January 2019

Harbour Update - posted 30/01/19

Well, we were hoping it was just a matter of time, and sure enough some Waxwing turned up within the harbour boundary today. Having been sighted in Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall within the last couple of weeks it was surely just a matter of time before some settled in Dorset. Lucky for us it was just outside Wareham on the Carey Estate, just on the corner junction of Carey Road. There were five in total which kept dropping down and feeding on Rose Hips, often just meters away from the on looking crowd. No matter how many times you see a Waxwing, it will always be a memorable experience, and if you’ve never seen one before….you just wait!!! Also around the harbour there were 2 Firecrest at Norden Sewage Works with c10 Common Chiffchaff and off Middle Beach, the harbours first Common Scoter of the year was settled and there were c15 Black-necked Grebe across Studland Bay. The male Black Redstart was again around the flats behind the Thistle Hotel. Off Baiter there were 7 Goldeneye, 6 Red-breasted Merganser, 112 Brent Geese and 5 Turnstone. In Poole Park the drained main boating lake held 2 Avocet, 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin, 10 Redshank, 6 Little Egret, 4 Little Grebe and the Mandarin Duck.

Waxwing - Wareham - Magnuss Robb

Harbour Update - posted 29/01/19

The Common Crane commuted between Hartland and Middlebere again today. The ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Middlebere. A Merlin was on Hartland and the male Black Redstart was still behind the Quay along East Quay Road. Holes Bay was busy again with Avocet, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Wigeon, Teal etc. On Brownsea a Spotted Redshank was feeding with a Greenshank.

Harbour Update - posted 28/01/19

Today was a tad calmer, allowing a count of open-water species around the Studland Peninsular. In total 46 Black-necked Grebe were counted between Studland, Shell and brands Bay with 2 Slavonian Grebe off South Beach and another in Brands Bay with only 5 Goldeneye noted! A scan of Poole Bay saw 3 Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, several Great Crested Grebe and 2 Razorbill. The Black Redstart remain in East Quay Road. The Common Crane was foraging again in reeds, salt marsh out from the Middlebere Hide and the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen there too. From the Holton Pools hide there were singles of Green Sandpiper and Marsh Harrier were logged and at Norden sewage works there were c10 Common Chiffchaff and a single Firecrest.

Harbour Update - posted 27/01/19

Today we hosted one of our Wareham Channel winter bird boats. The forecast showed bright sunshine but potential strong winds. It started off brilliantly with a big low tide as we crept up the Wareham Channel and Wareham River where 16 Spoonbill fed in a muddy channel and the mudflats hosted good numbers of Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank, Grey Plover, Shelduck Gadwall and Wigeon all fairly close to the boat, and as we headed up the River Frome 1-2 Marsh Harrier danced in the wind and Swineham GP saw c10 Tufted Duck, 4 Great Crested Grebe and c50 Canada Geese flew in from Arne Moors. As we headed out towards the harbour the wind had picked up making open water bodies difficult to bird, so we headed for the slightly more sheltered area of the Brownsea Lagoon where c100 Avocet, c200 Dunlin, c50 Grey Plover and c50 Bar-tailed Godwit were sheltering. By the late afternoon the wind had subsided and a sea watch from Branksome saw 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 17 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Guillemot and c10 Razorbill. The Black Redstart continued to show off for the many visitors the turned up to see it behind the Thistle Hotel and the Common Crane was again on Hartland but was seen out from the Middlebere hide during the day in sheep fields opposite the hide. The Mandarin was still posing in Poole Park, and once again, Holes Bay north was looking FAB despite the wind. As the temperatures drop, Holes Bay tends to retain a certain warmth to it due to it being surrounded by urbanisation and also the two outflow channels that run into it. This means many birds prefer feeding here rather than ‘preferred’ feeding sites, so today c200 Avocet, c400 Dunlin, lots of Wigeon and Teal etc were feeding right next to the footpath in the NE section. Well worth a visit this week on the low/rising tide if you have time.

Harbour Update - posted 26/01/19

With a cold windy front approaching in the afternoon a birding session along the Studland peninsular at dawn was held as part of our Birding Poole Harbour ID series. A good session saw 2 Sanderling in Bramble Bush Bay with 10+ Red-breasted Merganser. Off Shell Beach 4 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver were settled and at Middle Beach 1 Firecrest and a further 8 Black-necked Grebe were logged. The Black Redstart was in the same courtyard again behind the Thistle Hotel. A sea watch off Branksome in the afternoon saw 1 Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 6 Razorbill, 1 Kittiwake and 5 Gannet. The Common Crane was yet gain on Hartland Moor, but this time was settled in the middle of Hartland for part of the day. A leucisitic Herring Gull showed up in the Brownsea gull roost, initially giving the impression of an Iceland Gull, but further scrutiny proved otherwise. Around Baiter there were Turnstone on the beaches and a Sandwich Tern flew by and in Parkstone Bay 3 Goldeneye were present.

Black Redstart - Poole Quay - Mark Wright

Harbour Update - posted 25/01/19

The adult male Black Redstart was showing better today and is now attracting quite a lot of attention. A school bird boat out around the harbour saw 21 Spoonbill on Shipstal and 2 Great Northern Diver (1 South Deep and 1 off Baiter). At Norden sewage works 10+ Chiffchaff  were on the filter beds and a couple were singing again.  The Common Crane (as recent patterns of behaviour predicted) was seen at sawn flying over Hartland and then again at dusk where a nice crowd of people gathered at dusk to watch it fly over towards Middlebere. A ringtail Hen Harrier was at Slepe Heath with 1 merlin near there too, 3 Marsh Harrier were in the mouth of the Frome.  Middlebere is still holding lots of Avocet, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit. Off Branksome 4 Red-throated Diver were settled with a Great Northern Diver. A Little Owl was heard calling behind Maranoa Farm, near Middlebere.

Harbour Update - posted 24/01/19

The Common Crane was out in the centre of Hartland at dawn and didn’t seem to go far during the day and 7 Cattle Egret flew up the Wareham Channel at dawn and 2 Merlin were also out on Hartland. A max count of 46 Black-necked Grebe and 3 Slavonian Grebe have been logged between Studland/Shell Bay and the harbour in the last week too. At Holton Pools there was 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier and 46 Lapwing. At Holmebridge 1 Firecrest, 2 Marsh Tit and a few Bullfinch were near the bridge. In the fields below the Worgret Manor 6 Cattle Egret were in the field. The male Black Redstart was again showing off behind Poole Quay at flats behind the Thistle Hotel and on Shipstal 24 Spoonbill were feeding. At Bestwall/Swineham 2 Marsh Harrier were off the point and at Lytchett Fields, weirdest sighting of the day came when 4 Sandwich Tern flew over the fields.

Common Crane - Hartland Moor - Peter Moore

Harbour Update - posted 23/01/19

Much of the same today, but the crisp, frost covered stillness of the morning meant that the Cattle Egrets in Holme Lane needed their own personal hot water bottles at dawn and were found hitching a ride on the back of some of the cows in the field in true Cattle Egret style. There was also the first Cattle Egret of the year for Lytchett Fields on Sherford (ice) Pools at dawn. The Common Crane yet again appeared at dawn on/over Hartland Moor….disappeared for the day and then re-appeared again at dusk. Where it goes during the day, we’d love to know. In Middlebere a Peregrine was beating up/chasing the Avocet and Lapwing for a while and a Spotted Redshank flew in. In Holes Bay NE there were 234 Avocet, 500+ Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Goldeneye and 25 Pintail with 51 Shoveler Duck, 19 Gadwall and 20 Lapwing in Holes Bay NW.

Cattle Egrets Holme Lane (above) Paul Morton and Cattle Egret Lytchett Fields (below) Shaun Robson

Harbour Update - posted 22/01/19

With snow falling north of us up in the midlands it was no surprise today that a flock of Golden Plover were found in the harbour with c40 flushed off the Keysworth estate by a Peregrine. We now tend to only ever see Golden Plover as a result of cold weather elsewhere, when they flee for warmer coastal areas. Also seen today was a Bittern at Swineham briefly in the reed beds along the northern edge of the pit. Also on Swineham GP were 4 Pochard, 1 Goldeneye, 6 Great Crested Grebe and a small number of Gadwall, Shoveler and Tufted Duck. In South Deep there were 2 Great Northern Diver and 2 Black-necked Grebe and another Great Northern Diver was off Baiter. The Common Crane was again seen leaving its roost at dawn and then seen arriving back again at dusk at Hartland Moor. From the Middlebere hide the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen and a Merlin was in Hartland. Along Holme Lane 3 Cattle Egret were in the cow field with tens of Redwing and Fieldfare. Off Shipstal c20 Spoonbill were roosting and on Lytchett Fields 2 Green Sandpiper and 2 Spotted Redshank were feeding with a Marsh Harrier out in the Bay and out in the centre of Poole Park Boating Lake the 2 Avocet were still enjoying themselves!

Male and female Siskin - PC World Drain - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 21/01/19

Near perfect conditions around the harbour with all water bodies (even out in Poole Bay) like an oil slick which made viewing diving and open water species easy. Out in Poole Bay 4 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 5 Shoveler and c15 Great Crested Grebe were settled and out off Middle Beach, Studland there were 37 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Slavonian Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver with a Firecrest in the car park. There were also 6 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay and 3 in Bramble Bush Bay giving a harbour total today of 46 which is the highest for quite some time. There was also a third Slavonian Grebe in Brands Bay. This evening the Common Crane flew into Hartland Moor at 16:40 and then off to Slepe Bog. The White-fronted Goose also re-appeared at Bestwall with the Greylag flock. Poole Park boating lake is now almost fully drained of water and looks FANTASTIC. There were so many birds out there including the 2 Avocet, but also c10 Redshank, c15 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Little Grebe and c30 Tufted Duck. Along Poole Quay c20 Ringed Plover were along the sea wall at Fisherman’s Dock with a Kingfisher and 6 Turnstone there too. On Hartland 2 Merlin were seen and the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Sunnyside Farm. At Holme Lane 6 Cattle Egret were feeding and then moved down towards the Wareham bypass. In Arne Bay 25 Spoonbill were on Shipstal and a Black Brant was in with c550 Brent Geese. Firecrest were pretty numerous with 2 in the Arne car park, 1 at Upton CP and 1 at Middle Beach, Studland. An early morning (pre-dawn survey) saw 8 Woodcock on top of Hartland Stud. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Water Pipit. At Norden sewage works c15 Chiffchaff were in scrub around the filter beds and along Thrashes Lane, 8 Yellowhammer, c10 Reed Bunting and good numbers of Chaffinch were in hedgerows bordering the fields.

Redwing - Upton CP - Rene Goad

Common Buzzard - Upton CP - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 20/01/19

A mega busy Poole Harbour WeBS (Wetland Birds Survey) day today so we’ll just get right into it. Off Branksome beach a Red-necked Grebe settled and 7 Red-throated Diver were moving about out in Poole Bay. The Common Crane was seen flying over the Studland Road, and was later assumed to be seen leaving north over Durlston. Along Holme Lane 11 Woodlark were in the main cattle field and 6 Cattle Egret were in the Frome Valley near the bypass with another 2 in Lytchett Minster at Post Green. Off Middle Beach there were 15 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Crested Grebe, and 12 Brent Geese and another 4 Black-necked Grebe in Shell Bay. Out in South Deep there was a single Great Northern Diver, 1 Slavonian Grebe, several Black-necked Grebe, 1 Spoonbill and several thousand Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls. At Holton Lee the Little Owl was seen again at dusk and on Poole Quay, a male Black Redstart was seen on houses behind the Thistle Hotel. At Norden sewage works there were good numbers of Chiffchaff and plenty of Red-legged Partridge in the field directly opposite. With the tide so low this afternoon some area, especially along the southern shores of the harbour and Holes Bay south saw large numbers of common waders and wildfowl so it will be interesting to see what WeBS data is returned when all counts have been combined. Out in central harbour near dusk a large gathering of 42 Goldeneye, 57 Great Crested Grebe and c50 Red-breasted Merganser formed and at Lytchett Bay/fields, there were 3 Green Sandpiper, 1 Water Pipit, 2 Marsh Harrier, 2 Peregrine, 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull and 1 Spoonbill. A Jack Snipe was flushed off Swineham Point and a male Goldeneye was on the main pit. This list is just the obvious highlights, but with a cold snap on the way, there’s no better time to be out enjoying the harbour….there’s just so much to see!

Harbour Update - posted 19/01/19

It literally piddled down all day, which was much needed actually as areas were getting rather dry recently. That said, not much birding could be carried out but the discovery of 2 Avocet out in the middle of the recently drained Poole Park Boating Lake was a superb Poole Town Centre record and will hopefully be a feature of things to come with the Borough of Poole’s new re-workings and plan for the site. Also at Poole Park 1 Mandarin Duck, 2 Shoveler, 2 Teal, 1 Wigeon, 91 Coot, 11 Little Grebe, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and c50 Tufted Duck. At Norden Sewage Works there were 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest and 1 Grey Wagtail. Along Holme lane 6 Cattle Egret were seen flying towards the Frome Valley.

Harbour Update - posted 18/01/19
Harbour Update - posted 17/01/19

Finally the Common Crane was found on the deck today in a field off Middlebere/Coombe Viewpoint. Having been present in the harbour for well over a week now, but only seen by a handful of people it gave its self up this afternoon and was enjoyed by many birders. Hopefully it will stay around for the rest of the winter and be enjoyed by many more birders. Also in Middlebere was a Great White Egret briefly and 13 Spoonbill were on Shipstal Point.

Common Crane - Middlebere - Paul Morton


Harbour Update – posted 16/01/19

A wet and wild day which may hopefully force a few ‘missing’ species back into the harbour, or certainly make them settle in some of the outer bays. Common Scoter, Red-necked Grebe, Eider, Black Guillemot and Long-tailed Duck all went missing just before Christmas, during that period of settled weather, so hopefully a bit of wind may some at least some of the return….maybe with the added bonus of a fresh in Velvet Scoter or Black-throated Diver. Actual sightings today were a little less exciting with just 2 Marsh Harrier reported over the Frome mouth, 6 Raven were over Slepe Heath. No sign of the Common Crane today but 2 Spoonbill in Lytchett Bay and another 14 at Shipstal was pretty standard.

Harbour Update - posted 15/01/19

The harbour was looking great today with plenty of birds to be seen. At sunrise the Common Crane was again leaving the Hartland area heading south west and was seen again at dusk coming in from the Corfe direction, heading towards Arne Moors. A Short-eared Owl was hunting along the Holton shoreline at dusk and 3 different Marsh Harrier went into roost in Poole Harbour west. A male and female Hen Harrier were seen near the mouth of the Frome/Swineham and a Great White Egret was in Shell Bay with 2 Cattle Egret in Lytchett Minster. In Studland Bay there were c20 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver was in Shell Bay. Brands Bay was full of birds with c30 Knot, c70 Grey Plover and c20 Pintail the highlights along with good numbers of commoner waterfowl. Brownsea Lagoon was also looking good as plenty of Avocet were active out in front of the hide, 3 Greenshank were on the stony islands, c150 Bar-tailed Godwit flew in to roost and a single Spotted Redshank was at the southern end. At Norden Sewage works 2 Chiffchaff (one in full song) and a Grey Wagtail were present. At Sunnyside Farm, a night survey saw a minimum of 6 Jack Snipe present.

Harbour Update - posted 14/01/19

Arne was busy today with c300 Avocet in Middlebere with 1 Merlin and 2 Marsh Harrier along the channel and 50 Lapwing, 1 Shoveler, 1 Gadwall, c30 Wigeon and 50 Black-tailed Godwit at the top end of the channel. Off Shipstal there were another 11 Spoonbill and off Shipstal Beach 5 Goldeneye, 7 Great Crested Grebe and c20 Red-breasted Merganser. In the Arne car park 3 Firecrest were in the Holly at the end of the lane near the toilets. At dawn 1 drake Goosander and 1 Great White Egret flew up the Frome Valley, c300 Avocet were in the Wareham Channel and a ringtail Hen Harrier was at Swineham and 2 Crossbill flew over the Arne road at dawn. The Common Crane was again seen in flight over the Hartland area but couldn’t be relocated. At Holme Lane 6-7 Cattle Egret were still in the field along the road and in South Deep there were 2 Great Northern Diver and 2 Black-necked Grebewere in Brands Bay. At Holton Pools a Water Pipit retuned. 

Water Pipit - Holton Pools - John Pick


Harbour Update - posted 13/01/19

The Common Crane flew in from the south today, over the Wareham Channel and towards the Arne Moors. Will it be found on the deck again any time soon? In Middlebere there was the sub-adult male Hen Harrier, 1 Marsh Harrier and 1 Spoonbill. At Swineham there were 4 Egyptian Geese, 4 Pochard on the Gravel Pits, 1 Marsh Harrier at Swineham Point with 2 Water Pipit, 6 Skylark, 5 Rock Pipit and 5 Common Snipe out on the marsh. 7 Cattle Egret were viewable from the road along Holme Lane.

Harbour Update - posted 12/01/19

The stillness departed today and a steady wind built throughout the day, which to be honest we could really do with. A bit of unsettled weather will hopefully draw in some more Great Northern Diver or scarcer sea duck or grebe species into the harbour. These recent settled conditions have been great for birding, but has seen a departure of things like the Eider, Common Scoter, Long-tailed duck and Red-necked Grebe that were all present right up until the end of last year……just as the weather calmed down. Either way, it will be interesting to see what turns up during and after these stronger blows. Some other good news it that Poole Park Lagoon has been drained! This provides an exciting birding experience right in the centre of town which back in 2010 saw two American species drawn to the lakes…..Long-billed Dowitcher and Ring-billed Gull. There were no American species present today (that we were aware of) but there was a great supporting cast including 1 Water Rail (great Poole Park record), 4 Goldeneye, 11 Little Grebe, 42 Tufted Duck, 1 Wigeon, 2 Teal and 1 drake Shoveler, also 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Redshank and 11 Oystercatcher. The Mandarin was also still on the smallest pond. At Middlebere the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen mid-morning and a Merlin was on Hartland.

Newly drained and bird-rich Poole Park Lagoon

Little Egret - Holes Bay - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 11/01/19

Another perfect day for birding today….still, calm, cold and crisp. With a bit of searching the birds are out there and there is plenty to see currently. At Arne 19 Spoonbill were off Shipstal, as was a male Merlin, 1 Slavonian Grebe and a 2018/19 winter record count of 54 Goldeneye. At Lytchett Fields a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen and at Swineham there were 2 Marsh Harrier, 1 Water Pipit, c10 Bearded Tit, 2 Pochard and 2 Egyptian Geese. Off Hamworthy Beach 2 Sandwich Terns were on marker buoys and a Great Northern Diver was in South Deep. Black-necked Grebes were spread between central harbour (2), Shell Bay (6) and Middle Beach (6). In Middlebere 2 Spotted Redshank were present with another in Lytchett Bay. In the field almost directly opposite the Bakers Arms pub entrance 2 Cattle Egret and 6 Little Egret were feeding with another 6 Cattle Egret along Holme Lane. At the PC World Drain, Holes Bay c10 Chiffchaff including a Siberian Chiffchaff were along the channel with 4 Chiffchaff at Norden sewage works. Avocet numbers in Middlebere remained high with c500 at the top of the channel along with c300 Lapwing and c300 Black-tailed Godwit. On the marina sea wall at Poole Quay 15 Ringed Plover and c200 Dunlin were roosting and a Kingfisher was fishing off the rocks. In Holes Bay, again good numbers of waders and wildfowl were close to the footpath including plenty of elegant Avocet.

Common Chiffchaff - PC World drain - Ian Ballam

Avocet - Holes Bay - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 11/01/19

It was flat calm by the end of the day and a perfect mid to late winter scene. Although spring is just around the corner and dreams of warmer weather are almost here, we can’t help but feel sad every time winter drifts away as cold stillness and beauty then become the distant memory and large numbers of waders and wildfowl melt away into the spartina. With that said it seemed fitting a nice selection of winter birds were reported today with 2 Common Scoter and a Great Northern Diver off the southern shore of Brownsea. In Middlebere 5 Spotted Redshank were at the top end of the channel and a Marsh Harrier flew past the hide. In Studland Bay 11 Black-necked Grebe were off Middle Beach and in Bramble Bush Bay 12 Sanderling were on the beach. Chiffchaff are still present at several sites with 4 at Norden Sewage works and 5 at the PC World Drain. Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Brent Goose and Shelduck numbers around the harbour seem at the highest for the winter with our December WeBS count totals now in showing there were Wigeon [4718], Dunlin [2094], Black-tailed Godwit [1634], Lapwing [1765], Avocet [1223], Brent DB [1178], Red Breasted Merganser [203], Goldeneye [45], Black-necked Grebe [24], Great White Egret [1], Spoonbill [34] present on Dec 30th. Elsewhere 5 new Cattle Egret were found in fields next to the bakers Arms in Lytchett Minster, 2 Barn Owl were at Middlebere, the Little Owl was seen again at Holton Lee and the Green Sandpiper was on Holton Pools. This evening we also carried out a ringing session at Lytchett Bay having taken it easy in recent weeks with the Christmas period with 1 Woodcock, 1 Common Snipe and 1 Skylark ringed.

Woodcock - Lytchett Bay - Stephen Menzie

Harbour Update - posted 09/01/19

With the New Year out of the way, you could have been mistaken for thinking we’d already reached mid-March today rather than early January. It felt and looked as if there had been a massive clear out of birds from right across the harbour, certainly open water and harbour species. We hosted a school bird boat, which produced very little with only c70 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Goldeneye, c20 Great Crested Grebe and c10 Spoonbill being the main highlights. Similarly, along the Studland peninsular totals were equally scant with only 5 Black-necked Grebe off Shell Bay and another 5 off Middle Beach. Interest was so stretched that reports of the Ring-necked Parakeets at South Beach, Studland became a noteworthy highlight! At Holmebridge a Green Sandpiper flew down the valley, 4 Cattle Egret were along Holme lane and at Middlebere the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen. A surprise Barn Owl flew across the road on the A35 heading towards Upton CP. On the plus side, despite the low number of birds today, as the wind dropped a stunning sunset treated many onlookers right across the harbour.

Ring-necked Parakeet - Studland Village - Ian Ballam

Sunset over Sandbanks and Brownsea


Harbour Update - posted 08/01/19

The day started slow but ended with a cold bang as a Common Crane was discovered sat out in the middle of Hartland Moor. Sadly it didn’t hang around long and was only seen by a couple of observers before it disappeared off west. Since 2014 Common Crane sightings have become a bit more frequent (still only a couple of sightings per year), but with breeding populations increasing up on the Somerset Levels and at Slimbridge it could be that they become a regular winter feature here in the harbour over the next decade. Other than that 6 Cattle Egret were in fields along Holme Lane, Middlebere seems to be ‘THE’ wader hang out spot currently with excellent numbers of Avocet, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit viewable from the hide. The Mandarin was on the smallest Poole Park pond and 3 Goldeneye were on the main boating lake. At Holton Lee from the feeder hide Reed Buntings are moulting into spring plumage already and Siskins are now again back on the scene probably preparing for the breeding season ahead.

Harbour Update - posted 07/01/18

Very quite on reports today, although strangely the highlight of today was that a Spotted Redshank was finally seen in Holes Bay NE this morning near the outflow. Overt the last several years this was a daily occurrence during the winter, but with the very low numbers of Spotted Redshank in the harbour this winter, todays sighting was a bit of a landmark occasion!  In Shell Bay there were 7 Black-necked Grebe and 2 Sandwich Tern were in Blue Lagoon. At Lytchett Fields a Peregrine was sat in dead trees and 6 Cattle Egret were in the Frome Valley next to the Wareham bypass. At Holton Pools the ever-faithful Green Sandpiper was still present.

Harbour Update - posted 06/01/19

The tides are currently good for Holes Bay viewing late afternoon and today there was a great selection of birds along the SE part of the cycle path. On a falling or rising tide Holes Bay NE tends to be better on the peak low tide, the SE section is better as the birds follow the tide line out and under the bridge. This afternoon masses of birds were gathered in the SE section including a stunning group of Avocet right next to the path along with c800 Wigeon, c200 Teal, c 200 Dunlin, 2 Knot, c50 Black-tailed Godwit along with lots of Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and gulls. Elsewhere it was much of the same with the White-fronted Goose was still at Bestwall, at Norden Sewage Works there were 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Firecrest and 3 Red-legged Partridge. Along Holme Lane 6 Cattle Egret in fields below Worgret Manor and in the PC world drain another 4 Chiffchaff. At dawn a likely 2nd winter Glaucous Gull was off Baiter, settled in the gull roost but lifted off and headed of high NE at 7:45am. Along the Turlin shoreline at Lytchett Bay a male Merlin was zipping along the shoreline hunting. Around Studland a single Great Northern Diver was in Bramble Bush Bay, a total of 15 Black-necked Grebe were around the peninsular and 3 Ring-necked Parakeet were near the South Beach car park. At Sunnyside 2 Peregrine seemed content on harassing all the duck and Lapwing that were present.


Avocet flock - Holes Bay SE - Paul Morton

Black-tailed Godwit - Holes Bay - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 05/01/19

There were quite a few birders out today and as a result a good range of sightings were submitted. Having not been reported for a few days the White-fronted Goose was still out just west of Bestwall. Down at Swineham Point 2 Marsh Harrier were stirring from Giggers Island and a few Water Pipit were in the channels to the east. At Holmebridge a drake Goosander flew over west towards the harbour and in the woods a Marsh Tit was in the mixed tit flock again. Along Holme Lane 7 Cattle Egret were in fields to the north of Bog Lane, c15 Black-necked Grebe were logged off Middle beach, Studland and a Slavonian Grebe was off Bramble Bush Bay with a Great Northern Diver too. There  was a possible arrival of duck as Holes Bay NW saw a decent count of 35 Shoveler Duck along with what looked like a slight increase in Pintail and Gadwall too. Along the Whitley Lake cycle path at Sandbanks both Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding close to the cycle path and a small flock of Sanderling were roosting on the groynes around the corner from the Haven Hotel. From our BoPH HQ front door today 92 Cormorant, 9 Red-breasted Merganser, a fly by male Goldeneye, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Sandwich Tern, 3 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Black-necked Grebe (along the Brownsea shoreline) were logged. In Poole Park Lake there were 4 Goldeneye and 1 Red-breasted Merganser.

Goldeneye - Poole Park boating lake - Clare Slade


Harbour Update - posted 04/01/19

With the temperature dropping it seems there has been a bit of a clear out of some bird species as frost became settled on many cars even before 9pm. A night monitoring session at a usually productive site for Common Snipe, Woodcock and Teal saw ZERO birds present suggesting they’d moved out (south?) for a short while. However with the still weather continuing, open water species continue to be easier to count/find with 17 Black-necked Grebe out in Studland Bay, 2 Great Northern Diver out in South Deep, 21 Goldeneye and 24 Spoonbill off Shiptal Point, Arne and 2 Sandwich Tern off Baiter. A ringtail Hen Harrier was at Slepe Heath and then later seen at Middlebere for a brief period and out on the salt marsh Brent Geese totals seem to be at peak numbers with many birds spread out across the southern shores of the harbour. The results from our December WeBS count should be through soon so we’ll publish the results when they’re through.

Harbour Update - posted 03/01/19

There seem to be a lot of Blackcap being reported from people’s gardens around the Poole and outer conurbation area with some gardens in central Poole even seeing up to and between 5-10 different individual birds visiting at any one time. One way to attract Blackcap at this time of year is by placing ‘fat cakes’ out but they also love fruit too. These birds have an interesting background and aren’t hangers on from of our own summer population here in the UK but have in fact all been found to come from central Europe where they prefer to spend the winter in the south-western and southern shores of our country, rather than making the long journey all the way down into the Mediterranean which is where our summering Blackcap go. This behaviour is nothing new, and has been going on for several decades now, however it seems more and more are choosing to over-winter in the UK, taking advantage of food rich gardens and warm winters which makes you wonder how long it will be until our summering Blackcap just decide to stay too. For more info READ HERE.

Highlights from today included 3 Goldeneye and 2 Red-breasted Merganser in Poole Park, 20+ Spoonbill on Shipstal Point, 1 Great Northern Diver from the Chain Ferry, good variety of wildfowl in Holes Bay north and Upton Country Park and a Marsh Titat Holmebridge. At last a Bittern has been seen in the harbour with a bird seen in flight over the mouth of the Frome at dawn which we hope may show again throughout the rest of the winter. Swineham Point would be a good place to check at dawn and dusk. Also a tight group of 10 Cattle Egret were seen heading west along the Arne Moors shoreline which are likely to be the Holme Lane birds heading out to feed. Its also nice when out birding to spot other interesting wildlife sightings and this morning we found fresh Otter tracks underneath Holmebridge.

Otter Tracks - Holmebridge

Harbour Update - posted 02/01/19

This morning we took a survey boat out around the harbour to try and gage totals of open water species and were thrilled to see Goldeneye numbers had reached 49 which is the highest count this winter after a very poor start, although we should be nearer the 100 mark at this time of year. Other totals included 3 Great Northern Diver, with one off Baiter, one near the harbour mouth and another in the North Channel. Red-breasted Merganser totals also seemed to have increased with c200 around the harbour and c75 Great Crested Grebe. Only 8 Black-necked Grebe were logged but it was assumed the rest were out in Studland Bay, on Shipstal, 18 Spoonbill were roosting. The ringtail Hen Harrier quartered along the Keysworth shoreline and 2 Marsh Harrier rose out of Giggers Island at Dawn. The White-fronted Goose was out on Bestwall with the Greylag flock, the Little Owl was seen at Holton Lee and a Barn Owl was seen at Middlebere. The Mandarin was still in Poole Park and the Black Redstart was along Pearce Avenue on the shoreline. A Great White Egret was on Redhorn Point, Brands Bay and 3 Cattle Egret were along Holme Lane. Firecrests were at Arne, Upton CP and Holes Bay. In Middlebere the impressive sight of c500 Avocet, c300 Lapwing, c500 Wigeon and Teal, c400 Brent Geese plus Grey Plover, Dunlin and 2 Spoonbill was still to be had and at Lytchett Bay a Spotted Redshank was present, a species that’s exceptionally scarce this winter.

Great Northern Diver - Near the harbour mouth - Paul Morton

Siskin - Holton Lee - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 01/01/19

HAPPY NEW YEAR! With a nice block of high pressure sitting over us for the start of the new year it made for a nice start to New Year birding, with plenty of people out building their 2019 lists!

The harbour received some good coverage and saw the White-fronted Goose at Bestwall with the Greylag flock, 1 Ruff and 6 Golden Plover flushed off the Keysworth estate by gunfire, which then flew up and headed up the Piddle Valley. 7 Cattle Egret were in fields below the Worgret Manor, which were viewable from Bog Lane along with c200 Redwing and Fieldfare too and a good finch flock consisting mainly of Chaffinch but would well be worth watching for scarcer species over the course of the winter. A Great White Egret was at Little Sea, Studland. The Mandarin Duck was still in Poole Park and was joined by a feral (and un-tickable) Bar-headed Goose (as lovely as it is though) with 4 Goldeneye still on the main lake. Three Great Northern Diver were logged with 2 in Brands Bay and 1 off Baiter.  Off Shipstal Point there were 21 Spoonbill. Off Middle Beach, Studland there were 12 Black-necked Grebe and a single Slavonian Grebe with another 6 Black-necked Grebe in Bramble Bush Bay. A ringtail Hen Harrier was in Poole Harbour west and 2 Marsh Harrier were in the mouth of the Frome. In Bramble Bush Bay a high count of 31 Sanderling were on the shoreline and 3 Sandwich Tern were off Baiter. At Arne there were 2 Firecrest with another at Upton CP. In Holes Bay north, a good selection of waders and wildfowl filled the mudflats and tideline with Avocet, Pintail, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon all present in good numbers. At Norden sewagae works there were 4 Chiffchaff and 1 Firecrest with a further c10 Chiffchaff at the PC World drain, consisting on 2 pale tristis types.

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