Harbour Update – posted 02/04/20

Today was ‘one of those kind of days’ where, despite being in lockdown, we still managed to punch the air with excitement for a number of reasons. Firstly, lets get ‘the general’ sightings out of the way. The welcome sound of a Willow Warbler was heard on Slepe Heath this afternoon and (more) Red Kite were logged over Lytchett Fields, Lytchett Matravers and Studland. In Holes Bay there were still 116 Wigeon despite most of the harbours over-wintering population having now left and those that have been able to make it out onto local heathlands have been enjoying plenty of singing Dartford Warbler. There were an initial 2 Osprey sightings at Lytchett Bay with 1 heading NE from the Bakers Arms area and a second heading north over Sandy Lane.

As many of you will know, for 5 years now we’ve been undertaking night sound recording sessions at different sites across the harbour to try and understand what, when and how often different species migrate across and over the harbour during the hours of darkness. We now have 2 recording devices that we can deploy with one on long-term deployment currently in the Piddle Valley and a second we can install on a chosen night. Luckily, we had both running last night and we’re glad we did as the UK experienced an incredible passage of Common Scoter across the country which began just after dark up north and after 10pm here on the south coast. We’re still yet to retrieve the data from our device in the Piddle Valley, but our gear just north of the harbour on top of a hill in Lytchett Matravers had 4 flocks of Common Scoter fly over between 10:45pm and midnight. Birdguides have done a great write up highlighting where the main passage areas were but as more people begin submitting data it looks as if it was almost the whole of the UK that had these open sea duck traveling over them last night. Almost as interesting (but not quite) was the fact we also had 122 Redwing fly over too, which for very early April is pretty good going. Also logged were a Wigeon flock, 2 Oystercatcher, 1 Moorhen, 1 Grey Heron and the local Tawny Owl’s. Below is an example of one of the Common Scoter flocks that passed over our listening station last night.

Then, the best news of the day, week, year so far… that after a long cold, wet and miserable winter and hoping for the safe return of either Osprey CJ7 or LS7 (ideally both), we caught a glimpse of CJ7 on one of the Poole Harbour nest platforms today meaning SHE’S BACK! This is everything we’ve been hoping for all winter, and now, the fingers remain crossed that LS7 isn’t too far behind. It’s unlikely he’ll arrive (if he arrives) for a week or so yet, but the truth is we just don’t know so despite the lockdown, our team are ‘on it’, and will be keeping a tab on all behaviour and activity this spring and promise to share as much as we’re able to with the public.

During this tough and dark time, we hope this is the glimmer of hope and positivity we deserve and look forward to seeing how the story develops over the coming days, weeks and months.

Female Osprey CJ7 – Touch down in the harbour having just returned from Africa


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