Poole Harbour sightings blog

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

Latest Sightings

Harbour Update – posted 29/06/20

Posted on: June 30th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was rather quiet today with a strong SW wind blowing. Highlights included 5 Crossbill over a Poole garden mid-afternoon, female Osprey CJ7 caught a fish in the Wareham Channel and headed towards Arne to feed somewhere. At Lytchett Fields 3 Little Ringed Plover were seen together and c70 Swift passed over Studland.

Gadwall – Frome Valley


Harbour Update – posted 28/06/20

Posted on: June 29th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Sunshine and showers….that’s more like it! A typical British summer has now descended upon us. None of the 30 degree nonsense. This means getting out birding is a bit more bearable now. There were a good number of sightings from out around the harbour today, starting at Lytchett Fields where the 4 Little Ringed Plover were still present, along with small numbers of Teal, Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Marsh Harrier. In Holes Bay there were 24 Curlew, 4 Redshank, 7 Little Egret, a few Reed Warbler and c200 Canada Geese. Female Osprey CJ7 was seen out over Giggers Island in the Wareham Channel before heading west up the Frome Valley. In Middlebere there was a single Green Sandpiper out in front of the hide, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Redshank and 2 Little Egret in the channel. It’s currently chick-tastic out on the Brownsea Lagoon breeding tern islands with ‘masses’ of Common Tern chicks bobbing around at present and the Sandwich Terns also progressing well, which don’t forget you can watch live on our Brownsea Lagoon webcams. In the PC-World Drain, there were good numbers of juvenile Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Long-tailed Tit.

Egyptian Geese – Stoborough heath fields 


Harbour Update – posted 27/06/20

Posted on: June 28th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Despite the wind and drop in temperature there were a few notable and important sightings today, including what looks like confirmed breeding of Little Ringed Plover in (or around) the Lytchett Fields area with 2 adults and 2 fresh juveniles on the fields today, suggesting they’ve fledged from not very far away. Also on Lytchett Fields today were 10 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Lapwing, 12 Teal and a Marsh Harrier. At Morden Bog there were twos of Crossbill, Hobby, Woodlark, Spotted Flycatcher and Swift with 11 Stonechat and 2 Yellowhammer. At Middlebere there were 2 Green Sandpiper, 48 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, 3 Little Egret and 2 Redshank. A Red Kite drifted over Hartland Moor and female Osprey CJ7 was seen over Arne Moors, viewed from Slepe Heath.

Adult (above) and juv (below) Little Ringed Plover – Lytchett Fields – Shaun Robson

Moulting drake Teal (above) and Mallard (below) – Lytchett Fields


Harbour Update – posted 26/06/20

Posted on: June 27th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Thank goodness the weather turned today, dropping from 30 degrees down to only 19 by this afternoon! By far the best news today was that the first Avocet chick hatched on the Brownsea Lagoon. There are apparently currently 4 ‘sitting’ pairs, which is a good total for Dorset, in fact it’s the only 4 pairs in Dorset! Although they have tried to breed over the last few years, the chicks are frequently predated by Great Black-backed Gulls. However, this year a couple of pairs have nested well away from the gulls, so it would be great if they could actually fledge some youngsters this year. At Lytchett Fields 24 Teal are already back and the 1st juvenile Black-headed Gull was noted, along with an adult Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. A Red Kite drifted over Upton and a Marsh Harrier was seen at Swineham.

Nightjar – Slepe Heath 

Common Sandpiper – Lytchett Fields – David Foster


Harbour Update – posted 25/06/20

Posted on: June 26th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It seems the sun went to a few people’s heads today with thousands of people flocking to Dorset to get a taste of the sun, sea, sand and heat stroke! To get away from the madness and remind our selves that Dorset isn’t always full of such carnage we ventured out on to Slepe Heath to look for Nightjars and check our route and plan safety measures to see if we can host our Nightjar walks post July 4th. The great news is we’re pretty happy we can offer a set of safe and engaging Nightjar walks through July by reducing the number of participants from 20 to 10 and amending our route slightly. Some of our remaining trips are close to being fully booked already, but if you would like to join us here are the number of tickets left for our remaining walks and a link through to the booking page. Last night was such a treat with a minimum of 8-9 seen and plenty heard, so if you’d like a bit of (semi) normality in your life, why not join us?

July 7th – 3 spaces left

July 14th – 1 space left

July 21st – 10 spaces left

July 28th – 8 spaces left

We also checked the wetland site in the south of the harbour that we’ve been involved in over the last couple of years, which saw 6 freshly hatched Lapwing a couple of weeks ago. Well, tonight we could still see 3 young along with 3 adults meaning the site should see at least a 50% fledge rate, which is great. It was so hot today that other sightings were few and far between with female Osprey CJ7 seen briefly over the Wareham Channel, a new Marsh Harrier entered the harbour too from a great height, possibly a 2nd cal year male but heat haze made the aging and sexing tricky. A group of 5 Crossbill passed over the Piddle Valley and 3 Hobby were again over the Slepe Heath/Hartland area.


Harbour Update – posted 24/06/20

Posted on: June 25th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Well, it was definitely summer today with a sweltering 30 degrees hit at Bournemouth airport. Despite the heat, a few birds had obviously moved through the night with a new Common Sandpiper at Lytchett Fields. Swift seemed to be on the move with several parties heading south-east and there seems no better time currently to see/hear Crossbill with more heard and seen along coastal sites of Dorset with an incredible 500+ moving along some sites along the NE coast of England. Female Osprey CJ7 made an appearance on a harbour platform today, the first time in a couple of weeks and 2 Hobby were very active above Slepe heath catching dragonflies.

Juvenile Stonechat – Upton Heath – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 22nd & 23rd June 2020

Posted on: June 24th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There were more signs of return autumn passage over the last couple of days with the first returning Common Sandpiper seen at Swineham. There was also another Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields with the date suggesting it’s an early mover rather than a local bird. Off Swineham Point, the over-summering female Marsh Harrier has remained very active in the area, but the male that showed interest in her a few weeks ago has sadly moved on. There are several post breeding flocks of Jackdaws (and other corvids) forming at the moment at different locations with large groups of c500 noted over Upton, c400 over Lytchett Matravers and c300 over Wareham, all active at both dawn and dusk, entering and leaving roost sites. Nightjar are still thrilling the crowds with birds really enjoying this warm weather and doing circuits of various heathlands at dusk, wowing those of us that venture out to go and see them. At Holme Lane GP there were 13 Egyptian Geese and 5 Little Grebe.

Common Tern – Poole Harbour – Clare Slade


Harbour Update – posted 21/06/20

Posted on: June 22nd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

There were a few interesting bits and pieces about today, including what looked like a Whinchat on the Osprey nest cam briefly during the morning. Although Whinchat pass through Poole Harbour on migration in both spring and autumn, we rarely (in fact never) have records of them in the middle of the breeding season. There’s still debate on the age, or if it’s even a Whinchat as a white panel (which this bird shows) on the forewing is also a feature of young Stonechat too. However the extent of the white above and beyond the eye on this particular bird is so extensive, it certainly makes it ‘look more’ Whinchat rather than Stonechat. Regardless, it’s an interesting looking bird. Female CJ7 Osprey was seen out over the Wareham Channel mid-afternoon and there was also a report of a possible Common Crane over Middlebere. The description of long neck, long legs and large broad wings all sounded good so lets hope it re-shows somewhere. A Red Kite passed through the Corfe Gap mid-morning and there was also a report of a Hoopoe in a ‘Poole’ garden, but sadly, that’s all the information we received. At Lytchett Fields a Spotted Redshank was present again with 2 Green Sandpiper and 20+ Black-tailed Godwit. On the Brownsea Lagoon, c160 Sandwich Tern chicks are already beginning to practice their first flights…..they grow up so fast. Before we know it, they’ll all be gone!

Juvenile Goldfinch – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Juvenile Whinchat/Stonechat – Osprey nest cam


Harbour Update – posted 20/06/20

Posted on: June 21st, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Autumn return passage certainly stepped a notch this morning with the first returning Spotted Redshank logged at Lytchett Fields. Not one, not two but three different individuals at different stages of moult were counted, along with 4 Green Sandpiper, indicating that wader passage has now well and truly got under way. Female Spotted Redshank are first to return as they leave the males to raise the chicks once they’ve hatched, and begin heading south almost immediately. Ok, so the bulk of wader passage won’t be until August and September but these early morsels of interest add a new exciting aspect to the normally quiet mid-summer birding scene. Also at Lytchett Fields were 29 Black-tailed Godwit and 15 Lapwing. At Swineham 2 Egyptian Geese were on the scrape and the female Marsh Harrier was off Swineham Point. A partial leucistic/albino Starling viewed distantly out on Arne Moors got hearts going for a bit, thinking it was a Rosy Starling, but alas….it wasn’t to be. Female Osprey CJ7 was seen out over the Wareham Channel and 2 Hobby were over Slepe Heath.

Spotted Redshank – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam

Spotted Redshank – Lytchett Fields – Purbeck Pilgrim (Twitter)


Harbour Update – posted 18th & 19th June 2020

Posted on: June 19th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It was nice to finally feel a bit of squelchy mud under foot over the last couple of days with it having been so dry over the last few months. When out and about, we rarely see Moles, in fact hardly ever, but in the last couple of weeks have seen several, manoeuvring their way across the surface of the ground. Wondering why we’re suddenly seeing these seekers of the darkness so often recently, it occurred to us that with the ground being so dry, perhaps they’re being forced above ground in search of food with earthworms becoming harder to find? We’d be interested to hear whether anyone else has suddenly begun seeing more moles in recent weeks? Bird-wise, it’s pretty much of a much-ness although more signs of autumn are beginning to creep in with the first Spotted Redshanks logged on the NE coast heading south, with Poole Harbours surely due over the next week or so. Lytchett Fields or the Brownsea Lagoon is typically where you’d expect to see one of these early returners south, but until then Lytchett Fields was only able to offer 2 Green Sandpiper, 21 Lapwing, 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Redshank, 1 Dunlin and 1 Hobby…..not bad! The Brownsea Tern islands are now ‘stuffed’ with chicks which is great to see, and you’re able to watch them live on our Brownsea Lagoon webcams HERE. Female Osprey CJ7 is still about, but not visiting any nest platforms, but has been changing her behaviour slightly, even beginning to sit on channel markers out in the Wareham Channel….not something we’ve seen her do before. At Arne 2 Spotted Flycatcher were seen feeding young near the car park which is great news. After the rain today, a mass of hirundines began feeding in the river valley’s including the highest recorded total of Sand Martin so far this year with c120 in the Piddle Valley along with c30 House Martin.

Kestrel brood about to fledge – Edge of Wareham Forest


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