Harbour Update – posted 30/08/15

Today a Poole Harbour Bird Race was held, involving six teams of two people competing against each other to see who can see the most species of bird in a day. Not only can this provide an incredible list of birds, but it also means almost the entire harbour is covered from dawn til dusk, providing highlights from the entire area. The boundaries we use for the Poole Harbour bird race are that of the Map section on our website which provides a great range and variation of habitats. The forecast looked set to offer some good birdy opportunities with a bit of rain through the night, clearing at dawn and a light north-easterly breeze early morning, fading away through the afternoon. With enthusiasm and anticipation bursting from the seams the 15-hour ‘birdathon’ was on.

With most teams starting around 4am Nightjar were seen/heard at Arne and Studland whilst both the Arne and Middlebere Barn Owls were seen too by some teams. A favoured spot at dawn appeared to be the Ballard/Old Harry area with almost all teams appearing there at first light, and a wise decision it proved to be. Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Chiffchaff, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Dartford Warbler, Yellowhammer, Crossbill, Common Scoter, Fulmar and Gannet were clocked between the teams. However, whilst that was going on, another team jammed in on a Wryneck at Greenlands Farm…by far one of the best birds of the day.

Wryneck – Greenlands Farm – Peter Moore

RSPB Lytchett Fields provided a mouth watering opportunity for anyone wanting to bump up their day (or year) list with 2 Wood Sandpiper, 4 Ruff, 2 Little Stint, 10 Knot and numerous Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Snipe, Lapwing and Teal. The other hotspot seemed to be Brownsea where Spoonbill numbers have now hit 17 and the lagoon was filled with at least 15 Greenshank, 4 Spotted Redshank, 1 Sanderling, 10 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Tern, 40+ Sandwich Tern, 50+ Common Tern and all the usual other waders. Whilst away from the lagoon on Brownsea both Pied and Spotted Flycatcher were near the Villa and Firecrest were seen just beyond the villa. One of the main features of the day was Osprey with numerous sightings from almost every site. There were 3 in Brands Bay alone at dawn, not to mention the 2 birds seen in the Wareham Channel around the same time. We even had one low over the lagoon mid-afternoon flushing EVERYTHING off the lagoon in one foul swoop.

Osprey – Brands Bay – Peter Moore

Another incredible feature of the day was just simply how many migrants there were around; it seemed every fence post around Old Harry, Ballard, Greenland’s Farm or Arne had either a Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat or Wheatear sat on it…just incredible.

Whinchat – Greenlands Farm – Peter Moore

Plus, if you throw all the ‘regular stuff’ that was ticked into the mix, such as Hobby (Arne), Bearded Tit (Swineham), Woodlark (Soldiers Road), Marsh Harrier (Wareham Channel) etc, the day was probably one of the most productive days the harbour has seen for many many years. In fact, the winning team (no gloating allowed) logged an incredible 130 species during the course of the day (FULL LIST HERE), beating the previous total of 123 by seven species. A total combined list from all participating teams is being compiled as we speak, and I will publish this when I have it.

My message to anyone wanting to go our birding in Poole Harbour is GO NOW. The range of species is staggering, the scenery beautiful and the birding community a sheer joy to be with. Look forward to seeing you out in the field soon. 


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