March 2018

Harbour update - posted 29/03/18

Yup, we’re pretty sure its just going to rain for the rest of the spring and summer with no let up in the regular down pours this AM! Will it ever improve? A quick dash around this AM produced the Velvet Scoter, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Gannet and 1 Kittiwake off of Middle Beach, Studland. At Swineham GP there was a single Swallow and 6 Sand Martin

Little Egret - Holes Bay - John Pick Grendon

Black-tailed Godwit - Holes Bay - John Pick Grendon

Harbour update - posted 28/03/18

It seems (although unreported to us) that the Great White Egret that was on Holton Pools briefly yesterday reappeared again today before moving to French’s Pools on Lytchett Fields. This evening the harbour’s first Willow Warbler of the spring was at Swineham GP where there was also 12 Sand Martin and 1 Swallow over the main pit too and 3 Egyptian Geese and 1 Hen Harrier were seen on the surrounding flood plains. There were 3 different ringtail Hen Harrier in the west of the Wareham Channel mid morning before dispersing to different areas. Lytchett Bays first Sand Martin of the spring dashed through, which for late March normally wouldn’t be that noteworthy, but considering the harbour (and the county) has still hardly seen any others yet, we deemed it worth a mention! Local surveyor Nick Hopper carried out some nocturnal sound recording during the nights of March 25th and 26th over Stoborough and highlights included 1 Little ringed Plover, 1 Golden Plover, Water Rail, a Wigeon flock, Coot and Moorhen.  A full Brownsea Lagoon count was made by Hamish Murray of the DWT with highlights consisting of 105 Avocet (still a lot for this time of year), 5 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 46 Knot, 430 Dunlin, 95 Grey Plover, 82 Bar-tailed Godwit, 401 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 9 Sandwich Tern and a single male Wheatear on the sea wall. There was also singing Blackcap, Firecrest and Chiffchaff within the woodland. 

Avocet - Brownsea Lagoon - Hamish Murray

Black-tailed Godwit - Brownsea Lagoon - Hamish Murray

Harbour Update - posted 27/03/18

The rain and cold set in again this morning but 8 Sand Martin over Swineham GP were a welcome sight quickly followed by a Red Kite over there too. A new male Marsh Harrier entered the harbour too but could have just been a migrant in transit. Also, one of the grey male Hen Harriers also returned having been absent for several days in Poole Harbour west. At Lytchett Fields a Great White Egret was seen dropping onto Holton Pools before relocating on to Lytchett Fields for 15 minuets before flying off towards the Bakers Arms and there were also singing Chiffchaff at Lytchett Fields, the PCW Drain, Soldiers Road, Sunnyside Farm and Greenland’s Farm and the first this spring for our Ballard ringing site was also ringed suggesting there had been a bit of a mini fall this morning.

We also announced news the other night about the sad demise of one of our Osprey chick’s LS6, who’s body was recently found down in the Gambia. Our project partner Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife foundation wrote a blog tonight to give a full over view of the finding. You can read the blog HERE. However, to take the sad edge of the story, and completely by chance… sooner had Tim posted the blog when he received a photo from a birder who had been down in Africa at the beginning of the year and unbeknown to us at the time, had taken a photo of LS6 alive on Jan 16th 2018. Although this doesn’t ‘bring him back’, its far nicer seeing an image of him looking regal and smart rather than the sad crumpled heap of feathers we saw a few days ago. 

RIP LS6 - Photographed in the Gambia 16/01/18 - Paul Hill

Great White Egret - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 26/03/18

Spring is edging its way into our lives slowly but surely each day and there was a nice selection of birds reported today. At South Haven a fine male White Wagtail on the beach with 2 Wheatear also on Shell Bay beach. There were 54 Sanderling near the house Boats at low tide and single of Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebe were in Bramble Bush Bay, also 5 Lesser Redpoll were in trees around the bay.  The last pair of Goldeneye on Poole Park boating lake were seen leaving mid morning before moving off high north. Talking of departing birds yet another Bittern left Swineham at dusk, well in fact this one left in total darkness but was heard calling for several minuets over the gravel pit trying to lure any others out of the reeds before disappearing off north into the darkness. A Swallow dashed through Ridge, but we should really be seeing a few more of these by now and we also set up our sound recording gear at a new nocturnal listening station up on Ballard Down. It sounded promising and we ended up with 208 Redwing Calls, 1 Common Snipe and 1 Oystercatcher but when migration really picks up it could be really good to carry on doing night listening up there. At Arne, Dartford Warbler were enjoying the sunshine and 2 Spoonbill were in the Middlebere channel. 

Harbour Update - posted 25/03/18

Great and sad news today; first the good news. The harbours first Osprey of the spring was seen and photographed in Poole Harbour today with an un-ringed bird seen hunting briefly in Lytchett Bay before being chased off by Herring Gulls. This will hopefully now be the floodgates well and truly opened with many more passing through over late March and April. Now some sad news; we recently received information that the rings of one of our Osprey chicks from last years translocation had been found down in the Gambia. Other than that we didn’t know much more. Well, this evening we were sent photos of LS6’s corpse which had been found in the Kartong region of the Gambia. The local people that found LS6’s body couldn’t see any signs or cause of death so it could have been one of one hundred reasons ranging from Eagle Owl attack to exhaustion. The fact it had made it all the way down to the Gambia showed it was strong enough to make its first migration south, and to an extremely popular area for over-wintering Osprey too. It’s just sad it couldn’t see the winter through. However, we’ve now had information back relating to three of our eight chicks (LS3, LS6 and LS7) from this first winter alone, which despite the outcome for one of them, is an unbelievable return rate. Lets hope LS3 and LS7 continue to thrive down in Western Senegal. Elsewhere around the harbour a new immature Hen Harrier was seen bombing around the west Wareham Channel area with the other juv male seen too. Off Shipstal there were 3 Great Northern Diver still and there had been a mini fall of Chiffchaff around the harbour with birds singing along Soldiers Road, Hartland and at Arne. 

Osprey - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

Osprey - Lytchett Bay - Ian Ballam

Osprey chick LS6's corpse found down in the Gambia recently


Harbour Update - posted 24/03/18

Brownsea is still very productive (not surprising as it still thinks its winter), and now that the island is ‘open for business’ there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go over and indulge one last time before the winter is out. There were 800+ Black-tailed Godwit, 182 Avocet, 65 Grey Plover, 1 Spoonbill, 40+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and still a number of Brent Geese, Pintail and Shoveler. At Swineham 4 Sand Martin were feeding early morning. Off the southern shore of Brownsea a Black-necked Grebe was feeding and a scattering of Red-breasted Merganser were still present. Rain set in by late afternoon and it all then went quiet!

Harbour Update - posted 23/03/18

Another (and the last of the winter season) school bird boat headed out today and tallied up 3 different Great Northern Diver out in central harbour. In Lytchett Bay there were 32 Avocet and the single Grey Plover still with highlights from Lytchett Fields consisting of 1 Spotted Redshank. We also received news from local harrier watcher Peter Hadrill today that the adult male Hen Harrier and female left the harbour high north two mornings ago with the young male leaving yesterday morning too which was sad for a whole host of reasons. One, because it’s never nice to see them go, but secondly, their fate away from safe havens like Poole Harbour is a horrid unknown. This winter has been exceptionally good for Hen Harriers here in the harbour with up to 7 different individual birds visiting (albeit very briefly) the area in recent months. Post New Year, roosts of 4 to 5 birds have been regular and views from elsewhere around the harbour abundant! A huge well done to Peter for keeping a track on each of their movements, arrivals and departures over a very long, cold winter period and for gathering such an important and valuable data set.

Harbour Update - posted 22/03/18

Things were a little quieter today but a school bird boat picked up 1 Great Northern Diver and 4 Black-necked Grebe in the Bramble Bush Bay area. There were 3 Spoonbill, 1 Merlin and 5 Spotted Redshank in Middlebere and a Firecrest in the Arne car park.  

Harbour Update - posted 21/03/18

Another nice snippet of spring today as 2 Swallow dashed through over Hartland Moor with a Spoonbill feeding out in the Wareham Channel and 2 male and a female Hen Harrier were seen in that area too. There were 2 summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe in Studland Bay with 1 pale-bellied Brent Goose and 61 dark-bellied Brents. In Lytchett Bay there was a single Grey Plover (scarce here). At Holton Lee a Crossbill was photographed and 2 Green Sandpiper were on Holton Pools. Hamish Murray from DWT conducted a full Brownsea Lagoon count today with highlights consisting of 185 Avocet, 2 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 45+ Knot, 690 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling, 220 Grey Plover, 435 Black-tailed Godwit, 130 Bar-tailed Godwit, 22 Med Gulls, 7 Sandwich Tern, 44 Shoveler, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Firecrest and a singing Chiffchaff. Finally, Swineham played host to 3 more departing Bittern tonight which were the 4th, 5th and 6th to leave that area in just over a week. Over the last 18 months we’ve been conducting a full ‘Herons of Poole Harbour’ study, which will be published this spring. It will feature feeding, roosting, breeding and over wintering behaviour of Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Bittern and Spoonbill. 

Harbour Update - posted 20/03/18

The Holton Pools scrape had its first Little Ringed Plover of the spring. Sunnyside Farm had an impressive 13 Golden Plover and hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing still. The Spotted Redshank was still at the PC World outflow in Holes Bay NE. There were also 2000+ Fieldfare and Redwing on the Stoborough Heath Nature Reserve. 

Harbour Update - posted 19/03/18

The cold really got birds moving with 4 Golden Plover at Lytchett Fields and a 1stRinged Plover of the year there too. At Middlebere there were another 2 Golden Plover, plus the over-wintering Whimbrel, lots of Redwing and Fieldfare still and 3 Chiffchaff along the track. Upton CP was busy with birds along the northern shore towards Holes Bay NE with the Spotted Redshank in its usual place, bust still good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin, also Pintail and Wigeon still about. At Arne there were 5 Brambling at the feeders next to the visitors centre and a Wheatear was on Shipstal early evening and a ringtail Hen Harrier at Middlebere, also 2 Woodcock flushed near the car park. A single Hawfinch was still at St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham. A Red Kite drifted along South Haven at dawn. 

Harbour Update - posted 18/03/18

Well, the snow came back with a dump last night. Not quite as bad as a few weeks ago but still enough for many birds to adopt emergency landings and take cover. Fieldfare were abundant again with flocks of hundreds feeding in numerous fields where the snow hadn’t quite managed provide a full covering. Redwing and Meadow Pipit were also downed in good numbers and Stonechats had obviously been moving through too but had been grinded to a halt with individuals appearing in Poole Park, Holes Bay, Baiter, and Sandbanks.  At Arne there had been a mini Brambling arrival behind the visitors hut with a few feeding in amongst the Chaffinch and Goldfinch on the floor. Spotted Redshank were in Holes Bay and on Lytchett Fields with 1 each of Green Sandpiper and Greenshank at the latter site. Singles of Wheatear were at Sunnyside and Shipstal Beach, Arne. Ringtail Hen Harrier were seen at Lytchett Bay and Swineham with a Marsh Harrier out in the Wareham Channel too.  At St Mary’s in Wareham there was still a single female Hawfinch present. At Holton Lee there was a first year Spoonbill feeding in front of the new hide on Holton Pools plus a Water Pipit and several Meadow Pipit. In Holes Bay NW, 14 Golden Plover seen out from the Stone Bench was another indicator of downed birds due to the snow. 

Brambling - RSPB Arne car park - Peter Moore

Wheatear - Sunnyside Farm - Peter Moore

Harbour Update - posted 17/03/18

Snow…again! It didn’t seem to amount to too much but it’s supposed to build over night. It didn’t stop it from being blimmin cold though and enough to keep most people in doors. You’d fully understand if most spring migrants just ‘didn’t bother’ today, however a hardy first Swallow of the spring appeared with 2 Sand Martin at Swineham GP, with a back drop of 120 Fieldfare to counter balance the seasonal interest.  A male Hen Harrier was seen at Arne and Middlebere mid afternoon and also seen by the Wareham causeway. At Holes Bay the low tide and cold weather saw a small increase of birds with Avocet, Redshank, Curlew, Pintail, Wigeon and a few Gadwall all fairly easy to see from the footpath. 

Harbour Update - posted 16/03/17

With the mini-beast from the east approaching it seems both birders and birds are battening down the hatches again with little coverage and little reported, which is funny as Little Ringed Plover was the most notable bird today at Lytchett Fields. An evening watch at Lytchett Fields/Bay produced a Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier and a Greenshank in the bay. A White Wagtail was at the Wytch Causeway and a Chiffchaff was singing at Challow Hill, Corfe. After dark, 4 Woodcock were disturbed along the Arne Road.

Harbour Update - posted 15/03/17

This morning two Mealy Redpoll were located at the southern end of Littlesea, Studland. This rarer ‘version’ (no longer a subspecies) of the more regular Lesser Redpoll is a rare bird in Poole Harbour and hasn’t been recorded for a number of years. Its likely they’re more regular in the harbour than expected, although tracking and pinning down Redpoll flocks is hard enough, but scanning through and looking for the paler, slightly larger variation is even tougher. A Great White Egret was feeding in Littlesea, Studland and a pale-bellied Brent Goose was off Middle Beach. At Swineham 3 Egyptian Geese were on the flood with 2 Peregrine over the main gravel pit. 9 Pochard on the Swineham GP was a welcome surprise considering this species is now a scarce visitor to Poole Harbour, also a Spoonbill passed over at dusk heading towards the Piddle Valley. In the Wareham Channel this AM, two Hen Harrier were seen heading north. 

Harbour Update - posted 14/03/17

We’ve had a good run of spring migrants these last couple of days and today the first Little Ringed Plover of the spring turned up at Lytchett Fields. The site is so flooded at present, it’s amazing that this tiny bird managed to find the only minuscule piece of mud available. At Holton Pools a Spoonbill, 2 Green Sandpiper and a Water Pipit were recorded. Another look for Wheatear (or Ring Ouzel) along Soldiers Road actually produced a cold wintery scene of c30 freshly grounded Fieldfare feeding along the roadside, which certainly made the spring feeling quickly disappear. There are still 2 Marsh Harrier being seen semi regularly around Middlebere and Swineham. The Lower Frome Valley is still pretty flooded with Pintail, Shoveler and Teal occurring in good numbers and between 600-800 Black-tailed Godwit have taken to feeding out on Bestwall, near Wareham. There was a single Hawfinch in St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham. 

Little Ringed Plover - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Fieldfare - Soldiers Road  

Harbour update - Posted 13/03/18

Spring certainly arrived today with the years first Wheatear which was seen running along the edge of Soldiers Road with another seen at Sunnyside Farm later in the day. Also, 5 Sand Martin were hawking over Swineham GP again. At dusk another Bittern left Swineham too making that the third to leave in just over a week. How many more will we see leave over the coming weeks? Also at Swineham was a ‘nasal-saddled’ Teal (an alternative to the ringing of a birds leg) which looks like it may have come from a Spanish project. In the Lower Frome Valley a lot of the flood plain was under water and fields around Bestwall and Redcliff held 98 Shoveler, 15 Pintail, c800 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Egyptian Geese.  At Holton Pools a Spoonbill dropped on to the new scrapes and another Spoonbill was near Swineham. At St Mary’s churchyard in Wareham 3-4 Hawfinch were in trees around the edges of the churchyard. In Upton CP 3 different Firecrest, 3 (over-wintering) Blackcap and a singing Chiffchaff were all logged.

Below is a sound recording made last spring on March 13th 2017 at Swineham of a Bittern departing at dusk (18:45 to be exact). Within the recording you can hear the soft  ‘bark like’ call of the Bittern as it responds/interacts to the calls of a near by Grey Heron. The Bittern then promptly disappeared into the darkness having arrived in at dusk over Swineham before heading off NE.

Bittern - Call of a migrant leaving at dusk - Swineham - 13/03/17 @ 18:45

Wheatear - Soldiers Road, near Ridge - 13/03/18

Harbour Update - posted 12/03/18

There was good coverage today and the arrival of another spring migrant in the shape of 5 Sand Martin hawking over Swineham GP late afternoon. At Middle Beach, Studland there was 5 Common Scoter and the Velvet Scoter still, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver with another 2 Great Northern Diver in Shell Bay. Off Jerry’s Point and ‘the Houseboats’, (inner harbour Studland) there were 11 Turnstone and 1 Purple Sandpiper on the concrete blocks, 1 Greenshank, 3 Grey Plover 22 Red-breasted Merganser, 9 Black-necked Grebe and 14 Great Crested Grebe. In Brands Bay there were a further 23 Grey Plover, 262 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 20 Curlew, 45 Shelduck and 11 Pintail. At Middlebere there were 4 Spoonbill, 25 Avocet and 1 Spotted Redshank. Out on Baiter Park the 9 Bar-tailed Godwit were still feeding with c30 Black-tailed Godwit. At Lytchett Fields a Water Pipit was present for most of the morning.  

Bar-tailed Godwits - Baiter Park - 12/02/18

Harbour Update - posted 11/03/18

A fairly slow day today, with the only ‘new arrival’ being a drake Pochard out on Poole Park boating lake, which may not sound notable but these days certainly is! Also still 4 Goldeneye and 7 Red-breasted Merganser out on the lake. At Arne a Firecrest was in the car park and 3 Spoonbill were in Middlebere. A Hen Harrier was seen in the Wareham Channel near Swineham and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Shoveler are using the flood plains in the lower Frome Valley near Bestwall and Swineham. Wader numbers are still reasonable with good numbers of Avocet, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher around on the low tides and a few Little Egret seem to be returning having vacated the area during the cold snap. Below is another video we made earlier in the year this time one of the over-wintering Hawfinch at Norden park and ride. The thought of having a chance of seeing one of these everytime you headed out this winter certainly added a new dimension to a cold and blustery day in the field. 

Hawfinch - Norden park and ride - 21/02/18

Harbour Update - posted 10/03/18

This evening it looked good for Bittern to depart at dusk so a watch at Swineham (the best place in Poole Harbour to watch for this type of birding event) was undertaken. One was seen, although it didn’t leave, rather it headed across the main gravel pit calling a few times before dropping back down into the reeds. At Lytchett Fields a record count 41 Avocet were using the fields as a feeding zone, the previous highest total only ever being a handful. The coming days look good for the first spring migrants to arrive so keep an eye out for the first Sand martin to dash through or even an elusive Ring Ouzel on some of the higher ground around the harbour. We’ve also been uploading various videos we’ve made during the couple of months which we’ll be uploading over the coming days. 

Spotted Redshank - Holes Bay NE - 04/03/18

Harbour Update - posted 09/03/18

Still no sign of any spring migrants yet but that didn’t stop us from looking. This morning was fine but a horrid front moved through by lunchtime halting any efforts to find the springs first Little ringed plover or Wheatear. Still, a good range of bird were seen in the Frome Valley and in central harbour with the flooded fields of North Bestwall and Swineham hosting big numbers of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit with Jack and Common Snipe seen also, 3 Egyptian Geese, 2 Ruff, 6 Pintail, 40 Shoveler and 10 Shelduck also in the area. A female Merlin dashed through Bestwall towards Wareham and a single Hawfinch was in the Priory gardens near St Mary’s churchyard. On the rising tide in the Wareham Channel there were 60+ Grey Plover, 60+ Avocet, 250 Brent Geese, 20 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver and good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser with another Great Northern Diver in central harbour with 2 Black-necked Grebe too. 

Harbour Update - posted 08/03/17

Sadly today a dead Spoonbill was brought to us which had two broken ‘ankles’. We assume that with two clean breaks on exactly the same places on its legs that it was frozen within ice and perhaps tried to fly off whilst stuck, either spooked by something or simply got too cold and decided enough was enough! This bird was just one of many individuals of several different species found dead as a result of last weeks cold snap. Although Spoonbill is an iconic species (so iconic in fact that we’ve made it the species of choice for our new logo), its equally sad to hear of news of dead Teal, Cormorant, Shelduck, Lapwing and Avocet which have also been found dead locally. In Holes Bay, good numbers of common waders were present still, providing a superb last chance to witness some of Poole Harbours vast numbers of over-wintering waders and wildfowl.

Dead Spoonbill found at Lytchett Fields

Dead Spoonbill found at Lytchett Fields

Avocet on ice (from last week) - Holes Bay - Mark Wright (Twitter @markwright12002)

Harbour Update - posted 07/03/18

We’re now at the very beginnings of spring migration so we’ll be doing as much night recording as possible. March nights are often busy with thrush’s heading back north and are often joined by a few waders and duck too. Last night we set up our gear at a site 3 miles NW of Poole Harbour and were amazed at the strength of Redwing passage with totals similar to what you’d expect in late October. Between 8pm and 5am we logged 1059 Redwing calls, 109 Blackbird calls, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Skylark and 3 Curlew all presumably heading north. Also, at dusk another Bittern left Swineham GP. In Studland Bay the Velvet Scoter was still with a single Common Scoter and in central harbour there were 3 Black-necked Grebe. In St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham Hawfinch totals had risen to 3. The Brownsea Lagoon saw some incredible totals considering the time of year including 285 Bar-tailed Godwit, 325 Grey Plover, 8 Greenshank, 28 Knot, 2300 Dunlin, 247 Avocet, 2 Spotted Redshank, 180 Oystercatcher, 315 Med Gulls, 1 Little Gull, 110 Shelduck, 110 Teal and 1 Firecrest, plus good totals of commoner waders and wildfowl. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen in Middlebere.

 Curlew - 07/03/18 @ 00:35 Lytchett Matravers - Nocturnal calls of an early spring migrant

Curlew and Redwing 07/03/18 @ 00: 30 - Lytchett Matravers - Nocturnal calls of early spring migrants

Harbour Update - posted 06/03/18

There was a really nice mix of birds around today mostly out in the harbour area. We’re still yet to see any signs of spring migration but give it a week and the first Wheatears and Sand Martins will be appearing. Today out in central harbour there was a Red-throated Diver, 5 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe. At Holmebridge 4 Spoonbill were resting with another 3 at Shipstal Point, Arne. At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Merlin, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank with 21 Avocet back on the fields. At Sandbanks there were 34 Sanderling with a single Purple Sandpiper at North Haven. At St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham a single Hawfinch was still present. And finally, just outside our Poole Harbour recording area, along Holme Lane a Corn Bunting was seen to fly east which if entered through Poole Harbour airspace would be an absolute local mega!

Harbour update - 05/03/18

Spring is getting springier, well, until this afternoon that was. The lower Frome Valley is completely flooded currently and walk around the Bestwall/Swineham River walk would be a good call before all the water drains away. Today c800 Lapwing were feeding between Bestwall and Arne Moors as were 3 Ruff, c200 Black-tailed Godwit, c100 Curlew, 1 Golden Plover, c20 Pintail, c50 Teal and still good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare. At Holme Bridge a Marsh Harrier was quartering over the floodplain west of the river and both Peregrine and Raven were circling over Corfe Castle. At Studland Beach, an almighty gull feeding frenzy consisted of c200 Med Gulls, c200 Herring Gull plus lots of Common and Black-headed Gull. Out in Studland Bay the Velvet Scoter was still present with a single Common Scoter and 2 Black-necked Grebe. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Golden Plover, 4 Shoveler, 1 Spoonbill, 21 Avocet and 3 Greenshank. At St Mary’s churchyard 2 Hawfinch were again in the graveyard. 

Harbour Update - posted 04/03/18

Did it really snow a couple of days ago? By the end of today you’d be fooled into thinking it was all some kind of weird dream. The only evidence that the freakish weather event actually took place was due to the fact some odd birds were still about in odd places. Golden Plovers were still about with 3 out on Baiter, 1 on the Brownsea Lagoon and 1 on Arne Moors. Lapwing were still moving about in reasonable numbers with small flocks passing Poole Quay, Holes Bay and Lytchett Fields. On Poole Park boating lake there were 14 Goldeneye, 7 Red-breasted Merganser and a drake Pintail still. In the Wareham Channel area there were 3 Hen Harrier briefly (2 males and a ringtail) and a Bittern was seen on the northern side of the Piddle and another was seen leaving Swineham at dusk…the first departure of the spring. In St Mary’s churchyard, Wareham 2 Hawfinch were feeding on the ground and along Holme Lane at dawn another Hawfinch flew east over ‘the egret field’ as did 4 Woodlark and 3 Reed Bunting. Decent sized Fieldfare and Redwing flocks were noted around the harbour with 200 in East Holme, 200 in fields along the A35 Upton dual carriage way and good numbers still at Arne. For early March Holes Bay NE was packed on the falling tide late afternoon with 1 Spotted Redshank in its usual spot by the out flow but also c400 Wigeon, c100 Avocet, c50 Teal, c40 Pintail and a good spread of Redshank, Curlew and black-tailed Godwit. Like else where around the county there were a few reports of dead birds that had suffered due to the cold with a dead Shelduck in Holes Bay and a dead Lapwing near Bestwall. 

Hawfinch - St Mary's churchyard, Wareham - Peter Moore

Hawfinch - St Mary's churchyard, Wareham - Peter Moore

Lapwing - Holes Bay NE - Rene Goad (02/03/18)

Blackcap - Poole garden - Rene Goad (02/03/18)

Greenshank - Holes Bay NE - Rene Goad (02/03/18)

Shag - Poole Harbour - Keith Rawling


Harbour Update - posted 03/03/17

With temperatures rising over night by a few degrees it was enough for a thaw to kick in and de-icing the car wasn’t half as bad as expected. The thaw also exposed areas of much needed mud and grass for birds that were desperate to begin feeding. Poole Park and Baiter saw big numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing feeding on the open area and at Baiter c30 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 pale-bellied Brent Geese, 3 Redshank and 4 Skylark were feeding next to the car park with 3 Great Northern Diver offshore there in the evening with good numbers of Med Gulls. At Holes Bay NE this morning 6 Lapwing were on the cycle path near the outflow and Meadow Pipits again lined the shoreline feeding in amongst the rocks. On the low tide in Holes Bay NE late afternoon a good count of 67 Lesser Black-backed Gull came in and settled. At Lytchett Fields a Woodcock, 1 Golden Plover and 2 Spoonbill were the highlights with a packed ‘Pools Field’ on the peak high tide. At North Haven 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Black-necked Grebe and 10 Red-breasted Merganser were logged with 3 Black-necked Grebe and c100 Med Gull around the Studland/Shell Bay area. At St Mary’s churchyard in Wareham 2 Hawfinch were seen. At Hatch Pond 1 Jack Snipe, 6 Common Snipe and 2 Lapwing were recorded and on Poole Park boating lake there were 12 Little Grebe 11 Goldeneye, 1 Pintail and 4 Red-breasted Merganser. There was another Jack Snipe feeding at Sunnyside farm. And finally, as there weather had improved we were able to get the new HQ back open today for our first full day in operation. We had a steady stream of people for most of the day and already its great to see, meet and talk with so many like-minded people all of whom have a keen thirst for knowledge when it comes to Poole Harbour and its incredible bird life. 

Golden Plover - Baiter - Mark Wright (Twitter @markwright12002)

Lapwing - Baiter - Mark Wright (Twitter @markwright12002)

Fieldfare - Baiter - Mark Wright (Twitter @markwright12002)

The high Arctic...or is that Middlebere? - Mark Wright (Twitter @markwright12002) 

Harbour Update - posted 02/03/18

Sadly due to the weather we weren’t able to open he new HQ today and unless you could see birds from your kitchen/living room window then there wasn’t much opportunity to ‘getting out’ with snow and ice gripping the entire county. We’re sure there were some incredibly beautifully scenes to be had and that many of you have photos you’ll be able to treasure for a long time. Not us though…we were stuck! We did however receive a huge number of emails and correspondence from people overjoyed at the fact they had Fieldfares and Redwings in their garden…and quite rightly too. These hard weather movements provide unique birding opportunities and to see such stunning birds (like Fieldfare and Redwing) turn up in your garden can provide hours of entertainment, no matter how many apples you ended up throwing out on to the lawn. We even received a photo of a Common Snipe that turned up in a Shore Road garden early morning! The next few days will continue to be interesting as the snow thaws so keep an eye out for more cold souls and wandering treasures. 

Common Snipe - Shore Road garden

Harbour Update - posted 01/03/18

Well, what a fascinating day. Firstly, we’d like to say a huge thanks to all those that braved the conditions and made it to the opening of the new Birds of Poole Harbour HQ. At midday a clan of about 60 eager people from local businesses, project partners, NGO’s and members of the public gathered in the snow for the ribbon to be cut by our guest Ruth Peacey. Despite the weather we received a warm reception and kind words from our guests and we can’t wait for many more of you to drop in over the coming weeks to see and learn about the work we do as a charity and to get you all hooked on the Birds of Poole Harbour. Sadly, due to the conditions that set in mid-afternoon we had to close early and even then some of our staff got caught out on the way home and had to abandon their cars a few miles from home! Its predicted that this cold spell won’t last long and we’ll be back up and running before you know it.

Now, the other main feature of the day was of course the weather. Hard weather conditions like this always play havoc with the birds and it wasn’t long before we began seeing effects of the cold weather taking shape. Out the front of the BoPH HQ, a few Fieldfare, Redwing and c30 Lapwing were moving west above the Quay, moving ahead of the front that was coming up from the south west. Most amazingly though was when a drake Garganey was found sheltering in the mouth of the PC World drain at dawn, a true sign that spring really had arrived. It was looked for later in the day on the low tide but couldn’t be relocated, however 5 Golden Plover and c30 Lapwing were out on the mud (very rare in Holes Bay) and 2 Jack Snipe were feeding right out in the open, trying to find patches of un-frozen mud. There was also 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Spoonbill, 4 Tufted Duck, 40 Pintail, 100 Avocet, 300 Wigeon, 5 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall and 5 Rock Pipit. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Spoonbill, c30 Lapwing, 60+ Fieldfare, 20+ Redwing and 2 Water Pipit.  A Woodcock flew across the road at Wessex Gate retail park in the peak of the blizzard mid afternoon with another Woodcock seen at South Haven and a Lapwing on the chain ferry slip way. In Parkstone Bay, near Whitecliff there were a further 2 Golden Plover and 2 Lapwing on the mud (very rare here too) and a Hawfinch pitched down in a Stoborough garden briefly with several more Golden Plover overhead there too. Only a single Hen Harrier was seen to come out of the roost this AM despite 4 going in the night before. Obviously didn’t fancy getting up and we can’t say we don’t blame them. Around the harbour people were also reporting Fieldfare, Redwing and Blackcaps in their gardens which is always a joy, just make sure you keep feeders topped up and bits of fruit on the ground as it looks as if they’ll certainly need it over the coming days. 


OPEN DAY - Ribbon being cut for new BoPH HQ

Record shot of drake Garganey - Holes Bay NE - Ian Ballam

Fieldfare - Poole Garden - Colin Moyes


Harbour Update - posted 28/02/18

Today we spent all day getting ready for tomorrows big opening so no time was had for birding sadly. It was absolutely Baltic anyway and the cold wind kept everyone and everything low it seemed. Best was just a small showing of cold weather movements beginning with Lapwing, Redwing, Fieldfare and a few Black-tailed Godwit seen on the move. I think everyone and everything is just getting prepared for the coming days weather forecast. 


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