March 2017

Harbour Update - posted 30/03/17

This morning looked perfect for a fall of sorts, Wheatear and Chiffs galore was the expectation but sadly the reality was that birds were sparse and birding tough going. Still, there was a reasonable selection on offer with 1 Wheatear on Hartland Stud and 2 along Soldiers Road where both Greenfinch and Meadow Pipit were battling for airspace as they displayed and sung around each other. Within the Corfe River Valley a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming and a possible Continental Stonechat was on top of Hartland. From Middle Beach 4 Black-necked Grebe a Great Northern Diver, 1 Gannet, 2 Auk sp, c20 Med Gulls, 8 Sandwich Tern 3 Sand Martin and 1 Swallow were all out on/over Studland Bay. On Hartland there was a nice contrast of winter and summer with both the Great Grey Shrike and what’s likely to have been Wednesdays Hobby over Hartland Moor. At South Haven, Studland a Little Ringed Plover was on a small patch of flood near the car park with a freshly arrived Willow Warbler and 16 Sandwich Tern gathered on the beach with a single pale-bellied Brent Goose. At Lytchett Fields both the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on the fields with 105 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 1 Swallow over and 7 Chiffchaff around the site. Up on Old Harry and Ballard there were just 2 Willow Warbler and 5 Blackcap. Night recording over Stoborough picked up a few straggling Redwing and Song Thrush, 2 Water Rail, Coot and Moorhen.

Harbour Update - posted 29/03/17

After days of unbroken sunshine we finally saw a pretty grotty weather system pass through which seemed to pass through quite a bit later than forecast. Wind was consistent but the rain showers were on and off, which in turn did drop some migrants in, most noticeably over Swineham GP where a good gathering of Sand Martin and Swallow were feeding with a single House Martin, a Little Ringed Plover was on the Swineham floods, within the harbour up to 20 Sandwich Tern were out feeding or sat on numerous buoys and on the edge of Upton CP a Willow Warbler was seen. There are still a few Red-breasted Merganser about along with c20 Great Crested Grebe. A Marsh Harrier was flying low along the sea wall of Arne Moors, a ringtail Hen Harrier was along the Arne road and a Peregrine drifted high above Arne. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 2 Yellow-legged Gull, c20 Avocet, c120 Med Gulls and a few left over Grey Plover, Dunlin and Bar-tailed Godwit. On Hartland the Great Grey Shrike was still present along Soldiers Road and the Green-winged Teal was on Lytchett Fields. In Middlebere a Marsh Harrier was near Coombe Heath and 2 Wheatear were near Shipstal Beach. 

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Harbour Update - posted 28/03/17

Hooray! An Osprey arrived today which was actually photographed over Morden Bog but it was carrying a massive fish, which we assume must have come from the harbour. Chances are it could still be around somewhere so worth keeping an eye out around Arne, Middlebere and the Wareham Channel area.  There was also still a ringtail Hen Harrier in the west of the harbour too and 2 Marsh Harrier finally looked as if they may begin some kind of courting….about ruddy time, the Radipole harriers have been ‘at it’ for weeks! At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit and the Green-winged Teal and the Lesser Yellowlegs was on French’s Pools. In Middlebere a few waders were recorded with 2 Spotted Redshank and several Greenshank.

Dartford Warbler - Keith Rawling - Poole Harbour south

Harbour Update - posted 27/03/17

Well, the sun continued to shine and so did the Red Kite passage with a single over Arne at midday and then another over Upton late afternoon. There was also news of a very early Hobby that arrived on to Hartland Moor mid-morning, landing on a pine before alighting again and headed NW towards the harbour. What was also likely to be a new Great White Egret entered the harbour just before dusk, having arrived in low over Swineham from the west, with c50 Sand Martin and 2 reported Common Sandpiper. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools. Marsh Harrier were again seen around the mouth of the Frome and Peregrine were seen over Poole Town Centre, Arne and up on Ballard. More Chiffchaff and a few more Blackcap can be heard singing now from numerous sites and it won’t be long until Willow Warbler and Whitethroat are common-place amongst the dawn chorus.





Harbour Update - posted 26/03/17

The glorious weather continued today and with it a shift of Red Kites NE across the harbour area. It started with 2 that drifted along the top of Keysworth and then headed low over Lytchett Fields. At 12:15 another drifted low over Brownsea Island with another at 15:15 above the Wareham Channel, also heading NE. These banks of high pressure are always good for getting kites to move and they can literally turn up anywhere so keep you eye’s to the sky during these sunny days for passing kites overhead. Watching a large area of sky around midday will allow you to pick up any raptors that are on the move or that area displaying and a sky watch from Slepe Heath produced 10+ Common Buzzard, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Kestrel. On the Brownsea Lagoon today there were 42 Knot, 32 Avocet, 25+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 21 Grey Plover, 8 Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank, 8 Sandwich Tern, 7 Pintail and 3 Brent Geese. In Bramble Bush Bay a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe was all on its lonesome but was soon joined by a few remaining Red-breasted Merganser. On Hartland the Great Grey Shrike was still out in the center of the Moor.  

Red Kite - Lytchett Fields - Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 25/03/17

This is more like it, a stunning late March day with a steady easterly breeze, although the breeze early morning made it feel quite nippy. Again, Meadow Pipits were on the move throughout the morning, heading ENE in small loose flocks. Out on Hartland a Wheatear was sat on a post trying to avoid the Great Grey Shrike which is also still about in that area. In Lytchett Bay a Bar-tailed Godwit was an early rare occurrence with the first records usually mid to late April consisting of passage birds and the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools with a Little Ringed Plover there too. At Arne 8 Spoonbill were at Shipstal, Firecrests were in the car park and the reserves first Swallow and Blackcap of the spring were also seen. 

Harbour Update - posted 24/03/17

Luckily the weather forecast for the weekend ahead is improving and we can get rid of these strong winds and rain. That said, the weather brought down a new Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields and a near summer plumaged Water Pipit too, along with the Green-winged Teal still on Sherford Pools. Ringing activities around the harbour are seeing Chiffchaff being caught with face’s full of pollen highlighting that these are birds having moved up through Europe rather than birds that have moved locally. Meadow Pipits were on the move too with flocks between 5-20 birds passing over areas such as Greenlands Farm and Slepe Heath through the course of the morning.  

Pollen-faced Chiffchaff 

Harbour Update - posted 23/03/17

It was a bit grotty today with not much reported other than the Green-winged Teal still on Lytchett Fields and good numbers of Med Gulls continuing to pair up on Brownsea. A night recording session from a listening station in the north of the harbour produced 3 Water Rail, 2 Moorhen, 1 Coot, 14 Redwing calls and a Mallard all over between 7pm and 5am. 

Harbour Update - posted 22/03/17

A day of two halves today, with a wet dank start, finishing with a picture perfect still sun set with both ends of the day producing some decent birds. The rain had obviously forced down a few migrants, most notably 3 Little Ringed Plover in one of the cattle fields along Holme Lane. Any muddy pools in fields are worth checking this time of year for ‘LRP’, although we have never seen or were ever really expecting to find any here! In the Lower Frome Valley, around the Bestwall area 3 Wheatear were doing their best to dodge the rain and a few Sand Martin were over Swineham GP. On the edge of Upton CP a Blackcap was sub-singing in the cold and at Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools and the Lesser Yellowlegs was out in Lytchett Bay again. From Coombe Heath, Arne 3 Spotted Redshank were in Middlebere with a Marsh Harrier, 7 Grey Plover and a male Wheatear also noted. On Brownsea it seems to be the invasion of the Med Gulls with really good numbers of birds on the gravel islands. As the day drew to an end the wind dropped off totally which made perfect end of the day bird watching conditions and at Swineham, off the corner of the gravel pit a ringtail Hen Harrier, Barn Owl, male Merlin, 18 Sand Martin, 1 Wheatear, several calling Bearded Tit, c5 Cetti’s Warbler and plenty of singing/squealing Water Rail were all logged. 

Plenty of Chiffchaff singing around the harbour now - Arne - Paul Morton

Grey Heron - Wareham Channel - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 21/03/17

This morning was blissfully sun-filled but wow…the WSW wind was blimmin cold! That said, in sheltered areas birds made the most of the early rays and at Challow Hill many birds are already back on territory it seems with 2 pairs of Stonechat along the main track, several Yellowhammer paired up, Dartford Warbler singing and flirting in the gorse, Chiffchaff singing down in the lower copse and Meadow Pipits flitting around on the steep sided edges of the hill. At Swineham still a handful of Sand Martin were over the gravel pits and on Hartland Moor the Great Grey Shrike was still present. On Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was on French’s Pools and the Lesser Yellowlegs was viewable from the Turlin Screen. Early evening saw a huge gathering of Black-headed and Med Gulls around ‘Gull Islands’ consisting of thousands of birds making an absolute racquet before bedding down for the night. Hopefully these are birds that are prospecting the islands ready for a busy breeding season ahead. At Arne, 8 Spoonbill were in Middlebere with a Marsh Harrier seen too and in the car park a Firecrest was singing. Ospreys are now turning up at traditional breeding sites across the UK now too, so when we will we see our first passage Poole Harbour bird?

Black-headed and Med Gull roost gathering, Wareham Channel, Poole Harbour 21/03/17 @ 17:45

Yellowhammer - Challow Hill - Paul Morton

Dartford Warbler - Challow Hill - Paul Morton


Harbour Update - posted 20/03/17

A really yucky day which did subside to a sunny end of the day, but the continued strong SW wind is still keeping many migrants at bay. The only passerine migrant news was of a new Wheatear at Lytchett Fields and 3 Sand Martin at Swineham. The Ruff was still at Upton CP out from the stone bench. On the Brownsea Lagoon Med Gull numbers remain high; will we see another record number of breeding pairs this year on the lagoon? Well, in a way, hopefully we don’t! Last year the 10 pairs of Med Gulls that did nest on Brownsea consumed 100% of the first brood of Common Tern chicks, so if we do see an increase of Meds breeding on the lagoon this summer, the knock on affect could be a big issue. Lets not forget though, it’s not the gulls’ fault. Meds have quite happily bred on ‘Gull Islands’ in the Wareham Channel for many years, until last year that is, when a vast illegal harvesting of eggs was discovered during a survey which meant Meds de-camped to Brownsea to seek refuge. This year we’ll be surveying ‘Gull Islands’ again to monitor how the population of both Black-headed Gull and Med Gull have fared a year on after the discovery. We have also had correspondence with Dorset Police, Marine Division who have offered support in the form of night patrols and monitoring, so hopefully we’ll be able to update with more info on this in the coming weeks. Also on Brownsea the Black-tailed Godwits are now coming into summer plumage and there are still currently c20 Avocet hanging around too. This could be interesting and an indication some may be thinking about attempting to breed again. Sadly, they did also try last year and the year before but are yet to be successful. Don’t forget you can watch all the comings and goings of the Brownsea Lagoon LIVE on our Brownsea Webcams.

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Northern Wheatear - Lytchett Bay - Trevor Wilkinson

Ruff - Upton CP - Ian Ballam



Harbour Update - posted 19/03/17

A blustery day with limited reports today with just the Waxwing up in Corfe Mullen being seen again on the edge of Hanham Road, the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs both at Lytchett Fields, the Great Grey Shrike briefly out on Hartland Moor, 5 Spoonbill at Shipstal, Arne and 4 Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach, Studland. 

Harbour Update - posted 18/03/17

Despite the strong SW wind which could be keeping the arrival of more migrants at bay over the coming days, a nice group of hirundines were feeding over Swineham GP at dawn with c30 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow and a single House Martin with 3 Pochard, 6 Cetti’s Warbler, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe and plenty of Chiffchaff on or around the main pit. Off Middle Beach, Studland 8 Black-necked Grebe were spread across the bay with 2 Common Scoter, 2 Gannet, 5 Med Gulls and 2 Ring-necked Parakeet also noted. A single Purple Sandpiper was at North Haven (Sandbanks) and a decent Sanderling flock is still feeding on Shell Beach. The Green Winged Teal was still on Lytchett Fields. 

Harbour Update - posted 17/03/17

This is what we love about the spring, any day has the potential to produce ‘a first’ for the year and today we saw another two arrive with the first Swallow dashing through Lytchett Fields and the first Willow Warbler was on the edge of Upton CP. A ringing session in the Lower Frome Valley produced 1 new Jack Snipe ringed and 6 seen at still 1 Woodcock seen with c20 Common Snipe. Wheatear were on Slepe Heath and Hartland, in Middlebere there were 4 Spotted Redshank, a ringtail Hen Harrier was out over the reeds in the mouth of the Frome and Chiffchaff were still heard in good numbers. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools and 6 Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point, Arne. And finally the female Scaup was again seen on the main Poole Park boating lake. 

Harbour Update - posted 16/03/17

Spring continues to creep up on us with an increase of Sand Martin now arriving with c50 at Swineham GP late evening and the Harbours first House Martin in amongst them and another 2 Sand Martin through Lytchett Bay. The (a) Cattle Egret was seen flying relatively high above Swineham at 9:45am, heading SW towards Holme Lane….is it hiding out in the cattle fields in the Frome Valley somewhere? Another Bittern was seen at Swineham too. In Studland Bay 11 Black-necked Grebe were still present, most in summer plumage and 4 Common Scoter (3 drake, 1 female) were also feeding in the bay with the 1st w drake Eider sat out on the training bank. On Poole Park boating lake, 4 Red-breasted Merganser are still happily feeding away and Chiffchaff numbers were still steady around the harbour with many areas seeing and hearing singing birds.  Surprise surprise (as Cilla Black once sang), the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on Lytchett Fields and evidence grew that there may actually be 8 Waxwing around with 4 on Northbrook Road, Broadstone and another 4 still up on Hanham Road, Corfe Mullun, although we’re unsure of the timings of these sightings so they could still refer to the same birds. 

Cormorant - Hamworthy - Colin Moyes

Harbour Update - posted 15/03/17

As the spring progresses, focuses are often shifted from harbour species to terrestrial species, so it was great today to get reports of some lingering wetland birds which included a full list from the Brownsea Lagoon consisting of 21 Brent Goose, 52 Gadwall, 57 Shoveler, 10 Pintail, 133 Shelduck, 213 Oystercatcher, 78 Avocet, 69 Grey Plover, 1 Ringed Plover, 96 Bar-tailed Godwit, 175 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank, 16 Greenshank, 34 Knot, 2 Snipe, 111 Med Gulls, 4 Sandwich Tern, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Wheatear and 3 Firecrest. Scanning from the shores of southern Brownsea out into the harbour produced 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 40+ Great Crested Grebe, 50+ Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Goldeneye. At Swineham another Bittern was heard calling despite the fog and a 7 Sand Martin and a Peregrine went over the main pit. In the glorious sunshine, Dartford Warbler were really active on the heaths of Arne and a ringtail Hen Harrier was in the Middlebere Channel. At Shipstal 9 Spoonbill were still there, the Whimbrel continued to be seen and there was even a report of 2 Pochard in Middlebere which is a really extraordinary mid March record. 

Harbour Update - posted 14/03/17

Another check at Swineham this evening to see if the Cattle Egret came in was successful but sadly no Bittern tonight, however 3 Goosander flying towards the Wareham Channel was interesting and several Redwing and a Ringed Plover went over after sunset. The 4 Waxwing were again at Hanham road, Corfe Mullun and at Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools. 

Harbour Update - posted 13/03/17

Today was fairly quite migrant wise today, although we finally managed to get in on the Cattle Egret action when one was found going into roost on the big main island at Swineham GP. Where it goes to feed during the day is anyone’s guess but worth checking any cattle fields locally. Also at Swineham, incredibly a minimum of 3 Bittern left at dusk, calling as they went. At Lytchett Fields a Red Kite lofted low over flushing everything off the fields and a male Wheatear was also in the approach field with some Redwing and a single Fieldfare along the lane and both the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on Lytchett Fields. 

Harbour Update - posted 12/03/17

The first and second week of March often produces just the first singles of common migrants, however today it was obvious that quite a substantial arrival of Chiffchaff had made landfall with birds singing from pretty much every corner of the harbour. It’s estimated that several hundred were present today, really earmarking the first decent spring fall of the year. Back in 2013 we experienced another big Chiffchaff arrival but that didn’t occur until March 23rd, so todays fall is certainly an early occurrence. Its not only the Chiffchaff arriving early, today we encountered our second Little Ringed Plover of the spring, this time at Lytchett Fields. This beat the previous earliest record of Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Bay by 8 days! The small flurry of arriving Wheatear continued too with birds making land fall at Studland, Lytchett Fields and Slepe Heath. Again, the Lytchett Bay Wheatears today arrived 3 days earlier than any other previous records for this species at this site and a Blackcap was also seen near Upton CP so it seems things really are getting going early this year. Goodo and long may it continue. The Hartland Great Grey Shrike spent the afternoon on telephone wires up behind Scotland Farm, chomping on Lizards and the Wytch Causeway bird was also seen distantly. 8 Spoonbill were feeding in the Wytch Channel and off Middle Beach, just a single summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe was feeding. The 4 Waxwing were feeding in Northbrook Road again, this time fly-catching from the top of the tall Poplar Trees. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still present and out in the bay, viewed from the Turlin Moor viewing screen the now almost full summer plumaged Lesser Yellowlegs was looking fab. Also around the Lytchett Bay/Fields area  were 4+ Greenshank, c4 Green Sandpiper, 1 Bearded Tit and 1 Marsh Harrier. At Upton CP (Holes Bay NW), The Ruff was still feeding out in front of the stone bench with Black-tailed Godwit.  A ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the Middlebere entrance track early morning and a Goosander was on the main Poole Park boating Lake. There was also some late news of a Ring-billed Gull in the Wareham Channel, seen during a late afternoon WeBS count. 

On the night of March 10th/11th we had our night recording gear out at our Old Town Poole Listening Station. Despite the thick fog, which seemed to hamper most types of movement getting underway we still got two interesting recordings. Firstly, was (a flock?) of Pintail passing over at just gone midnight, a species we’ve never recorded from our listening station before.

Pintail 11/03/17 @ 00:07 - Calls of night time migrants - Old Town Poole Listening Station

Secondly was a call we recorded at 01:33 that we just couldn’t put our fingers on. It was only a single call, but was very defined. Having discussed it with Magnus Robb from the Sound Approach he concluded that it’s most likely a snippet of Common Chiffchaff song. We’ve provided the full call below. With the number of Common Chiffchaff arriving in the harbour over the last couple of days it sounds like a good bet, and another first for our night listing station. 

Chiffchaff - 11/03/17 @ 01:33 - Snippet of song of night migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station


Wheatear - Shell Bay - Debbie

Harbour Update - posted 11/03/17

Well with the shift in the wind and the lingering low cloud cover it definitely had that hint of spring migration in the air. It wasn’t long before Wheatears began to get reported with males seen on Shell Beach, South Haven, Coombe Heath, Arne and Middlebere just after dawn. Then not before long, the bird of the day was found, although sadly on a piece of private land. However, todays Hoopoe (as anti-social as it was) was a good message to get and try to find others of your own as there will be others….they just need finding. The whole day was themed all around arrivals and departures when at dusk at Swineham the springs first Little Ringed Plover flew down towards the point calling as it went, when roughly at the same time, the 11 Swineham Barnacle Geese upped and left in the dark, heading north. At Lytchett Fields both the Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs were on the fields and it seems the 4 Corfe Mullen Waxwing have finally decided to move when they (some) were found on Northbrook Road, Poole BH18 8HD. The Pilots Point Snow Bunting did put in a couple of appearances, but the fog and murk made it tricky to track down. Also at Pilots Point were the Eider, several Black-necked Grebe and a Fulmar with 5 Common Scoter south from South Haven also 25+ Sanderling and 1 Sandwich Tern. Its always great seeing birds out of context too, which was highlighted perfectly this morning when a freshly arrived Stonechat decided a dog poo bin was a good substitute for a pine tree as it made landfall at the Baiter car park, Poole. A cracking adult male Hen Harrier was seen near Hartland heading towards Corfe early morning. In the Wytch Channel 9 Spoonbill were feeding. Great Grey Shrikeswere on Hartland Moor and another near the Wytch Causeway. There was also a great count of 10 Great Crested Grebe at Hatch Pond today. 

Freshly arrived Meadow Pipit - Studland


Freshly arrived Stonechat - Baiter car park, Poole

Harbour Update - posted 10/03/17

This evening the winds turn easterly which could be interesting and should get migration underway a bit more. That was in evidence today when at South Haven a total of 155 Meadow Pipit came in off the sea during an hours watch at South Haven along with 3 newly arrived singing Chiffchaff and the Snow Bunting putting in a few appearances for good measure along Shell Beach, but it was also seen south of Pilots Point too where 3 Black-necked Grebe were just off the beach. At Arne 9 Spoonbill were on Shipstal and on Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still present. 

Harbour Update - posted 09/03/17

Well, the spring migrants are still working their way up through Europe and although the UK has already seen its first few Ring Ouzel, Garganey and Little Ringed Plover, things won’t really get going for at least another week yet which is good as the winter birds keep on coming. Today a female Scaup was photographed at close quarters in Poole Park as it hung out with the now shrinking Tufted Duck raft. At 18:35 another Bittern was seen/heard departing from the Swineham area as it lifted from the back end of the gravel pits, calling as it circled high before disappearing off NE. Also noted at Swineham were 2 ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Marsh Harrier, a Jack Snipe flushed from Swineham Point, 11 Barnacle Geese were still on the pit and both Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting were singing. A Barn Owl was also heard calling near Swineham Farm. At Studland, the Snow Bunting still showed well up near Pilots Point and the Eider, 8 Black-necked Grebe and 3 Great Crested Grebe were all in the Shell/Studland Bay area. On Hartland Moor the Great Grey Shrike was still hanging around out on central Moor and on Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools. A Red Kite passed over Upton CP nad Poole Town centre. A night sound recording session at Holton Lee produced 114 Redwing calls plus single fly overs of Green Sandpiper, Water Rail, Little Grebe, Moorhen and Common Snipe along with plenty of background calls of locally moving Redshank, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck with a few Tawny Owl calls thrown in for good measure. 

Scaup - Poole Park Boating Lake - Sharon Eden


Harbour Update - posted 08/03/17

After a bit of discussion with a few locals we think we may have come to a conclusion to the 2 Snow Bunting at Studland theory. On the 6th another bird was feeding with the Snow Bunting and at long range was ID’d as a second bird. However, it now looks upon closer inspection that the second bird was in fact a Linnet. Oh well, still good to hear the single Snow Bunting is still performing well, showing down to a few tens of meters today. The Studland faithful of  Eider, 2 Black-necked Grebe and a Sandwich Tern all stayed put. At Swineham there were 2 Sand Martin struggling in the wind and rain at dawn and the 11 Barnacle Geese were still on the pit. Despite the crud weather, Cetti’s Warbler were really getting going in the Frome Valley and a walk at Swineham or along the Frome public footpath can reward you with great listening experience. Along Holme Lane a large finch flock is forming in the first cattle field on your right consisting of mainly Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch but could easily draw in a Brambling (or better?) over the next few weeks. On Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still feeding with Teal and at Arne 8 Spoonbill were on Shipstal where a Whimbrel was also reported. 

We’ve also just put on 2 BRAND NEW SPRING BOAT TOURS. Click the link below for full details….

Birds of Poole Harbour – DAWN DISCOVERY BOAT TOUR

Snow Bunting - Shell Beach - Andy Copleston

Harbour Update - posted 07/03/17

There is still confusion as to whether there are 2 Snow Bunting or not on Pilots Point, Studland. Can anyone that’s actually seen them together (and even better, has photos) let us know so we can put a lid on this mystery! Otherwise, it was much of the same as yesterday with the Eider, 4 Black-necked Grebe and a Sandwich Tern in Shell Bay, 3 Hen Harrier and 2 Merlin in Poole Harbour west and the 4 Waxwing were still on Hanham Road, Corfe Mullun. At Holton Lee, several Linnet were back on territory and Woodlark were again singing on heathland sites in Poole Harbour north. 

Black-necked Grebe - Shell Bay - Simon Kidner

Snow Bunting - Shell Bay - Nick Mudge

Harbour Update - posted 06/03/17

Today saw a good mixture of spring and winter birds rubbing shoulders as some arrive whilst others leave. The highlight was not one, but now 2 Snow Bunting are residing on Pilots Point, Studland with both seen feeding together briefly at 2pm. There was a good supporting cast of birds at Studland too with a 1st winter drake Eider very close in shore, up to 5 Black-necked Grebe, some in near full pristine summer plumage, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Razorbill, 46 Sanderling, 3 Common Scoter, several Meadow Pipit coming in off the sea, 15+ Med Gulls and a Sandwich Tern feeding in Shell Bay. The first 2 Sand Martins of the spring were feeding over Swineham GP as they flew low over the heads of the 11 Barnacle Geese and the first Northern Wheatear was near Ower Bay (Greenland’s Farm area). At Poole Park 2 Goldeneye remained with 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Little Grebe and a single poorly Dunlin feeding just 1m from the footpath. The 4 Corfe Mullun Waxwing were still feeding around the Hanham Road area on and off throughout the day.  In Poole Harbour west there are still 3 ringtail Hen Harrier, one of which has been present all winter, the other two being fairly recent arrivals and they were joined by a male Merlin. 

Snow Bunting - Shell Beach, Studland - Ian Ballam

Black-necked Grebe - Shell Beach - Paul Morton

Eider - Shell Beach - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 05/03/17

The statement ‘a mixture of sunshine and showers’ has never been so true with heavy down pours and bright sunshine battling it for most of the day. A strong stiff SW wind made things quite tricky too. The Snow Bunting was again present on Shell Beach, feeding on beach cast seaweed with 2 Stonechat, up near Pilots Point with the imm drake Eider just off Pilots Point and a Sandwich Tern fishing in the bay. Also 30 Sanderling were feeding on the beach. The Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were both still on Lytchett Fields with 2 Water Pipit, 23 Gadwall (where have they come from)? And both Marsh Harrier and Peregrine over. A Scaup was again reported from the main Poole Park boating lake and on the Brownsea Lagoon 9 Pintail, 127 Grey Plover, 42 Knot, 7 Greenshank, 5 Spotted Redshank and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. On Shipstal 15 Spoonbill were roosting. The 4 Waxwing were still in Corfe Mullen at Hanham Road.

We’ve also just put on 2 BRAND NEW SPRING BOAT TOURS. Click the link below for full details….

Birds of Poole Harbour – DAWN DISCOVERY BOAT TOUR


Harbour Update - posted 04/03/17

What started off as a fairly calm morning, actually finished off breezy and wet. On Friday night a night lamping session in the Lower Frome Valley produced 2 newly ringed Jack Snipe with another 4 seen, plus 4 Woodcock seen too. The wandering Snow Bunting was pinned down again today ay Shell Bay beach, up near Pilots Point, although it did seem to go missing at the end of the day and also in Shell Bay 2 Sandwich Tern and 3 Black-necked Grebe . The 4 Corfe Mullun Waxwing were still pleasing crowds on Hanham Road. At Lytchett Fields both the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were still present. An evening vigil at Lytchett Bay/Fields saw 9 Spoonbill come on the fields to feed a Merlin dashed over in the darkness and 5 Fieldfare went over.

We’ve also just put on 2 BRAND NEW SPRING BOAT TOURS. Click the link below for full details….

Birds of Poole Harbour – DAWN DISCOVERY BOAT TOUR

Green-winged Teal - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam


Harbour Update - posted 03/03/17

Just a few of the usuals around today with both Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs on Lytchett Fields and the Hartland Great Grey Shrike. The 4 Waxwing in Corfe Mullun were still on Hanahm Road too. On Hatch pond, 4 Med Gulls was notable and the Great Crested Grebe were in full display mode.

We’ve also just put on 2 BRAND NEW SPRING BOAT TOURS. Click the link below for full details….

Birds of Poole Harbour – DAWN DISCOVERY BOAT TOUR


Harbour Update - posted 02/03/17

Early March can see the arrival of our first Sand Martins and Wheatear, but although we’re still waiting for those to arrive, there are also magical departures you can witness if you situate your self at the right place at the right time. Bittern are an annual winter visitor to the harbour but are tricky to locate in the deep dense reedbeds. Sadly, they don’t breed in the harbour (yet, or not that we currently know of), but each March over-wintering birds depart back to their breeding grounds, but in a manner that if experienced, you’ll never forget. On calm March evenings when the conditions are crisp, perfect and still, Bittern up and leave their reedbed hide aways at dusk and take to the air. What makes the experience even more memorable is that when gaining height they call a soft gentle bark-type call, which carry’s across the stillness of the fading light as the birds circle higher and higher before you eventually lose them in the darkness. Last night local surveyor Nick Hopper was lucky enough to witness this event at Swineham as a Bittern circled above his head calling before gaining height and disappearing north. Elsewhere in the harbour it was still busy with winter birds as 11 Barnacle Geese were on the Swineham GP, the Great Grey Shrike was still along Soldiers Road, Hen HarriersMerlin and Peregrine were all busy in the Poole Harbour west area and in the Wareham Channel 7 sightings of at least 5 different Marsh Harrier was encouraging as the breeding season approaches. Off Swineham point 2 Spoonbill and a Spotted Redshank were feeding. The Lesser Yellowlegs was still on Lytchett Fields. The 4 Waxwing were still up in Corfe Mullen on the end of Hanahm Road, dropping down to feed on berry’s occasionally in Bakers View. At Arne, 16 Spoonbill were on Shipstal. In the Wareham Channel good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser are still about and numerous pairs of Raven took advantage of the bright sunshine and windy conditions to perform and display their elaborate tumbling displays to one another.

Harbour Update - posted 01/03/17

A nice still morning, but sadly the drizzle and ‘dank’ made birding a bit trickier. Still, calm waters made viewing birds easier. Off shore at Studland there was a single Great Northern Diver, 4 Black-necked Grebe, 8 Great Crested Grebe and 6+ Med Gulls. In the woods behind Knoll Beach 20+ Lesser Redpoll was a good count for what’s been a pretty scarce species this winter. At Middle Beach car park there was a single Firecrest and off Fort Henry, Studland there were 2 Great Northern Diver, 4 Ring-necked Parakeet and c10 Black-necked Grebe, most in transitional summer plumage. The 4 Waxwing were still using the large tree at the end of Hanham Road, but venturing off throughout the day. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal was on French’s Pools and a Firecrest was along Slough Lane. In the Holes Bay area a Sandwich Tern was in the NE corner, the Ruff and leucistic Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in the fields north of the cycle path and a Woodcock flew over Fleets Corner at dawn. At dusk a raft of 4 Red-throated Diver and 12 Great Crested Grebe were out in Poole Bay.

Ruff and leucistic Black-tailed Godwit - Upton CP  & Holes Bay cycle way - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 28/02/17

With the Ring-billed Gull turning up in Lytchett Bay two evenings in a row, it made sense to see if it came in for a third night too. So, like the two previous evenings a vigil was set up to watch for its return. Well, a Ring-billed Gull did turn up, and it too was an adult but was amazingly a different individual from the previous two nights, as obvious dark streaking could be seen on the head and nape, where as the bird from the two previous evenings had been completely clean headed. How many more are out there? Whilst watching for the Ring-billed gull, the Lesser Yellowlegs came into view, feeding out in the bay and both Hen Harrier and Merlin were also seen, whilst the Green-winged Teal was re-found on Sherford Pools in the morning. A chilly school bird boat saw 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Sandwich Tern and 12 Spoonbill, with zero Goldeneye seen the whole way around the harbour. There were also lesser numbers of Great Crested Grebe, but still plenty of Red-breasted Merganser. In Poole Harbour west, 2 ringtail Hen Harrier are currently now the only representatives of the over-wintering gang and both a male and female Merlin dashed around chasing each other up on Hartland Moor. At night ringing session in the lower Frome Valley saw a minimum of 4 Woodcock seen but none ringed as totals are now much reduced with birds beginning to move off. We did however ring our first ever ‘lamped’ Wigeon! The Corfe Mullen Waxwing were again moving around near the Poole Harbour boundary up near Springdale Road, Corfe Mullen. 

Waxwing - Corfe Mullen 

Wigeon - Lower Frome Valley

Redwing - Holton Lee



Harbour Update - posted 27/02/17

After yesterdays Ring-billed Gull in Lytchett Bay, efforts were made to try and see whether it came back in again before going to roost, most likely in the Wareham Channel. An early evening watch saw good numbers of gulls arriving in Lytchett Bay and then all of a sudden, low and behold there it was! A full adult Ring-billed Gull out in the center of the bay where it was settled for 20 minutes before disappearing into a deep channel. The Lesser Yellowlegs was also out in the bay feeding with several Redshank. The 4 Corfe Mullun Waxwing were again sat in a tree near Lesley Shand funeral directors and were also seen on the corner of Hanham Road again. Out in Poole Bay a single Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver and 12 Great Crested Grebe with a single Fulmar west. 

Waxwing - Corfe Mullen

Common Buzzard - Holton Lee

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