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November 2018

Harbour Update - posted 28/11/18

The storm and strong winds continued into today and sadly we weren’t able to conduct a sea watch, which could have been quite productive. The only main highlights from a pretty dire day were 17 Cattle Egret in Nutcrack Lane and then along Holme Lane. On Poole Park boating lake a single (now scarce) Pochard was present with 7 Goldeneye. In the west of the harbour 3 Marsh Harrier were a welcome site around Swineham seeing as they've been pretty scarce this autumn/winter so far.

Pochard - Poole Park - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 27/11/18

We love a bit a wind! What a classic day for a sea watch as the strong SE wind blew. We did a watch from Branksome Chine before the really horrid weather front came in mid afternoon. It proved quite successful as saw divers on the move with 6 Great Northern Diver passing west out in Poole Bay and another settled on the water, plus 4 Red-throated Diver including one settled just off the beach too, plus a possible Black-throated Diver. Also logged were 6 Kittiwake (mostly 1st winters), 3 Med Gulls, 24 Auk sp, 1 Dunlin, 1 Gannet, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Great Crested Grebe all heading west. Baiter Park is always worth a check in foul weather at this time of year with the added bonus that you can use your car as a bird hide! Out on the playing fields were 112 Brent Geese, 72 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 4 Common Redshank, 3 Turnstone, 2 Ringed Plover, 8 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Med Gull, 1 Sandwich Tern and c70 Oystercatcher. At the harbour mouth 2 Sandwich Tern were fishing in Shell Bay. In Middlebere the c500 strong flock of Avocet were still present and good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, lapwing, Teal and Wigeon.

Harbour Update - posted 26/11/18

The calm before the storm! A fairly foul weather system is due to set in tomorrow so it was nice to take advantage of a cold, crisp November day. The Upton CP ‘stone bench’ was offering excellent views of a range of species including c500 Black-tailed Godwit, c20 Dunlin, c20 Redshank, 5 Pintail and plenty of Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck and several Shoveler. Its also a good place to stand and familiarise yourself with calls of species that would otherwise be tricky to learn. The inane chattering of Black-tailed Godwit can easily be heard from the bench, as can the excited whistle of Wigeon and gentle ‘pinging’ of Teal. Its well worth learning these sounds at places you can marry the call to the bird visually so that when your next at a location where the visibility isn’t too good, you can still ID species by call….a great way to boost your day list! It was another three-egret day today with 18 Cattle Egret at Nutcrack Lane, 1 Great White Egret in the Little Sea roost and the usual spread of Little Egret dotted around the harbour. Off Jerry’s point there were 3 Black-necked Grebe and 3 Eider (2 females and a 1st winter). In Lytchett Bay there were 150 Avocet, 57 Brent Geese and a Marsh Harrier quartering over Otter Island. In the PC World drain there was a minimum of 5 collybita (Common) Chiffchaff with one even in full song, however there are currently no signs of any tristis (Siberian) Chiffchaff yet.

Cattle Egret - Holme Lane - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 25/11/18

Today we hosted our first Wareham Channel & Poole Harbour cruise of the winter, which we’re thrilled to say was a belter. The forecast strong winds didn’t pick up until mid-morning which was great as it stayed settled as we made our way up the River Frome. Highlights included a Cattle Egret across the Wareham Channel, a drake Long-tailed Duck off the southern Brownsea shoreline, 30+ Spoonbill on Shipstal, 5+ Sandwich Tern along the Hamworthy shoreline, on the Brownsea Lagoon there were c100 Avocet, c40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1000+ Dunlin, c30 Grey Plover, 7 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 40+ Shoveler, 10 Brent Geese but weirdly only 2 Black-tailed Godwit. A Peregrine was also on/over the lagoon and a Marsh Harrier quartered the marsh along Keysworth. In the Frome Valley the flooded fields played host to several large Lapwing flocks and c100 feeding Curlew. Out on the open water several small rafts of Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye were seen and in the mouth of Middlebere c300 Brent Geese were feeding on the spartina. Elsewhere there were 19 Cattle Egret along Holme Lane, with 3 in fields along the Stoborough causeway. Plus a Firecrest in holly next to the Cattle Egret field along Holme Lane. On Slepe Heath both a male and female Hen Harrier were seen briefly. At Sunnyside the pools first Water Pipit was logged. Middlebere was looking spectacular with c900 Avocet settled for most of the time and another large Lapwing flock of around 700. In Holes Bay north, there were still plenty of  close views of wildfowl to be had with Shoveler, Pintail, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon and Mallard all glistening in the afternoon sun.

Long -tailed Duck - BoPH Bird Boat - Chrys Mellor

Harbour Update - posted 24/11/18

Despite the weather a few birds were logged today. Out in central harbour there were 2 Common Scoter, 3 Black-necked Grebe and a good scattering of Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. On the Brownsea Lagoon 7 Spoonbill, c300 Avocet and c1000 Dunlin were visible on the lagoon webcam. The Cattle Egret were spread out today across the Frome Valley with birds along Holme Lane, at the Stoborough causeway, Nutcrack Lane and East Holme.  

Harbour Update - posted 23/11/18

There haven’t been many Black Redstart around this autumn so it was nice that one turned up on the Sandbanks crazy golf course this morning, feeding in amongst the windmills and helter-skelters of the golf course. The Cattle Egret flock seemed to have swapped their favoured feeding field from Nutcrack Lane to Holme Lane with 17 there this morning, although several did make their way back to Nutcrack Lane later in the afternoon.  And there were 2 Egyptian Geese on the Gravel Pit to the south of Holme Lane. At Lytchett Fields/Bay there were 612 Lapwing, 90 Avocet, 100+ Redshank, 2 Marsh Harrier, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Yellow-legged Gull along with good numbers of regular winter species. On the Poole Park boating lake 10 Goldeneye were present again in the SW corner. 

Harbour Update - posted 22/11/18

This morning we hosted our first Poole Town Urban Bird Walk initiative which will be taking place most Thursday mornings from now until the end of February (For full list of dates and info click here). The purpose is to highlight the diversity of Poole Town’s bird life during the winter, which is actually far greater than many may realise. Starting at our HQ on Poole quay we took the simple root along Poole Quay and up to Baiter, around the cycle path before then cutting into Poole Park and doing a full loop around the main boating lake. For a first walk we were treated to a whole host of great birds including 3 Kingfisher on the quay, 1 Sandwich Tern and 5 Ringed Plover along the marina sea wall, 10 Goldeneye, 7 Little Grebe, 3 Little Egret, 1 Mandarin, 3 Jay, 2 Goldcrest and 1 Kestrel in Poole Park plus c10 Turnstone, 3 Brent Geese and 5 Red-breasted Merganser at Baiter and we even jammed in on a Peregrine causing mayhem over Poole Park boating lake. Not bad for a two hour stroll in the centre of town. If you can make it to any of these walks over the winter, it would be great to see you. Elsewhere around the harbour the Cattle Egret flock peaked at 19 in the Nutcrack Lane field. At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit on the approach pools and in Holes Bay north, large gatherings of Black-tailed Godwit and Avocet were wheeling around on the outskirts of the country park.

Turnstone - Baiter Beach - Alison Copland

Goldeneye - Poole Park - Alison Copland

Pintail - Holes Bay - John Pick

Black-tailed Godwit flock - Holes Bay north - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 21/11/18

Todays forecast was sunshine and showers, and they couldn’t have been more correct! This morning we had another school bird boat, and for some reason there seemed to be far fewer open water species in the South Deep/Harbour mouth area. A nice flock of 26 Goldeneye off Green Island was nice to see and across the open areas of the harbour there were c50 Red-breasted Merganser and at Shipstal c30 Spoonbill, c100 Brent Geese and 2 Sandwich Tern. The Holes Bay and Upton CP area were really productive with 136 Avocet, 7 Lapwing, c290 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 34 Dunlin, 9 Pintail, 589 Wigeon, 14 Gadwall and 14 Shoveler. Along Nutcrack Lane 18 Cattle Egret were still present in the first field on the right (to the south). At Lytchett Fields a flock of 44 Avocet were roosting on French’s Pools and 2 Water Pipit were along the field edges.

Goldeneye - flying over central harbour (in the rain) - Paul Morton

Spoonbill - Roosting on Shipstal (in the sun) - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 20/11/18

There was a pretty savage NE wind this AM which added a certain ‘biting coldness’ to the days proceedings, however the school we took out for our school bird boat trip didn’t mind in the slightest and were some of the hardiest year 5’s we’d ever seen! Sightings were good as well with c30 Spoonbill, c20 Goldeneye, c70 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Black-necked Grebe, c 30 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Peregrine, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Kingfisher and c200 Brent Geese. There was also a  late report of 6 White-fronted Geese flying east along the Middlebere Channel yesterday afternoon, which sadly couldn’t be relocated today anywhere. At Nutcrack Lane 18 Cattle Egret were still in the cattle field to the south of the road, and seem pretty settled for the time being. There was some thrush passage again at dawn and over Lytchett Bay view 235 Redwing and 57 Fieldfare passed over. In Middlebere the male Merlin was again making use of the post outside the front of the Middlebere Hide and a Great White Egret was present briefly before flying off west. At Arne a male Brambling was feeding behind the welcome hut for most of the day and Lesser Redpoll were also noted on the reserve today (currently scarce this winter). At Lytchett Bay a flock of 17 Tufted Duck was really unusual (they’re barely annual here) and in Holes Bay ducks and waders of numerous species, including Avocet, Redshank, Snipe, Curlew, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon and Gadwall were all giving almost point blank views from the cycle path bordering the northern edge.

Avocet - Holes Bay NE - Ian Ballam

Common Snipe - Holes Bay NE - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 19/11/18

Middlebere was the place for raptors this afternoon with the adult female Hen Harrier seen passing close to the Middlebere Hide and a male Merlin perched on the fence post outside the hide, as well as flyby’s of Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk. There were also several large wader flocks consisting of Avocet, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. Spoonbills were over Lytchett Bay (3), Upton CP (2), Middlebere (4) and Shipstal Point (c30). Along Nutcrack Lane 17-20 Cattle Egret were still feeding in the field to the south of the road. On the Upton CP/Holes Bay boundary there was a great total of 120 Pintail, also 1 Spotted Redshank, 100+ Avocet, 86 Avocet, 500+ Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine and 2 Firecrest by the walled garden. There was some thrush passage at dawn over Poole Town, suggesting numbers must have been moving over through the night too despite the strong wind. Several hundred Fieldfare and Redwing were logged over Poole Town and Lytchett Bay view. We also received information of 10+ ‘dead birds’ underneath/next  the Asda building at Holes Bay. Slightly concerned to begin with, it suddenly dawned on us that it’s also where Peregrine often take their prey back pluck and eat. With an easterly wind it seems the remains of several prey items were blown off the feeding ledge 100ft up and became strewn across the street. What was most interesting is that many of the remains were of Redwing, Fieldfare and Song Thrush which are all night migrants that are currently passing over Poole Town at night having just arrived from Scandinavia. Therefor it seems the Poole Peregrines are utilising the town lights to stalk their prey at night.  Also found was 1 Dunlin, 1 Knot and 1 Feral Pigeon. AMAZING!!!

Merlin - Middlebere - Phyl England

Hen Harrier - Middlebere - Phyl England

Harbour Update - posted 18/11/18

What a cracker of a day! A crisp winter sun sat low in the sky and a cold, biting wind made hats and scarves a necessity, which weirdly was a welcome treat with all the mild weather we’ve been getting. That said it seemed people were just out enjoying the sun today as reported sightings were few and far between. Highlights included 15 Cattle Egret along Nutcrack Lane, 1 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black-necked Grebe and a Sandwich Tern in Brands Bay. The ringtail Hen Harrier was seen over Slepe Heath and in Middlebere. At Swineham there was a Common Redstart (another lost and confused late autumn migrant) and 2 Egyptian Geese. There was also a Black Redstart along the Middlebere track. In Poole Park on the main boating lake the Mandarin Duck was near the Café and there were 5 Goldeneye. At Arne 36 Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point. Just outside the area the Great Grey Shrike was at Morden Bog.

Pintail - Upton CP 'Stone Bench' - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 17/11/18

The sun was back and shining bright today after the murk had cleared. The now (hopefully) resident Cattle Egret flock which this morning stood at 18 individuals (but later rose to 20) were first seen in the field along Nutcrack Lane, then moved to Bestwall, then disappeared then moved back to Nutcrack Lane again, so they seem pretty mobile. A Great White Egret was off Coombe Heath in Middlebere several times today and 2 Hen Harrier were seen with one in Middlebere and a ringtail in Lytchett Bay. In Poole Park there were 6 Goldeneye, 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Sandwich Tern left the roost there too at dawn. At Arne 20 Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point with one very confiding individual feeding just off Shipstal Beach.

Harbour Update - posted 15/11/18

There was a decent thrush passage over the harbour last night, which began quite early (18:30) so we stuck our sound recording gear out over Lytchett Heath. In the end we logged 746 Redwing calls, 117 Song Thrush calls, 13 Blackbird calls, 3 Fieldfare, 5 Common Snipe, 1 Golden Plover and 1 Coot. At first light there were 17 Cattle Egret at Bestwall again which later moved to the Nutcrack Lane fields again and a Great White Egret was further up the Frome Valley. Around Slepe Heath/Lower Frome Valley area there were 2 Hen Harrier (adult male and a ringtail), 2 Merlin and 2 Marsh Harrier.

Harbour Update - posted 15/11/18

Late autumn is always exciting as you still never know what’s going to turn up. With the main bulk of autumn migration well and truly over, certainly for sub-Saharan African migrants it seems ludicrous to think a bird like a Garden Warbler could still appear but that’s what happened up at our ringing site on Ballard this morning. Avery late and lost individual! Also ringed on Ballard were 4 Fieldfare, 7 Goldcrest, 9 Chiffchaff, 2 Firecrest, 3 Blackcap and 2 Song Thrush. Off Middle Beach, Studland there were 2 Black-necked Grebe and 4 Common Scoter and off the Brownsea southern shore there was no sign of the Black Guillemot sadly but the 1st winter Eider was there again along with 7 Black-necked Grebe, c15 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Sandwich Tern. In Shell Bay the Slavonian Grebe was present again along with 13 Fieldfare overhead and 3 Sandwich Tern. Off Jerry’s Point there were 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Red-breasted Merganser, 27 Great Crested Grebe and 45 Dunlin. From the Middlebere hide there were some good counts of 364 Avocet, 284 Teal, 23 Grey Plover, 5 Spotted Redshank, 291 Dunlin, 208 Lapwing and 15 Curlew. At Bestwall there were just 2 Cattle Egret today with another 7 in a field along Nutcrack Lane and at Lytchett Fields 281 Lapwing, 133 Redshank, 13 Dunlin, 2 Green Sandpiper, 200 Teal and 231 Wigeon were in the bay.

Harbour Update - posted 14/11/18

The Black Guillemot was again off the south-east corner of Brownsea Island, favouring the area in between the green and red marker posts that sit fairly close together. Again, viewing is really only possible from the houseboats at Bramble Bush Bay. At dawn a Short-eared Owl was hunting over Slepe Heath…we wish this bird would be a bit more consistent! It doesn’t currently seem to have a set routine or favoured spot to hunt making it quite difficult to view. Maybe as the winter progresses it will find its rhythm! A night ringing session at a site next to Hartland Moor was a bit more productive than last week with 2 new Woodcock caught and ringed (both adults) along with 1 Common Snipe, 1 Redwing and 1 Stock Dove. There was also a decent passage of Redwing overhead for most of the night with many birds being heard over urban areas between 7pm and 10pm.

Woodcock - Hartland Moor - Mike Gould

Harbour Update - posted 13/11/18

There was good news today that a Black Guillemot flew in through the harbour mouth at dawn and was later relocated off the south-eastern corner of Brownsea Island. This is familiar behaviour as this is the same routine previous Black Guillemots have carried out over the last few years, which could even suggest it’s the same bird returning? Hopefully it will remain now for the winter, but the best opportunity of trying to see it is with a scope from the houseboats at Studland, looking out across the water to Brownsea. Also in through the harbour mouth at dawn were 70 Shag, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 80+ Brent Geese. In Shell Bay there were 3 Sandwich Tern, 1 Great Northern Diver, 5 Black-necked Grebe and 5 Common Scoter. In Bramble bush Bay 10 Turnstone and 10 Red-breasted Merganser were on and just off the beach with another 20 Red-breasted Merganser, 18 Great Crested Grebe and 5 Black-necked Grebe off Jerry’s Point.  In Brands Bay there were 13 Pintail, 4 Grey Plover, 200 Wigeon but only 1 Teal! From Middle Beach the winters first Slavonian Grebe was seen along with another 3 Black-necked Grebe and 38 Cormorant. In Poole Park the Mandarin was on the smaller lake and there were 2 Goldeneye out on the main boating lake with 6 Little Grebe and a Redshank. At Holton Pools 3 Water Pipit and a Green Sandpiper were out in front of the hide. At dawn 8 Sandwich Tern were feeding off Baiter Beach. At Lytchett Bay there was an adult female Hen Harrier bombing around the reed beds plus 1 Spoonbill, 1 Brambling and 40 Avocet. There was also an adult male Hen Harrier near Hartland at dusk with a missing tail feather. On top of Ballard a male Ring Ouzel was feeding on berries.

Harbour Update - posted 12/11/18

There were 2 Merlin on Hartland this evening, a smart male and a female on the west side. At Holton Pools 2 different Marsh Harrier have been frequenting the reed beds out between the polls and Lytchett Fields. There’s still very few Red-breasted Merganser back so far but there were 39 in Brands Bay and 3 in Shell Bay today. It’s likely we could see another big arrival of birds on the next full moon later in November though.

We’ve also just announced via our Facebook page that as of next week we’ll be beginning our Thursday Morning Poole Town Urban Birding Walks, which will commence on November 22nd at 10am from our BoPH HQ on Poole Quay. This new initiative is being set up to help interpret Poole Towns incredible bird life. For Full Info Click Here

 

Harbour Update - posted 11/11/12

A calmer day today with the harbours first Great Northern Diver of the winter off Shell Bay along with 3 Black-necked Grebe, and another Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach. At Hartland 2 Merlin were along the road near the Middlebere Farm access point at dusk and at Lytchett Bay there was an adult female ringtail Hen Harrier. On Lytchett Fields a flock of 38 Avocet were feeding which is the largest feeding flock of Avocet to have been logged feeding on the fields which is an excellent indicator as to how productive the fields are for food.

Harbour Update - posted 11/11/18
Harbour Update - posted 10/11/12

There were some incredible downpours today and plenty of rainbows on offer. It looked as if a pot of gold was on offer at the end of a rainbow out in Poole Bay when a Swift species was picked up flying across Studland Bay towards Old Harry. In mid-November the logical thought would be it was a Pallid Swift, an extremely rare vagrant to Dorset with no Poole Harbour records. However, the bird was watched for a good few minuets as it travelled across the bay and all features actually pointed towards Common Swift. An exceptionally late record for this species. Another frustrating encounter was had over Poole when a large (and silent) pipit flew over at dawn, which gave an overall appearance of Richards Pipit but flew over and disappeared before it could be clinched. There was a minimum of 9 Cattle Egret next to the Stoborough causeway mid afternoon. At Sunnyside there were 2 Egyptian Geese again and on Poole Park boating lake the 3 Goldeneye and the Mandarin Duck were still present.  From Shipstal 28 Spoonbill were on the point. At Holton Pools Kingfisher, Green Sandpiper, Wigeon, Redshank, Black-tailed GodwitWater Pipit, Marsh Harrier and Little Egret were all viewable from the hide. In Middlebere 8 Spoonbill were hunkered up for a while at the end of the channel and the Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit flock were out in front of the hide.

Female Goldeneye - Poole Park Lake - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 09/11/18

The storm that was forecast didn’t really kick in until late afternoon/early evening but was certainly wild, enough by midday to create some pretty dramatic scenes especially along the Studland beaches. There were a few birds bobbing around on the waves including 12 Common Scoter in Studland Bay and Black-necked Grebes in Shell and Bramble Bush Bay. Off Jerry’s Point 8 Goldeneye and 11 Red-breasted Merganser were feeding in the shallow water of the low tide. In Brands Bay there were 3 Black-necked Grebe, 45 Great Crested Grebe, 27 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Spoonbill, c230 Wigeon and 37 Brent Geese. The 3 drake Goldeneye in Poole Park have now been joined by a female.  

Harbour Update - posted 08/11/18

Tonight we ventured out for our third time this autumn to try and see if any Woodcock had arrived back on the south coast. We looked at several fields around the Hartland area and managed to log c15 Woodcock in the end, which was great for early November. With the ‘Woodcock Moon’ occurring on Nov 23rd we expect another big arrival of birds from Russia and Eastern Europe then. We also managed to catch one at Arne Farm, which was actually a re-catch of a bird that we had originally ringed on 21/12/16 which is great news and proves winter site fidelity at Arne Farm for Woodcock for the first time.  This morning a single Cattle Egret flew over the Stoborough causeway again heading west up the Frome Valley…where have the other 20 gone? At Morden Bog it was a grey day mostly because an adult male Hen Harrier was seen briefly, as was the Great Grey Shrike. At Holton Pools, the high tide again forced lots of birds to use the exposed banks of the scrapes and saw Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank out in front of the hide along with 2 fly by Marsh Harrier and a Water Pipit and Green Sandpiper later in the day when the tide receded.

Woodcock - Arne Farm - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 07/11/18

Wow, some pretty horrendous weather systems pushed on through today! So much so that it was not even tempting to head out, despite the possibility of a Little Auk or Leach’s Petrel turning up. Most birds were just hunkered up and staying low with only 1 Cattle Egret seen today flying over the Stoborough Causeway. Also, in torrential rain and wind a Short-eared Owl was seen flying high over Lytchett Bay heading north…brave owl! At Arne there were 32 Spoonbill out on Shipstal Point. At Holton Pools a Green Sandpiper was in front of the hide along with 1 Water Pipit earlier in the day. At Sunnyside farm 2 Egyptian Geese were on the fields. In Poole park the 3 drake Goldeneye were still on the main boating lake and the crowd-pleasing Mandarin had also moved to the main lake.

Harbour Update - posted 06/11/18

It was still Cattle Egret mania today with 21 behind Curlew Cottage at Swineham/Bestwall just outside Wareham. They can be quite elusive though and although seen together twice in two days, the flock can easily disappear as quickly as they appear. Checking the rest of the Frome Valley is always worth a shot, certainly at the Wareham bypass bridge, the Stoborough Causeway and from Holmebridge. At Holton Pools 2 Water Pipit were on the scrape but the huge high tides also saw 60+ Redshank out in front of the hide along with several Black-tailed Godwit, Teal and Wigeon. On Canford Heath 2 Firecrest were ringed out on the heath along with an excellent total of Greenfinches (63). Out in Studland Bay there were 3 Black-necked Grebe. We’ve also had the information back for the yellow-flagged Bar-tailed Godwit found during our WeBS count the other day. It was ringed as a 1st winter female on the 26/08/18 at Klepp in SW Norway.

Ringed (Klepp SW Norway) and overwintering (Poole Harbour)  location of Bar-tailed Godwit seen during WeBS on Nov 4th

Harbour Update - posted 05/11/18

Well, that didn’t take long! In a matter of days we saw our Cattle Egret flock rise from four, to eleven to twenty today. This is a massive total and again breaks a Poole Harbour record. Surely this ‘irruption/colonising’ of Cattle Egret over the last couple of years here in southern Britain will see a breeding population big to grow? A pair did breed at the Little Egret colony last year but now with probably over 70 (or close to) Cattle Egret currently in the county it makes a good basis for a decent colony to begin. In Poole Park the drake Mandarin was popular again, giving views down to about 6 inches as it fed from peoples hands!!! There were also 3 Goldeneye still on the main boating lake too and 3 Sandwich Tern were roosting the reed islands. At Little Sea, Studland there were now 2 Great White Egret which lays to rest the question of how many there are currently in the harbour…well, around the Studland peninsular anyway. There could be others hanging around the Wareham Channel/Middlebere area. There were also 2 redhead Goosander still on Little Sea. Tonight, amongst the whizz and pops of brightly coloured fireworks there was a good passage of Redwing and Song Thrush going over. We wonder if any get caught in the crossfire?

Two of twenty Cattle Egret at Bestwall, near Wareham - Gordon Mutton

Harbour Update - posted 04/11/18

Poole Harbour WeBS days are always good for a few ‘turn ups’ with so many birders out around the harbour surveying. And sure enough a couple decent findings were made. Firstly a Poole Harbour record flock of 11 Cattle Egret were found in the Frome Valley, just north of East Holme. Its quite possible there are more about and as the winter progresses it would be great if we could get up to the same dizzy heights as Abbotsbury and see 50+ by January! There was also a Black Brant found out in the Wareham Channel which although will be tricky to see as the whole area is surrounded by private land, it will almost certainly join one of the more accessible flocks of Brent Geese in and around Middlebere or Arne so well worth scanning through those Brent flocks. In Bramble Bush Bay the Eider was still present and out in Studland Bay 6 Black-necked Grebe and 8 Common Scoter and another 2 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay.  Goldeneye numbers are rising with 14 off Long Island and another 3 drakes in Poole Park where the Mandarin was again present on the small lake. In the morning there were c500 Avocet on the Brownsea Lagoon, which later moved to the mouth of Wytch lake on the low tide. On Swineham GP a single Pochard was kind of noteworthy and 3 Spotted Redshank were in the mouth of the Piddle with 7 Bearded Tit there too. There were 2 Marsh Harrier commuting between Swineham and Lytchett Bay. A flock of 31 Spoonbill were feeding off the northern Arne shoreline and a flock of 12 Crossbill went over the Arne approach road. Across the whole harbour on the low tide waders were giving good views in still calm conditions…well, from 1pm anyway and a colour-flagged Bar-tailed Godwit was photographed which seems to be from a Norwegian ringing scheme.  

Black Brant - Wareham Channel - Nick Hopper

Bar-tailed Godwit - Goathorn - Paul Morton

Mandarin Duck - Poole Park - Ian Ballam

Goldeneye - Poole Park - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 03/11/18

Still a pleasant day today but with a wind building from the south-west a choppy sea and rustling trees made things a bit tricky for birding. That said being tucked up in a hide was well worth it as at Holton Pools there were two Water Pipit again also 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier, 17 Teal and out in Lytchett Bay 26 Avocet and 9 Brent Geese. Out in Bramble Bush Bay there were 2 redhead Goosander and 32 Red-breasted Merganser. There was a dash of colour in Poole Park with a drake Mandarin Duck on the main lagoon. From the Coombe Heath hide at Arne and the Middlebere hide, looking down into Middlebere there were c500 Wigeon, c500 Avocet and small numbers of Grey Plover, Dunlin and Black-tailed and Godwit. The sight of c500 Avocet flying around what is quite incredible and well worth going to see.

Harbour Update - posted 02/11/18

With November starting much like October was, mild and sunkist we are beginning to think is winter ever going to start? For most of the day the harbour was like a mill pond, which made scanning for open water species nice and easy. Out in Bramble Bush by the female Eider was still present and a single Black-necked Grebe was there too and 34 Red-breasted Merganser. There were also seven Black-necked Grebe off Middle Beach and two off Shell Bay with 11 Common Scoter off Middle Beach as well. In Lytchett Bay there were 2 redhead Goosander. The Great Grey Shrike was at Morden Bog it looks for another winter. On Holton Pools up to 2 Water Pipit were present and the sandy spit on Long Island (opposite Shipstal Point) had 17 Spoonbills. The Brownsea Lagoon had 500 Avocet and three Spotted Redshank. On Hartland Moor 2 Merlin were dashing about. Our ringing station on Ballard Down saw a surprise Water Rail ringed, which highlights that a whole manner of different species are on the move this autumn on migration. In Whitley Bay, Sandbanks up to 50 Brent Geese were just off the cycle path along with 9 Turnstone (on the pavement)! and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit out on the sand. Simply just being out and around the harbour currently is a joy in itself with flocks of up to 300 curlew out at Shipstal Point and all the Brent Geese now arriving, it looks as if we could have an exciting winter ahead of us.

Female Water Rail - Ringed up on Ballard Down - Olly Slessor

Harbour Update - posted 01/11/18

As winter creeps in so do the wintery bird species looking to kick autumn into touch. A female Eider was off the Houseboats at Studland which is a good early winter record with 6 Goldeneye and out in Shell Bay there were 2 Black-necked Grebe and 9 Common Scoter. In Brands Bay there were a few decent wildfowl totals with 359 Wigeon, 40 Pintail and 149 Teal. In the Frome Valley 4 Cattle Egret were found about 300m east of Holmebridge which were tricky to see but had flown to the floodplain near High Tor 20 minutes after being found. At Holton Pools a flock of 31 Lesser Redpoll flew over the hide towards Lytchett Fields, there were 18 Teal and 8 Wigeon on the pools with a Greenshank and Green Sandpiper and later in the day a Marsh and Hen Harrier and Water Pipit were logged too. In Holes Bay NE a single Bar-tailed Godwit was with 300+ Black-tailed Godwit, 800+ Wigeon and 2 Avocet with 2 Rock Pipit along the cycle path. In the warm sunshine a common Chiffchaff was in full song along the PC World drain. At Middlebere 2 Marsh Harrier flew past the hide and there were another 2 near Ridge later in the day which could relate to the same birds.

We’ve also now published our end of season Osprey 2018 blog, which gives an update on the ups and downs our team experienced this year. It offers an honest overview but is filled with the positive aspects we can build on and look forward to next year – FULL BLOG HERE

Bar-tailed Godwit - Holes Bay NE - Ian Ballam


Harbour Update - posted 31/10/18

Is it really November tomorrow? Where the blooming heck did October go??? Well, autumn migration will get wrapped up this month and winter birding can commence for the next four months, which is always an exciting period in a Poole Habour birding context. Today in Holes Bay north-east a very wintery scene was already being created as the rising tide mid-morning pushed plenty of birds close to the cycle path. This included 48 Avocet, 700+ Wigeon, 200+ Black-tailed Godwit, 59 Dunlin, 1 Pintail plus a good covering of Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher. At Holton Pools early morning there were 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Marsh Harrier and several Rock Pipit passing overhead with a Water Pipit on the pools later in the day and the Little Owl was near the reception cottage. There was a Great White Egret in Bramble Bush Bay mid-morning and at dawn 50 Shag, 7 Red-breasted Merganser and 1 Common Guillemot entered the harbour through the harbour mouth. A dawn raptor watch in Poole Harbour west produced 4 Marsh Harrier leaving the roost, a ringtail Hen Harrier over Keysworth and a single Merlin. The Hen Harrier was also seen at Holton Pools/Lytchett Fields mid-afternoon. In Middlebere there were 5 Spoonbill, c200 Avocet and a fly through Merlin.

With the end of the ‘summer’ now here, we’d like to thank everyone who visited, made use of, and spent money in our Birds of Poole Harbour HQ on Poole Quay this year. Having only opened on March 1st we’ve now made many new friends and great contacts through our HQ and we can’t wait to see what next year brings. Please note that we’ve changed our opening times to our winter opening hours now, which is…

Monday to Friday – CLOSED

Saturday – Open 10am – 4:30pm

Sunday – Open 10am – 4:00pm.

Summer opening hours will commence on March 1st 2019.

We’ll be releasing our 2019 event and boat schedule soon which will include our new ID course, weekly Nightjar walks, new boat tours and much more!

Kingfisher - Holton Pools - Paul Morton


Dartford Warbler - Slepe Heath - Paul Morton

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