Poole Harbour sightings blog

A record of all interesting and notable sightings from around the harbour throughout the year.

Latest Sightings

Harbour Update – posted 08/12/23

Posted on: December 8th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A much brighter day allowed for some more sightings in the harbour today. Lots of areas underwater at the moment after all the heavy rain and on the flooded fields at Holmebridge today were 10 Cattle Egret as well as 1 Marsh Harrier. 1 adult male Hen Harrier headed over Arne Moors this morning. Off Jerry’s Point, Studland were 2 Slavonian Grebe, Eider and 2 Black-necked Grebe and between Jerry’s Point and Redhorn Quay were 1 Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, 31 Great-crested Grebe, 4 Goldeneye and the 1 female Long-tailed Duck again. Also at Studland, off Middle Beach were 3 Black-necked Grebe. 15 Woodcock came out of roost around Wareham Common late this afternoon as well as 1 Barn Owl.


Slavonian Grebe – Jerry’s Point, Studland – Clive Hargrave

Red-breasted Merganser – Jerry’s Point, Studland – Clive Hargrave

Harbour Update – posted 07/12/23

Posted on: December 7th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A very murky, rainy day making sightings few and far between. An adult Little Gull was in the Whimbrel Fields at Lytchett Fields today along with a Spotted Redshank. 117 Avocet were also roosting on French’s Field and a Jack Snipe was flushed from approach fields. In Brands Bay the possible Blue-winged Teal could not be refound but conditions did not help in this. There was a new juvenile Long-tailed Duck in Brands Bay as well as 1 Slavonian Grebe still.


Adult Little Gull – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 06/12/23

Posted on: December 6th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A frustrating afternoon when a small duck was found in Brands Bay which showed some good (partial?) credentials for Blue-winged Teal. A pale face crescent was just about visible and on the two very brief occasions it was seen (at distance) flapping its wings, a pastel blue wing panel was seen. Unfortunately it stayed hidden in the salt marsh for most the time and was only being viewed at distance in bad light. At best it could be a moulting 1st winter Blue-winged Teal, hence the poor plumage characteristics, which would be a first for Poole Harbour. However, no conclusion was reached on the poor views that were obtained, so more observations need to be made and photos taken to try and clinch what would be a great bird for the harbour, and Dorset. Of note, it looks very similar to the teal sp that was photographed yesterday at Silverlake.

Elsewhere, the harbour was still producing the goods with the Long-tailed Duck and Black-throated Diver off Jerry’s Point, off Baiter a tight group of 5 Great Northern Diver were loafing, and feeding together, with at least another 6 Great Northern Diver around South Deep and central harbour. Yesterdays 2 Eider were also in south deep and flew towards the harbour entrance, and 2 Black-necked Grebe were off Redhorn Quay with a Slavonian Grebe. A Red-throated Diver Female White-tailed Eagle G466 was hunting on the Brownsea Lagoon again and the male, G463 flew over Brands Bay. At Lytchett Bay there were 6 Spoonbill and a Water Pipit. A Spoonbill flew over Wareham Common. Oh yeah….and there were 2 Waxwing in Christchurch this morning!

Harbour Update – posted 05/12/23

Posted on: December 5th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Thankfully yesterdays rain cleared away over night, and with the breeze easing off and swinging to the north, it was actually a calm, settled morning across the harbour. Great conditions for this mornings Winter Safari Cruise which saw multiple highlights. In total 11 Great Northern Diver were logged including a near summer plumaged bird in between Hamworthy Beach and RSPB Arne with 3 in South Deep, 4 in central harbour, 1 off Brownsea north shore and 2 in Wareham Channel. There was also a Black-throated Diver off the houseboats at Bramble Bush Bay, Studland and a Red-throated Diver off the Furzey Island slipway. The Long-tailed Duck was off Jerry’s Point and 2 new Eider were off Redhorn Quay. On Swineham GP there were 8 Pochard, at Shipstal, RSPB Arne 7 Spoonbill, 8 Goldeneye in central harbour, 4 Marsh Harrier at Swineham and a Goshawk was hunting Wood Pigeon in the trees on Green Island and a Great White Egret was on Swineham GP. There still aren’t masses of Red-breasted Merganser back with only c50 logged across the open water but Great Crested Grebe are certainly back in good numbers. A decent flock of c200 Fieldfare were also flying over the Studland peninsular. Elsewhere, the White-tailed Eagle pair were active again on the Brownsea Lagoon this morning hunting and in Middlebere there was 1 Great White Egret, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 1 Marsh Harrier and 2 Spotted Redshank. At Lytchett Fields there were also 2 Spotted Redshank. In Holes Bay there were still good numbers of Pintail present with c70 in the NW section, plus c200 Avocet spread across the northern bays. Also logged off Jerry’s point later this afternoon were 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Slavonian Grebe a fly over male Hen Harrier and off Knoll Beach there were 4 Black-necked Grebe. Finally, there were 20 Waxwing just 23km NE of the harbour today in Fordingbridge. Everyone be on the look out!

Black-throated Diver – Bramble Bush Bay, from Winter Safari Cruise – Mark Wright

Red-throated Diver – South Deep, from Winter Safari Cruise – Mark Wright

Partial summer plumage Great Northern Diver – Off Hamworthy Beach, from Winter Safari Cruise – Mark Wright

Long-tailed Duck – South Deep, from Winter Safari Cruise – Mark Wright

Harbour Update – posted 04/12/23

Posted on: December 4th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A drizzly day in the harbour today, meaning sightings were minimal. However, there were 2 reports of Little Gull today with one being seen in Lytchett Bay and a 1st winter at the South Haven Houseboats. A new record total of Pintail were counted in Holes Bay this afternoon with 108 being seen. 1 Great Northern Diver was also off Baiter Park and the Long-tailed Duck was still in Brands Bay off Redhorn Quay.

The poor weather didn’t stop our School Bird Boat from going ahead this morning and the kids stayed mostly dry! Some good sightings while on the boat including 2 Great Northern Diver in the Wareham Channel, 40+ Red-breasted Merganser, 10 flyover Pintail, c70 Lapwing and 4 Marsh Harrier. On the Brownsea Lagoon c200 Dunlin and 3 Greenshank were present but the large numbers of Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit must have been elsewhere in the harbour with only c60 and c100 of each respectively.

1st Winter Little Gull – Bramble Bush Bay, Studland – Rob Johnson

Harbour Update – posted 03/12/23

Posted on: December 3rd, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Thankfully yesterdays fog cleared away over night and the temperature actually almost saw a 10 degree swing from -3 degrees yesterday to +7 degrees today. Almost tropical! Bird-wise there was a ‘good’ (but actually pretty bad) count of 5 drake Pochard on Swineham GP. The Long-tailed Duck was off Jerry’s Point again with 2 Great Northern Diver and off Middle Beach, Studland Bay only 4 Black-necked Grebe were seen. At Middlebere there was 1 Great White Egret, 1 Hen Harrier (a ringtail), 4 Spoonbill and really good totals of waders and wildfowl including 3 Spotted Redshank, 180 Avocet, 26 Grey Plover, 850 Dunlin and 175 Lapwing. There were also 125 Fieldfare feeding in berry bushes at the Middlebere parking bay. There was a flock of 14 Spoonbill seen flying west across the Wareham Channel and the White-tailed Eagle pair were flying around near Giggers Island this morning in the Wareham Channel where there were also 3 Marsh Harrier. 

Harbour Update – posted 02/12/23

Posted on: December 3rd, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was such a shame the fog never really cleared, as the harbour was like a mirror all day, which would have provided perfect viewing conditions right around the harbour. Situations with zero wind are rare, and the fact we were due to host a bird boat today held so much promise. Unfortunately we had to cancel the boat (despite postponing it for two hours) meaning reports were few and far between. In the gloom off Jerry’s Point the Long-tailed Duck did just about show it’s self and there were also 2 Great Northern Diver off there too. Best bird of the day was a newly found ‘eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat sp along the promenade at Canford Cliffs. Other than that….today will just be classed as ‘a whiteout’! Hopefully conditions will improve in due course.

Long-tailed Duck in the gloom – Jerry’s Point – Peter Moore

Harbour Update – posted 01/12/23

Posted on: December 1st, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, we’re now on the run in to not only Christmas, but the end of another busy year too. The years just seem to be going so fast, as do the weeks. Well, it definitely felt like winter today with a hard frost on most folks windscreens and the mercury reading -3 degrees. A cold NE wind at dawn didn’t help much either, but there was some hope for a last ditch vis-mig pulse of birds, however a session up on Ballard at dawn didn’t produce much apart from very cold fingers and toes. The only movement along Ballard was in the form of 5 Greenfinch, 17 Goldfinch, 10 Chaffinch, 5 Linnet, 2 Siskin, 10 Starling and 2 Fieldfare. Also up on Ballard there were also 2 Firecrest in the scrub and 1 Chiffchaff. Once again, the main interest came from around the Studland Peninsular with the Long-tailed Duck off Jerry’s Point again along with 1 Black-throated Diver and 1 Red-throated Diver in the main shipping lane near the harbour mouth, 2 Great Northern Diver, 4 Goldeneye, 28+ Great Crested Grebe and 1 Slavonian Grebe. There were also 2 Black-necked Grebe near the harbour mouth and at Lytchett Bay 5 Spoonbill were in the bay and a Great White Egret was at Lytchett Fields. The White-tailed Eagle pair were in the Wareham Channel for most of the day and there were 4 Marsh Harrier at Swineham. It’s a very strange scenario when Fieldfare are outnumbering Redwing as the most numerous ‘winter thrush’, but that certainly seems to be the case at the moment with a decent sized Fieldfare flock feasting on apples at Middlebere, but barely a Redwing to be seen (or heard) across much of the harbour, just small numbers of ones and twos.

Long-tailed Duck – Jerry’s Point – Rob Johnson

Fieldfare – Middlebere – Rob Johnson

Harbour Update – posted 30/11/23

Posted on: November 30th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We had the first snow of the winter this morning making for a very cold, fresh day which may push some more winter visitors into the harbour. This didn’t stop the White-tailed Eagle pair from being active with some amazing footage of them this morning hunting a Cormorant on the Brownsea Lagoon. They then took off and cruised over the north shore although by the sounds of it, without their prey!

We were also running one of our Poole Quay walks this morning, although just too late to see the eagle action. We were still rewarded with plenty of good birds despite the cold including, 112 Brent Geese on Baiter Park, 8 Ringed Plover, 20 Turnstone, Dunlin, 15 Common Redshank, 25 Oystercatcher, Shag and 1 Mediterranean Gull at Baiter that had a colour ring on it’s leg which we are still awaiting the life history on, but the ringing scheme would suggest it was ringed in Belgium or the Netherlands.

At Lytchett Fields there were 2 Great White Egret and 227 Dunlin and at Jerry’s Point, Studland, the Long-tailed Duck was still present as well as 1 Slavonian Grebe, Great Northern Diver and 3 Goldeneye.


Harbour Update – posted 29/11/23

Posted on: November 29th, 2023 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another blissful day across the harbour with flat calm waters and a very light NE wind, bringing with it an almost (dare we say it) Christmasy chill to the air. There was plenty going on again all day with our Winter Safari this morning logging a decent haul of birds including 11 Great Northern Diver spread across the area including birds off Jerry’s Point, in central harbour, off Baiter and in the Wareham Channel. There was a Slavonian Grebe off Jerry’s Point and a marked increase of 13 Goldeneye with 8 in the Wareham Channel and others in central harbour and now up to 100 Red-breasted Merganser. The White-tailed Eagle pair, G466 and G463 were active in the Wareham Channel for most of the morning and the younger female eagle with the deformed beak, G801, was seen over RSPB Arne first thing, before she was later observed flying over Ballard Down and settling on Swanage Beach. A Great White Egret was over Swineham and there were 3 Marsh Harrier around the mouth of the Piddle and Frome Valley. The Spoonbill flock seem to have de-camped from Shipstal in recent weeks and are favouring the shorelines along the south of the harbour with 25 roosting off Fitzworth Point this morning. On the Swineham Scrapes a Green Sandpiper was feeding and there were 4+ Bearded Tit in the reedbeds. The Brownsea Lagoon was packed with birds including c350 Avocet, c1600 Black-tailed Godwit, c800 Dunlin, c20 Ringed Plover, 8 Grey Plover and c200 Oystercatcher. Another vis-mig session was carried out up at Glebelands on Ballard Down, and amazingly yesterdays Tree Pipit was still around, which was heard calling somewhere along the ridge. Also logged were 153 Chaffinch migrating NE, also 2 Brambling, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 35 Goldfinch, 2 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker. Hen Harrier sightings were logged at Lytchett Bay, Lytchett Fields, Middlebere and Swineham with both ringtail and adult males logged. Out in Studland Bay, from Middle Beach there were 6 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Great Northern Diver, 5 Common Scoter and 2 Sandwich Tern. Another Great White Egret was at the top end of Middlebere and in the PCW Drain at Holes Bay a minimum of 7 Chiffchaff were active. A 1st winter Little Gull was in Brands Bay late this afternoon plus the Long-tailed Duck was off Redhorn early afternoon where there were also 3 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Black-throated Diver (near the harbour entrance), 3 Goldeneye and 42 Great Crested Grebe.

Masses of waders (Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets) on the DWT Brownsea Lagoon – Alison Copland

Masses of waders (Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin & Avocet) on the DWT Brownsea Lagoon – Alison Copland


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