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July 2018

Harbour Update - posted 17/07/18

The heron purple patch seems to be getting well….purpler! This evening the Purple Heron came back into Littlesea, Studland late evening but was then joined by a Cattle Egret too which means today we had Great White Egret (Middlebere), Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Purple Heron and Grey Heron all in the harbour! It also seemed to be some wader passage took place last night as a newly arrived summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was on Lytchett Fields with c40 Dunlin, 7 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and 8 Green Sandpiper there too. A Red Kite also passed over Lytchett Bay and an Osprey was over the Wareham Channel and in Middlebere.

Harbour Update - posted 16/07/18

Are we beginning to see a new mid-July trend? On Saturday we had 7 Great White Egret appear on Lytchett Fields, then a Bittern was seen dropping into the Frome Mouth on Sunday evening then tonight a juvenile Purple Heron was found at Littlesea Studland which is actually only the 3rd ever Poole Harbour record. This is notable as it possibly highlights the early dispersal of either recently fledged young heron species or post breeding birds as they begin to move south. We’ve had returning/passing Great White Egret each July now for the last three years, so will other species passing through this time of year soon become the ‘norm’? Passage waders were still moving around with 23 Green Sandpiper on Lytchett Fields along with 4 Common Sandpiper and 6 Greenshank with 1 Spotted Redshank, 8 Greenshank, 1 Spoonbill and both godwit species on the Brownsea Lagoon plus an Arctic Tern was seen off the SW corner of Brownsea. An Osprey was in Middlebere on and off for most of the day. In Holes Bay NE there were 3 Common Sandpiper, 102 Black-tailed Godwit and 38 Little Egret recently roosted there.

Harbour Update - posted 15/07/18

Today was our second summer ‘Up with the lark’ bird boat cruise which didn’t disappoint. It started with an Osprey out hunting in the north of the Wareham Channel which eventually caught a fish and as we crept up towards the mouth of the River Frome c500 Black-tailed Godwit numerous Little Egret, Curlew and 3 Greenshank were in the mouth of the Frome and in the mouth of the Piddle 2 Common Seal were hauled up onto the mud on the low tide. Up to 5 Common Sandpiper were along the riverbanks of the Frome as plenty of freshly fledged Sand Martin and Swallow skimmed low across the water. Strangely a Sedge Warbler was singing briefly (normally well finished by now) and a handful of Reed Warbler could still be heard and Reed Bunting were much in evidence. On Arne Moors 5 Yellow-legged Gull were settled with 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull and a few Herring Gull. Out in central harbour the oddest sighting was of a Common Scoter sat out on its tod! The Brownsea Lagoon was busy and a Roseate Tern was heard then seen leaving the lagoon with 2 summer plumaged Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 8 Avocet and 1 chick, c30 Bar-tailed Godwit and c100 Oystercatcher also present. Along the northern shore of Brownsea another 5+ Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel were at Seymers. Later in the evening a Bittern was reported flying over the mouth of the Frome and settling in reed beds. At Arne an Osprey was seen on and off during the day on the Middlebere platform as it fed and there was a Spoonbill in Middlebere again too with 7 Greenshank.

Harbour Update - posted 14/07/18

Without doubt, today’s best sighting (albeit brief) was when 7 migrating Great White Egret landed on Lytchett Fields for a few minuets before setting off again and headed off high north. It’s quite something that we’re no longer just seeing single birds in the harbour but now whole flocks! Even as recently as 2014 Great White Egret were still a real rarity in the harbour but between 1-3 have now been regularly over wintering since 2015 and with flocks of seven now appearing, how long will be it be until they’re as common as Little Egret? There was also a Spoonbill on Lytchett Fields. Brownsea was also productive today with 2 Roseate Tern settled all day with 1 Spoonbill and juv Garganey and Little Ringed Plover also logged. In Middlebere there were 2 Spotted Redshank and 5 Greenshank and an Osprey was on the Middlebere platform again.

Great White Egret flock - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Great White Egret flock - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 13/07/18

This evening we hosted our second Nightjar ringing demo on Canford Heath in partnership with The Borough of Poole and Stour Ringing Group. After sadly drawing a blank on our last ringing demo, tonight was a totally different kettle of fish with 6 birds caught and shown to a delighted crowd. It was a magical evening with a great flying display prior to the demo, then followed by a detailed description of the scientific work being carried out by the team whilst being shown the birds. A truly one off experience. In Middlebere the Great White Egret was seen again heading over the channel at dusk and there were 2 Osprey seen, 1 Spoonbill, 10 Greenshank and 2 Green Sandpiper also in the channel.

Nightjar post release after public ringing demo - Canford Heath 

Harbour Update - posted 12/07/18
Harbour Update - posted 11/07/18

What can we say…it’s not often two majorly exciting events of this magnitude take place on the same day. First and foremost we’re thrilled to announce that our 14 Osprey chicks for this years translocation safely arrived this afternoon at midday and were quickly placed into their new 5 star luxury pens at a secret location within the harbour where our team will now feed and monitor them for 2-3 weeks before releasing them again back out into the harbour. We’d like to say a huge thank you to numerous folk including Jason Fathers at Wildlife Windows who put in place all the infrastructure for the project which was quite a task we can tell you! Poole based fresh fish supplier Seafresh who have again kindly agreed to supply fish to our project to make sure the birds get the best possible start here in Poole. Also Roy Dennis and Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation who were up in Scotland collecting the birds and Emily Joachim and Brittany Maxted who fed and cared for the birds whilst they were being collected. A huge thanks to those members of the public too who have supported either via donations towards the project or have sent us really kind emails of support. With 14 new birds its going to be one hell of a season but we have a great team behind us so we look forward to updating you on the project along the way. Here is the press release we sent out today which gives a fuller overview of the project – READ HERE.

Waders are still making up the bulk of the sightings with 6 Grey Plover, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank and 58 Black-tailed Godwit in Middlebere along with 2 Spoonbill and a fly over Great White Egret. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 4+ Greenshank, the first returning Knot of the autumn, 1 Little Ringed Plover and a new pair of Avocet with a chick…how long will it last though? On Lytchett Fields 18 Green Sandpiper were spread across the site as were 9 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and the 1st Snipe of the autumn back on site. Near Wytch 2 adult Redstart were seen but it’s unclear whether they were early migrants or local breeders.

Oh yeah, the second majorly exciting event to take place today….a certain Football Match. Its all too much!

Osprey chick 006 being placed into its new pen by Tim Mackrill


Harbour Update - posted 10/07/18

As the summer of wonder continue and with footy fever in the air, a feeling of optimism seems to be lingering in the heat haze. We’re not sure if its hope to see good birds arrive, or for a certain football team to win a certain football game but either way this week is planned to be a good week. Today it was much of the same with an Osprey out over the mouth of the River Frome. At Holton Pools there was a Green Sandpiper and Greenshank and on Lytchett Fields 1 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Spotted Redshank were reported. We’ve encountered numerous Long-tailed Tit flocks in recent days and in late summer/early autumn these can be good places to find good birds. Already these flocks are containing Chiffchaff (both adults and juv’s), however within the next two weeks lovely lemon yellow Willow Warbler will also be in tow and by early August species such as Redstart, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat often tag along. So, if you hear the high-pitched zee-zee-zee of a Long-tailed Tit train chugging along, be sure you’re stood on the platform watching as it goes by as you never know what may be on board!

Harbour Update - posted 09/07/18

As autumn ‘presses on’ more signs of migration appeared today with the first juv Yellow Wagtail of the season found at Lytchett Fields. Through August and September Yellow Wagtail will become a frequent diurnal and nocturnal migrants through the harbour but Lytchett Fields has seen the first arrive in early July for a few years now, even possibly suggesting they could be nesting close by?  Also at Lytchett Fields today were 12 Green Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Common Sandpiper and 1 Grey Plover.  An amazing flock of 16 Bearded Tit also moved through the reedbeds along Lytchett Fields. At Holton Pools the first Kingfisher of the autumn was in front of the hide and a Hobby passed through. In Middlebere this AM a lone Spoonbill was feeding and the/a female Marsh Harrier went through. An Osprey was over the Wareham Channel mid-afternoon and one was seen over Morden Bog again mid-morning.

We also have a series of exciting announcements this week starting off with the news that on July 23rd 2018 we’ll be hosting the end of the Chris Packham UK Bioblitz Campaign in our Birds of Poole Harbour HQ on Poole Quay between 8pm and 9pm. This important and necessary campaign aims to highlight how damaged and non-productive parts of our environment are across the UK with Chris and his team signing off the 10-day mission here in Poole. For full details about the campaign CLICK HERE. We also have two other announcements we’ll be making over the coming days so be sure to keep an eye on our Social Media pages.  

Bearded Tit - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam


Harbour Update - posted 08/07/18

Loads of fledged birds can be seen/found around the harbour now. Young Black-headed Gulls are visible at numerous sites certainly on low tides, many of the Sandwich Terns are now up, up and away. On the roofs (and some pavements) around Old Town Poole many young Herring Gull Chicks can be seen wandering around. If you do find a young bird then the chances are the parents are close by, and even though its on the ground they’ll continue to feed it, so don’t worry.

Juvenile Herring Gull - Asda, Holes Bay - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 07/07/18

As autumn progresses the Brownsea Lagoon is definitely a site birders should be watching, noting and getting excited about. The opportunity it provides is huge but it needs almost constant monitoring to get a full appreciation of quite simply how many birds pass through the site over the course of a day, a week or even a month. Today there were 10 freshly arrived Common Sandpiper and 1 juvenile 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank and a Spoonbill. Hangers on from the summer included 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Avocet and 6 Dunlin. There were also 18 fledged Sandwich Tern chicks out of a total of c80 on the lagoon.

Harbour Update - posted 06/07/18

There were Osprey in the Wareham Channel and at Morden Bog early morning. At Lytchett Fields a crazy count of 22 Green Sandpiper was almost a record count with 7 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 1 Grey Plover also present.

Harbour Update - posted 05/07/18

There are still a few Cuckoo hanging around and the first few juveniles have been seen too with an adult at Middlebere and a juv at Hartland. Although wader passage is picking up it was slim pickings at Brands Bay with 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Curlew, 2 Dunlin and the first 2 Common Gull of the autumn. At Arne an Osprey was resting up on the northern side, which was viewable from Slepe Heath and at dusk our guided walk (hosted in partnership with the National Trust) on Slepe heath saw us witness what could almost be described as a Nightjar epidemic! In all our time watching the harbour I don’t think we’ve ever seen activity quite like this with Nightjar (at times) hovering just a few feet away from us. Incredible scenes!

Sunset on Slepe Heath

Harbour Update - posted 04/07/18

It’s getting to that time of year where juvenile gulls begin to appear around the harbour, allowing you to really try and get to grips with this plumage type. This time of year is classic for fresh juvenile Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls to appear around the harbour, the former being an exceptionally smart bird to try and find, with the latter being an ID conundrum to get you’re head around. Juvenile Black-headed Gulls have been fledging for over 2 weeks now but at Lytchett Fields today the first juv Med Gull of the summer appeared which is likely to be one of the youngsters from our now thriving Med Gull population in the Wareham Channel. Holes Bay NE is the best place to try and see/find Yellow-legged Gull any time between mid July and late August. Today, the 2 Spoonbill that were on Brownsea were feeding in the mouth of Lytchett Bay on the low tide. At Sunnyside Farm a Cuckoo was on the fence-line near the viewing screen and 9 Lapwing were on the wet flooded part of the site. On the Brownsea Lagoon the first juvenile Sandwich Tern took flight and it won’t be too much longer before the rest follow suit. Although the Common Tern chicks still have some way to go.

Harbour Update - posted 03/07/18

There have been 2 Spoonbill in the harbour for a few weeks now but they’ve been quite hard to try and pin down. Today they spent most the day on the Brownsea Lagoon which is typical behaviour for this time of year with migrant birds normally beginning to arrive from breeding grounds in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and Denmark by the end of July, with numbers building all the way through August, September and into October. An un-ringed Osprey was out hunting over the Wareham Channel at midday but wasn’t seen to feed anywhere. At Lytchett Fields the wader numbers just keep on growing with now 17 Green Sandpiper, 12 Little Ringed Plover still, 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Grey Plover and the first Whimbrel of the autumn.

Harbour Update - posted 02/07/18

Fairly slow today with Spoonbill reported on the Brownsea Lagoon, 12 Ringed Plover, 14 Green Sandpiper, 3 Greenshank 2 Common Sandpiper and a Grey Plover on Lytchett Fields. An Osprey was seen over the Wareham Channel and a Hobby was on Slepe Heath.

Harbour Update - posted 01/07/18

Today we hosted our first ever summer ‘Harbour Cruise’ where we ventured up the Wareham Channel at dawn where another fine morning welcomed us, however a touch of cloud clover took a welcome edge off the recent searing heat. It was a great trip and as we travelled up the Frome Valley with the rising tide we were lucky enough to see several early autumn migrants including 3 Common Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, several Redshank and plenty of Curlew. Around c200 over-over summering Black-tailed Godwit were seen as well as 4 Bar-tailed Godwit off Shipstal. Over Arne Moors a Marsh Harrier was hunting and unbeknown to our guests (and us) a Cattle Egret was also feeding out on the Moors, but the long grass would have prevented us from being able to see it. Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler were all still vocal and Swift, Swallow and House Martin darted over the boat. We also saw 3 Common Seals with one in the mouth of the River Piddle and 2 off Shipstal. Common and Sandwich Tern were very active and there were still a lot of gulls on the breeding islands suggesting we’ve still got a lot of young to fledge yet. On Lytchett Fields 12 Little Ringed Plover were feeding (including 4 juv’s), and there were also 3 Common Sandpiper, 8 Green Sandpiper, c30 Lapwing, c20 Redshank, c30 Black-tailed Godwit, c30 Teal, 1 Shoveler and the Barn Owl was hunting over the approach fields at dusk. Interestingly, at dusk when we were setting up our night recording gear at Lytchett Heath, a couple of hundred Swallow (mostly juveniles) come in from high and dropped down as if they were going into roost giving it a very autumn feel to the evening.

Little Ringed Plover (juv) - Lytchett Fields - Paul Morton

Little Ringed Plover (Adult) - Lytchett Fields - Paul Morton

Shoveler - Lytchett Fields - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 30/06/18

With summer powering on, it seems the young birds that are currently being tending to by their parents are doing well. Nowhere highlights this better than the Brownsea Lagoon currently which is bursting with life There are young birds all over the place including the standard good numbers of Sandwich Tern and Common Tern chicks, lots of Black-headed Gulls still with young, Oystercatcher chicks, Shelduck and Gadwall ducklings…the list goes on. If you get a chance to visit over the coming weeks its well worth it and a jot to watch.

Sandwich Tern chick - Brownsea Lagoon - Rene Goad

Black-headed Gull & chicks - Brownsea Lagoon - Rene Goad

Oystercatcher & chick - Brownsea Lagoon - Rene Goad

Gadwall duckling - Brownsea Lagoon - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 29/06/18

Today was another hot one with a few notable sightings. It looks as if the Spotted Flycatcher are back in the Arne over-flow car park which is goo news considering there are next to none around the harbour currently. In the Wareham Channel 2 Black Swan appeared out of nowhere and the female Marsh Harrier was busy in the Wareham Channel. At Holton Lee a Cuckoo was testing its taste buds by eating Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.

Cuckoo - Holton Lee - Ricahrd Stephenson

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