Sunday, 19 January 2014

Poole Harbour

Weekend birding in Poole Harbour  

Two Owls Birding Day Saturday - 18th January
We were just a small group today, the weather forecast had been awful and put people off, they missed a treat. Though dull and overcast it stayed dry until the last hour, we had some fantastic birds.

Looking over Shell Bay, Studland with a high tide and few people about we had waders on the beach with 14 Sanderling, 15 Ringed Plover and Oystercatchers.  Offshore a Guillemot flew out of the harbour past us and 3 Eider were seen bobbing up and down in the choppy sea.  Looking over the harbour we had Great Northern Diver distantly, Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye.  On the concrete posts stood Grey Plover and then a Sandwich Tern flew by.

Going out to Redhorn Quay, Jess and I had our attention taken by a Rock Pipit, then noticed Nick beckoning us to join the rest of them.  They had a Great Northern Diver very close off the point giving amazing views, Jess got a great photograph below.

Great Northern Diver © Jessica Evans

Due to the high tide waders were thin on the ground in Brands Bay except for Lapwing on the bay edge, lots of Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and Mallard.  We then went on the Woodland Trail at Knoll Beach but it was very quiet, though Jess was lucky catching a glimpse of a Kingfisher over the flooded area near the path.  Next it was a stop for lunch looking over Studland Bay, in the bay were 2 Common Scoter and Mediterranean Gull.  Close to South Beach we heard the squawking of the Ring-necked Parakeets and found a couple, considering their gaudy colours they were hard to pick up.  

Time now to leave Studland and head towards Middlebere, firstly stopping at the sewerage works, always worth a look.  A good stop it produced Grey Wagtail and at least 2 Chiffchaff and a few Redwings flew over.  At Middlebere the sky was now looking quite disturbing so we made sure we had all our wet weather gear on and walked down the path to the hide.  We stopped on the way to watch a beautiful little Goldcrest singing and calling in the hedge, no need for binoculars it was that close and quite unperturbed by our presence.  

The tide was now receding quite quickly and from the hide we had a bounty of waders, with 410 Avocets, about 200 Black-tailed Godwits, 30 Dunlin and lesser numbers of Redshank and Curlew, plus the usual Wigeon and Teal.  Nick captured some of the Avocets as they flew in, photo below.  By now it was raining very hard but it was time to go home and the light was going, but it had been a brilliant day.

Avocets flying into channel © Nick Hull

Poole Harbour BirdBoat  (19th January)

What a contrast in the weather today with brilliant winter sunshine, mild and no wind other than a couple of short showers and back to blue skies.  The New Forest Bird Group were on board and last year they brought fantastic weather with them and the same this year, so perhaps we should thank them.

Anyway setting out from Poole Quay to Brownsea Island we weren't far out before we had our first of a least 7 Great Northern and 2 Black-throated Divers.  Though some confusion was caused as Nick called out his Black-throated Diver from the front of the boat, while those of us at the back called Great Northern, there were 2 birds, one each side of the boat.  Approaching the island we had 2 Buzzards sat on the harbour wall and just one Spoonbill in the Lagoon, they had gone by the time we landed though.  However Liz was one of the first off and found a Merlin sat on the ground within the lagoon, she gave us a call so we hurried ourselves to see it.  Then a swirling mass of Dunlin and Grey Plover came round  so we stopped looking for the Merlin and Paul saw it flying up high carrying it's prey, a Dunlin.

A flight of Shelduck with Shoveler © Nick Hull 
There were plenty of duck to be seen on the lagoon especially Shelduck, Teal, Wigeon with a few Gadwall and Shoveler.  About 300 Avocet feeding scattered over the lagoon , while a mass of about 800 Black-tailed Godwits seemed happy to be packed together.  Other waders included Bar-tailed Godwits, a few Greenshank along with Common Redshank, some saw Spotted Redshank but we only heard one calling, also Curlew and a Turnstone.   Red Squirrels also entertained as we walked round the reserve.  All too soon it was time to board the boat once again to go round the harbour back to Poole Quay.

Avocet in Brownsea Lagoon © Nick Hull
It all became very exciting as we pulled away as a Great Northern Diver was spotted fairly close, then the cry of "Surf Scoter".  Sure enough the Surf Scoter, not seen for a few days was there, it was fairly close and the lighting was just right to show off it's facial markings so there were no mistaking in it's identity, a lifer for some on the boat.  

Then Black-necked Grebes kept popping up, though most were quite distant, more Great Northern Divers, it was almost hard to keep up with it all.  Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye on the water and flying round, then someone said they thought they had Sandwich Tern, indeed they had and there were four of them.  Closer into Arne Nick counted 22 Spoonbills on the Spartina at Shipstal, later a few of them flew right over us, brilliant views of flying Spoonbills!  A Common Seal popped it's head up but it was never up for long.  A Kingfisher put in an appearance for some, even hovering at one stage but it eluded me.  A truly brilliant weekend for us out on Poole Harbour.

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