November 2017

Harbour Update - posted 29/11/17

Wow its cold! Often with these icy blasts from the north we see arrivals of scarcer species into the harbour like ‘grey geese’ species such as White-fronted Geese, Pink-footed etc and even birds like Bewick’s and Whooper Swan, so if when out and about you see flocks of wildfowl or swans flying over, certainly in the Frome and Piddle Valley area its well worth giving them all a good look. Golden Plover is another bird to look out for during cold weather and with snow forecast north of us in central and eastern England in the coming days then it could well force some of these birds down our way. Today saw a light passage of thrush first thing this morning with both Redwing and Fieldfare on the move in small numbers overhead. Lytchett Bay on the low tide was full of birds as was Holes Bay and Upton Country Park with Lytchett Bay holding 13 Spoonbill, 32 Brent Geese, 73 Avocet, 181 Black-tailed Godwit and an adult ringtail Hen Harrier. In Holes Bay mid afternoon the low tide produced c50 Avocet in Holes Bay NE and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Teal Shelduck. Poole Park boating had only 3 Goldeneye on it today but 11 Little Grebe, 1 Kingfisher and 3 Grey Wagtail around the site. At Arne around 300 Avocet were spooked in the mid morning sun by a Peregrine, which provided startled beauty in as much it looked incredible with black and white twisting and turning in the sun beams, but not very beautiful for the Avocets. There were also 2 Marsh Harrier a Merlin at a Water Pipit in Middlebere too. In Poole Harbour west it seems the Hen Harriers were unsettled by a large herd of Sika Deer moving through their normal roosting spot with neither the recent male or female settling down tonight. Our ringing site up on Ballard, which will soon be drawing to a close for the season in the next couple of days ringed another stunning adult male Brambling. Woodcock numbers seem to be building with 3 seen flying over the Arne Road at dusk, and according to the Woodcock network website, an arrival in from Scandinavia over the last 24 hours has swelled numbers.  

Male Brambling - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Rock Pipit - Whitley Lake, Sandbanks - Ian Ballam

Water Pipit - Middlebere - Ian Ballam

Avocet - Middlebere - Ian Ballam


Harbour Update - posted 28/11/17

A dark, cold, blustery grey day where it seems most people stayed in doors! In Poole Harbour west the grey male Hen Harrier came back in late afternoon having gone missing for a few days, joining the regular female. On Hartland a male Merlin was on its standard post near Middlebere at dusk. In Poole Park boating lake there were 4 Goldeneye, 4 Sandwich Tern and 12 Little Grebe and in Lytchett Bay the highlight was 6 Spoonbill feeding. All exposed areas on the low tide were busy with birds making it well worth the effort to pop out and have a look at places like Holes Bay NE or even Baiter if you don’t fancy tracking all the way over to the southern shores.

Turnstone - Whitley Lake, Sandbanks - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 27/11/17

Over night a strong wind had built and heavy rain set in mid morning but it soon cleared. Its always worth checking favored sheltering spots when weather turns iffy and on Poole Park boating lake 6 Goldeneye were settled out in the middle with 13 Little Grebe, 11 Tufted Duck and 2 Sandwich Tern hunkering down. Off Baiter a single Great Northern Diver was feeding and 2 Sandwich Tern were hunting in Fisherman’s dock. At Lytchett Bay the Hawfinch was still using the trees around the new French’s Farm SANG and another flew over Stoborough. mid-afternoon. On Brownsea the Stilt Sandpiper was still present, having a ‘to-do’ with Redshank, also present were 39 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 1 Whimbrel, 10 Spotted Redshank, 15 Greenshank, 3 Spoonbill, 2 Sandwich Tern and 6 Crossbill were in the woods around the Villa. In Middlebere 1-2 Marsh Harrier were playing in the wind and Merlin were on Hartland Moor, Slepe Heath and at Shipstal. At North Haven 11 Sanderling were roosting on the groynes with 10 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin. In Holes Bay NE Avocet were feeding really close to the cycle path again along with Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Teal and Wigeon.

Male Goldeneye - Poole Park boating lake - Ian Ballam

Female Goldeneye - Poole Park boating lake - Ian Ballam


Avocet - Holes Bay NE - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 26/11/17

The day began bright, calm and still, but by 10am a cold NW wind had picked up and an overcast chilly sky had descended over the harbour. The day began with a Bittern on Arne Moors, which then flew over towards Swineham GP. Out from Middle Beach, Studland 7 Black-necked Grebe were feeding as were 2 Great Crested Grebe and 1 female type Common Scoter. At Swineham 10-15 Chiffchaff were on the main island out on the gravel pits, a Firecrest was along the access track, 2 Marsh Harrier were off Swineham Point with 3 Bearded Tit and 10+ Rock Pipit. Of note on the main gravel pit its self were 35 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck, 4 Shoveler, 4 Little Grebe and 1 Kingfisher. Today only a single ringtail Hen Harrier was seen with the male from the last couple of days being a no-show. A Brambling was in an Upton garden. Firecrests were again seen in the Arne car park and Merlin seemed pretty busy in Middlebere. On the high tide there were c400 Avocet roosting at Middlebere and on Shipstal 40+ Spoonbill.

Brambling - Upton - Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 25/11/17

Today a group headed out over to Brownsea Island on an RSPB/DWT/NT bird boat where the Stilt Sandpiper was viewable from the Lower Hide, also present 12 Spoonbill, c200 Avocet, good numbers now of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, several Knot, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Firecrest and 2-3 Kingfisher and the usual spread of commoner over-wintering wader and wildfowl species. At Lytchett Fields the Hawfinch was back again at French’s Farm and in Middlebere the Great White Egret was feeding for a short period. Merlin, Peregrine, Marsh and Hen Harrier were all present around Middlebere and the mouth of the Frome Valley at different times during the day. Fieldfare numbers seemed to increase slightly with birds passing over Brands Bay, Slepe Heath and Arne. Firecrests were in the Arne car park, Knoll Beach car park and 1 was on Ballard. At Holton Lee, several Crossbill were on view out on the heath which is good to hear as they’ve been extremely scarce so far this year. 

Crossbills - Holton Lee - Ian Brown

Harbour Update - posted 24/11/17

As we’d hoped, with the weather settling down, there were a few more people out in the field today. Highlights from dawn included a Hawfinch over Stoborough Heath and another one at French’s Farm, Lytchett Fields. A ringtail Hen Harrier was around Slepe Heath mid morning before being seen at Lytchett Bay with a female Merlin at Hartland and 43 Spoonbill flew into the Wareham Channel to feed. Towards the end of the day both a male and female Hen Harrier bombed around Poole Harbour west before settling in to roost. At Whitley Lake, Sandbanks no less than 14 Sandwich Tern were on the posts at East Dorset Sailing Club, providing a decent early winter total. A Great White Egret was seen in the mouth of the Frome mid afternoon with another sighting in Middlebere later in the day. Most surprising (re)find of the day was the Stilt Sandpiper on the Brownsea Lagoon, seen during a school bird boat. Although the island is closed for the winter, there’s a good chance this bird could head back to Middlebere on the low tides so its well worth looking out for it as it seems to now be over-wintering. Out around the harbour there were 13 Black-necked Grebe and a juv Great Northern Diver was off the eastern Brownsea shoreline and still good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and Goldeneye.

Harbour Update - posted 23/11/17

As expected, the wind increased the number of Great Northern Diver using the harbour with 5 flying in at dawn along with 19 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Common Scoter and 95 Shag with another Great Northern Diver on the water off Shell Beach plus a Gannet left the harbour suggesting it had sheltered in the harbour somewhere over night. At Middlebere the standard raptor haul showed on and off during the afternoon with 2 female type Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier and 1 Merlin with Fieldfare along the entrance track. The Hawfinch total at French’s Farm, Lytchett Bay rose to two and there were 9 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay and a Ruff out on the Lytchett Fields. With the weather calming down tomorrow we hope for some better coverage and a good range of sightings.

Marsh Harrier - Middlebere - Chris Snook

Harbour Update - posted 22/11/17

Unsurprisingly there was little reported today as the wind and rain battered the harbour. As mentioned the other day, when things settle down, it will be well worth checking for species blown in to the harbour. The main harbour entrance and the open water body between the harbour mouth and Green Island would be good places to check, along with the North Channel off Whitley Lake, Sandbanks for the winters first Black-throated Diver? Today just the Hawfinch at Lytchett Fields was reported to us along with Spoonbills in Lytchett Bay and on Shipstal, 2 Great Northern Diver off Brownsea and 4 Sandwich Tern along Baiter. Despite the lack of reports for today, the harbour is currently full of birds, so when things perk up, get out and enjoy! 

Harbour Update - posted 21/11/17

Today a Hoopoe was reported in Upton CP, on the west side of the reserve in trees on the track leading down to Hamworthy. This may seem like an odd record for mid November but back in the winter of 2013/14 one actually over-wintered in Hamworthy, giving many birders the run around for several weeks. Its likely that if re-found the bird will hang around in the general area for a while longer, but like the last one that over-wintered, it could quite literally turn up anywhere. Roadside verges and peoples back gardens were favoured areas last time so keep your eyes peeled. The Hawfinch fest continued with two hanging around Arne Farm for most of the day with another still at French’s Farm, Lytchett Bay. The Spoonbills were roosting at Arne as usual, and Merlin, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier were all recorded at Middlebere. 

Harbour Update - posted 20/11/17

With the wind blowing strong from the west, there was hope of a few waif and strays getting blown in. November is classic for birds like Little Auk to get blown into the harbour and with the strong winds forecast later in the week it will be well worth checking open areas of the harbour when things settle down again. We tend to see a rise in the number of Great Northern Diver within the harbour after strong winds too as birds enter the harbour to shelter, and with them can often be the odd Red-throated and Black-throated Diver. Long-tailed Duck are another bird to keep a look out for after this week along with Black Guillemot and our last Surf Scoter turned up after a period of strong winds from the South West, so even though the weather may seem a little anti-social the potential for good birds is mouth watering. Sightings from today were limited though being a wet and windy Monday withShell Bay/South Haven seeing 11 Sanderling and 1 Great Northern Diver. Jerry’s Point had 51 Oystercatchers, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Brent Geese, 2 Grey Plover, 10 Turnstone and 1 Goldeneye. Brands Bay reported 8 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 101 Wigeon, 12 Pintail, 20 Teal, 48 Lapwing, 51 Curlew, 40 Great Black-backed Gulls, 123 Shelduck, 123 Brent Geese, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 10 Black-tailed Godwit. Studland Bay from Middle Beach saw 1 Razorbill, 1 Great Northern Diver and 14 Black Necked Grebe. And finally at Middlebere there was 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine,1 Yellow legged Gull, 470 Teal, 16 Curlew, 14 Dunlin, 22 Shelduck, 12 Wigeon, 1 Great White Egret and 1 Chiffchaff along the track. There was also a really nice selection of duck species viewable at close range from ‘The Stone Bench’ at Upton CP which included Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Mallard. There’s no doubta good selection of commoner over-wintering species would havebeen present in their usual haunts, but you just need to enthusiastic enough to get out and look!



Harbour Update - posted 19/11/17

Perfectly still days can be a rare occurrence in late November, but today was as perfect as they come. A crisp early winter sun hanging low over the harbour, with not a breath of wind, making viewing open water bodies nice and simple, and allowing accurate counts to be made. Each evening, off Shipstal Point, Arne a roost forms out on the water beyond Long Island. When you have a big low tide before sunset and perfectly still conditions like we did tonight, standing up on the viewpoint looking out provides a great birding spectacle. This evening out in the roost 32 Goldeneye came in along with 59 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 67 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Great Northern Diver and 1 Common Scoter. As the tide was low big numbers of birds were feeding along Shipstal Beach, down towards Wytch Lake and also out in Arne Bay with c400 Avocet, c200 Brent Geese and 38 Spoonbill were on the Long Island shoreline. A roost count out in Studland bay was also made with 25 Black-necked Grebe counted at sunset. The main lake at Poole Park was also surveyed today which saw 3 Goldeneye, 11 Tufted Duck and an amazing 21 Little Grebe. At Lytchett Bay, yesterdays Hawfinch was seen again briefly in and around French’s Farm, a ringing session at Lytchett Heath produced the sites 50th and 51stBearded Tits to be ringed this autumn along with a Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff. In Holes Bay NW from the Stone Bench saw 368 roosting Black-tailed Godwit, 98 Avocet, 190 Dunlin and 12 Little Grebe under the railway bridge and in Holes Bay NE were 562 Wigeon and a single Kingfisher. Firecrests were at Middlebere, Arne car park and Upton CP. Two Hen Harrier were in Poole Harbour west, out around the Swineham area with Merlin also at Middlebere, Hartland and Slepe Heath. A Great White Egret flew towards Middlebere over Scotland Farm.

 Siberian Chiffchaff Call - Lytchett Heath - 19/11/17

Bearded Tit - Lytchett Heath - Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 18/11/17

The day started fine but a chilly NW wind blew for most of the day. It was a bit of a raptor fest in the Middlebere area with a colour-ringed Peregrine causing trouble in amongst the waders, a fine adult male Hen Harrier was seen in the west of the harbour at midday near Swineham with two separate ringtails also seen in that general area. Also at Swineham the winters first Bittern was seen flying across the main Gravel Pit late afternoon. Merlin are fairly prominent in the Hartland, Slepe Heath, Middlebere area at the moment too with several birds now settled it seems. At Lytchett Bay a settled Hawfinch was sat in trees near the new SANG at French’s Farm and on Lytchett Fields there were 2 Ruff, 4 Green Sandpiper and 2 Water Pipit. On the Brownsea Lagoon 47 Spoonbill were roosting. 

Harbour Update - posted 17/11/17

This morning we led a school bird boat out around the harbour with mostly calm waters, although a gentle NE breeze kept a cold ripple across the surface of central harbour. Highlights included a Great Northern Diver off the Brownsea north shore and a Great White Egret on the southern shore. 34 Spoonbill were on the lagoon and out in central harbour were 7 Goldeneye, 2 Black-necked Grebe, c50 Red-breasted Merganser and c30 Great Crested Grebe. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Water Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit and 2 Ruff. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen flying across the Arne Road, and at sunset the Wareham Channel was full of gulls on the low tide with thousands of Black-headed and Common Gull, also 8 Spoonbill, a Marsh Harrier and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Teal and Wigeon. In Shell Bay a Great Northern Diver fed really close in shore with a Sandwich Tern there and a flock of 35-40 Bar-tailed Godwit back at Shore Road on the low tide this evening. Brent Geese numbers are definitely rising with birds present in many areas of the harbour now. Merlin were seen at Middlebere and Hartland with flocks of Fieldfare now in evidence on numerous hawthorn and holly bushes. 

Goldeneye - Central Harbour - Paul Morton

Brent Geese - Central Harbour - Paul Morton

Fieldfare - Middlebere - Phyl England

Harbour Update - posted 16/11/17

Lots of common, over-wintering birds around now but reports sent through were limited with just 2 ringtail Hen Harrier in to roost in Poole Harbour west, a Great White Egret on the western shore of Brownsea, 5 Water Pipit at Lytchett Fields and 12 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay. 

Harbour Update - posted 15/11/17

Today was a stunningly still day with all the harbour’s standard mix of over-wintering waders and wildfowl showing nicely from various locations around the harbour on the low tide. Avocets, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Red-breasted merganser, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe were all viewable from the Brands Bay hide at low tide. In Holes Bay NE, close views of Spotted Redshank, Wigeon, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit were easily had. Off Baiter, 17 Brent Geese were feeding in the shallows, 8 Turnstone and 10 Ringed Plover were on the beach. Winter thrush are still arriving with two flocks of Fieldfare in low over Middlebere at dawn and Redwing much in evidence elsewhere around the harbour. 

Harbour Update - posted 14/11/17

Today the Pink-footed Goose was still at Holmebridge but was seen later in the day flying east towards the harbour, perhaps to roost? Another Hawfinch was seen in the Ridge/Stoborough area, 1 one settled near Nutcrack Lane briefly with a Golden Plover also flying over there. A Great White Egret was seen flying over Creekmoor/Fleets Bridge heading west and in Lytchett Bay there were 5 Spoonbill with 4 again in Holes Bay NE. There was also a late Ring Ouzel on Stoborough Heath next to Hartland. In Studland Bay 12 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Common Scoter, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Great Crested Grebe were feeding. In Poole Harbour west 3 Marsh Harrier, 1 Merlin and 2 Peregrine were causing panic over and around Swineham/Arne Moors. 

Harbour Update - posted 13/11/17

After an absence of a few days, the Pink-footed Goose was back again at Holmebridge with Mute Swans so hopefully it will stick around for several days/weeks now. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Ruff still out on the fields and in Lytchett Bay there were 4 Spoonbill and 25 Avocet. There were also 4 Spoonbill using Holes Bay NE today with c30 Avocet and 230+ Dunlin there too. Hardly earth shattering news, but interesting in its self was when a Lapwing came and appeared on our Brownsea Lagoon webcam, a species that’s actually exceptionally rare on the lagoon its self despite in common status around the harbour. We also heard late that during our Poole Harbour WeBS on Sunday a flock of 35 Golden Plover were out on the mud mixed in with Lapwing, this is a really decent total for Poole Harbour, with cold weather events usually producing such totals. At Arne, Brambling and Lesser Redpoll were heard flying over Arne Farm and there were also 2 Brambling at the Holton lee feeders. In Central Harbour 7 Goldeneye were in a raft of 53 Red-breasted Merganser and up to 100 Great Crested Grebe are now using the area between Round and Furzey Island. 

Lapwing with Avocet, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Shelduck - Brownsea Lagoon Webcam

Harbour Update - posted 12/11/17

Poole Harbour WeBS days (Wetland bird Surveys) always produces good totals and range of species as the whole harbour gets surveyed at a certain time on a single day. Although a cold and icy wind blew in from the north, almost the whole harbour covered with highlights being a Great White Egret on Littlesea, Studland, a Goosander in Holes Bay SE, 22 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay and 16 in the mouth of the Middlebere/Wytch Lake area. Also in the mouth of Wytch Lake were c750 Avocet, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Peregrine. Over Brands Bay 2 Peregrine were having an aerial dispute, therefor spooking all the waders and wildfowl. Brent Geese totals seem to be low for the time of year with only c150 off Shipstal, Arne and another 200 off Goathorn. In Middlebere a late (or over-wintering) Curlew Sandpiper was reported in with 21 Knot. On Lytchett Fields there was a single Ruff and 340 Lapwing with a single Woodcock seen mid-evening during a survey and a Sandwich Tern was fishing in the bay. At South Haven there was some finch passage first thing as 1 Brambling, 4 Bullfinch, 10 Siskin and 18 Meadow Pipit passed over and there were 7 Sanderling back on the beach with a Razorbill offshore. In Brands Bay 44 Pintail, 112 Wigeon, 100 Shelduck, 19 Turnstone, 15 Ringed Plover and 120 Lapwing were counted. In Poole Harbour west there were 4 Marsh Harrier and this morning 2 Hen Harrier were counted although only one came back into roost this evening and there were 2 Merlin on Hartland. At Ridge a Hawfinch flew over the entrance of Sunnyside Farm, suggesting one or a few may be settled in the area with another photographed in the same area last week. 

Hen Harrier - Middlebere - Simon Buckell (02/11/17)

Harbour Update - posted 11/11/17

As winter progresses and autumn days fade away, trying to squeeze in a full days birding before the late afternoon darkness descends can be a fun challenge. Winter provides an all round spectacle in each corner of the harbour so weekend days spent circumnavigating the harbour can be really rewarding. Admittedly the weather this AM didn’t fill many people with enthusiasm as the rain lashed down but an early trip out saw the Pink-footed Goose still present although it was flushed mid-morning by wildfowlers and never returned. All the usual suspects were noted in their usual haunts with 44 Spoonbill on Shipstal, 2 Merlin in Middlebere with c700 Avocet and out over the western end of the Wareham Channel 3-4 Marsh Harrier. Redwing are pretty conspicuous now and the higher numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush in hedgerows each morning suggest new birds are continuing to arrive in. 

Pink-footed Goose - Holmebridge - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 10/11/17

A cold SW wind blew for most of the day but the discovery of a Pink-footed Goose at Holmebridge late afternoon took the edge of things. This species is less than regular and last occurred in Jan 2013, but records prior to this have been fairly sporadic. The last one was also found at Holmebridge and stayed for several weeks so hopefully it will settle and stay for a while. In the Wareham Channel 44 Spoonbill came in to feed just off Giggers Island with 54 roosting in Arne Bay later in the day, however dawn and evening harrier watches have proved fruitless for Hen Harrier, although there are still 3 Marsh Harrier about. Off Shipstal, Arne there was a Slavonian Grebe and 3 Goldeneye plus the building numbers of Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser. Off South Beach, Studland there were 21 Black-necked Grebe and 2 pale-bellied Brent Geese in amongst 20 dark-bellied Brents. Migration through/over Ballard was much slower today with minimal numbers of birds ringed. 

Harbour Update - posted 09/11/17

There were yet more Hawfinch today with another 2 flying over north Poole first thing this morning as migration up on Ballard stayed fairly strong considering we’re coming to the end of the vis-mig season with 1 Brambling, 66 Goldfinch, 18 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Bullfinch, 15 Chaffinch, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrest ringed. In Middlebere a Great White Egret was present for a short while with c800 Avocet now present also a single Spotted Redshank. With WeBS coming this Sunday it will be good to get a full wader and wildfowl count but it seems we’re still low on several species such as Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Sanderling which were all present today in very small numbers. 

Sparrowhawk - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Brambling - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor


Harbour Update - posted 08/11/17

With a bright start to the day and a cold NW wind, it got a few birds moving, including another 5 Hawfinch which passed over Ballard Down early morning, along with 3 Crossbill, 15 Bullfinch and plenty of Lesser Redpoll. A Great White Egret was on Littlesea, Studland and from a school bird boat today a Velvet Scoter was out in central harbour with 50+ Spoonbill on Shipstal but lesser numbers of Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser in comparison to recent days, perhaps sheltering in quieter areas out of the wind. What was thought to be the same Hen Harrier was first seen over Shipstal Point, Arne and again later in the afternoon on Hartland. A full count was conducted on Brownsea by the DWT which included 295 Avocet, 15 Spotted Redshank, 12 Greenshank, 5 Knot, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 220 Black-tailed Godwit, 152 Grey Plover, 620 Dunlin, 3 Spoonbill, 1 Kingfisher, 134 Shoveler, 173 Wigeon, c500 Teal, 1 Pintail and 7 Brent Goose. A single Purple Sandpiper was back on the North Haven side of the harbour mouth on the sea ledge, with another (or the same) later on the Studland side. Holes Bay NE and SE saw 450+ Black-tailed Godwit, 500+ Wigeon, 1 Spotted Redshank and 2 Avocet. At Lytchett Bay a Merlin was on Otter Island, and out in Studland Bay viewed from Middle Beach a Great Northern Diver and 11 Black-necked Grebe were on the water. We also conducted another night survey at our study area in the Lower Frome Valley checking for returning Woodcock of which we only found 1, however we were able to catch and ring the bird which is a good start to the Woodcock season. Barn Owl and Tawny Owl were also heard. 

Purple Sandpiper - North Haven - Hamish Murray

Woodcock - Lower Frome Valley - Paul Morton

Velvet Scoter - Central Harbour - Marcus Lawson


Harbour Update - posted 07/11/17

Spoonbills were reported today from Lytchett Bay, Shipstal and Brownsea. Avocet totals seem to still be growing with c400 in Middlebere, c200 on Brownsea and several on Shipstal. A Merlin was seen dashing across Holes Bay. Red-breasted Merganser numbers continue to grow with c50 out in the Brands Bay/South Deep area along with a single Black-necked Grebe also there. Holes Bay NE is well worth a visit on the rising tide as good numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Curlew get pushed close to the cycle path. 

Harbour Update - posted 06/11/17

At least once a month we like to try and do a full harbour survey via boat to gage arrival dates and building totals of species whilst getting into all those little nooks and crannies which can be difficult to reach via foot. This morning we carried out one of these surveys and managed a respectable 87 species from the boat. We headed up the Wareham Channel/River which allowed terrestrial as well as aquatic species to be monitored. Highlights included the first 7 settled Goldeneye of the winter in amongst the c75 Great Crested Grebe and c100 Red-breasted Merganser. 4 Goosander flew low over the mouth of the Frome and over Swineham. Merlin were noted at Shipstal, Arne and at Swineham. 2-3 Marsh Harrier were in the west of the Wareham Channel with another over the Brownsea Lagoon. Spoonbills were on Shipstal and on the Brownsea Lagoon and a Great White Egret was along the southern shores near Ower Bay. Later in the day a 1st winter Caspian Gull dropped down onto Swineham GP where it had a quick wash before moving off east towards the Wareham Channel. Migration up on Ballard was strong again with highlights consisting of 3 Brambling, 1 Bullfinch, 14 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Firecrest, 2 Chiffchaff and 1 Blackcap. Its assumed that these late Blackcap are actually our over-wintering birds arriving into the UK from areas like Germany and Belgium rather than late summer migrants departing. Bearded Tits were active at Swineham and Lytchett Bay, along footpath 12. 

Brambling - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Firecrest - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 05/11/17

Today was another beautifully crisp autumn/winters day with a cold bite in the NW wind. Reported sightings were few and far between though, maybe everyone was enjoying the sun too much. In Studland Bay there were 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Common Scoter and 3 Red-breasted Merganser. An evening roost check at Hatch Pond saw 138 Magpie settle in their favored roosting tree.  In Middlebere there were 400+ Avocet, 140+ Lapwing, 40+ Brent Geese and a single Marsh Harrier.

Harbour Update - posted 04/11/17

A brief update from today which included a Cattle Egret flying NW towards the Bakers Arms over Lytchett Bay. A Hen Harrier was seen on Hartland mid afternoon along with a Merlin. Lytchett Fields had 2 Ruff still.

Harbour Update - posted 03/11/17

Thick fog first thing didn’t look like it was going to clear anytime soon, but bang on 10am, just as our weekly school bird boat was going out it melted away and gave way to another beautiful autumn day. The school bird boat produced c50 Red-breasted Merganser, 60+ Great Crested Grebe and 2 Black-necked Grebe in central harbour, 50 Spoonbill on Shipstal and 60+ Brent Geese in Middlebere. A Cattle Egret flew NE across the Wareham Channel near dusk and there were 166 Brent Geese in the Wareham Channel too. The/a Great Grey Shrike was reported at Middlebere mid-morning and a Hen Harrier was seen at Arne. The most interesting occurrence today was during a ringing session at Lytchett Heath, which started slow but ended with some real early November fireworks. We talk about ‘vis-mig’ a lot, where finches, buntings, pipits and wagtails all move overhead in good numbers during October and Nov, but rarely do we get to find out where some of these birds come from. A regular ‘vis-mig’ species is Reed Bunting and today during the ringing session at Lytchett Heath a Reed Bunting was caught wearing a Norwegian ring. This was an incredible recovery on its own however not only 20 minutes before a Scandanavian (littoralis) Rock Pipit was also caught, also bearing a Norwegian ring, add in the 4 Firecrest, 1 Water Pipit, 8 Bearded Tit, 2 Blackcap and 25 newly ringed Reed Bunting, you could say it was a successful ringing trip. What was also great was that due to the wonders of Social Media, the original ringers of the Rock Pipit provided super quick info about its origins. There were also 3 Ruff at Lytchett Fields.

Scandanavian (littoralis) Rock Pipit - 1464km, 1mnth + 22 days after ringing - Shaun Robson

Water Pipit - Lytchett Heath - Shaun Robson


Harbour Update - posted 02/11/17

With autumn evenings drawing in now and darkness hitting before most of us are even home from work, weekday sightings are becoming less and less. Amazingly, having disappeared for several days and assumed gone, the Stilt Sandpiper re-appeared in Middlebere, therefore seeing it into its third month within the harbour. We also carried out a night Woodcock and Jack Snipe survey, but only a single Woodcock was seen and zero Jack Snipe, although c75 Common Snipe was a reasonable total. Other encounters included a Redwing and a Skylark both of which we ringed. There was a serious gripe today though which involved a drone being flown over/across the Middlebere Channel, therefor flushing absolutely everything, both feeding and roosting birds. Can anyone who’s out birding that see’s other such occurrences please either photograph or film the incident. The birds didn’t return for the rest of the afternoon. 

Redwing - Lower Frome Valley - Fabian Harrison

Skylark - Lower Frome Valley - Fabian Harrison

Harbour Update - posted 01/11/17

We were treated to another beaut of a day today and finally; a settled Hawfinch was photographed in the village of Ridge, just before Arne. All our Hawfinch this autumn have been ‘fly overs’ so it was great when Brain Whally managed to get a photo of one sat up in a tree. The crisp, clear weather made watching from numerous vantage points extremely pleasant and from Slepe Heath a Great White Egret was seen feeding along the southern edge of the Wareham Channel, a Hen Harrier was flying over the Swineham/Keysworth area, a single male Merlin was out on Arne Moors, 2 Fieldfare flew over, 2-3 Marsh Harrier commuted between Arne Moors and Swineham, 1 Woodlark passed overhead and out in the Wareham Channel an impressive c220 Brent Geese were settled. This is interesting in its self as Brent Geese don’t normally use the Wareham Channel due to the lack of Eel Grass present, and we’re beginning to understand how important the Channel is as a staging site for many water birds. Even when we were watching, several flocks of Brent Geese took flight and continued on east out of the channel. Over the course of the year we’ve seen the same behavior from Black-necked and Great Crested Grebe that had settled out in the center of the channel before continuing with their onward journey. Out off the southern shore of Brownsea a Slavonian Grebe and a Black-necked Grebe were feeding, an adult drake Velvet Scoter was in central harbour and a good number of Red-breasted Merganser were back out in the Brands/Bramble Bush Bay area. In the Shell Bay car park, 3 Firecrest and a Brambling were in the tree line and 2 Sandwich Tern were feeding in Shell Bay. At Lytchett Fields a Jack Snipe was flushed, and there was a report of still 50+ Spoonbill present between Shipstal and Brownsea.   

Hawfinch - Ridge - Brian Whally

Hawfinch - Ridge - Brian Whally

Harbour Update - posted 31/10/17

Today was another fine day, but a large office move prevented us from getting out, but a new BoPH HQ project on the horizon is an exciting project we’ll be telling you about soon! Highlights from today involved 1 Great White Egret, 400+ Avocet, 12 Spotted Redshank, 20+ Greenshank, 1 Little Stint and 8 Spoonbill. In Studland Bay a flock of 14 Black-necked Grebe had congregated and on Shell Bay just a single Sanderling is back so far! In Brands Bay Turnstone, 11 Grey Plover, Pintail and Brent Geese were logged along with the usual species. There were still 2 Ruff on Lytchett Fields, a Hen Harrier was out over Swineham and 2 Merlin were on Hartland. Night recording from our listening station in Old Town Poole produced a steady stream of Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbird all night along with 26 Fieldfare calls.  

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