March 2016

Harbour Update - posted 30/03/16

The fine spring weather encouraged a few spring migrants to drop into the harbour today including a good arrival of Chiffchaff right the way around the harbour with a minimum of 10 at Holton Lee, 16+ at Lytchett Fields, 10+ at the PC World Drain, 5+ South Haven and double figures along the Arne Road. Several more Willow Warbler dropped in too with 2 at the PC World Drain, 4 at South Haven and 1 at Middlebere. At Lytchett Fields there were up to 11 Water Pipit, 2 singing Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Swallow through. Also at South Haven a Firecrest was present and 4 Redpoll passed over. Out in Bramble Bush Bay 1 Great Northern Diver, and 2 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe were still present. Someone also reported Blackbird chicks had hatched in a garden in Wareham. 

Wheatear - Holton Lee



Willow Warbler - PC World Drain


Harbour Update - posted 29/03/16

Sunshine and shows forced down a few more migrants today including the Harbours first 2 Willow Warblers at Middlebere. Also at Middlebere 1 Swallow, 4 Chiffchaff, 6 Spoonbill, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 pair of Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Stonechat. Over Poole Park boating lake 40 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow were feeding. On Brownsea there was a single Spoonbill, 1 Wheatear, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 12 Avocet and several Med Gulls.

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Holton Lee



Siskin - Arne RSPB Reserve



Mistle Thrush - Holton Lee

Harbour Update - posted 28/03/16

Storm Katie was causing havoc last night, smashing up most things that seemed to get in her way. A slightly annoying state of affairs seeming as we thought we were well past this grotty weather and on the right track for balmy spring days and masses of migrants. It is still only March we have to keep reminding ourselves and have the real bounty of April and May to look forward to yet so we won’t lose too much sleep (unlike last night)! A few hardy migrants made it through with a House Martin passing over Holton Lee and Lytchett Fields early doors, however a huge high tide flooded almost the entire Lytchett Fields site, forcing most waders and all Water Pipits off, leaving space for only 80+ Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Gadwall, lots of Teal and Shelduck and a handful of Common Redshank. At Holton Lee there were numerous Chiffchaff singing and 2 Woodlark were seen. In Middlebere there were 5 1st summer Spoonbill including a Dutch colour-ringed bird. At Arne the incredibly tame and wonderfully numerous Siskin on the feeders are enough to keep anyone entertained, especially the bright green males. Also at Arne 2 Crossbill were reported and several Chiffchaff were singing. From Middle Beach, Studland there were 4 Great Northern Diver, 4 Common Scoter and a single Black-necked Grebe. In Middlebere there were 6 Spoonbill. 

We’re hoping to get our sound recording gear back out on our listening station in Old Town Poole again on Wednesday night, and with all this bad weather potentially holding things up, it could be a good session. We’ve also had some feedback from Magnus Robb at the Sound Approach who has kindly ID’d some recordings from a couple of weeks ago for us. As you can probably imagine, it’s a bit of a minefield when analysing a nights recording with some sounds you recognise right away, and others that literally leave you scratching your head for days, needing a bit of time (and expert knowledge) to work out. Magnus has shed some light on a couple of interesting recordings made back on the 21st and 23rd of March. These include our second Golden Plover of 2016, confirmation of Common Scoter calling over urban Poole and best of all….Woodcock passing over, performing a version of its high-pitched squeak flight type call. Utterly amazing!

Golden Plover – Golden Plover - Call of a night time migrant over Old Town Poole Listening Station - 21/03/16, 00:38


Common Scoter – Common Scoter - Calls of a night time migrant, Old Town Poole Listening Station - 23/03/16, 23:33


Woodcock - Woodcock - Calls of night time migrant, Old Town Poole Listening Station - 23/03/16, 19:30


Harbour Update - posted 27/03/16

We take back yesterdays comments regarding tough birding days…it should be written that TODAY was actually the toughest of birding days with the highlights consisting of a single Sand Martin and a Green Sandpiper at Holton Lee reported to us. That was it! 

So, to divert your interests we’ve been working with the Poole Harbour Study Group who have kindly donated several semi-recent reports/surveys, which focus on bird populations within Poole Harbour. These can now be found on our surveys page and can be used as reference material. In total there are 6 donated from the PHSG and 1 from the RSPB. We'd like to extend our thanks to both the PHSG and RSPB for these welcome additions to our BoPH survey archive.

The title of the surveys are…….

 Wader and Waterfowl Roost Survey Of Poole Harbour 2002/03

Numbers And Distribution Of Black-necked Grebe And Other Waterbirds at Studland, Dorset 2005/06

Important Breeding Birds Of Poole Harbour 2004 . Part 1 Water Rail. Part 2 Redshank

Important Birds Of Poole Harbour And Their Status 1998/99 - 2004/05

Important Birds Of Poole Harbour 2002

Bird Invertebrate Prey Availability In Poole Harbour 2004

Poole Harbour Breeding Redshank Survey 2014

Harbour Update - posted 26/03/16

If you looked up the definition ‘tough birding day’ in the birding bible then today would have surely been the written description. Wind and yuk conditions did nothing to aid anyone who was hoping to get out in search of spring migrants and that included us on our monthly field trip to the Sunnyside Farm and Soldiers Road area. The best we could muster were 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Woodlark which thankfully gave great views feeding just meters away from us. Realising we weren’t going to see much more we headed for Arne and a quick loop around Coombe Heath where 6 Spoonbill and a flyby Wheatear brightened things up slightly. A nice find of 6 Brambling feeding in a Chaffinch flock in Wytch Farm Wood, Rempstone was welcomed, although this is private land. Best of the rest was 1 Sand Martin at Lytchett Fields and 18 Sanderling on Shell Beach, Studland. 

Sanderling - Shell Beach, Studland - Denise Davis



Little Egret - Holes Bay - Jaqui Taylor


Harbour Update - posted 25/03/16

A busy day today with plenty about. Starting Knoll Beach, Studland where out off the beach 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Black-necked Grebe and 8 Red-breasted Merganser were bobbing about out in the sun. On the heathland there a Woodcock dashed by, 2 Peregrine were circling high and plenty of Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were active. Out around Lytchett Fields the areas first Wheatear was on the newly ploughed field and a Little Ringed Plover was out on Sherford Pools. There were another 2 Little Ringed Plover in the lower Frome Valley near Swineham on a muddy pool. A Red Kite drifted over Arne around 2pm. There was promising news regarding Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers that a pair have been seen actively nest building and displaying which is great news. At Greenlands Farm, Studland there were 10 Wheatear and a single Sand Martin. At Swineham there were 2 Bearded Tit, 5 Chiffchaff and 7 Med Gulls. Finally there were 2 Spoonbill in Middlebere. 

Little Ringed Plovers - Near Swineham - Paul Morton



Meadow Pipit and Stonechat - Slepe Heath - Paul Morton


Reed Bunting - Slepe Heath - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 24/03/16

The harbours first Osprey of the spring drifted over Middlebere around 4pm before dropping down into the harbour area somewhere. Will it stick around? Who knows but hopefully it’s the first of several. Out on Lytchett Fields there were 3 Greenshank and 1 Spotted Redshank with singles of Marsh Harrier, Water Pipit, Swallow and Sand Martin with another 2 Swallow dashing through Strete in Poole and 4 more over Hartland. There was reports of a fall of Chiffchaff around the Studland area mid afternoon, prior to the wind and rain kicking in. Night recording from our listening station from Old Town Poole produced 159 Redwing calls, 4 Song Thrush calls, 1 Fieldfare and a Chaffinch.

Harbour Update - posted 23/03/16

Today was a pretty quiet day with not much to report other than 2 Firecrest in Stoborough and a very quiet night recording session with just 32 Redwing calls, 1 Blackbird and 2 Curlew.

Harbour Update - posted 22/03/16

The Harbours first Swallow of the spring dashed through Poole over the office roofs as we were setting up our sound recording gear. With Chiffchaff now beginning to come through in small waves, they can now be heard from various hedgerows and woodlands. An interesting looking tristis type Chiffchaff was found at Lytchett Fields early morning giving small bouts of song as it was feeding. A Stonechat along Holes Bay suggested it was a new arrival too. It was nice to see Brownsea get a good grilling today too with 12 Meds, 4 Sandwich Tern, 2 Snipe, 10 Knot, 5 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 16 Grey Plover, 50 Black-tailed Godwit18 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Curlew, 60 Avocet, 15 Gadwall, 20 Shoveler, 7 Brent Geese and 238 Shelduck all on the lagoon. Away from the lagoon 3 separate singing Firecrest were found, along with 2 singing Chiffchaff and a fly over Brambling. From the western shoreline of Brownsea a tight flock of 58 Great Crested Grebe were out in central harbour with 2 Common Scoter and 20 Red-breasted Merganser. At Norden Sewage Works a Firecrest was back again next to the filter beds and in Middlebere 7 Spoonbill were roosting. From Knoll Beach, Studland a single Black-necked Grebe and 3 Common Scoter were counted.

Our night recording session was a little more productive Monday night going into Tuesday with the highlights consisting of….

Redwing calls – 284

Song Thrush calls – 5

Blackbird calls – 10

Skylark – 1

Teal – 4

Wigeon flock – 1

Redshank – 2

Curlew 4

Moorhen – 1

Skylark - Skylark - Call of a night time migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station


Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam



One of yesterdays Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam



Firecrest - Norden Sewage Works - Clive Hargrave


Harbour Update - posted 21/03/16

Spring stepped up a gear this morning with 2 Little Ringed Plover found out on Lytchett Fields. Up on Coombe Heath, Arne 5+ Wheatear were also hopping along the sand tracks and at Swineham GP at least 10 Sand Martin were feeding out over the main lake. A Goshawk was reported circling high above Arne Farm by one of the Arne staff, a real Poole Harbour rarity. Out in Middlebere 5 Spoonbill were roosting and in the Arne car park 2 Firecrest were still present. At the PC World drain a few more Chiffchaff were present than usual and a Spotted Redshank was at the mouth of the channel in Holes Bay North.

Having now gone through our recordings from Sunday night into Monday, it was evident another pulse of Redwing were on the move with 384 calls recorded. Interestingly most came in the early hours with only 84 before midnight, but 300 after, possibly suggesting they had come from further afield. Other than the Redwing, not much else was on the move with just 7 Song Thrush calls, 21 Blackbird calls, 1 Dunlin and a couple of ‘unknowns’ that we’ll look into. 

Harbour Update - posted 20/03/16

Today was a cold nippy day, but with the final Poole Harbour WeBS count it was certain a decent number of reports would come in. Spoonbill numbers seem to have risen with between 6-9 reported over the last couple of weeks, yet today there were 3 out in the Wareham Channel, another 3 in the mouth of Middlebere,  3 in Brands Bay, 6 on the southern shores and 2 in Newton Bay bring the total to 17. Perhaps some new arrivals in? Out in the Wareham Channel there was a rise of Black-tailed Godwit with 130 also a large group of 21 Gadwall feeding on the mud, also 2 Spotted Redshank and 29 Grey Plover. Off Shipstal Point a tight flock of 29 Great Crested Grebe associated with 4 Goldeneye and several Red-breasted Merganser. Along the Arne Road a group of 4 Woodlark were feeding close to the road edge. Out in Brands Bay over 800 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding which must surely indicate an arrival/passage too as number have been relatively low over the last few weeks. Also still good numbers of Pintail and Wigeon, 40+ Sanderling and 3 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe there too. In the southern Bays of the harbour 2500+ birds were counted with highlights being 6 Spoonbill, 11 Knot, 5 Spotted Redshank, 2 Common Scoter and 1 Black-necked Grebe. There were 2 Firecrest in the Arne car park again, 1 Merlin in Middlebere and 12 Sand Martin over Ham Common Lake.

We’ve set our sound recording gear up at our listening station again in Poole in the hope of picking up some migrants pass over the harbour. Thanks to Nick Hopper for providing us with an example of one of our target species to record, a Common Scoter which Nick recorded at night over Stoborough on the 31st March 2015. Not a species you’d expect to get fly over rural areas but its well documented that Common Scoter take inland ‘short cuts’ occasionally turning up on gravel pits and reservoirs in central Britain.

Common Scoter - Common Scoter - Stoborough 31/03/15 @ 22:28 - Nick Hopper

Harbour Update - posted 19/03/16

Some more signs of spring with 6 Sand Martin over Swineham GP and what was likely to be 2 Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields with 7 Water Pipit still on the pools field. Unfortunately they both flew before getting close enough to be able to ID. The 2 Firecrest were again in and around the Arne car park. A Black-necked Grebe was off Knoll Beach, Studland. Along Soldiers Road 3 Woodlark were feeding near to the roadside and several Chiffchaff were sing from sites around the harbour fringe. 

Harbour Update - posted 18/03/16

With a drop off in wind strength on Thursday night going into Friday it allowed a small passage of birds to pass over our listening station during the hours of darkness. There was a small increase in Redwing with 46 calls registered 6 Song Thrush calls, 4 Blackbird calls, 3 Curlew and 5 Oystercatcher. Although this isn’t the case most the time, we’ve noticed this last week that thrushes haven’t wanted to move into a direct headwind at all. Perhaps the wind strength was just a tad too much, whereas quite normally birds will migrate into the wind as it provides lift, and takes them further away from the centre of a weather system. There were 2 Firecrest in the Arne car park with loads of Siskin on the feeders there. Plus, the harbours first Wheatear of the spring was found down along Shipstal Beach. In Middlebere 4 Spoonbill were still present along with a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. Meadow Pipits were on the move all day, with flocks of 5-30 birds passing over in waves out over places like Coombe Heath and Slepe Heath.

Harbour Update - posted 17/03/16

Spring really arrived today with birds, bees and butterflies all out and about. The warmth that built throughout the day saw plenty of raptors take advantage of the thermals and start displaying again. It seemed everywhere you looked Buzzards were soaring then dropping out of the sky in their acrobatic, quite dramatic areal courtship. Kestrels were even getting involved with a group of 4 circling and interacting together high over Arne Moors. Early on saw a Great White Egret flying along with a group of 10 Little Egrets at Lytchett Fields with 8 Water Pipit still out on the pools Field and a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine overhead. In Middlebere there were 6 Spoonbill and a Spotted Redshank and there was still at least 1 Firecrest at the PC World drain. Night recording from our listening station in Old Town, Poole produced just 7 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush and 2 Oystercatcher

There is also just a couple of weeks left of our Logo Design Competition which anyone is welcome to get involved in. We’re looking for people to get creative and inspired to enter our competition which will see the winning design used as our official logo for the Birds of Poole Harbour charity. For full details CLICK HERE

Black-tailed Godwit - Holes Bay - Denise Davis



Great White Egret - Lytchett Fileds - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 16/03/16

This NE wind we’re experiencing still seems to keeping the birds at bay, still with no reports of many migrants in the harbour yet. Even our latest night sound recording session produced just 14 Redwing calls and nothing else. After an absence of several weeks the Great White Egret reappeared in Brands Bay mid morning. In Middlebere just 3 Spoonbill today and a ringtail Hen Harrier were seen from the hide. Out off Baiter 2 Great Northern Diver were feeding along with several Red-breasted Merganser. Some interesting additions from our night recording session on March 10th now include 1 Brambling and what we’re pretty sure is a Mandarin Duck! (Thanks Nick Hopper for the pointer)

Mandarin Duck - (Likely)Mandarin - Passing over Old Town Poole, Listening Station - 03:03 (10/03/16)

Harbour Update - posted 15/03/16

More sun, nippy wind and a few birds. A pair of Stonechat at Hatch Pond was a nice inner town unexpected find. In Middlebere 6 Spoonbill are still present along with 8 Grey Plover and 2 Spotted Redshank out on the mud. Around 200 Brent Geese remain on the fields around Middlebere and out on Hartland Skylark, Stonechat and Dartford were all active. Chiffchaffs were present and singing at the PC World Drain and Norden sewage works and an obvious pulse of Meadow Pipit were passing north throughout the morning. 

Harbour Update - posted 14/03/16

A glorious sun filled day, but still no sign of many spring migrants. At Lytchett Fields 6 Water Pipit remained with a Peregrine overhead, plus a falcon species wearing jessei’s, who’s ID we couldn’t figure out. At around midday a Red Kite passed over Agglestone Rock, Studland and off Studland beach, 2 Great Northern Diver were feeding with a single Black-necked Grebe and 16 Sanderling were on the beach with 9 later in Brands Bay. From the Chain Ferry 3 Sandwich Tern were counted and at North Haven 2 Purple Sandpiper were on the rocks. Some night monitoring from Lytchett Bay produced another Coot for the year (4 in total now). This species is considered a very scarce visitor to Lytchett Bay but it seems is a regular migrant over the bay during early spring. 

Firecrest - Poole Harbour North - Paul Morton

Chiffchaff - Poole Harbour North - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 13/03/16

Today saw the first real ‘trickle’ (and a trickle it was) of spring migrants with Wheatear at Portland and Sand Martin in north Dorset, and although neither have occurred in the harbour yet we did manage to ring what is likely to be our first migrant Chiffchaff this morning in the north of the harbour, showing possibly a small amount of Pollen around the base of the bill, picked up whilst feeding on migration up through Europe. A re-trap Firecrest was also caught along with several re-trap over-wintering Chiffchaff. In Holes Bay north 2 Spotted Redshank were at the outflow with c200 Black-tailed Godwit and c50 Dunlin on the mud. After analysing our night recordings from Saturday night it was clear that Redwing are still passing over in good numbers during the night. With last nights total added to the previous two nights we encountered 2261 Redwing calls and 252 Blackbird calls over the course of the three nights. These figures will only represent a percentage of birds actually passing over as not all birds are calling, so the true figure of Redwing and Blackbird passing over our station over the last three nights is almost certainly much much greater. Totals from our latest ‘invis- mig’ (thanks Daragh for the phrase) session included…

Redwing calls - 532

Blackbird calls - 56

Song Thrush calls - 5

Starling - 1

Curlew - 3

Oystercatcher - 4

Wigeon flock – 1

As promised here are selection of recordings made during the last three nights as birds were moving above our listening station. Given that our recording station is in the centre of Poole you'll have to try and ignore the rumble of background traffic!

Coot – Night time migrant over nocturnal listening station, Poole - 22:54


Moorhen - Night time migrant over nocturnal listening station, Poole - 00:15


Teal - Calls of several birds over nocturnal listening station, Poole - 19:05


Fieldfare - call of a night time migrant from nocturnal listening station, Poole - 23:43


Blackbird and Redwing - Calls of passing migrants over nocturnal listening station, Poole - 22:01

Wigeon flock with Redwing - Calls over nocturnal listening station, Poole - 23:35

Oystercatcher - Calls of bird passing over nocturnal listening station, Poole - 21:14

Harbour Update - posted 12/03/16

After our successful sound recording session from our recording station in Old Town Poole we gave it another go on Friday night in the hope of another big movement, but it seems the fog put a stop to that around midnight. Although not as busy as the previous night there was still a moderate thrush passage before the fog set in with totals between 7pm and 3am being….

Redwing calls - 377

Blackbird calls - 52

Song Thrush calls - 5

Teal - 1

Curlew - 1

Moorhen - 1

Oystercatcher – 4

Once we've been through all recordings from thurs, fri and sat night we'll post some on our sightings blog.

Sightings from today included a few Lesser-spotted Woodpecker with one in the tree line leading down to Lytchett Fields and 2 at Holton Lee. Out on Lytchett Fields there were 6 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and a Marsh and Hen Harrier hunting too. On Brownsea there were 4 Sandwich Tern and a Firecrest was at PC World again.

Harbour Update - posted 11/03/16

A fine spring day presented a nice mini fall of Black Redstarts up Old Harry with 3 males and a female/1st year type. Out of Knoll Beach Studland 2 Common Scoter and a Black-throated Diver were out on flat calm waters with a Firecrest nearby too. Off Baiter 5 Great Northern Diver were feeding in the shallow channels, all still in winter plumage and Med Gull numbers were still really impressive on the low tide. At Lytchett Fields 8 Water Pipit can still be found on the pools field and a Chiffchaff was new in. News came in from somewhere that there was a Wryneck at Creekmoor Ponds, although it was neither re-found or confirmed.

Our listening station came up trumps last night too with a great total and range of species migrating across the night sky between 7pm and 3am. Totals included…

Redwing calls - 1351

Blackbird calls - 144

Song Thrush calls - 5

Fieldfare - 1

Skylark - 2

Moorhen - 1

Coot - 1

Dunlin - 1

Curlew - 2

Grey Plover 2

Oystercatcher 5

Teal - 1

Med Gull – 2

There were also several other calls that we’re looking into now, but for early/mid March these totals are fantastic, especially the number of Blackbird migrating back north with the Redwing. We’ll also be recording tonight and be uploading a range of sounds captured from the last few nights hopefully tomorrow.

Harbour Update - posted 10/03/16

Some late news reached us today of a Black-throated Diver off Knoll Beach on Tuesday with one (possibly two) there again today. At the PC World drain a Firecrest was singing and there were 2 pollen-faced Chiffchaff with several of the ringed birds. Off Baiter late afternoon a huge low tide saw almost the whole of the northern edge of Poole Harbour drained of water with Parkstons Bay, Whitley Lake, Saltern Bank and the Brownsea shorelines all exposed, attracting big numbers of gulls to feed. Med Gulls were well into triple figures but still not the Iceland or Glaucouse Gulls that were searched for. On the Brownsea Lagoon 2 Spoonbill were again feeding around ‘the boomerang’.

The recent hedge clearing at Lytchett Fields to open the site up seems to be working with birds just as happy to use the site as before, but to keep disturbance down to a minimum the RSPB have been erecting a dividing screen next to French’s viewpoint which should be finished by this weekend and we hope in turn will also include some interpretation.

Harbour Update - posted 09/03/16

We thought we’d got rid of the stormy weather, but no! It came back with vengeance today. As usual a good place to check during stormy weather is Baiter and as expected several large pools were created, providing bathing and feeding zones for a number of birds. Of note, 6 Sandwich Tern were present including 5 with full black hoods suggesting these are new arrivals, whilst at the same time 2 were on the Brownsea Lagoon webcam highlighting there are a minimum of 8 in the harbour. Also out on Baiter were 11 Ringed Plover, 4 Dunlin, 6 Turnstone and 30+ Med Gull later in the afternoon.  On Brownsea 2 Spoonbill were again feeding amongst c100 Avocet.

There was also a late report from Friday where 4 Common Crane were seen flying low across the flood meadows of Swineham and Wareham water meadows with 2 seen again the following day. This fits in with Saturdays sighting at Holton Lee too.

We’re also putting out a request for information from local student Elli Rivers who is carrying out a study in Poole Harbour over the next few years. Elli is after any wader corpses that are found in and around Poole Harbour as part of her research. If you do come across a wader corpse please let Elli know and if she can't collect it right away then please call our office (01202 641003) and we can come out too. See below text...........

Dear Poole Harbour birdwatchers

I am an MSc Biodiversity Conservation student at Bournemouth and am currently undertaking a research project looking at the potential impact of plastics on the energy budgets of shorebirds in Poole Harbour. One factor is whether the birds have ingested any plastics, so if possible I am hoping to collect dead specimens which could be analysed. 

If anyone comes across a wader corpse in their travels around the harbour please do let me know - and if you were prepared to bag it up and keep hold of it for me I would be very grateful! I live about 50 mins away from Poole but I am quite flexible in my schedule so could come down to collect at short notice - so please be assured you wouldn't be stuck with it for any length of time.

My mobile number is 07814 575848 and my email address is

Many thanks,

Elli Rivers


Harbour Update - posted 08/03/16

We’ve already talked about the excitement of migration, and provided a bit of information of things to come in terms of what should be appearing in the harbour over the next couple weeks, but whilst people are busy scanning headlands and hedgerows, who’s listening to what’s going on over head? Over the last 12 months we’ve been busy trying to figure out what’s happening while we’re tucked up in bed asleep by carrying out a series of night recording sessions each month and analysing the recordings. The results have been fascinating and locally, we’re only at the very tip of the iceberg with our understanding of how and when birds are migrating through the harbour. This year we have a new sound recording station based in Old Town Poole, on top of a large 3 story building which we hope will provide us with a real insight into what’s going on during peak migration times. This calender year we’ve already sound recorded Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Redshank as they move around in the dark back and forth to their feeding grounds and a passing Golden Plover but with the migration season now upon us we’re already beginning to hear birds on passage and Monday night (07/03/16) saw our first decent movement of the spring. Between 7pm and midnight there was an obvious migration of Redwing passing over our listening station and I suspect over most of southern Britain as birds made their way up from the SW and possibly even from the near continent. Totals from the whole nights recording included 102 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird, 2 Common Gull, 3 Curlew, 6 Oystercatcher and 1 Redshank. The recording below shows just how low some of these birds are migrating with this particular Redwing literally just a few meters above our microphone

Redwing – One of over 100 migrating over Old Town Poole – 07/03/16


Waders are also beginning to move now and although there could be confusion with local waders that are just moving about the harbour to feed, we’re pretty sure the Curlew in the next recording is a migrant as it was one of three that arrived over the course of the night calling from quite high up

Curlew – Passing high over Old Town Poole – 07/03/16


Finally was this Oystercatcher, which is probably the most frequent wader we encounter from the station, due to the fact they’re so vocal and numerous. This bird again passed so close to the microphone that you can even hear its wing beats after the loudest call, and which can be seen within the sonagram.

Oystercatcher – Passing low over listening station - 07/03/16


Elsewhere in the harbour, 2 Spoonbill were on the Brownsea Lagoon with a Spotted Redshank and Sandwich Tern. At the PC World Drain a Firecrest was still present but just 2 Chiffchaff. Off Baiter a Great Northern Diver was distant and nearly all Great Crested Grebes are changing into their summer plumage and good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser remain. In Middlebere there were 4 Spoonbill and at Lytchett Pools 3 Water Pipit were found. At Arne Crossbills have been reported to the VC team over the last few days.

Harbour Update - posted 07/03/16

For the gulls spring is really getting going as the islands off Holton Lee become more and more packed with Black-headed Gulls and to a lesser extent Med Gulls. From the Holton Lee viewpoint a Hen Harrier was seen down towards Swineham and a Peregrine was out over the channel. Out in the fields a party of c50 Redwing are still foraging and are now joined by Meadow Pipits. At the PC World Drain 8 Chiffchaff were counted and the Firecrest was still present there. Out on the Brownsea Lagoon 2 Spoonbill are now frequent visitors having spent most of the winter at Arne and Middlebere and c100 Avocet and c300 Black-tailed Godwit were also on the lagoon. In Holes Bay north, you can still get great views of species such as Avocet, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher as they get forced close to the cycle path by the rising tide.

Harbour Update - posted 06/03/16

Another night survey, this time around the Sunnyside area produced a good count of Jack Snipe, comfortably reaching double figures with only 3 Woodcock seen. The rise in Jack Snipe numbers is most likely due birds passing through the area on migration, which could also account for the decrease in Woodcock numbers as birds move out of their winter territory. A Red Kite passed over Lytchett Fields heading towards Holton Lee, whilst out on the fields c 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Avocet, 1 Green Sandpiper and still a handful of Redwing about. In the SW corner of the harbour the well-marked female Hen Harrier was still hunting mid-morning, with females of Merlin over Hartland, Peregrine on Slepe Heath and a few Marsh Harrier. Out in the harbour a Great Northern Diver was still off Baiter with 12 Turnstone on the shoreline there and 2 Ringed Plover.

Jack Snipe - Sunnyside - Terry Elborn



Jack Snipe - Sunnyside - Terry Elborn

Harbour Update - posted 05/03/16

Highlight of the day went to two Common Cranes that passed over Holton Lee and out across Lytchett Bay. Unfortunately they were lost to view by the woodland treeline and couldn’t be relocated, however the info services stated at 19:06 – 2 Common Crane – Poole. If anyone has any info about this later sighting we’d be interested in hearing where abouts ‘in Poole’ the sighting was made. Also at Holton Lee 2 Marsh Harrier were over the reedbed with a Peregrine high overhead. A Green Sandpiper was on Holton Pools and what seemed like constant calling from Siskins and Med Gulls overhead. Out on the Holton Lee heathland, Dartford Warbler and Stonechat were both active and a few Meadow Pipit passed overhead. At the PC World drain the first few migrant Chiffchaff arrived with at least one with pollen on its face/forehead, also a Firecrest there too. In Middlebere 4 Spoonbill remained and 2 Firecrest were still at Norden Sewage Works. 

Grey Wagtail - Norden Sewage Works - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 04/03/16

A cold, bright start to the day made a few birds active. At Norden Sewage Works the 2 Firecrest were present again along with several Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Grey Wagtail. In Middlebere the 4 Spoonbill remained with another 1 on Brownsea and a Spotted Redshank was also in Middlebere. Out on Arne Moors a large 1st year female Peregrine was causing trouble and a late night survey there saw 4 Woodcock and 6 Common Snipe. At Holton Lee another 4 Woodcock were counted during the survey and at Lytchett Fields a Barn Owl was out hunting over the fields. In Holes Bay north mid morning there were good numbers of common waders and wildfowl near the cycle path and a Spotted Redshank was at the mouth of the outflow. 

Harbour Update - posted 03/03/16

Still no sign of any migrants arriving in the country let alone Poole Harbour. The usual affair of 2 Firecrest at Norden Sewage Works and another in Broadstone LNR, 4 Spoonbill in Middlebere with a Spotted Redshank, a female Merlin on Hartland and a Great Northern Diver out in harbour central was all that could be mustered. 

Harbour Update - posted 02/03/16

It was noted today that the first Osprey was recorded in the UK with a bird seen up in Argyl around midday. Although still relatively early, Osprey are another species that will be passing through right throughout March and into April. However, spring passage is much quicker and if fine weather prevails then birds will just pass through/over and go straight to their breeding grounds, with birds often only getting delayed and held up in Poole Harbour by bad weather, or…..if not paired up yet and possibly looking to scope out a new territory. We’re keeping our eyes peeled.

Sightings today only produced 2 Merlin, one over Slepe Heath and another at Upton CP with a Peregrine. A Great Northern Diver was off Poole Quay with a Guillemot and the Spoonbills were again in Middlebere. A Sandwich Tern was off Baiter, Firecrests were in the Arne car park and up to 7 Chiffchaff were at the PC World drain.


Harbour Update - posted 01/03/16

Its certainly got colder, just as we thought spring was about to explode! At Lytchett Fields just a single Water Pipit, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Greenshank were of note. At Upton CP the Bearded Tits were again in the reedbed near the boardwalk. There is still at least 1 Hen Harrier in the harbour and 5 Spoonbill were in Middlebere with 15 Grey Plover and 3 Spotted Redshank.


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