Poole Harbour sightings blog

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

Latest Sightings

Harbour Update – posted 03/05/21

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

What started off as a fairly decent day, descended into what was an almost autumn gale like situation with winds building up to 40mph by late evening. Female Osprey CJ7 had had enough of trying to stay on her nest and took off vertically around tea time simply by opening her wings. We hope she’s safe somewhere and returns to the nest sometime soon. The winds did make it good sea watching conditions with a morning and afternoon session carried out and saw 14 Manx Shearwater, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Eider, 30 Gannet, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Fulmar and a decent passage of Sandwich Tern. There were 2 Cuckoo around Lytchett Bay and 6 Little Ringed Plover at Lytchett Fields with 19 Whimbrel, 10 Greenshank, 6 Dunlin and 1 Common Sandpiper. There were still 13 Turnstone at Baiter and at Swineham just the two Egyptian Geese and a Greenshank were on the scrapes but there were 13 Whimbrel on the fields.

Whimbrel – Swineham – Peter Moore


Harbour Update – posted 02/05/21

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

Find of the day goes to a Pied Flycatcher picked up at Middlebere – a scarce spring migrant in a Poole Harbour context! The experience improved further with Wheatear and a vocal Cuckoo dashing around. The rising tide at Middlebere Channel offered few birds, with a single Greenshank and Whimbrel this highlights. The National Trust track down from the lay-by produced a singing Lesser Whitethroat first thing not far from the parking spaces and a Red Kite drifting high over Arne, while a passing visit to Soldiers Road offered 2 more Wheatear. Three Cattle Egrets on Frome Flood Fields this morning, viewed at distance from from Bog Lane.

CJ7 visiting another Poole Harbour nest platform


Harbour Update – posted 01/05/21

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

Superb spring migrant counts coming in from Swineham again today thanks to Peter Moore… 76 singing Reed Warbler and 18 Sedge Warbler, Common Sandpiper (Redcliff slipway), Little Ringed Plover (Stilt Pool) and 9 Whimbrel (8 over the main pit, 1 in N Bestwall paddocks). An impressive 41 singing Cetti’s Warbler, 9 each of Blackcap and Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler and 3 Whitethroat. A Hoopoe was in a private garden at Studland and other notables included 5 Wheatear on Stoborough Heath and a Chiffchaff collecting nest material at Lytchett Bay SANG. An Osprey was reported over the River Piddle at 2:30, likely CJ7.

Whitethroat – Swineham – Peter Moore

Typical views of Reed Warbler – Swineham – Peter Moore

Sedge Warbler – Swineham – Peter Moore

Chiffchaff collecting nesting material – Lytchett SANG – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 30/04/21

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

Poole Towns good run continued today with a Nightingale found at Luscombe Valley by Nick Mudge. It sang on and off early to mid-morning but then went quiet. It just highlights the value of these migration corridors through the town as there was also Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff also there. At Swineham after the rain stopped a decent number of Sedge Warbler were along the gravel pit footpath with 6+ singing plus at the far end there was a Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Blackcap all feeding in one bush, suggesting they’d literally just arrived. Plus, one of the Ring-necked Ducks was back on the main GP and a Cuckoo was there too. There were also 10+ Swift, 100+ Sand Martin and 50+ Swallow with 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Egyptian Geese on the scrapes and 9 Whimbrel overhead.

Greenshank – Lytchett Fields – Ian Ballam


Harbour Update – posted 29/04/21

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

These cold mornings are a killer on the fingertips still. We were kind of hoping that dawn birding would become a pleasant experience by now but it certainly isn’t yet. A cold nippy NE wind was still rippling across the harbour this AM, not helped by the initial crystal clear sky’s. The Poole Park Garganey seemed to have disappeared but two more were found (a male and female) at Swineham in the mouth of the River Piddle. The Gravel Pit at Swineham was busy with Sand and House Martin, Swallow and 2 Swift. There were 4 Sedge Warbler and 5+ Reed Warbler in the reeds around the pits, but the best news is that the high spring tide and rain has re-filled the Swineham Scrapes just in time for May wader passage….roll on the Broad-billed Sandpiper?! We had to make do with 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 18 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 White Wagtail along with 1 Egyptian Goose. A Marsh Harrier was high over Rempstone, so a presumed migrant, and on Brownsea there were 30+ Common Tern, 1 Spoonbill, 10+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Wheatear, 2 Avocet, c30 Dunlin, 3 Greenshank, 4 Shoveler and 2 Redshank. In Holes Bay there were 11 Whimbrel with 15 Reed Warbler now back around the bay fringes and there were 6 Whimbrel on the Brownsea shoreline.

We’ve also had the recorder out the last couple of nights at Lytchett Fields to listen out for Common Snipe and other waders. There were a lot of Greenshank calls and some nice passage of nocturnally migrating Avocet as highlighted in the recording below.

Whimbrel – Holes Bay – @HolesBayNature (Twitter) 


Harbour Update – posted 28/04/21

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

The arrival of a drake Garganey at Poole Park was the clear star of the day, delighting birders in the heart of Poole Town, generally keeping close to the islands on the small duck pond. A Lesser Whitethroat in sub-song was also picked up in small bit of scrub while observing the Garganey. Other highlights included 2 Whimbrel in Holes Bay north and 9 in Holes Bay south. A full summer plumaged Cattle Egret was in the Frome Valley and 3 flew over Wareham Channel at dusk and on Slepe heath there was 1 Cuckoo, 1 Willow Warbler and a Tree Pipit flew over. Whitethroat were conspicuous with quite a few logged across the harbour and there were 2 Lesser Whitethroat at Middlebere. There was a Marsh Harrier out in the Wareham Channel and in the Frome and Piddle Valley around c300 hirundine were feeding, mostly Sand Martin but also good numbers of House Martin and Swallow along with 1 Swift. At Lytchett fields there were 4+ Little Ringed Plover, 4+ Greenshank, 5 Whimbrel, 2 fly over Yellow Wagtail and 4 Wheatear. 

Garganey – Poole Park – Clare Slade


Harbour Update – posted 27/04/21

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

Finally the cold wind subsided today and the warmth encouraged a few more spring migrants to arrive, however the news of the day only happened about 19:50 this evening when CJ7 laid her first unfertilised egg of the season. If she hadn’t of paired up this spring it was always likely she’d go through the same process as last spring and tonight she did. It may seem sad or frustrating to watch, but this is all great experience for her when Mr Right does come along as she perfects her nest building skills and learns how to care for her eggs. It’s great to see her bond to the harbour is still so strong and her time will come, she (and we) just need to be patient. From a scientific point of view, this is fascinating behaviour that is teaching us much about Osprey biology when colonising a new area. Females setting up territories and laying annual clutches of unfertilised eggs is relatively unknown, if known about at all so we’re getting a great insight into new and fascinating part of the project we were never expecting to see. Lets see how May and June pan out, and who knows, she may even meet Mr Right later this spring??

Other sightings from today included a Garden Warbler, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Common Sandpiper and 3 Blackcap in the PCW Drain. At Lytchett Fields there was a decent passage of Swallow with c20 House Martin back on territory now and a Swift passed over. A Wryneck was also reported near the SANG car park at Lytchett Fields but sadly couldn’t be relocated. At Lytchett Fields there were 28 Whimbrel went over and there were 6 Little Ringed Plover, 6 Greenshank, 3 Ringed Plover and a Spotted Redshank. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was a Spoonbill plus good numbers of Sandwich and Common Tern, several Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover and c20 Bar-tailed Godwit.

CJ7 with newly laid unfertilised egg this evening 


Harbour Update – posted 25/04/21

Posted on: April 25th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

We’re looking forward to a possible return of one of our 2019 Osprey chicks over the coming weeks, however having seen the weather forecast for early May, any late returning Osprey are probably best staying put for as long as possible with icy cold conditions set to move in from the Arctic by the 6th of May. Not ideal at all for any spring migrant or summer breeder. Hopefully the these arctic systems will shift soon into May but until then, its worth keeping a pair of gloves in car! That said, there has been a marked increase of Reed Warbler in the Frome Valley with 41 counted this morning along with 35 Cetti’s Warbler, 10 Sedge Warbler 10 Chiffchaff and 2 Swift were over the gravel pit with 1 Greenshank and 2 Redshank on the Stilt Pools. At Lytchett fields there were 23 Whimbrel with 5 Greenshank, 7 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plover and a Marsh Harrier flew over there too. An Osprey was out over the Wareham Channel this evening but CJ7 was off the nest so it could well have been her but another seen over Wimborne this morning too suggesting non-breeders are still/now passing through. A Late Wigeon was in Holes Bay and a Red Kite passed over Middlebere plus 2-3 Hobby were over Hartland. Over Wareham around c500 Med Gull passed back and fourth over the course of the day and at the PCW Drain there were 3 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Willow Warbler and a Peregrine was over Poole Quay. Finally there were 2 Wheatear on Hartland Stud.

Wheatear – Hartland – Nicholas Williams


Harbour Update – posted 24/04/21

Posted on: April 24th, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Proper spring day today with superb seawatching and vismig on offer! A Pale morph Pomarine Skua distantly east past Alum Chine at 07:25am was the thrilling highlight of an excellent seawatch from Alum Chine that logged 14 Arctic Tern, 19 Common Tern, 14 Commic Tern (Common/Arctic sp.), 3 Little Tern, 22 Sandwich Tern, 1 diver sp., 1 Mute Swan, 2 Kittiwake, 1 Grey Plover,  10 Whimbrel and 40 Gannet. Various spring passerines were also observed from the watch, with Wheatear and 2 White and a Yellow Wagtail in off the sea, accompanied by 2 Swift and 4 Swallow. Lytchett Bay received an early Swift record, with one passing low over Frenches Pools. CJ7 remained largely inactive today, however a second Osprey was reported in the harbour this morning, picked up over Middlebere Channel at 10:30am while CJ7 was hunkered down on the nest cam. Just beyond the harbour bounday, a Red Kite was spotted over Morden mid-morning.


Harbour Update – posted 23/04/21

Posted on: April 23rd, 2021 by Birds of Poole Harbour

A Branksome seawatch early doors produced Fulmar, 1 Shelduck, 3 Gannet, 1 Dunlin and 10 Sandwich Tern. Whitley Lake offers colourful spring delights, with 57 brick-red, summer plumage Bar-tailed Godwit from Shore Road. The bay also held a lone Whimbrel and 27 Turnstone and Dunlin. The underwatched Luscombe Valley offered singles of Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Wheatear. Giood numbers of Common Whitethroat were also logged in the bushes around the ferry terminal, with 4 Sandwich Tern off Sandbanks. Swineham featured vocal Sedge Warbler, 2 Little Ringed Plover, numerous Cetti’s and Reed Warblers and 2 Cuckoo, although there was no sign of yesterday’s Garganey.

Press Release – Poole Harbour translocated Osprey settles in Wales. Read full story here…

Bar-tailed Godwit – Shore Road, Sandbanks

Whimbrel – Shore Road, Sandbanks


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