July 2014

Harbour Update - posted 30/07/14

There was a nice selection of birds from around the harbour today. Starting off with two Osprey, one seen flying over the Upton bypass and another being mobbed in the Wareham Channel by a Peregrine. Holes Bay saw a good selection of waders including a Knot that was roosting with the 136 Black-tailed Godwit, also an adult Spotted Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and several Redshank. At Holton Lee there was a Garden Warbler, 5+ Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap and 5 Green Sandpiper. The Wood Sandpiper was again at Lytchett Bay also 1 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper and a Peregrine. There was also a report of 2 Otter in Middlebere this morning.

Middlebere Waders - posted 29/07/14

After our Nightjar walk on Saturday evening I ventured out to Middlebere in the pitch darkness to record waders out of the Middlebere hide. The activity was incredible with birds arriving and leaving the whole time I was sat there. In the recording you can even here the birds feeding as their bills sift through the mud. Obviously, the other challenge recording in total darkness is knowing what you’re actually listening too. Having listened back to my recordings several times I’ve managed to pick out a number of species. The most obvious are Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew, the prior creating that constant chattering sound and the latter resonating that all to familiar Curlew like cry. The highlight was a Curlew Sandpiper (or possibly several) which you can hear doing its familiar trill like call at 0.24, 0.29, 0.43, 0.59 and 1.11. Also in the recording is a Water Rail (0.46), Redshank and Herring Gull. The recording is best listened to with headphones.

Harbour Update - posted 27/07/14

Autumn migrants continue to pop up in various places as another Pied Flycatcher was feeding with 3 Willow Warbler and 3 Dartford Warbler on the Soldiers Road/Slepe Heath boarder. Willow Warbler on the whole are certainly more numerous with bright yellow juveniles tagging along with mixed tit flocks along tree lines on heaths and in woodlands all around the harbour. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll start seeing a real surge in migrants with the likes of Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Blackcap all passing through in good numbers. Looking on early, still mornings along hedgerows and field edges can really pay dividends, as you’ll often see mixed flocks containing several species feeding and moving through the bushes. On Brownsea little change but good variety with 65 Redshank, 16 Greenshank, 7 Avocet, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, 48 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 2 Common Sandpiper, and 300+ Oystercatcher. The Sandwich Terns on Brownsea haven’t faired so well this year with only 20 fledged juveniles compared to last years 110+. In Holes Bay a few Whimbrel can be found on the low tides along with 120+ Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Sandpiper. Finally some more good raptor news in that the second Marsh Harrier nest has produced 3 juveniles meaning that with the other 4 from nest one Poole Harbour has produced an incredible 7 young this year...FANTASTIC! 

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  • Pied Flycatcher - Slepe Heath
  • Sedge Warbler - Turlin Shore - Ian Ballam
  • Greenshank - Brands Bay
Harbour Update - posted 25/07/14

By far the most exciting news from today was the news that an adult Aquatic Warbler was ringed at Lytchett Bay. This is the 4th Aquatic Warbler at this site in four years, which is great considering there had been an almost 15 year gap for any Poole Harbour records. Aquatic Warbler is classed as globally threated as their breeding habitats in Eastern Europe are getting drained and disappearing at an alarming rate. Here’s hoping for some more easterly winds and some more of these striped beauties. On our Nightjar walk the rain gave everything a good soaking but we were treated to warm clear, mosquito filled skies. Several Nightjar were heard and we even managed to get one in the scope sat on a post 20m away from us. Also seen in the Middlebere Channel 6 Spoonbill, 1 Greenshank, 322+ Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Yellow-legged Gull and a Hobby, 475 Curlew were seen by another observer. The Bar-heaed Goose was in Poole Park again

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  • Aquatic Warbler - Lytchett Bay
  • Aquatic Warbler - Lytchett Bay - Shaun Robson
  • Aquatic Warbler - Lytchett Bay - Shaun Robson
Harbour Update - posted 24/07/14

Holes Bay is looking great at the moment on the rising and falling tides and I’m just waiting for something good to turn up there. Although unfortunately despite its close proximity to Poole Town Centre it’s a hugely under watched site. The NE corner tends to attract good numbers of birds but the rest of Holes Bay also needs covering quite often with historic records of Wilsons Phalarope and Collared Pratincole you never know what could be out there. I dashed down quickly on my lunch break and for a split second thought I had a Caspian Tern in my scope, but it wasn’t until a few heart stopping seconds later that I realised I was only watching a Common Tern, but with the heat haze intensely magnifying all the features. I did take a quick photo to highlight this, but didn’t realise at the time there was a great comparison taking place just below the Tern as a Whimbrel and Curlew walked past each other. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Wood Sandpiper.  A Redstart was up on Hartland, hopefully the first of many in the coming months, also 3 Woodlark, 4 Dartford Warbler and big numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin heading to the Swineham reedbed to roost. A Marsh Harrier seemed to be hunting around the Little Egret colony spooking them all, revealing 31 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron

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  • Common Tern, Curlew (middle), Whimbrel (below)
  • Wood Sandpipers - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Marsh Harriers - Swineham - Paul Thompson
Harbour Update - posted 23/07/14

It really has begun! Autumn migration is now underway with the first few migrants starting to drop into various places. This morning on the edge of Upton CP a Pied Flycatcher was found and 2 Garden Warbler were there yesterday. Juvenile Willow Warblers are cropping up in twos and three, but it won’t be long until a mass wave of these birds will pass through the area heading south. In Holes Bay there was 108 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel and 2 Common Tern. At Lytchett Bay the Spotted Crake was seen again and was joined by a Wood Sandpiper, although this area of Lytchett Bay is strictly private with no access. On the Brownsea Lagoon 27 Little Egret, 260 Oystercatchers, 72 Redshanks, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 9 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Avocet, 2 Dunlin, 1 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel and 3 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Gull and the Bar-headed Goose was reported again a Poole Park.

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  • Common Sandpiper - Swineham - Peter Moore
  • Juvenile Marsh Harrier - Swineham - Peter Moore
  • Yellow-legged Gull - Swineham - Peter Moore
Harbour Update - posted 20/07/14

A lazy quiet Sunday morning was suddenly turned into a day of excitement when a Spotted Crake was found sat in the base of a Willow Tree on private land in the north of the harbour. Although not unheard of, Spotted Crake tend to be found more so in August rather than July showing that birds may be on the move earlier this year due to a good breeding season. At Swineham the juvenile Marsh Harrier have finally emerged from nest 1, with four beautiful youngsters regularly playing and talon locking over the tops of the reeds. We’re still waiting to see how many young come out of nest site 2, but its thought no less than two at the moment. Also at Swineham out on the main pit 4 eclipse drake Pochard were unusual, along with 8 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe ad 9 Tufted Duck. A late piece of info from Tuesday last week of a 1st summer Eider sat on a rock off Old Harry. Along Soldiers Road 2 lovely lemon yellow juv Willow Warbler were calling away and 2 Woodlark were feeding along the side of the road and a Dartford Warbler seemed to still be food carrying to a nest site.  At Lytchett Bay 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Lapwing and 8 Sedge Warbler.

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  • Spotted Crake - Ian Ballam - Frenches Farm
  • Swineham Harrier family - Paul Thompson
  • 1st Summer male Eider - Old Harry - Ben Scott
Harbour Update - posted 18/07/14

Holes Bay was looking good this morning with a nice range of waders feeding out on the mud at low tide. If you look at Holes Bay on a map, we’re normally referring to the north-east section of the bay when reporting our sightings. Today there was a feeding flock 13 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 summer plumage Turnstone, 6 Redshank, 1 Whimbrel, 63 Black-tailed Godwit, 29 Curlew, 1 Kingfisher and many Lesser Black-backed Gull. At Swineham there were 3 Marsh Harrier present, but still no obvious sign the young are ready to leave the nest sites, 3 Great Crested Grebe on the main pit and down at the point 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Cetti’s Warbler and 1 Bearded Tit. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel, 52 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 12 Lapwing and 32 Teal.


Herring Gull Madness – posted 18/04/14

There has been quite a din outside my office all day, and it wasn’t until I looked out the window that I finally saw why. A young Herring Gull had fallen off my office roof and was wandering up and down the (luckily) quiet street trying to figure out where to go. However, every time someone walked past the adults would dive bomb them and if they had a dog, god help them. This recording is of the adults carrying out a sustained alarm/warning call to anyone who dares walk past their chick.


For a true magical birding experience why not join us as there are still places available on our Big Nightjar weekend walks at Arne RSPB Reserve next weekend

Friday  25th July @ 8pm

Saturday 26th July @8pm

TO BOOK CALL 01202 641003 OR EMAIL


Harbour Update - posted 15/08/14

Few reports today but 5 Common Sandpiper under the Holes Bay railway bridge was notable. Also in Holes Bay 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Redshank and 8 Curlew.  A handful of Yellow Wagtail at Lytchett Bay are a sign of things to come over the next month or so.

Harbour Update - posted13/07/14

Despite the forecast the rain managed to avoid us (well, it missed me anyway) and it turned out to be stunning weekend in the end. Another ringing session in the north of the harbour saw the first returning Sedge Warblers ringed with 3 in total, also a juvenile Kingfisher, plenty of Reed Warbler, a Cetti’s Warbler and several Reed Bunting. The Brownsea Lagoon is starting to get busy as there were 305 Oystercatcher, 47 Redshank, 9 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper (plus an early morning count of 16!), 13 Little Egret and 15 Mediterranean Gull. Up on Hartland/Soldiers Road Woodlark were scattered in small feeding flocks with a total of 9 seen by Steve Smith along Soldiers Road and another 3 up on Hartland. Lytchett Bay is seeing good numbers of waders with 7 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 4 Snipe, 4 Green Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plover and 24 Lapwing.  

Harbour Update - posted 10/07/14

I received an excited text yesterday morning from one of the regulars on our ‘BoPH’ guided walks Barbara Bissett, explaining she was currently on the weekly Arne Wednesday walk and their group was watching an Osprey out in the Wareham Channel as another possible was drifting high overhead. This timing is pretty much spot on as we tend to start seeing the first autumn birds from mid July onwards. Its hard to say where these birds are coming from as they could either be failed breeders from further north already heading south, early fledged young looking for a decent place to feed for the next few weeks, or possibly a bird that’s not even attempted to breed and has just been touring the country all summer. We should hopefully see Osprey numbers steadily rise over the next six weeks with the Wareham and Middlebere Channel being the best places to look. I was also informed that on the same-guided walk, a Red Kite drifted low over Middlebere and good numbers of Dartford Warbler are still about with 6 Woodlark also seen feeding on a footpath. If you’ve never been on one of the FREE Arne Wednesday walks I can highly recommend them, they start at 10am every week rain or shine! Talking of texts, as I type I’ve just received news that the first glimpse of a Marsh Harrier chick has been noted off Swineham. Local Harrier water Peter Hadrill has been carefully monitoring both nests all summer and has been patiently waiting for fledging to take place. Now the first has been seen, activity should really increase over the coming weeks with hopefully the second nest showing signs of fledging soon too. There were 5 Spoonbill in the Middlebere Channel along with 100 Black-tailed Godwit and 50 Curlew. At Lytchett Bay there are still 3 Little Ringed Plover present, also 1 Spotted Redshank, 5 Green Sandpiper and two very funky looking Water Rail chicks. Autumn ringing has now got underway in the harbour with several sites up and running and it obvious already that local birds have had a good breeding year with good numbers of young birds about. You can read about this morning’s session HERE.


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  • Water Rail chick - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Spoonbill - Middlebere - Steve Smith
  • Little Ringed Plover - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 08/07/14

It won’t be long now until we start seeing the first returning Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers, Pied Flycatchers and Whitethroats of the autumn with birds beginning to head south from late July and early august onwards. There are already signs of passage with a mixed tit flock at Upton country park this morning containing around 10 Long-tailed Tit, 7+ Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap as-well as numerous Great and Blue Tit. Waders continue to arrive with 5 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 8 Green Sandpiper and 100+ Black-tailed Godwit at Lytchett Bay. Nightjars were observed at Holton Lee where Tree Pipit have managed to fledge young.  On Brownsea the majority of Sandwich Terns have now fledged with just a handful left feeding young, also some Common Terns are still sitting.  

Harbour Update - posted 06/07/14

A Hoopoe was discovered along Sandford Lane industrial estate in Wareham yesterday which is quite unusual for the time of year as you tend to expect to find them either in spring or less so in autumn. At Lytchett Bay there was 11 Green Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshank. On Brownsea a Spoonbill was feeding, also there 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank and 12 Black-tailed Godwit.

Harbour Update - posted 04/07/14

The Bar-headed Goose remains at Poole Park and despite its origin has attracted a small inquisitive number of people wanting to see one in Dorset! On the Brownsea Lagoon 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 135 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Brent Goose were present. At Lytchett Bay there were 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Spotted Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 17 Lapwing, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe and 16 Teal. It seems both Dartford Warbler and Woodlark have had good breeding seasons with double figure counts of the former and high single figure counts of the latter on many of the Poole Harbour heathlands. Hobby have been confirmed nesting at an undisclosed site and Spoonbills have been moving between Brownsea and Middlebere. 

Harbour Update - posted02/07/14

This morning started off with a strange sighting reported to me of a Bar-headed Goose that appeared in Poole Park. These stunning birds are a central Asian species often found at high altitude. However right across Europe, including the UK there are numerous feral populations that have developed from birds escaping/ being released from private collections, none the less still rare in Dorset, wild or not! At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Spotted Redshank, 33 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Lapwing, 16 Teal, 3 Gadwall and 4 Green Sandpiper. Its now been discovered that 2 of the 7 Spoonbill present are newly arrived adult birds, showing that even Spoonbill are now on the move for the autumn. A Turtle Dove was reported over Holes Bay. 


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  • Bar-headed Goose - Poole Park - Dave Easton
  • Spoonbill - Middlebere - Steve Smith
  • Little Ringed Plover - French's Farm, Upton - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 01/07/14

Wader species continue to arrive in the harbour on their way south. An RSPB survey at Lytchett Bay produced the following – 1 Little Ringed Plover, 12 Green Sandpiper, 120+ Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Lapwing, 8 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Snipe and 21 Curlew, along with 1 Shoveler and plenty of juvenile Black-headed Gulls. In Holes Bay north-east there were 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Curlew, 37 Canada Geese, 1 Common Tern, 2 Redshank and 8 Shelduck. On Brownsea 2 Avocet, 16 Redshank and 100+ Canada Geese.

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