Poole Harbour sightings blog

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

Latest Sightings

Harbour Update – posted 06/10/21

Posted on: October 6th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

An interesting mix today with a definite sense of arrival. A Short-eared Owl was seen coming in off the sea at Ballard Down and it seems more crests are arriving with decent numbers of Goldcrest and Firecrest appearing at different locations. Then, this evening at Sunnyside during what we thought was going to be a fairly uneventful first lamping session of the ‘winter’ resulted in 3 Jack Snipe! This is way earlier than we’ve encountered them before, but then again, we rarely start lamping until mid-late October. Also, members of SRG (Stour Ringing Group) checked this same area only a couple of days ago, and there were no Jack Snipe then, so these are literally just fresh in. It’s likely these are passage/staging Jack Snipe, being so early in their migratory season which will push on further south, with ‘our’ over-winter regulars probably not arriving for another couple of weeks yet. Also today (conflicting) reports of either 30 or 50 Spoonbill on Shipstal Point, Arne. We are now approaching peak season for Spoonbill (normally around Oct 10th – 15th) so 50 wouldn’t be unusual at this time of year. It would be great to beat the record count of 80 though. Could we ever see 100??? Elsewhere there were 2 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Wheatear at Holton Lee and Lytchett Fields. In Middlebere there were 2 Great White Egret and 2-3 different Marsh Harrier, including a couple of fighting individuals. Plus, the first Black-necked Grebe of the winter was off Jerry’s Point, Studland and there was a Red-throated Diver in Brands Bay with 41 Great Crested Grebe in the same area.

Firecrests – Lower Piddle Valley 

Newly arrived Jack Snipe – Sunnyside

Harbour Update – posted 05/10/21

Posted on: October 5th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Strong gusts continue to linger for another day, until conditions make way and set up for an exciting week ahead. The remaining hirundines continue to slowly filter through, with 2 Sand Martin logged over Lytchett Fields today, while the Ruff  continues its residence in Pool Field alongside 35 Wigeon, numerous Black-tailed Godwit, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and at least 2 Yellow Wagtail. The adjacent Arable Field was bustling with activity, featuring 1 Whinchat among the 8 Stonechat, as well as a mobile flock of c60 Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and a hunting Kestrel. Over at the Holes Bay ASDA superstore, both adult Peregrines showed well on the highrise building again.

Yellow Wagtail – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 04/10/21

Posted on: October 4th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Things should start getting really interesting by the end of this week as the winds swing back north-easterly. The night sky should hopefully draw in the first Redwings of the autumn and perhaps the odd Ring Ouzel or two along the headlands and farm fields of Ballard or Greenlands. Until then we’ll need to make do with the persistent SW breeze and occasional showers which is still currently delivering a decent flow of Meadow Pipit and the last few remaining House Martin and Swallows. As October progresses Goldcrest and Firecrest become more numerous and today singles of Firecrest were logged at Holton Lee, Middlebere and Little Sea, Studland. There was a Great White Egret in Middlebere and a Cattle Egret flew over Swineham. October is the month for Bearded Tit and good numbers are now in the reedbeds around Swineham and Lytchett Bay.

Bearded Tit – Lytchett Bay – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 03/10/21

Posted on: October 3rd, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The clearing sky last night obviously got some birds moving again after yesterdays deluge with a ringing session in Lytchett Bay seeing a decent catch of Chiffchaff, Blackcap and still 3 Sedge Warbler, which for October is pretty rare. Also 17+ Bearded Tit were logged in the reedbeds in the bay and on Lytchett Fields the Ruff was still around with a Great White Egret over there too and a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine present. Kingfisher are now beginning to be seen around the harbour with 3 in Holes Bay north, 1 back in Poole Park, one seen on Poole Quay and another near the harbour mouth. In Holes Bay north there was a Common Sandpiper (a possible over-winterer) and in Poole Park 3 Sandwich Tern with another 15 on the jetty at Parkstone Yacht Club. In Brands Bay there were small numbers of waders with Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling.

Ringed Plover – Brands bay – Garry Hayman

Kingfisher – Poole Park – Clare Slade

Harbour Update – posted 02/10/21

Posted on: October 2nd, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Nice weather for ducks!! Well, it was in fact geese that provided the main interest with the first 10 Brent Goose of the autumn/winter seen heading towards the harbour out in Poole Bay. A sea watch from a couple of local birders also produced 4 Arctic Skua in Poole Bay, two early this AM and another two this evening, along with a late(ish) Arctic Tern, plenty of Gannet and still good numbers of Sandwich Tern milling about, also a few Common Scoter and Med Gulls. The Ruff was at Lytchett Fields again and in Holes Bay there were 256 Wigeon and 839 Black-tailed Godwit.

Ruff – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Harbour Update – posted 01/10/21

Posted on: October 1st, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

October started just as September ended, with a bit of wet and wild set of conditions, which actually subsided quite nicely and remained (semi) pleasant for the rest of the day. In Middlebere this AM there were 4 Spotted Redshank, c200 Black-tailed Godwit, 111 Avocet and 17 Pintail with 2 Firecrest along the track. There were 3 Marsh Harrier in the Wareham Channel and a Peregrine over Swineham. Chiffchaff are very numerous at many locations as are Jay, with quite a few active each morning currently, flying out over open spaces in twos and threes. At Arne there was a single Hobby still and a Great White Egret was over Shipstal. On Baiter there was a tardy Wheatear along with 36 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 16 Ringed Plover and 1 Rock Pipit.

Wheatear – Baiter – Martin Adams

Turnstone and Dunlin – Baiter – Martin Adams


Harbour Update – posted 30/09/21

Posted on: September 30th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Another grotty day, but some glimmers of interest. Most notably there are already up to 7 different Marsh Harrier in the West Poole Harbour roost. Being late Sept/early Oct, no doubt many of these will move on and be replaced by new comers over the coming weeks, but good to see so many already being attracted to passing through the harbour. There was also an un-ringed juvenile Osprey in the Wareham Channel which was alter seen off Shipstal. On the Brownsea Lagoon up to 40 Spoonbill are now present, with peak numbers due in a couple of weeks. Will the harbour reach 80 again….or even more? At Swineham there was a single Cattle Egret again and at Lytchett Fields a new Ruff arrived and there were 8 Green Sandpiper. 

Osprey off Shipstal Beach – RSPB Arne – Ian Julian

Harbour Update – posted 29/09/21

Posted on: September 29th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Very blustery once again but a few birds were moving. There was definitely an arrival of Stonechat today with small groups moving around different areas including up to 20 across the Greenlands Farm area, 5+ at Holton Lee, 10+ at Slepe Heath and ones and twos dotted around. A Great White Egret right in front of the Middlebere Hide gave fantastic views and at Baiter there were still 20+ Ringed Plover and a few Dunlin. At Lytchett Fields there were c60 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank, 7 Snipe, c20 Lapwing and a Marsh Harrier. Firecrests are now also becoming a bit more numerous with individuals at Swineham, Arne and Greenlands Farm.

Stonechat – Holton Lee – Tony Furnell

Great White Egret – Middlebere – Kate Plater

Great White Egret with Little Egret – Middlebere – Kate Plater

Harbour Update – posted 28/09/21

Posted on: September 28th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The foul weather really hit home today, but sadly despite the decent wind, there wasn’t much reported out in Poole Bay other than c20 Gannet (including plenty of fresh juveniles), 5 Kittiwake and c10 Sandwich Tern. In the Lower Frome Valley there were 2 Cattle Egret and in Holes Bay now 436 Wigeon. At Baiter there were 36 Ringed Plover, 34 Turnstone, 18 Oystercatcher and 12 Dunlin and at Whitley Lake 11 Bar-tailed Godwit with 2 Bar-tailed Godwit in Brands Bay too.

Bar-tailed Godwit – Brands Bay – Nick Gadenne

Harbour Update – posted 27/09/21

Posted on: September 27th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

The downpours and wind today definitely brought an element of winter with it, but some stunning sunshine by mid-morning saw autumn return quite quickly. At Swineham the Cattle Egret was again with the cows on the ‘scrape fields’ along with a Marsh Harrier over there too and just 13 Lapwing and 2 Black-tailed Godwit being the only waders on the Stilt Pools with a Yellow-legged Gull. On the Brownsea Lagoon there were 3 Spoonbill and in Holes Bay 1270 Black-tailed Godwit with 407 Wigeon now, along with drake Pintail, Teal, Shoveler (and Wigeon) all starting to lose their eclipse plumage and starting to look a lot smarter. At Lytchett fields there was 348 Dunlin along with a Cattle Egret too. The first Rock Pipits are also now back along the shorelines on the Sandbanks side of the ferry.

Rock Pipit – Sandbanks – Nick Gadenne 

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