November 2014

Harbour Update - posted 30/11/14

It was a fine, pleasant and mild day yesterday, which seemed to get a few birds singing. Up on Slepe Heath 2 Woodlark were in full song, along with plenty of active Dartford Warbler. Admittedly, Woodlark are early songsters often beginning to sing for territory as early as February, but late November is a bit of a coo! I also saw in the news this week that down on The Lizard in Cornwall they saw Frogspawn in some of their ponds….in November! At Swineham GP 2 redhead Goosander were present yesterday afternoon. A total of 34 Black-necked Grebe were counted around the Studland Peninsular with 26 off Middle Beach and 8 off Redhorn Quay. Also present off Redhorn 34 Great Crested Grebe, c60 Red-breasted Merganser and 12 Goldeneye. In Holes Bay there was 1 Spotted Redshank in the NW corner and 2 Sandwich Tern in NE corner. At Lytchett Bay 1 Spoonbill, 379 Lapwing, 4 Green Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier and Peregrine were present.  Out in the Wareham Channel 2 Marsh Harrier were hunting, along with a ringtail Hen Harrier.

Harbour Update - posted 28/11/14

The Short-eared Owl that was spotted on Hartland last week was seen again yesterday morning in roughly the same place, elsewhere add that to the 3 Hen Harrier, 8 Marsh Harrier, 2 Merlin and numerous Peregrine, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk and you could you’ve got yourself a pretty fine raptor list. From a school bird boat today 2 Common Scoter and 1 Great Northern Diver were out in central harbour, also plenty of Red-breasted Merganser, and Great Crested Grebe There were 9 Spoonbill on Brownsea and another 30+ on Shipstal. Brent Geese were feeding in good numbers in the fields around Middlebere and Wytch Lake. On Baiter Beach this morning there were 21 Ringed Plover feeding. A Great Grey Shrike was reported on Coombe Heath, Arne briefly which if we’re lucky should hang around….they normally do! Firecrests were in Stoborough, Arne and Knoll Beach, Studland. At Sandbanks 32 Sanderling were on the beach and 2 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes near the Haven Hotel. Lytchett Bay saw 4 Marsh Harrier and a Hen Harrier along with good totals of the usual waders out in the bay on a low tide. 

Harbour Update - posted 25/11/14

The Frome Valley is an under-watched area within the Poole Harbour boundary, mainly down to the fact that most of it consists of private land. However, having hosted plenty of good birds over the years…Woodchat Shrike, White Stork, Whooper and Bewick’s Swan and even Great Bustard, a good search around the public areas could come up trumps, as did yesterday when a pretty dull looking stubble field was found to contain no less than 17 Woodlark, 9 Yellowhammer, 4 Reed Bunting, 4 Stock Dove and 10 Chaffinch, with a neighbouring field holding 3+ more Woodlark and 35 Chaffinch. In Lytchett Bay this morning an adult male Hen and Marsh Harrier were present with a Peregrine, also 15 Red-breasted Merganser out in the Bay and 2 Black Swan.

Last year it was decided that the money raised from our monthly field trips would go towards a new Barn Owl box and webcam that would be streamed live on our website. The webcam was a huge success, and the Barn Owls raised 4 healthy chicks within their first year. This was a big boost for the areas struggling Barn Owl population, made possible only by the kind donations that were given to us over the year. You can watch the webcam HERE with the owls present in the box most of the day. Well, we’ve been thinking long and hard about the next conservation project we’d like to focus on, using money raised from this year’s field trips and events and we’ve finally made a decision. We’re still ironing out the plan, so can’t tell you too much just yet, but it’s a project that will definitely benefit birdwatchers and provide you with one more ‘stop off’ point during your bird watching tour of the harbour.  Watch this space……


Harbour Update - posted 24/11/14

Having been away for three days, it’s nice to catch up and hear what’s been seen over the weekend. Well it seems the Long-tailed Duck has been quite a crowd pleaser, showing off just a few meters off the groynes, to the left as you head out of the harbour mouth. From various reports it seems like it may enter the harbour on a low tide, and then head out to feed off the groynes on the higher tides. Either way, a good search between the harbour mouth and a few hundred meters along the beach should help you locate it. Highlights from the first RSPB Family Bird Boat of the winter produced 36 (43 later counted) Spoonbill on Shipstal Point , 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Common Scoter, 10 Goldeneye, 100 Avocet on Brownsea, 1 Sandwich Tern , 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Black Redstart on the Sunseeker buildings on Poole Quay. Near Swineham 5 Marsh Harrier were active at dusk, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a new grey male Hen Harrier and a Merlin were also present. Last night the Great White Egret came into roost on Littlesea with 51 Little Egret, most of which arrived in near darkness.

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  • Long-tailed duck - Harbour Mouth - Peter Moore
  • Long-tailed duck - Harbour Mouth - Sharon
  • Purple Sandpiper - Harbour Mouth - Peter Moore
Harbour Update - posted 20/11/14

The Long-tailed Duck was still only a few meters off the long groyne just outside the harbour mouth, giving great views for around 10 seconds at a time in-between dives. Out in central harbour a Marsh Harrier was a strange sight crossing the water and heading for Brownsea. There was a Great Northern Diver off Jerry’s Point, Studland and a Common Scoter off Goathorn Point. On Shipstal there were 20+ Spoonbill, with one feeding on the Brownsea Lagoon too. A Golden Pheasant was seen on the lawn of Furzey Island during a school bird boat.  Numbers of Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe still remain fairly low around the harbour.

Harbour Update - posted 19/11/14

This morning a Long-tailed Duck was found just outside the harbour mouth feeding 2 meters off one of the rocky groynes  giving great views. From a school bird boat trip today a Great Northern Diver was off Pottery Pier, Brownsea, 3 Black-necked Grebe were in-between Brownsea and Goathorn Point, 20+ Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point, Brownsea Lagoon hosted good numbers of Avocet, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. The lower Frome Valley is packed with birds at present and seems to be holding almost the whole Poole Harbour Black-tailed Godwit flock with 800+ just east of the Stoborough Causeway with 257 Lapwing and 31 Curlew, another 200+ Black-tailed Godwit at Bestwall and 2 Marsh Harrier there. Out on Arne Moors a ringtail Hen Harrier was hunting along with 2 Marsh Harrier, 52 Fieldfare passed overhead and there were (possibly the same as Bestwall) 200 Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the fields. The NE breeze produced a small bit of thrush movement at Lytchett Bay with Fieldfare 281, Song Thrush 41, Redwing 3, Thrush Sp (Song Thrush/Redwing) 73, Mistle Thrush 5. Swineham is also keeping busy with Chiffchaff 2, Cetti's Warbler 12, Goldcrest 9, Bullfinch 2, Pochard 9, Shoveler 19, Gadwall 50, Wigeon 5, Yellow-legged Gull 3 on the pit, Marsh Harrier 3 including a juv plucking something on the edge of the pit, Spotted Redshank 1 point, Greenshank 1 point, Pintail 19, flocks of 14 and 5 flew in from the direction of Holton, Brent Goose 5, Avocet 19 off the point, Med Gull 2 off the point, Common Gull 320 mouth of the Frome. At Hatch Pond 12 Snipe and 2 Water Rail were present in the short stubbled area of the reedbed.



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  • Long-tailed Duck - Harbour Mouth
  • Kestrel - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Red-breasted Merganser - Whitley Lake, Sandbanks - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 15/11/14

This morning was our monthly BoPH field trip, this month being held at Arne RSPB Reserve. Despite a bit of fog hampering our views early doors, it very quickly disappeared and we were treated to near perfect conditions with no breeze, mill pond like water, warm sunshine and great light. Arne is great right the way through the year, but winter can often prove to be the most productive time, and this morning’s list certainly compliments this theory. Just standing in the car park prior to the walk Fieldfare, Redwing, Firecrest, Nuthatch and Treecreeper were all logged. We then headed up onto Coombe Heath and towards Middlebere where Dartford Warbler, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Curlew, Redshank, Teal, Wigeon, Brent Geese and Shelduck all gave good views. We finished on Shipstal Point, where in idyllic conditions 1 Velvet Scoter, 1 Common Scoter, 5 Black-necked Grebe, 15+ Goldeneye, 80+ Great Crested Grebe, 30+ Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Lesser Redpoll and 2 Dartford Warbler were counted. In Brands Bay the Great White Egret was present again and a Great Northern Diver was off Jerry’s Point. At North Haven a Purple Sandpiper was again present with several Ringed Plover and a Black Redstart. A Black Redstart was on a house near the Tatnam, Poole. In Whitley Lake, Shore Road 23 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Sandwich Tern were on East Dorset Sailing Club pier. 

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  • Great Northern Diver - Jerry's Point - Simon Kidner
  • Dartford Warbler - Studland - Simon Kidner
  • Great White Egret - Brands Bay - Simon Kidner
Harbour Update - posted 14/11/14

As predicted the harbour is now starting to seem a bit busier with open water species such as Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes with the former now appearing in good numbers in the bays around the harbour entrance. A Great Northern Diver was out off Bramble Bush Bay and 3 Goldeneye were in Brands Bay. 4 Velvet Scoter that passed the harbour mouth, heading towards Studland Bay was a good record. Its possible they may have even of settled in Studland Bay somewhere. There was also a single Purple Sandpiper on the sea wall just in front of the Haven Hotel, and 8 Ringed Plover on rocks there. A Black Redstart was in outside my office window in Old Town Poole. A Ring Ouzel was along the Corfe River Valley. Off Branksome yesterday morning 20+ Gannet, 4 Razorbill, 6 Kittiwake and 6 Brent Geese passed by.  A Marsh Harrier passed over Slepe Moor and it was noted that Redwing and Fieldfare numbers are certainly increasing day by day. There were 4 Sandwich Tern in Brands Bay with a Merlin chasing pipit across there too. There were 26 Ringed Plover on Shell Bay Beach along with 5 Sanderling.

ADDITIONAL NEWS - A Short-eared Owl was seen on the eastern edge of Hartland Moor yesterday evening and 100+ Fieldfare were found roosting out in the heather there. There are still 2 ringtail Hen Harrier and 8 Marsh Harrier present in the harbour.

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  • Purple Sandpiper - North Haven
  • Black Redstart - Old Town Poole
  • Turnstone - Shore Road, Sandbanks
Harbour Update - posted 11/11/14

A magic moment this morning when during a Branksome sea watch a beautiful Short-eared Owl flew in off the sea right past us in conditions you wouldn’t even expect to see a duck in let alone an Owl. The bird fought its way across the beach and then up over the chine inland, which is something I’ve never witnessed before. I know Portland or Durlston sometimes see Short-eared Owl come in off the sea, but I would never have expected on at Branksome. This experience (only just) surpassed a moment that occurred only a minute previously when a Leach’s Storm Petrel bombed past our watch point heading west to east, before it vanished into the gloom. Other birds noted were a handful of Kittiwake, 2 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover, several Brent Geese and 2 Gannet. At Baiter the Brent flock is increasing with 292 today, 3 Sandwich Tern, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin and 6 Turnstone. At Lytchett Bay 6 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Chiffchaff.

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  • Turnstone - Baiter Park - Ian Ballam
  • Dunlin - Baiter Park - Ian Ballam
  • Grey Wagtail - Lytchett waterworks - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 10/11/14

Saturdays blow passed through pretty quickly and the hope that a Little Auk may get found in the harbour somewhere didn’t come to fruition, although there’s still plenty of time for that to happen. Starting with the Poole Harbour raptors there are still two ringtail Hen Harrier about, but it seems the male that was present for a short time last week has now moved through. 7 Marsh Harrier were seen leaving the roost and 2 Merlin were out over Arne Moors. In total there were 24 Black-necked Grebe counted with 23 in Studland Bay and 1 in Bramble Bush Bay, there were also 9 Common Scoter in Studland Bay, 3 Ring-necked Parakeet near Fort Henry and 3 Dartford Warbler near the toll booth at the chain ferry. The fields around Swineham, Bestwall and Arne Moors are extremely flooded at the moment and are holding good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing , Curlew, Graylag and Canada Geese. Along the old tram line up on Hartland there were 3 Ring Ouzel feeding in hawthorn along with newly arrived Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbird

Harbour Update - posted 08/11/14

The strong southerly wind that built up from the early hours looked good for a Branksome sea-watch, and after a combined effort from a handful of people there was a good four hours coverage spent watching from the beach huts. Over this time period a nice range of species were recorded in reasonable numbers, baring in mind this site is most definitely not a Dorset premier sea-watching spot, but can be quite productive in the right conditions. Totals included 4 Pomarine Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 5 Little Gull, 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Shearwater sp (likely Balearic), 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 18 Brent Geese, 11 Common Scoter, 5 Dunlin, 5 Shelduck, 2 Razorbill, 5 Auk sp, 11 Gannet, large numbers of Kittiwake, 2 Oystercatcher and 2 Curlew.  Out on Baiter there were 2 Sandwich Tern and 65 Brent Geese. At Arne, the Firecrest were active in the car park with at least 2 present, along with a Marsh Tit (rare here now) and a Brambling. Out in Studland Bay just 1 Common Scoter, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Med Gulls, and a few Brent Geese. Out in Brands Bay 1 Great White Egret, 5 Goldeneye, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Sandwich Tern, a late Swallow, 3 Pintail, 10 Black-necked Grebe and 13 Great Crested Grebe.

Harbour Update - posted 07/11/14

Not much to report on today other than having recently changed the design of our Barn Owl box and put in a new camera one of our Barn Owls has suddenly re-appeared after a 3-month absence. Hopefully this is the beginning of a re-colonisation of the box and its mate will soon follow after.

Other than that, 3 Spotted Redshank, 4 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 2 Marsh Harrier at Lytchett Bay were the only other birds of note. 


Harbour Update - posted 06/11/14

Yesterday morning saw 21500 Wood Pigeon move across the harbour but a sudden blanket of cloud soon put a stop to the spectacle. Elsewhere in the country Portskewett, Gwent  saw 200,000 move yesterday. The Great White Egret was again in Brands Bay, 3 Black-necked Grebe were off Middle Beach and 10+ Chiffchaff were along the woodland trail. Shipstal saw 46 Spoonbill and there were 2 Firecrest in the scrub next to the toilets at Arne. A small piece of Thrush movement occurred at Lytchett Bay with 43 Fieldfare and 38 Redwing, with 2 Spoonbill in the bay and a Jack Snipe over. A quick sea-watch took place off Branksome Chine after news arrived that Portland was seeing good numbers of Pomarine Skua off the bill. The sea-watch from Branksome produced 1 Pomarine Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 7 Little Gull, 2 Common Scoter, 9 Gannet, 14 Wigeon, 15+ Kittiwake and 1 Razorbill. A school bird boat today saw an increase in Red-breasted Mergansers appearing, but still not much else in the way of Divers or Goldeneye, lets hope the full moon tomorrow night sees an arrival of birds.  

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  • Jay - Upton CP - Clive H
  • Pintail - Upton CP - Clive H
  • Wood Mouse in peanut bin - Arne
Harbour Update - posted 04/11/14

This morning looked like a possible Wood Pigeon morning but after ‘only’ 4000 birds having passed over the harbour the movement petered out very quickly. When you look at the Netherlands and Belgium for comparison today who counted 3 million on the move south you can see why our 4000 was slightly underwhelming. From the same watch point, 2 Skylark, 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Fieldfare, 11 Redwing and a Firecrest. A stunning male Hen Harrier arrived yesterday and is now roosting with the two ringtails along with 6 Marsh Harrier still nearby. The Hen Harrier are still commuting between Middlebere, Swineham and now Lytchett Bay. There was also a Merlin and a Peregrine out over the Wareham Channel. 3 adult type passed North Haven yesterday morning but distantly and in the gloom meant an ID couldn’t be clinched, but they were either Arctic or Pomarine. The Great White Egret was again out in Brands Bay and Red-breasted Merganser numbers continue to increase. There were 12 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach and 6 Sanderling in Shell Bay. 

Harbour Update - posted 02/11/14

Today was the Poole Harbour WeBS count so the harbour saw some nice coverage for most of the day. Starting with the Studland area where the Great White Egret appeared in Brands Bay again and a Yellow-browed Warbler was still in Knoll Beach car park. Out in Studland Bay there were 17 Black-necked Grebe. Elsewhere there was Black Redstart x 1 at Arne Farm and another at Knoll Beach, Firecrest x 4 in the Arne car park,
Hen Harrier x 1 on Arne Moors,
Marsh Harrier x 4 in the Wareham Channel including the adult male, 
Peregrine x 1 on Arne Moors,
Spoonbill x 28 at Shipstal Point,
Knot x 7 Arne Bay (rare here), Red-breasted Merganser x 20 off Long Island,
Goldeneye x 9 in Central Harbour, Woodcock x 2 Grip Heath, Arne. A Brambling was on Brownsea Island mid-afternoon. There was also 2 Firecrest at the Swineham entrance road. The first Pochard of the autumn was at Hatch Pond, and Baiter saw its first Brent Geese of the autumn. There seemed to be good numbers of the ‘usuals’ with at least 400 Avocet at the mouth of Middlebere/Wytch Lake, plus big numbers of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and wildfowl species. 

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  • Black Redstart - Arne Farm
  • Moody Hartland Moor
  • Starling - Baiter Park
Harbour Update - posted 01/11/14

Apologise for the site going down last night, especially with a decent round up of birds to include. The harbour seemed to churn up goody after goody yesterday starting with 2 Yellow-browed Warbler in the corner of Knoll Beach car park, accompanying 3 Firecrest, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Lesser Redpoll and a fly over Brambling. Out in Studland Bay 5 Common Scoter were present, also 11 Black-necked Grebe and a handful of Great Crested Grebe. Wood Pigeon numbers aren’t quite taking off yet, with a max count of only 2240 so far from central Poole. For me, highlight of yesterday was a family party of 4 Whooper Swan that dropped into Middlebere for the afternoon, 1 adult and 3 juveniles. On Brownsea 42 Spoonbill were still present. At Arne Farm 2 Black Redstart were feeding on the farm buildings, with another in Market Street, Poole. There are currently 6 Marsh Harrier in the normal roost, with 2 Hen Harrier, which continue to commute between Middlebere, Hartland and Swineham most days.

Today, an early morning visit to Middlebere to see if the Whoopers had over-stayed resulted in negative swan news but a beautiful sunrise and great birds still made it worth while as 32 Spoonbill fed and a ringtail Hen Harrier hunted roosting starlings with 200 Avocet resting up on the tide line. Redwings were passing overhead on Coombe and a Merlin dashed across the heath. Further down the road towards Soldiers Road the ‘6 thrush challenge’ was completed as a Ring Ouzel was in a hawthorn bush, the first Fieldfares passed overhead, a Mistle Thrush sat on wires and Blackbird and Song Thrush bustled through the bushes. A Black Redstart was at Lytchett Bay, and a Rock Pipit was caught during a ringing session bearing a Belgium ring. Also at Lytchett Bay 1 Firecrest, 15 Greenshank, 5 Spotted Redshank and a Hen Harrier

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  • Whooper Swans - Middlebere - Mark Wright
  • Black Redstart - Arne Farm
  • Sunrise over Middlebere
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