haven 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Tree Pipit and 2 Whimbrel whilst at Swineham GP a 1st summer Little Gull was present. Finally, it looks as though one of the female Marsh Harriers could be incubating as a food pass was witnessed today with the bird returning straight back down to the nest site. There are still 2 other ‘active’ females so who knows how many will settle in the end?

You can view videos taken today of the Hoopoe also Wheatear and Yellow Wagatil by clicking HERE

 Richards Pipit flight call - Greenlands Farm 24/04/14


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  • Hoopoe - Greenlands Farm - Steve Smith
  • Richards Pipit - Greenlands Farm - Steve Smith
  • Hoopoe - Greenlands Farm - Joe Mitchell
A Treat For The Ears - 22/04/14

The last few days has provided a chorus of birdsong from all corners of the harbour. Wherever you go there seems to be a bird giving 110% from the bottom of its lungs as it tries its best to impress a mate. Starting at Swineham where both Reed and Sedge Warbler are well and truly established and Blackcap seem to fill every hedgerow. There are now 3-4 Marsh Harrier off Swineham point with nest building continuing as the odd ‘drifting’ bird passing through. On the gravel pits a 1st summer Little Gull, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Pochard, and 2 Little Grebe. There was also a big arrival of hirundines over the ‘stilt pools’ with around 300-400 Sand Martin with a few Swallow and House Martin mixed in and 3 Swift, 3 Wheatear, 1 Cuckoo and 6 Cetti’s Warbler around Bestwall. Also 6 Spoonbill on the stilt pools.  At Lytchett Bay there was 1 Little Ringed plover, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Greenshank, 6 Wheatear and bizarrely a drake Pintail.  An Osprey was on the Middlebere pole again but wasn’t seen yesterday. In Brands Bay still 1 Grey Plover, 95 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 8 Knot with Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin all passing through. Up on the edge of the Corfe Ridge 2 Nightingale were in full voice along with 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 4 Stonechat, 5 Yellowhammer and 2 Tawny Owl. Up on Hartland Moor there were 5 Wheatear and 1 Cuckoo.

Some additional news from today where on Brownsea there were 2 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Dunlin, 4 summer plumage Grey Plover, 7 Spoonbill, 1 Ringed Plover, 11 Common Tern, 40+ Sandwich Tern, 1 Sanderling, 4 Greenshank, 7 Wheatear (on the lagoon wall), 10 Brent Geese, 6 Shoveler, 3 Avocet, 2 Yellow-legged Gull and a few Bar-tailed Godwit. At Lytchett Bay this evening 2 Whinchat, 1 Redstart, 38 Wheatear and 3 Common Sandpiper as well as many Sand Martin and House Martin

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  • Pintail - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Yellow Wagtail - Upton - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 19/04/14

Lots of pleasant birding going on around the harbour over the last few days with migrants still coming through and birds getting busy for the breeding season. Highlights (in chronological order) have included 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Wheatear and 1 Whimbrel at Lytchett Bay, also six species of Warbler at Swineham including Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 3 each of Reed and Sedge Warbler, 5 Cetti’s Warbler and a Blackcap, also there 4 Bearded Tit, 2 Marsh Harrier a Barn Owl.  Out on Arne Moors a female Merlin was present along with a Wheatear. Up on Hartland Stud 2 Red-legged Partridge were found and even more incredibly Grey Partridge were discovered on private land in the Frome Valley, a true Poole Harbour rarity! An Osprey spent two days on the post in the Middlebere Channel. At Lytchett Bay yesterday 3 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, 94 Shelduck and 1 Snipe and today 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler, Bullfinch and 4 Med Gull. Up on Ballard 1 Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler and a ‘Sibe’ Chiffchaff were present. Our ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ field trip around Sunnyside Farm and Soldiers Road came up trumps with 1 Woodlark, 2 Dartford Warbler, 1 Marsh Harrier, 8 Willow Warbler, numerous Swallow and House Martin, 5+ Linnet, 4 Stonechat plus Chiffchaff, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and a Cetti’s Warbler in the Sunnyside car park.

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  • Swallow - Arne
  • Osprey - Arne/Middlebere
  • Wheatear - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
Spring Delights - posted 16/04/14

After weeks of moaning (by me) spring migration is in full swing and after the weekends Black-winged Stilt excitement more and more of the commoner migrants are popping up all over the harbour. Up on Hartland a Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat and Cuckoo were all seen, along with good numbers of Swallow passing through. At Swineham and Lytchett Bay Reed Warbler can now be heard singing. At Soldiers Road a Ring Ouzel was out on one of the fields along with a Wheatear. Another Ring Ouzel was seen in fields below the main viewpoint along the Studland to Corfe Road. There seems to be Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff wherever you go and 5 House Martin flew over Poole Park. A Little Gull continued to hawk over Swineham GP. At Lytchett Bay 3 Greenshank were present along with 3 Spoonbill, which are probably from the group of 10 that are still present in the harbour. On the Brownsea Lagoon 5 Spotted Redshank, 10 Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 6 Avocet, 1 Whimbrel and reasonable numbers of Black and Bar-tailed Godwit. A Hobby was seen over Hartland Moor mid afternoon and a pair of Garganey were found on the Brownsea Lagoon. Click HERE for a short clip of this morning’s Ring Ouzel at Soldiers Road. (It was quite far away)!

Ring Ouzel - Soldiers Road

Stilts Stay - 13/04/14

No surprise that most sightings came from the Swineham area today where the two Black-winged Stilt remained giving great views to the many birders that visited today. Firstly, if visiting tomorrow please stick to the public footpaths and don’t trespass onto the fields where the birds are as its all-private land.  They stayed pretty stationary all day despite a couple of fly abouts before landing back on the their favoured pools, and they were even photographed mating early this morning! Click HERE to watch a short video of one of the Stilts at Swineham today. Also in the Swineham area 2 Little Gull were on the main GP, 3 Marsh Harrier were in the area, 4 Reed Warbler and 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Cuckoo, 100+ Swallow, 1 Pochard, 4 Shoveler, 10+ Cetti’s Warbler and a Peregrine

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  • Black-winged Stilt - Swineham
  • Common Cranes - Stoborough - Nick Hopper (11/04/14)
  • Black-winged Stilts mating - Swineham - Ian Ballam
Cranes and Stilts - posted 12/04/14

Spring migration really got exciting over the last couple of days firstly with 3 Common Cranes seen flying up the Frome Valley from Stoborough yesterday, unfortunately disappearing before they could be enjoyed by anyone else. However, late this afternoon another great spring species was discovered when not one but TWO Black-winged Stilts were found on the flooded fields of Swineham/Bestwall on the Bestwall river walk. This species has only ever been recorded in the harbour twice before with the last observation being in 1978! This goes to show that it’s well worth getting out at the moment as you just don’t know what’s round the next corner. Also at Swineham big pules of Swallow were going through and a Wheatear and 1 Willow Warbler were present. A Red Kite flew past Corfe Castle.  Blackcap and Willow Warbler are very evident right across the harbour at the moment with birds singing from many a hedgerow. Be on the look out this week for Whitethroat returning as this is ‘the week’ they start to arrive en mass.  

Black-winged Stilts - Swineham - Paul Morton

Migrant Arrival - posted 10/04/14

April 10th always seems to be a good arrival date for spring migrants and the theory held true today. From all across the harbour a number of species arrived including a few firsts for the spring. Firstly a male Ring Ouzel flew north over Boarder Road, Lytchett Bay around 07:30am with 2 Wheatear and several Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap all fresh in at other areas of the bay. At Hartland Moor a male Redstart was along the Arne to Corfe Road with 2 Wheatear and again a decent number of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap and at Swineham the years first Reed Warbler was seen along with the male Garganey, 4 Little Grebe and yet again more Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap. From Swineham yesterday evening the Black-necked Grebe was still present and a 1st summer Little Gull dropped in, also 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 Sandwich Tern, 1 Common Sandpiper 100 Sand Martin and 5 Swallow. From Swineham Point 400 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Curlew, and 1 Spotted Redshank were counted. In Middlebere an Osprey spent a lot of the day sat in the dead trees opposite the NT hide whilst 2 Spoonbill were in the channel. From Lytchett Bay yesterday 3 Bearded Tit were photographed including the embedded photo below taken by Ian Ballam and also a spring record count of 5 Green Sandpiper was noted.

Don't forget, BoPH’s Paul Morton will be hosting a talk at the Upton Community Centre tonight at 19:30. The topic of the talk will be…. ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’s first year’, what have we and the birds achieved? Why not come along for an interesting update on the work they’ve carried out in their first year as a charity.

Finally, we have now switched the Tern Camera on the Brownsea Lagoon which can now be viewed on our website simply by either clicking on the Webcams Tab at the top of the page or by clicking HERE. Over the next 4 weeks, more and more Common and Sandwich Terns will begin to arrive, settle and breed on the islands just in front of the camera. Last year was full of many highs and lows, but with the DWT fencing and re-fencing some of the Tern Islands then we should hopefully see a rise in the number of terns that fledge. Both the Brownsea Cam and Barn Owl Cam should hopefully be available to watch on iPad over the coming days. We'll keep you posted.

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  • Bearded Tit - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Wheatear - Ian Ballam
  • Great Crested Grebe - Swineham
Poole Harbour Update - posted 07/04/14

The weather this weekend didn’t leave much room for birding however Swineham received a good deal of attention yesterday and with decent reward too. Firstly a drake Garganey was discovered in amongst the small Teal flock on the GP, and then later on in the afternoon a full summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe. Sand Martin numbers rose to around 60 and 16 Swallow moved through. Also 7 Cetti’s Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 24 Med Gulls, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Common Tern on GP and another 4 in the Wareham Channel, 5 Marsh Harrier, 4 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1030 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bearded Tit, 1 Blackcap and 1 Pochard. A Hobby was seen flying over Stoborough Heath and At Lytchett Bay 43 Curlew, 2 Gadwall and 1 Green Sandpiper were the highlights.

On Thursday 10th April, BoPH’s Paul Morton will be hosting a talk at the Upton Community Centre at 19:30. The topic of the talk will be…. ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’s first year’, what have we and the birds achieved? Why not come along for an interesting update on the work they’ve carried out in their first year as a charity.

Finally there are still a couple of places left for the next field trip – Spring bird song at Soldiers Road and Sunnyside Farm on Saturday 19th April. For full details click HERE

Poole Harbour Snippets - posted 04/04/14

The harbour was full of good birds today, including some new arrivals as well as few long stayers. Starting at Holton Lee where Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were very active out on the heathland whilst in the woodland a flock of 8 Lesser Redpoll were feeding high in the trees. At Swineham a male Scaup was on the gravel pits along with a newly arrived Common Tern, also 1 Pochard, 2 Great Crested Grebe and 7 Sand Martin 8 Gadwall whilst at Swineham Point 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 Bearded Tit and 3 Willow Warbler were present, and a minimum of 10 Cetti’s Warbler were vocally active in the area. At Middlebere 150+ Black-tailed Godwit were in the channel and 6 Common Buzzard were viewable from the NT Hide. Incredibly the Yellow-browed Warbler is still at Knoll Beach, Studland also out in Studland Bay 1 Great Northern Diver, 11 Sandwich Tern and 5 Bottle Nosed Dolphins. In Brands Bay the Surf Scoter was with 11 Red-breasted Merganser. Finally, can we please ask that you follow THIS LINK to Chris Packhams webpage where he invites you watch live on his YouTube channel the atrocities that are taking place down in Malta this spring. Spring Hunting in Malta is an illegal act that kills hundreds of thousands of birds each year but yet continues to be ignored by the powers that be. Chris and his team of volunteers are looking to show you first hand what is really going on down there in the hope that the world (or at least Europe) stands up and takes note.

Barn Owl Webcam Goes Live - posted 01/04/14

We’re pleased to announce that today the public funded Barn Owl Webcam went live on our website. Click HERE to view the birds who are now already on 3 eggs! Although feeling very spring like there are still plenty of wintering birds around with the Surf Scoter present close in off Jerry’s Point along with 4 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe and 15 Red-breasted Merganser. Off Middle Beach still one Great Northern Diver and 2 Eider along with 6 Sandwich Tern. At Arne there is still 20+ Spoonbill, with some in breeding plumage and venturing around most parts of the harbour….is this the year they think about staying to breed? Who knows! A handful of Willow Warbler and Blackcap are beginning to trickle through with 2 of the latter ringed in Poole yesterday morning. A ringed Blackcap was also caught which was first ringed at the same site on the 19th of April last year again showing that some birds are following the exact same migration routes each spring. On the Brownsea Lagoon there are still at least 2 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Avocet and 7 Greenshank. Finally click HERE for a short piece of footage of one of the Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Bay on Sunday.

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