Packed sightings board today, some really great wildlife encounters. Firecrest again seen throughout the day in the holly bushes around the carpark, but their number has risen to three. Plenty of the commoner goldcrest about too. The carpark tawny got a alot of attention today and its lovely that the barn owl pair are still using the nest box as a roost; the live images are showing at the visitor centre. Plenty of brent geese and wigeon being joined today by the first goldeneye and pintail. Spoonbill have finally decided to come visit this side of the harbour after a weeks absence and were joined by a small group of 12 avocet; lets hope the remaining 800 or so at Brownsea decide to pay us a visit too.
The black redstart is still hanging around on the farm; its well worth waiting a while checking the walls and roofs of the farm buildings on your way down to Shipstal for a sight of it and the cover crop trail is literally overflowing with birds.
Today I saw two firecrest in the carpark. This was only the second time I'd seen these quite hard to come by birds and I couldn't have hoped for better. For about an hour, visitors and I were treated to brilliant views of the tiny birds feeding in the holly just by the cars, completly oblivious to the crowd they were attracting. Along with the goldcrest they are Britains smallest bird and can be easily told apart from the firecrest's white eyebrow streak that the goldcrest is lacking.
The sparrowhawk once again showed off his new found hunting skills by taking a blue tit infront of a packed visitor centre and another raptor on the prowl was a female hen harrier down off combe heath.
Really big numbers of oystercatcher, curlew, black tailed godwit and cormorant out of the double decker hide and for the third day in a row a black redstart has been seen at the farm.
This is the time of year when the harbour really gets busy; new birds are arriving daily and soon the mud flats will be packed. What we didn't expect were 5 whooper swans, but this is exactly what the wednesday guided walk found down on Middlebere channel! These pretty swans, slightly smaller than the well known mute swan don't usually make it this far south, so it's always a treat to see them in the south. Add these five to the Whooper swans at the Radipol reserve in Weymouth and we havn't done too bad.
More regular winter birds turned up today like the cute little redpoll and the chaffinch like brambling. As the days get colder expect to see flocks of hundred strong finches down on the cover crop trail on the farm. Kingfisher showed up once again today as did the marsh harrier hunting off Coombe heath.
Don't forget to check out the forage fair on saturday - http://bit.ly/bFHJgf
Sparrowhawks are one of my favourite birds; lets be honest they are amazing birds, able to manouver at great speeds through thick cover to abush unsuspecting prey. To see a hawk hunting is to see evolution at it's very best. For a few months now a young male has been regularly visiting the feeders at the Visitor centre (Paul once counted him come in over 15 times in an hour!) but he very rarely caught anything. This is not because he is hopeless, it's because hawks (unlike owls) need to be taught and practice hunting to sustain themselves. This young bird was just learning the ropes as it were. Today however it seems he's come of age as we counted 3 successful strikes today...seems all that practice has paid off.
Avoiding the hawk today were the marvelous marsh tits which can be seen daily in and around the car park and the tiny goldcrest. Marsh harrier were spotted once again today in the rain (they are a bit harder to put off by the rain than humans) causing great panic amoung the waders and wildfowl out on the water. Nice to see lots of great crested grebe and red brested merganser out on the water too today and these will soon be joined by a mixture of divers and grebes.
The question everyone seems to be asking is 'when will the avocet arrive at Middlebere?', there are around 700 + I'm informed at Brownsea and we would expect them to be using the channel by now, but as a visitor told me the other day; if birds were where you wanted them to be all the time, it wouldn't be much fun.
For details about our forage fair this saturday follow this link - http://bit.ly/bFHJgf
My day was nicely split in to two parts today. This morning I was lucky enough to get a space on one of our RSPB Bird boats that leaves from Sandbanks. The theme was ‘Visible Migration’, and we were hoping to get good views of thrush’s, finches and wood Pigeons passing over the harbour mouth in their thousands. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the spectacle we anticipated (it’s always a gamble with visible migration), but we were treated to some great birds and excellent commentary on the boat explaining all you could ever need to know about bird migration in Poole Harbour. We did see 800+ Avocets, 14 Spoonbill, hundreds of Black tailed godwits, Greenshank, Red breasted Merganser, Peregrine Falcon, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Dunlin, Great Crested Grebes, plus a host of smaller birds migrating their way across the harbour in flocks, Wagtails, Pipits and finches. In a few weeks the Harbour will start to fill lots more birds such as Divers, Grebes and winter ducks. If you like the sound of these boats then there are more running over the next few months, with the next being Sunday 21st November. Whilst I was bobbing out on the water, Rob was getting great views of a Firecrest right out the visitors centre at the reserve. Also 2 more Marsh Harrier spotted, also Merlin, Ruff and a good count of 10 Dartford Warblers.