Harbour Update – posted 05/11/23

It’s always a good day when a Poole Harbour 1st is found (especially one from North America), and thats exactly what happened this morning when Mark Wright found a Spotted Sandpiper in Bramble Bush Bay. This has been on the Poole Harbour radar for a while, but locating one was always going to be the challenge seeing as one could appear literally any where. Thankfully Mark was in the right place at the right time to grab some photos which helped enable the identification. Todays bird was a juvenile, moulting into winter plumage meaning it didn’t have the ‘spotting’ of a breeding adult, and therefore looked essentially like our more familiar Common Sandpiper. Thankfully Mark’s photos were so good that all the key features were there in plain site, allowing for a swift ID. The main key features are how short-tailed they are compared to Common Sand, plus Spotted Sandpiper often have much brighter yellow legs. The supercilium is also very pronounced and the bill is an off yellow, pinky colour and slightly thicker set plus they plain edged tertials . The clincher is when they fly, the wing bar is much reduced compared to Common Sand, which is highlighted in Mark’s great picture below. The time of year is also a good clue, because (nearly) all our Common Sandpipers have migrated to Africa by now, although during most winters we see at least 1 over-wintering Common Sandpiper which always get scrutinised for this very reason! It was great that the bird hung around in the same spot all day meaning everyone got great views of it as it fed happily with Dunlin and Turnstone.

Elsewhere the first movement of Wood Pigeon got going with c2000 over the harbour during the course of the morning. The large Cormorant flock thats currently touring the harbour were split into four flocks with c320 in a fishing flock by the houseboats at Bramble bush Bay, c240 fishing off Russell Quay, 250 roosting on Shag Looe, and 60 roosting on Brownsea lagoon. The Brownsea lagoon returned some decent totals with 30 Greenshank, 120 Redshank, 1140 Black-tailed Godwit, 5      Bar-tailed Godwit, 398 Dunlin, 22 Ringed Plover, 20 Grey Plover, 8 Grey Herons, 242 Avocet, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Kingfisher and 120 Wigeon. There were 2 Red-throated Diver, one in North Channel and one off the north shore of Brownsea. Plus there were 2 Great Northern Diver with one in the North Channel and the other off Green Island, plus here were 8 Great Crested Grebe in Brands Bay and 35 Red-breasted Merganser were off Furzey. The Wareham flood meadows between Swineham and Bestwall were awash with water but there was only 1 Spotted Redshank, 5 – 6 Bearded Tit off Swineham point, two Fieldfare flocks over and 1 Grey Wagtail at Wareham Quay. At RSPB Arne, 24 Spoonbill were on Shipstal and ringtail Hen Harriers were seen in Lytchett Bay and at Swineham. The Common Scoter was also in Lytchett Bay again and a White-tailed Eagle was soaring high over the north of the harbour, viewed from the Wareham Channel area.

Spotted Sandpiper – Bramble Bush Bay 

Spotted Sandpiper – Bramble bush Bay – Mark Wright

Spotted Sandpiper in flight showing restricted wing bar – Bramble bush Bay – Mark Wright

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