June 2014

Harbour Update - posted 29/06/14

This weekend saw us host our first ever ‘BoPH’ Big Nightjar weekend which the RSPB kindly allowed us to host at Arne RSPB reserve. The two walks hosted on Friday and Saturday night were a huge success with around 40 members of the public being dazzeled by some great Nightjar activity with roughly 10 heard and 4 or 5 seen. Also seen over the two walks were 7 Spoonbill, Barn Owl, Dartford Warbler, 5 Woodlark, 1 Hobby, 2 Brown Hare, 2 Glow Worm and 1 Fox. If you missed out this time round don’t worry, our second weekend in this event is being hosted on the weekend of July 25th and 26th so to book on click HERE. A daytime walk was also hosted at Arne with a heathland focus and an amazing 15+ Dartford Warbler were seen in one small area mostly consisting of newly fledged juveniles. Although this is an impressive total, it’s actually replicated in slightly smaller totals across all Dorset’s heathlands this time of year as numerous family parties gather together to feed. It’s been fairly busy elsewhere in the harbour starting at Swineham where there is still a vocal Cuckoo also there a family party 8+ Bearded Tit off the point, a family group of 5 Kestrel, 17 Great Crested Grebe on the main pit, 2 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 14 Lapwing, 4 Cetti’s Warbler, a the Marsh Harrier adults still busy attending their young.  At Lytchett Bay there are now 2 Spotted Redshank, 6 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 150+ Black-tailed Godwit and a calling Nightjar.  On Brownsea 21 Redshank, 53 sitting Common Tern, 2 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel and a Yellow-legged Gull chick on the verge of fledging. At Sunnyside Farm there was another decent sized flock of 6 Woodlark, also another calling Cuckoo and newly fledged Stonechat

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  • Dartford Warbler - Arne - Roger Starbuck
  • Woodlark - Sunnyside Farm - David Whalley
  • Stonechat fledgling - Sunnyside - David Whalley
Harbour Update - posted 26/06/14

Still fairly quiet on the birding front, but waders continue to arrive in good numbers. In the Middlebere Channel 135+ Curlew were present which is a notable late June total, also 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Sandwich Tern and a Nightjar heard over at Arne. At Lytchett Bay there were 7 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit and still numerous Lapwing

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  • Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Heron - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Swallow - Arne - Digi-scoped using a Swarovski ATX 85mm
  • Teal - French's Farm - Digi-scoped using a Swarovski ATX 85mm
Harbour Update - posted 24/06/14

The Great White Egret was again reported over Coombe Heath on sunday evening. Waders continue to arrive/pass through with 3 Green Sandpiper at Lytchett Bay, 60+ Black-tailed Godwit, 25+ Lapwing including mostly newly fledged birds that have moved in to the area from nearby breeding sites, 1 summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, 11 Redshank, 1 female Shoveler 2 Sandwich Tern and a Common Tern. At Middlebere the male Marsh Harrier passed through also there 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 86 Curlew, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank. At Holes Bay 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Little Egret and a handful of Oystercatcher, Shelduck and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. On Brownsea 1 Spoonbill, 1 Brent Goose, 12 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Curlew, 4 broods of Oystercatcher and some nearly fledged Sandwich Tern chicks!

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  • Green Sandpiper - French's Farm - Ian Ballam
  • Lapwing - French's Farm - Ian Ballam
  • Common Tern - Brownsea Quay
Birds of Poole Harbour - BIG NIGHTJAR WEEKEND

Weather forecast looks stunning for our first ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ Big Nightjar Weekend at the fabulous Arne RSPB Reserve. Still a few places available for the evening of Saturday 28thJune. To BOOK or for more information click HERE  


Harbour Update - posted 22/06/14

More evidence of wader movements over the last few days as both Brownsea and Lytchett Bay see new birds arrive. At Lytchett Bay there were 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, including a colour ringed individual (can’t wait to see where that was ringed) also 30 Lapwing, 1 Spotted Redshank, 74 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Curlew, 17 Teal and 8 Redshank. On Brownsea 1 Spoonbill, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, and adult Yellow-legged Gull causing mayhem with the Black-headed Gulls. Up on Slepe Heath a Cuckoo was seen harassing some Magpies or visa versa, also there 3 Tree Pipit, 1 Woodlark, 1 Dartford Warbler and a family party of Stonechat.

The attached video is of the Cuckoo taking a rest from its brawl with the Magpies up on Slepe Heath

Recorded using a Swarovski ATX 85mm

Harbour Update - posted 20/06/14

Birds continue to move through the area either as very late migrants, failed breeders or finished breeders. Today 2 Little Tern were on the Brownsea Lagoon, a species that can be really tricky to catch up with in Poole Harbour. Also on the lagoon today 2 Spoonbill, 1 Brent Goose, 180+ Oystercatcher, female Teal with young, 5 Shoveler, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, 2 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and a Roseate Tern in the evening roost. At Lytchett Bay a fine summer plumaged Spotted Redshank also 8 Redshank, 68 Black-tailed Godwit and 15 Teal

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  • Spotted Redshank - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Spotted Redshank - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Newly fledged Stonechat - Holton Lee
Harbour Update - posted 19/06/14

The heat is keeping many birds low and hidden in the shade, but still a few sightings came in. We hosted a Nightjar walk at Arne last night with lovely views as birds flapped low overhead and churring surrounded us 360 degrees. Don’t forget to book on to one of our up and coming Nightjar walks at Arne by clicking HERE for details. In the Middlebere Channel a single Spoonbill was feeding and another 2 were on the Brownsea Lagoon. Out off Old Harry the Peregrine chicks have fledged with 3 young. At Lytchett Bay there are still 200+ Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the flooded fields, also there 15 Teal, 5 Lapwing, 10+ Redshank, 14 Gadwall and 1 Green Sandpiper. Out in Studland Bay there was single Razorbill and 1 Gannet.

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  • Woodlark - Holton Lee - Dave Easton
  • Yellowhammer - Corfe River Valley
  • Redshank - Lytchett Bay
Harbour Update - posted 17/06/14

Another warm but breezy day saw the female Garganey still at Lytchett Bay, also there now a male and female Pintail, 12 Gadwall, 234 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Teal, 2 Lapwing and a Marsh Harrier. At Holton Lee a group of 5 Woodlark were feeding together, also there, 3 Dartford Warbler, several newly fledged Stonechat and a Tree Pipit. The Barn Owls have been quite active around Middlebere presumably currently feeding young. Both Marsh Harrier nests in the Wareham Channel seem to be doing well, with the expected fledge date of the ‘alpha’ nest to be in around two weeks.

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  • Barn Owl - Middlebere - John Watson
  • Juvenile Redshank - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Marsh Harrier - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 16/06/14

Having just returned from holiday I was happy to hear that the Great White Egret was seen on a couple of occasions proving its still in the area after a short absence. Sighting from Middlebere and Holmebridge also highlights how far and wide this bird is traveling to feed….unless there is more than one of course? Another highlight came from Lytchett Bay where after a twenty-year absence another Garganey showed up, this time a female making that two in two weeks! Also at Lytchett Bay a strange June record of a drake Pintail, the autumns first Green Sandpiper, also 25 Redshank, 28 Lapwing, 11 Teal and 2 Shoveler. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was photographed at Holton Lee, which is a great Poole Harbour record. 

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  • Garganey, female - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Pintail, drake - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Lesser-spotted Woodpecker - Holton Lee - Dave Easton
Harbour Update - posted 10/06/14

Last night we ringed the Swineham Barn Owls of which there are four. You can view them in their box HERE, which now has new night vision and audio. From what we could see all four were likely females so lets hope one gets found again in the future to confirm our thoughts. As we were ringing a Nightjar, 2 Cuckoo and a Hobby flew past. We must thank Lake Views B&B again for their cooperation in allowing us to erect our Barn Owl box up in one of their barns, this has been a hugely successful project. There’s been little else from around the harbour other than plenty of churring Nightjar on a night jaunt last night. Peregrine Falcons are have been regular occurrence this summer with two birds seen yesterday, one over Poole town centre and another carrying a prey item over Wareham showing there could be numerous breeding birds locally. At Lytchett Bay there were 164 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin, 2 Lapwing and 6 early returning Teal.


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  • Barn Owl Chick - Lake Views B&B Swineham
  • One of the chicks being ringed
  • Barn Owl Chick - Lake Views B&B Swineham
Barn Owl chicks receiving food at Swineham - posted 10/06/14

Last night we (Stour Ringing Group) ringed the Barn Owl chicks at Swineham, which I will write about later. However, about an hour after we had finished I sat in the dark with my recording gear, sound recording the adults coming back and forth with food. In this recording you can initially hear standard begging calls that occur once every second or so, and then as you can see on the sonagram at 13 seconds an adult enters the box, the squabbling begins and the begging calls speed right up. 

BoPH Big Nightjar Weekends - posted 09/06/14

Don’t forget to book on to one of the up and coming ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ Big Nightjar Weekends in partnership with Arne RSPB reserve. To view dates and booking detailed CLICK HERE

Harbour Update - posted 08/06/14

The summer doldrums are starting to kick in with many birds busy feeding or incubating young and migration coming to an almost complete stop. Still, we’re lucky here in Dorset to have some of the most unique breeding birds in the country so its still always a pleasure to get out a watch some of our ‘familiar locals’. At Holton Lee a feeding group of 3 Woodlark could show successful breeding at the site. Also there singing Tree Pipit, 3 Dartford Warbler, 1 Hobby, juv Stonechat, 2 Linnet and the first mix-Tit flock of the season with a combined total of 20 Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tit. At Lytchett Bay 2 passage Dunlin were on the private wet fields, also the Redshank chicks continue to grow with at least 8 adults present….more young to come? Juv Grey Heron and 200 Black-tailed Godwit were also at Lytchett Bay. Local Harrier watcher Peter Hadrill has confirmed that both Marsh Harrier nests have hatched young meaning that the male who is ‘servicing’ both females is certainly going to be a busy boy over the next few weeks. It seems Redshank are also breeding up on Hartland as two birds were seen, one perching on telephone pole, and the other balancing on the wire! A Red Kite also drifted over Hartland yesterday and 3 Hobby were present. 2 Tree Pipit were singing up on Slepe Heath and 3 Willow Warbler are still holding territory along Soldiers Road. 

Information Update - posted 05/06/14

Having spoken to the gentleman who photographed the Short-toed Eagle at Arne on Saturday morning, it seems the time on his camera was out of sync by 1 hour and the photo was actually taken at 10:10am and not 09:10am as originally thought. This makes perfect sense now, as the last photo my group took of the bird upon the discovery was 9:59am proving the bird left Morden Bog and flew straight to Arne where it may have possibly stayed to feed for the morning before returning to Morden Bog later that day.  

Harbour Update - posted 04/06/14

Well it looks like there has been an interesting development in the Short-toed Eagle saga, with the revelation that the bird had been photographed flying over Arne about twenty minutes before its discovery at Morden Bog. A visitor to Arne on Saturday morning unassumingly photographed a large bird of prey gracefully drifting over Coombe Heath, Arne and didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until they saw the news story of the eagles discovery that they decided to contact Birdguides and send them the photos, which they did this morning. The photos look good and the timings seem right so it looks as if we’ll be able to add Short-toed Eagle to the Poole Harbour list, which is fantastic. Another interesting development is that the presumed Grey-headed Wagtail up on Ballard on the same day as the eagle is looking like it could well be the suspected species meaning it would be a first for Poole Harbour and only the 7th for Dorset. These Yellow Wagtail sub-species can be really tricky to identify, but local birder Steve Smith does a great job in analysing his discovery on his blog Birding Poole Harbour and Beyond. Finally, Lytchet Bay this morning saw a drake Garganey land on the private wet fields to the north which may not sound that incredible, however it’s the first to occur at the site in exactly 20 years highlighting the fact that if you create the correct habitat then the birds will come!

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  • Grey-headed Wagtail - Old Harry - Steve Smith
  • Grey-headed Wagtail - Old Harry - Steve Smith
  • Garganey - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 01/06/14

Thankfully, THANKFULLY the Short-toed Eagle decided to sleep tight at Morden Bog on Saturday night and as daylight broke and the Eagle opened its eyes it was welcomed by the sight of some 500 birders looking back at it. Un-phased it sat tight from first light (04:30am) to around 10am where upon it decided there was enough warmth and a decent thermal to lift it up, up and away never to be seen again….yet! Amongst the excitement of the Eagle, there was some other news. Steve Smith found a probable female Grey-headed Wagtail up on Old Harry, where there was also 2 Eider Duckoff shore. Now for some more Eagle photos ;-)

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  • Short-toed Eagle - Morden Bog - Paul Thompson
  • Short-toed Eagle - Morden Bog - Paul Thompson
  • Short-toed Eagle - Morden Bog - Paul Thompson
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