October 2017

Harbour Update - posted 30/10/17

Nothing beats a ‘pure’ autumn day, and by this we mean not a breath wind, a warm sun but still with a snap of cold in the air. This morning saw our first frost of the year and a 6:30am start on Shipstal Point, Arne saw a flock of 12 Barnacle Geese arrive in from the north in the twilight before circling high above Middlebere and Ower Bay before eventually settling in Arne Bay next to 41 Spoonbill. The geese were then re-found a bit later at Swineham GP where a 13th individual joined them. Also at Swineham were 11 Bearded Tit, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Pochard, 3 Little Grebe, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Ruff , 37 Black-tailed Godwit and small numbers of Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Shoveler. Overhead Bullfinch were passing over in good numbers across the harbour and a Marsh Harrier was over Long Island. The harbour was like a Mill Pond so the Velvet Scoter was easy to pick out, out in central harbour. There were also 27 Red-breasted Merganser out in central harbour with 35 Great Crested Grebe. It looked as if Woodpigeon migration was going to get going again but in never really mounted into much with c3500 going west. Up at Glebelands, Ballard a good passage of finches were counted with 4 Hawfinch over at dawn, also 33 Brambling, 87 Bullfinch, 688 Goldfinch, 121 Lesser Redpoll, 163 Chaffinch, 39 Siskin along with 13 Reed Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer, 186 Starling, 22 alba Wagtail, 5 Skylark and 6 Swallow. A male Brambling was ringed at our Ballard ringing site along with 1 Firecrest, 1 Blackcap, 12 Goldcrest, 15 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Bullfinch and 20 Goldfinch. The Ruddy Shelduck was on the Brownsea Lagoon again and 1-2 Merlin were on Hartland late afternoon. Last night, our listening station was much quieter as a bright, clear moonlit night made it easy for birds to migrate, therefor not needing to call as frequently. We did record another Hawfinch though, our 9th in just three nights, also 3 Goldcrest and a spread of Fieldfare, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Redwing over the course of the night. Its amazing to think that a bird as small and delicate as a Goldcrest is able to navigate through the hours of darkness in 0 degree temperatures. Such hardy little birds.

Goldcrest - Call of a night migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station 30/10/17 @ 01:44

 Barnacle Geese - 12 arriving at dawn over Shipstal, Arne - 30/10/17 @ 07:21

Barnacle Geese - Swineham GP - Paul Morton

Brambling - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 29/10/17

A cold steely grey morning gave way to a picture perfect autumn afternoon, as October moon, rusty skies and ever changing feelings faded to brisk, crisp sub zero temperatures. Autumn did its best to turn into winter today with the presence of a Great Grey Shrike on Slepe Heath but summer grappled back as the late Hobby dashed through Arne Moors for its second day. There was also a Hen Harrier in Middlebere, 1 Merlin and 4 Marsh Harrier over the Wareham Channel reed beds. A Ruddy Shelduck turned up on the Brownsea Lagoon mid afternoon although sadly the origins of these handsome birds are always questioned as feral populations occur here in the UK as well as through France. It seems a shame though to rule out genuine vagrancy when the time of year is correct and the bird acts in a wild manner. Regardless of its origins it’s not a bird we see in the harbour often and it’s a pleasure to have it here. A comedy moment at Lytchett Bay today when the sites first Pochard since Nov 2012 flew in and landed briefly before moving off but then was quickly followed 30 minuets later by a second… about waiting for buses! There were also 2-3 Red Kite over Lytchett Bay today with others over Stoborough and Hatch Pond. There were 5 Ruff on Lytchett Fields plus 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine and a few Swallow through. Ringing at Ballard was a little slower today, probably due to the early wind strength but the sites first Redwing was ringed along with 16 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff and 1 Bullfinch

Pochard with Pintail - Lytchett Bay - Shaun Robson


Harbour Update - posted 28/10/17

Each autumn we wait impatiently for ‘Pigeon Day’….yes….Pigeon Day.  Each year at the end of October or early November when the weather conditions are suitable we see huge numbers of Woodpigeon migrating across and over Poole Harbour. The conditions need to be bright and clear from dawn with a NE wind ideally. They start arriving from the east, having left the New Forest area earlier in the morning, coming over the top of Evening Hill and crossing over the top of Brownsea heading SW. They’re often so high that if you’re not looking for them then you can easily miss them, despite being in their thousands. This morning 50,536 travelled over the harbour in just a few hours. Whilst monitoring the Pigeons a surprise Honey Buzzard also drifted over central Poole. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 9 Spoonbill, 20 Grey Plover, 300+ Avocet and 15 Spotted Redshank with a further 40 Spoonbill at Shipstal, Arne. A late Hobby was out over Arne Moors and in Middlebere a Hen Harrier and Merlin were seen. At dawn two new/different Hen Harrier left their west harbour roost having only arrived the day before and promptly lifted higher and higher, heading off south….presumably leaving. Incidentally these were the 5th and 6th different Hen Harrier to visit the harbour this autumn. Some vis-mig at Lytchett Bay view produced a single Brambling, 2664 Woodpigeon, 19 Chaffinch and 3 Bullfinch. On Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, and 1 Curlew Sandpiper and in Lytchett Bay 2 Spoonbill and 2 Brent Geese. Ringing up on Ballard was a bit slower today but the first Fieldfare of the autumn was ringed along with a new Dartford Warbler, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 19 Goldcrest, 1 Blackcap, and 36 Goldfinch. A Brambling was back at the Arne feeders. A night sound recording session from our Old Town Poole Listening station produced an impressive 5 Hawfinch, the first notable wave of Fieldfare, 1077 Redwing calls, 468 Blackbird calls and 412 Song Thrush calls. 

Woodpigeon migration - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

 Hawfinch - Call of a night time migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station 28/10/17 @ 00:42

Harbour Update - posted 27/10/17

Visible migration watching took place at several places, starting at Glebelands, Ballard Down where 72 Bullfinch (the second largest UK passage of this species), 653 Goldfinch, 32 Brambling, 19 Reed Bunting, 407 Linnet, 116 Siskin, 48 Lesser Redpoll, 203 Chaffinch and 28 Skylark were all logged along with singles of Fieldfare, Golden Plover, Marsh Harrier and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker. At South Haven, Studland totals included 1 Hawfinch, 47 Bullfinch, 187 Goldfinch, 5 Brambling, 385 Linnet, 37 Siskin, 26 Redwing, 5 Swallow, 2 Skylark and 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Wood Pigeon migration began to ‘bubble up’ with 6185 heading high SW over Evening Hill towards Brownsea. A night migration sound recording session from our listening station in Old Town Poole was really productive and produced 3 Hawfinch, 4-5 Ring Ouzel, c2000 Redwing calls, c1500 Song Thrush calls and c500 Blackbird calls along with 1 Golden Plover, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Skylark and 1 Gadwall. There were 2 Yellow-browed Warbler in the busy urban part of Poole with one in a private garden and another calling at the north end of Pitwines (Sainsbury’s) car park. Ringing up on Ballard was slower today with 20 Lesser Redpoll and 10 Goldcrest the highlights. Out towards Swineham 3 Marsh Harrier were hunting loosely together and this afternoon a fresh juv female Hen Harrier was seen with the juv male around the Slepe Heath area. On Brownsea there were 28 Spoonbill and 1 Little Stint and at Lytchett Fields there were 2 Ruff, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier, 10 Skylark over and the autumn/winters first Water Pipit.  

 Ring Ouzel night Passage - Old Town Poole Listening Station 27/10/17 @ 4:00am

 Hawfinch - Single call of night time migrant - Old Town Poole Listening Station 27/10/17 @ 03:47 

Yellow-browed Warbler - Poole garden - Marcus Lawson

Harbour Update - posted 26/10/17

With the wind due to swing around NE tomorrow, therefore potentially providing the first decent visible migration opportunity this October, some practice sessions were put into place but little was moving at the harbour mouth, South Haven with just 105 Goldfinch, 22 Lesser Redpoll, 50 Chaffinch, 1 Bullfinch, 60 Siskin, 10 Swallow, 2 Goldcrest and 11 alba Wagtail across the harbour mouth. Through the harbour mouth went 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 72 Brent Geese, 4 Pintail and 6 Sandwich Tern. In Studland Bay there were 8 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver and in Poole Bay 2 Common Scoter and 1 Razorbill. Another Hawfinch was seen, this time flying over Greenland’s Farm where c30 Lesser Redpoll were feeding on the western edge and another Hawfinch went west over Lytchett Bay. Up on Ballard another Yellow-browed Warbler was ringed along with 47 Goldcrest, 2 Firecrest, 4 Blackcap, 9 Chiffchaff, 2 Yellowhammer, 20 Lesser Redpoll and 2 Song Thrush. At Lytchett Bay/Fields 25 Avocet was the highest autumn count so far and 2 Curlew Sandpiper were on the fields. In Middlebere the Stilt Sandpiper was still present with 1 Little Stint and 2 Merlin. In Poole a Black Redstart was on a house roof in Nansen Avenue. There was also a Ring Ouzel up at Glebelands, Studland and 3 Brambling were in the Bankes Arms car park with one also on the Arne feeders. Also at Arne good numbers of Redwing were pouring over in the early morning murk and a Crossbill (very scarce this autumn) went over too. In Poole Harbour west a Hen Harrier was seen over Swineham, just 1 Merlin was on Hartland and 3 Marsh Harrier came into roost. 

Yellow-browed Warbler - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 26/10/17

Finally the wind subsided and the sun even shone for most of the day. This prompted good numbers of finches to move across the harbour, north to south. Both South Haven and Ballard saw good totals with our ringing station ringing over 200 birds, including 58 Lesser Redpoll, 50 Goldfinch, 8 Bullfinch, 1 Firecrest, 6 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff and 19 Goldcrest. Nick Hopper whom is carrying out an 18 month ‘Herons of Poole Harbour’ study for us discovered 3 roosting Great White Egret. Off Shipstal Point, Arne the female type Velvet Scoter was in Arne Bay and Spoonbill totals were 56. A summer plumaged Great Northern Diver was in Studland Bay with 7 Black-necked Grebe. At Middlebere the Stilt Sandpiper was roosting with the Black-tailed Godwit, the Yellow-browed Warbler was in the wood around the hide and another Hawfinch was seen flying over the access track. Firecrests were still busy with 2-3 around the Villa on Brownsea, 2-3 in the Arne car park, 1 at Knowle Beach and 1 along Holes Bay.  On Lytchett Fields there were 2 Curlew Sandpiper, at Sunnyside 1 Green Sandpiper and as the day drew to a close, Redwing and Song Thrush passage picked up overhead during the night. 

Avocets 'up-ending' - Brownsea Lagoon - Hamish Murray

Goldcrest - Brownsea  - Hamish Murray

Harbour Update - posted 24/10/17

The jokes gone too far now. A few days of SW winds in October would be acceptable, even a week or two, but an entire month takes the biscuit. With easterly dreams fading away fast and the vis-mig spectacle only available for a few more weeks we’re in desperate need of a wind swing. A few more passes of rain and strong winds on and off throughout the day hampered any decent birding opportunities but our first night survey of the ‘winter’ proved semi productive with the first 2 Woodcock of the winter back on winter territory in the Lower From Valley along with 50-75 Common Snipe and 1 Jack Snipe ringed. The Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere, the juv male Hen Harrier was on Hartland Moor with 3 Merlin. Firecrests were on Brownsea, in the Arne car park, Knowle Beach, Studland and Upton CP. 

Jack Snipe - Lower Frome Valley - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 23/10/17

It was pretty grim for most part of the morning but it eventually cleared by mid-afternoon. Best of the day included a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Arne car park along with 2 Firecrest in a tit flock. Saturdays juv Goshawk was seen again, this time over the Arne Road, heading towards the Wareham Channel getting nailed by corvids. A Hen Harrier was also over the Wareham Channel area as were 2 Merlin and a Peregrine. Also on the southern edge of the Wareham Channel were 6 Ruff, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover an adult Yellow-legged Gull. The Stilt Sandpiper was out in front of the Middlebere hide again along with c350 each of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit, 1 late Whinchat, 1 Kingfisher and a Merlin. A Ruff was on the beach at Shell Bay which was an odd record and a good Studland record. On Slepe Heath/Hartland up to 3 Merlin were reported bombing around late afternoon. Yesterdays reported Nutcracker was also looked for but sadly couldn’t be confirmed but a Firecrest in a mixed-tit flock was a worthwhile runner up. The Redstart was still at Holton Pools, Spoonbills were on the Brownsea Lagoon, Shipstal Point, Arne, Lytchett Fields and in the Wareham Channel. 

Harbour Update - posted 22/10/17

Today was another interesting day with some more rarities/scarcities turning up. Star bird today was Poole Harbours only second ever Caspian Gull which was on the edge of the Wareham Channel, with the first appearing on Corfe Mullen tip back in 2003. This species should be more regular and to be quite honest could feasibly be a weekly/monthly visitor to the harbour, but with Poole Harbour being so vast and the Wareham Channel gull roost quite hard to monitor, pinning them has proved to be quite difficult over the years. Another great bird today was a Turtle Dove that was seen on wires along Slough Lane, Lytchett Bay. Sadly this is only the second record for the year of what used to be a fairly regular autumn migrant.  Then, as the day was drawing to a close a report of a possible Nutcracker was sent through, seen in flight over Knowle Beach car park entrance. Now this really would be an exceptional end to what’s been an exceptional year of birding in Poole Harbour. Sadly, the bird in question flew deep in to the woods and couldn’t be re-found. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Spoonbill, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Merlin, 12 Skylark and 1 Lesser Redpoll with the female Common Redstart still at Holton Pools. A juvenile Hen Harrier appeared in Poole Harbour west at Slepe Heath this afternoon and 2-3 Merlin have been favoring Hartland Moor this October, often venturing towards Middlebere. There are still only 3-4 Marsh Harrier frequenting the Poole Harbour west roost. In Middlebere the Stilt Sandpiper was still present in the company of 2 Spoonbill, 3 Greenshank, 6 Knot, 1 Green Sandpiper and c200 Avocet.

Caspian Gull - Wareham Channel - Marcus Lawson

Caspian Gull - Wareham Channel - Marcus Lawson

Common Redstart - Holton Pools - Richard Stephenson

Harbour Update - posted 21/10/17

Horrid day today but with at least one star bird. A juvenile Goshawk was seen several times flushing waders in Middlebere and was superbly captured on film by birders in the Middlebere hide. Despite increasing populations in the New Forest and even here in Dorset these are still really rare birds in Poole Harbour, with this individual consisting of only the second record this year (the first also at Middlebere in September). The Stilt Sandpiper was again in the channel for most of the day until the high tide pushed all the waders off. Merlin, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine were also in Middlebere along with 3 Knot, 3 Spotted Redshank and c200 Avocet.

Goshawk - Middlebere - Steve Smith

Harbour Update - posted 20/10/17

The wind blew strong this morning but eased off through the day. Despite the constant SW winds a few more Yellow-browed Warbler are trickling through with one at Holton Lee in front of the feeder hide briefly with a Firecrest, one at Branksome and another ‘YBW’ along the access track to Middlebere. The Stilt Sandpiper was showing well in Middlebere too with 2 Whimbrel also present, 1 Great White Egret in Wytch Lake and 54 Spoonbill at Shipstal and 9 on Brownsea. On Hartland 2 Merlin were buzzing about. In front of the new hide at Holton Pools a female type Common Redstart and a Wheatear were feeding on the mud and a Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 2 Kingfisher with 6 Lesser Redpoll also overhead. On Studland Beach 100 Med Gull were feeding and 2 Brent Geese flew across Studland Bay. Out in central harbour 6 Red-breasted Merganser were bobbing about along with c50 Great Crested Grebe.

 Stilt Sandpiper with Knot - Middlebere - Simon Buckell (Simon Buckell blog)

Stilt Sandpiper_2822 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

 Spoonbill - Brownsea Lagoon - Hamish Murray

 Spotted Redshank - Brownsea Lagoon - Hamish Murray

Harbour Update - posted 19/10/17

As we know birds are currently arriving or moving through the harbour in numbers at present and it’s always nice to receive info of high profile birds using the harbour. We recently received info from the RSPB’s Skydancer Project informing us that two sat-tagged Hen Harrier had recently used the harbour.  First there was a juvenile male Hen Harrier, which was tagged in mid-Wales in summer 2017 and after roosting in Poole Harbour on 5th October he then continued another 333km SSE and roosted not far east of Chateaubriant in Pays de la Loire region of northern France on the night of the 6th. He then moved another 85km south west and roosted just south of Nantes on the 7thbefore moving another 55km to the coast near Challans on the 8th where he seems to have settled. Then a juvenile female Hen Harrier that was tagged in Scotland in summer 2017 moved south out of Scotland on 1st October spending 1 night in the North Pennines, 1 night on the North York Moors, 2 nights on the east side of London and 1 night to the east of Portsmouth. She roosted in Poole Harbour for 2 nights on 6th and 7th October before moving off north-west to Exmoor National Park. Seeing these incredible birds is often nice enough, but having a back-story to them is a wonderful added bonus. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere for most of the morning before heading off around 15:30. With wind and rain intermittent throughout the day birding was pretty tough going with just the Wood Sandpiper, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 5 Ruff on Lytchett Fields. There as a late Hobby hawking insects over Slepe Heath with 1 Merlin and 4 Marsh Harrier frequenting Poole Harbour west. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 64 Spoonbill and 14 Spotted Redshank counted. 

Juv male Hen Harrier - mid-Wales - RSPB Skydancer project

Harbour Update - posted 18/10/17

A slightly slower day in terms of visible migration but birds did get moving in small numbers eventually. At South Haven, Studland 3 Redwing, 175 Siskin, 2 Brambling, 5 Bullfinch, 1 Woodlark, 2 Firecrest and small numbers of Goldfinch, Linnet and Chaffinch headed north along with 9 Swallow and 1 Common Scoter through the harbour mouth. At Arne 2 Hawfinch settled briefly in trees above the Arne café before moving off. Studland churchyard had good numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush moving around the bushes. Up on Ballard, 3 more Brambling headed north with c150 Linnet and 20 Goldfinch and 2 late Common Redstart were also ringed. The Stilt Sandpiper re-appeared in Middlebere, hanging out with the Black-tailed Godwit and the Great White Egret was also present again. At Lytchett Fields a late Wood Sandpiper also appeared with a Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Ruff and the standard Redshank and Dunlin

Common Redstart - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Wheatear - Holes Bay - John Pick Grendon

Harbour Update - posted 17/10/17

 Today was a classic autumn day with a great range of species seen and true signs of autumn migration. The first Yellow-browed Warbler to be ringed in Poole Harbour this year was up on Ballard Down where 2 Firecrest were also ringed along with 23 Lesser Redpoll and 22 Chiffchaff, 9 Blackcap and 8 Goldcrest. A Cattle Egret also arrived in low over Ballard before heading NW over Studland Village. On top of Glebelands, Ballard a strong passage of Linnet, Goldfinch and Siskin went through west with Meadow Pipit and alba Wagtails mixed in. Out on a flat calm Poole Harbour 6 Red-breasted Merganser were in South Deep off the southern Brownsea shore with 20 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Black-necked Grebe. Out in Studland Bay another 7 Black-necked Grebe were feeding with 1 Guillemot, 1 Common Scoter, c30 Med Gull and 1 juv Gannet also settled out in the bay. Another Hawfinch passed over Poole Town mid-morning and another 4 bounded south along Middle Beach Studland. On the Brownsea Lagoon 60 Spoonbill were settled on the high tide. Kingfishers were in Holes Bay NW (Upton CP, Poole Park, Holton Lee and at Shipstal, Arne. At Lytchett Fields 34 Skylark passed overhead, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 4 Ruff were on the fields and both Peregrine and Marsh Harrier were touring the area. 

Yellow-browed Warbler - Ballard Down - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 16/10/17

A fairly slow news day with info of another Yellow-browed Warbler moving through with a tit flock near Wareham train station. At Lytchett Fields a single Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff and good numbers of Redshank, Snipe and Lapwing. On Hartland a single Merlin has been regular most days recently but by this evening 3 were perched up together. On Brownsea 45 Spoonbill were roosting along with 10 Spotted Redshank and c200 Avocet. A sea watch from Branksome Chine produced c30 Gannet West along with 7 Common Scoter east and 3 Brent Geese west. 

Poole Harbour sunset by air - Simon Buckell (Simon Buckell Blog)

Harbour Update - posted 15/10/17

Well well well. We were only saying yesterday that finch passage had picked up across the harbour and low and behold 3 Hawfinch were heard and seen flying over Holes Bay at around 13:30. Hawfinch in Poole Harbour are exceptionally rare however over the last few days good numbers had been on the move across the UK with other Dorset sites seeing them pass over too, so it was more likely a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ any would get seen within the Poole harbour area. The Poole Harbour WeBS counts seemed initially disappointing as the tide wasn’t particularly low but the Great White Egret was seen in Wytch Lake and Middlebere, the Velvet Scoter was out in central harbour and 46 Spoonbill were on Brownsea. The Yellow-browed Warbler was again in trees around the Middlebere Hide and the Stilt Sandpiper was out on the mud in front of the hide with 6 Knot, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, c500 Avocet, 1 Spoonbill and a fly by Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Ruff, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Little Stint. Additional goodies on Brownsea included 2 Little Stint and 1 Ruff. There were 33 Brent Goose in the Wareham Channel with 3 Pintail and 555 Black-tailed Godwit. In Poole Harbour west there are currently 5 Marsh Harrier and single of both Hen Harrier and Merlin are frequent around Hartland Moor. 

 Merlin - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Merlin (juv)_2755 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

  Great White Egret - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Great Egret@Middlebere.MVI_2745 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

 Peregrine - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Peregrine@Middlebere. from Waderworld on Vimeo.


Harbour Update - posted 14/10/17

Although the winds subsided today, the only new arrival was a Yellow-browed Warbler around the hide at Middlebere with the Stilt Sandpiper still out on the mud and Merlin, Marsh and Hen Harrier all noted too. At Lytchett Fields there was 1 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 1 Med Gull and 1 Marsh Harrier. Along footpath 12 of Lytchett Bay there were still good numbers of Bearded Tit around in the reedbeds. More winter wildfowl are arriving in drips and drabs with c30 Brent Geese seen in Studland Bay and Pintail and Wigeon numbers had increased in Arne Bay. Spoonbills were on Shipstal Point Arne and a few were on Brownsea. Finch passage is currently taking place overhead across most of the harbour with some areas more concentrated than others. Currently with these SW winds its difficult to find these migration corridors where concentrated numbers of birds move en mass but Ballard Down seems to have good numbers of Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Chaffinch and Goldfinch moving overhead. The best wind direction for vis-mig in the harbour is a northerly or north-easterly wind with the South Haven, Glebelands, Studland, the Corfe Gap and Lytchett Bay viewing mound on Boarder Road all good places to watch from. Finches (and wagtails and pipits) will all move in smaller numbers at any point across the harbour so its well worth learning the flight and social calls of species like Siskin, Linnet, Grey Wagtail and even scarcer species as at this time of year you never quite know what will fly over!

Marsh Harrier - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Merlin - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Hen Harrier - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Marsh Harrier and Avocet - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Harbour Update - posted 13/10/17

As we approach mid October, its quite amazing how mild it still is, and with only a tiny tiny number of winter thrushes having arrived yet it looks that with the right weather window in the coming days/weeks we could see a mass arrival here on the south coast. There was little change today as a rather grey and blustery day seeing the Velvet Scoter still in central harbour, this time viewed from the Hamworthy Park beach. The Stilt Sandpiper was still in Middlebere as was the Great White Egret, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 female Merlin and a ringtail Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Fields there were still 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Grey Plover and lots of Wigeon on the fields. 

Harbour Update - posted 12/10/17

Even when you’ve been birding a site or area for many years you sometimes (if you’re very lucky) get to experience something so new and so different it makes you sit back and think…what else are we missing? This morning during a routine reedbed ringing session at Lytchett Heath big numbers of Bearded Tit could be heard ‘pinging’ in the reed beds. Although the numbers seemed slightly higher than normal, it wasn’t unexpected to see them at this spot. However, as the sun grew in the sky and the day began to unfold, the Bearded Tits began calling each other out of the reed beds, signalling to one other that time was up and it was time to leave. Every few minutes a group of 5-10 would fly above the reedbed with some quickly dashing back down again into the thick cover, whilst others would climb higher and higher into the sky, heading off in a NW direction before they became tiny specks in the sky, never to be seen again! Within a twenty minuet period we had 21 Bearded Tit migrate off out of the harbour in small parties of between 3-8 birds. Where they’re going we don’t know, but seeing as we had a colour-ringed bird from Radipole here the other day it could be that they’re making local movements between large reedbed sites in Dorset. Or, it could be that some move off further to larger reedbed systems in other areas of the country. Still, to witness this dispersal was pretty fascinating and is certainly worth watching out for again on still calm October mornings. The best place to try and see these birds is either at the end of footpath 12 off Boarder Road, Lytchett Bay or from the new Lytchett Bay/Boarder Road viewing mound. Also in that area were c60 Meadow Pipit, 1 Wheatear, 1 Kingfisher, c50 Reed Bunting and 1 Lesser Redpoll over. In Poole Harbour west there were 2 Merlin, 2 Hen Harrier and 5 Marsh Harrier. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere and on Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Peregrine. Firecrests were in the Arne car park, Knoll Beach and Greenland’s Farm, Studland. Winter thrush numbers are still non-existent with just a small handful of Song Thrush moving through during the early part of the mornings. 

Ruff - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 11/10/17

Not much change today with little variety reported. Just the Stilt Sandpiper still in Middlebere and still with 2 legs. At Lytchett Fields 1 Little Stint, 2 Ruff and 2 Curlew Sandpiper with another 3 at Middlebere. 

Yellowhammer - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 10/10/17

A stiff SW breeze kicked in fairly early yet the sheltered northward side of Studland stayed fairly sheltered as numerous finch flocks tried to get moving. Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll were all moving in small number as were a few Skylark and about 200 Swallow. 2 Ring Ouzel were up on the Ballard Ridge. A school bird boat also went out this AM and a nice surprise was the years first Velvet Scoter in Arne Bay alongside a drake Common Scoter. There were also still just 2 Red-breasted Merganser, c40 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Sandwich Tern, 11 Brent Geese around the rest of the harbour and 25 Spoonbill on the Brownsea Lagoon. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere this time with 2 legs. We’ve given up on this drama and have just accepted that there is a Stilt Sandpiper in Poole Harbour which is good enough for us. If it wants to play about taking its leg on and off just to confuse birders than its more than welcome to, but we’ve now stopped caring ;-) There was also 1 Curlew Sandpiper in Middlebere. Brownsea was still looking busy with good variety including 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 15 Spotted Redshank, 25 Greenshank, 1 Knot and 2 Kingfisher along with 300+ Avocet. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Little Stint

Lesser Redpoll - Ballard Down - Paul Morton


Harbour Update - posted 09/10/17

After Sundays boat survey, where our team noted high numbers of Spoonbill at Arne and on Brownsea, we thought it best to carry out a coordinated count to get a definitive total. Well, we’re glad we did because we managed to break not only the Poole Harbour record but also the British record for the largest gathering of Spoonbill recorded. In total we reached 75 Spoonbill with 40 at on Shipstal Point, Arne and 35 on the Brownsea Lagoon. The previous highest total was 60 in 2015 and 64 in 2016. This upward trend has been in place for almost a decade now but still we see no birds staying on to breed. Whether they will or not we’ll just have to wait and see but having these numbers over-wintering turns a dull dark winter day into a crisp white special one. The one-legged Stilt Sandpiper was back in Middlebere with a very pale Curlew Sandpiper and a Hen Harrier went through. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Spotted Redshank and 27 Greenshank. On Lytchett Fields there was 1 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Ruff, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 77 Black-tailed Godwit, 52 Dunlin, 12 Greenshank, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Skylark over. At Lytchett Heath 34 Bearded Tit were caught and ringed including a colour-ringed bird that had arrived in from Radipole Lake, Weymouth. An evening watch at Pilots Point, Studland saw 41 Shag leave the harbour to roost with 3 Sanderling and a Ringed Plover on the beach, 8 dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Sandwich Tern and a roost of 18 Pied Wagtail. Migration through Ballard was slower but Lesser Redpoll numbers are increasing with 5 ringed along with 1 Firecrest, 48 Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrest. The first small flurry of Redwing passed over Arne at sunrise. 

Bearded Tit - Lytchett Heath - Nick Hull

Harbour Update - posted 08/10/17

Correct us if we’re wrong, but we were under the impression that as autumn progressed the weather was supposed to deteriorate? Today was beyond a nice autumnal experience and had re-winded back to a full-blown summers day. This made a survey we were carrying out around the harbour even more pleasant with not only great weather but great birds too. Throughout the year we try and survey as much of the harbour as possible by exploring hard to reach areas, such as the Wareham Channel and river valley’s normally from a Brownsea Island Ferry. This allows us to learn and discuss new ideas about how birds use the harbour, when they arrive and count the numbers of birds that are currently within the harbour its self. We finished on a respectable 84 species with highlights including 3 Marsh Harrier in the mouth of the Frome, a minimum of 60 Great Crested Grebe indicating a big arrival within the last few days along with a Black-necked Grebe near Redhorn Quay. We also believe we reached a new Poole Harbour Spoonbill record with 65 present, split between Arne, Brownsea and Lytchett Fields but this is yet to be clarified. A ringtail Hen Harrier drifted over Arne and 2-3 Peregrine were noted over various locations with other raptors including a Merlin over Ower Bay, 2 Sparrowhawk and 1 Kestrel. On Arne Moors 2 Ruff lifted off with c50 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Yellow-legged Gull were also day roosting. There were still only 2 Red-breasted Merganser back and a single Common Scoter was in central harbour. On the rocks of the marina wall at Poole Quay c10 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 1 Wheatear and 1 Kingfisher were present. The Brownsea Lagoon was busy with 2 Curlew Sandpiper the highlights, also Grey Plover, 300+ Avocet, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Spotted Redshank and 10+ Greenshank. A Great White Egret flew over Holes Bay around 9am and another was in Brands Bay at the same time proving there are currently 2 around.  The Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere again late afternoon, still hobbling around sadly on its one leg. There were Ring Ouzel on Ballard and Stoborough Heath. At Lytchett Fields there were 4 Ruff, 1 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 5 Green Sandpiper and in other areas of Lytchett Bay there were 6 Bearded Tit along footpath 12 with 8 others and a colour-ringed bird caught during an evening Pied Wagtail roost ringing session where 25 Pied Wagtail were also ringed. Cetti’s Warbler were pretty vocal and you can’t blame them considering how warm it was with a minimum of 10 heard along the Frome Valley and 3-5 around Lytchett Bay. At Swineham a Firecrest was in North Bestwall Wood with a Reed Warbler and 2 Blackcap in a mixed-tit flock. 

Harbour Update - posted 07/10/17

There was a strange occurrence today when the Stilt Sandpiper, which had been feeding quite happily in Middlebere, arrived at Lytchett Fields mid morning with just one leg! Hopping around it eventually began feeding before then moving off high over the Bakers Arms a few hours later.  How this happened we don’t know, but will this see it remain in the harbour even longer or does it highlight the beginning of the end for this pretty incredible long-distance trans-Atlantic migrant? Also at Lytchett Fields 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Ruff, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Yellow-legged Gull in Lytchett Bay. The Brownsea Lagoon was given a full count and produced 330 Avocet, 21 Greenshank, 15 Spotted Redshank, 245 Common Redshank, 2 Little Stint, 160 Dunlin, 2 Turnstone, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Knot, 2 Grey Plover and 36 Spoonbill. There are now 3 Hen Harrier about, with the adult male again seen near Middlebere and now 2 ringtails were seen together briefly. 

Hen Harrier - Middlebere -  Mark Wright (Twitter) 

Harbour Update - posted 06/10/17

This morning we hosted a school bird boat which provided more signs of winter as the first 2 Red-breasted Merganser appeared in the harbour and 3 fly-over Goldeneye went over Arne. A small number of Brent Geese had arrived and were feeding along the southern shores. Spoonbills were on the Brownsea Lagoon with 15 present. There is still a good spread of Ruff around the harbour and today there was 2 on the Brownsea Lagoon, 1 at Lytchett Fields 1 in Middlebere and 4 on Arne Moors. Again, the Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere for most of the day. Hen Harriers were seen in Middlebere and over Hartland with the adult male still present and a ringtail. There are still 4 Marsh Harrier in the harbour, ranging widely from Lytchett Fields to Sunnyside Farm, Middlebere and Arne. Migration through Ballard was again very Chiffchaff heavy with 88 ringed along with 1 Dartford Warbler, 3 Meadow Pipit and a single Goldcrest. Meadow Pipit were on the move along with a few Swallow but no concerted effort was made to do a full vis-mig count. 

 Little Stint - Lytchett Fields - Simon Buckell

Little Stint (juv) MVI_2701 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

Harbour Update - posted 05/10/17

It felt like October was trying to make up for some of the wet, grotty weather we had back in late July/early august as temperatures soared to an almost tropical 20 degrees. This wouldn’t have felt so strange as an isolated occurrence but when 3 Whooper Swan appeared in Lytchett Bay there was certainly a backwards feeling to the moment as brow wiping rather than chattering teeth was the main bodily function! Viewable from anywhere around Lytchett Bay they stayed settled until around 15:15 before drifting out of the bay, but Bearded Tits were also logged in the reed beds near the viewing mound at Boarder Road. Spoonbill were spread out across the harbour with 7 on Brownsea, 1 in Holes Bay, 1 on Lytchett Fields and 20+ at Arne. There was a single ringtail Hen Harrier at Arne and the male was seen again near Middlebere along with a Merlin. The Stilt Sandpiper was still in Middlebere along with 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 300 Avocet, 1 Knot and 3 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, 7 Ruff, 9 Green Sandpiper, 9 Greenshank and a Whinchat. Firecrests were at Arne with 3 in and around the car park, 1 a Knoll Beach and 1 in Upton CP. 

3 Whooper Swan - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 04/10/17

Today heralded the first returning Hen Harriers with not one but two seen by the end of the day. An adult grey male was seen in several locations including Middlebere and the Wareham Channel with a ringtail female appearing over the Brownsea Lagoon late afternoon before then being seen again near Arne. Another surprise was when a flock of 6 Goosander were found ‘snorkeling’ in Newton Bay. Goosander are a scarce visitor to the main area of Poole Harbour normally appearing during cold snaps later in the winter or when there is increased shooting activity up the river valley’s. The Spoonbill flock seems more spread out now but there are collectively still between 40-50 (maybe more) still present. Up on Ballard vis-mig picked up slightly with a small passage of Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and alba wagtails along with 2 Golden Plover and a Ring Ouzel along the Studland Road. Brownsea got full coverage today and produced the goods with totals including 2 Little Stint, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 130 Avocet, 14 Spotted Redshank, 245 Redshank, 27 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 65 Dunlin, 2 Sanderling, 4 Grey Plover, 375 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 520 Oystercatcher, 65 Shoveler, 1 Pintail, 550 Teal, 3 Brent Goose, 5 Spoonbill, 42 Little Egret, 3 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine and the flyover Hen Harrier. At Lytchett Fields a Sanderling on the Sherford Pools was the first ever record for the fields and the 33rd species of wader to be recorded here since the site was created in 2013. Also on Lytchett Fields were 8 Ruff, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 150 Dunlin, 14 Greenshank. The long-staying Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere. Will we see another North American wader over-winter this year as we did with Lytchett Bays Lesser Yellowlegs last year? The Great White Egret was also in Middlebere with 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Spoonbill, 135 Black-tailed Godwit, 119 Avocet, 9 Knot, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, the 6 Goosander and 4 Pintail. An amazing 19 Ruff were on Sunnyside Farm fields near Ridge. Migration through Ballard was again strong but variety low as big numbers of Chiffchaff pushed through and to a lesser extent Blackcap.

A few months ago we launched our winter bird boat schedule and places are booking up fast! If you’d like to join us and learn about Poole Harbours spectacular birdlife then don’t miss out and book on NOW – WINTER BIRD BOATS

Wheatear - Baiter - John Grendon

Oystercatcher - Baiter - John Grendon

Black-tailed Godwit - Baiter - John Grendon


Harbour Update - posted 03/10/17

There’s still plenty of great birds around to keep you interested and with most of October still ahead of us and some interesting weather systems heading our way in the coming weeks, we could see even more great birding along the way. With so much opportunity around every corner, even when heading out to see birds that you know are there, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for ‘hidden extras’ tucked away. In Middlebere the Great White Egret was feeding in the top of the channel before lifting off and headed towards Arne. Spoonbills were commuting between Shipstal, Arne and Middlebere with 25 on site. The Stilt Sandpiper was again in Middlebere with 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 5 Knot, c700 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Avocet and 6 Greenshank. On Lytchett Fields a decent count of 16 Greenshank was noteworthy as was 11 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 1 Spoonbill, 150+ Dunlin and 1 Marsh Harrier. An Osprey was hunting in the Wareham Channel at dawn and 4 Marsh Harrier came out of the west Poole Harbour roost, 1 Merlin was on Slepe heath along with 2 Peregrine. Out in Studland Bay there were 4 Black-necked Grebe and 77 Med Gulls. Migration through Ballard Down was pretty strong too with 87 Chiffchaff, 18 Blackcap, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Firecrest, 5 Goldcrest, 1 Stonechat and 6 Meadow Pipit ringed. In Holes Bay NE a Common Sandpiper was near the PC World outflow with 460 Wigeon present in the bay with 125 Teal, 55 Redshank, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Kingfisher. There were also 4 Little Stint on the Brownsea Lagoon. 

Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit - Middlebere - Simon Kidner

Harbour Update - posted 02/10/17

Today the Stilt Sandpiper ventured back to Lytchett Fields where it stayed for most of the day until it upped and left before being re-found again at Middlebere around 17:40. Also at Lytchett Fields were 10 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Marsh Harrier. At Sunnyside Farm there were 4 Wheatear. Marsh Harriers were at Hartland Moor, Holton Lee and the Wareham Channel. On Brownsea there were only 6 Spoonbill but also 1 Ruff, 6 Spotted Redshank, 10 Greenshank and 2 Kingfisher. At Baiter Wheatear have been seen along the beach and rocks over recent days and Sandwich Terns are still fishing along the shoreline. 

Sandwich Tern - Baiter - John Grendon

Sandwich Tern - Baiter - John Grendon

Harbour Update - posted 01/10/17

For most of today the weather was pretty yuk but it did clear away eventually by late afternoon and early doors it wasn’t too bad. Not much change on the bird front with the Stilt Sandpiper still in Middlebere for most of the day with 9 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 4 Knot, 378 Avocet, 490+ Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Osprey. A Lytchett Bay record of 10 Ruff were counted with 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Little Stint and 2 Spoonbill. There was a report of a Wryneck flying over the Holton Pools hide mid afternoon, calling but it couldn’t be relocated. At Baiter there was a single Wheatear, several Ringed Plover and Turnstone. A Marsh Tit at Arne in a mixed-tit flock was a good record. On Arne moors there were 6 Ruff, 23 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Common Snipe

Harbour Update - posted 30/09/17

A very autumnal start to the day with the first 21 Brent Geese of the autumn entering the harbour just after dawn, along with the first 3 Black-necked Grebe being found out in Studland Bay, viewed from Middle Beach. In the Middle Beach car park there were 3 Firecrest along with another in Knoll Beach with a large mixed tit flock. There was a large pulse of Chiffchaff and Blackcap moving through with the early rain at dawn bringing a lot down. Passage through the Ballard area reflected this with 68 Chiffchaff, 20 Blackcap, 22 Meadow Pipit, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Redstart all ringed early on. In Studland church yard there were another c50 Chiffchaff along with another Firecrest. The Stilt Sandpiper remained faithful to Middlebere, feeding there for most of the day along with the Osprey which went on several fishing jaunts throughout the day. There was an incredible flock of 18 Ruff on Arne Moors, a sight very rarely seen these days. On Lytchett Fields there were 8 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 175 Dunlin and 11 Greenshank. There was a single Spoonbill on Holton Pools and 2 Kingfisher. At Greenland’s Farm there were 6 Wheatear and 1 Whinchat. Around the harbour Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Pintail numbers are rising by the day with now over 500 Wigeon in Holes Bay NE. 

Harbour Update - posted 29/09/17

Again, the Stilt Sandpiper was in Middlebere early morning and then again in the late afternoon, accompanied by 20 Spoonbill, 1 Great White Egret, 1 Osprey, 5 Spotted Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Knot, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit and 200+ Avocet. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Ruff, 3 Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Knot, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Wheatear and 40+ Meadow Pipit. A sea watch from Branksome Chine produced 1 Red-throated Diver, 20 Common Scoter, 8 Wigeon and a handful of Sandwich Tern. In the Wareham Channel 31 Spoonbill were feeding off Giggers Island during the low tide and 4 Marsh Harrier were in the same area including an adult male. 

 Stilt Sandpiper - Middlebere - Simon Buckell

Stilt Sandpiper 02 MVI_2662 from Waderworld on Vimeo.

Harbour Update - posted 28/09/17

There was a good arrival of Firecrest with birds seen at Knoll Beach, Greenland’s Farm and South Haven. In Middlebere the Stilt Sandpiper was still feeding in the top of the channel with 3 Ruff also present (rare here), 21 Spoonbill, 1 Osprey, 1 Marsh Harrier and 300+ each of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit. A Great White Egret was in Brands Bay. In Holes Bay a Little Stint was feeding on the low tide (also rare here) with 1 Spoonbill, 409 Black-tailed Godwit, 41 Little Egret and 40 Dunlin. At Lytchett Fields there were 4 Little Stint, 2 Ruff, 1 Marsh Harrier 1 Wheatear and the normal good spread of common waders. Migration through Ballard again was pretty slow with just 8 Chiffchaff, 1 Redstart and 16 Meadow Pipit ringed. 

Common Redstart - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Web Design by Beetleweb