August 2014

Harbour Update - posted 31/08/14

There was a nice selection of species seen in the harbour over the last couple of days, which I will write a full report on tomorrow. However, the main highlight today was a Black Kite that drifted low over Slepe and Hartland then over towards Middlebere. Black Kite are a rare bird in Dorset with possibly only one possibly two records a year. It seems there are also 3+ Osprey in the harbour at the moment with the post in Middlebere holding two feeding birds today.

Harbour Update - posted 29/08/14

Osprey passage is really picking up with 3 in the Wareham Channel yesterday, one in Lytchett Bay this morning and another sat on the Middlebere post. Admittedly, there is probably some duplication somewhere but the most I’ve ever seen at once in Poole Harbour is 6! This was during the Arne Raptor Weekend in 2010, so maybe this year’s Raptor Weekend which is hosted on September 6th and 7th will beat the record? There are currently 5 different Marsh Harrier roosting in the harbour, including the adult male still. Also in the harbour lots and lots of Terns around, mainly Common and Sandwich Tern, but a juvenile Arctic Tern was at the harbour mouth this morning and hopefully the odd Black Tern will arrive over the coming weeks. Also out in Poole Bay today 2 Fulmar, 1 Peregrine, plenty more Terns and lots of Gannet, including one that entered the harbour and started fishing just off Brownsea! In Middlebere there was a whopping 26 Greenshank and 6 Spotted Redshank, which surely has to be a record. Out in Lytchett Bay a Little Stint was with Dunlin and also 2 Ruff there. 

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  • Whinchat - Hartland Moor - Hayden Lack
  • Whitethroat - Hartland Moor - Hayden Lack
  • Osprey - Middlebere - Hayden Lack
Harbour Update - posted 27/08/14

Like everyone else, I got easterly fever this morning so did a mini tour of the harbour before work starting at Greenlands around 5:45am. I personally thought things were a lot quieter today compared to recent weeks, but still a few things about. Greenlands Farm - Tawny Owl, light passage of Meadow PipitMiddle Beach - Masses of Terns out in Poole Bay, Gannet 10+, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 BlackcapHartland Moor - 200+ Linnet and Goldfinch flock, 1 Whinchat, 2 WhitethroatSlepe Heath - 4 Redstart, 2 Tree Pipit, 1 WhitethroatHartland Stud - 2 WheatearBaiter - Decent numbers of Common Tern, 3 Turnstone Harbour Mouth - Again, big numbers of Terns mainly Common Tern and a good number of Sandwich Tern. I'm sure if I spent longer there an Arctic or Black Tern would have popped up eventually. Arne - 1 Osprey sat on the Middlebere post for two hours. Middllebere - 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Redstart, 7 Yellow Wagatail, 2 Marsh Harrier, 4 Whitethroat and 2 Yellow-legged Gull. There are currently 3 Marsh Harrier going into roost in the Wareham Channel including a new adult male. 

Linnet and Goldfinch flock spooked by Sparrowhawk - posted 27/08/14

With autumn now in full swing, mixed finch flocks are beginning to form and can be seen feeding out in some of the farm fields and pastures around the harbour. At the moment its mainly Linnet and Goldfinch flocks that have formed but over the coming weeks and leading into October Chaffinch and Greenfinch numbers will also increase and species such as Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin will start to arrive. The below recording was made up on Hartland Moor this morning and its of a flock of around 200+ Linnet and Goldfinch that were spooked by a Sparrowhawk whilst feeding on the ground. 

Common Redstarts - Slepe Heath

With many migrant birds moving through the area it’s always a good idea to listen out for the sounds they make at this time of year, differing somewhat from their more obvious ‘spring songs’. Whilst out on Hartland this morning there were four Common Redstart interacting with each other, highlighting the range of sounds they make. In the recordings below there is firstly two birds calling to each other with their Willow Warbler like ‘hooweet’ call. In the second recording you can hear an adult male seeing off a younger bird with its harsh ‘tack’ and a series of ‘rattles’.

Common Redstart hooweet call. Two individuals Slepe Heath


Common Redstart tack and rattle - Male Slepe Heath 

Harbour Update - 25/08/14

Now the birds are on the move, many more sightings are starting to come in from right around the harbour. Starting in Brands Bay where there were 8 Teal, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 329 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel and 54 Dunlin. An Osprey flew over Oakdale, Poole yesterday. Waders on Brownsea consisted of 44 Avocet, 3 Sanderling, 10 Knot, 65 Little Egret and 1 Spotted Redshank as well as good numbers of Redshank, Dunlin and several Ringed Plover, also a Golden Pheasant was seen.  Up on Coombe Heath, Arne there were 2 Osprey, 3 Spoonbill in Middlebere, 1 Peregrine, 4 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear and Dartford Warbler. Also in Middlebere 1 Ringed plover, 3 Knot, 1 Dunlin and 2 Wheatear and 2 Whinchat along the lane.  At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Knot, 21 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 20+ Yellow Wagtail. There were also 5 Yellow Wagtail up on Hartland Stud. 

Harbour Update - 22/08/14

Migrants continue to arrive into the Poole Harbour area with many areas seeing good numbers of common migrants. Up around Hartland/Soldiers Road today a minimum of 7 Redstart were counted, along with 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Tree Pipit and many Willow Warbler. At South Haven there were 10+ Whitethroat, a species that don’t breed in that area so are all definitely migrants also 2 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Wheatear, 6 Willow Warbler and a handful of Swift. In a stubble field near Upton 2 Barnacle Geese were with a flock of Canada Geese (bit early to be thinking of winter geese)! At Lytchett Bay there was a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper and Ruff. Yellow Wagtail are now beginning to pass through too with birds recorded at Arne, Holton Lee and Sunnyside Farm. Tree Pipit are also noticeable too as they pass overhead early mornings with their diagnostic rasping call. A new male adult Marsh Harrier arrived in the harbour this moring.

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  • Barnacle Goose - Upton - Ian Ballam
  • Yellow Wagtail - Holton Lee - Ian Ballam
  • Dunlin - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update – posted 19/08/14

Well I’m back from the Birdfair now, having been there since Thursday last week and am looking forward to some good birding over the next few months. Things are certainly picking up now, and a walk around any heathland or scrubland could produce a whole cast of migrants. Take my trip around Hartland this morning for example, which started off with a handful of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, but as the walk progressed I was treated to 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 4 Tree Pipit, 3 Whitethroat, 6 Woodlark, 4 Dartford Warbler and an Osprey fishing in the Wareham Channel! And to top it off, just down the road at Arne there was a Pied Flycatcher and 4 Spoonbill in the Middlebere Channel. Waders are still passing through with2 Ruff and 3 Ringed Plover at Lytchett Bay. There was a Spotted Redshank Brownsea. 

Harbour Update – posted 15/08/14

Firstly, I am currently up at the Birdfair in Rutland for the weekend and will be hosting a talk on our new Birds of Poole Harbour Charity on sunday morning at 10:30am in the Anglian Water bird watching Centre. If you’re up this way then please drop in.

Now some bird news, a Great White Egret was found in the small area of rush, from the boardwalk at South Haven Studland, it was re-found and then lost again, but could quite easily still be hanging around. Migrants are now arriving in bigger numbers as Redstart, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Wheatear are all being seen at various sites. Over the coming weeks, species like Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher should become easier to find too. 

Harbour Update - posted 10/08/14

Having been fairly wrapped up in a certain Hen Harrier campaign over the last few days my sightings blog seems to have gone slightly awry!

Well, a nice sea watch off Branksome this morning certainly added a bit of variation to the norm with 1 Arctic Skua, 3 Manx Shearwater, 1 Shearwater sp, 8+ Fulmar, 10+ Gannet, lots of Sandwich and Common Tern and 3 Common Scoter. Up on Slepe/Hartland there was a nice selection of migrants with 3 Wheatear, 2 Redstart, 3 Whitethroat, several Willow Warbler and still plenty of Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. In Middlebere there were 4 Spoonbill, 1 Osprey sat on the post, 10 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Barn Owl, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Willow Warbler and 1 Reed Bunting. There were also 2 Osprey feeding in the Wareham Channel again. 

Catching the Bug iBook Review – posted 07/08/14

Several years ago I met Mark Constantine for the first time at Arne RSPB reserve whilst he was out sound recording with his wife Mo. They had been out recording Dartford Warbler for his new Sound Approach title (un-named back then) Catching the Bug, and I was intrigued within seconds. I knew the Sound Approach’s first and very much ground-breaking title ‘The Sound Approach to Birding’, but was thrilled to hear that there was going to be a new book coming out that wasn’t just focused on sound, but also mainly focused on Poole Harbour…. AMAZING!

In 2012 the printed version of Catching the Bug was released and the Sound Approach including co-author Nick Hopper were yet again praised for another masterpiece. Two years down the line, time and technology have moved on and the Sound Approach have now started publishing their books digitally on iPad and the results are jaw dropping.

By bringing the Sound Approach on to this platform it allows them to interpret their sounds in the way they had always hoped. With the simple tap of the screen, or the swipe of your finger you invited in to an astonishingly well-crafted title that sits on the very brink of modern publishing. With their self-named eSonagrams, you can see the sounds as well as hear them, making the learning journey so much easier.

If you want to learn about Poole Harbour and its natural history then buy this book. If you want to learn about the fine details of Poole Harbours bird life then buy this book. If you want to be treated to 200 beautiful digital recordings then buy this book. If you love birds and love Poole Harbour…BUY THIS BOOK!

To purchase iPad version or to download a free sample CLICK HERE 

To purchase printed version CLICK HERE 


Harbour Update - posted 05/08/14

If you still haven’t seen Osprey yet this year then the Wareham Channel area seems the place to be at the moment. There are currently two hunting most mornings out in the middle of the channel which can be viewed from somewhere like Swineham, Rockley viewpoint, or Slepe Heath. From the Hartland, Slepe Heath area there was 3 Hobby, 1 Peregrine, 1 Redstart, 8 Woodlark, plenty of Dartford and Stonechat. At Swineham 1 Hobby was hunting over the main pit, also a few migrant Willow Warbler, several parties of Great crested Grebe, and a Wasp Spider. On the Brownsea Lagoon 59 Redshank, 15 Avocet, 9 Greenshank, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel and still some fledgling Common Tern. Over the last five days there has been a big movement of juvenile Sedge Warblers moving through the Poole Harbour reedbeds with a small handful of Grasshopper Warblers, beginning to show that many birds have had a good breeding season. 

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  • Osprey - Arne - Ben Scott
  • Nightjar - Arne - Ben Scott
  • Juvenile Willow Warbler - Poole
Harbour Update - posted 01/08/14

The low level cloud and early morning rain looked promising for a drop of migrants, and indeed one particular species certainly did arrive en mass through the reed beds at dawn. A three-hour ringing session in the north of the harbour produced a record breaking 232 birds, 191 of them Sedge Warbler. This was only a tiny percentage of the total amount of Sedge Warbler present with birds still passing through late afternoon. Its possible between 400-700 (even more?) passed through that area today. Two Osprey were again present in the Wareham Channel early on with both sets of Marsh Harrier young, which are now getting a lot more adventurous and wandering quite far and wide. In Holes Bay there was 122 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Gull, 4 Redshank and  1 Common Sandpiper.

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