February 2019

Harbour Update - posted 27/02/19

It sounds as if this we’re going to come crashing back to normality with a bump tomorrow as the February ‘heatwave’ comes to sudden end. So, we enjoyed a team day out today clearing the last areas of scrub around the new Middlebere Osprey platform/nest which we hope will begin getting used either as a pit stop hang out platform for any migrant birds that start to arrive into the harbour or even more exciting, by any potentially interested new settlers. We’ve written a blog about this coming spring HERE.

Sightings from today included 5 Common Scoter settled out in Studland Bay and a big drop in Black-necked Grebe numbers with just 2 out in the bay. There were 6 Cattle Egret along Nutcrack Lane with another (or the same?) 6 at Bog Lane later in the afternoon.

Harbour Update - posted 26/02/19

Another blissful sunset saw just 1 Short-eared Owl around the Hartland area this evening and the ringtail Hen Harrier was  again seen at Middlebere. The female Peregrine was on the Asda building in Holes Bay, but no sign of the male it was displaying with a couple of days ago. Hopefully he’ll reappear and a pair bond can be formed here in Poole. In terms of suitable nesting sites there are plenty of options but it would great to be able to find a location to place a nest box up if we can. The male Black Redstart was still in the small courtyard behind the Thistle hotel, we wonder if with all this glorious spring weather, whether it may start singing some time soon? At Arne the Spoonbill flock has now reduced to just 9 but there was a single ringed bird on Lytchett Fields too.

Don’t forget its our HQ 1ST Birthday this Weekend where our March Raffle begins, so why not pop down for cup cakes a chat and your chance to win some excellent prizes.

Harbour Update - posted 25/02/19

We could get used to this! Another scorcher of a day, albeit scorcher in a late February context, meaning 17 degrees. It was however the warmest winter day ever recorded today though, with temperatures in Wales reaching a balmy 20 degrees! It looks to stay settled for another couple of days and then it all comes crashing down again. Still, we’ve had a decent arrival of early spring migrants across Dorset these last few days, so lets just hope we don’t get a last minute cold rush. In the sun, 2 Great Northern Diver looked gloriously in sync out in south deep as they slid across glass like water. Around Hartland, Stoborough Heath and Arne Moors 3 Short-eared Owl were hunting and the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen along the Middlebere track. Out in the west harbour roost, possibly up to 5 Marsh Harrier dropped into the roost and 9 Spoonbill headed out to feed at dusk in the Wareham Channel. A Red Kite drifted low over the piddle Valley and Common Buzzard were very active everywhere. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel and a pair of Peregrine were seen displaying over Holes Bay and a Green Sandpiper was in the Creekmoor Channel that leads into Holes Bay north and a Jack Snipe was seen at Sunnyside Farm.

Tales from the River Bank update: In the last week we’ve had plenty more Otter action plus a different Mink to last weeks animal passing our camera in the dead of night.

Harbour Update - posted 24/02/19

Wow, if the recent cold weather is what was needed to produce today, then we really didn’t mind. It could have easily been Easter Bank Holiday as masses of people basked in glorious sunshine along Poole Quay, and boats full of people ventured out across the harbour. Our own Wareham Channel cruise left the quay at 9am, and never have we seen the harbour so flat, certainly not in February! As a result, spotting open water species was nice and straight forward with 2 Great Northern Diver, 7 Black-necked Grebe, c100 Red-breasted Merganser, c50 Great Crested Grebe, c20 Shag and c80 Cormorant, On Shipstal Point 12 Spoonbill flew gracefully around before settling again, a single Cattle Egret was on Patchins point and a 2nd year male Marsh Harrier flew down the Frome Valley. A single Sandwich Tern was also fishing off Baiter and after about 100 attempts, we finally saw a Golden Pheasant on Furzey Island…albeit a female! Numerous Buzzard were out soaring across the tree line and on the Brownsea Lagoon there were c300 Avocet, c40 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, c100 Black-tailed Godwit, c40 Grey Plover, c300 Dunlin and a small number of Shoveler, Teal and Gadwall. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel, a Great White Egret flew over Lytchett Bay, a Siberian Chiffchaff was ringed in north Poole and a single Cattle Egret was along Holme Lane. At dusk a Short-eared Owl was seen along the edge of Hartland and the ringtail Hen Harrier was seen at Middlebere. Med Gulls are really numerous now with plenty flying around the harbour now, calling regularly and single Sand Martin was still flying around the north edge of Wareham.

Shag - Brownsea shoreline - Robin Sumsion

Great Northern Diver - North Channel - Robin Sumsion

 Siberian Chiffchaff - North Poole - Stephen Menzie 

Harbour Update - posted 23/02/19

Finally, the warmth they’ve been predicting all week hit today and it felt like an Easter bank holiday with masses of people down the Quay enjoying a pie, a pint and a visit to our HQ! The foul fog yesterday gave way to blissful sun and our re-scheduled boat was able to depart on time as we headed out towards the Wareham Channel. It was certainly more like a spring boat today rather than the late winter trip it was advertised at, that said a great range of species were logged including many singing birds. Highlights were 4 Black-necked Grebe off Brownsea, one of which was sin full breeding plumage, the White-fronted Goose was on Arne moors but flew over to Swineham GP where a Peregrine flew over and 3 Pochard were on the lake. Reed Bunting were singing all the way along the River Frome as was Grey Wagtail up on Wareham Quay. Red-breasted Merganser and Great Crested Grebe were logged but their numbers are already decreasing and no Goldeneye were logged. On the Brownsea Lagoon c300 Avocet, c120 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, c300 Dunlin, c60 Grey Plover and c200 Black-tailed Godwit were also counted along with a few remaining Shoveler, Pintail and Gadwall. Many Shag and Cormorant (carbo & sinensis) are in almost full breeding attire. In the mouth of the Wareham Channel 3 Sandwich Tern were hunting and another 2 were on the Brownsea lagoon later in the day. The adult male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel. At Holton Lee good numbers of Siskin and the lone Lesser Redpoll continue to feed at the feeder hide.

Singing Grey Wagtail - Wareham - Nick Mudge

Sandwich Tern - Wareham Channel - Nick Mudge

Reed Bunting - Holton Lee - Brain Smith

Harbour Update - posted 22/01/19

Low over cast sky’s and thick fog at dawn sadly prevented us from departing for our Wareham Channel bird boat cruise this AM. And so much for this warm, Caribbean/North African air stream hitting us, we swear it was colder today than most days during February this year. Any way, the fog lifted slightly by midday and things became slightly easier as the Black Redstart was watched  behind the Thistle Hotel, the Little Sea Great White Egret was seen in Brands Bay and then later on Little Sea and a small party of Lesser Redpoll were feeding in trees next to Little Sea. The ringtail Hen Harrier was seen off Swineham Point and 3 Cattle Egret were along Holme Lane. In Poole Park 53 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding and the Mandarin was on the middle lake.

Harbour Update - posted 21/02/19

There were a few sightings of note today despite the cold wind. A Sandwich Tern was out roosting in the middle of the drained Poole Park lake along with 3 Med Gulls and the Mandarin Duck was still on the middle lake. The male Black Redstart was behind the Thistle Hotel and the ringtail Hen Harrier was at Swineham. At Arne only 12 Spoonbill remain now and at both dawn and dusk a Short-eared Owl was hunting on Arne Moors which was viewable from up on top of Slepe Heath. At Lytchett Fields there was a single Water Pipit, 6 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Green Sandpiper and 12 Med Gulls.

Sandwich Tern - Poole Park - Paul Morton

Harbour Update - posted 20/02/19

As you may have seen last week, we’ve been deploying a camera trap/trail cam at a site along the River Frome, just outside Wareham out of pure interest to see what ‘tales from the riverbank’ we can capture on film. This last week we left it deployed without checking the memory card as to give us the best chance of capturing as many species as possible on film. We struck lucky again with the Otter family terrorising our camera and giving it a good sniff, as well as the ‘dog’ Otter strutting on past again, spraying as he went. We also caught footage of a Wood Mouse, Brown Rat, Grey Wagtail, Moorhen, Mute Swan and then a largeish, bulky, very furry creature which didn’t show its face, but the profile gave it away. After a few discussions we were happy we’d caught footage of a Mink, an aggressive species which can cause numerous issues along our river banks, especially for Water Voles. However, after some discussions on it sounds as if Otter normally ‘trump’ Mink in the aggression and territorial disputes, so maybe this lone mink is just a passer through the area due to the more regular presence of the Otters we’ve been filming.

Mink - River Frome, outside Wareham - 19/02/19

Bird wise, the Sand Martin was still feeding over the River Piddle at dawn and a Green Sandpiper in Holes Bay NE near the Upton CP boundary outflow was a rare sight, and the 2 over-wintering Coot in Holes Bay NE were still near the bridge. Mediterranean Gulls continue to arrive into the harbour, some of which were night-sound recorded entering the harbour coming down the Piddle Valley. At Swineham, better views of the White-fronted Goose were obtained suggesting that it is the same bird from earlier in the winter, but having now obtained more of its ‘white front’. A Ruff was off Swineham Point, the gravel pits held 9 Pochard and 48 Coot but there seemed to have been a clear out of Shoveler. There were still 6 Cattle Egret in fields along Nutcrack Lane at midday.

Harbour Update - posted 19/02/19

It was due to get a lot warmer this week, but although we’re seeing signs of spring in terms of new birds arriving (and departing) and numerous birds beginning to sing etc, there’s still a blimmin chilly wind taking over. This is due to settle down by the end of the week and then some south-easterlies are due to kick in, when we could begin to see even more signs of spring. Perhaps the first Wheatears, Garganey or Little ringed Plover? After all, March 1st is only 8 days away. This is a stark contrast to this time last year when the beast from the east had already hit us hard once, and was then prepping for another dumping of snow in early March. We can do without that this year please….the birds really didn’t like it! A vigil from the north Wareham Walls mid-morning to look for displaying raptors produced the Sparrowhawk pair again several Common Buzzard, along with a thermalling Marsh Harrier above the Piddle Valley. A Sand Martin was also actively feeding over the River Piddle too with a Grey Wagtail singing  near the bridge. At Swineham, there was another Sand Martin and Marsh Harrier there too and the White-fronted Goose was seen on the gravel pits.

Harbour Update - posted 18/02/19

That spring feeling continued when 2 Sand Martin flew in over Swineham at dusk, possibly having just arrived in to the harbour. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel and a Great Northern Diver was off Baiter. We’ve also been carrying out some night monitoring work in the Piddle Valley and have been recording numerous Common Snipe, Coot, Little Grebe and Teal moving up (and out)? of the harbour.

 Little Grebe - Night migrating trill call - Piddle Valley 16/02/19 @ 23:07

Harbour Update - posted 17/02/19

What a mix of a day. It began bright, still and calm but then a building SSW wind built and by the end of the day it was a tad chilly. However, there were some remarkable sightings, including the springs first Swallow! This is in line with a small arrival of both Swallow and House Martin in to the UK at the end of last week due to the high pressure and southerly airflow that’s currently coming up from southern Europe and North Africa. We wouldn’t normally expect to see the fist until at least the third week of March but hey….we’re not complaining! Hopefully this has now opened the floodgates and we’ll be littered with summer migrants by March 1st! The Glossy Ibis that was seen briefly at dusk on Friday was again seen, this time at dawn (07:10) flying from the Swineham direction over towards Arne Moors. Despite numerous search’s from Slepe Heath it sadly couldn’t be relocated. A single Ruff was in the lower Frome Valley next to Bestwall and in the Piddle Valley a pair of Sparrowhawk displayed beautifully at around 7:30am. At Bestwall a White-fronted Goose was found feeding which looks to be a different bird than the juv present late last year and early into this year with todays individual showing a full ‘white-front’.  Ringtail Hen Harrier were logged at Swineham, Middlebere and Lytchett Fields. Spoonbill were logged feeding in Middlebere, off Shipstal, in the Wareham Channel and Lytchett Bay. The adult Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel and a Great White Egret was at Little Sea, Studland. Cattle Egret commuted between Holme Lane (6 in the morning) and Nutcrack Lane (5 in the afternoon). An adult Black Brant was logged during the Poole Harbour WeBS count off the Green Island shoreline, 2 Crossbill flew over Slepe Heath, 1 Yellowhammer flew over Soldiers Road (good record for here) and at Holton Lee a Lesser Redpoll was on the feeders. A semi-respectable count of 4 Marsh Harrier left the west harbour roost at dawn and at Swineham GP 4 Pochard, 24 Shoveler, 2 Bearded Tit and 3 Rock Pipit. At Poole Park, as well as a large lorry stuck in the mud, the Mandarin looked on in amusement as did the 2 newly arrived Black Swans and there were 122 Black-tailed Godwit, 79 Oystercatcher, 13 Redshank and 3 Little Egret. Med Gull numbers continue to build with several birds heard calling at sites around the harbour on the low tide. In Parkstone Bay 4 Goldeneye and 7 Great Crested Grebe were off the beach. 

White-fronted Goose - Bestwall - Trevor Warrick

Goldeneye - Parkstone Bay - Rene Goad


Harbour Update - posted 16/02/19

Today we hosted our first ever low-tide cruise, which saw us venture up the Wareham Channel towards the mouth of the Frome, before then making our way out across the rest of the harbour. Without wanting to blow our own trumpet, it’s safe to say it was a resounding success. One of the first birds seen was a ringtail Hen Harrier over gold Point, Arne before another (or possibly the same) gave us a great flying display over Arne Moors. We were then treated to several fly by’s of up to 4 Marsh Harrier and 10 Spoonbill which were originally in a distant channel came and settled really close to the boat feeding. Strangely a Common Scoter was settled in the west of the Wareham Channel, suggesting that some have begun their inland migration north already (peak is usually March). Along the mudflats Dunlin, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwits and a few Grey Plover fed happily and in the shallows both Red-breasted Merganser and a few Great Crested Grebe were feeding. Out in South Deep a Great Northern Diver settled close to the boat and 2 Black-necked Grebe were off the west end of Brownsea. The Brownsea Lagoon hosted 3 Greenshank, c300 Avocet, c100 Bar-tailed Godwit and smaller numbers of the more regular species. The male Black Redstart was still in the courtyard behind the Thistle Hotel and at Lytchett Fields there were 2 Water Pipit, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 3 Greenshank, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Spotted Redshank. Along Holme Lane 5 Cattle Egret were in the cattle field at dawn but soon moved to the fields along Nutcrack Lane by mid-morning and 2 Egyptian Geese were in fields along the Wareham bypass.

Spoonbill - Wareahm Channel - Derek Morgan

Harbour Update - posted 15/02/19

Highlight of the day definitely goes to a Glossy Ibis that was seen during a vigil looking for Bittern, at dusk over Swineham, seeming to leave the Arne Moors area and headed up the Frome Valley. The last Glossy Ibis in the harbour was spring 2018 and that too favoured this area and actually stayed for 4 days so it could well still be around. 5 Cattle Egret were seen heading into roost along the Wareham Channel but were seen earlier at both Nutcrack Lane and Holme Lane. A Jack Snipe was seen at Swineham Point and a Barn Owl was hunting along the edge of the gravel pit. Off Middle Beach, Studland 12 Black-necked Grebe were on the water. On Hatch Pond, Pochard numbers increased to 6 and the Great Crested Grebe pair were seen copulating. With the fine weather today it was amazing to hear that the southerly air flow from southern Europe and NW Africa actually deposited the springs first Swallows and House Martins down in Cornwall which is extremely early but a welcome sight!!!

Harbour Update - posted 14/02/19

This weather is just too much! A balmy 13 degrees in mid Feb? Mind you, this type of weather really primes you for the up and coming spring migration season, which is realistically only 3 weeks away from getting under way. There was some signs of movement this AM when 3 Pochard and 4 Tufted Duck were fresh in at Holes Bay south at another Pochard was at Hatch Pond. Along Nutcrack Lane 7 Cattle Egret were in the fields to the south of the road and 3 were seen along Holme lane earlier in the day. At Middlebere a ringtail Hen Harrier flew past the hide and c700 Avocet were roosting on the high tide. At Holton Pools 1 Water Pipit, 1 Spoonbill, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Kingfisher were logged and c40 Redwing and the Little Owl were seen in and around the reception building. At Upton CP good numbers of Shoveler and Pintail are still off the Stone Bench and in Holes Bay NE 600 Dunlin were feeding with 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 70 Avocet and 3 Goldeneye. Poole Park the Mandarin was joined by 2 Australian Black Swans. The male Black Redstart was still behind the Thistle Hotel. The PCW Drain today saw a conservative count of 30 Chiffchaff along the channel which is a great mid Feb count…many of them were singing.

Pochard - Holes Bay South - Paul Morton

Tufted Duck - Holes Bay South - Paul Morton

Pochard - Hatch Pond - Rene Goad

Pintail - Upton CP - Clare Slade


Harbour Update - posted 13/02/19

Spring has well and truly sprung this week and with the warmth of the morning sun many birds seem to be ‘getting in the mood’. At the PC World drain this AM there were a minimum of 20 Common Chiffchaff, several of them singing and sub-singing in the scrub. These are all over-wintering Chiffchaff as its way too early for spring migrants to be arriving from southern Europe and North Africa, however our ringing research over the last few years has shown an increase in Chiffchaff numbers at this site during late January/early February which could be over-wintering Chiffchaff from other areas visiting this productive feeding site before they themselves move away on spring migration. Also singing there this AM were 2 Song Thrush, Siskin and Greenfinch.

At Lytchett Fields there was a single Spotted Redshank and Greenshank with 3 Med Gulls back out in the bay. Through the rest of February and into March Med Gulls will become more conspicuous as they return from over-wintering sites as their easily recognisable calls will be easily heard at sites like Baiter and Whitley Lake on the low tides. In Parkstone Bay 2 Goldeneye were settled with 7 Red-breasted Merganser also there and 11 Turnstone were on the beach. Out on the heathlands the first Woodlark song of the year was heard at Arne and Dartford Warbler were also enjoying the late winter sunshine as they became really active around midday.

Harbour Update - posted 12/02/19

Spring is creeping in slowly but surely with many birds now sub-singing at dawn, and in fact along the Frome Valley this morning a Skylark was in full song high in the sky near Holmebridge. Again, calmer weather helped with sightings and around the Studland Peninsular there was plenty going on with 18 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver off Middle Beach and 2 Sandwich Tern, 1 Slavonian Grebe and 4 Black-necked Grebe off Shell Bay. Off South Beach 4 Black-necked Grebe were off shore and on Knoll Beach 14 Sanderling were on the tide line. From the Houseboats the Black-throated Diver was off the SE corner of Brownsea before flying out of the harbour mouth and there were 3 Great Northern Diver in South Deep with 4 Black-necked Grebe. Along Holme Lane 3 Cattle Egret were in the field and 6 were in fields along Nutcrack Lane. The male Black Redstart was again in the courtyard of flats out behind the Thistle Hotel. We also set up a camera trap along the Frome Valley this last week and having not ‘camera trapped’ anything other than 3 Rats and a single Robin, we couldn’t belive it when we checked the memory card this morning only to find a small family of 3 Otters had triggered the camera in the early hours of the morning. They even took a snotty liking to the camera and gave it a good old sniff before moving on up the river!

Harbour Update - posted 11/02/19

Much calmer today making open water viewing a bit more straight forward. The Studland Peninsular is always worth checking after a few days of consistent wind as birds will often take shelter either in Studland or Shell Bay, or within the harbour its self. There was evidence of this  today as a Black-throated Diver was close in shore off Shell Bay and a new in female Eider was off the southern Brownsea shore. Off Middle Beach, Studland a decent passage of auks (Guillemots and Razorbills) headed out into Poole Bay to feed for the day with several settled off Old Harry. There were also 12 Black-necked Grebe, a single Slavonian Grebe and 4 Great Northern Diver (3 flying, 1 settled) off Middle Beach. Out from Cliff Drive, Canford Cliffs a tight flock of 28 Great Crested Grebe were off the beach. At dawn a Great White Egret headed up the Frome Valley, as did 6 Cattle Egret which were later in the field at Nutcrack Lane. There are currently now only 2 Marsh Harrier in the harbour and the single female Hen Harrier continues to endure her own company.  At Lytchett Fields there were singles of Spotted Redshank and Spoonbill (later seen on Holton Pools), 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank and 1 Water Pipit. In the Arne car park a Firecrest was in the holly by the Coombe Heath entrance track and Dartford Warbler were out enjoying the early spring warmth. We also conducted one of our first night recording sessions of the season, this time in the Piddle Valley, a potentially excellent and productive migration corridor in and out of the harbour. In terms of birds moving, it’s still very early in the year, however we still logged 2 Coot, 1 Water Rail, 2 Common Snipe, 2 Teal and 2 Redwing. Although these numbers are low, it’s a sign that some species are already beginning to move about, and by the first week of March (and certainly into the second week) winter thrush’s, waders and wildfowl will all be on the move in far greater numbers heading back north.

Harbour Update - posted 10/02/19

Calmer today and dare we say it…rather spring like. A short sea watch from Branksome saw 1 Great Northern Diver, c15 Gannet, 10 Brent Geese west and c20 Great Crested Grebe. The lone Spoonbill was still on Lytchett Fields and strayed to Holton Pools briefly where there was a single Water Pipit. In Middlebere 3 Spotted Redshank, c300 Avocet and c400 Black-tailed Godwit. The Peregrine was again seen on the Asda building having been absent for most of the autumn and winter and in Holes Bay a big count of 866 Dunlin was logged with 7 Tufted Duck and 2 Coot (both notable here) also recorded in Holes Bay north. Brownsea counts consisted of 165 Avocet, 271 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 200+ Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 40+ Oystercatcher, 10 Shoveler, 63 Shelduck and 5 Gadwall.

Dunlin and Turnstone - Brownsea Lagoon - Rene Goad

Teal - Brownsea Lagoon - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 09/02/18

The rain subsided but the strong winds continued today which made viewing a tad tricky. As expected the Frome Valley was flooded and as a result a flock of c200 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding up near Holmebridge and 2 Egyptian Geese were on the flooded pools. At Lytchett Fields and Holton Poole the lone Spoonbill continued to commute between the two sites. Poole Park was still busy with bird and saw 90 Oystercatcher, 59 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 Goldeneye, 57 Coot, 8 Little Grebe, 11 Tufted Duck and the Mandarin Duck. Parkstone Bay saw 8 Goldeneye, 10 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Red-breasted Merganser and 165 Brent Geese were on the fields. In Middlebere a single Marsh Harrier, 1 female Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin and a few Sparrowhawk were logged.

Jay - Holme Lane - John Pick

Harbour Update - posted 08/02/19

Storm Eric hit with a whollop toady which made for a productive sea watch at Branksome, although sadly the rain set in quite quickly and visibility was reduced to almost nothing after 20 minuets. There were a minimum of 50 Gannet and 150 auks (Guillemots and Razorbill) bombing around out in Poole Bay, also 1 Red-throated Diver passed west and diver sp passed east along with c15 Kittiwake west, 4 Red-breasted Merganser west, 11 Brent Goose east and 1 Great Northern Diver west. Out on Baiter an impressive 435 Brent Geese were feeding and in Poole Park the Greenshank was there again. In Middlebere there were 400+ Avocet, 250+ Lapwing, 2 Spotted Redshank and 11 Grey Plover.

Harbour Update - posted 07/02/19

The calm before the storm saw a good return of birds including the Slavonian Grebe off Shell Beach with 3 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver there too. Spoonbill were on Shipstal (c20) and at Lytchett Fields/Holton Pools (1). The Brownsea Lagoon saw 70 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 9 Greenshank, 2900+ Dunlin, 135 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Knot, 260 Grey Plover, 8 Turnstone and 310 Avocet. Along Holme lane there were 6 Cattle Egret on the ‘dung heap’.  In brands Bay there were 7 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Great Northern Diver. At Norden Sewage Works there were 10 Chiffchaff and a single Firecrest.

Cattle Egret - Holme Lane - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 06/02/19

This morning and early afternoon felt more like a mild March day as (very) early spring warmth bathed the harbour. However, by late afternoon another big low pressure system kicked in and gales and heavy rain set in over night. These strong winds (as cold as they are) are great for ‘shaking things up a bit’ and will hopefully force some outer harbour species inside to settle for a few days/weeks. Portland Harbour saw a Black Guillemot appear out of nowhere last week so you never know. Highlights from today included a good count of 85 Shoveler on Swineham GP and an odd record of Red-legged Partridge along the track there. Out in the Wareham Channel, 12 Spoonbill were feeding and a Marsh Harrier flew over the Wareham by pass. In Parkstone Bay 2 Goldeneye and 2 Great Crested Grebe were just offshore and 8 Turnstone were on the beach. At Lytchett Fields there were 5 Green Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 301 Lapwing, 2 Spoonbill, 2 Water Pipit, 10+ Rock Pipit, 1 Merlin and 1 Marsh Harrier. Along Holme Lane 6 Cattle Egret were in the normal field and Poole park was again busy with birds, mostly Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Oystercatcher and a Greenshank. In Holes Bay a good count of 55 Pintail were in the NW section and 2 female Goldeneye were in the SE section.

Goldeneye - Holes Bay - Rene Goad

Pintail - Holes Bay - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 05/02/19

Another damp and dreary day which saw 4 Cattle Egret and 4 Woodlark in the Holme Lane fields. With heavy rain yesterday much of the Frome Valley was flooded and saw a number of Pintail, Gadwall and Shelduck along with a single Egyptian Goose at Holmebridge. Again Poole Park was a focal point with Black-tailed Godwit now almost peaking at 100 birds. Off Baiter there were 4 Goldeneye, 6 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Turnstone and 4 Med Gull were back in the harbour. Numbers of Med Gull will now rise on Baiter and around Parkstone Bay during Feb and March, especially on the low tides. At Lytchett Fields there was 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 301 Lapwing, 2 Spoonbill, 2 Green Sandpiper and 2 Water Pipit.

Spoonbill - Lytchett Fields - Ian Ballam

Harbour Update - posted 04/02/19

Murky…for most of the day! Main highlights included a good selection of birds again present on the Poole Park Lagoon including 2 Avocet, c70 Black-tailed Godwit, c15 Redshank, c50 Oystercatcher and 1 Greenshank.  From Poole Quay, 2 Black-necked Grebe were visible (with a scope and good eyesight) on the northern Brownsea shoreline.  

Harbour Update - posted 03/02/19

The freezing temperatures were still present at dawn, but the cold wind had subsided and actually, by around 11am, a degree of warmth could be felt on cold noses and freezing fingers. With the finer conditions present today a nice set of sightings were reported. A bird boat around the harbour saw 3 Great Northern Diver off the northern Brownsea shore, 1 Slavonian Grebe, in South Deep, 10 Spoonbill at Shipstal, good numbers of Goldeneye now seem to be present and a few Black-necked Grebe were in central harbour. At Lytchett Bay, 2 Water Pipit were again on the fields and Cattle Egret were spread between Nutcrack Lane and Holme Lane and there were 5 Woodlark in the Holme Lane field with good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare. In the field behind the Worgret Manor there were c25 Golden Plover with c40 Lapwing. A Barn Owl was hunting around Little Sea, Studland and 10 Black-necked Grebe and a Great Northern Diver were out in Studland Bay with 2 Slavonian Grebe in Shell Bay. The Poole Habour Marsh Harrier cohort has risen to 4 currently but just the single female Hen Harrier remains present around the harbour, today mostly sticking to the northern shoreline near Keysworth. Around Hartland there were 3 different Merlin and the warmer sunshine. General birding around the harbour seemed to show plenty of Redwing, Fieldfare, Lapwing and Skylark making use of the thawed out fields, but how long will they remain for? At Hatch pond a Red-breasted Merganser/Goosander was reported yesterday but a search this AM couldn't relocate it. 

Great Crested Grebe - Hatch Pond - Rene Goad

Harbour Update - posted 02/02/19

We had an interesting insight into what happens at night, post a cold weather event. The answer is...absolutely nothing! 

We had our sound recording gear set up the night after the snow hit and although species such as Redwing, Fieldfare, Skylark, Golden Plover and Lapwing were present in abundance in surrounding areas during the day, during the night just 2 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush and 1 Coot were logged all night. It sounds obvious but it seems birds reacting to cold/extreme weather only do so immediately before or during the weather event its self regardless if its day or night. And although these species normally migrate at night, they seem to stay put during the nights directly following the cold/extreme weather event to retain and conserve valuable energy levels. If there’s no need to move during the night any more....why would they? This was highlighted the night the snow hit when Portland logged 24 flocks of Golden Plover moving over the bill in the darkness along with plenty of thrush too. We’ll continue to put out our gear when we can over the following days to see if there is a 'return' night migration of species that escaped the cold weather but were now ambling their way back to original wintering sites. Or, will they make their way back to these sites during the day when foraging? 

At Nutcrack Lane 8 Cattle Egret returned and the fields were littered with Fieldfare, Redwing and Lapwing. A drake Goosander flew up the Wareham Channel and a single Golden Plover flew over Swineham. On Swineham GP there were 6 Pochard and a pair of Egyptian Geese. Off Middle Beach there were 2 Goldeneye and 2 Black-necked Grebe. 

Harbour Update - posted 01/02/19

With last nights snowfall it was hoped that a cold weather movement would be sparked at dawn, and although some Lapwing, Redwing, Fieldfare and Skylark were noted moving across the harbour at various locations, there certainly wasn’t a mass exodus of birds looking to escape the cold weather. That said, out on Baiter a flock of 15 Skylark was unusual and a Golden Plover flew over Poole Quay. Lapwing, Fieldfare and Redwing were settling on exposed grassy/muddy fields in the south of the harbour and 4 Cattle Egret were looking mighty miserable along Holme Lane. At Shell Bay, Studland a 1st winter male Eider was settled and 2 Great Northern Diver were also in Shell Bay. In between North Haven and Brownsea 2 Black-necked Grebe and 10 Red-breasted Merganser were settled.  In Parkstone Bay, off Baiter 2 Sandwich Tern were fishing and 6 Goldeneye were on the water. Poole Park was busy again with 57 Black-tailed Godwit, 29 Dunlin, 17 Redshank, 29 Oystercatcher, 1 Greenshank and 8 Shoveler. At Lytchett Fields there were 3 Water Pipit and a Woodcock was flushed from the approach path. In Lytchett Minster 2 Cattle Egret were in the field opposite the Bakers Arms with several Little Egret. A male Merlin was up on Hartland and 3 Marsh Harrier were in the west harbour roost.

Harbour Update - posted 31/01/19

Well, the predicted heavy snow kicked in around 6pm and began settling throughout the evening. Prior to this and leading up to the snow fall, a short and very cold sea watch was carried out at Branksome where 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 possible Black-throated Diver and c5 Kittiwake passed out in Poole Bay. The 5 Waxwing from yesterday were present first thing in Carey Road but couldn’t be relocated after 10am. At Sandbanks, the roosting flock of Sanderling contained the blue and yellow flagged individual which was first seen in the harbour last year and was confirmed to have been ringed in 2013 in Hampshire. By the Wareham bypass 4 Cattle Egret were just west of the bridge and along Holme Lane 2 Woodlark were in the cattle field along with good numbers Redwing, Fieldfare and several Mistle Thrush. In the Wareham Channel 3 Marsh Harrier were present and 12 Spoonbill were feeding there too.

Sanderling - Sandbanks - Ian Ballam

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