Poole Harbour sightings blog

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

Latest Sightings

Harbour Update – posted 23/05/20

Posted on: May 24th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, the wind built all day today, and sadly by the end of the day 200 Fire Fighters were back on scene at Wareham Forest. Fire Crews from across southern Britain were helping out by creating controlled burns elsewhere in the forest to help stop the spread. The chief fire officer said this was an ‘unprecedented situation’ and asked pleaded with the public to please stay away over the Bank Holiday weekend as the safety of the general public is paramount, and with the situation not improving it’s just too dangerous to be in the area. So, we’d also like to advise that birders please stay away from Wareham Forest, including Morden Bog as the fire has slowly bit surely made it’s way in that direction and the situation is very unstable. Thank you.

Bird news saw the first Roseate Tern on Brownsea settled briefly on one of the Sandwich Tern islands. It’s been some time since one has been on these islands and previously we’ve been able to get them live on the webcam so lets hope that can be the case over the coming days. The wind kept female Osprey CJ7 at bay today as she only visited the nest cam very briefly mid afternoon, no doubt sheltering somewhere for most of the day. At Swineham it seems the Temminck’s Stint has definitely moved on, but there was a Little Ringed Plover and 2 Cuckoo. At Lytchett Fields 2 Little Ringed Plover dropped in as did a few Ringed Plover and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.


Harbour Update – 22/05/20

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, we’re sad to say that with the wind building today, it was enough to really get the Wareham Forest fire going again and by 5pm this evening 150 Fire Fighters were back on site trying to tackle the blaze. The fire service investigation announced today that the cause of the fire was due to a disposed of BBQ or left bonfire. And now with the fire raging again it looks as if more habitat and wildlife will be destroyed. It’s estimated that it will take roughly 30 years for the heathland to fully restore, and although heathland burning can have a positive impact, it’s all about scale and control, and in no instance would you ever want such a huge area (currently c200ha) lost in one go, in one area. So, with the Bank Holiday upon us, we urge everyone to refrain from having BBQ’s in sensitive areas, especially when it hasn’t rained for weeks and the ground is tinder dry.

The wind kept the birding low key today, but Swifts were loving the SW blast, with c50 over Swineham at lunchtime. At Lytchett Bay, 2 summer-plum Sanderling were on the rising tide and 8 were present on Shell Beach yesterday. Hobby were over Ridge, Hydes Heath and Slepe Heath.

Common Lizard on burnt tree stump – Wareham Forest – Terry Bagley


Harbour Update – posted 21/05/20

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A quieter day today after all the Osprey excitement of yesterday. There was a selection of waders on Lytchett Fields including 1 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Greenshank, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Lapwing, 3 Curlew and 3 Oystercatcher. On the Brownsea Lagoon some of the Sandwich Tern chicks have already begun to hatch, and can be watched live on our Brownsea Lagoon webcams. Red Kites were logged over Lytchett Minster, Upton and Hamworthy. There were 6 Hobby back over Arne Moors and the Marsh Harrier was seen again out over the Wareham Channel.

Common Whitethroat – Ballard


Harbour Update – posted 20/05/20

Posted on: May 21st, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Wow, if things hadn’t been eventful enough over the last couple of days things really ramped up today when we received some exceptionally exciting news, not from here in the harbour though, but from the western edge of Wales. At around midday a mystery Osprey was spotted on the Dyfi Osprey project webcam, trying to land briefly on the nest with Telyn, their breeding female. Telyn wasn’t really happy about this and the intruder was forced away and eventually settled on one of the perches near by, still in camera view. Thanks to the excellent zoom function on the Dyfi nest cam, the team up there were able to zoom in the newcomer, only to see it was a blue-ringed individual on the right leg…..an British bird! Was it another returning Welsh youngster, or perhaps even a Rutland youngster doing the rounds? Nope. After an agonising wait for the bird to reveal the ring number it eventually did, revealing the code 014!!!! This is a female 2018 Poole Harbour translocated chick. EXCELLENT! As you may remember 2018 was a difficult year for the team and the project with the intense heat wave of that summer sadly impacting on some of the chicks development with several sadly not making it through to migration. However, out of the six that did leave (3 male and 3 female), we knew they were all strong birds and there was a chance we could see one or two back, especially 013 and 014 which were always really big and strong birds from the very start. And now here we are, two years later and 014 is now back in the UK. Her arriving in Wales is pretty typical of a two-year old as youngsters often spend their first summer back in the UK touring the country, interacting with other Ospreys before often then returning to their natal sites later in the summer/early autumn for a short period of time. They’ll then leave south for the winter before hopefully returning back to their natal sites the following spring. The truth is, with 014 being female, she could quite easily be tempted away to breed at another established site, like Wales or Rutland, but we hope we can have enough returning males visiting Poole Harbour each spring over the next 4-5 years that will do their best to make her want to stay here instead! The dyfi team have put this excellent video together documenting 014’s visit to the nest today

Plus, this morning, the Loch of the Lowes youngster from the day before, female Osprey PT0 joined CJ7 on the nest again, with both eye-balling each other from opposite sides of the nest before CJ7 saw off PT0 who wasn’t then seen again for the rest of the day, assumed to have carried on with her migration.

Other bird news today saw the Temminck’s Stint still present at Swineham on the new scrapes along with 1 Little Ringed Plover. At Lytchett Fields 13 Ringed Plover dropped in and a Cuckoo was calling. At Slepe Heath 4 Hobby were active over the area and a migrating Marsh Harrier was seen over central Poole.

What will tomorrow bring??

Female Osprey 014 when she arrived with us in July 2018

Here’s her a couple of days after fledging, settled on a telegraph pole in Poole Harbour (Aug 2018)

And here she was today at the Dyfi nest site, Wales. Photo credit Dyfi Osprey Project.


Harbour Update – posted 19/05/20

Posted on: May 20th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Wow, what an eventful couple of days. We apologise for no sightings yesterday but we were closely following the unfolding drama and devastation of the Wareham Forest fire which is now thankfully (mostly) out. In total 183ha were lost, mostly pristine heathland habitat. Today we were out with a host of other individuals and organisations trying to rescue any stranded reptiles before the corvids, kestrels and Buzzards arrived. Between all the helpers a good number of common Lizard, several Sand Lizard, Smooth Snake and Slow Worm were all retrieved off the scorched ground and placed onto suitable habitat beyond the burnt area. It’s unknown how the fire started but sadly, many that occur this time of year are started deliberately and the combination with the dry conditions and steady wind that day meant it really took hold badly. We have to give huge credit to the fire service and Forestry Commission who did a great job in limiting the damage as the fire tore through large parts of the forest with everyone working exceptionally hard in protecting certain areas and keeping people safe.

Secondly, there was excitement of a different kind this evening when a ‘new’ Osprey suddenly appeared on the Osprey nest cam. A quick glance of the camera showed an Osprey sat preening but with a blue ring on the left leg….a Scottich Osprey! With the HD camera quality allowing us to read the ring number as PT0, a quick chat with our project partner Tim Mackrill from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation highlighted that this particular bird was a 2018 bird from the Loch of the Lowes nest. But, the big question was is it male or female. The ringing data at the time stated this bird was a male, but discussions later in the 2018 season suggested that perhaps it was in fact a female based on size. Fast forward to this evening and PT0 really showed an interest in the nest and CJ7 but CJ7 seemed less than impressed and chased PT0 off several times. At no point did they sit on the nest together and it all seemed a bit fractured, which would support the theory PT0 is in fact a female. Also, the breast band and similar size to CJ7 would also support this.

Lastly, local patch watcher Peter Moore found Poole Harbours 5th Temminck’s Stint on the new Swineham Scrapes. This is a great find and was always on the radar seeing as numerous east coast sites were seeing good numbers over the last few weeks. Also on the scrapes was a Little Ringed Plover and a Greenland race Northern Wheatear was in St Mary’s churchyard. There were up to 8 Hobby again up and around the Slepe/Hydes Heath area with a Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel too. Lytchett Fields had a Little Ringed Plover and 5 Ringed Plover too. Hartland Moor had a Red Kite as well as singing Willow and Sedge Warbler with 3 more late Wheatear there too.

Temminck’s Stint – Swineham – Peter Moore

Female Ospreys – CJ7 & PT0

Male Sand Lizard rescued from Wareham Forest


Harbour Update – posted 15th, 16th & 17th May 2020

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, it was another fine weekend with opportunities to top up your tans! Interests seem to be expanding as they often do this time of year, from birds to reptiles, moths, butterflies, dragonflies etc. As May progresses, the opportunities to learn about this exciting range of fauna that Dorset and Poole Harbour is so famous for becomes easier with more species on the wing or enjoying basking in the sun. A mini reptile foray over the weekend produced all six native species of reptile including numerous pristine male Sand Lizards and a whopper of a Grass Snake Slepe Heath on the edge of a muddy pool. Bird-wise it’s been quite busy with plenty of Swifts now back over established breeding grounds, but more on that later. In the Wareham Channel possible Garganey (2 male and 2 female) flew west up the channel and 22 Little Egret entered the harbour colony at dusk on Sunday suggesting a reasonable number are breeding. The Cattle Egret didn’t show but has been seen in the Frome Valley several times over the last week. Hobby have been numerous with a peak count of 8 over the Arne Road area and singles over Slepe, Hartland and Stoborough Heath. At Lytchett Fields a Little Ringed Plover and 4 Ringed Plover were on the fields. Female Osprey CJ7 has been wandering the harbour a bit more and has been photographed by our trail cams on several more platforms and a migrant Osprey travelled high over the harbour on Sunday afternoon. Out in the Wareham Channel there seems to be an over-summering flock of 11 Great Crested Grebe that are hanging around, which we assume are young non-breeders. Also, on the gull islands, despite there being many hundreds of Med Gulls present only a couple of weeks ago, there seems to be hardly any again now with only a handful spread across the islands. The local Tawny Owl near the Osprey nest cam also came in for a sneaky look last night too to see if any late night supper may be available!

We mentioned Swifts earlier on and the fact they’re now seeming to be pairing up and seeking out old and new breeding sites. Well, we’re glad to say that with the lockdown restrictions having been eased ever so slightly we’ve been able to react quickly and continue our work on the Swift city Project we started last year. You can read our latest update HERE, but essentially we’ve been able to get another 15 boxes up in the last few days both in Wareham and Hamworthy just in time for this breeding season which is great news!

Sand Lizard (female) and Adder – Slepe Heath


Harbour Update – posted 14/05/20

Posted on: May 15th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Its all much of the same currently as spring migration now winds down. Waders can continue to pass right the way through May, but with all this high pressure birds are simply by-passing the south coast/UK and making good time in terms of reaching their breeding grounds further north. Today was a good example of that with a small selection of waders dropping in briefly at Lytchett Fields including 9 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Curlew and the 2 (semi) resident Oystercatcher. The first Marsh Harrier for nearly a month in the Wareham Channel area was seen and 3+ Hobby were active over Slepe Heath. Cuckoo’s were in the Frome Valley and there are now numerous newly fledged Stonechats out across the heathlands. An Osprey was seen over Holes Bay heading north which could well have been the visitor to CJ7’s nest the night before, plus a Common Tern was roosting near the Stone Bench at Upton CP. Don’t forget, May is also the best time to see fresh, bright green male Sand Lizards as they begin to start chasing females around heathland fringes. Check out this gorgeous photo by Ian Ballam from his local heathland yesterday. It also clearly highlights why male Sand Lizards are so regularly taken by heathland breeding Kestrels compared to the females!

Sand Lizards – Lytchett Heath – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 13/05/20

Posted on: May 14th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With Osprey passage now easing up, female CJ7 will likely encounter less and less Osprey as May creeps in to June. It’s hard to estimate how many passage Osprey she may have encountered this spring whilst out around the harbour but interactions on her nest have been incredibly rare. However, this evening at 18:51 she suddenly became very defensive on the nest and started ‘mantling’ as if to protect the nest (and eggs) from another passing Osprey. We watched intently and sure enough after about 30 seconds an Osprey flew into view and began circling around her for several minutes. On closer inspection we were able to see that it was un-ringed, dashing any hopes that it may have been one of our 2018 birds returning. The 2nd bird eventually landed on the camera post (out of sight) before both the visitor and CJ7 flew off. Although we’re not 100%, we believe from her behaviour, and that of the other bird, that the visitor was likely another female coming to inspect CJ7 on the nest. Regardless, it’s great to see CJ7 engaging with other Ospreys and it’s good for passage birds to see her on a nest in Poole Harbour, as it could act as a reminder for these migrants that Poole Harbour has a (building) population and potentially attracting new birds to the area. Lets see what happens over the coming days?

The Nightjar started singing early on the osprey nest cam last night at 21:12 and then again and 22:04 but as it was quite cold the singing didn’t last long. Be sure to tune in each night though between 21:30 and 22:30 to see if you can hear live Nightjar song. Other sightings today included Hobby at Lytchett Bay, the Piddle Valley and Hartland Moor. Cuckoo’s were at Swineham Lytchett Bay and a Red Kite was over Fleetsbridge. A Turtle Dove was seen just outside the Poole Harbour boundary flying over Westbourne of all places.


Harbour Update – posted 12/05/20

Posted on: May 13th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The wind eased today a bit, but it still felt nippy, well, for most of the morning it did. That said, a few people were out for their exercise walks and reported a good range of species to us. At around 10am female Osprey CJ7 was seen out over the Wareham Channel and caught a fish before heading to Arne with her catch. Swifts were much in evidence today with several even seen mating on the wing above Poole and Wareham. We’ve got an exciting Swift update for later in the week which will provide a nice bit of good news for the harbour. Two male Nightjar were accidently flushed off a footpath on Hartland and for people that have been tuning on to our Osprey nest cam of an evening, you would have been treated to sporadic LIVE Nightjar song as a male has taken up sitting on the camera post. At the movement it seems to use it in the very early hours, but as the season progresses it’s likely the camera pole will become a regular song post which will be a minor bit of consolation for no breeding Osprey. We’re pretty sure there’s nowhere else that currently live streams singing Nightjar! A Lesser Whitethroat seems to be on territory near Scotland Farm, Hartland and already numerous young birds are beginning to fledge with the first Linnets and Stonechats seeing their first broods depart. It does seem that a lot of birds are having a good breeding season so let’s hope the fine weather continues. Along the Arne Road 6+ Hobby were active high in the sky moving between Slepe Heath, Hydes Heath and Arne.

Newley fledged Linnet – Hartland Moore

Adult Meadow Pipit – Hartland Moore


Harbour Update – posted 11/05/20

Posted on: May 12th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Ooof, where did the warmth go? Having been Costa Del Dorset for the last month, it was suddenly all change today as the temperature plummeted. Sensibly most people stayed inside, but an Osprey was seen heading north over Upton Heath/Corfe Mullen mid-morning and a Red Kite landed in a tree along Sandy Lane, Upton which must have been quite a sight.

We’ve also had our night sound recorder deployed at Lytchett Fields over the last week and have been through several of the files. Overall, the five nights it was deployed saw some interesting and certainly some notable birds pass over. Most notable was a Hawfinch that passed over on the night of May 6th at 23:23. We last recoded Hawfinch at night during the autumn of the big influx year back in 2017 when thousands arrived into the UK. Prior to that winter they were always an exceptionally scarce bird in Poole Harbour / Dorset with only a handful of autumn records. Since the big influx year they reverted to being a really scarce bird, so to have a spring passage migrant logged in May is certainly an eye opener. Also logged were reasonable numbers of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, several Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and Avocet a couple of Spotted Flycatcher, a single Grey Plover and lots of (presumed) local movements of Coot, Little Grebe, Teal and Nightjar. The most interesting thing about all these calls is that other than Greenshank and Whimbrel none of the other night sound recorded species mentioned above were visually seen at Lytchett Fields during any of the corresponding days……highlighting just how much goes through and over our heads at night!


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