July 2015

Harbour Update - Posted 31/07/15

Migrants were certainly on the move this morning and a ringing session at Lytchett Heath proved very fruitful. In a 3-hour ringing session 137 birds were ringed including 80 Sedge Warbler, 24 Reed Warbler, 13 Willow Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Bearded Tit, several Chiffchaff and most bizarrely of all a fresh juvenile Common Redstart. Where this bird has come from is totally un-known as Redstart isn’t known to breed in the harbour. It’s likely to have moved from Wareham Forest, which has the nearest breeding population, but there is plenty of suitable habitat in-between so it could be from an un-known site? There was also 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plover on RSPB Lytchett Fields and a good number of common waders across the site. On Brownsea 3 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank and 4 Dunlin were present. 

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  • Common Redstart - Juvenile - Lytchett Heath
  • Juvenile Chiffchaff (left) and Willow Warbler comparison - Lytchett Heath
  • Bearded Tit - Lytchett Heath
Harbour Update - Posted 30/07/15

Fairly quiet today with just 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 2 Greenshank and 36 Black-tailed Godwit at RSPB Lytchett Fields. No sign of the Osprey around Arne but 2 Spoonbill were in Middlebere and the Barn Owls have been really active out in front of the hide.

I've finally managed to get round to doing some more night recording, this time from my garden again. Last night produced 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 1 possible Ringed Plover and a passerine species I can’t identify. The recording below is one of the Common Sandpipers that passed over my garden, this one at around 3:30am.

 Common Sandpiper - Calls of a night time migrant - Lytchett Matravers 29/07/15

WE WANT YOUR OSPREY SIGHTINGS! Please - posted 29/07/15

Today we launched our trial student grant scheme, which you can learn more about HERE. But in a nutshell, we’re after reports of all sightings of Osprey from in Poole Harbour (including Wareham Forest) between now and October. Brittany Maxted, a student from Parkstone Grammar School will be compiling all data for this project and details of the information she requires and how to report your sightings can be found HERE. We would like to thank-you in advance for any support and information you can provide for this project.

I have today also published a study we commissioned back in the spring, which looks at the populations of Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls in Poole Harbour. This census was due to be part of a larger breeding gull survey of the entire harbour but due to unforeseen natural circumstances the study didn’t quite provide us with the information we were hoping for. You can read Dave Chowns excellent write up of the census HERE.

Sightings today included another Osprey that was seen over the Arne peninsular and then watched fishing out in the Wareham Channel. A ringing session in the north of the harbour near Holes Bay produced the autumns first ringed Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler, as well as 9 juvenile Blackcap, bringing the total of juvenile Blackcap from that one site to 29 in just 4 ringing sessions. At RSPB Lytchett Fields a Common Sandpiper, 1 juv Little Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 7 Green Sandpiper and 18 Black-tailed Godwit were present.


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  • Garden Warbler - Poole Harbour north, Fleets corner
  • Willow Warbler - Poole Harbour north, Fleets corner
  • Blackcap - juvenile moulting into male plumage - Poole Harbour north, Fleets corner
Harbour Update - Posted 28/07/15

Finally a few passerine arrived in the harbour today with the first Garden Warbler and juvenile Willow Warbler in scrub at Holes Bay north accompanied by several juvenile Blackcap and Chiffchaff from surrounding woodlands. At Middlebere this evening there were 4 returning Avocet, 1 immature Spoonbill, 10 Oystercatcher, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 3 Greenshank, 1 Kestrel, 8 Stonechat and 1 Dartford Warbler. At RSPB Lytchett Fields another Common Sandpiper was on Sherford Pools, several Green Sandpiper were in amongst the pools along with the usual Redshank and Lapwing.

Harbour Update - Posted 27/07/15

Still not many passerines coming through yet, but waders are holding up the fort at present. At South Haven a Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin and 1 Curlew were counted and in Brands Bay there was 1 Ringed Plover, 2+ Whimbrel, 62 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Dunlin. There were 3 Spotted Redshank on the Brownsea webcam showing off beautifully for a good couple of hours, along with Common Redshank giving a nice comparison. On RSPB Lytchett Fields there were 40 Lapwing, 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Greenshank, 73 Redshank, 68 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 adult Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper, 5 Snipe, 1 juv Marsh Harrier and a female Peregrine.  

                                                    Spotted Redshank on Brownsea Lagoon webcam

Harbour Update - Posted 25/07/15

The last two days couldn’t have been more different with yucky, heavy rain all day yesterday, and blissful sun blessed day today, needless to say that most bird news comes from today. On the Brownsea Lagoon toady there were 99 Redshank, 11 Greenshank, 3 Spotted Redshank, 25 Dunlin, 9 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Sanderling, 2 Spoonbill and 2 Arctic Tern. It was also stated that Sandwich Tern had a good breeding season with 145 fledged young. Yellow-legged Gull bred for the 20th consecutive year and Brownsea also fledged its first Med Gulls as three pairs bred. At Swineham a single Common Sandpiper was on the point. Out in Brands Bay there was 6 Whimbrel, 67 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Common Sandpiper, 1 Knot and 1 Dunlin. On RSPB Lytchett Fields there were 6 Greenshank, 6 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 56 Redshank and the usual Lapwing and handful of Black-tailed Godwit. 

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  • Spotted Redshank - Brownsea Lagoon
  • Great feedback letter from our spring tour in RSPB Magazine
  • Reed Bunting - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update - posted 23/07/15

Now the fields have been cut at RSPB Lytchett Fields it seems to already be attracting some new arrivals. Within minuets 2 Spoonbill ventured out onto French’s Pools, there were also 3 Greenshank, 1 adult Little Ringed Plover, 5+ Green Sandpiper, and the usual Redshank, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit. On Lytchett Heath Dartford Warbler were confirmed to have bred. At Arne, the first of the autumn Willow Warblers appeared with 3 on Coombe Heath, also a juvenile Peregrine over with 1 Common Snipe, 2 Spoonbill were in Middlebere and there were juvenile birds EVERYWHERE. Mostly common breeding species such as Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Blue Tit and Wren. A juvenile Whitethroat at Lytchett Heath was likely to be a local migrant.

Harbour Update - posted 21/07/15

RSPB Lytchett Fields are looking great now they have been cut and are already attracting a good number of birds. Of note, there was 1 juv Little Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 6 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 30+ Lapwing, 20+ Redshank, 10+ Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel and 1 Kingfisher. In Holes Bay there were 163 Black-tailed Godwit, 30+ Curlew, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Common Gull. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was 1 summer plumaged Knot, 4 Spotted Redshank, 1 Turnstone, 75 Redshank and 3 Greenshank. Middlebere held 3 Spoonbill in the afternoon and the Barn Owls were out hunting out across the marsh at Middlebere.

Harbour Update - posted 20/07/15

NOTICE: The fields at RSPB Lytchett Fields are being cut this week so excessive disturbance is likely. The work is due to be finished on Wednesday.

In between the cutting of the fields RSPB Lytchett Fields held 14 Green Sandpiper, 56 Black-tailed Godwit, 40 Redshank, 32 Lapwing, 11 Teal and 3 Greenshank. Lytchett Bay held 1 Spoonbill, 1 Whimbrel and 2 Bearded Tits were is a reed bed on the shoreline. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Greenshank, 26 summer plumaged Dunlin, 50+ Redshank, 150 Black-tailed Godwit and still a good number of Common Terns yet to fledge. A Common Sandpiper and Greenshank were heard migrating over Slepe Heath at night too by a group setting up Moth traps. It’s a good time to be watching Nightjars too, as although the churring activity has slowed down there are now plenty of juveniles around which are really inquisitive and often fly around quite close as you walk along a dry sandy heathland paths. 

Harbour Update - posted 19/07/15

There were signs of passerine movement this weekend when a weekend ringing session at Lytchett Bay produced the fist juvenile Sedge Warblers of the autumn. We know these are migrants as Sedge Warbler don’t breed at Lytchett Bay, so would have come from further afield. Also caught during the ringing session was the seasons first juvenile Kingfisher and a good number of juvenile Reed Warbler. General birding at the site provided 6 Greenshank, 11+ Green Sandpiper, 1 Spoonbill, 4 female Shoveler, 48 Redshank, 18 Lapwing, 1 Snipe and good numbers of juvenile Reed Bunting. In Brands Bay there were 3 Common Sandpiper, 5 Whimbrel, 62 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and 29 Med Gulls. The Osprey was again, this time from the Holton Lee viewpoint. 


Harbour Update - posted 16/07/15

After taking two weeks respite from night recording I set my gear up again last night out in the Lower Frome Valley, but somewhere slightly different to normal. I haven’t gone through all of the recording yet, but within the first ten minuets I had a new species for my night recording list as a Green Sandpiper passed quite close calling as it headed west. Also several Water Rail passed close by and were also calling from the reeds. A few Curlew were passing over and Redshank, Oystercatcher and Lapwing were all noted. Two young Tawny Owls were consistently calling from a near by woodland.

Green Sandpiper – Lower Frome Valley 


At RSPB Lytchett Fields there were 6 Greenshank, 64 Redshank, 37 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Lapwing, 8 Teal, 22 Little Egret and up to 15 Green Sandpiper. A Peregrine flew over Poole train station mid morning and the Osprey was seen over Arne.

Harbour Update - posted 15/07/15

Not much change I’m afraid. On RSPB Lytchett Fields there were 10 Green Sandpiper, 1 juv Little Ringed Plover, 7 Greenshank and the Yellow-legged Gull. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 2 Knot, 2 Greenshank, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit and 50+ Redshank. There was a single Common Sandpiper along the shoreline at Upton CP.

Harbour Update - posted 14/07/15

An Osprey, presumably the same one that was seen sat on Hartland the other day was seen fishing over the western end of the Wareham Channel yesterday afternoon. At Middlebere 2 Hobby were circling above the heath calling to each other. The 2 Spoonbill were still at Arne, commuting between Shipstal and Middlebere. On Brownsea there was still 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit and 20+ Redshank. At RSPB Lytchett Fields there was just one each of Greenshank, Med Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Whimbrel.

Of interest , the Stour Ringing Group has a small, infrequent ringing set up at Holton lee, with ringing activities often commencing less than once a week between July and March. However, over the last few years they have ringed a total of 28 Great Spotted Woodpeckers! Which just goes to show that they aren’t always the same birds returning time after to time to feed. 

Harbour Update -posted 13/07/15

On RSPB Lytchett Fields there were two flocks of Green Sandpiper consisting of 6 and 10 birds, suggesting there were 16 birds on site, however both flocks weren’t seen at the same time so there is a chance of some duplication. Also present the juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Med Gull, 1 Whimbrel, 40+ Redshank and 20+ Lapwing and good numbers of House Martin. At Arne 2 Hobby were over Coombe Heath and the 2 Spoonbill were in Middlebere again. On the Brownsea Lagoon wader numbers are still growing slowly with 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 106 Black-tailed Godwit and a good number of Redshank. In various woodland scrub habitats around the harbour there seems to have been a good breeding year for both Blackcap and Chiffchaff with juveniles present in good numbers. Over the next week or two, we should start seeing the first Willow Warblers and Pied Flycatchers passing through with hopefully more Osprey following not far behind.

Our updated events schedule for the remainder of 2015 can now be FOUND HERE. Join us as we look for migrants passing through the harbour during the autumn and experience thousands of waders and wildfowl in some of Poole Harbours winter hot spots.

Harbour Update - posted 12/07/15

Having been away for a couple of days, it’s always nice to hear about the good selection of birds you’ve missed! 

More migrant activity with an Osprey seen in the Middlebere area this afternoon, which could be the bird seen over Corfe Castle a couple of days ago. Also in Middlebere today was an adult Spoonbill, 1 Whimbrel a Cuckoo, 3 Curlew, 2 Redshank and three broods of Shelduck totalling 30 young. A good total of 10 Crossbill passed over Stoborough early this morning. On the Brownsea Lagoon more waders arrived including 57 Redshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 5 Greenshank, 115 Black-tailed Godwit and singles of Avocet, Knot, Dunlin and Whimbrel. So far there has been a whopping 105 fledged Sandwich Terns with the total expected to rise plus the pure bred pair of Yellow-legged Gulls raised two chicks and there has also been two successful Med Gull pairs. At RSPB Lytchett Fields a drake Garganey in the bay was a surprise, there were 2 Spotted Redshank on Sherford Pools, also the juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 4 Green Sandpiper, 54 Redshank, 43 Lapwing and 1 Greenshank.


Harbour Update - posted 09/07/15

An Osprey was seen flying over Corfe Castle around midday heading towards the harbour. At RSPB Lytchett Fields the juvenile Little Ringed Plover remained and there was a continued good count of Lapwing, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit, all in varying degrees of plumage and moult. In Middlebere 3 Spoonbill were feeding and 2 Green Sandpiper were in front of the hide. 

Harbour Update - posted 08/07/15

As July pushes on, the waders continue to arrive. At RSPB Lytchett fields 5 Little Ringed Plover were present, as was a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank. Up to 5 (likely more) Green Sandpipers have taken up residence in some of the quieter pools and there are good numbers of Redshank, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit spread across the site. There were more signs of autumn at Lytchett Fields as a decent sized flock of 100+ Swallow gathered in the evening to roost in the reedbed, closely followed by a Hobby one evening and a Sparrowhawk the next. At Holton Lee Woodlark, good numbers of Stonechat and 2 Green Sandpiper were noted. The juvenile Marsh Harriers were seen again from a Wareham Channel boat tour as they alighted above the reedbeds on Giggers Island. There are now lots of juvenile birds around and in my garden the other day I experienced my first mixed-tit flock of the autumn, but over the next few weeks we should start seeing the first lemon yellow Willow Warblers joing these flocks along with quite often species like Treecreeper, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and even Firecrest.

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  • Spotted Redshank - RSPB Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
  • Green Sandpiper - RSPB Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
  • Little Ringed Plover (juv) - RSPB Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam
Harbour Update- posted 05/07/15

There was more evidence waders moving with a nice selection in Brands Bay, consisting of 2 Whimbrel, 32 Curlew, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 47 Black-tailed Godwit, 61 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Dunlin and 30 Med Gulls. At South Haven, 3 Ringed Plover settled and 50+ Swift were counted. On RSPB Lytchett Fields there were 4 adult Little Ringed Plover, 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel in the bay and a scattering of Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing across the site.

Harbour Update - posted 04/07/15

There has certainly been more signs of migration over the last couple of days, but by far the most incredible news from the last few days is that there is now not only one Marsh Harrier chick in what was thought to be abandoned nest site, but three! After weeks of watching with almost zero activity, it appears the female has been stretched to the absolute max by trying to provide for her self and three hungry young. With so few visits to the nest site its almost unbelievable to think that three young could have survived, but she has obviously been able to do just enough undetected to pull through. What a very happy ending, to what was looking like a total disaster.

This evening Nightjar walk was another stonker with Barn Owl, Spoonbill, Hobby, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew and a Green Sandpiper all noted from Middlebere and then a good number of Nightjar out on the heathland, followed by Glow Worms and juv Tawny’s back at the car park. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 little Ringed Plover, 4 Green Sandpiper and a Yellow-legged Gull. On Brownsea today a summer plumaged Spotted Redshank was present, with 2 Spoonbill. Sound recording from the last two nights in the Lower Frome Valley produced a couple of Little Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and likely Little Ringed Plover.

Harbour Update - posted 02/07/15

NIGHTJAR WALK - THIS SATURDAY AT ARNE RSPB RESERVE - TO BOOK CLICK HERE - Last satursdays was an absolute belter with plenty of Nightjar activity, also Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Spoonbill, Dartford WArbler, Glow Worms, Foxes and several bat species were encountered so come and get involved.

Again it was Lytchett Fields that saw the only coverage today. There were 3 adult Little Ringed Plover, 53+ Redshank, 10+ Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Green Sandpiper, 5 Teal and good numbers of Shelduck out on the wet fields. A Hobby passed overhead and a Common Sandpiper was at Lytchett Way.
Harbour Update - posted 01/07/15

NIGHTJAR WALK - THIS SATURDAY AT ARNE RSPB RESERVE - TO BOOK CLICK HERE - Last satursdays was an absolute belter with plenty of Nightjar activity, also Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Spoonbill, Dartford WArbler, Glow Worms, Foxes and several bat species were encountered so come and get involved.

The only highlight from the first of the month was 8 Green Sandpiper at the western end of Lytchett Fields.
Harbour Update - posted 30/06/15

NIGHTJAR WALK - THIS SATURDAY AT ARNE RSPB RESERVE - TO BOOK CLICK HERE - Last satursdays was an absolute belter with plenty of Nightjar activity, also Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Spoonbill, Dartford WArbler, Glow Worms, Foxes and several bat species were encountered so come and get involved.

At Lytchett Fields the Wood Sandpiper remained and 2 Little Ringed Plover were present, including the first juvenile of the autumn. The Wigeon remained on the wet fields as did a Green Sandpiper and a Marsh Harrier went over. Talking of Marsh Harriers, there was some exceptional news this morning when it was discovered that at least one juvenile Marsh Harrier has survived the doomed nests and looks to fledge any day now. Local harrier watcher Peter Hadrill was rewarded with his hours of observations when an orangey head bobbed above the reed beds for a short while indicating the presence of a young bird at the alpha nest. This is a huge shock as it was thought that all three nests had failed this summer, with little or no activity at any of the sites for over two weeks. The big question is…..are there more? There were also 5 Spoonbill on the Brownsea Lagoon, indicating that there is some potential movement/migration underway of this species.

Night recording in the Lower Frome Valley from the last two nights has been quite productive too. Setting my gear up on Monday night was a treat all by its self as Venus and Jupiter were almost sat on top of each other, low in the western sky, and Saturn hung to the right of the exceptionally bright moon. Highlights included my first Common Sandpiper of the autumn moving just before dawn, a Sandwich Tern flying around at 2am, I’m not sure what it was doing flying over a wet grassland site at that time of the morning, but interesting none the less. There has been a constant arrival/movement of Curlew with a whole range of bubbling drawn out calls. Both Coot and Moorhen have been moving it seems as have a handful of Water Rail. A Barn Owl and nearby juv Tawny Owl have called a couple of times and the local Marsh Frogs, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Reed Warblers and Black-headed Gulls are doing their best to make studying the sonagrams as hard as possible.

Other birds noted from the last few nights have include Med Gull, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Nightjar, Herring Gull, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Reed Bunting.

Insomniac Sandwich Tern – Lower Frome Valley at 2am

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