Latest Surveys

Numerous surveys have been and continue to be carried out right across the harbour, creating a unique picture as to what is happening within this nationally and internationally important site. This section of the website will allow you to peruse through various reports, new and old, giving you a detailed insight into specific species and habitats. All surveys published on these pages have been done so with the permission of the surveyor’s themselves or the owners of the surveys.

The Ciconiiformes of Poole Harbour : Herons and their allies By Nick Hopper

Back in late 2016 we commissioned Nick Hopper to carry out a full census of heron species, including Spoonbill from within our Poole Harbour recording area. The survey looked into the feeding, breeding and roosting habits, as well as the history of Eurasian Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Eurasian Bittern, Great White Egret and Cattle Egret within Poole Harbour. To gather good data on each of these species, a huge amounts of fieldwork had to be undertaken. However, here we are 29 months later with a rich and comprehensive overview of the status of each of the species mentioned above which we hope will be enjoyed by you the public and as a reference source for years to come.

The Ciconiiformes of Poole Harbour : Herons and their allies By Nick Hopper


A survey of the distribution, timing and activities of migrant Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Poole Harbour during autumn 2015 : Brittany Maxted

Three years ago we commissioned local student Brittany Maxted to analyse and look at migrating Osprey distribution around Poole Harbour during the autumn of 2015. Brittany did such a great job that she went on to help us set up and run the first year of our Poole Harbour Osprey translocation project and then went on to get a 2:1 in Biological sciences at Oxford University, so as you can image was quite busy! However, we’re happy to now be able to publish the final report which actually contributed towards helping us secure the licences to carry out our Osprey translocation here in Poole Harbour.

A survey of the distribution, timing and activities of migrant Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Poole Harbour during autumn 2015


Moths of Poole Harbour – Phase 1 report

Knowing how other parts of the harbours eco-systems are functioning is vital, plus it gives a good indication as to how bird populations may be affected in the long and short term. In the summer of 2017, Birds of Poole Harbour commissioned a two year ‘Moths of Poole Harbour’ study with the aim to gain knowledge of moth species occurring around the harbour their distribution, abundance and to some extent, their habitat requirements. Starting in July 2017, Phase 1 of the study was extremely successful with numerous public engagement events taking place with one or two ‘goodies’ caught along the way. The full report for Phase 1 can be read below.

Moths of Poole Harbour – Phase 1 report

Moths of Poole Harbour – Phase 2 report

Moths of Poole Harbour – Phase 3 report – Ballad Down report 2018 – 2019 & Holton Lee Report 2017 – 2019

Breeding gulls of Poole Harbour 2016 – Nick Hopper

In 2016 ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ commissioned Nick Hopper to carry out a full census of breeding gulls within our Poole Harbour boundary. The survey was carried out during the spring and summer of 2016 and the findings as well as the results took us a bit by surprise. No doubt, many of you would have read about the illegal egg harvesting of Black-headed Gull and Mediterranean Gull eggs that was uncovered through carrying out this survey, and finally, before you read the report why not have a guess at how many Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull breed within the Poole Harbour area… may be surprised!

Breeding gulls of Poole Harbour – Nick Hopper

Middlebere sightings August 2014 – June 2016 by Simon Kidner

The Avocet Hide at Middlebere is one of the best places to watch birds in Poole Harbour, especially in the winter when birds of prey and wading species frequent the upper end of the channel on a rising tide. The ‘public diary’ in the hide provides a great account of what can be seen at Middlebere right the way through the year, however without visiting the hide, you won’t get to read the full accounts of the publics sightings. However, local Middlebere regular Simon Kidner has kindly written up a full account of all sightings from the ‘public diary’ ranging from August 2014 to June 2016. This report will provide you with a good understanding of the the best times to visit Middlebere and what you can expect to see.

Many thanks to Simon for providing us with this report and he has even provided a breakdown at the end of the report of dates of some of the hides most welcomed visitors.

Avocet Hide – Middlebere Sightings August 2014 to June 2016 without photos

Wader and Waterfowl Roost Survey Of Poole Harbour 2002/03

This report presents the results of a survey undertaken during the winter of 2002/03 to record the location of roosting waders and waterfowl in Poole Harbour. The changes that have occurred since Collins (1985, 1986) are given, together with the current threats to each site

Wader and Waterfowl Roost Survey 2002-03 – Steve Morrison

Numbers And Distribution Of Black-necked Grebe And Other Waterbirds at Studland, Dorset 2005/06 – Poole Harbour Study Group

During the 1990’s Poole Harbour and Studland Bay were listed either separately or together as being of national importance for wintering Slavonian Grebe and Black-necked Grebe. Due to lack of coordinated counts over a period of time, repeated counts were made from the Studland Shorline especially for this report to redress the lack of monitoring. This PDF was donated to The Birds of Poole Harbour charity by The Poole Harbour Study Group to be used as a reference document on our surveys page

Numbers and Distribution of Black-necked Grebe at Studland


Important Birds Of Poole Harbour And Their Status 1998/99 – 2004/05 – Brain Pickess and John Day

The purpose of this report is to update the findings in Pickess & Day (2002) Important Birds of Poole Harbour report, focusing on the same thirty two species whose status they had assessed up to 1998 in Poole Harbour. This PDF was donated to The Birds of Poole Harbour charity by The Poole Harbour Study Group to be used as a reference document on our surveys page

Important Birds Of Poole Harbour And Their Status 1998:99 – 2004:05

Important Birds Of Poole Harbour 2002 – Brain Pickess and John Day

Poole Harbour and its environs, has long been recognised nationally as being of high biological importance. In 1964 the harbour was designated under The National Parks and countryside Act 1949, section 23, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Within the harbour area, the variety of different habitats contributes significantly to its biodiversity and to its support of nationally and internationally important bird populations.This PDF was donated to The Birds of Poole Harbour charity by The Poole Harbour Study Group to be used as a reference document on our surveys page

Important Birds of Poole Harbour 2002

Bird Invertebrate Prey Availability In Poole Harbour 2004 – Poole Harbour Study Group

English Nature commissioned this report with the objective of establishing a baseline against which future verification of favourable conditions of the interest features within the Poole Harbour SPA may be established. This PDF was donated to The Birds of Poole Harbour charity by The Poole Harbour Study Group to be used as a reference document on our surveys page.

Bird Invertebrate Prey Availability In Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour Breeding Redshank Survey 2014 – RSPB Survey

The British breeding population of Redshank is internationally important. After surveys were carried out in 1997 and 2004 to assess the number of pairs breeding on saltmarsh within Poole Harbour, the RSPB decided to carry a repeat survey in 2014 to see how the population had changed.

Poole Harbour Breeding Redshank Survey 2014 Report


Starlings of Poole Harbour – A winter roost report – Nick Hopper

Each winter many thousands of Starling enter the UK from mainland Europe often forming large evening murmurations in rural, urban and semi-urban areas. Roost sizes can vary greatly year on year, and in this report Nick Hopper focuses on the winter roost behaviour during the 2014/15 winter period within Poole Harbour.

Starling winter roosts of Poole Harbour report_

Corvids of Poole Harbour 2007-08 – Nick Hopper

From September 2007 to March 2008, Nick Hopper was commissioned to carry out a study on the roosting, feeding and breeding habits of all Corvid species within the Poole Harbour area. During the 2014/15 winter period Nick re-surveyed Magpie roosts as part of our Birds of Poole Harbour winter roost study. He has combined both studies into one full report, which you can now read here.

Corvid roosts of Poole Harbour report

Pied Wagtails of Poole Harbour – A winter roost survey 2014/15 – Nick Hopper

Every winter in Poole Harbour, winter-roosts of many different bird species are formed in a selection of habitats. Some, like the Grebe roosts are well studied and documented, but others are still a total unknown. During the winter period of 2014/15 Nick Hopper was commisioned to carry out a survey into the winter roosting habits of Pied Wagtail, Starling and Magpie. In the first part of his three part survey you can read about the behaviour and location choices that Pied Wagtails adopt pre and post roost during the cold winter months.

Pied Wagtails in Poole Harbour

Population and distribution of wintering Woodcock in Poole Harbour – Nick Hopper

In Autumn 2013, ‘Birds of Poole Harbour’ commissioned environmental surveyor Nick Hopper to monitor the number of over wintering Woodcock within the Poole Harbour area. Due to their shy nature and nocturnal feeding habits, gaging a true over-wintering population of Woodcock has always been difficult. Nick spent the long cold, wet winter nights of 2013/14 gathering data from around the harbour and in his completed report discovered there were quite a few more than first thought!

You can read his full report here – Population and distribution of wintering woodcock Poole Harbour, N. Hopper_

Trends in Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler on Dorset Heaths from 1991 – 2013 – Footprint Ecology

In early 2014 a report was commissioned to identify the trends of three of Dorset’s most important heathland species. The report was commisioned by Birds of Poole Harbour and carried out by Footprint Ecology who have kindly supplied us with the final report to put on our website.

This report summarises data on nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, woodlark Lullula arborea and Dartford warbler Sylvia undata across the Dorset Heaths. These species are key features of the designated heathland sites and are ones for which the UK has an international responsibility. In this report we pool data from multiple sites and years to plot the overall trends for each species over the period 1991-2013. The results have implications for the long term monitoring of the birds on the Dorset Heaths and have implications for local conservation effort, planning policy and heathland management

Trends in Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler on Dorset Heaths from 1991 – 2013

Poole Harbour 2013 breeding Marsh Harriers – Peter Hadrill

As you hopefully know by now, Poole Harbour hosted its first successful pair of breeding Marsh Harrier in 50 years this year with three young birds fledging the nest in August 2013. The nest was situated on private land at Swineham and was monitored on an almost daily basis by local Harrier expert and addict, Peter Hadrill from a distant viewpoint, providing a detailed picture into this historic event.

Peter has kindly allowed Birds of Poole Harbour to publish his day by day, month by month account which explains how these birds overcame unwelcomed visitors and an exceptionally cold spring.

Poole Harbour Marsh Harriers

The effects of bait harvesting on bird distribution and foraging in Poole Harbour SPA – Footprint Ecology

Footprint Ecology was commissioned by Natural England to investigate whether there were any impacts of bait harvesting on bird behaviour in Poole Harbour. Aerial images of the harbour bays were captured by a drone plane and from these the extent and intensity of mud scarring was mapped and quantified. Time lapse cameras considered the distribution of birds in experimental plots (those dug for bait and a control) and direct observations and count of birds were undertaken to consider any effect on bird behaviours. Survey effort and recording was largely focussed on two parts of the Harbour: Arne Bay and Holes Bay

The final report is available by following the below link and clicking on the second report in the list.

Poole Harbour Water Rail Survey – Dave Chown 2004 and Nick Hopper 2013

Water Rail are a difficult species to see to due to their shy, timid nature not to mention their select choice of habitat, thick, dense reedbed. Back in 2003 it was thought that the whole UK population of Water Rail was somewhere between 400-900 pairs, but due to the numbers that could be heard ‘squealing’ and ‘sharming’ from Poole Harbour reed beds in the spring a survey was conducted to get an accurate picture of exactly how many pairs utilised this one area alone. The results were very interesting.

Ten years later a replica survey was conducted to see if there had been any shifts or changes in their numbers or distribution across the harbour.

Attached is the 2004 survey conducted by surveyor Dave Chown along with the more recent 2013 survey conducted by surveyor Nick Hopper and supported by Dave Chown.

Poole Harbour Water Rail Survey 2004

Poole Harbour Water Rail Survey 2013

Gulls of Poole Harbour 2007-2008 – Nick Hopper

In 2007 Mark Constantine commissioned a Waders and Waterfowl survey for Poole Harbour to run from January 2007 to February 2008. Part of the remit was to also record gull numbers and activities. At the end of the survey a dedicated gull survey was also commissioned for the whole of March 2008 to supplement findings, discover catchment areas used outside the harbour and assess numbers of birds using the harbour.

For the first time you can now read the full and final report by Nick Hopper – co-author of The Sound Approach’s ‘Catching the Bug

Gulls of Poole Harbour 2007-08 by Nick Hopper

Waders and Waterfowl of Poole Harbour 2007-08 – Nick Hopper

In 2007/08 whilst co-writing the new Sound Approach title ‘Catching the Bug‘, local surveyor and birder Nick Hopper was asked to do a repeat survey of D.R Collins 1984 survey that looked into Poole Harbour’s wader and waterfowl populations and distribution for BP (ltd) Development. The findings were used and published in the final edit of ‘Catching the Bug’, but for the first time ever you can now read Nick Hoppers full report that was finished in 2008.

Waders and Waterfowl of Poole Harbour 2007-08

Mediterranean and Black-headed Gull Census, May 2015 – Dave Chown

In early 2015 it was discussed and agreed that Birds of Poole Harbour would commission a full breeding gull census of the entire harbour. An important part of this census would included the established gull colonies on the islands off Holton Lee, set in the Wareham Channel. As described in this report, due to a natural set of circumstances, and perhaps some not so natural, the data collected from the islands wouldn’t be a true representation of the potential populations, so the census of the entire harbour was stopped.

This report looks at and discusses the Mediterranean and Black-headed Gull colonies on ‘Gull Islands’ in the Wareham Channel and the reasons behind the final totals.

Wareham Channel gull census 2015 report

Poole Harbour winter Harrier report 2014/15 – By Peter Hadrill

Poole Harbour saw a good number of Hen Harrier records during the 2014/15 winter period. Read local harrier expert, Peter Hadrill’s fascinating account of all arrivals, departures and long staying individuals that occurred during his hours of surveying in the bitter cold.

Hen Harrier report 2014/15

Lytchett Bay Annual Reports – Shaun Robson

Lytchett Bay is in the north west of the harbour and is only a fraction smaller than it’s neighbor Holes Bay. The bay has a nice selection of habitats surrounding it, ranging from a small section of Dorset heathland, dense reedbed and grazed wetland. The site  has consistently been monitored and surveyed since 1992 by local birder Shaun Robson, who has built up a hugely detailed and accurate portrait of the areas birds and their habits. Below is each of his reports dating back to 2006, but we are currently aiming to get all reports dating back to 1992. Until then enjoy the below reports……

Lytchett Bay report 1997

Lytchett Bay report 1998

Lytchett Bay report 1999

Lytchett Bay report 2000

Lytchett Bay report 2001

Lytchett Bay report 2002

Lytchett Bay report 2003

Lytchett Bay report 2004

Lytchett Bay report 2005

Lytchett Bay report 2006

Lytchett Bay report 2007

Lytchett Bay report 2008

Lytchett Bay report 2009

Lytchett Bay report 2010

Lytchett Bay report 2011

Lytchett Bay report 2012

Lytchett Bay report 2013

Lytchett Bay report 2014

Lytchett Bay report 2015

Lytchett Bay report 2016

Lytchett Bay report 2017

Lytchett Bay report 2018

Lytchett Bay report 2019


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