May 2015

Harbour Update - posted 30/05/15

Not much to report as the summer doldrums kick in (not that by looking out of the window you would ever guess its summer)! I took a walk around Holton Lee yesterday, and was amazed by the number of fledged birds. Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were feeding young and commoner species such Blue Tit, Great Tit , Chaffinch and Robin all had fledged young. Also present at Holton Lee were Tree Pipit, Woodlark, Siskin, Mistle Thrush and 4 Buzzard. Up on Slepe Heath two Hobby were seen hunting, and a single Spotted Flycatcher was along Soldiers Road. In Middlebere 3 Spoonbill were feeding and a single Whimbrel. There is some potentially bad news regarding the breeding Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers, in as much as the male the is father to both nest sites has disappeared and now hasn’t been seen for 5 days. Although this is unusual, it’s not thought to be suspicious and it’s likely the male has just moved on, leaving the females to feed themselves and their new young. Lets just hope a few of the harriers fledge after last years successful seven.

Harbour Update - posted 29/05/15

Has autumn really set back in already? These wet blustery squalls are more fitting for late October not late May. Well, the forecast for next week looks like an improving picture, but until then I think we have some more wet and windy weather to contend with. Firstly, many thanks for everyone’s replies to our request for Swift information. Although it seems that there are birds back on territory in numerous places, numbers on whole still seem down, so lets see if the improved weather next week sees more Swifts settling at nesting sites. Bird-wise it was very quiet yesterday with only Lytchett Fields seeing any coverage as 2 Ruff, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and a pair of Shoveler were present.

We will also be hosting our up and coming Nightjar walks in June and July at the wonderful Arne RSPB Reserve, so to book on or for more information CLICK HERE


Harbour Update - posted 28/05/15

Red Kites seemed to be on the move today with several over the county, including one over Upton CP first thing, plus another (more likely the same) over Upton Heath. Lytchett Fields still had 2 female Ruff today along with 109 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank and good numbers of Shelduck. I was also commenting today on the lack of Swifts over traditional breeding areas such as Old Town Poole, Wareham and Parkstone. It could be that there are still birds yet to arrive but they certainly seem very thin on the ground. I’d be quite keen to hear if anyone within the Poole Harbour area has Swifts prospecting nesting site yet. If so please report your sightings to

Harbour Update - posted 26/05/15

The Red-footed Falcon seems to have disappeared today, however it also disappeared the day after it was originally found and then stayed for five days, so we’ll just watch this space. Lytchett Fields has been productive again with 2 Ruff, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Little Gull, 1 Greenshank and between 30-50 Black-tailed Godwit. Nightjar are really active locally with males setting up territories on all heathland sites. I did notice the other night that at one site there was no wing clapping or kew-eek type calls despite the high number of males, which would possibly suggest that there are still more females to arrive, which will no doubt cause great excitement in the next few days. There have been plenty of newly fledged birds around too, with Stonechat being most notable out on the heathland with most pairs already fledging young it seems. There are also plenty of raptors around too with Hobby frequenting similar habitat to the Red-foot, a Red Kite was over Wareham yesterday, displaying Buzzards, hunting Kestrels, the odd Peregrine (one sat on the Middlebere Osprey nest today), the Marsh Harriers feeding young and numerous Sparrowhawk.

Harbour Update - posted 24/05/15

A few highlights came through today, including the Red-footed Falcon still playing ball on Wareham Water Meadows for it fifth day. Elsewhere, the two Nightingales are still singing on territory at Challow Hill, Corfe as too was a Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaff and a Yellowhammer. 6 Spoonbill were seen flying towards Arne, nice to know there is still a healthy total around (in summer terms). Up on Slepe Heath Tree Pipit were singing, Woodlark were present the two Poole Harbour Marsh Harrier nests are now feeding young. 


Harbour Update - posted 23/05/15

Yet again the Red-footed Falcon pleased the crowds today from the Wareham bypass bridge. Often circling high and seeming to travel quite some distance it would always return to the same stretch of river to feed on Mayflies and Dragonflies. Yesterday evening the Red-footed Falcon was joined by a Little Gull and today Hobby, Peregrine, Kestrel and Buzzard all passed by our rare visitor, offering good comparison opportunities. At South Haven a Yellow Wagtail passed overhead, in Brands Bay there was 1 Teal, 1 Grey Plover, 128 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Knot and 3 Dunlin.

Harbour Update - posted 22/05/15

Great news today that the Red-footed Falcon returned after going missing for a day, feeding quite happily in the same spot as Wednesday, viewable from the bridge over the Wareham bypass. It obviously likes this part of the Frome Valley, so lets hope it hangs around for a little while longer. Not much other news from today other than 132 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank, 4 Lapwing and a Lesser Whitethroat were at Lytchett fields. A Hobby was out feeding over Wareham Water Meadows yesterday afternoon too.

Harbour Update - posted 20/05/15

The undoubted highlight today was of a female Red-footed Falcon found feeding out on Wareham Water Meadows this afternoon. The bird had been reported in a garden near Wareham first thing this morning, but no further news was confirmed. However is was later found feeding next to the bridge on the Wareham bypass where at times it was flying past the many observers 10 feet away! This is the first Poole Harbour record for 20 years, with the last being up on Ballard Down in June 1995. It stayed faithful to the site next to the bridge for several hours but then disappeared. However it was later re-found further up the Frome Valley near, just west of the bypass. Not quite as good, but still significant was the news of a singing Wood Warbler in the Corfe River Valley, a real rarity in the harbour these days. At Lytchett Bay there were 4 Redshank, 12 Dunlin, 2 Lapwing and 104 Black-tailed Godwit. A Red Kite drifted over Upton CP this moring and Middlebere saw 2 Spoonbill.

Click To Enlarge
  • Red-footed Falcon - Wareham Water Meadow - Peter Moore
  • Red-footed Falcon - Wareham Water Meadow - Peter Moore
  • Red-footed Falcon - Wareham Water Meadow - Paul Morton
Harbour Update - posted 18/05/14

DON'T MISS OUT - Exciting and interesting up and coming talk by Dr Emily Joachim on the gorgeous Little Owl, plus other UK raptors

For more info follow this link -

Bird-wise, a few odds and ends continue to arrive in the harbour with another Sanderling at Lytchett Bay. Up until last week this site had zero records of this species in the last 20 years, but in the last week has seen 8 (7 on May 12th and 1 May 18th). Also present were 4 Spoonbill, including one colour-ringed bird for which we are awaiting details, also 270 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin and 1 Common Tern. On May 16th the Studland area saw 1 Spotted Flycatcher in Studland village, 1 Grey Plover and 27 Bar-tailed Godwit in Brands Bay, 1 Cuckoo at South Haven, 3 Whimbrel and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit at the Houseboats and on May 17th there were 2 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling, 2 Swift, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat and 5 Reed Warbler at South Haven.

We’re currently trying to figure out how many Spoonbill are still left in Poole harbour, so would be interested to receive reports of individual and group records of this species. They seem to be using numerous locations in the harbour, making it difficult to get an exact amount but any reports would be very useful for us to gage a total amount left. Thank yoo

Harbour update - posted 16/05/15

It’s great to hear news of Nightjar arriving back on territory at various locations around the harbour. This evening Nightjar were active at several spots along the Corfe to Arne road with birds seemingly feeding on flying ants. We just need the balmy summer evenings to kick in to make watching/listening to them that little more pleasurable. Again RSPB Lytchett Fields saw most attention with 2 Ruff still, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Lapwing, 4 Spoonbill, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin and 1 Greenshank. Red Kites were seen at Stoborough and over Brownsea. At Swineham the immature Little Gull is still present, also there 1 Cuckoo, 10 Reed Warbler, 8 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler and 1 Marsh Harrier.

DON'T MISS OUT - Exciting and interesting up and coming talk by Dr Emily Joachim on the gorgeous Little Owl, plus other UK raptors

For more info follow this link -

IMPORTANT – This is a reminder that there is strictly no parking down Slough Lane for access to Lytchett Fields. Today a silver Vauxhall Corsa was partially blocking the access gate for Wessex Water. Thank you


Click To Enlarge
  • Ruff - RSPB Lytchett Fields - Shaun Robson
  • Hobby - Hartland
  • Wood Sandpipers - RSPB Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
Harbour update - posted 15/05/15

The wader attraction at RSPB Lytchett Fields proved too much for some birders today with a steady stream of visitors coming to see what was on show, which included 2 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, numerous Gadwall, Shelduck and Mallard and a good number of Pied Wagtails. Up around Hartland/Slepe Heath 2 Hobby were active, a Cuckoo was still very vocal, the sky was full of Swift and to a lesser extent, House Martin. Both Tree Pipit and Meadow Pipit were singing and the usual heathland species were also active. 

Harbour update: posted 14/5/15

Not a lot of change today with the 2 Wood Sandpiper and 2 Ruff still present on Lytchett Fields as well as 3 Greenshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and a lone Whimbrel. Today’s inclement weather also forced at least 50 Swallow and 20 House Martin down to feed over the fields there. Wader numbers on Brownsea were much reduced having probably moved on ahead of the weather front – just half a dozen Dunlin, a Redshank and at least 100 Black-tailed Godwit were present. A Little Tern briefly visited the lagoon and at least 1 Nightjar could be seen in front of the Lake Hide (please note use of playback is strictly prohibited).

Harbour update - posted 13/5/15

Wader numbers around the harbour continued to impress with at least 91 Sanderling at Pilots Point along with 13 Dunlin, single Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Whimbrel. Lytchett Fields still held 2 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Ringed Plover with single Redshank and Spoonbill. Not wishing to be outdone Brownsea Lagoon yielded 55 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 4 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel and singles of Turnstone, Greenshank and Roseate Tern. This evening a Little Gull was over the main pit at Swineham whilst a Cuckoo could be heard on Arne Moors.

If visiting Lytchett Fields please be sure to follow all on site instructions, more details here:

Do not park along Slough Lane as this could jeopardise future access

Harbour update - posted 12/5/15

Once again the newly created habitat at Lytchett Fields held some good birds with today’s best being 2 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Ruff and a Little Ringed Plover whilst the bay held 7 Sanderling – the latter being the first to be seen here in 24 years of recording. Two Spoonbill were still on Brownsea lagoon where there were also 302 Black-tailed Godwit. Middlebere also recorded 2 Spoonbill this morning as well as 7 Ringed Plover and a Yellow-legged Gull. 

Harbour update - posted 11/5/15

Lytchett Fields came up trumps again when a Wood Sandpiper dropped in this evening, also present were Spoonbill, Little Ringed Plover, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank. Brownsea lagoon hosted 2 Spoonbill and the evening tern roost boasted singles of Black and Arctic Tern amongst 130 Common Tern. Late news from yesterday concerns 3 Roseate Tern in the same roost and the Nightjar being back in front of the Lake Hide. A Wheatear was present on rough ground adjacent to the Twin Sails bridge in Poole. Just outside the recording area an Osprey was seen over Morden Bog.

Harbour Update - posted 10/05/15

Limited news from today, other than 4 Spoonbill, 19 Dunlin, decent numbers of House Martin, 2 Teal, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Bearded Tit, 1 Willow Warbler on territory (rare here), 3 Lapwing and 11 Cetti’s Warbler territorieson RSPB Lytchett Fields. An Update on the Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers from Peter Hadrill suggests that the hatching of at least one of the pairs could be any day now, with the second pair to follow soon after. The new third pair have apparently become ‘unstuck’ in Peters words, maybe due to inexperience or the cold north winds, but there is still time for them to hopefully try again.

Harbour Update - posted 09/05/15

A nice surprise was a Great Skua off South Haven, a species rarely recorded too close in shore in these parts. Also at South Haven were 1 Gannet, 2 Sanderling and 2 Dunlin. At Brands Bay 2 Gadwall, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 87 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel, 22 Dunlin, 2 Swift and 1 Wheatear were present. Nightjar were heard churring at Studland and Arne. A brief early morning visit to Arne saw 2 late Brent Geese, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Wheatear, 4 Whimbrel and 1 Grey Plover.  There was also late news of a summer plumaged Great Northern Diver out in Poole Bay on Friday.

Harbour Update - posted 07/05/15

There was evidence of a small fall this morning, but only a tiny area of the harbour (Lytchett Bay to be exact) was being covered. Out in the bay was a stunning summer plumaged Grey Plover, also 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel and 36 Black-tailed Godwit with 1 Bar-tailed Godwit hiding in amongst them.  Also around the site were 3 Whitethroat, 4+ Sedge Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Wheatear, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Swift and big numbers of hirundines passing through all day. On Lytchett Fields there were 12 Dunlin, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Lapwing and 32 Black-tailed Godwit.

I’ve also been continuing my night sound recording study from my Lytchett Matravers garden and have had some great results recently. Firstly I managed to get Coot added to my garden list with two separate birds over the garden on two nights on April 25th and 26th. I have also sound recorded several more Moorhen on various nights along with a nice range of Tawny Owl calls. But last night was the most productive night, especially for Whimbrel with individual birds and numerous flocks passing over-head between 9:30pm and 4:30am. Another surprise, and another garden tick was a Ringed Plover, which went over the garden around 2:15am. Below are two recordings of the Ringed Plover and one of three Whimbrel flocks that passed over-head in the dead of night.

Ringed Plover – Flight calls of a night migrant – Lytchett Matravers 07/05/15


Whimbrel flock – Flight calls of a flock migrating at night – Lytchett Matravers 07/05/15



Med Gull Info - posted 07/05/15

We recently received some info from Chris Thain, DWT warden on Brownsea, of a mini influx of Med Gulls on Monday 4th of May, 3 of which were colour ringed. He sent the details away and got a very quick response for each of the birds. Se the recovery details below....

Green ring 32LL, ringed as a pullus in Doel, Belgium in June 2011 has only been seen once before since then in Belfast, Northern Island, in April 2012.

Green ring 9M8 ringed as pullus at Sablines, Seine-et-Marne, France, June 2011 has been seen twice before: Cornwall July 2013, Ferrybridge Weymouth, March 2014.

Green RH22 ringed as a pullus at Polder de Sebastopol, Vendee, France in June 2012. Seen 3 times at Lodmoor in September 2012, Morocco in December 2012, then 6 times at Lodmoor and Radipole in 2013, and Weymouth area again, 4 times, in April and July 2014.

Harbour Update - posted 06/05/15

The wind apparently eases off tomorrow, hopefully giving the birds a chance to fly more than an inch off the ground without risk of being blown to Scotland! As a result there hasn’t been much news other than a short sea-watch off Branksome producing several groups of Swift, Swallow and a single House Martin in off the sea, plenty of Common and Sandwich Tern passing by and a few Gannet out in Poole Bay. At Lytchett Bay there were 3 Ringed Plover, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Wheatear, several Whimbrel dotted around the site, 1 Greenshank and 98 Black-tailed Godwit. Just outside the area there was a good report of a possible Common Crane over Lytchett Matravers.

I have also just finished writing up the trip report and species list from our recent Dorset Discovery Spring Tour, which you can read here –

If you want to get involved, and would like to see the best Dorset has to offer, then the details for our up and coming Summer Tour are available here –

Harbour Update - posted 04/05/15

Well, at least this morning started off OK, we’ll just have to wait and see how strong the forecasted winds of tomorrow will be….hopefully strong enough to make a few skuas want to rest and take shelter in Poole Bay. The best from today included a Lesser Whitethroat on territory up on Old Harry and 11 Wheatears in a field there too. A steady trickle of hirundines and Swifts came through for most of the day with 30+ over Swineham this morning, along with 1 Cuckoo, 6 Reed Warbler and a Marsh Harrier there too. At Challow Hill 2 Lesser Whitethroat were singing, as were 2 Nightingale, 1 Cuckoo, 3 Yellowhammer, 1 Peregrine and 5 Whitethroat. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Egyptian Geese, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Gadwall, 98 Shelduck, 1 Greenshank 3 Whimbrel. There was also a Cuckoo on Slepe Heath.

We’re pleased to say that there is an exciting and very informative up and coming talk coming on May 20th,hosted by Dr Emily Joachim who will be talking about her incredible research, passion and drive to help save the countries smallest owl…the Little Owl. For more info click HERE

It was also nice to get out early this morning too and take some video footage which I haven't for a while. CLICK HERE for more footage of recent spring birds.

Nightingale - Corfe - 04/05/15 

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

Click To Enlarge
  • Whitethroat - Arne
  • Newly fledged Chaffinch - Corfe
  • Yellowhammer - Corfe
Harbour Update - posted 03/05/15

It seems the May bank holiday has been a bit of a right off in terms of weather (hoping for a better day tomorrow), but there were a few signs of movement when the weather turned. In Brands Bay today there was a Curlew Sandpiper (rare spring visitor to Poole Harbour) and a Little Tern there too, with a Roseate Tern on the Brownsea Lagoon yesterday. At Lytchett Bay there were 3 Spoonbill, 9 Greenshank, 4 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin, 1 Yellow Wagtail a whopping 166 Shelduck, 28 Black-tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel. Swineham had a nice list with Cuckoo, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit, 10 Swift, 20 Sand Martin, 2 Sedge Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler and 3 Reed Bunting. On Brownsea the Sandwich and Common Terns are starting to court and can be seen on the breeding islands and there are still at least 6 Avocet there too. Up on Hartland there were 2 Cuckoo a Hobby and a Whinchat

Click To Enlarge
  • Sedge Warbler - Swineham - Peter Moore
  • Whimbrel - Swineham Point - Peter Moore
Harbour Update - posted 01/05/15

Another quiet day with not much reported other than 2 Spoonbill, 3 Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a few Teal on RSPB Lytchett Fields. On Upton Heath yesterday there was a Hobby.

More excitingly was after a few weeks of not being able to analyse my night recordings from my garden due to broken software, I am now back up and running again and have had a nice surprise over the garden recently. I was listening to my recordings at work the other day on my iPod when I recognised a familiar co-ick, co-ick, co-ick. and instantly thought NIGHTJAR, but wanted to double check, as this would be quite a garden record for Lytchett Matravers in early spring! I contacted local author and fellow sound recordist Nick Hopper who kindly checked my recording out on his software and made a sonagram to confirm it was indeed a Nightjar. Below is the recording made at 4:10am on 23/04/15

Nightjar – Flight calls of a night-time migrant – Lytchett Matravers 

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