September 2017

Harbour Update - posted 27/09/17

A quick catch up from today. The Stilt Sandpiper was still in Middlebere, there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper on Brownsea and 1 on Lytchett Fields. Little Stint totals are rising with 4 on Lytchett Fields and 2 on Brownsea. An Osprey was in Middlebere and a Great White Egret was on the marsh at Upton CP. Other highlights from Lytchett Fields included 4 Ruff, 12 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 155 Dunlin, 1 Marsh Harrier and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. In Holes Bay Wigeon totals hit 400+. On the Brownsea Lagoon 8 Sanderling, 15 Greenshank and 5 Spotted Redshank added to the interest. A Guillemot was sat off Poole Quay feeding early evening. There were 3 Firecrest in Upton CP along with another 3 at Arne. 

Harbour Update - posted 26/09/17

Middlebere definitely seems to be the place to be at present with a whole suit of birds to feast your eyes on. Not only was the Stilt Sandpiper present there for most of the day but the Spoonbill total has now nearly reached 60, with between 54 and 57 reported. Also in the Middlebere channel were 360 Avocet, 1041 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Greenshank, 10 Knot, 1 Ruff, 26 Dunlin and 1 Whinchat and 2 Dartford Warbler along the approach track. The Red-necked Phalarope was still on the small pool in the NW corner of Arne Moors late afternoon and at Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 141 Black-tailed Godwit, 250+ Dunlin and 1 Marsh Harrier around the bay. Firecrests are now beginning to move through with individuals seen in a private garden in Poole and 1 in a mixed-tit flock at Luscombe Valley. Migration through Ballard was moderate despite the early fog with over 100 Chiffchaff ringed and a good passage of Meadow Pipit overhead along with the first decent flurry of Grey and alba Wagtails, Linnet, Chaffinch and Goldfinch. We also got our nocturnal migration listening station up and running last night with some great results. Over the coming weeks there will be big movements of birds across Europe such as the arrival of our winter thrushes and the departure of the last of our summer migrants. By monitoring what passes over our listening station at night it gives a better understand of how and when different species are migrating plus giving us an insight into a nocturnal phenomenon that would otherwise go un-noticed. Last night, highlights included 2 Ring Ouzel, the first small pulse of Song Thrush with 13 in total and 9 Blackbird, 9 Robin, 3 latish Tree Pipit, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Skylark, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover, 1 Redshank, 1 Moorhen and 1 Grey Heron. 

Ring Ouzel - Call of a night time migrant - 26/09/17 @ 02:36 - Old Town Poole Listening Station 

Harbour Update - posted 25/09/17

Luckily, for those who had struggled to catch up with the Stilt Sandpiper during its time in Poole Harbour were given a third chance today as it reappeared in Middlebere today after being re-found yesterday evening. It fed quite happily out on the mud in the presence of 47 Spoonbill, 200+ Avocet, 500+ Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Wigeon, 1 Kingfisher and the Great White Egret. Not a bad place to go birding currently! The Yellow-browed Warbler that was at Arne was seen again in the car park and a newly arrived individual was at Lytchett Bay down near the waterworks along Slough Lane. On Lytchett Fields there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff and 3 Little Stint, one of which got pulses racing due to its pale and different appearance. Overall the bird was dumpier, larger, paler and fed slightly differently but having consulted friends about the bird the agreed ID was a slightly more worn juv Little Stint. Still, it gave a great opportunity to be able to study the variability of this species. An Osprey spent the day touring the eastern end of Arne between Middlebere and Shipstal. Migration through Ballard was steady with 39 Chiffchaff, 23 Blackcap, 42 Meadow Pipit, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Stonechat ringed with the added bonus of a hunting Kestrel also ringed!

Little Stints showing great variability - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Kestrel - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Stonechat - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Yellowhammer - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 24/09/17

There was exciting news today in that the Stilt Sandpiper was relocated in the harbour, this time in Middlebere on the low tide. It was seen from the Coombe viewpoint on the Arne side at 15:15, unfortunately just as the poor weather began to creep in. It’s likely it’s been present in the harbour since disappearing from Lytchett Fields on Thursday last week, but where it’s been roosting/feeding prior to today is anyone’s guess. The Brownsea Lagoon is a good bet, but no reports or possible sightings of this bird have come from there in recent days so until (if) it appears again we’ll just have to wait and see where it ‘pops up’. The Red-necked Phalarope was present again all day on Arne Moors but the Grey Phalarope disappeared early doors by all accounts, although the Little Stint that turned up yesterday remained faithful to the pool. Again, Spoonbill totals crept up, now with 44 in Middlebere. This autumn their behavior is very different to the last 5 years, deciding to roost mostly on Middlebere rather than Brownsea. Why this is we’re not sure but it’s looking as if it could be another great autumn/winter for this species and will we see another record breaking year? The Yellow-browed Warbler was seen and heard again at Arne, this time mostly in the overflow car park. On Lytchett Fields there were 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stint, 2 Ruff, 1 Marsh Harrier and the usual good numbers of commoner waders and wildfowl including a drake Cinnamon Teal, presumably a feral escapee from somewhere? In Holes Bay NE the Wigeon numbers have grown with 218 now along with 3 Kingfisher in the area. With this fine weather, migration through Ballard was slow again with just 19 Blackcap, 11 Chiffchaff, 14 Meadow Pipit and a Swallow ringed. In Poole Harbour west 2 Merlin woke up in a foul mood and began hassling up to 5 Marsh Harrier that came out of the Poole Harbour west roost!

Stilt Sandpiper - Middlebere - Neil Telfer 

Harbour Update - posted 23/09/17

It was great to hear that both the Grey Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope were still on the small polls at Arne Moors and that continued access had been granted by Ridge Wharf Yacht Club. A huge thanks to Ridge Wharf as we estimated that over the Friday and Saturday 150-200 came to enjoy the birds and the icing on the cake was when a Little Stint came to join the party late on Saturday afternoon too. In Middlebere the Spoonbill totals continued to increase with 37 present, also 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Merlin, c350 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot and c150 Avocet of counted. At Arne, a Yellow-browed Warbler was seen and heard in and around the car park several times. It’s looking already as if it could be a good autumn for this species with several sightings in the harbour already. Normally late Sept and throughout October is when we see the main arrival and rush of ‘YBW’ so several mid-Sept records is a good sign. A Great White Egret was seen over Holes Bay late evening with a Spotted Redshank near the outflow in Holes Bay NE and at Lytchett Fields the cluster of scarcer waders were still being very showy with 2 Little Stint, 2 Ruff, 1 Knot, 3 Curlew Sandpiper all feeding close to the viewpoints with Dunlin, Redshank, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe and Teal all present in good numbers still. At Holton Pools the Kingfishers were still wowing the crowds, fishing just meters in front of the newly positioned hide. After yesterdays rush of migrants, migration through Ballard was much quieter today with just 32 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler and 1 Goldcrest ringed. 

Harbour Update - posted 22/09/17

Today was a real delight and a total contrast to yesterday in terms of weather. Sadly the Stilt Sandpiper wasn’t re-found at Lytchett Fields but the Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes performed well for many visitors for much of the day. Lytchett Fields was still busy with 4 Little Stint, 3 Ruff, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot, 1 Spoonbill and the standard spread of Redshank, Lapwing, Teal and Snipe. From the School Bird Boat today 17 Spoonbill were on the Brownsea Lagoon and one of the Arctic Tern from yesterday were still hunting just off of Poole Quay. Migration through Ballard this AM was busy with a Ring Ouzel, 97 Chiffchaff, 50 Blackcap, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Redstart and 2 Whitethroat ringed and monitored moving through the area. In Middlebere there were 24 Spoonbill.

Ring Ouzel - Ballard - Olly Slessor

Firecrest - Ballard - Olly Slessor

Arctic Tern - Poole Quay - Marcus Lawson

Ruff - Lytchett Fields - Shaun Robson

Little Stint - Lytchett Fields - Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 21/09/17

Its fair to say Dorset is having a pretty good year with Poole Harbour certainly benefiting from extra coverage too. Today, despite the rain, saw pots of gold at either end of the rainbow when to begin with Poole Harbours second Stilt Sandpiper turned up at Lytchett Fields. Initially playing hard ball at the very back of French’s Pools, it finally gave its self up and flew and landed on the pools next to the viewpoints giving point blank views. There’s still some question as to whether it’s the same bird as the Lodmoor bird and giving its rarity status it’s probably likely, however there seem to be some slight plumage differences showing in some photos, so I guess we’ll see. Then, at the other end of the day a Red-necked Phalarope was found swimming around in exactly the same pool as the Grey Phalarope that was found on Sunday with both feeding shoulder to shoulder with one another in the NW corner of Arne Moors. As the site is private and the birds were found during a survey, access wasn’t granted immediately but with thanks to Ridge Wharf Boat Yard who later kindly agreed access through their yard, people were able to come an enjoy the birds from a safe distance up on the sea wall. For directions to try and see the birds CLICK HERE. Lytchett Fields had a great supporting cast of 2 Ruff, 3 Knot, 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 200+ Dunlin, 40+ Lapwing, 100+ Redshank, 300 Teal and 7 Wigeon. A sea watch from Branksome chine produced 4 Eider east and a pale morph Arctic Skua harassing an Arctic Tern. The seasons first school bird boat also took place today and despite the wind and rain 2 Arctic Tern, 6 Spoonbill and a good selection of waders on the Brownsea Lagoon including 1 Little Stint, 5 Common Sandpipers, 3 Spotted Redshank, 18 Greenshank, 1 Sanderling, 3 Ringed Plover and 38 Dunlin kept spirits high. A Peregrine was hunting just off Poole Quay mid morning and another was roosting on he tall part of the Asda building. 


Stilt Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Stilt Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 20/09/17

If there weren’t enough signs to prove autumn had well and truly landed, well today’s arrival of the harbours (and Dorset’s) first Yellow-browed Warbler of the season just about sealed it. Sadly it was on private land, but this does mean these awesome little autumn gems are now beginning to pass through, so its well worth keeping yours eyes peeled in passing Long-tailed Tit flocks and your ears on high alert for their familiar calls. Below is a recording made from Knoll Beach, Studland back in 2014 to help you familiarise yourselves. Middlebere was again popular as 29 Spoonbill, 1 Osprey, 1 Great White Egret, 2 Marsh Harrier, 709 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank, 121 Avocet, 4 Knot, 18 Wigeon, 6 Pintail and 19 Yellow Wagtail. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Spoonbill, 12 Wigeon and all the usual cohort of waders and wildfowl. In the Wareham Channel on the low tide 25 Spoonbill were feeding and 8 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 13 Pintail and large numbers of other gulls were out on the mud. The first night ringing session of the autumn/winter didn’t produce any Jack Snipe (or Woodcock) unsurprisingly as its still too early but the first Common Snipe was ringed along with a Wheatear. 

Yellow-browed Warbler call of autumn migrant - 31/10/14 - Knoll Beach, Studland, Poole Harbour

Common Snipe - Lower Frome Valley

Little Stint - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Little Stints - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 19/09/17

Lytchett Fields is still looking strong at present with a great sweep of birds across the whole site with 3 Ruff, 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 16 Greenshank, 100+ Redshank, 1 Spoonbill, 200+ Dunlin, 40+ Lapwing and 300+ Teal. In Middlebere the Great White Egret was seen again and there were 21 Spoonbill, 2 Osprey (one Scottish ringed bird and 1 un-ringed), 700+ Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Peregrine, 40 Avocet, 2 Greenshank and 4 Grey Plover. In Holes Bay, 4 Black Swans appeared from somewhere, but we’re not assuming Australia. The Brownsea Lagoon was also looking fab with 1 Little Stint, 6 Sanderling, 6 Grey Plover, 8 Spoonbill, 2 Kingfisher, 3 Pintail of note alongside increasing numbers of Wigeon, Gadwall and Shoveler, 300+ Oystercatcher, 40 Avocet, numerous Redshank, Sandwich Tern, and 2 Firecrest near the villa. The Grey Phalarope was again out in the NW corner of Arne Moors. 

Chiffchaff - Poole Garden - Marcus Lawson


Harbour Update - posted 18/09/17

After a busy day yesterday, things quieted down today, which for a Monday is no surprise. The big news of the day is that we no longer received a signal from our last juvenile Osprey LS6 meaning that all 8 of this summers translocated chicks are now underway with some even possibly already down in Africa. We’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone that’s been involved from volunteers, landowners and you the public for supporting the work with either financial donations or joining us on our Osprey boat cruises back in August. Arne was buzzing with people through August, all excited to see Osprey within Poole Harbour and now that all 8 have gone we can now reflect, assess and start planning for next year now! Sightings from around the harbour included 21 Spoonbill at Middlebere, 9 on Brownsea and 1 on Lytchett Fields. There were single of Ruff and Curlew Sandpiper on Lytchett Fields too and migration the Ballard Down included a steady flow of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Meadow Pipit with 2 Common Redstart also ringed. There are already 3 Merlin back, mostly frequenting the Hartland area but also traveling down the Wareham Channel area too. 

Harbour Update - posted 17/09/17

Today was the first Poole Harbour WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) of the season which sees 30 volunteers head out into the harbour and count all waders and waterfowl present. This continues all the way through the winter until the end of February and sees a really accurate picture painted as to how healthy (or not so healthy) our over-wintering waders and wildfowl populations are. Being only mid-September many birds are yet to arrive but the first signs that winter is just around the corner became evident today as rising numbers of Wigeon, Pintail, Teal and Shoveler were all recorded as were rising numbers of over-wintering waders. Highlights from around the harbour included the Great White Egret in the mouth of Wytch Lake, the Scottish ringed Osprey caught a fish in the same area. A Grey Phalarope was found on a small pool in the NW corner of Arne Moors with 2 Wheatear and a Marsh Harrier there too. What was almost certainly a Pink-footed Goose came and landed on the Brownsea Lagoon for only 30 seconds before sadly lifting off again and disappeared west. A Brent Goose was also on the Southern shores but its hard to say whether this is an early returning bird or one of the two that over-summered in the area which haven’t been seen for around a month. At Lytchett Fields there was 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Pintail, 239 Dunlin, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Yellow Wagtail. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Spotted Redshank and 3 Spoonbill. Out in the Wareham Channel 14 Spoonbill were feeding. Migration through Ballard was slow with only 16 Chiffchaff and 9 Blackcap ringed which compared to yesterday was a stark difference. A visible migration watch up on Glebelands, Ballard Down was slow but gave an insight of things to come as small groups of Goldfinch, Linnet, Siskin and Chaffinch passed over heading NE with stronger totals of Meadow Pipit and Hirundines, along with 1 Ringed Plover and the first small arrival of Song Thrush. At Greenlands Farm there were 2-3 Redstart, 2 Whitethroat and again, small totals of Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch passing overhead. Brands Bay was heavily disturbed by walkers for most of the afternoon but 7 Spoonbill and an Osprey were highlights during the WeBS. 

To get a more detailed understanding of Poole Harbours over wintering birds, why not have a read through our 2008 Waders and Waterfowl of Poole Harbour study carried out by Nick Hopper. This gives a great insight into the feeding, roosting and distribution of all our over-wintering species during the 2008/09 winter period. 

Great White Egret - Wytch Lake 

Brent Goose - Southern shores, near Wytch Lake

Harbour Update - posted 16/09/17

For most of the morning and early afternoon there was a strong passage of Meadow Pipit passing overhead, all passing on a broad front across the entire harbour along with a strong hirundine movement with many thousands of Swallow and to a lesser extent Sand Martin and House Martin moving WSW. The Spoonbill flock in Middlebere was 22 with 5 on the Brownsea Lagoon and 1 on Lytchett Fields. Ospreys were seen over the Wareham Channel and 1 in Brands Bay. 1-3 Marsh Harrier are currently present with birds moving about the Wareham Channel, Middlebere area.  The Baird’s Sandpiper was again on the Brownsea Lagoon and the Great White Egret was reported in Middlebere and then over the mouth of the Frome, Wareham Channel. Wheatears, Whitethroat and Whinchat were seen along Soldiers Road and 4 Yellow Wagtail were at Hartland Stud. Migration through the Ballard area was strong with 84 Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warbler, 43 Blackcap, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 5 Whitethroat and 53 Sand Martin ringed. At Greenlands Farm there were 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Wheatear, 28 Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcap at Brands Bay a single Osprey and at Manor Farm, Studland the Hooded Crow was still present. At dusk we also headed out into the Lower Frome Valley to try our first lamping session of the autumn/winter to assess whether any early Jack Snipe had arrived in. None were seen but 7 Common Snipe were flushed and the only bird ringed was in fact a Wheatear!

Wheatear ringed during lamping session - Lower Frome Valley

Harbour Update - posted 15/09/17

With all these American waders turning up in Dorset it would be nice if the Brownsea  Baird’s Sandpiper hooked up with a familiar friend but so far its not to be. At Lytchett Fields a Wood Sandpiper was still present along with 18 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spoonbill, 165 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover, 8 Greenshank, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap and lots of Chiffchaff. Marsh Harriers were noted at Swineham, Middlebere and Shipstal, Arne. Migration through Ballard was reasonable again with 55 Chiffchaff and 34 Blackcap ringed along with 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Whitethroat, 4 Sedge Warbler and 1 Willow Warbler

Harbour Update - posted 14/09/17

The highlight from today was when a Tawny Pipit flew low across the Brownsea Quay having arrived in from the south by the looks of things, heading into the northerly wind. It carried on north traveling along the Brownsea sea wall, heading towards Baiter.  This coincided with a small flurry of Meadow Pipit and 2 Wheatear following the same flight line north. The lagoon its self still had the Baird’s Sandpiper, 7 Spoonbill and Garganey on it and a Peregrine sat watching and waiting for almost the entire day. At dawn 3 Merlin zipped around Poole Harbour west with one in transit heading up the Frome Valley and 2 around the Slepe Heath area. At Lytchett Fields there was a single Curlew Sandpiper amongst the 100+ Dunlin, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Whinchat but no sign of the Wood Sand. The cold WNW wind kept much at bay but out on Whitley Lake 38 Sandwich Tern and a single Arctic Tern hunkered down on the low tide whilst up on Ballard just singles of Redstart, Wheatear, Whinchat and Common Whitethroat were noted. At Sunnyside Farm passerine numbers were low with just a Whinchat and several Chiffchaff seen. At Middlebere there were 675 Black-tailed Godwit, 100+ Dunlin, 30 Avocet, 4 Greenshank and 1 Knot. An Osprey was out in the Wareham Channel at dawn too.

We mentioned yesterday that Brownsea hosted a large total of 360 Great Black-backed Gulls coming in to roost which is a larger than normal amount. Knowing and learning where these birds are coming from poses an interesting question which we’d like to learn more about. Back in 2008 Nick Hopper carried a ‘Gulls of Poole Harbour’ study which gives an excellent account and insight as to where all our gulls are roosting and how far they’ve travelled to get here. You can read the full report here - Gulls of Poole Harbour

 Baird's Sandpiper and Redshank - Brownsea Lagoon - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 13/09/17

Again Brownsea saw the lion’s share of sightings as the Baird’s Sandpiper continued to show nicely from the Mac Hide, the Garganey from the Lower Hide and the Black Tern commuting between the two! Two Black Tern were also feeding out in the tidal race of the SE Brownsea shore. An Osprey also drifted over, Crossbill, Firecrest, Wheatear and Tawny Owl were recorded from terrestrial sites around the island and on the lagoon 2 Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Sandwich, Common and an Arctic Tern, 2 Kingfisher, Spoonbill, Peregrine, 1 Whimbrel and Avocet were all recorded too with a decent total of 360 Greater Black-backed Gull coming into roost. On Lytchett Fields there was 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper and c15 Ringed Plover and in Holes Bay NE there was a single Spotted Redshank. A Branksome sea watch produced 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 Arctic Tern, 15 Common Scoter, c10 Gannet and numerous Common and Sandwich Tern.

Black Tern - Brownsea Lagoon - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 12/09/17

Today Brownsea remained on good form with the Baird’s Sandpiper, 1 Black Tern, 1 Garganey, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 juv Sanderling, 25 Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank, 25 Avocet, 2 Kingfisher, 1 Wheatear and 200+ Teal along with 8 Wigeon, 17 Shoveler and 20+ Gadwall. At Lytchett Fields the Wood Sandpiper remained but the fields were really flooded so most birds had moved off. At Middlebere there were 32 Spoonbill, the Scottish ringed Osprey and a nice selection of migrants along the access track including Hobby, Whinchat, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat. In the harbour mouth a single Arctic Tern fed briefly. Migration through Ballard included 47 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Sedge Warbler, 6 Grasshopper Warbler, 25 Blackcap and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Our daily PM check on this summers translocated Osprey juv’s revealed that two more have now gone leaving just LS6 here all on his lonesome. LS0 left some time during Monday and LS2 left some time today. This was slightly surprising as the weather wasn’t exactly ‘departure friendly’ but at least it was a SW wind meaning any birds moving south across the English Channel would be blown over mainland Europe rather than out over the Bay of Biscay. 

Spotted Flycatcher - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Kingfisher - Brownsea Lagoon - Paul Morton

Juvenile Swallow - Brownsea Lagoon - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 11/09/17

The ludicrous scenes at Lodmoor this evening couldn’t be replicated within Poole Harbour unfortunately despite lots of trying. With Lodmoor hosting both a Stilt Sandpiper (only 3rd Dorset record) and a Least Sandpiper (first Dorset record) at the same time, sometimes within a few cm’s of one another and with Poole Harbour hosting a Baird’s Sandpiper for over a week, which was again on Brownsea today…it just goes to show that anything is possible if the effort is put in. Elsewhere around the harbour it was pretty quiet in comparison to recent days with 3 Redstart along the track at Middlebere and 28 Spoonbill, 15 Greenshank 1 Spotted Redshank, 5 Wigeon and 7 Stonechat, 1 Merlin seen in the channel. Out from Branksome Chine only 8 Common Scoter, 6 Gannet, 1 Kittiwake and several Med Gulls were noted. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 17 Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank, 1 Whinchat and 2 Stonechat. Holton Pools was Kingfisher central again with 2 birds showing off in front of the new Holton Pools hide. The Scottish ringed Osprey was in Middlebere again and it looks as if we’re now down to 3 Osprey chicks left over from the translocation project with LS3 leaving sometime on Saturday afternoon. 


Harbour Update - posted 10/09/17

With the recent strong SW winds it wasn’t going to be long before a Grey Phalarope showed up and this morning one did!! Seen by boat crew in between the Brownsea and Sandbanks Quay, bobbing along on rough waves. An un-ringed Osprey also drifted low across the Brownsea Lagoon and over the Brownsea Quay early morning. For the Arne raptor weekend another 3-4 Osprey were seen including a Scottish ringed juvenile and several fly-by’s of Osprey carrying fish. Interestingly a satellite tagged bird from Kielder Forest also arrived and spent the night in the harbour; you can read about UV’s journey HERE. In Middlebere there were 27 Spoonbill, 30 Avocet and along the Middlebere track 1 Whinchat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Redstart, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Wheatear. In Studland Bay there was a single Common Scoter, 1 Guillemot, 8 Gannet, c20 Med Gull and 2 Kingfisher in off the sea! At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Osprey, 1 Peregrine and a continued ‘good spread’ of common waders. There were 2 late Swift over Swineham GP with lots of hirundines with 1 male Marsh Harrier over the area there. Migration through Ballard included another decent fall of Chiffchaff with 84 ringed also 9 Blackcap, 7 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Sedge and 1 Reed Warbler

Harbour Update - posted 09/09/17

The Baird’s Sandpiper was still on the Brownsea Lagoon, this time accompanied by 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Black Tern, 2 Spoonbill, 22 Greenshank, 6 Spotted Redshank, 1 Peregrine and 2 Kingfisher. For the first day of the Arne raptor weekend 3-4 Osprey were seen along with 1 Marsh Harrier, 2 Hobby and 2 Peregrine. A Cattle Egret was at Lytchett Fields with 2 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 44 Ringed Plover, c300 Dunlin, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Osprey and 20+ Yellow Wagtail. A ringing session at Lytchett Heath produced 1 Redstart, 7 Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler 4 Sedge Warbler, 4 Reed Bunting and 2 Kingfisher. Migration through Ballard consisted of 46 Chiffchaff, 19 Blackcap, 7 Common Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler

Plenty of Chiffchaff and Blackcap moving through the harbour now

Harbour Update - posted 08/09/17

This morning the Baird’s Sandpiper showed up again on the Brownsea Lagoon with a good number of other birds including 21 Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank, 158 Redshank, 62 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 130 Black-tailed Godwit, 59 Avocet, 695 Oystercatcher, 38+ Sandwich Tern, 19+ Common Tern, 400+ Teal, 3 Spoonbill, 3 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine, 5 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Wheatear with 3 Firecrest near the church and a fairly sick looking Guillemot off the Brownsea Quay. A Great White Egret was feeding off Goathorn Point in the evening during the low tide and a single Arctic Tern was in the harbour mouth. In Middlebere there were still 23 Spoonbill, a Red Kite roosted out in Poole Harbour west and lifted off at dawn heading over Stoborough Heath.  At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 16 Greenshank and a strong supporting cast of Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Green Sandpiper and Common Snipe. From Coombe Heath, Arne 1 Osprey, 2 Hobby and a Sparrowhawk were noted along with 200+ Black-tailed Godwit in Middlebere. 

Guillemot off the Brownsea Quay

Harbour Update - posted 07/09/17

There was a nice general sweep of birds around the harbour today including a Wryneck reported on Ballard, another Merlin at Greenland’s Far, 22 Spoonbill, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Knot and 1 Whinchat at Middlebere, 2 Osprey at Arne, 4 Curlew Sandpiper and 30+ Yellow Wagtail and 25+ Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields, 2 Whinchat at Sunnyside Farm, 16 Spotted Flycatcher up on Hartland Moor, 2 Black Terns off the Brownsea southern shore and 7 Spotted Redshank on the Brownsea Lagoon. 

Harbour Update - posted 06/09/17

With yesterdays mizzle and drizzle it seemed birds were keen to get on the move this morning as the autumns first decent Chiffchaff passage occurred with 40 ringed up on Ballard and certainly 100+ moved through the site, along with Blackcap being more prolific too with 26 ringed. Also moving through Ballard were 16 Willow Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Wheatear, 5 Tree Pipit, 1 Whinchat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. At the harbour mouth 3 newly arrived Black Tern were feeding in the gull/tern flock in the tidal race around 8am. There was a late Swift over Stoborough and an early(ish) Merlin over Greenland’s Farm, Studland with 2 Redstart also there. In the Wareham Channel 22 Spoonbill were feeding at dawn and later moved round to Middlebere where there were also 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Knot and 105 Dunlin. Late afternoon early evening saw a Barn Owl and Green Sandpiper over Wareham Moors. At Lytchett Fields a Great White Egret flew over with an Osprey not long after and there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 300+ Dunlin, 165 Black-tailed Godwit, 25+ Ringed Plover, 12 Greenshank, 100+ Redshank, 30+ Yellow Wagtail and 1 Peregrine. A single Osprey was in the dead trees at Middlebere and there were 2 Raven and 2 Wheatear on Coombe Heath. Off Shipstal Point Arne a juvenile Arctic Skua was getting mobbed by gulls and the Hooded Crowwas found again in fields near Glebelands (Manor Farm), Studland. A Wood Sandpiper on the Brownsea Lagoon was moderate compensation for the Baird’s Sandpiper not being present for a second day in a row. 

Adult Yellow-legged Gull - Middlebere - Paul Morton


Harbour Update - posted 05/09/17

This morning Lytchett Fields was looking pretty impressive with every available bit of water covered in birds. 200+ Dunlin, 30+ Ringed Plover, Greenshank, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper and several Yellow Wagtail all happily fed just meters away from the two viewpoints, seemingly without a care in the world and not bother by the 10+ people stood there watching them. Other birds out on the fields included 10+ Green Sandpiper, 100+ Black-tailed Godwit and good numbers of Redshank, Lapwing, Snipe, Teal, Black-headed Gulls and Little Egrets. On the Brownsea Lagoon a Peregrine put up a large flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover which weren’t seen again for the rest of the day, putting a stop to any hope of trying to re-find the Baird’s Sandpiper. There were 2 Curlew Sandpiper though with 8 Spotted Redshank, 1 Garganey, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Turnstone, 8 Greenshank and a marked increase in Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler numbers. As the rain poured down mid afternoon a Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, 1 Knot and the standard Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin were the highlights in Middlebere. As the rain cleared by late afternoon a few migrants could be found with 2 Redstart and a Spotted Flycatcher on top of Hartland and 2 Redstart and a Whinchat at Greenland’s Farm. 


Harbour Update - posted 04/09/17

Today we began our three day Autumn Dorset Discovery which saw us venturing around the Arne RSPB reserve, a full trip report will be available to read in the coming week but highlights included 3-4 Osprey, with 2 un-ringed birds in the dead trees at the back of Middlebere, 19 Spoonbill, 3 Firecrest, 4-5 Dartford Warbler, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Hobby, 6 Knot, 6 Greenshank, 15 Avocet, c300 Black-tailed Godwit c30 Dunlin plus Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, 1 Smooth Snake, 1 Grass Snake and both Raft and Wasp Spiders around the Coombe heath ponds. The Baird’s Sandpiper was again on the Brownsea Lagoon with a Little Stint and 2 Spotted Redshank in amongst the Dunlin flock. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper along with 1 Knot, 24 Ringed Plover, 328 Dunlin, 135 Black-tailed Godwit, 12+ Greenshank, 15+ Green Sandpiper, 25+ Snipe, 100+ Redshank, 80+ Lapwing, 26 Little Egret, 100+ Teal and 10 Yellow Wagtail. Migration through Ballard was rather slow with ringing totals only consisting of 6 Willow Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 11 Blackcap and 5 Whitethroat.

Curlew Sandpipers - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 03/09/17

Last year we were involved in a fascinating discovery that highlighted that Ortolan Bunting, a pretty scarce migrant across the UK was in fact a fairly regular night migrant over our heads through the latter part of August and early September. Last year, over our office roof in Old Town Poole we sound recorded 13 Ortolan Bunting over a 4 week period which was pretty unprecedented. This year we had tried in vain with no success until last night that is (Sept 2nd/3rd)  where we sound recorded 3 more in a single night! Its great to know that last year wasn’t just a one off and with fellow night sound recorder Nick Hopper carrying out the same research at Portland with similar results, its safe to say that if you wish to try and get Ortolan Bunting on your Poole Harbour/Dorset list a late night and lots of coffee is what you need. Our three last night flew over at 23:15, 02:08 and 03:36. The Baird’s Sandpiper was still on Brownsea for its third day now with a great supporting cast of 1st winter Little Gull, 1 Garganey, 1 Little Stint, 27 Spoonbill, 1 Garganey, 10 Spotted Redshank, 16 Greenshank, 3 Knot, 1 Common Sandpiper, 41 Little Egret, 2 Kingfisher, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Wheatear and the first 8 Wigeon of the autumn for Brownsea. A sea watch from Branksome provided 5 Arctic Skua, 2 Balearic Shearwater and 20 Gannet. In Poole Harbour west a surprising 3 out of 4 Marsh Harrier from the roost were male (not often that happens). 

 Ortolan Bunting 03/09/17 @ 3:36am. Calls of a night time migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station

Harbour Update - posted 02/09/17

A beautiful crisp, cold September morning gave way to a perfect warm (and at times hot) autumnal afternoon. Thankfully the Baird’s Sandpiper that was found on Brownsea yesterday but not relocated during an evening search was eventually re-found this afternoon. Heat haze proved tricky initially but as cloud cover descended, picking out the correct features became easier. Also on the Brownsea Lagoon were 30 Spoonbill, 1 Little Stint and a Garganey. At Lytchett Fields the harbours first Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn appeared, the Wood Sandpiper was still present along with 290 Dunlin, 42 Ringed Plover, 10 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Osprey, 1 Peregrine, 30+ Yellow Wagtails and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. A ringing demo at Lytchett Heath provided 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 45 Sedge Warbler, 16 Chiffchaff, 8 Willow Warbler and 1 Cetti’s Warbler. Up on Ballard migrants were thin on the ground with just 1 Tree Pipit, 8 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Sedge Warbler and 2 Reed Warbler. At Swineham an Osprey flew up the Frome Valley early morning, there were also 10 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Raven, 1 Kingfisher and a small trickle of Swallow through the area. This morning was also the date for our September field trip, and for this month it was hosted at Slepe Heath. Despite the cold start things picked up and we ended on a good tally of birds including 1 Cuckoo, 3 Tree Pipit, 3 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 15 Stonechat, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Dartford Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 31 Mistle Thrush in a post breeding flock, 1 Osprey, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Spoonbill.

Lytchett Fields Reminder – Large Wessex Water tankers need constant access through the locked gate at the end of Slough Lane, Upton. Can visitors to the site refrain from blocking the gate. Many thanks for your co-operation. 

Wood Sandpiper - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam



Harbour Update - posted 01/09/17

Today was really ‘birdy’ with the added bonus of a Poole Harbour first being found in the shape of a Baird’s Sandpiper on the Brownsea Lagoon. This is only the 4th record for Dorset, the last being found nearly 20 years ago in Christchurch Harbour in 1998. The Brownsea Lagoon was looking stunning with or without our rare North American friend with 2 Little Stint, 10 Spotted Redshank, 1 Garganey, 9 Spoonbill, c40 Avocet and good numbers of Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin and Oystercatcher. Sandwich and Common Tern were still present and 2 Wheatear and 3 Yellow Wagtail were feeding over on the far sea wall. At Greenland’s Farm, Studland migrants were pretty evenly spread with 8 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Woodlark, 4 Wheatear, 2 Blackcap and 2 Tree Pipit. Migration through Ballard included 5 Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Redstart, c10 Whitethroat, 4 Reed Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Redpoll and several Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. At Lytchett Fields the Wood Sandpiper was still present with 2 Ruff, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Green Sandpiper, c20 Ringed Plover, c150 Dunlin, 6 Greenshank, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull and the usual spread Lapwing, Snipe and Redshank. In Middlebere there were 19 Spoonbill, 4 Osprey, 6 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank, 1 Redstart, 1 Whinchat and 1 Spotted Flycatcher

Record shot of Baird's Sandpiper - Brownsea Lagoon - Stephen Menzie

Harbour Update - posted 31/08/17

Today Lytchett Fields was looking pretty special with 1 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 9+ Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 224 Dunlin plus good numbers each of Common Snipe, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Teal. Migration through Ballard included 5 Grasshopper Warbler, 25 Willow Warbler, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 20 Blackcap, 8 Whitethroat, 1 Whinchat, 3 Redstart, 1 Wheatear, c15 Yellow Wagtail, c10 Chiffchaff and 7 Yellowhammer. At Middlebere there were 30+ Yellow Wagtail along the approach track, 6 Osprey and 2 Spotted Flycatcher. On Holton Pools there were 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Lapwing, 1 Kingfisher and 2 Little Egret. At Studland the/a Great White Egret flew over Brands Bay late afternoon. Out on Baiter 3 Wheatear were doing their best to avoid the dogs.

Wheatear - Ballard - Olly Slessor

Ruff - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 30/08/17

Today saw another mixed bag as a freshly arrived full adult male Marsh Harrier left the west Poole Harbour roost first thing whilst an Osprey was fishing off Giggers Island and 19 Spoonbill flew down the Wareham Channel. At Lytchett Fields there was a Wood Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 1 Spoonbill, 20+ Yellow Wagtail and an Osprey. In Middlebere there were 12 Spoonbill and 3-5 Osprey including an adult. At Holton Pools Kingfishers have taken up residence in front of the re-furbed hide using the conveniently placed perching posts with 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 2 Lapwing and 1 Black-tailed Godwit also using the scrapes. Whinchats, Redstarts, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher Chiffchaff and Willow Warblerare all pretty numerous around the harbour at present, certainly along the heathland edges and around the Studland Peninsular. The Bonaparte's Gull, 5 Spoonbill and 10 Spotted Redshank were on the Brownsea Lagoon. 2 Red Kite drifted over Studland. 

Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation has also written an excellent blog post giving an update on our Osprey translocation project and the recent departure of our first Osprey chick. CLICK HERE

Unringed adult Osprey - Middlebere - Simon Kidner

Wood Sandpiper (left) and Redshank - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

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