Winter Raptors – posted 28/11/13

The western and side of Poole Harbour is a real draw for over-wintering birds of prey. The lowland heathland and moor-like habitats provide excellent hunting and roosting grounds for a number of species. There are currently 5 different Marsh Harrier frequenting the mouth of the Wareham Channel, best viewed from the end of the footpath at Swineham, also two Hen Harrier (one male and one female) commuting between Sunnyside and Hartland Moor along with a Merlin at the latter site. This time of year can be great for Short-eared Owl, however from the numbers seen elsewhere in the UK, it doesn’t look like its going to be a bumper SEO winter, well worth looking out for if out around dawn or dusk. I’d like to be proved wrong. The current 27 over-wintering Spoonbill seem to have mixed taste of feeding areas. Whilst all 27 can be located on the sand spit at Arne on a high tide, they all disperse to various feeding zones across the harbour with Holes Bay, Lytchett Bay, the Frome/Piddle Mouth and Middlebere all seeing feeding birds on a low tide. Also in Holes Bay up to 20 Pintail and a handful of Shoveler from the stone bench at Upton CP.  Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye numbers continue to rise slowly, with two’s and three’s of each species now viewable off Baiter car park, and many more out in central harbour.

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