Harbour Update – Posted 13/02/16

The day started off cold and icy with our February field trip, which we’ll mention in a minute, but we were soon warmed up to boiling point when news came in late afternoon that a potential White-tailed Eagle had passed over Poole Harbour at 11am on Wednesday morning. A local observer was working over at Parkstone Yacht Club when he noticed ‘a huge, slow flapping, wide winged’ bird fly over from over Brownsea towards Whitecliffe. The observer stated….

On Wed at 11am (ish) I saw huge, slow flapping, wide winged bird, rising, circling / drifting South, single bird high above the habour between Whitecliff & B’sea. Silhouetted. Had no binocs. For me it said Eagle.

I used the word “huge” because that was the first thing that caused a sharp intake of breath. Living in Bere Regis I’m accustomed to Buzzards, Ravens and it was clearly significantly bigger. Next, the flight was neither soaring nor steady, it was slow flapping, gliding a bit, flap a few times again. Generally circling and drifting slowly and without obvious purpose towards Brownsea from off Parkstone YC where I was working. Very broad wings were obvious and dominating and maybe raised a bit rather than flat during the gliding. It was almost difficult to see either head or tail, so dominant were the wings. That made me think for a minute of Vulture (which again I am very familiar with from Pyrenees and Andalucia.)

Now, this initial statement was made on Wednesday but unfortunately without a photo or any other observers it seemed this mystery bird would go unidentified. However, in Hampshire today, a White-tailed Eagle was seen heading north over Cliddesden mid morning. Although the two sightings could be completely un-related, the strength of the observers account over Poole Harbour on Wednesday strongly suggests it could have been the same bird. This is also not the first time this  situation has occurred in Poole Harbour when on May 9th 2008 a large Eagle species was seen flying over Hartland Moor (also thought to have been a White-tailed Eagle) being mobbed by Buzzards, whilst a first year WT Eagle had been over-wintering in Hants only a few weeks prior to the sighting.

Bird news from today included a good haul of sightings from our field trip around the bays of Studland despite the cold icy winds. Out in Brands Bay were 8 Black-necked Grebe, 10+ Pintail and 2 Great Crested Grebe. In Bramble Bush Bay 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Goldeneye, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone were counted with another 2 Great Northern Diver out in Studland Bay. At Norden Sewage Works a Firecrest was still present feeding on the filter beds with 2 Chiffchaff, 5+ Goldcrest and 1 Grey Wagtail. On a public bird boat the Black Guillemot was found nearer to the Sandbanks side and the Smew holds strong in Holes Bay. At dusk the Bittern was again seen flying over the Moors and a grey male Hen Harrier was seen at Hartland. 

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