February 2015

Harbour Update - posted 28/02/15

Today was our monthly BoPH field trip, which was due to be held on Slepe Heath, but thanks to driving drizzle and a strong breeze, we headed to Middlebere instead. A well worth diversion as we saw 6 Spoonbill from the Middlebere Hide, as well as 1 Yellow-legged Gull, and good numbers of Grey Plover, Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Teal, Wigeon, Brent Geese and a ringtail Hen Harrier about 30 mins previous. A visit to Slepe Heath later in the day produced 2 Woodlark and a 2 ringtail Hen Harrier out over Arne moors. The Great White Egret was out in front of the Brands Bay hide today with 2 Spoonbill. Spoonbill were also present in the Wareham Channel (2) and Lytchett Bay (1). At Holton Lee the lesser-spotted Woodpecker was heard again and the 2 Marsh Tit were on the feeders along with a few Siskin. Marsh Harriers were noted at Lytchett Bay and Swineham.  

Harbour Update - posted 27/02/15

Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers have been active recently at numerous spots including Brownsea Island, East Holme and Holton Lee, near the bird hide. None have been reported from Sherford Bridge yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re active there soon too. A Woodlark was also in song on Holton Lee Heath. The Marsh Harrier numbers have dropped right off with only one or two left after the mid-winter bonanza of 12 birds. It seems Hen Harrier are out-numbering them now, with still 3 present. Also at Holton Lee today were 2 Marsh Tit, which are also becoming a Poole Harbour rarity year by year.

Harbour Update - posted 25/02/15

Sure signs of spring today with several Black-necked Grebe almost in full summer plumage. There were two in Shell Bay and 8 in between the houseboats at Studland and Brownsea. A Great Northern Diver was also out in Shell Bay and 4 almost full summer plumaged Sandwich Terns were off Brownsea. 2 Spoonbill were in Newton Bay as well as around 400 Brent Geese in Ower Bay. A Night survey in the SW of the harbour last night produced 20 Woodcock, 30 Common Snipe and a handful of Jack Snipe, with 3 Woodcock and 2 Jack Snipe being ringed. 

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  • Woodcock - Ringed near Arne
  • Jack Snipe - Near Arne
  • Two ringed Jack Snipe - Near Arne
Harbour Update - posted 23/02/15

This evening I went out surveying for Woodcock and Jack Snipe around the wetter fields in the north of the harbour, mainly around Lytchett Bay. Only managed one each of Jack Snipe and Woodcock, but did manage to get ridiculously close to the Jack Snipe, so close I was able to take a snap with my iPhone, same goes for a stunning Lapwing too. There were 21 Spoonbill off Shipstal, Arne and a Peregrine there. 2 Firecrest were at the PC World drain and a ringtail Hen Harrier dashed over Lytchett Bay. Brownsea Lagoon had 6 Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshank.

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  • Jack Snipe - Lytchett Bay
  • Lapwing - Lytchett Bay
  • Common Chiffcahff - Holes Bay outflow - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 22/02/15

Holes Bay is still attracting the usual, but inspiring crowd, including the Smew in Holes Bay NE, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Common Sandpiper at the out flow. At Arne there were 21 Spoonbill, with 5 more in Middlebere. There were 2 Purple Sandpiper in front of the Haven Hotel and 70 Bar-tailed Godwit were in Whitley Lake, Sandbanks. A Firecrest was on Brownsea as were 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Spoonbill, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 30+ Med Gulls and the usual waders. 

Great Grey Shrike - South Haven, Studland (yesterday) Steve Smith (

Harbour Update - posted 21/02/15

The Great Grey Shrike that’s been hanging around the Godlingston area was re-found today, this time on the patch of heath in between Shell Bay and Knoll Beach, Studland. The Great White Egret also flew over that site, and 6 Black-necked Grebes were on the sea. 

Harbour Update - posted 20/02/15

The last few days has been more about numbers than variety.  Near Middlebere Point yesterday c1250 Brent Geese were logged, also c500 Curlew, 537 Avocet, c460 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Curlew on ‘Lytchett Pool’.  In Shell Bay there were 9 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Slavonian Grebe, whilst in Brands Bay 8 Black-necked Grebe and the usual Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe were present. Studland Bay saw 7 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Common Scoter.  A possible Siberian Chiffchaff was at the Holes Bay outflow. 15 Spoonbill were at Shipstal, Arne and also a Lesser Redpoll there. A Common Sandpiper was still at Holes Bay.

It also nice to see that some scrub has been cleared away at Upton CP providing better view of that part of Holes Bay.


Harbour Update - posted 18/02/14

Today was the last public RSPB bird boat of the season, and what a boat it was. We got a bit competitive and were trying to beat the boat record, which was set by Haymoor Junior School last week, a record of 56 species. Well, we were scraping the barrel by the end but managed to crawl over the line with a thumping 57 species…hoorah! Although beating a group of year 6 school children in a birding competition doesn’t quite provide the competitive satisfaction you’d expect! Best of all was the Great White Egret sat on the sea wall of the Brownsea Lagoon, providing a few life ticks for some guests on board. Also on the lagoon 2 Spoonbill and the usual cast of Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler and Pintail. There were 2 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay with another 2 in South Deep, off Brownsea. A Common Scoter was off Goathorn and a Tufted Duck was near Ower Bay. The tide was falling as we made our way around exposing the mud and bringing us close to many many Shelduck, Brent Geese, Common and Herring Gulls and the over-wintering Whimbrel. Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye are still around in good numbers and several Buzzards were displaying over various woodlands. At the Holes Bay channel still 15+ Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff and a Firecrest.

Also, just as a teaser of some up and coming news I have attached a photo of a bridge located somewhere in the harbour you will soon be able to use thanks to some joint partnership working between us and the RSPB….watch this space!


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  • Great White Egret - Brownsea Island
  • Siberian Chiffchaff - Holes Bay channel
  • New bridge installation at soon to be opened path
Harbour Update - posted 17/02/15

Today there was a Spoonbill at Holes Bay, and that is the best of the highlights! I think that says it all.

However, rarities and scarcities don’t necessarily have to be the only order of the day. Why not get out and watch the Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye currently displaying out in the harbour as they head throw and chase their mates around in a frantic dash, or go out to your local woodlands and listen out for drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Great Tits performing their spring ‘bicycle pump’ song. Winter thrushes such as Fieldfare and Redwing are feeding up and departing soon, whilst it seems every tree or bush has a singing Song Thrush in it currently. Go searching for Med Gulls as these handsome birds moult into their summer attire and visit the heathlands on the west of the harbour (Slepe Heath, Hartland Moor, Arne) for early morning singing Woodlark.

Although it may seem there isn’t much going on……there is….everywhere.

You just need to go out and look ;-)

Harbour Update - posted 15/02/15

A perfect late winter/early spring day with the sun poking its head out this afternoon making it feel very spring like indeed. Today was also Poole Harbour WeBS count day (Wetland Bird Survey) so the whole area got coverage. The Smew was still in Holes Bay SE with a good variety of other species including 6 Goldeneye, 121 Avocet and in Holes Bay NE still at least 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank and a Spoonbill. The Great White Egret reappeared of Goathorn Point and was then later seen at Littlesea. 2 Golden Plover were found at separate site, 1 at Lytchett Bay and 1 at Brands Bay. A large raft of 52 Great Crested Grebe were out in central harbour on glass calm water, with a handful of pairs displaying, also 1 Spoonbill on Shipstal Point. Brands Bay also hosted good numbers of other wader species including 1200+ Dunlin also 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 11 Knot. There were 10+ Chiffchaff at the holes Bay outflow channel including the Siberian Chiffchaff, also a Firecrest there. Off Middle Beach 15 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe were counted. Out in the Wytch Channel a good count of 642 Avocet was made and a Whimbrel (odd this time of year) was in Newton Bay. 

Dartford Warbler- Hartland Moor 14/02/15 (Best watched in HD. Press play, hover curser over video screen, click on cog icon and choose 1080)

Harbour Update - posted 14/02/15

The late winter doldrums have been hanging on over the last week with nothing much moving or arriving. Small number of highlights from today including the Great Grey Shrike again on Godlingston Heath, the Smew was in Holes Bay, Middle Beach had 1 Slavonian Grebe, 6 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Common Scoter, a Spoonbill flew over Littlesea and the obligatory Hen Harriers commuted between Middlebere and Hartland for most of the day. 

Harbour Update - posted 12/02/15

Still not much change in the harbour at present. The Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper are all still taking it easy by the PC World outflow. Black-necked Grebes can still be found off the house boats in Bramble Bush Bay, plus a few still in Shell Bay and a 7 more off Middle Beach with a Slavonian Grebe, 1 Common Scoter and 200 Brent Geese at the latter site.  A Bearded Tit was at Hatch Pond briefly with 30+ Snipe. There are still 3 Purple Sandpiper at North Haven, Sandbanks and a Sandwich Tern was at Baiter. The ‘pools field’ at Lytchett Bay held a Greenshank and out in the bay 334 Avocet and 262 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding.

Also available is the new Lytchett Bay 2014 report, written by Shaun Robson. Certain areas of Lytchett Bay have seen big changes over the last year in terms of land ownership and habitat transition. Shaun talks about these topics in detail within the report including information on a new small area of access that we have been liaising with the RSPB to open. 2014 was also a record breaking year for Lytchett Bay in so many ways and the report is full of great photos and data highlighting the rise and fall in bird numbers at this ever changing site. 

Shaun has been writing reports at Lytchett Bay since 1992 and you can read those also by clicking on the below link.

You can read the 2014 report by clicking HERE and scrolling down.

Harbour Update - posted 10/02/14

Starting with Holes Bay where the Smew is still present as is at least one Spoonbill by the outflow, the 2 Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper. In Middlebere this morning there were over 1000 Dunlin, also 3 Spoonbill and 200 Avocet. In East Holme the Woodlark flock was a modest 11 birds in amongst 20 or so Pied Wagtail. There was a dramatic Merlin chase over the Brownsea Lagoon yesterday with a lone female chasing down a large flock of Dunlin, Grey Plover and a handful of Knot. 4 Black-necked Grebe were off the houseboats in Bramble Bush Bay and a Red-necked Grebe was reported in Moriconium Quay. 

Harbour Update - posted 08/02/15

Spring really felt like it had sprung today, I even had Red Admiral in the garden this afternoon. An RSPB bird boat left Poole Quay this morning and we weren’t disappointed. The Black Guillemot showed brilliantly next to the boat off the Brownsea southern shore, there were 4 Black-necked Grebe off the house boats at Studland and16 Spoonbill on Shipstal Point, Arne and another 4 on Gold Point. The Brownsea Lagoon held Avocet, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Knot, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Redshank, Oystercatcher, a pale-phase Buzzard, Shovler, Teal and Wigeon. In Holes Bay today the Smew re-appeared in Holes Bay south and 2 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper were near the outflow along with a couple of Chiffchaff and the Siberian Chiffchaff.  The Poole Harbour raptor count is still strong with 4 Hen Harrier seen today in and around Middlebere, including 2 males, and there are still several Marsh Harrier around the Wareham Channel and Merlin was on Hartland. Black-necked Grebes were in Shell Bay and off Middle Beach with 5 Common Scoter at the latter. Earlier in the week there were 1161 Black-tailed Godwit in Holes bay which is certainly notable. 

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  • Black Guillemot - Brownsea Shoreline
  • Pale-phase Buzzard on Brownsea sea wall
  • Brownsea Lagoon looking superb
Harbour Update - posted 07/02/15

Although still cold, the wind eased throughout the day and some nice sightings were reported. There are now 6 different Hen Harrier in the harbour, 3 males and 3 females two of which are new in over the last two days. There were three separate sightings of Bittern at Swineham this evening, representing possibly one, two or possibly three individuals due to the different locations and timings of each sighting. Firecrests seem to be getting active again with the birds in the Arne car park showing off quite well. The Spoonbill gathering on Shipstal is still present with 23 birds present. A flock of 100+ Fieldfare were in one of the fields along Soldiers Road, the most I’ve seen this winter.  In Holes Bay 2 Spoonbill were at the outflow along with 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail.

Harbour Update - posted 06/02/15

Still cold and still not much change in the birds. There were 3 Spoonbill at the Holes Bay outflow today plus two Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper. There are still 3 Hen Harrier in the harbour and 2 Merlin were on Hartland. 1 possibly 2 Bittern were out on Arne Moors and Marsh Harrier can still be seen fairly easily around the Wareham Channel. Out in the harbour Goldeneye seem to have overtaken Red-breasted Merganser in total number visible and a Peregrine was hunting over Shipstal. 2 Great Northern Diver are still off the Brownsea north shore. Holes Bay south was packed to the rafters this evening on the low tide with Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull and Shelduck making up the main bulk of species. 

Harbour Update - posted 04/02/15

Not much change in the Poole Harbour birding scene recently with the Smew in Holes Bay still taking center stage with the close range Spoonbills and Spotted Redshanks providing a an equally entertaining side show. A sub-adult male Hen Harrier has been present in Middlebere the last two mornings along with 8 Spoonbill a Merlin, 704 Avocet and a Marsh Harrier. Out in Studland bay 3 Slavonian Grebe were present as were 128 Brent Geese and 17 Med Gulls.

 Lapwings - Middlebere 02/02/15

I went out recording the other night a few hours before the snow hit Dorset and was being watched by a HUGE solar ring around the moon making it look like a giant eye was following me around everywhere. Anyway, whilst making my way down to Middlebere these Lapwing were making a range of sounds I wasn't familair with. Within the recording are a few standard  Lapwing calls (27 and 50 seconds), but the squeeky, scratchy calls throughout are sounds I don't think I've heard from Lapwing before. 

Harbour Update - posted 03/02/15

The Smew was again close into the Holes Bay outflow for a short time mid morning, also there the usual 2 Spotted Redshank and 5 Spoonbill there today. At Hatch Pond a minimum of 30 Snipe were present in the short cut area of reedbed, hunkered down in the snow, also there 2 Great Crested Grebe, 18 Tufted Duck and 2 Gadwall.  4 Black-necked Grebe were in Shell Bay, 2 Hen Harrier in near Newton bay and at Arne 24 Spoonbill, 2 Merlin, 2 Hen Harrier and a Woodcock.

Harbour Update - posted 02/02/15

It was a cold, chilly all day and I’m sure we’ve seen a small cold weather movement (maybe just local?) of some species. Today I took a school group out on a bird boat around the harbour and there was an obvious rise in numbers of Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe in every section we visited. Out on Shipstal at least 15 Spoonbill were still present, a Great Northern Diver was off the Brownsea north shore and a few Black-necked Grebe were present, one off Brownsea south shore and one a couple of hundred meters off Poole Quay. The Brownsea Lagoon was totally frozen over, meaning many birds had been pushed out to other areas like Holes Bay, which as predicted was full of birds this afternoon. Highlights near the outflow included 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Kingfisher, the Smew which commuted between the outflow and the bridge, also 5 Goldeneye near the bridge plus 300 Avocet, 200 Black-tailed Godwit, 200 Redshank, 300 Wigeon, 200 Teal, 8 Dunlin and numerous Curlew, Oystercatcher and a good gathering of gulls. 

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  • Smew - Holes Bay- Ian Ballam
  • Spoonbill - Holes Bay
  • Common Sandpiper - Holes Bay
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