Poole Harbour sightings blog

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

Latest Sightings

Harbour update – posted 06/07/20

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

It was interesting to read today on Twitter that Portland bird Obs caught their first Willow Warbler of the autumn today, which we’re sure will be the first of many. Willow Warblers main passage period is late July and early August with most having gone through already by the latter part of August. This capture today means young birds are already on the move so it’s worth keeping an eye out in Long-tailed Tit flocks throughout July (and over the next week or two) as ‘Lottie’ flocks are a typical carrier species for migrating passerines such as Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. This time of year provides a great opportunity to learn a different call type between Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff which allows you to separate the two on call alone, often without even having to see the bird. In 2006 local Poole based publishing company ‘The Sound Approach’ published their first title ‘The Sound Approach to birding’. This award winning title introduces bird song to it’s reader in a manageable and easy to understand format, allowing you to get your head around what can quite often be a challenging topic. Recently the Sound Approach team uploaded their titles onto their website as free ‘Web-Books, and in Chapter 2 of ‘The Sound Approach to birding’ they provide an excellent breakdown and example of the two calls made by both adult and juvenile Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff on autumn migration. Click on the link below to have a read up on this topic. (We highly recommend reading the rest of the book too)!!!!


Well, we haven’t had our first migrating Willow Warbler here yet in the harbour, but up on Ballard there were several Common Swift leaving SW out to sea which suggested some of these are already on their way out of here. Also, the BTO Cuckoo tagging project also showed some of their tagged male Cuckoo’s were seen leaving the UK yesterday with one, ‘Valentine’ already almost down in Southern France! At Lytchett Fields there were still 11 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 Green Sandpiper with a single Dunlin on the rising tide. On Slepe Heath a Hobby was hunting over the mire and 8 Stonechat were counted. Stonechat seem to have had an excellent season with many juveniles on all the local heathlands. Crossbill were logged at Lytchett Heath (5), Rempstone Forest (7) and Greenlands Farm (4). It’s also worth mentioning that July is the time to keep an eye out for ‘moving’ herons of all species and with the increased breeding numbers of Cattle Egret in the UK, dispersing juveniles from elsewhere in the country could soon be joining our local Little Egrets in various roosts. Take note that juvenile Cattle Egret have black bills like Little Egret, so can be over-looked quite easily.

Silver-studded Blue Butterfly – Hartland Moor

Harbour Update – posted 05/07/20

Posted on: July 6th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Autumn passage is building really nicely at the moment with now 11 Little Ringed Plover on Lytchett Fields today. The Poole Harbour record is of 12 on several dates at Lytchett Fields last year but being so early in July, there’s plenty of time for more to arrive, as it seems they’ve had a good breeding season. Also on the fields were 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 3 Green Sandpiper and 1 Peregrine. In Middlebere an Osprey (assumed to be CJ7) with a fish was seen flying over the channel, over Hydes Heath and out towards the Wareham Channel. In the Middlebere Channel it’s self were 11 Curlew, 7 Little Egret, 3 Redshank and 14 Shelduck. At Creekmoor Ponds, it was great to see a Great Crested Grebe was still on eggs as we’re not sure the last time they bred there.


Harbour Update – posted 04/07/20

Posted on: July 5th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

Pretty grim today, but bad weather often forces down migrating birds, and today highlighted that. The Lytchett Fields Little Ringed Plover flock rose from 4 to 8 which for early July is a good total. Just outside the recording area a group of 10 Common Sandpiper were on Peveril Point, Swanage with another 3 Common Sandpiper on Seymers, Brownsea. Also at Lytchett Fields was the Spotted Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 6 Green Sandpiper, 30+ Redshank, 81 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Yellow-legged Gull and lots of juv Reed Warbler are beginning to appear. Over in Rempstone Forest a party of 11 Crossbill flew over and at Greensland’s Farm a Red Kite was seen. Female Osprey CJ7 was again seen out over the Wareham Channel in between the poor spells of weather and at Holes Bay a roost of 37 Little Egret were counted. In the PC World Drain, there were 6 Blackcap and 12 Chiffchaff, all mostly juveniles.

Black-tailed Godwit – Lytchett Fields

Harbour Update – posted 03/07/20

Posted on: July 4th, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

It wasn’t a bad day in the end, although the wind did build quite substantially. Female Osprey CJ7’s behaviour is interesting at the moment, as she’s taken to sitting on channel markers out in the Wareham Channel (rather American like) before going fishing elsewhere in the harbour. This morning she was on a marker in the mouth of Frome before heading off towards the Middlebere Wytch Lake area to catch a fish before heading off towards Wareham Forest. At Lytchett Fields there were more signs of autumn passage getting underway with 4 Little Ringed Plover, however, 3 of them were juveniles, which means a newly arrived juvenile had a arrived in from somewhere. This new bird seemed incredibly ‘fresh’ in terms of it’s juvenile plumage suggesting this too could have been raised somewhere local?? Also, the autumns first Greenshank returned onto the fields, and also present were 1 Spotted Redshank, 3 Green Sandpiper, 74 Black-tailed Godwit, 44 Redshank, c30 Lapwing and c15 Teal. More Crossbill were heard flying over with 8 over Slepe Heath/Hartland and c15 over Greenlands on the edge of Rempstone.

Newly arrived ‘fresh’ Little Ringed Plover – Lytchett Fields – Shaun Robson

Juvenile Lapwing – Lytchett Fields

Harbour Update – posted 02/07/20

Posted on: July 3rd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

With some strong winds arriving for the weekend it was worth trying to get some birding done today and tomorrow. At dawn, it looked as if an Osprey (probably CJ7) was sat on the Middlebere platform briefly, although frustratingly it didn’t trigger the camera. Post-breeding flocks of Mistle Thrush are building nicely with a flock of c20 at Arne and in the Piddle Valley. At Lytchett Bay, 4 Crossbill passed over the heath and on the fields were 4 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper, 64 Black-tailed Godwit, 32 Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Marsh Harrier, 17 Teal and 3 Oystercatcher. A newly arrived Common Sandpiper was also on the Brownsea Lagoon. In Holes Bay there were 27 Curlew, 6 Little Egret, 2 Grey Heron and still c150 Canada Geese. The Holme Lane GP saw 13 Egyptian Geese, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Peregrine and 5 Little Grebe with 2 chicks. The autumns first juvenile Common Whitethroat was ringed in Lytchett Bay, which suggests it being a migrant as they don’t breed in the area, along with 2 new Cetti’s Warbler. Finally, non-avian but an amazing scene this evening when a Muntjac Deer was seen on a town road in north Wareham!

Harbour Update – posted 01/07/20

Posted on: July 2nd, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

That’s it now, we can forget all about Covid:19 as autumn is officially here! What better distraction than the magic autumn of migration. We, know, we’re always banging on about how early autumn starts, and to get out and start looking etc etc, but it really and truthfully is the most exciting period of the birding calendar, and the best part is, is that it extends for four and a half months! Starting with the first early passage waders in July such as Little Ringed Plover, Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper. Then as July moves on the first Willow Warblers, Garden Warblers and Grasshopper Warblers begin to appear before things really kick off in August as a whole suit of other passerines build in numbers such as Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Redstarts, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchats, Yellow Wagtail and of course building numbers of Swallow and House Martin. August and September also see the passage of exciting waders like Little Stint, Ruff, Curlew and Wood Sandpiper. Then, as September grows old and gives way to October the finch, pipit, wagtail, bunting and thrush passage begin with coastal headlands being the best places visit as huge numbers can pass over these areas on a cold October morning. Then, by the end of October and early November big numbers of winter thrushes pass over, normally peaking in the first week of November. And of course….we can’t forget about the mass Woodpigeon migration which normally takes place between Nov 5th and 15th over the harbour, depending on the weather patterns. So, if there was ever a time to re-focus and remind our selves of the richness of our local area when it comes to our birds, now is most definitely the time.

Today, at Lytchett Fields there was an increase in Little Ringed Plover as a new migrant adult joined the family group, so 3 adults and 2 juveniles were present, so was the Spotted Redshank again, 29 Common Redshank, c60 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Lapwing, 1 Marsh Harrier and c15 Teal. On Slepe Heath there were c6 Nightjar churring, also a Hobby was calling at dusk and a Green Sandpiper flew over calling just after sunset. On the Brownsea Lagoon the new Avocet family with 4 chicks seem to be doing well, keeping away from the Great Black-backed Gulls.

Nightjar – Slepe Heath

Harbour Update – posted 30/06/20

Posted on: July 1st, 2020 by Birds of Poole Harbour

This year is going just too fast…..April only seemed like last week, May only seemed yesterday and now it’s practically July! This is good news as it means we wane away from the doldrums period and can expect migrants to begin appearing week on week from now on until the end of October….hoorah! The latter part of July usually sees the first returning Willow Warbler head south along with the first few Garden Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. Waders will certainly increase as the month progresses and Lytchett Fields is already beginning to show that with 4 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and 33 Black-tailed Godwit today along with 1 Hobby and 1 Yellow-legged Gull. On the Brownsea Lagoon there was more exciting news that another pair of Avocet had hatched young, this time with 4 chicks, meaning there are currently 5 fresh Avocet chicks on the lagoon at present, with everyone keeping their fingers crossed for successful fledging. In Brands Bay there was a likely Whimbrel with c30 Curlew. So, with June ending on a bit of a wet note, but with July starting tomorrow, lets make Autumn 2020 a season to remember, it begins now!

Lapwing ‘chick’ – Southern harbour wetland 

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

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