Harbour Update – posted 03/11/23

In some instances you tend to find the good birds during the bad weather, but then sometimes, you often have to wait for the dust to settle for the decent stuff to appear, and thats exactly what seemed to happen today with a definite arrival of birds across the harbour of all shapes and sizes. The undoubted highlight was when a Great Grey Shrike appeared in a bush at Lytchett Fields, right next to a net where Stour Ringing Group were attempting to catch Water Pipit as part of a national study. Not only did the shrike appear next to the net, it also then had the decency to fly down straight into the net, where it was caught and then processed by the team. This was the first record of Great Grey Shrike for Lytchett Bay and the first ever to be ringed in Poole Harbour. Plus, this wasn’t quite what the team were expecting after near hurricane force winds from the west over the last 24 hours considering this is a species from central and north eastern Europe! Oh yeah, and they did catch a Water Pipit too. The excitement wasn’t just limited to Lytchett Bay with a Bittern seen flying over the reeds at Swineham Point as it then got harassed by a Marsh Harrier of which there were 8+ present in the same area. Also at Swineham Point 20+ Bearded Tit were being incredibly vocal, and sounding like they wanted leave/depart imminently. We think the strangest sighting of the day went to a Black-necked Grebe that was feeding quite happily out in the middle of the flooded fields at Bestwall (west of Swineham). We’re obviously more familiar with seeing these out towards the harbour mouth, with 1 off Jerry’s Point this morning and another in Studland Bay, but out in the middle of some farm fields is a new one for us! On Swineham GP there were 2 drake Pochard and on Arne Moors 5 Spotted Redshank and 5 Greenshank. At Shipstal 2 Great White Egret flew over and 3 were seen in Middlebere where there was also a ringtail Hen Harrier. Female White-tailed Eagle G466 was sat on the post on the smallest gull island around 10am and out in central harbour there were 3 Eider (2 imm male and a female). The first Great Northern Divers of the winter were seen at several sites with 1 in the Wareham Channel, 1 in central harbour and another off Jerry’s Point and the first Goldeneye of the winter arrived with a female also off Jerry’s Point. There seemed to be a lot of newly arrived common wildfowl around, and with the river valleys so flooded it’s no surprise as they plenty of places to choose to feed. At Bestwall alone there was a single flock of 74 Shoveler, plus multiple other smaller groups moving up and down the Frome Valley between Swineham Point and Bestwall, as well as slightly smaller numbers of Pintail, Gadwall, Teal and Wigeon. There were also 16 Knot roosting on Shipstal Beach and a minimum of 5 Sandwich Tern flying around the harbour. It’s now getting to the point where any Chiffchaff that areĀ  present are likely to be over-wintering individuals rather than late migrants, however 1 was in full song at Carey Secret Garden this afternoon, which you don’t quite expect in early November. This afternoon a redhead Goosander was also on the floods at Bestwall, and over on Keysworth (viewed from Slepe Heath) there were 14 Cattle Egret and a ringtail Hen Harrier with 2 Great White Egret also there and both White-tailed Eagles out on Shag Looe Spit.

Great Grey Shrike when it appeared in bush next to ringing net (note net pole to the right) – Lytchett Fields – Shaun Robson

Great Grey Shrike after being ringed and processed – Lytchett Fields – Phil Saunders

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