Poole Harbour sightings blog

A record of all interesting and notable sightings from around the harbour throughout the year.

Latest Sightings

Harbour Update – 16/11/20

Posted on: November 16th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Jerry’s Point, THE Poole Harbour site at the moment came up trumps again today with a Purple Sandpiper feeding on the mud off the point. Purple Sands are rare enough in the harbour these days, but to see one feeding out on the mud is even rarer. The Scaup flock grew to 6 birds this afternoon too and there were 3 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 7 Black-necked Grebe, 27 Red-breasted Merganser and 57 Great Crested Grebe and 6 Great Northern Diver. There was another Great Northern Diver off Shipstal Beach and one more off Baiter. Not quite in the harbour but an adult male Hen Harrier was seen at Morden Bog and at Swineham there were 2 Marsh Harrier. At the harbour entrance this morning a decent range of species entered the harbour including 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 99 Shag and 3 Common Scoter, and on the water in Shell Bay were 3 Black-necked Grebe.

Purple Sandpiper – Jerry’s Point – Garry Hayman


Harbour Update – posted 15/11/20

Posted on: November 16th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The weather was rather ‘on/off’ today, but it seemed people were out looking to make up for the lack of birding on Saturday. There were some huge high and low tides with Lytchett Fields and both River Valley’s looking like permanent lakes. Best from the day included now 9 Great Northern Diver off Jerry’s Point along with 2 Scaup, 1 Common Scoter and 6 Black-necked Grebe. Off Middle Beach were 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Great Northern Diver and 4 Gannet. Poole Bay was busy with Gannet with a minimum of c50 tearing back and fourth. Baiter Beach on the low tide in the evening saw 1 Great Northern Diver just off the beach, as well as 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Turnstone and 11 Brent Geese. Holes Bay SW was packed with birds and had c120 Avocet feeding just under the railway bridge, also a Jack Snipe was flushed from right on the edge of the dual carriage way, which if you think about it is probably one of the safest places to day roost if you’re a small bird as it’s unlikely a predator is going to actively be hunting on the road verge, apart from a cunning Kestrel. Out over the Wareham Channel 4 Marsh Harrier and a Merlin remained and a Great White Egret was spooked from the Middlebere Channel after a loud clap of thunder and there were 2 Spotted Redshank there too. The Brownsea Lagoon also saw up to 600 Avocet roosting there on the high tide.

Turnstone – Chain Ferry Slipway


Harbour Update – posted 14/11/20

Posted on: November 15th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The combination of lockdown and torrid weather meant that sightings were pretty thin on the ground, with just a few records from Jerry’s Point reported, with 4 Great Northern Diver, 2 Scaup, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Goldeneye and 12 Red-breasted Merganser out on the water, then on the tide line were 32 Ringed Plover, 67 Dunlin, 6 Sanderling, 26 Turnstone and 17 Avocet. Off Alum Chine a decent sea watch produced 1 Great Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver, 249 Gannet, 1 Razorbill, 1 Common Scoter and 1 Kittiwake. A Lamping session on Friday saw good returns including 5 Jack Snipe caught, 2 Woodcock and 1 Common Snipe. Interestingly, one of the Jack Snipe was a ringed individual that had been caught earlier this year on March 4th at Sunnyside Farm, highlighting winter site fidelity for Jack Snipe here.

Jack Snipe – Hartland Moor


Harbour Update – posted 13/11/20

Posted on: November 13th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A fine adult male Hen Harrier graced the harbour today, popping up at several different locations including Shipstal, Middlebere and the Wareham Channel. At Lytchett Fields a Peregrine cleared the fields but prior to that there were 300+ Lapwing, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Kingfisher and 256 Teal and 3 Little Egret. At Jerry’s Point there were 4 Great Northern Diver  2 Scaup, 1 Common Scoter, 8 Red-breasted Merganser,  c35 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Black-necked Grebe, 11 Grey Plover and 2 Sanderling along shore of Redhorn Quay. Finally 4 Pintail and 50 Lapwing in Brands Bay and a Great White Egret over on Goathorn.


Harbour Update – posted 12/11/20

Posted on: November 13th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We carried out one of our first lamping sessions of the winter last night at a site in the south of the harbour. There seems to still be a number of Woodcock yet to arrive as the site often produces 20-30 individuals logged during the session but only 9 were seen last night. However 2 were caught along with a Jack Snipe which makes for a good start to the season. Off Jerry’s Point the Long-tailed Duck was seen again along with a newly arrived Slavonian Grebe, 7 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Goldeneye, 2 Great Northern Diver and 2 Sandwich Terns. There were also 4 Black-necked Grebe and 3 Common Scoter of Knoll Beach. In Middlebere there were 5 Spotted Redshank, 19 Grey Plover, 470 Avocet, 120 Redshank, 280 Dunlin, 5 Curlew and 20 Black-tailed Godwit. There was another Black Redstart found today, this time along the Baiter shoreline near the Poole Park sluice gate. Finally, another Water Pipit was colour-ringed at Lytchett Bay as part of a national scheme to learn more about these scarce visitors to the UK. So far three have been ringed with yellow rings on the right leg showing eith 0K, 1K or 2K

Woodcock being ringed near Hartland


Harbour Update – posted 11/11/20

Posted on: November 11th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Not much ‘going down’ today as the blustery SW wind began to build, although the Goosander was seen again out in South Deep with Red-breasted Merganser. Also 3 Great Northern Diver, 2 Scaup, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Common Scoter and 1 Great White Egret were logged. The first Black Redstart of the autumn was flitting around Sterte Industrial Estate. Also the first 2 returning Goldeneye for Poole Park were back on the main boating lake. A huge flock of sinensis Cormorant arrived into Parkstone Bay consisting of several hundred birds. Holes Bay north held 508 Black-tailed Godwit, 176 Dunlin, 51 Knot, 120 Avocet and 2 Lapwing. At Lytchett Bay a Merlin was chasing down 2 Water Pipit.

Water Pipit – Lytchett Bay – Shaun Robson


Harbour Update – Posted 10/11/20

Posted on: November 11th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Before we provide todays sightings, we’d like to make you aware of a report that was published today by Birdlife International which highlights the mass licensed, legal killing of birds across EU member states (including the UK) over a nine year period of 2009 – 2017. The licenses, also known as derogations are granted by governmental organisations to individuals (landowners, farmers, supermarkets etc) to ‘deal’ with birds that start having an impact on either health, produce and profit! The study found that c84,000 licenses were granted during this time period with c17,000 to the UK alone! The report highlights that across the EU, a whopping 14 million birds were legally killed which if you add to the totals of illegally killed birds (c25 million) as well as species that are disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, lack of insects etc then it adds to an already pretty grim picture. The main species concerned are Feral Pigeon (c2.5 million) and Wood Pigeon (c1 million) but also include Starling (c1.5 million), Song Thrush (c700k), Chaffinch (550k), Blackbird (c350k) and Fieldfare (c300k) to name a few. The report not only highlights the scale, but also the EU commissions inability to follow protocol and govern the Habitats and Birds Directives which states that full reporting of derogations is mandatory for all EU member states, however when the report was being carried out, huge gaps in the data were found. There are numerous species mentioned within the report relevant to Poole Harbour, most notably the Cormorant, a protected species that’s been in steady decline here in Dorset for many years. However, it’s been noted that over the last 9 years around c400,000 Cormorant were killed legally with a population of only c240,000 pairs! Pretty staggering. You can read the shortened version of the report HERE or the full report HERE.

Birds in the harbour today included the Long-tailed Duck again off Furzey Island, viewed from Jerry’s Point. Also 4 Great Northern Diver, 5 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Scaup, 31 Red-breasted Merganser. At Lytchett Bay there were 2 Water Pipit, including one of the ringed individuals. In the Wareham Channel there were 4 Marsh Harrier and the Hen Harrier was also seen off Swineham Point.

Water Pipit – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 09/11/20

Posted on: November 9th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This still weather is making it really easy to find and count birds out on the open water. Yet again, Jerry’s Point produced the goods today with a redhead Goosander out on the water with Red-breasted Merganser. Other totals included 4 Great Northern Diver, 4 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Scaup, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Goldeneye, 60+ Great Crested Grebe and 20+ Red-breasted Merganser. From the Houseboats in Bramble Bush Bay there were 32 Ringed Plover, 8 Sanderling and 9 Dunlin. Brands Bay was packed with 498 Black-tailed Godwit, 237 Dunlin, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Grey Plover, c100 Redshank, c300 Wigeon, c120 Brent Goose, c30 Pintail and 1 Marsh Harrier. From Middle Beach there were 4 Black-necked Grebe and 1 Gannet (plus a dead one on the beach) and from South Beach 2 Black-necked Grebe, 2 Common Scoter and 1 Great Northern Diver. Out on Wareham Common the largest Fieldfare flock of the autumn was present with c150 logged today with c30 Redwing. At Upton Country Park there were 600+ Black-tailed Godwit, 250 Dunlin, 25 Knot, 66 Avocet, 30 Pintail, 70 Shoveler and good numbers of Teal and Wigeon. Swineham was Goose-tastic today with 71 Greylag Geese, 2 Egyptian Geese and 212 Canada Goose. Primed to draw in a Pink-foot, White-fronted or Bean Goose should the weather turn colder later in the winter. Also at Swineham a Hen Harrier was busy patrolling over the reed beds.

Pintail – Holes Bay CP – Rene Goad

Redhead Goosander – Jerry’s Point – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 08/10/20

Posted on: November 8th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A murky morning created an atmospheric start around the south of the harbour, making for calm, yet challenging field conditions. Jerry’s Point featured the bird of the day… a male Long-tailed Duck, as well as a strong supporting cast of 2 Scaup, 1 female type Common Scoter, 6 Great Northern Diver (including 1 in summer plumage), 7 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Goldeneye, 43 Great Crested Grebe, 30 Red-breasted Merganser, 30 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 31 Oystercatcher, 23 Turnstone, 19 Dunlin and 1 Great White Egret off Redlake. Brand’s Bay hosted a further 365 Wigeon, 69 Pintail, 32 Teal, 18 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 280 Black-tailed Godwit, 140 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, 21 Lapwing, 19 Curlew and Redshank.

Elsewhere, a Stoborough garden enjoyed a visiting Firecrest and Holes Bay racked up peak counts of 1244 Wigeon, 640 Black-tailed Godwit and 121 Avocet, as well as singles of Grey Plover and Kingfisher.

Wigeon – Brand’s Bay – Gary Hayman

Pintail – Brand’s Bay – Gary Hayman


Harbour Update – posted 07/11/20

Posted on: November 7th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was pretty mild today, almost spring like in fact with Skylark in full song just outside Lytchett Minster. One of the highlights of the day were 2 Water Pipit that were colour-ringed as part of a national scheme to track their movements across the UK/Europe and possibly back to their breeding grounds in the spring. After a week of trying 2 were finally caught by Stour Ringing Group in Lytchett Bay and were ringed with yellow colour-rings labelled 0K and 1K in black lettering. Will be fascinating to see if they appear anywhere else in the UK this winter. Elsewhere around the harbour the Jerry’s Point area was well watched again with 4 Great Northern Diver, 37 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Common Scoter and 3 Black-necked Grebe and in Brands Bay there were 310 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Lapwing, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Peregrine and 2 Great White Egret. Around Middlebere/Slepe/Wareham Channel area there were 2 Hen Harrier, 5 Marsh Harrier and 1 Merlin. There were 2 late Wheatear up on Nine Barrow Down and 3 more House Martin off Studland.

Water Pipit – Lytchett Bay – Shaun Robson

Water Pipit ‘1K’ – Lytchett Bay – Shaun Robson


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