January 2019

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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