July 2016

Harbour Update - posted 30/07/16

At Holton Heath some passerine passage was in evidence as 2 Willow Warbler and4 Spotted Flycatcher were seen feeding together in dead trees near the train station. On Holton Pools there were 7 Greenshank, whilst on Lytchett Fields a great count of 14 Green Sandpiper was almost knocking on the ‘record count’ door, but not quite as 4 Greenshank, 7 Common Sandpiper and 500+ Black-tailed Godwit were also counted. 

Harbour Update - posted 29/07/16

At Lytchett Fields the wader theme continued as 1 Little Ringed Plover, 8 Common Sandpiper, 5 Green Sandpiper, 13 Dunlin and 2 Greenshank were noted as the highlights in amongst the Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Lapwing. A night sound recording session at Holton Lee as part of the Big Wild Sleep Out included 1 Woodlark, 1 Greenshank, 3 Oystercatcher, a Curlew flock, 1 Nightjar and a Tawny Owl.

Harbour Update - posted 28/07/16

Sightings a bit thin on the ground today other than a few more signs of autumn with the first Garden Warbler of the season ringed in Poole Harbour north with 6 juv Blackcap and 4 juv Chiffchaff. At Lytchett Fields; Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed godwit, Lapwing, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover and Snipe were all recorded. On the Brownsea Lagoon 5 Spotted Redshank were present with 13 Avocet and a Knot.

Juvenile male Blackcap going through post-juvenile moult - Poole Harbour north


First Garden Warbler of the autumn - Poole Harbour north

Harbour Update - posted 27/07/16

A slightly slower day compared to recent days with 1 Knot and 5 Spotted Redshank on the Brownsea Lagoon and rising numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank. On Lytchett Fields there were 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and the usual spread of Redshank, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit

Harbour Update - posted 26/07/16

It was nice to hear that a Melodious Warbler was trapped and ringed at Durlston early morning, which although isn’t Poole Harbour, shows that its well worth keeping an eye out for species like this now. Wryneck is also another classic August-September bird and could literally turn up anywhere. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 5 Spotted Redshank, one still in full summer plumage, 157 Redshank, 51 Little Egret, 9 Greenshank, 6 Dunlin, 13 Avocet, 1 Knot, 1 Turnstone, 5 Common Sandpiper and 2 Kingfisher. At Holton Heath there were still 5 churring male Nightjar and a possible Wood Sandpiper called overhead along with a Greenshank. At Lytchett Fields ‘the usual’ Common Sandpipers, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Lapwing were all present with a record-breaking number of Black-tailed Godwit for the site totaling 618! 

Harbour Update - posted 25/07/16

July leading into August is Yellow-legged Gull season and even though Poole Harbour hosts the only pure bred breeding pair in the UK we see an influx of these birds every year from southern Europe. In Middlebere there were 9, at Brands Bay there were 6 and in Holes Bay 3. The adults are bigger and bulkier than Herring Gull with a darker mantle (back) and of course they have yellow legs. However, so do Lesser Black-backed Gulls but these tend to be a bit smaller and daintier. Also in Brands Bay were 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 47 Curlew and 2 Whimbrel. On the Brownsea Lagoon 8 Avocet were still present with 2 Spotted Redshank. On Lytchett Fields up to 10 Green Sandpiper were tucked up in amongst the grass and reeds with 500+ Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Redshank, 61 Lapwing, 4 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 1 Ruff, 1 Garganey and a Hobby.

Garganey - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam


Harbour Update - posted 24/07/16

Well, only yesterday were we talking about Garganey are rarely reported during the autumn as one had arrived on Brownsea, then low and behold another (or possibly the same) turns up on Lytchett Fields, feeding out from Sherford viewpoint. That feeling of total and utter possibility has certainly now arrived meaning you should be on your guard for anything to turn as autumn migration is well and truly underway. There’s also an interesting wind pattern with the Jetstream traveling all the way from North America and dumping right on the UK brining with it all kinds of possibilities. The UK has already this week seen Western, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers. Will Brownsea get its second ever Stilt Sandpiper or could perhaps Poole Harbour see its first ever Least Sandpiper or Greater Yellowlegs? Now back to reality where also on Lytchett Fields along with the Garganey  there were 3 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Snipe and still plenty of Sedge Warbler.  A ringing session in Poole Harbour north saw more juvenile Blackcap and Chiffchaff ringed, along with a ringed juvenile Chiffchaff that was ringed at Lytchett Bay on July 14th this year.

Garganey - Lytchett Fields - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 23/07/16

Autumn really picked up the pace today with the first Garganey appearing on the Brownsea lagoon. We say the first, but it could actually end up being the only Garganey of the autumn as they’re rarely reported this time of year due to the fact they look very similar to female and juvenile Teal, and any male that arrives will almost certainly be in eclipse plumage. Also on Brownsea was a whopping 22 Common Sandpiper on the southern shoreline and on the lagoon was the lone Spoonbill still, 4 Spotted Redshank, 15 Greenshank, 113 Common Redshank, 8 Avocet, 10 Curlew and 5 Dunlin. On Lytchett Fields there were 10 Green Sandpiper, 6 Common Sandpiper, 4 Dunlin and 8 Little Ringed Plover whilst in Lytchett Bay 3 Greenshank were feeding and 2 Bearded Tit were in the reedbed.  The Arne Nightjar was still impressing the crowds and a Marsh Harrier was in Middlebere.

Harbour Update - posted 22/07/16

There’s still a nice run of birds on Lytchett Fields with 8 Green Sandpiper, 205 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Common Sandpiper, 6 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Greenshank. The site also has plenty of Sedge Warbler moving through it at present, so whilst stood at the viewpoints see if you can see or hear them in the hedges as they pass through. 

Harbour Update - posted 21/07/16

New birds in today included 3 more Grasshopper Warbler ringed at Lytchett Bay with several Sedge Warbler too. The 6 Avocet, 1 Spoonbill and 2 Spotted Redshank were on Brownsea again. Several Little Ringed Plover remained on Lytchett Fields with the other ‘usual cast’ of waders. 

We also wanted to congratulate these two bruisers who have worked their socks off at warning us away from their two healthy and now fledged chicks every time we went to go and check conditions from our nocturnal listening station in Old Town Poole. They decided to nest just feet away from where we set up our sound recording gear and although it meant we couldn’t record for a few months, we feel like proud parents that the chicks have now grown up and fledged away from our office roof! There are still plenty of young gulls on roofs locally, so its still not exactly quiet at night, but we managed to run our first nocturnal listening session for several months a few nights ago with 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper and a Water Rail recorded.

Mr and Mrs Herring Gull that nested right on top of our nocturnal listening station in Old Town Poole


Harbour Update - posted 20/07/16

A ringing session in the north of the harbour produced (as expected for the time of year) plenty of newly fledged youngsters. Most ringed birds consisted of juvenile Chiffchaff and Blackcap but a Willow Warbler was present too. On Brownsea there were 6 Avocet, including the 2 colour-ringed birds, 1 Spoonbill and 2 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Fields the Little ringed Plover total reached a whopping 12 which is pretty staggering by any means. Also present were 11 Green Sandpiper, 8 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 8 Dunlin and 150+ Black-tailed Godwit. In Holes Bay north-east 108 Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Curlew feeding.

Juvenile Blackcap - Poole Harbour north rining station

Juvenile Chiffchaff - Poole Harbour north rining station

Harbour Update - posted 19/07/16

There were more new arrivals today with the first returning Spoonbill of the autumn. We’ve seen a record-breaking year every year over the last 3 years in regards to the over-wintering Spoonbill flock. In 2014 the Harbour hosted 49 and in 2015 it host 60, just how many will arrive this winter? Also on the Brownsea Lagoon were 5 newly arrived Avocet, two of which were colour-ringed and 2 Spotted Redshank. On Lytchett Fields there were 10 Little Ringed Plover and 6 Common Sandpiper. The Arne Nightjar was still in its tree but there was no sign of the Great White Egret in Middlebere from the weekend.

We’d also like to promote a piece of work carried out by local birder Simon Kidner who has kindly compiled all the sightings from the Middlebere Hide log book from August 2014 to July 2016. This must have taken quite some time, not only due to the amount of entries but also trying to decipher my awful hand writing ! The full report can be found on our Survey Page

Harbour Update - posted 18/07/16

The Nightjar is still happily roosting in its normal tree just outside the Arne café and there was at least one Firecrest in the car park area. At Lytchett Fields there was a summer plumaged Knot, 8 Little Ringed Plover, 296 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, 64 Redshank, 3 Greenshank including the colour-ringed bird that appeared at Lytchett Fields back in April and that had originally been ringed in NE Scotland, 2 Common Sandpiper and the first Common Snipe of the autumn. There were 2 over-summering Great Crested Grebe in Holes Bay still, with a pair also on Hatch Pond.

Summer plumaged Knot - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

First Snipe of the autumn - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 17/07/16

Today the Great White Egret was again present in Middlebere, viewable off the Coombe Heath viewpoint at Arne. Over Hartland Moor 3 Hobby were actively feeding and 2 Woodlark passed over near Middlebere and a female Whinchat was an early record. The Arne café Nightjar was on a slightly different branch today at the Arne café actually giving even better views! The Lytchett Fields ‘waderthon’ continued today with a whopping 9 Little Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 3 Knot, 4 Green Sandpiper and 7 Common Sandpiper plus the Yellow Wagtail again. From South Haven, Studland 17 Common Scoter passed west and in Brands Bay there were 2 Whimbrel and 9 Mediterranean Gull

Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 16/07/16

Its ‘great’ that Great White Egrets are now an annual visitor to the harbour (or have been for the last 3 years at least) with the autumns first bird arriving today at Middlebere. In 2014 and 2015 the first birds didn’t actually arrive and settle until October so whether todays Middlebere bird is just a one off lone wanderer or is it a sign of things to come? The Great White Egret was actually hanging out with 19 Little Egret, giving a good size comparison, also there an adult Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Woodlark. Again, most reports came from Lytchett Fields today with a Marsh Harrier over, also 6 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Knot, 4 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 35 Curlew (in the Bay) and 10 Redshank. The Arne nightjar was in its usual tree.

Knot - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 15/07/16

It was a real wader day today at Lytchett Fields with 7 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Knot, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin and good numbers of Redshank, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit still with a lovely adult Yellow Wagtail there too. The Nightjar at Arne is still as popular as ever so why not make the effort and get down there whilst its on show!

Harbour Update - posted 14/07/16

More signs of autumn migration today with the harbour’s first juvenile Grasshopper Warbler ringed at Lytchett Bay along with a juvenile Sedge Warbler, Kingfisher, Cetti’s Warbler and plenty of Reed Warbler. At Lytchett Fields 5 Little Ringed Plover remained, along with 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, 50+ Black-tailed Godwit and the usual Redshank and Lapwing. Young Buzzard are now fledging and can be heard calling to their parents for food with 4 on the edge of Hartland along with 2 hunting Hobby and 1 juvenile Peregrine.

Grasshopper Warbler - Lytchett Bay (from last year)


Harbour Update - posted 13/07/16

Today a site record of 6 Little Ringed Plover were on Lytchett Fields along with 2 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper and the usual good spread of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Lapwing. The Arne café Nightjar wasn’t in its usual place and couldn’t be found…..maybe it got a complex with all those people watching him all the time? Yesterday we informed you that unfortunately there was only one Marsh Harrier chick this year, however there was some extra good news in that after 30 hours of harrier watching by local harrier expert Peter Hadrill he finally managed to get a view of 2 youngsters together! Its amazing its taken so long for this to happen, so who knows, there could even be a third or even fourth in there! 

Harbour Update - posted 12/07/16

With the wind finally falling away it made for more comfortable birding conditions. The Arne Nightjar had an easier ride today, happily sat in its normal spot and not being buffeted by 20mph winds. At Holton Lee a Tree Pipit was still present along with 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Dartford Warbler and several juvenile Chiffchaff. At Lytchett Fields the newly cut fields attracted 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Redshank, 20+ Lapwing, 2 Med Gulls, 1 Peregrine, 6 Teal and a Yellow Wagtail. It been confirmed that the Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers only managed to fledge 1 youngster this year which is well down on previous years. Why this is anybody’s guess, but the parents seemed to be doing a good job provisioning the nest throughout the summer. 

Juvenile  Lapwing - Lytchett Fields - Paul Morton

Juvenile  Yellow Wagtail - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam


Greenshank - Holton Pools - Paul Morton

Green Sandpiper - Holton Pools - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 11/07/16

Fairly quiet today compared to recent days. There were 3 Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields. The Arne café Nightjar was still showing well all day. A single Spotted Redshank remained on the Brownsea Lagoon. 

Juvenile Redshank doing its best to look like a Wood Sandpiper at distance - Lytchett Fields

Harbour Update - posted 10/07/16

The Arne Nightjar was again sat on its normal branch today, viewable from the café terrace. A photo was taken at the weekend showing the bird to actually be ringed, which is a good record. Over the last few years a good number have been ringed on the local heaths including Canford Heath, Wareham Forest and Arne its self so chances its been ringed locally, but knowing for certain would certainly be interesting. At Lytchett Fields a Marsh Harrier again put all the waders up before disappearing over towards Holton Lee, then not 2 minuets passed when a fresh juvenile Peregrine started eyeing the 150+ Black-tailed Godwit, 50+ Redshank and 20+ Lapwing. Other general sightings from Lytchett Fields included an increase of Sand Martin with 20+ feeding with House Martins and Swifts over the Arable Field and 7 Stock Dove

Harbour Update - posted 09/07/16

Things are picking up nicely as each day goes by with more and more birds arriving. On the Brownsea Lagoon Redshank numbers reached 90 whilst 3 summer plumaged Spotted Redshank appeared, also on the lagoon were 3 Greenshank, 3 Dunlin, 45 Black-tailed Godwit and a reported Arctic Tern. At Lytchett Fields an adult female type Marsh Harrier made quick work of a Moorhen chick whilst ‘upping’ the 250+ Black-tailed Godwit at the same time along with 2 Dunlin, 60+ Redshank, 20+ Lapwing, 1 Greenshank and 1 Green Sandpiper. The Arne café Nightjar continued to please the crowds as it sat all day sleeping, preening and occasionally calling. The 2 Firecrest were again singing in the Arne car park. 

Nightjar - Arne Cafe

To watch in HD click on cog shaped symbol and select 1080


 View from Sherford Viewpoint - Lytchett Fields

To watch in HD click on cog shaped symbol and select 1080


 View from French's Viewpoint - Lytchett Fields

To watch in HD click on cog shaped symbol and select 1080

Harbour Update - posted 08/07/16

The Nightjar in the Arne Café garden was again showing nicely from the café terrace, it’s a bit tricky to find, but the RSPB staff have several scopes set up on it and are more than happy to show you where it is. The 2 Arne carpark Firecrest are also still singing. A really great find and a true crowd pleaser! Lytchett Fields was busy again with 2 juv Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 286 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 70+ Lapwing, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Med Gull, 1 Yellow-legged Gull and 1 Kingfisher.  Swifts seem to be moving too with 40+ heading south out across the harbour early morning and there was a Common Sandpiper in Holes Bay. 

Nightjar - Arne RSPB cafe garden - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 07/07/16

Today the first Pied Flycatcher of the autumn appeared in the shape of an adult male, which turned up in the orchard of the cottages at Middlebere. Adult males in the harbour rare in the spring, let alone the autumn too when fresh juvenile are far more regular. Between now and the end of august is a good time for Pied Flycatcher to appear in small copse’s and on woodland edges, often associating with Spotted Flycatchers too. On Lytchett Fields, confirmed breeding of Redshank was nice as two fresh (almost flightless) juveniles appeared out in the middle of the fields. Also at Lytchett Fields were 181 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Shoveler, 1 Hobby and 5 Little Egret.

Distant record shot of Juv Redshank - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam


Juv Pied Wagtail - Lytchett Fields - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 06/07/16

Tonight we were involved with a Nightjar ringing session on Canford Heath in partnership with The Stour Ringing Group and the Borough of Poole. It was a perfect Nightjar night and with only six nets set we managed to catch 3 males quite quickly with another couple skimming the tops of the nets. Out on Lytchett Fields today the migration theme really picked up with the first returning Yellow Wagtails of the autumn (just look around the feet of the cattle if you can find them), 2 new Little Ringed Plover in, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 203 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Dunlin and 47 Redshank.

Male Nightjar - Canford Heath - Paul Morton


Common Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 05/07/16

It seems a tad early for a big Green Sandpiper push but 10 were on Lytchett Fields today, which indicates we could be in for either an early passage of waders this season due to a poor breeding season, or a bigger number of birds than normal due to a good breeding season. We’ve always found if you highlight both 50/50 options then you’re bound to get at least one of the guesses correct. Also out on the fields was 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 56 Redshank, 22 Lapwing, 183 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Med Gull, 6 Teal, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull and several Little Egret. On the Brownsea Lagoon wader numbers were building nicely there too with 36 Redshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 1 Knot, 1 Curlew, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 23 Little Egret and the Roseate Tern is still appearing to drop in occasionally.  At Middlebere 1 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 80+ Sand Martin were counted. 

Green Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam


Pied Wagtail - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 04/07/16

More wader action as Lytchett Fields sees more birds returning including the first 3 Common Sandpiper of the autumn. These were joined by 5 Green Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 120+ Black-tailed Godwit, 40+ Redshank and 20+ Lapwing. Also out on the fields were plenty of juvenile Pied Wagtail and a female Gadwall had ducklings which is a good site breeding record. On Lytchett Heath Bearded Tit could again be heard calling from the reedbed at the base of the heath, 2 Nightjar were heard calling at dusk and Sparrowhawk seem to be nesting in a nearby wood on the eastside. Amazingly a Nightjar was also found to be roosting in a tree right outside the new Arne shop much to the delight of people supping on tea and chomping on cake. 

Nightjar - Arne - John Wall


Common Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Green Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 03/07/16

There’s no better time to visit Lytchett Fields than between now and September. Ok, so that a pretty big time frame but waders will now be passing down through the UK through that entire time period with peaks in August and September. However, like we’ve already seen with last weeks Ruff, today a new Greenshank and Dunlin arrived whilst Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Lapwing numbers continued to build. At Holton Heath a Cuckoo was out on the heath briefly and a Woodlark was on the path. We should also congratulate the local RSPB for their conversion of the large arable field next to Lytchett Fields from a large mono-cultivated, fairly drab and unproductive field to a wonderfully rich and vibrant wildflower meadow. This will not only be good during the summer for bees and butterflies, but also in the winter too hopefully for large winter finch flocks and Yellowhammers. 

Wildflower Arable Field - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

Kingfisher - Ian Ballam - Lytchett Bay

Harbour Update - posted 02/07/16

Tonight was our second Nightjar walk at Arne and again, they showed brilliantly for our group for around 10 minuets. Also seen prior to the Nightjars was a single Hobby, 2 Dartford Warbler, 2 Curlew, 1 Yellow-legged Gull and 10+ Little Egret heading into roost. Interestingly a Common Crane had apparently spent part of the day flying around on Hartland Moor not going anywhere very fast due to the wind. On Brownsea a Spotted Redshank showed briefly and on Lytchett Fields Redshank, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper were the only waders. 

Black-tailed Godwits - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 01/07/16

This evening we hosted our first of two July Nightjar walks at Arne RSPB reserve and the Nightjar certainly didn’t let us down. If you’ve never been on one, the RSPB host walks on Wednesday evenings which you’ll need to book onto, but they’re well worth it and to top the night off a juvenile Tawny Owl was calling in the Arne car park when we had finished (sound recording below). On Lytchett Heath the Whitethroat was seen again and was discovered to have a ring on its leg. In the reedbed at the bottom of Lytchett Heath several Bearded Tit were calling and there were 2 each of Bullfinch and Linnet and singles of Blackcap and Dartford Warbler.

Common Whitethroat - Lytchett Heath - Paul Morton


Juvenile Tawny Owl - Arne car park - 02/07/16 

Harbour Update - posted 30/06/16

The Ruff was again on Lytchett Fields accompanied with Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and 2 Green Sandpiper. On Lytchett Heath a Whitethroat was again present with Bullfinch, Siskin and a Nightjar was seen. Family parties of Long-tailed Tit are moving around various woodlands and hedgerows and are now being joined by juvenile Chiffchaff and give it another 4 weeks Willow Warbler will be joining them. Out on the Arne shoreline (viewed from Hamworthy) Curlew and Redshank numbers are building as are Little Egret number on the Brownsea Lagoon.

Bullfinch - Lytchett Heath - Ian Ballam

Siskin - Lytchett Heath - Ian Ballam

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