March 2015

Harbour Update - posted 31/03/15

The strong wind kept the birds at bay again, but a report of 2 Whitethroat at Arne RSPB reserve would certainly be the first of the spring. A Spoonbill and a Marsh Harrier was at Lytchett Bay. Why not have a go at our completion by following the below link and take a guess of the 5 species of bird in the screen grab from our  Brownsea webcam today…..


Birds of Poole Harbour COMPETITION

It’s been a tough couple of days bird wise with spring migration coming to a complete halt, and many of our winter birds having left resulting in ZERO sightings being reported. So, to spice things up a bit we’re going to host a competition this week which will give you the chance to win a copy of ‘Catching the Bug’ a guide to the birds of Poole Harbour, written by local publishing company, The Sound Approach.

All you have to do is email us at and name the 5 species of bird that appear in the screen grab below, taken yesterday from our Brownsea webcam . All correct answers will go into a hat, and a winner will be drawn at random this Friday afternoon.



Harbour Update - posted 29/03/15

This weekend has almost been a total right off with strong winds and quite a bit of drizzle/rain. Our March field trip, which was held yesterday at Studland was tough going, but we managed a few nice birds with Peregrine, Stonechats, Reed Buntings, Fieldfares, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Pintail, Brent Goose, Great Crested Grebe and Chiffchaff all noted. Today was the Poole Harbour WeBS count and the big area of low pressure kept the tide high, not revealing much mud to count waders. Holes Bay still had reasonable counts of Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Redshank, and I then popped over to Baiter afterwards and counted c200 Brent Geese still, then decided to do a short sea watch from North Haven watching out towards Old Harry and out in Poole Bay, where 3 Purple Sandpiper were still present on the groynes, 1 Great Northern Diver was in Poole Bay along with 2 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Gannet were active fishing, 2 Kittiwake passed and a Common Scoter passed west. The Great White Egret was out in Brands Bay again and 2 ringtail Hen Harrier were present on Arne Moors. Highlights from the Brownsea Lagoon included 2 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 75 Black-tailed & 17 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Sandwich Tern and a Med Gull. A gull roost count on the lagoon last night produced 400 Herring, 150 Great Black-backed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Common Gulls, 45 Meds and 11 Sandwich Tern.

Not wanting to be a copy-cat too much, but I have been inspired by Nick Hoppers and the Portland Obs recent nighttime recording shenanigans, so have been setting my equipment up in my garden recently on calm, windless nights. I have only done two full nights recording so far, but I am already fully addicted and I am constantly keeping fingers crossed for decent weather at the moment. Having a set up that monitors an entire nights activity over one location is a hugely insightful project and I have already captured a good range of sounds in the first two nights alone. Waders, wildfowl, owls, thrushes, passerines, rails even gulls and corvids all call/move at night so over a period of time you could record pretty much anything! Below are three sounds you would pretty much expect at this time of year as birds depart, and I have also included the sonagram for each sound too.

Redwing - Flight call of nocturnal migrant - Lytchett Matravers


Blackbird - Flight call of nocturnal migrant - Lytchett Matravers


Song Thrush - Flight call of nocturnal migrant - Lytchett Matravers

Harbour Update - posted 27/03/15

I’m not quite sure where march has gone, it seems only yesterday I was getting excited about the first Wheatears and Sand Martins arrive and now we’re almost in Reed Warbler and Cuckoo time territory!!  There has been some nice birds of note over the last couple of days including a Red Kite over Hatch Pond today, also there, 7 Common Snipe and several singing Chiffchaff. At RSPB Lytchett Fields yesterday (and today) there were 6 Spoonbill, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Gadwall, 2 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Kestrel hunting. Along Soldiers Road there were 2 Woodlark feeding close to the road edge, also 1 Peregrine, 1 Hen Harrier and a rubicola type Stonechat on Slepe Heath.

I also ventured down to RSPB Lytchett Fields yesterday since the new signage was put in place and I have to say, the site is looking great. If you haven’t heard or don’t now about this new footpath then you can read about it HERE. Below are a couple of photos of the new viewing areas.


IMPORTANT – If you’re booked on to tomorrows walk at Studland then it is still going ahead. However, due to the forecast, we understand if you don’t wish to attend.



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  • Woodlark - Soldiers Road
  • Spoonbills - RSPB Lytchett Fields
  • Red Kite - Hatch Pond
Harbour Update - posted 25/03/15

Lytchett Bay came up trumps again today with a drake Garganey out on the water. Unfortunately it didn’t stay around too long, but it could easily reappear on Lytchett Fields, however there were 5 Spoonbill present roosting in the bay. A Willow Warbler was heard singing at Baiter yesterday. AT North Haven a Wheatear was on the rocks, along with a Purple Sandpiper and 50 Med Gulls out in Whitley Lake. There was also a Wheatear at Shell Bay, 1 Spoonbill, 12 Gadwall, 17 Sanderling, 76 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 15 Turnstone in Bramble Bush Bay. The Great White Egret was on Littlesea again and 3 pairs of Stonechat were on Greenlands Farm. On Brownsea there were 106 Med Gulls, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 12 Sandwich Tern, 2 Turnstone, 2 Pintail, 2 Firecrest, 2 Buzzard and 2 Raven. A Bittern was seen flying along the Frome Valley near Swineham this evening, 2 Hen Harrier and a Merlin were present in the west of the harbour near Stoborough Heath.

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  • Drake Garganey - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Cetti's Warbler - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam
  • Wheatear - North Haven - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 23/03/15

Apologise for the lack of updates, I’ve been in Holland for the last three days on business and of course birding. Great find of Goshawk over South Haven, Studland yesterday that did 2 passes over the area. A Jack Snipe was also present which was new for the site this year and the Great White Egret remains. On Friday last week the harbours first Little Ringed Plover was on the new Lytchett Fields, along with up to 8 Spoonbill, 1 Red Kite north, 6 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank. South Haven also saw a bit of vis-mig with small numbers of Bullfinch, Siskin, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet and Chaffinch as well as a few alba Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting. Also 15 Sanderling and 3 Black-necked Grebe were off Middle Beach. 

Harbour Update - posted 19/03/15

The harbour is still fairly quiet and the cold north easterly wind isn’t helping birds trying to move up from the south, and the current birding conditions seemed more winter like today.  It was pretty much run of the mill stuff today with 16+ Med Gulls at Baiter, along with 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 25+ Cormorant feeding off shore. At Norden sewage works there were 10 Chiffchaff including 2 tristis types and a pair of Grey Wagtails. A Red Kite drifted over the Upton/Lytchett Matravers boarder this afternoon and at Lytchett Bay there was 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank and a singing Cetti’s Warbler. A lovely male Wheatear was at Baiter this morning with a few Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtails on the playing fields, and a Red Kite was also over Canford Haeth yesterday.

Last night Magnus Robb from local publishing company the Sound Approach presented a superb talk at the Dorset Bird Club AGM, which focused on his new book….Undiscovered owls.  The teams new title has been 15 years in the making and has seen them experience some incredible discoveries along the way. Included within the book are over 320 beautiful sound recordings with tools to help you learn as you read. If you like owls then you need this book.

The book is available to PRE-ORDER through their website now.

Last of all, we’re thrilled to announce that the new access area at Lytchett Bay is now open. We have spent the last 3 months liaising with the RSPB and putting in place a small but important piece of visitor infrastructure at this previously private site.

To learn more about this new footpath then CLICK HERE


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  • New signage at the NEW 'Lytchett Fields'
  • Wheatear - Baiter - Clive
  • Greenshank on new night vision Brownsea camera
Harbour Update - posted 17/03/15

There were a few more migrants around today with 2 Wheatear at Baiter and another at the Twin Sails Bridge. A Red Kite drifted over Canford Heath again today which is likely to be different to yesterday’s bird. A fall of Chiffchaff was evident too with many places hearing singing birds for the first time.  Out in Studland Bay there were 10 Great Crested Grebe and 13 Black-necked Grebe. Two Spoonbill were at Lytchett Bay with another 15 at Shipstal Point, Arne.

Don’t forget there will also be a talk taking place at the Dorset Bird Club AGM tomorrow, 18th of March at 7pm, where Magnus Robb from the highly acclaimed Sound Approach team will be giving a talk on his new book…’Undiscovered Owls’ in which he describes several astonishing discoveries he and the team made whilst researching the book. Including a new species found in the mountains of Arabia and another a bit closer to home!

The Dorset Bird Club also has some exciting news about their future so why not join in on what should be a really interesting night.


Dorset Bird Club AGM

Wednesday 18th March

Methodist Church Hall, North Street, Wareham

AGM starts 7.00pm followed by a talk at 8.00pm

Harbour Update - posted 16/03/15

A little quieter today but another Red Kite was seen drifting over Canford Heath this morning. A summer plumage Sandwich Tern off Baiter could have been a migrant but the 7 winter plumaged Turnstone most definitely weren’t. Only one ringtail Hen Harrier was seen leaving the Poole Harbour winter roost, compared to the three individuals that were present last week suggesting a dispersal of sorts has taken place.

There will also be a talk taking place at the Dorset Bird Club AGM this Wednesday the 18th of March at 7pm, where Magnus Robb from the highly acclaimed Sound Approach team will be giving a talk on his new book…’Undiscovered Owls’ in which he describes several astonishing discoveries he and the team made whilst researching the book. Including a new species found in the mountains of Arabia and another a bit closer to home!

The Dorset Bird Club also has some exciting news about their future so why not join in on what should be a really interesting night.


Dorset Bird Club AGM

Wednesday 18th March

Methodist Church Hall, North Street, Wareham

AGM starts 7.00pm followed by a talk at 8.00pm

Harbour Update - posted 14/03/15

Red Kites seemed to be on the move today with several reported. One was seen heading east over Holes Bay mid morning and another was over Poole mid afternoon and another two were seen cruising north just outside the harbour in Wareham Forest. At Lytchett Bay today there were 3 Spoonbill, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Stonechat and 3 Chiffchaff. There was perhaps evidence of some Fieldfare passage with a few flocks of 50+ birds seen heading purposefully north at Sunnyside Farm and Wareham Forest. On Slepe Heath there was a ringtail Hen Harrier, 4 Stonechat, 2 Dartford Warbler and 1 Woodlark. From the Studland area there was 3 Redwing, 8 Fieldfare, 2 Wheatear and 1 Firecrest at Greenlands Farm, 546 Teal, 116 Pintail, 1 Spoonbill, 399 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 8 Knot and 7 Turnstone in Brands Bay, 5 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach and Holes Bay had 1 Common Sandpiper

Harbour Update- posted 13/03/15

Today finally saw some birds of note/interest turn up. The grotty weather obviously forced a few migrants down as the harbours first Wheatears of the spring appeared. There was one, possibly two on Baiter Beach this morning with a female type Black Redstart. Also on Baiter 18 Turnstone, 44 Brent Geese and 3 Red-breasted Merganser still off shore. There were another four Wheatear (3 male and 1 female) on the rough bit of ground next to the Twin Sails Bridge and a Stonechat there. At Holes Bay around 20 Chiffchaff were in the bushes. At Lytchett Bay a male White Wagtail was seen, also another 7 Chiffchaff, two of which were ringed, also 1 Firecrest, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper and c30 Med Gull. I forgot to report there were 3 Lesser Redpoll at Arne a few days ago...the highest count of anywhere in the harbour this winter!

Wheatear - Baiter Beach - 13/03/15 To watch this video in HD press the play button and then click on the cog shaped symbol. Select 1080p HD

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  • Wheatear - Baiter
  • Turnstone - Baiter
  • Lesser Redpoll - Arne - Keith Rawling
Harbour Update - posted 12/03/15

Still no Wheatears reported in the harbour yet, although there was another small fall of Chiffchaff that occurred today. Mediterranean Gulls can be heard calling overhead at many places and there are still 16 Spoonbill at Arne RSPB reserve with another 2 at Lytchett Bay.

Harbour Update - posted 11/03/15

Another Sand Martin made an appearance today, this time over Hatch Pond. There was a small arrival of migrant Chiffchaff too, some with big black sticky patches of pollen on their faces. At Shore Road at least still 19 Sanderling were present and c95 Bar-tailed Godwit. At Baiter a handful of Brent Geese are still lingering with another c850 over at Ower and a with a Pale-bellied in amongst them. Also at Baiter 6 Turnstone, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Rock Pipit. At Lytchett Bay there was 1 Spoonbill, 1 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank.  

Harbour Update - posted 09/03/15

A good variety and number of migrants are now entering the UK with Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Sand Martin, Swallow, Little Ringed Plover and Osprey all recorded today somewhere in the country. These are classic early spring migrants and they should be appearing in the harbour any day now, if not here already.  Today in the warm sunshine a few migrant Chiffchaff were singing in the company of their over-wintering relatives. Black-necked Grebes were at South Haven, the houseboats and Middle Beach with a Slavonian Grebe at the latter site. The Great Grey Shrike was again on Godlingston though distant. A Siberian Chiffchaff and a Firecrest were near the holes Bay outflow.

A few weeks ago we updated you with a new initiative that saw a joint venture between the RSPB, a private landowner, and us in which we were opening access to a previously private site in Poole Harbour. We apologise for the delay of the announcement but we’ve been dealing with a few teething issues. Anyway, we are almost ready to open the site, so keep an eye out on our sightings blog for more info.


Harbour update - posted 08/03/14

The first Sand Martins of the spring were at Swineham this morning with 2 over the Gravel Pits, also a marsh Harrier there. Up on Slepe Heath 3 Woodlark were feeding and 2 Dartford Warbler were active. At Lytchett Bay this tonight a Barn Owl flew over the wet fields, 1 Woodcock, 15+ Snipe and a Redshank were also noted whilst late afternoon produced 2 Spoonbill, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Spotted Redshank and one each of over-wintering Chiffchaff and Blackcap. In Brands Bay there were 3 Spoonbill and 4 Knot and the Great Grey Shrike is still currently on Godlingston Heath. There was even a report of a very early House Martin flying around Arne Farm briefly this morning, which would be a really early record with the first week of April being their normal arrival time. 

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  • Woodlark - Slepe Heath
  • Mistle Thrush - Swineham
  • Nuthatch - Holton Lee
Harbour Update - posted 07/03/15

It seems we didn’t see the same glorious weather that the rest of the country experienced today, but none the less signs of spring continue to creep through. Starting off up on Ballard where 2 Black Redstart were found, including a lovely adult male. At South Beach there was a Firecrest and Middle Beach 3 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe, 2 winter plumage Slavonian Grebe and 2 Common Scoter. Brands Bay saw 1 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Yellow-legged Gull. At Swineham there were 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 singing Chiffchaff, 5+ Cetti’s Warbler, good numbers of Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal on the main GP and a handful of Med Gulls overhead. Yesterday a Blackcap was ringed in the north of the harbour, but was considered an over-winterer rather than a migrant, with another Blackcap at Creekmoor Ponds.


Harbour Update - 04/03/15

There was exciting news that an Osprey was seen flying over Verwood late yesterday afternoon. Although slightly early, its not unusual for Osprey to start moving through in early March with their migration north carrying on right the way through March, into April and very occasionally into May too. Their migration north see them rush through areas like Poole Harbour, sometimes only staying a few hours, a day at most before moving on again.   The hope is, that eventually they’ll decide to stay to breed but when they do is anyone’s guess…2015 would be nice! The only other news from yesterday was of a Red Kite over Arne, 3 Spoonbill feeding on the Brownsea Lagoon late last night on the new night vision webcam. 2 Spoonbill were in Middlebere and a Spotted Redshank is still frequenting the Holes Bay outflow channel. 

Harbour Update - posted 03/03/15

Spring really did begin for me this morning when I heard my fist Chiffchaffs singing near Holes Bay. These aren’t summer migrants unfortunately, but are in fact our over-wintering birds prepping for the summer, and on warm March days you’ll hear their slightly weaker version of the classic Chiffchaff song as they practise for when their rivals arrive. Their migrant relatives from southern Europe and North Africa aren’t too far away though and will be arriving any day now, and you can normally tell them apart from our over-wintering Chiffchaff because their bills, foreheads and chins are often covered with a thick dark/black substance which is in fact sticky pollen obtained whilst feeding their way up through Europe.  Portland has already seen a Wheatear and White Wagtail, so any day now we’ll be hoping to see the same, along with species like Sand Martin and Little Ringed Plover.  Meadow Pipits are also piling in through the Purbecks at present heading north. In Studland bay this evening there were 31 Mediterranean Gull, 5 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe, 7+ Great Crested Grebe, 43+ Red-breasted Merganser, and 1 female Long-tailed Duck. At Lytchett Bay this evening an impressive 2000+ Black-headed Gull came into roost, also present 280 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Spoonbill flew over. 

We’ve also made some improvements to our Brownsea webcam, making the colour better on the screen, operationally easier at our end as well as it now having NIGHT VISION! Tune in now to watch ‘the night Cormorants’ – BROWNSEA WEBCAM

Harbour Update - posted 01/03/15

Studland saw most interest today with the Great Grey Shrike still showing intermittently around the Greenlands/Godlingston area, also there 1 Marsh Harrier, 10 Fieldfare, 1 Firecrest and a few Siskin. In Brands Bay there were 2 Spoonbill. Off Middle Beach there was 1 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Slavonian Grebe and only 1 Black-necked Grebe. At the houseboats were 10 Sanderling and there was 1 Spoonbill in Middlebere. Along Soldiers Road a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen. On Brownsea yesterday 2 male Golden Pheasants, 1 Firecrest, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Sandwich Tern were counted. 

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  • Dartford Warbler - Lytchett Heath - Ian Ballam
  • Pochard - Hatch Pond - Ian Ballam
  • Chiffchaff - Holes Bay - Ian Ballam
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