Harbour Update – posted 30/08/23

Each year, on a select few days, the stars seem to align (or could it be tonights Super Moon)? when everything comes together and the birding around Poole Harbour seems a world a way from years gone by. Today was one of those days when the birding felt celebratory. Perhaps it was? As we now believe all of our Osprey youngsters have now departed on their migration with 5H3 leaving yesterday by the looks of it. Male Osprey 022 is still around and was on the nest by him self this afternoon. He may not go for another week or so yet, but it felt like we were being rewarded for such a successful season with a mouth watering array of birds from our two Osprey cruises today. A real highlight was the White-tailed Eagles actively hunting fish in the Wareham Channel, a behaviour we’ve not witnessed before, as they patrolled the Arne shoreline, often stopping to hover, before then dropping down into the water. The most active was female G466, and although she didn’t catch anything, it shows they’re looking to exploit the rich bounty of Grey Mullet in the Wareham Channel. All the while, male G463 was circling above her watching her every move and half heartedly gave it a go himself. Although Osprey sightings were a bit limited this afternoon, there were 5+ active around the Wareham Channel this morning with 3-4 hunting along the Holton shoreline and 2+ off Giggers Island. High over RSPB Arne a Goshawk was circling (distantly) and 2-3 Hobby were hunting over Arne Hill. There were also some great interactions with a Peregrine mobbing an Osprey, only for an Osprey to then start mobbing a White-tailed Eagle! Off Swineham Point, an adult female Marsh Harrier flew towards Arne Moors and with Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel also logged, we managed a clean sweep of raptors. Another sign of the times was the fact we logged 2 Great White Egret in the Wareham Channel, including the summer plumaged individual, with another orange-billed individual flying towards Lytchett Bay, and on the ‘Stilt Pools’ at Swineham there were 2 Cattle Egret where there was also 1 Wood Sandpiper and 4 Yellow Wagtail. A quick whizz around to Shipstal Point allowed us to find the Forster’s Tern on this mornings boat, then this afternoon 2 Little Tern were seen on the Brownsea Lagoon along with 34 Spoonbill, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 dark-bellied Brent Goose and 3 Greenshank. Another Curlew Sandpiper was in the Wareham Channel on the low tide. Scarce gulls included an adult Little Gull in the Wareham Channel, an adult Yellow-legged Gull at Swineham and a few lingering Mediterranean Gulls in central harbour. A group of 14 Turnstone were back on a jetty off Hamworthy Beach and a few Kingfisher were logged bombing along various shorelines. When you ‘add in’ all the general sightings of things like Sandwich and Common Terns flying around the harbour, passing hirundines, 300+ feeding Black-tailed Godwit, rafts of feeding Cormorants etc, it makes for a pretty wholesome days birding.

Separate sightings away from our cruises included a decent tally of birds from Brownsea during the high tide this AM, including c10 Teal, 8 Gadwall, 4 Avocet, 60+ Ringed Plover, 3 Curlew Sandpiper, 31 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 127 Redshank, 13 Greenshank, 127 Dunlin, 15 Knot and 16 Turnstone. At Shell Bay, Studland the 2 Eider were still off shore and on the beach there were 9 Ringed Plover and 8 Sanderling. In Brands Bay this evening there were 3 Curlew Sandpiper, which are assumed to be the same as the Brownsea 3 along with 11 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel and 9 Grey Plover. Around the tracks of Middlebere and Hartland there were 2 Wheatear, 4 Spotted Flycatcher and 6 Redstart and the PCW Drain in Poole produced the goods with plenty of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, 1 Redstart, 1 Common Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Up on Ballard there were a further 3 Spotted Flycatcher and at Lytchett Fields/Bay there were separate Osprey sightings of 3+ individuals, 1 Spotted Redshank, 10 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper and 2 Green Sandpiper. 

White-tailed Eagle and fishing boat from Osprey cruise this AM – Wareham Channel – Jeremy McClements

White-tailed Eagle and Great White Egret from Osprey cruise this AM – Wareham Channel – Jeremy McClements

Forster’s Tern (below) from Osprey cruise this AM – Shipstal Point, RSPB Arne – Jeremy McClements

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