April 2018

Harbour Update - 29/04/18

Today we hosted our second spring bird boat of the weekend and it wouldn’t be inaccurate to state that it was actually colder on todays trip than some/all of our winter tours during December and January! Still, despite the cold, good spirits were held high and chattering teeth grinned and bared it as we were treated to a Little Tern off Shipstal beach a (distant) Osprey on the Arne shoreline, singing Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warbler up the River Frome, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Kingfisher, numerous Common and Sandwich Tern, 5 Swift, c50 Sand Martin and 2 Wheatear. There was an almighty fall of spring migrants at Portland today too, suggesting that a major fall had occurred across the southern Britain and signs of this rang true in the harbour with 11 Common Whitethroat, 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Redstart and 1 Spotted Flycatcher at Lytchett Bay, at Swineham there was another Redstart, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Common Whitethroat and a Wheatear. Up on Ballard a Spotted Flycatcher was in the scrub at the end of the headland with c 20 Willow Warbler and 6 Wheatear were along the Ballard coastal path. In Middlebere there was a single Spoonbill, 5 Grey Plover (one in summer plumage), 1 Spotted Redshank, 6 Whimbrel and an Osprey flew over Coombe late afternoon with a Red Kite over Coombe mid morning. In Poole Park a pair of Common Tern were resting on the concrete bridge for their second day…maybe there should be some tern rafts installed on the lake? Along Baiter Beach/cycle way there were 5 Wheatear.

Whinchat and Wheatear - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Lesser Whitethroat - Swineham - Peter Moore


Our spring bird boat - Swineham - Peter Moore

Harbour Update - 28/04/18

Today was our first of two spring bird boat trips this weekend and they got off to a great start with Swallow and Swift passing over the Quay before we’d even left, suggesting that birds were on the move. A party of 5 Common Terns heading off north high over Hamworthy Park was a great example of true migration in action. As we made our way into the Frome Valley an Osprey came in and circled above us before having a minor ding-dong with a Raven. It was then left in peace to hunt over the channel for a further 20 mins before carrying on east up the Wareham Channel and then subsequently being seen off Poole Quay over Brownsea from our new HQ on Poole Quay. Up the River Frome 2 Common Sandpiper on the riverbank, both Reed and Sedge Warbler were singing as were plenty of Cetti’s. Swifts were definitely on the move with several small parties traveling over Swineham and Swallows were constantly streaming low over the water heading north. On the Spartina on Shipstal Beach Black-tailed Godwit were resting, 3 migrant Bar-tailed Godwit passed over us and a small party of Whimbrel were calling. At Lytchett Fields a flock of 20 Whimbrel were on French’s Pools with 137 summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank and 1 Little Ringed Plover and a single Wheatear. At Swineham and along the River Frome walk 1 Cuckoo, 2 Blackcap, 14 Cetti’s Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 24 Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroat and 7 Reed Bunting were logged. Along Baiter Beach/cycle way there was 1 Wheatear and inPoole Park 2 Common Tern.

Whimbrel flock - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - 27/04/18

We’re really looking forward to our two boat trips this weekend…hopefully spring migrants will be on the move. Lytchett Fields had been a bit too dry over the last few days to attract birds but with tide submerging much of the site today it attracted in an incredible 710 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, and a small passage of Swallow and House Martin. In Middlebere there was a good spring record of 2 Golden Plover with 11 Grey Plover along with 2 Wheatear, 1 Tree Pipit and passage Swallows along the main track. At Holton Lee there was a Wheatear in the southern fields and several Siskin feeding in front of the feeder hide. 

Harbour Update - posted 25/04/18

A first spring visit to Challow Hill, Corfe this year was pleasant if not a little chilly still. But last nights ‘mizzle’ had departed and we were once again basked in sunshine. Along the footpath leading up to Challow Hill there was only 2 Common Whitethroat back on territory and a Cuckoo flew along the ridge strongly NW along with a small passage of Swallow and House Martin. There were also 2-3 Yellowhammer singing along the track as were 2 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff and a Stonechat. At Arne a Hobby drifted over the main car park. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was still a decent spread of waders including c50 Dunlin, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ringed Plover, 4 Redshank and 7 Avocet including a pair that were displaying and mating which is an encouraging sign that they’ll attempt to nest again this year, and also 27 Common Tern and 55 Sandwich Tern.

We still have spaces on our up and coming summer and autumn tours later in the year. For full information see below……

Dorset Discovery Summer Tour – CLICK HERE

Dorset Discovery Autumn Tour – CLICK HERE


Greenshank - Brownsea Lagoon - Nick Mudge

Harbour Update - posted 24/04/18

The weather was back to its more traditional April format today with wind and light rain setting in by mid afternoon but waders still seem to be coming through  in small numbers. In Middlebere there were 5 Grey Plover, 8 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel and 3 partial summer plumaged Spotted Redshank. On Brownsea Dunlin numbers reach 42 and there were 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, c200 Black-tailed Godwit and still 11 winter plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit. Common Tern numbers are still building slowly but we hope there’ll be a steady arrival of birds over the coming week in which they should then start using the tern islands in front of the hides. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 813 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 House Martin and 4 Swallow. The first Swifts were over Swineham GP and 1 flew west past Slepe Heath mid morning. Another search for reptiles during the second day of our Dorset Discovery tour turned up a nice ‘pile’ of Adder at a survey spot near Arne. 

Slow Worms and Adders - Hartland

Harbour Update - posted 23/04/18

Today was the first day of our Dorset Discovery Spring tour, an event we really look forward to each year that see’s us getting show guests the best Poole Harbour and other areas in Dorset has to offer. This event is one of four we host each year with summer, autumn and winter tours also available with each focussing on different aspects of local wildlife relevant to the time of year. Today we began at Arne where Dartford Warbler were fairly active despite the wind and an Osprey circled above the Arne car park before heading towards Middlebere.  We don’t just focus on birds on the tours and with a rich heathland habitat layered across the Arne peninsular reptiles are also a main focus with numerous Slow Worm and a stunning male Sand Lizard found. At Holton Lee the male Golden Pheasant that turned up un-expectantly last week was still feeding out in front of the feeder hide. However the big dangling metal ring around its leg sadly rules out it being a true long distant migrant all the way from Brownsea. Also at Holton Lee was a stunning male Whinchat, which are a really scarce bird here during the spring. Around Lytchett Bay there was a single Wheatear on Lytchett Fields along with 11 Dunlin, 422 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover and Bearded Tit calling from the reed bed at the end of Lytchett Heath. 

Male Sand Lizard - RSPB Arne - Nick Mudge

Harbour Update - posted 22/04/18

After a run of days without any Osprey sightings it was good to see a couple reported today and amazingly one was a sat-tagged bird from Kielder Forest, named ‘blue UV’. We were contacted by Joanna D on Twitter who explained that the sat-tag data from blue UV indicated he passed over Poole Harbour around 8am, and coincidently moments before we’d received news from Barbara Bisset, Arne volunteer that a blue ringed Osprey had just been photographed over Arne. Putting two and two together we assumed this must have been blue UV. However, later in the day a second Osprey then appeared on the Middlebere platform which also seemed to be ringed but no details could be obtained sadly. There was also another small passage of Red Kite with singles over Parkstone, Arne and Corfe. At Sunnyside Farm, Wheatear numbers were down to 4 and just a single Swallow went through. The Brownsea Lagoon was quite productive with 5 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 2 Knot, 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 130 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Avocet, 80 Dunlin, 35 Sandwich Tern, 11 Common Tern and 2 Spoonbill present. At South Haven there was a Green Sandpiper, 1 Wheatear and 1 Sanderling and there was a single Gannet off Knoll Beach. At Lytchett Fields a surprise female Merlin was around for much of the morning and there were also c400 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 4 Whimbrel present. At Swineham a Common Redstart was along the main track, 1 Cuckoo, 6 Reed Warbler, 4 Sedge Warbler and 2 Egyptian Geese

Harbour Update - posted 21/04/18

Another hot one today which got more Red Kite moving with 2 over Lytchett Bay View mid afternoon. Another Hobby was over Harland mid-afternoon and 2 Spoonbill were on the Brownsea Lagoon. At Lytchett Bay there were 657 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 7 Reed Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 15+ Blackcap and a Red Kite. A Cuckoo was calling on Slepe Heath along the Arne Road and there were 6 Wheatear at Sunnyside Farm. On Brownsea, Sandwich Terns were finally beginning to prospect on the islands in front of the hides and Common Tern numbers are building nicely with 17 present today. 

Harbour Update - posted 20/04/18

Well, things seem to be getting better and better. The warm morning sun wrapped up in a blanket of thick fog certainly ‘downed’ a lot of birds and when it cleared prompted birds to move. Up on Ballard Down a good sweep of migrants could be found including c15 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Blackcap, c10 Willow Warbler, c5 Chiffchaff, 2 Wheatear, c10 Swallow, c10 House Martin and several flocks of migrating finches. Then, as the fog cleared 5 Red Kite migrated their way along the Ballard ridge heading NE quickly followed by a Marsh Harrier. Red Kites were also passing over other areas of the harbour with 3 over Oakdale, 2 more over Studland later in the day, 1 over Grip Heath, Arne and 1 over Sandford. 3 Hobby were counted over the Middlebere/Hartland area and Cuckoo were calling at Arne, Swineham and Hartland. At Middlebere there were 3 Spoonbill in the channel, c400 summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Wheatear along the track, 1 Lesser Whitethroat near the ‘Dartford Hide’ plus good numbers of Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing. At Sunnyside Farm there was a male Whinchat and 10 Wheatear. At Lytchett Bay there was a single Little Ringed Plover. Yet again, Dartford Warbler were really active out on the heathlands, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Skylark were all singing on Slepe Heath. 

Common Whitethroat - Ballard Down 

Lesser  Whitethroat - Ballard Down 

Marsh Harrier migrating over Ballard Down 

Red Kite migrating over Ballard Down 

Grey Heron soaring up high over the Hartland/Corfe ridge

Harbour update - posted 19/04/18

Well, the plug well and truly became unplugged today with migrants flowing right the way through the harbour. At dawn, with the sun already blazing down, 2 Spoonbill came in from high west, traveling along the Wareham Channel before dropping into Middlebere. Recent monitoring and research efforts for this species would suggest that these were two fresh in, newly arrived migrants. A Pied Flycatcher along the Coombe Heath trail at Arne was another welcome addition to the year list and a pretty scarce bird for the harbour. Red Kites were on the move in small numbers with birds over Hatch Pond and Oakdale. It seems the Wheatear blockage is now unblocked with 5 at Sunnyside Farm, 3 on Hartland and a thin spread across Greenland’s Farm again. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Whimbrel, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Whitethroat, lots of Blackcap and 2 Reed Warbler. This high pressure is certainly getting birds of prey moving and late afternoon saw a migrant ringtail Hen Harrier arrive in from the south over Hartland before drifting off high north towards Wareham Forest. At Swineham warblers were plentiful with 6 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 possible Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff with Cuckoo there too. At Middlebere 2 stunning male Whinchat were along the track with 6+ Dartford Warbler. Interestingly a Barn Owl was seen hunting along the edge of Pergins Island, Holes Bay at dawn, which is a good semi-urban sighting. At Holmebridge a Marsh Harrier was hunting. Both Tree Pipit and Woodlark are now back singing on traditional breeding sites in the south of the harbour. If there’s ever a time to try and see Dartford Warbler now’s the time. The heathlands around Arne, Hartland, Middlebere, Slepe Heath and Stoborough Heath are great areas to watch Dartford’s display flying, a sight quite wonderful to see from the usually skulking bird. 

Swallows are now back at breeding sites across the harbour like these in Stoborough 


Migrant Hen Harrier drifting through the harbour - Slepe Heath


Blackcap - Swineham - Keith Rawling


Harbour update - 18/04/18

Hooray! Spring finally arrived today and did so in style. High-pressure systems always allow birds to get moving and with 3 Common Crane over Wareham mid-morning it was obvious birds were arriving. There had also been Poole Harbours biggest arrival of Wheatear today (for this spring) with 8 at Sunnyside Farm, 2 at Lytchett Bay, on Hartland, 6 at Greenlands Fram and 3 at Arne. Whitethroat were heard singing at Chads Copse, Lytchett Bay, up on Ballard Down and at Greenland’s Farm. A Red Kite drifted over Holton Lee late afternoon. The springs first Cuckoo was singing away at Arne at first light and stayed for most of the day. There were 3 Spoonbill in Middlebere and Whimbrel could be heard calling overhead at Swineham, Arne and Brownsea. Its also great to see Swallow now settling on telegraph wires, resting up having just arrived and with the hot weather due to continue it will allow hopefully many more to arrive safely.  A nocturnal sound recording session on Lytchett Heath was fairly busy and produced 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 2 Water Rail and several Curlew flocks moving over in the dark. 

Harbour Update - posted 16/04/18

With the mid week forecast looking to reach scorchio levels, it looks like we have to put up with just a couple more days of nippy April weather. The wind built throughout the day and still made mid April feel like mid February. Still, a Little Ringed Plover made it through on to Lytchett Fields with 2 Green Sandpiper still there and a Greenshank. Despite the cold a few Swallow were making their way through and at Arne Wheatear were on Shipstal and Coombe Heath. The ringtail Hen Harrier was still taking up residence in the west of the harbour commuting between Swineham and Hartland mid morning but with high pressure arriving mid week will we see him disappear soon? Willow Warbler are still trickling through but Chiffchaff are well and truly back in force now with birds singing on territory right around the harbour. At the PCW drain, Fleets Bridge 3 Willow Warbler were singing as were 2 Blackcap and 6 Chiffchaff.

Harbour Update - posted 15/04/18

Today we hosted our first spring bird boat tour of the season which was aptly named ‘Up with the Lark’. We did indeed hear Skylark singing high above the Frome Valley but were also treated to great selection of other birds too, most of which could make you think it was a winter bird boat rather than a spring tour. In the Wareham Channel there were 2 Great Northern Diver with another off Pottery Pier, Brownsea. On Arne Moors a ringtail Hen Harrier and over Giggers Island a female type Marsh Harrier. A small passage of Swallow, Sand and House Martin were over Swineham GP and 2 newly arrived Common Sandpiper were present, one at Swineham and another on Round Island. We also had a fly by Kingfisher up near Wareham Quay. Other spring migrants included the first Reed and Sedge Warblers with 4 Whimbrel out on the Swineham flood plain (seen from the footpath and not our boat). There were also a number of Sandwich Tern around the harbour with c30 present seen fishing in various areas and single lonely Brent Goose was left in the mouth of Middlebere. Elsewhere a Common Tern was on the Brownsea Lagoon, the springs first Common Redstart was seen on the outskirts of Wareham and also the first Yellow Wagtail flew low over Lytchett Fields early morning. This coming week looks set to see more migrants arrive with high pressure coming in from the east and some sun finally; great migrating conditions for species such as Cuckoo, Hobby, Swift and the odd rarity or two. 

Harbour Update - posted 14/04/18

Today a thick fog had settled across the harbour and despite clearing inland, the main body of the harbour remained covered in thick fog for pretty much the entire day, even forcing many Brownsea cruises to cancel trips due to navigation issues. Luckily just a few hundred meters inland the sun was shining and it really began to feel like we’d turned a corner. At Arne the springs first Whimbrel flew over Coombe Heath and Middlebere. In the Wareham Channel a new female type Marsh Harrier arrived in over Giggers Island. An Osprey was seen flying over Wareham train station and one (the same?) was seen heading east over Morden Bog. At Swineham Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler were all in full song and a female Garganey was on a flooded pool on the Swineham river walk. Swallows and Sand Martin pulsed through in small numbers for most of the day. With the warm sunshine and clear sky providing good migrating and display conditions Common Buzzard were really visible across much of the harbour skyline and a single Red Kite drifted north over Upton. Lapwing were also displaying at Sunnyside with one, possibly two pairs present. 

Harbour Update - posted 13/04/18

A fairly quiet Friday with a continuing grey tone to the harbours setting. Highlights being 3 Little Ringed Plover and 3 House Martin over Lytchett Fields, up on Ballard just 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff and Blackcap were ringed. A nocturnal sound recording session over the Frome Valley produced a Little Ringed Plover, Common Scoter, Golden Plover and Curlew all migrating up the Frome Valley in between 9pm and 2am with Med Gulls also recorded entering the harbour during the dead of night a Tawny Owl called from the woodland on the edge of the Arne Road. 

Harbour Update - posted 12/04/17

Today it was our pleasure to host both Roy Dennis and Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation who are our partners (along with Wildlife Windows) in the Poole Harbour Osprey Translocation Project. We’ve been out today checking up on various potential nesting sites, planning/discussing new nest locations and assessing the release site for this years class of 2018. In July we’ll be bringing the next batch of 14 Osprey chicks down from Scotland where our team will then raise and release them back into the harbour in efforts to try and restore a south coast breeding population over the coming years. Any of our 8 released last year that are still down in West Africa won’t begin arriving back until spring next year (2019), so we still have a long wait ahead of us. However there are migrant Osprey in the harbour currently and two were seen out fishing in the Wareham Channel at 9:30am and were later seen feeding on private land. No doubt more will come through before the months end and Middlebere, Arne and the Wareham Channel are definitely the places to look. Whilst out surveying for Osprey today Siskin could be heard displaying everywhere despite the cold and at Arne two Woodlark were singing next to the Arne Road. Blackcaps are now back on territory at many sites including the PCW Drain, Arne, Brownsea, Upton CP and Holton Lee but hirundines are still poorly represented with just a minute trickle of Swallow through today consisting of up to only 5 or 6 birds. Yesterday on Brownsea the first 2 Common Tern of the year arrived and there are now 48 Sandwich Tern but none have ventured onto their breeding islands yet. Also on Brownsea was a Whimbrel, 42 Avocet, 1 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 10 Knot, 32 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 510 Black-tailed Godwit, 38 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Brent Geese, 1 Pintail, 10 Wigeon, 12 Shoveler, 24 Gadwall and several Water Rail, 4 Sand Martin, 1 House Martin, 3 Swallow, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler and 6 Chiffchaff. In Middlebere there were 3 Spoonbill. Just outside the recording area at Morden Bog the Great Grey Shrike was at the southern end again and both Redstart and Tree Pipit were singing. 

Harbour Update - posted 11/04/18

There was a definite feel of an arrival this morning with low cloud clearing by mid morning and a warm sunshine beamed down across the harbour. The springs first Grasshopper Warbler was ringed up on Ballard Down along with 5 Chiffchaff and at the PC World drain 5 Blackcap, 5 Willow Warbler and 8 Chiffchaff were feeding opposite the KFC. At Arne two Osprey were still kicking about with AX8 definitely confirmed and it’s assumed the other bird is S1 still. Late afternoon saw 4 Garganey found in Holes Bay NW, best viewed from the Stone Bench just outside Upton Country Park. Swallows were coming through in small numbers along Studland and at Swineham c10 Sand Martin, c10 Swallow and a House Martin were over the gravel pit.  On Greenland’s Farm 4 Wheatear were at the southern end and a small handful of Red-breasted Merganser remain with several off Brownsea. At Lytchett Fields there was still a Little Ringed Plover on Sherford Pools and 4 Avocet flew low over the site. 

Harbour Update - posted 10/04/18

Things look to warm up over the coming week and the arrival of a Common Crane high in over the harbour heading towards Upton Heath was a welcome sight. After an absence of a couple of days, Osprey AX8 reappeared again at Arne suggesting it had just been hunkering down over the last couple of days in the grotty weather. The ringtail juv Hen Harrier was again seen around the Middlebere and Swineham area during the day. At Lytchett Fields a nice mix of birds included 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Green Sandpiper and 3 colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit out of a group of 21. Up on Ballard Down a Golden Plover flew north and ringing totals included just 1 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Goldfinch and 3 Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff - Ballard Down - Stephen Menzie

Lesser Redpoll - Ballard Down - Stephen Menzie

Goldfinch - Ballard Down - Stephen Menzie

Harbour Update - posted 09/04/18

Just when you think spring may have arrived today happens! Grey, drizzly, foggy, damp and miserable. Come on April….pull yourself together! An attempt to run the Ballard Down ringing station was made with 7 Goldfinch and 2 Chiffchaff the only rewards but a singing Blackcap provided some sort of solace that things are going to get better. Brownsea was relatively quiet too with c30 Avocet still present, c50 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Greenshank the highlights but Redshank, a few Grey Plover and Dunlin remain. There’s been no sign of any Osprey the last couple of days but to be honest, with this weather they’d much prefer to just sit it out, giving the impression they’ve gone. Will we see any in the next couple of days when things improve? There were 2 Little Ringed Plover on Lytchett Fields with 2 Green Sandpiper. Just north of the harbour Stour Ringing Group managed to catch and ring a Common (Mealy) Redpoll on Canford Heath, along with 16 Lesser Redpoll.

Lesser Redpoll (left) and Mealy Redpoll (right) - Canford Heath - Ian Lewis


Harbour Update - posted 08/04/18

Things are still plodding along slowly in terms of spring migration but a Wood Duck flying past Holton Pools mid morning was a bit of a surprise. Interestingly one was also seen flying past the same site on April 4th 2017. Considering there’s been no other reports of this species from elsewhere around the harbour in recent years, its an odd coincidence that one should be seen flying past the same site at the same time of year two years in a row! There were also 20 Swallow around Lytchett Fields and a Wheatear on Holton Pools. The juv male Hen Harrier was blitzing around the west of the harbour today and was also seen at Middlebere. He certainly likes it here. At our Ballard Down ringing station 3 Chiffchaff and a single Blackcap (first of the year) were ringed. 

Harbour Update - posted 07/04/18

There was more excitement today when a second Osprey was seen at RSPB Arne, at one point with both hunting off Shipstal. One was assumed to be S1 again as blue ring could be seen on the right leg, but the other bird seemed to be ringed too. We spent the late afternoon trying to see if we could track down this new bird by checking suitable perching areas and by complete fluke we managed to track it down. Thankfully the bird was so focused on feeding that we were able to get close enough to read the ring number which was in fact blue on the left leg, stating it was in fact it was a Scottish ringed individual. The ring read AX8 and we’ve had info back stating it’s a two-year old bird that was originally ringed on June 19th 2016 near Inverness. Chances are this bird will just head on straight through, but with S1 still lingering about it may be tempted to stay a few days…who knows! There was a definite arrival of hirundines today with Swallows, Sand Martin and the odd House Martin being seen passing through and at Swineham a count of 20 Swallow was made.  In Middlebere the 4 Spoonbill were still present and the 2nd year male Hen Harrier was still bombing around the mouth of the Wareham Channel during the morning. Chiffchaff are now back in force with many birds singing on territory and Willow Warbler were singing at Sunnyside Farm, Soldiers Road, Arne and Challow Hill (near Corfe). Blackcap are also now arriving in moderate numbers and were singing at the PC World drain, Arne, Hartland Moor and Holton Lee.

Scottish ringed Osprey AX8 Near Arne - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 06/04/18

There was a new arrival in the harbour today in the shape of a freshly arrived Osprey. Now, there’s already been several through this spring, all of them so far un-ringed. However this new bird that settled briefly on the Middlebere nest mid morning seemed to be bearing a ring and several people managed to get photos of it as it flew off. Luckily, in a photo taken by Nigel Gidney you can just make out the lettering S1. Now this was a young male that was hatched at Rutland in 2015 but spent the majority of the summer of 2017 here in Poole Harbour. Now he’s arrived back what are his plans? Will he stay for a few days then make his way back to Rutland again or will he take a fancy to Poole Harbour and linger here for a short while longer? We’d be really interested in seeing any photos taken of Osprey in Poole Harbour over the coming weeks. None of our 2017 translocated chicks will be back this spring sadly as they’ll all still be down in west Africa for another year (all those that have survived that is)! What is assumed to be the same Osprey was seen over Holmebridge early morning then Stoborough before then being seen in the harbour. A Black Redstart, a scarce spring migrant in Poole Harbour was at Middlebere and the Spoonbill totals went down to 4. At Lytchett Fields there was another Little Ringed Plover, also 2 Green Sandpiper and 1 Greenshank. On the Brownsea Lagoon Black-tailed Godwit numbers increased again as passage birds pass through the harbour with c500 across the lagoon.

Osprey S1, originally hatched at Rutland 2015 - Middlebere - Nigel Gidney

Harbour update - 05/04/18

We knew it would come eventually! The sun actually stayed out long enough for it to become warm today and with the total lack of wind from dawn it finally felt like spring was here. This was backed up by the fact that right across Dorset plenty of migrants turned up including Reed and Sedge Warblers, the first Common Whitethroat and Common Redstart. The harbour saw its fair share with a small arrival of Blackcap up on Ballard plus several Chiffchaff. Over Slepe Heath 6 Swallow went through and a Red Kite was seen over the north of Upton. Along Soldiers Road 2-3 Willow Warbler were singing in amongst the newly arrived Chiffchaff which now seem to be on territory. Out off South Beach, Studland 3 Common Scoter were still present. By midday the sky looking out from across Slepe Heath seemed to be filled with displaying Common Buzzard and on Ballard the pair of Peregrine were really vocal near Old Harry. At Arne 5 Brambling were still feeding outside the visitors center in the car park. On many of the heathlands around the south of the harbour including Hartland, Slepe Heath, Arne and Stoborough Heath Dartford Warbler are now very vocal and Meadow Pipit were display flying too. In Middlebere there were now 8 Spoonbill suggesting there were some new arrivals in amongst the ranks. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Blackcap along with 3 Greenshank and 3 Green Sandpiper and in the bay were 600+ Black-tailed Godwit.

Adder - Old Harry coast path - Paul Morton

Common Chiffchaff - Ballard Down - Paul Morton

Harbour update - 04/04/18

Wow, what a day. This morning’s gale force monsoon wasn’t quite the spring weather we’d hoped for but it was soon over and cleared from the south leaving a bright but breezy afternoon. The Osprey was again seen over Middlebere and there were 8 Spoonbill in the Middlebere Channel. A sea watch from Branksome in the building wind didn’t see much in totals but variety was ok with Common Scoter, Curlew, Brent Goose, Gannet, Shelduck, Sandwich Tern, Great Crested Grebe and Med Gull all heading east. 

Harbour update - 03/04/18

Spring is now springing into action…..slowly, but it is getting there! An adult Osprey was fishing in and around Shipstal/Arne Bay this morning, delighting visitors to RSPB Arne and there were up to 4 Brambling in the car park still feeding at the feeding station. Black-tailed Godwit seem to be passing through with a spike in numbers as Lytchett Bay alone saw 1057 on the rising tide. The male Hen Harrier is still kicking about the Poole Harbour west area popping up at Swineham, Hartland and Arne Moors over the course of the day.  At Lytchett Bay 3 Swallow flew through and on the fields the colour-ringed Greenshank that began over-wintering 2 years ago was present also 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Dunlin were in the bay. In the pools field along Slough Lane, Lytchett Bay 2 Willow Warbler were singing from the scrub and the Egyptian Goose was still there. In Middlebere 6 Spoonbill were at the top of the channel and a Willow Warbler was along the main track. In Wareham, two House Martin flew through very quickly, but represented the first record of this species for the spring. At Holton Lee a Water Pipit was on Holton Pools. 

NEW EVENTS - We've just published some new events for our 2018 events schedule.

Dawn Chorus Walk - Spring Song at Corfe - Saturday 5th May 2018

Poole Harbour Nightjar Experience - Friday 22nd June 2018

Poole Harbour Nightjar Experience - Friday 13th July 2018

Water Pipit - Holton Pools - John Pick Grendon

Harbour Update - 02/04/18

A blustery bank holiday but it was great to see so many people in our new BoPH HQ, at one point you almost couldn’t move in there! Lovely stuff! The day got off to an interesting start with a male Brambling singing in the car park at dawn, a phenomenon very rarely heard in Dorset. Then, an Osprey turned up off Shipstal but it didn’t hang around long and a single Wheatear was up on Coombe. In Wareham, there were still 3 Hawfinch in St Mary’s churchyard. Are we witnessing the colonisation of this species into Dorset? Surely they should all be moving off by now? Around the Swineham/Lower Frome Valley area the male Hen Harrier and a ringtail Hen Harrier were seen and a Merlin was hunting Meadow Pipits. At Holton Pools 2 Wheatear, 2 Sand Martin and 1 Swallow were on and around the pools. There was another single Wheatear at Sunnyside. Surely we’re due ‘a fall’ of Wheatear soon? It seems theres literally just ones and two’s dotted around the place. A Red Kite drifted low over Slepe Heath at dawn. At Lytchett Bay there were still 7 Red-breasted Merganser out on the water and 355 Black-tailed Godwit were on Lytchett Fields and a single Greenshank. 

Harbour Update - posted 01/04/18

Happy Easter, and a happy one it was too with a kind gap in the weather, giving a real spring feeling to the day’s events. Make the most of it as its supposed to deteriorate again by Easter Monday! Still, another Osprey was logged in the harbour today, although sadly it didn’t linger long as it passed over RSPB Arne. There were also 2 Hen Harrier in and around the Middlebere/Wareham Channel area still and a single Marsh Harrier was seen in Lytchett Bay and a Merlin was out on Slepe Heath. In the still, mild morning air up to 10 Common Buzzard were soaring over the Arne Road. Along North Bestwall Road in Wareham 3 Hawfinch were sat in trees along the road briefly and another was in a Stoborough garden briefly. At Arne 2 Brambling were feeding outside the visitor hut again below the feeders. Out on Hartland there was plenty of birds getting vocal with Meadow Pipit now sounding pretty tuneful along with plenty more Chiffchaff now around the area, also Stonechats and Dartford’s are beginning to get back on territory properly. This coming week will see plenty of new spring migrants arriving into Dorset, such as more Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, but birds like Yellow Wagtail, Ring Ouzel and House Martin will start appearing too so please, any sightings of migrants from around the Poole Harbour area please report to or tweet us at @harbourbirds.  

Harbour Update - posted 31/03/18

Today was way more productive as rain hit the harbour at dawn but in calm conditions. Damp spring mornings can be great for birds to make landfall and this morning our ringing site at Ballard Down produced the first Willow Warbler of the year to be ringed along with 3 Common Chiffchaff and at the PC World drain (aka Fleets Corner) another 5 Common Chiffchaff and a Siberian Chiffchaff were present. At Swineham there was another Swallow and 6 Sand Martin over the gravel pits. There were (amazingly) still 3 Hen Harrier in the harbour this morning too, the male was seen near Swineham and two ringtails around the Middlebere/Arne area. Good numbers of visitors were heading over to Brownsea and although water level were high on the lagoon there were still reasonable numbers of waders and duck. In Middlebere the two Spoonbill were present still and there was a Peregrine and Wheatear there too and at Lytchett Fields a Whimbrel was feeding in the Arable Field at the end of Slough Lane with Curlew. Early spring migrant or over-winterer? 

So, with spring just ready to burst into action why not consider joining us in a couple of weeks on April 15th for our first spring boat tour of year where we’ll be heading up the Wareham River looking and listening out for spring migrants. There are only several places left so book on by clicking HERE NOW. 

Willow Warbler - Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 30/03/18

A rather slow day again but we saw a long range weather forecast that suggests by mid-April it will be near tropical in Dorset, well 18-21 degrees which is a darn sight better than its been in recent weeks! Today the on-off drizzle and intermittent heavy showers kept reports low but Brownsea was productive still with a good variety of post winter hangers on including c50 Avocet, 4 Greenshank, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank, c30 Grey Plover and c40 Dunlin, also 10 Sandwich Tern. Around the harbour there are still a few Red-breasted Merganser too.

So, with spring just ready to burst into action why not consider joining us in a couple of weeks on April 15th for our first spring boat tour of year where we’ll be heading up the Wareham River looking and listening out for spring migrants. There are only several places left so book on by clicking HERE NOW. 

Shelduck - Brownsea Lagoon - Keith Rawling

Red-breasted Merganser - Poole Quay - Rene Goad


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