April 2017

Harbour Update - posted 30/04/17

Conditions over night evolved into a perfect opportunity for a dawn sea watch, with a SE wind building and rain forecast for mid morning. Poole Bay is a large area that relies on the SE wind to push migrating sea birds closer to the shore as they migrate their way up through the English Channel. Several local Poole birders were out early this AM monitoring migrating sea birds and from Branksome Chine returned with a great bird log. Totals included 7 Arctic Skua, 1 Pomarine Skua, 1 Great Skua, 1 Black Tern, 3 Arctic Tern, numerous Common and Sandwich Tern, c15 Whimbrel, 5 Dunlin, 1 Great Northern Diver, 4 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Shelduck, c50 Gannet, 5 Fulmar, a decent passage of Great Black-backed Gulls, several Med Gulls, a single 1st summer Kittiwake, 1 Hobby and 43 Swallow. A Watch from the top of Ballard Down returned 2 Pomarine Skua, 8 Arctic Skua (5 of which were the same as the Branksome birds), 1 Manx Shearwater, 41 Common Scoter, 3 Brent Geese, 32 Whimbrel, 3 Fulmar and c100 Gannet. And there was more action at the harbour mouth with a single 1st summer Little Gull, 2 Arctic Tern and 5 Little Tern all logged. At Lytchett Fields there were good numbers of waders with 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Ruff, 12 Dunlin, 4 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and the pale-headed Egyptian Goose

Knot and Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 29/04/17

Today started off still and overcast but a chilly wind picked up as our monthly field trip headed out up to Challow Hill and along towards Nine Barrow Down. The focus was to listen to and find spring migrants which eventually gave themselves up. Along the Challow Hill path there were 6-7 Common Whitethroat territories we also had 1 Yellow Wagtail overhead, 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, several Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Yellowhammer, also Kestrel, Stonechat, Swallow, Raven and Buzzard. At Lytchett Fields the sites first Lesser Whitethroat was singing with 3 Whimbrel, 1 Ruff, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 9 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and a summer plumaged Knot all on the fields. At Arne an Osprey was reported flying and fishing in the mouth of Middlebere and there were 5 Yellow Wagtail in the Arne farm fields and the Redstart was still singing near Shipstal. 

Our Group above Corfe Castle - Barbara Bisset

Whinchat above Corfe Castle - Pauline Miller

Yellowhammer above Corfe Castle - Pauline Miller

Wheatear above Corfe Castle - Pauline Miller


Important Info - Our spring bird boat tour tomorrow morning has been postponed due to the weather forecast. A new date will be announced shortly. Guests booked on to the tour will be entitled to a full refund or may remain booked on to the tour for the new date when announced. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. Can you believe rain for a month then a down pour and strong winds on our premier Spring boat trip!!!! Please call 07711370386 for any further enquiries regarding this event. #maybenexttime

Harbour Update - posted 28/04/17

Today started off strangely when a male Wood Duck flew through over the Holton Lee reed bed at around 8:15am. Ok, there are several feral populations around the UK but as far as we can recall there haven’t been any Dorset, let alone Poole Harbour records for this species for a number of years. We also did another survey up the Wareham Channel today too, and although a cold westerly blew we still counted 3 Swift and reasonable numbers of Swallow, House and Sand Martin over Bestwall. There were still plenty of singing Reed and Sedge Warbler along the River Frome walk and 3 Common Sandpiper, 8 Whimbrel and 2 Oystercatcher were around the Swineham area. Out in central harbour it seems all over-wintering wildfowl have now moved on with just c20 Great Crested Grebe hanging on. At Arne both singing Wood Warbler and Redstart were seen down near the Shipstal Wood, with 12 Whimbrel in Middlebere. On Brownsea 32 Common Tern and 62 Sandwich Tern were counted with Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Dunlin, Knot and 80 Med Gulls also recorded. 

Harbour Update - posted 27/04/17

Things seemed much quieter today with a Hobby feeding over the Corfe to Studland road, a good number of Whimbrel in Middlebere, 2 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed plover, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank and 120+ Black-tailed Godwit at Lytchett Fields.

Harbour Update - posted 26/04/17

The wind eased off a bit today and a good mixture of species were seen. The Osprey was again in the Wareham Channel. A Cattle Egret was in fields just west of the Stoborough causeway. In Middlebere a good spring count of 22 Grey Plover were feeding on the low tide with c 200 summer plumaged Dunlin, 1 Knot, 2 Ringed Plover, 5 Redshank and c70 Black-tailed Godwit. At Challow Hill there were 5 Whitethroat on territory, 3 Yellowhammer, 7 House martin, 4 Blackcap and a female Stonechat feeding newly fledged chicks. On the Brownsea Lagoon 2 Ringed Plover, 24 Sandwich Tern, 10 Dunlin, 6 Avocet, 1 Knot, 15 Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Greenshank were counted. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Ruff, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and 7 Dunlin dropped in. At Arne a Cuckoo was singing late afternoon and a Marsh Harrier went over the Wareham Channel.

Ruff - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 25/04/17

The cold wind blew strong today and through any layers trying to prevent frost bite kicking in! The sun did offer some warmth but precious few migrants made their way into the harbour. An Osprey was seen fishing off Swineham Point mid-morning and the Great Grey Shrike was still in the SE corner of Hartland Moor. At Lytchett Fields the 3 Ruff were still on Sherford Pools with 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank with a Swift over and 1 Garden Warbler, 4 Whitethroat and 3 Willow Warbler in scrub around the site. At Sunnyside Farm there were 5 Wheatear. At Swineham 3 Whimbrel and the Egyptian Goose were on the ‘Curlews’ Cottage paddock with c200 Sand Martin overhead. In more positive news, there was finally some interacting between 2 newly arrived Marsh Harrier in Poole harbour west whilst 2 others watched on. Is it too late for a breeding attempt? We’ll just have to wait and see. 

Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 24/04/17

This evening, something really rare was seen, something we haven’t seen for quite some time…….Rain! Along with some building wind from the SW which was just as novel considering northerly winds have dominated since late March/early April. Still, even in a strengthening wind migrants continued to arrive, albeit in smaller numbers. At Arne, where we today started our Dorset Discovery Spring Tour there was Redstart, Hobby, Willow Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Blackcap and Tree Pipit as well as the standard 7+ Dartford Warbler, 1 Woodlark, Stonechats, Siskins, Meadow Pipits, Mistle Thrush and Green Woodpecker. Up on Hartland the Great Grey Shrike was still happily feeding from wires in the SE corner of the Moor next to Scotland Farm. Another Cattle Egret was found, this time at Bestwall Meadows. At Swineham the Egyptian Goose was still present behind ‘Curlews’ Cottage with 7 Whimbrel and over the main pit c200 Sand Martin, c30 House Martin and Swallow. At Lytchett Bay there were still 3 Ruff, 3 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Whimbrel.

Dartford Warbler - Hartland moor - Chris Snook

Harbour Update - posted 23/04/17

Apparently it’s going to get cold, cold, cold next week, so with today being another blissfully rich spring day, full of birds who knows what next week will have in store for us? Again, today was great for spring migrants, coming in from a whole range of areas. Highlight of the day must go to the Wood Warbler which turned up in a very urban area of Poole north where it happily sang and fed in a line of Oak Trees for 20 minuets before disappearing off. Up on Old Harry totals included 1 Redstart, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Common Whitethroat, 5 Wheatear, 7 Willow Warbler, 2 Swallow, 6+ Yellowhammer, 3 Fulmar, 2 Gannet and 7 Guillemot/Razorbill. At Challow Hill several Common Whitethroat are back on territory along with 4+ Blackcap. There were more Cuckoo at Arne (2), Sunnyside (1) and Swineham (1). Over Swineham a herd of 27 Mute Swan flew low east which included the Lodmoor Swan Goose! Between Wareham and Swineham another great count of warblers was made with 34 Reed Warbler, 17 Cetti’s Warbler, 7 Sedge Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 6 Chiffchaff all noted along with 4 Wheatear and 4 Whimbrel out on the grazed floods behind ‘Curlews’ cottage. Up On Hartland a few Wheatear were dotted about with a few more on Hartland Stud. On Arne Moors there was a single Little Ringed Plover. At Arne 2 Yellow Wagtail were in the farm fields. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Ruff today with 3 Whimbrel, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler, 6 Reed Warbler all present and a drake Red-breasted Merganser was in the bay. At South Haven, Studland there were 7 Wheatear, 2 Swift, 35 House Martin and 1 Sand Martin with 2 Dunlin, 1 Greenshank and 6 Whimbrel in Brands Bay. 

Wheatear - Hartland Moor - Paul Morton

Reed Bunting - Swineham - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 22/04/17

Again it seemed like migrants were on the move today, or had at least arrived with really good numbers Reed and Sedge Warbler at Swineham/Bestwall. In total 19 Reed Warbler and 17 Sedge Warbler were logged with 14 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper, c10 Swallow and 1 Egyptian Goose. In Poole Town a Pied Flycatcher was singing in a suburban garden at dawn. Up On Ballard 3 Grasshopper Warbler were reeling, also present were 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 20+ Willow Warbler, 5 Common Whitethroat, 5 Wheatear and 2 Yellow Wagtail over. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Greenshank and 2 Ruff. We continued with our night monitoring from our Listening Station in Poole and again had a decent list of birds with a fly over Ring Ouzel at 2:53am the highlight, also 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit flocks, 1 Water Rail and 1 Moorhen.

 Ring Ouzel - Call of spring night migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station 22/04/17/ @ 02:53

Common Whitethroat - Old Harry - Paul Morton

Wheatear - Old Harry - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 21/04/17

Spring migrant totals are picking up a bit now with numerous arrivals around the harbour. On Hartland Moor a Lesser Whitethroat was singing and Common Whitethroat are now back on territory at Challow Hill. At Lytchett Fields there were 4 Wheatear and Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff numbers continue to increase at many sites around the harbour. Lytchett Bays first Cuckoo of the spring and the bay also saw a decent run of waders in the morning with 23 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel and 9 Greenshank on the rising tide along with the 2 Ruff out on the fields. The Great Grey Shrike was again in the SE corner of Hartland Moor. On all the heaths Stonechat and Dartford Warbler are in full breeding mode, however when will we hear/see our first Nightjar of the summer? A night recording session from our Listening Station in Old Town Poole produced a good flow of birds during the latter part of the night with 4 flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit, several Common Sandpiper, 3 Dunlin, 3 Grey Plover, 1 Moorhen, 1 Tree Pipit and 5 Song Thrush.

LYTCHETT BAY NOTICE – Please can we remind ALL visitors to Lytchett Fields that there is strictly no access beyond the viewpoints looking over the fields. The new hide structure you can see as you look south is not part of the Lytchett Fields reserve, but is in fact part of the Holton Lee estate. This is an exciting new project we’ve been working on in partnership with Liveability – Holton Lee and we’ll hopefully have more info on that project for you in the near future. We thank-you for your continued support cooperation. 

 Bar-tailed Godwit - Night migrating flock - Old Town Poole Listening Station 21/04/17 @ 02: 12

Meadow Pipit - Hartland Moor

Stonechat - Hartland Moor - Colin Moyes

Harbour Update - posted 20/04/17

Surprise of the day today was re-finding the Hartland Great Grey Shrike sat on wires at the south-eastern end of Hartland Moor. It looked quite settled and was happily feeding on beetles and ants.  This is quite a late date for this species, although one did hang around in Dorset in 2013 until April 30th so we’ll wait and see if it too remains as a long stayer. We also received late news of a Fieldfare in fields down the road from Arne on Wednesday evening which too seems quite late. Migrants were again a bit thin on the ground but Wheatears were still up on Hartland Stud (2) and in the Hartland Sheep/Cattle fields (6). On pools in the Lower Frome Valley 3 Little Ringed Plover were feeding, along Arne Moors and around Swineham/Bestwall good numbers of Reed and Sedge Warbler were still singing. At Hatch Pond a Reed Warbler was singing too. The Great White Egret was again recorded near East Holme Bridge. At Challow Hill the springs first Whitethroat arrived back on territory but still just Blackcap and Chiffchaff the only other migrants. At Lytchett Bay the 2 Ruff were still on the fields and House Martin were gathering mud from the field edges. 

Great Grey Shrike - Hartland Moor

Harbour Update - posted 19/04/17

Summer migrants were still coming through around the county and our feature species seemed to be Wheatear with good numbers about. There were 2 on Hartland Stud, 7 on top of Hartland Moor, 4 on Studland golf course and 16 at Greenlands Farm. Willow Warbler were again conspicuous around the harbour and Blackcap numbers seem to be increasing too. Again Swallow with the odd House Martin thrown in for good measure came through for most of the morning, and at Sunnyside Farm a male Ring Ouzel was feeding in the fields whilst Lapwing displayed and Willow Warblers sang. A Great White Egret was reported from East Holme and a Hobby was hunting over a boggy area of Upton Heath. We carried out our first night recording session for a while from our listening station in Old Town Poole, and despite WNW winds dominating some passage was picked up with Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Sandwich Tern, Whimbrel and likely Bar-tailed Godwit all recorded during the hours of darkness. 

Whimbrel - Calls of a night migrating flock - Old Town Poole Listening Station 19/04/17 @ 02: 39 

Sandwich Terns - Poole Harbour

Displaying Sparrowhawk - Corfe Castle

Harbour Update - posted 18/04/17

Other areas of the county saw big falls of birds today and we had our fair share trickling through to inner parts of the harbour. Ring Ouzels were seen up on Hartland Moor and along Soldiers Road. At Arne Redstart and an early Spotted Flycatcher were reported. There seemed to have been a mini influx of Willow Warbler too with many singing in mixed woodland around the harbour. At Lytchett Fields the 2 Ruff were still present with a single Little Ringed Plover, 2 Wheatear and a new Reed Warbler. On the Brownsea Lagoon a smart summer plumaged Spotted Redshank was feeding in front of the Lower Hide and 23 Knot, 6 Avocet and 6 Greenshank were also present. On Hartland Stud 2 Wheatear were feeding and a small pulse of Swallow were moving through out the day. In Holes Bay north a late(ish) Wigeon was hanging out with some Mallard and a Common Sandpiper was near the outflow.

Chiffchaff - Hartland Moor - Paul Morton

Wigeon - Holesa Bay north 

Common Sandpiper - Holes Bay north 



Harbour Update - posted 17/04/17

As April progresses more and more migrants will continue to arrive, but this NW wind will be keeping things at bay. It still doesn’t seem like a huge amount has turned up, so here’s hoping the last 2 weeks of April and early May see’s a big rush of birds. Today was still pretty decent though with a good mix of migrants around Swineham with 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 10 Sedge Warbler on the River Frome walk, 9 Reed Warbler, 6 Wheatear in the field behind the house aptly named ‘Curlews’ where in fact it was 3 Whimbrel which joined the Wheatear. 2 Common Sandpiper were on the low tide mark near Swineham Point and over the main pit several Swallow and Sand Martin were feeding. At Lytchett Bay, Sedge Warbler made its first appearance of the spring too. At South Haven 7 Wheatear were dotted around with a singing Firecrest near by (most likely a migrant), a Cuckoo, a few Reed Warbler near the boardwalk and a decent passage of Swallow all heading north. In Brands Bay a Brent Goose remained with 2 Pintail, 25 Teal, 1 Ringed Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 50+ Swallow, 3 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Wheatear and a single Whitethroat.

Sedge Warbler - Swineham 


Whimbrel - Swineham 

Swallow - Bestwall

Harbour Update - posted 16/04/17

Today most of the focus was on Lytchett Fields/Bay where a reeling Grasshopper Warbler was found at dawn in scrub on the northern edge of the bay where 3 Yellow Wagtail also went over, with both Ruff also still on the fields and 3 House Martin hawking over the approach field. An Osprey flew in over Durlston heading towards the harbour but wasn’t relocated. At Slepe Heath 4 Tree Pipit were buzzing around but not really singing or seeming very settled and a Little Ringed Plover was in the Lower Frome Valley near Swineham. On Hartland Moor early returning migrants and resident breeders were all busy gathering nesting material and singing with Blackcap and Dartford Warbler very prominent. Swallows were passing through the harbour for most of the day on a fairly broad front. The 3 Whimbrel were still on fields at Bestwall. 

Grasshopper Warbler - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 15/04/17

Today was fairly quiet with the highlight being a Great White Egret flying north over central Poole. On Lytchett Fields there was a single Little ringed Plover, 2 Ruff, the Lesser Yellowlegs and in the bay was 1 Whimbrel, 5 Ringed Plover and 17 summer plumaged Dunlin

Dartford Warbler - Hartland Moor - Keith Rawling

Harbour Update - posted 14/04/17

Reports and sightings are few and far between at the moment so if you’re out in the field anywhere within our Poole Harbour recording area then please email us in your sightings or Tweet (@harbourbirds) us or Facebook (Birds of Poole Harbour) us, we’re really keen to about any sightings, especially of any spring/summer migrants. Today the 2 Ruff were still on Lytchett Fields with the Lesser Yellowlegs. At Swineham there were 2 Common Sandpiper and the eastern end of the pit with 4 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler and 3 Reed Warbler in the area and at Bestwall 3 Whimbrel

Harbour Update - posted 13/04/17

Today provided another nice mix of spring migrants and birds on the move when 2 first summer Spoonbill passed over Lytchett Bay, heading east. Our over-wintering birds had departed a few weeks ago so it seems these were potentially migrants passing through the area. On Lytchett Fields 2 newly arrived Ruff were feeding in amongst the Black-tailed Godwits. A Hobby dashed through over Slepe Heath quickly, heading west towards Wareham. An early evening visit to Swineham produced an Osprey over the western end of the Wareham Channel, 2 Common Sandpiper on the edge of the pit, 1 House Martin amongst a mixture of Swallow and Sand Martin over the main pit and an intriguing 64 Gadwall in the Wareham Channel. Up on Branksome cliff top a Dartford Warbler was in gorse next to the road, along Cliff Drive and 3 Gannet were out in Poole Bay. Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, a few Wheatear, more Blackcap and gentle passages of hirundines were noted at several sites across the harbour but still no sign of any Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat or even Common Whitethroat! 

Harbour Update - posted 12/04/17

When most of the county seemed to have a decent fall of common migrants, none were really reported from around the Poole Harbour area. Is that because they weren’t there or was it because they just weren’t reported? A few Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Swallow and Sand Martin were recorded but not much else. Highlights though included a Little Tern in the Wareham Channel mid morning and the two Cattle Egret that were in the Frome Valley were back again about 300m east of Holmebridge. The Lesser Yellowlegs was on Lytchett Fields mid morning with the springs first Common Sandpiper. A Red Kite drifted low over Upton and on the tall part of the Asda building in Poole a male and female Peregrine were roosting. On the Brownsea Lagoon 3 Spotted Redshank were still at the southern end with 11 Avocet, summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Knot and 15 Bar-tailed Godwit. Our first night recording session from our listening station in Old Town Poole produced only 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Moorhen and 1 Coot. Talking of night sounds, there was potentially a big passage of Coot over Lytchett Bay on the night of April 8th and 9th with 53 calls recorded by Nick Hull. Whether this was just a handful of birds or something a bit more substantial is yet to be decided but the sheer number of calls suggests something interesting was going on considering this is a pretty rare bird for Lytchett Bay. 

 Moorhen & Coot - Calls of night time migrants - Old Town Poole Listening Station - 12/04/17 @ 22: 30

Harbour Update - posted 11/04/17

A stunning day today which had a nice mix of winter and spring birds. 5 Black-necked Grebe in the Wareham Channel, just off gull islands was the biggest surprise, none of us from BoPH recalling seeing them this far into the harbour before, suggesting these could have been freshly arrived migrants? At Swineham there were 3 singing Sedge Warbler and 2 Reed Warbler with c15 Cetti's Warbler and 5 Wheatear in various fields around Swineham with a female type Marsh Harrier over the point. Sandwich Terns were noted around most of the harbour with a nice gathering on the lagoon too. Peregrines were seen over the Wareham Channel and Rempstone. There were still 6 Red-breasted Merganser in central harbour and a handful of Brent Geese. Swallows went through in a light trickle. On the lagoon there were 5 Spotted Redshank (3 in full sum plum), 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Ringed Plover, several sum plum Dunlin, as well as, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank Avocet and c10 Med Gulls. An Osprey was also over the Wareham Channel getting mobbed by gulls. Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal and Tufted Duck made up the duck attendance and a Lesser Redpoll flew over Holton Lee. In Lytchett Bay 2 Whimbrel were out on the mud along with c30 Black-tailed Godwit. At South Haven, Studland a Cuckoo was in the Boardwalk area. In Holes Bay there were 2 Whimbrel too. 

Black-necked Grebe's - Wareham Channel

Common Buzzard - Holton Lee

Harbour Update - posted 10/04/17

This afternoon 2 Cattle Egret were in the Frome Valley, just west of Holmebridge. Looking at plumage, it looks as if it could be the same two that were in Lytchett Bay last week. The Lesser Yellowlegs made a rare appearance onto Lytchett Fields, having de-camped to the bay for most of its time recently, along with a single Little Ringed Plover, 3 Ringed Plover and 2 Whimbrel also on the fields. On the Brownsea Lagoon 5 Spotted Redshank including some summer plumaged individuals were in the western bays and Sandwich Tern numbers are increasing day by day.

Finally, we’ve been working with Dorset Police Marine Division to help carry out extended patrols to monitor ‘Gull Islands’ this spring. Last year, during our annual census of the islands our charity discovered a large illegal theft of gull eggs, which we believe end up on the menu’s in some of the top restaurants in the country. We’d like to say a huge thanks to Dorset Police for their support in this issue and we hope that through these increased monitoring efforts we can really put a stop to this once and for all. For the full story CLICK HERE

Harbour Update - posted 09/04/17

No rain as of yet but there were more Osprey with one over Slepe Heath first thing, carrying a fish and another seen over Arne later in the day. Also at Slepe Heath 2 Tree Pipit passed over north and a Marsh Harrier was out over the mouth of the Frome Valley with a male seen from the Coombe viewpoint too. On Lytchett Fields 2 Little Ringed Plover were on Sherford Pools. At Swineham, the springs first Sedge Warbler was along the footpath with now 2 Reed Warbler along the river path walk, also 6 Blackcap singing, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Swallow (surely more to follow soon??) and a single Siskin. At Challow Hill, it was much of the same too with Yellowhammer, Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, several Blackcap, Linnet and a couple of Dartford Warbler. At Middlebere a Marsh Harrier flew past the hide and both Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover were out on the mud. At South Haven, Studland a Whimbrel passed north calling and just 3 Swallow went through. There were still 4 Brent Geese in Brands Bay.

Yellowhammer - Challow Hill - Nick Mudge

Chiffchaff - Arne - Keith Rawling

Harbour Update - posted 08/04/17

Today was another scorcher of a day, well in early spring terms it was. With conditions like these many migrants will be just going ‘straight over the top’ and arriving at breeding grounds across the country in good time. What us south coast watchers really want is rain and yuk and this time of year, bring birds down to view. Although from the birds point of view, these conditions are perfect and just the great start to the breeding season they deserve having made a long and dangerous journey north. We are however still only in early April and with the rest of the month and May to go, we haven’t given up on at least a few good spring bird days occurring. Today at Lytchett Fields a few waders were dropping in with 80+ Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Dunlin along with an unseasonable Avocet and the springs first Whimbrel out in the bay as well as 3 Egyptian Geese which flew through the bay and another Osprey drifted low over Slough Lane carrying a fish. The Green-winged Teal was also still on Lytchett Fields. There was also some good coverage at Swineham where there were still 2 Little Ringed Plover on the Swineham Flood, the 1stReed Warbler of the spring near Redcliff, 2 Swallow through, up to 16 Cetti’s Warbler along the river, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 singing Blackcap, 1 Marsh Harrier and up to 8 Chiffchaff.

Harbour Update - posted 07/04/17

Sometimes, when the weather gets this good you just need to get out and make the most of it. And although todays weather seemed more in line with getting a good tan rather than a big fall of birds occurring, a few of us from BoPH went out and spent the day trying to learn a little extra about a few lesser visited areas of the harbour as well as some of the more well know places. It’s always good to get up early and experience an early spring dawn chorus and as we arrived at Swineham Song Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff were all competing against Tawny Owl at 5:30am. In the south of the harbour near Corfe 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were drumming and the rare song of Bullfinch could be heard. At Middle Beach 2 Common Scoter, a distant Gannet, 2 Ring-necked Parakeet and 4 Great Crested Grebe were noted and at South Haven Swallows were slowly trickling through in ones and twos as Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit a Razorbill and more Great Crested Grebe were out on the water. Somewhere we spent a good half an hour was the Corfe gap, an under-watched area that can be quite good for birds migrating through the gap, rather than having to go over the top of the ridges. In the 30 minutes we were there, 2 Common Buzzard, Swallows, Sand Martin and Siskin all headed south to north over our heads through the gap as 3-4 Raven looked down at us from their thrones up on Corfe Castle. Out on the Swineham Flood 2 Little Ringed Plover were still present and Cetti’s Warbler were very vocal with up to 7 heard.  Along Soldiers Road a Red Kite drifted over and Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Dartford Warbler were all taking advantage of the calm, still warm weather by actively displaying for most of the afternoon. Out in the Wareham Channel 40 Great Crested Grebe were in 2 flocks before 16 upped and left the channel (and possibly the harbour?) as they headed east in 2 flocks. An Osprey drifted low over Holes By with a large fish at around 8am before heading north. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal is still on the fields and at Sunnyside there was a single Green Sandpiper. Wheatears are still hugely thin on the ground with just a single out in the Lower Frome Valley.

Sadly, the lowlight of the day was seeing someone systematically walking around the gull islands in the Wareham Channel. Although we saw no evidence of egg collecting the sheer presence of humans on the islands was enough to send all the gulls into a frenzy and desert their nesting areas. However it does still beg the question, why was someone out there walking around looking at all the nest sites?

Raven - Corfe Castle

Turnstone - The Houseboats, South haven, Studland

Common Buzzard - Corfe Gap

Red Kite - Soldiers Road

Meadow Pipit - Soldiers Road



Harbour Update - posted 06/04/17

Although it was very quiet today, 3 Garganey found in the Wareham Channel was a good start to the day and a new species for the year. There was precious little else reported other than the Green-winged Teal still at Lytchett Fields.

Harbour Update - posted 05/04/17

Last year we worked with the Purbeck National Trust team to help convert two old fish traps into fully functional breeding Tern rafts. They’re currently Tern rafts, but not yet fully functional! Last year we just ‘missed the boat’ as the rafts weren’t ready in time for the 2016 Tern breeding season. However, they are now both out and in situ on Littlesea, Studland and we’re now waiting and hoping for birds to start using them this spring. Today, to aid this process we placed several decoy Common Tern out on the rafts to make it look like a colony was already underway. Whether this technique works is yet to be seen, but with the number of Mediterranean Gulls paired up on Brownsea at present it looks as if the Common Terns need to find a safe retreat as soon as possible. We kindly ask for any sightings of Terns on, over or around the rafts to be reported to us as any information on how birds are interacting with the new structures is really important. Don’t be fooled though, there is a decoy strategically placed on one of the corners, although its lack of movement should give away its lack of life! Bird wise today it was tough going with a high-pressure system with a light NW wind kept birds either high or at bay. The sun has however made the gorse smell and look incredible and also made the birds that are settled here very active indeed. Our long-staying ringtail Hen Harrier looks as is she could have waved us a fond farewell when at dawn she lifted out of the roost and headed off high north. There was also another Red Kite over Studland mid morning. Both Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal were on Lytchett Fields with a nice addition of a White Wagtail and a Marsh Harrier. On the Brownsea Lagoon good numbers of Sandwich Tern are now settled on the breeding islands, looking hardy as they face up to the Med Gulls and there are still at least 8 Avocet on the lagoon. On the heaths Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Linnet are busy displaying

Dummy Common Terns on new Tern rafts - Littlesea, Studland


Harbour Update - posted 04/04/17

As spring progresses and forms so do the songs that each species performs to help set up their territories and attract a mate. It’s a great time to listen out for unfamiliar sounds of birds by venturing out in to a mixture of habitats between sunrise and mid morning as different species start up their repertoires at different times throughout the dawn. This morning we had this Nuthatch singing beautifully out in the open from an exposed branch at the top of an old Oak Tree at Holton Lee, a sound that can be unfamiliar to many people. Sightings-wise an Osprey was seen passing over Arne with a big fish in its talons, heading towards the Wareham Channel. A male Pied Flycatcher was also reported from Arne on Coombe Heath which is a real dream find with hardly any spring records of this species in the harbour each year. At Lytchett Fields the Lesser Yellowlegs was on the fields looking impeccable in summer plumage and the Green-winged Teal was still flirting with its Eurasian counterpart and an adult male Marsh Harrier and sub-adult female were over Lytchett Heath. Willow Warbler were again singing from many woodland edges around the harbour but we’re still waiting for our first Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers. 

Nuthatch song - Holton Lee - 04/04/17 @ 10:30am

Harbour Update - posted 03/04/17

The Cattle Egret run continued with 2 found out on the salt marsh at Lytchett Bay mid afternoon, which sadly didn’t linger long as they took off and headed south over the railway bridge. Also near by on Lytchett Fields was the Lesser Yellowlegs and Green-winged Teal. Over Swineham GP late evening c280 Sand Martin were feeding with 5 Swallow in amongst them. An Osprey drifted over Arne midday. Willow Warbler were a bit more numerous around the harbour too but its still pretty quiet on the migrant front at present.

Cattle Egrets - Lytchett Bay - Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 02/04/17

Some nice coverage today with a decent list of birds from around the harbour. It started at dawn where a Short-eared Owl was found hunting up on Ballard Down. Migrant wise up on Ballard it was fairly quite with a few Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler and 1 Blackcap. Its great to see so many Yellowhammer about though with c10 seen. Off Middle Beach there were 3 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Gannet and 3 Sandwich Tern. At Challow Hill it was much of the same with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer, Dartford Warbler, Linnet and a couple of Swallow through. The Swineham flood still had the Little Ringed Plover on it with another 3 on another flooded pool near by and many Cetti's Warbler singing in the area. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen briefly in the Corfe River Valley. The Soldiers Road and Hartland area displaying Greenfinch and singing Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. At dusk an Osprey flew over South Haven, Studland whilst at the same site during the morning just Willow Warbler and Blackcap were the only new arrivals in with just a single Sanderling on Shell Beach. At Lytchett Bay the Green-winged Teal was on Sherford Pools and a Marsh Harrier passed through with ‘Storkwit’ (the albino Black-tailed Godwit) still feeding in the bay on the low tide. In Poole Harbour west the Hen Harrier was still present. 

Lesser -spotted Woodpecker - Corfe River Valley

Yellowhammer - Challow Hill

Short-eared Owl - Ballard Down

Adder - Hartland Moor

Harbour Update - posted 01/04/17

It was good to hear that Tree Pipit were heard at Hartland today, meaning more spring migrants are making their way through with several Swallow and Willow Warbler along Soldiers Road as Dartford Warbler and Stonechat became active in the mid afternoon sun. Out in the Wareham Channel the ringtail Hen Harrier was still active and a big female Peregrine was present too. Out on the Swineham/Frome Flood a single Little Ringed Plover was feeding on the mud with 2 Swallow over the main pit, 1 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and  plenty of Cetti’s Warbler around the Swineham area. At Challow Hill it was much of the same with several Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 1 Swallow, 3 Yellowhammer, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit. At Lytchett Fields the Green-winged Teal was still on Sherford Pools with Blackcap and Willow Warbler also singing around the site. 

Little Ringed Plover - Swineham Flood - Trevor Warrick

Harbour Update - posted 31/03/17

There was a good arrival of common migrants into the county today, although most seemed to avoid the harbour, the great Grey Shrike on Hartland and the Green-winged Teal (now displaying) at Lytchett Fields were the main highlights for a tepid Friday. In the Wareham Channel a Hen Harrier was still lingering but Marsh Harriers remain sparse with little or no sign of courtship being carried out yet. The freakishly White Stork looking albino Black-tailed Godwit was in Lytchett Bay today with up to 104 ‘standard’ Black-tailed Godwit now using the fields. At Arne an Osprey flew over, a Firecrest was in the car park and just 1 Spoonbill was on Shipstal. 

White Stork 'Wanna be' Black-tailed Godwit - Lytchett Bay - Shaun Robson

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