Harbour Update – posted 23/11/19

Today we hosted out first low-tide cruise of this winter period and it was an absolute treat to be able to showcase the wealth of bird life that Poole Harbour has to offer during the colder months. Traditionally we’ve always hosted high-tide cruises around the harbour looking at open water species, but with recent experiments and survey boats we’ve learnt we can explore the harbour on the more exciting low tide to seek out a whole range of waders too.

We left the quay at 12:30pm with a low tide expected at 1:20pm, so we crept along the northern shoreline before entering the Wareham Channel as the tide flowed past us out towards the harbour mouth. As shorelines became exposed birds began to reveal themselves as Curlew, Oystercatcher and Brent Geese lined the shingle and sand banks. On the northern Arne shoreline 9 Spoonbill busily fed as Red-breasted Merganser began to appear in small flocks. Great Crested Grebe became numerous very quickly and Gadwall began to appear. As hoped for Marsh Harrier showed up along the Keysworth shoreline with 3 present including a 2nd year male, 1 juv and an adult female. Towards the mouth of the Piddle a flock of c120 Avocet fed in a tight flock as Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and a few Redshank searched the mudflats. We entered the Frome and Little Grebe seemed abundant on the river fringes as two Kingfisher showed superbly sat on low rocks on the shore. As we crept up the rived a few Reed Bunting gave them selves away as Shoveler, Gadwall, Greylag Geese and Lapwing became really conspicuous on the floodplain and new Swineham scrapes with c150 Lapwing, c30 Shoveler plus 100+ Coot on the main gravel pit. As we exited the river 2 Bearded Tit showed briefly on the edge of the reed bed as more Lapwing arrived to settle on the mudflats. Out towards central harbour more and more Great Crested Grebe were logged and a single Slavonian Grebe was in Balls Lake. Goldeneye were represented in a few small flocks (mostly females) with flocks of 11, 4 and 2. We managed a healthy 4 Great Northern Diver with 1 off Hamworthy Beach, 2 in South Deep and 1 off Furzey Island, with a single Red-throated Diver off Green Island. We managed to catch up with a couple of Black-necked Grebe in the Balls Lake area and off Jerry’s Point  a single Velvet Scoter was logged and at 4pm (by a land based observer) 13 Common Scoter settled in Brands Bay at dusk. We passed the Brownsea Lagoon as the light began to fade as many (mostly) Herring Gull came into roost but it was also busy with Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Avocet, a few Knot, Greenshank, Grey Plover and a Peregrine was settled on the Tamrisk Island. Other bits and pieces included a Cetti’s Warbler singing up the Frome, several Raven overhead, a flock of 17 Snipe over, 2 Egyptian Geese, a small flock of Redwing, a few fly over Rock/Water Pipit, 1 Stonechat, It was quite a trip, and when you add in the commoner species such as Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Shags, Cormorants, Wigeon, Teal, Common Gulls, Starlings and so on it made for an extremely productive trip with 76 species logged in all.

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