April 2015

Harbour Update - posted 30/04/15

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last few days, we’ve been away hosting our second Birds of Poole Harbour / RSPB Dorset Discovery Tour. This was our spring tour, focusing on several well-known migration hotspots, as well focusing on some of the popular resident species and abundance of non-avian wildlife. I’ll be writing a full tour report over the coming days but over the 3 days we finished on 104 species of bird and a nice variety of reptile, mammal and butterfly species. 

Considering the time of year, its been fairly quiet locally with ‘nothing new’ in other than a scattering of migrants including a male Whinchat at Lytchett Fields, a Garden Warbler at Greenland’s Farm and the usual Wheatear and Blackcap at numerous sites. Lytchett Fields has even gone quite with just 1 Little Ringed Plover remaining, 2 Greenshank, a handful of Lapwing and several Black-tailed Godwit. At least 4 Spoonbill remain which seem to commute between Arne, Holes bay and Lytchett Bay whilst Cuckoo’s remain scarce with just the odd one singing around Arne and Hartland Moor. Good news regarding the Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers, as it looks as if there could be a third female beginning to nest, so we’re keeping a close eye. Other than that, there is plenty of food deliveries being made to hungry chick of numerous species, showing signs it could be a productive spring….but will it last?


Harbour Update - posted 26/03/15

There was a bit of coverage for several locations around the harbour today, starting at RSPB Lytchett Fields where there were Little Ringed Plover x 3, Ringed Plover x 3,
Greenshank x 2,
Dunlin x 22 summer plumaged birds, 
Snipe x 1,
Black-tailed Godwit x 4 on fields / 36 in bay,
Whimbrel x 1,
Sedge Warbler x 1,
Reed Warbler x 1,
Blackcap x 3,
House Martin x 3,
Sand Martin x 5,
Swallow 20+,
Pied Wagtail 20+,
Shoveler x 2 ( a pair),
Gadwall x 7 and
Cetti's Warbler x 1. Around the Studland area there were 2 Little Tern feeding off South Haven with 40+ Common Terns first thing with 3 Whimbrel on the beach and several Sandwich Tern around too. In Brands Bay at lunchtime there were 4 Grey Plover, 44 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Dunlin and 5 Whimbrel. On Greenlands there were 2 Wheatear and there was a Garden Warbler at South Haven. The Pools Harbour Marsh Harriers seem to be getting on with things nicely with news that two females are likely to be nesting with a possible third too !!!

Harbour Update - posted 25/03/15

Today was our monthly field trip, and for April we hosted the walk at Challow Hill, Corfe Castel and despite not being able to see your hand in front of your face when we arrived things soon cleared and we were rewarded with great scope views of one of two singing Nightingale. Also present 2 Dartford Warbler, 10+ Whitethroat, 5+ Yellowhammer, 1 Wheatear, 5+ Blackcap, plenty of Swallow going through, 2 Shelduck on the ridge, lots of Chiffchaff, several Siskin over, 1 Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine. Just outside the area at Morden Bog there were 2 Hobby, 2 Woodlark and 3 Tree Pipit. News from elsewhere included…

Brands Bay - 
26 Teal, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew and 1 Common Tern. Greenlands Farm
- 1 Red-legged Partridge (first for 15 years) 1+ Cuckoo, 7 Wheatear 2 Whinchat and 1 Whitethroat

South Haven
- 15 Common Tern, 2 Blackcap, 3 Reed Warbler

- 8 Turnstone and an adult Yellow-legged Gull

Nightingale - Challow Hill, Corfe Castle - 25/04/15


Just to let you all know that we will be changing our Birds of Poole Harbour email address with immediate effect to.....

Highlights from today included still 5 Little Ringed Plover at RSPB Lytchett Fields along with 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Whimbrel, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 15 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Wheatear, 1 Reed Warbler and numerous Blackcap. At Swineham there was Black Redstart (rare here), 1 Swift, 400 Sand Martin, 35 Swallow, 1 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel over, 4 Reed Warbler ,  1 Sedge Warbler 1 and 1 Willow Warbler


Harbour Update - posted 22/4/2015

The breeze kicked in fairly early but the sun managed to keep things very warm for most of the day. On the Poole Harbour boundary at Challow Hill, Corfe there was a nice smattering of migrants with 1 Nightingale, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whinchat, 5+ Whitethroat, 6 Yellowhammer, 10+ Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 5 Skylark and 3 Stonechat. At Arne there were a good number of Whimbrel moving up and down the Middlebere Channel, also there 2 Whitethroat, 4 Spoonbill and plenty of hirundines moving through. At Lytchett Bay there were 4 Little Ringed Plover still, 6 Spoonbill, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank, 3 Reed Warbler, 3 Lapwing and a Peregrine. At Upton CP there were 180 Black-tailed Godwits and in Holes Bay NE there was 1 Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and 1 Common Sandpiper

Harbour Update - posted 21/04/15

Yet another glorious day, and yet again very little reported with 4 Little Ringed Plover still holding on at RSPB Lytchett Fields with 1 Greenshank and 5 Gadwall there too. Just outside the Poole Harbour area Tree Pipits, Woodlarks, Cuckoo and Dartford Warbler are all active at Morden Bog. A single Whitethroat was in scrub next to Holes Bay and a regular trickle of Blackcaps has occurred each morning over the last few days.

I would like to thank Peter Hadrill too for allowing us to place his 2014/15 Poole Harbour winter Harrier write up on the website. For those of you that don’t know, Peter dedicates an incredible amount of hours monitoring Poole Harbours harrier movements (Hen and Marsh) right the way through the year, noting and memorising every new arrival, departure and breeding attempt…….a truly remarkable and highly valuable source of information. This year he was even rewarded with a ringed Hen Harrier arriving, allowing an origin of our over-wintering harriers to be discovered. You can read his wonderful report HERE


Click To Enlarge
  • Tree Pipit - Morden Bog
  • Whitethroat - Holes Bay
  • Woodlark - Slepe Heath
Harbour Update- posted 19/04/15

Despite the good weather there was a distinct lack of bird news from over the weekend. Highlights included a reeling Grasshopper Warbler at Lytchett Bay along with the 5 Little Ringed Plover, numerous Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Marsh Harrier a few Whimbrel and the bays first Cuckoo. On Slepe Heath 2 Woodlark were in full song and Dartford Warbler were displaying across the heath. A Whitethroat was at Holes Bay too.

Harbour Update- posted 16/04/15

There was a nice surprise this afternoon when Lytchett Bay’s first Wryneck appeared on the small Lytchett Heath site off Sandy Lane. The bird was found late afternoon and stayed for a few hours for an on looking crowed. Hopefully it will stay until tomorrow. You can find directions to the site on our new Lytchett Bay guide, its labelled site number 3 -


The RSPB Lytchett Fields were also in good form with 4 Little Ringed Plover, 1 summer plumaged Dunlin, 6 Lapwing, 231 Black-tailed Godwit and the year’s first Mallard ducklings. There was also a Red Kite over Wareham.


Harbour Update - posted 15/04/15

Some more Cuckoos arrived this morning with 2 present in the west of the harbour at Soldiers Road and Stoborough Heath. On Hartland Dartford Warbler showed nicely and several Stonechat were back on territory with good numbers of Meadow Pipit around and several Willow Warbler singing. At Middlebere there were 4 Spoonbill again, all immature birds including the colour-ringed bird. Hatch Pond saw its first Reed Warbler and a Sedge Warbler was at Holes Bay. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Spoonbill, 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Lapwing, 1 Green Sandpiper and 2 Wheatear.

I continued my night recording project from my Lytchett Matravers garden last night, and was pleased to find that I had my most productive night so far with 1 Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, an Oystercatcher flock, 2 Moorhen and 2 Tawny Owl throughout the night. Needless to say, the Whimbrel and Oystercatchers were nice additions to my garden list. 

Whimbrel – Flight calls of a night migrant at 5am – 15/04/15 


Oystercatchers – Flight calls of a group of night migrants – 15/04/15 

Harbour Update - posted 14/04/15

The fog lifted pretty quickly this morning and gave way to a stunner of a day and there seemed to be a few migrants on the move too. At Arne a Yellow Wagtail passed overhead at Middlebere and many Willow Warbler and Blackcap were singing, there were 4 Spoonbill in the Middlebere channel along with 1 Whimbrel, several Redshank and a Marsh Harrier. A further 4 Marsh Harrier were ‘flirting’ their way along the Wareham channel and the sky was filled with Buzzards everywhere you looked! At Sherford Pools, Lytchett Bay there were 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Lapwing, 1 Greenshank and 1 Green Sandpiper. Just outside the harbour at Morden Bog 2 Tree Pipit were back, and at least 2 Woodlark were present. 

Harbour Update - posted 13/04/15

A few birders made it out today before what looks like a very foggy forecast for tomorrow.  Starting at Arne where an Osprey (possibly the same individual from last week) was seen circling over Middlebere and then the Wareham Channel. From Ridge Wharf a Tree Pipit flew over, and 6 Wheatear were out on the moors. Plenty of Swallow were passing overhead today and a Red Kite was photographed at East Holme, heading towards the harbour.  Along the Arne road several Willow Warbler were in full song and there was a small arrival of Blackcap in the north of Poole with a minimum of 6 singing males at Holes Bay. At Lytchett Bay there was 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 1 summer plumaged Green Sandpiper and a handful of Swallow and Sand Martin.

Harbour Update - posted 12/04/15

There were a couple of firsts today including a Hobby, which was seen whizzing over Stoborough Heath late afternoon. Other raptors included 5 Marsh Harrier now present in the west of the harbour again and the long staying Hen Harrier that’s now been present in the harbour for 7 months! The other first was a Tree Pipit that passed over Challow Hill, Corfe where a Redstart, 3 Dartford Warbler, 2 Blackcap, c10 Chiffchaff, 4 Stonechat, 5 Yellowhammer and a Swallow were present. At Lytchett Bay  there was 4 Spoonbill, 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, and 1 Redstart.

Harbour Update - posted 10/04/15

There was perhaps evidence of a small fall of migrants around the harbour with both Willow Warbler and Blackcap appearing in a number of places. At Lytchett Bay there was still 1 Ruff and a Wheatear. Bizarrely, one of the Middlebere Barn Owls was out hunting late morning in the bright sunshine and there were 2 Red-legged Partridge up on Hartland.

Last nights recording session was pretty quite with a single Song Thrush, 1 Moorhen, my local vocal Tawny Owl and this interesting Water Rail call, which Nick Hopper has kindly informed me is the beginning part of a female song. Why it would be choosing to do this over my house at 1am is another story.

Water Rail – beginning part of female song – Lytchett Matravers


Harbour Update - posted 09/04/15

Lytchett Bay was quite productive again today with 3 Little Ringed Plover and 1 Ruff out on Lytchett Fields and 7 Greenshank and 5 Spoonbill out in the bay. There was also 2 Wheatear, at least 8 Willow Warbler and 1 Sand Martin. At North Haven a Yellow Wagtail flew in off the sea as did 8 Swallow and 3 Sand Martin, also 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Willow Warbler and a Pheasant (rare here) were present. A Ring-necked Parakeet was in Wareham and late news from yesterday of an Osprey at Arne and 2 Yellow Wagtail at Slough Lane, Lytchett Bay. A Cuckoo was near Studland village

A continuation of my night recordings in Lytchett Matravers produced a nice surprise when a Ring Ouzel passed over around 11:30pm last night, which is both surprising and unsurprising in as much that I’ve never had one in Lytchett before, but considering the amount that are entering the UK at the moment it fits quite well. I also managed to record a prolonged flight call of another Shelduck, which passed over around 1:00am.

Ring Ouzel – Single ‘tock’ flight call of a night migrant – Lytchett Matravers


Shelduck – Prolonged flight call of a night migrant

Harbour Update - posted 08/04/15

Another stunning spring day started off a bit grey and murky, but produced one of my favourite spring migrants, a Ring Ouzel. It was up on top of the ridge at Challow Hill, Corfe and quite happily sat in a bush whilst I photographed and filmed it. There were a number of other migrants present including 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, c10 Chiffchaff, c10 Swallow and 2 Stonechat as well as a bit of vis-mig too as Chaffinch, Linnet, Siskin and Meadow Pipit were all passing in small numbers overhead.

Ring Ouzel – Challow Hill - Corfe Castle

To watch in HD press the play icon and hover the curser over the cog shaped symbol and click on 1080.

I have also been sent some interesting photos that shows a pair of Avocet mating on Brownsea Island at the weekend, which I also witnessed on the Brownsea webcam today too. Now, this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to stay to raise young, as there is still time for them to depart back to a breeding ground elsewhere, however the courting behaviour seems faithful to one particular area, looking as if they could be setting up a territory. We’ll be keeping a close eye on things as this would be the first Avocet nesting attempt in Poole Harbour since 2006.

p.s Yesterdays mystery sound was a Shelduck.

Click To Enlarge
  • Ring Ouzel - Challow Hill - Corfe
  • Avocets mating - Brownsea Lagoon - Peter Moore
  • Spoonbill - Brownsea Lagoon - Peter Moore
Harbour Update - posted 07/04/15

Another fine spring day Willow Warblers heard at Lytchett Bay and Soldiers Road. Also at Lytchett Bay today an Osprey passed overhead, a Red-legged Partridge was present (very rare here, last record 2008), 1-2 Ruff, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, c200 Teal, 2 Marsh Harrier and 1 Swallow. A Red Kite drifted over Wareham late afternoon and another was over Canford Heath.

More night recording sessions from my Lytchett Matravers garden over the last few nights has added some nice additions to my garden list including Gadwall, Teal and Snipe, as well as a third Moorhen, a rather disruptive Pheasant and a sleep talking Dunnock.  These recording sessions provide a fascinating insight into what’s going on over our houses when we’re all tucked up in bed. Last night I got another garden tick too….try and see if you can figure out what this is…recorded at 1:30am!

Shelduck – Migrating over Lytchett Matravers 06/04/15

Harbour Update - posted 06/04/15

A nice mixture of birds today with what was the springs first ‘proper’ fall of migrants. An Osprey drifted over the Arne car park late afternoon, and 2 Spoonbill were in Middlebere. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 (possibly 3) Little Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 5 Gadwall, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 singing Blackcap and still around 200 Teal. At Studland there were 11 Wheatear at Greenlands and 4 at South Haven, 5 Swallow through north and 2 Willow Warbler. Up on Old Harry there was 10 Wheatear, 7 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 10 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin, 1 House Martin and a Red Kite.

Harbour Update- posted 04/04/15

Today we hopefully saw the last of that chilly northerly wind….well, for a little while at least. It all but killed off any passage with only a tiny handful of Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin being reported from Swineham, Lytchett Fields and Studland. A Serin found singing in Corfe was undoubtedly todays highlight, but was only seen by the lucky finder. Whether this was a quick migrant stopping off or a possible loiterer we don’t know but I assume someone will be checking in the milder weather tomorrow. On Brownsea there were 4 Spotted Redshank, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Greenshank, 6 Knot, 13 Grey Plover, 400 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 72 Med Gulls, 22 Sandwich Tern and 6 Avocet.  The Great Grey Shrike was again on Godlingston.

I also had another Water Rail migrating over my garden last night (two in two nights), this time producing a clearer, slightly louder call.

Second Water Rail – Flight call of a night time migrant – Lytchett Matravers


Harbour Update - posted 03/04/15

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who entered our competition that was set at the beginning of the week, many of you entered and a good range of species were guessed, but in the end, after todays random draw we’re pleased to announce that the winner is John Keates from Poole who correctly guessed Black-headed Gull, Med Gull, Shelduck, Turnstone and Black-tailed Godwit.

Spring stepped up a notch today with an obvious movement of migrants. This included a large movement of Meadow Pipits right across the county with groups ranging in size from 2-20 as they passed overhead. At Lytchett Fields today there was another Little Ringed Plover plus 3 Spoonbill, 4 Gadwall, 2 Greenshank and 12 Pied Wagtail were present. At Studland a few Sand Martin came in off the sea as did a single Swallow and the Great Grey Shrike was still at Godlingston.

After analysing some more garden night time recordings, I was thrilled to discover (thanks to some help from Magnus Robb at the Sound Approach) that a sound that I originally thought was a Barn Owl was in fact a Water Rail flying over. Interestingly this call came less than an hour after the Moorhen call in the same night, so maybe there was a small concentrated movement of rails/crakes that night in the area….who knows???

Water Rail – Flight calls of a night time migrant – Lytchett Matravers



Harbour Update - posted 01/04/15

A few more summer migrants arrived into the UK today with both Reed and Sedge Warbler, Yellow Wagtail and a handful of Willow Warbler all recorded. Still pretty tough going locally, but I think that’s mainly down to a lack of coverage rather than no birds.

I continued my night-time recording efforts last night and was thrilled to get a garden tick when a Moorhen passed right over my garden at 3am. This is pretty incredible considering I live in rural Lytchett with no body of water for a few miles. In the recording you can hear the bird approach, then pass right overhead and then move on again.

Moorhen – Flight calls of a nocturnal migrant

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