Harbour Update – posted 02/03/17

Early March can see the arrival of our first Sand Martins and Wheatear, but although we’re still waiting for those to arrive, there are also magical departures you can witness if you situate your self at the right place at the right time. Bittern are an annual winter visitor to the harbour but are tricky to locate in the deep dense reedbeds. Sadly, they don’t breed in the harbour (yet, or not that we currently know of), but each March over-wintering birds depart back to their breeding grounds, but in a manner that if experienced, you’ll never forget. On calm March evenings when the conditions are crisp, perfect and still, Bittern up and leave their reedbed hide aways at dusk and take to the air. What makes the experience even more memorable is that when gaining height they call a soft gentle bark-type call, which carry’s across the stillness of the fading light as the birds circle higher and higher before you eventually lose them in the darkness. Last night local surveyor Nick Hopper was lucky enough to witness this event at Swineham as a Bittern circled above his head calling before gaining height and disappearing north. Elsewhere in the harbour it was still busy with winter birds as 11 Barnacle Geese were on the Swineham GP, the Great Grey Shrike was still along Soldiers Road, Hen HarriersMerlin and Peregrine were all busy in the Poole Harbour west area and in the Wareham Channel 7 sightings of at least 5 different Marsh Harrier was encouraging as the breeding season approaches. Off Swineham point 2 Spoonbill and a Spotted Redshank were feeding. The Lesser Yellowlegs was still on Lytchett Fields. The 4 Waxwing were still up in Corfe Mullen on the end of Hanahm Road, dropping down to feed on berry’s occasionally in Bakers View. At Arne, 16 Spoonbill were on Shipstal. In the Wareham Channel good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser are still about and numerous pairs of Raven took advantage of the bright sunshine and windy conditions to perform and display their elaborate tumbling displays to one another.

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