Rare birds to spot at Poole Harbour
PUBLISHED: 16:16 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 16 January 2017
Paul Morton, founder of the Birds of Poole Harbour, reveals the thousands of rare feathered residents you can see in this remarkably urban environment
Ask most people about what makes Poole Harbour special and they’ll talk about its sheltered waters and lovely scenery. But few realise how special it is to wildlife. The Purbeck area is said to be one of the most bio-diverse areas in the country and Poole Harbour has some incredible nature reserves including RSPB Arne and Brownsea Island.
Poole Harbour is nationally and internationally important for a whole host of bird species making it one of the best birding sites in Dorset, if not the UK. And yet it is adjacent to a busy urban area where hotels, retail parks, ferry ports and office blocks dominate the skyline.
In winter up to 20,000 birds arrive to take advantage of the harbour’s sheltered conditions, warmer climate and abundance of food. The vast majority of these feathered visitors consist of wading and waterfowl species such as Avocet, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Brent Geese. This means if you visit anywhere, urban or otherwise, that has seawater and mud then you’ll find birds… and lots of them.
Nowhere demonstrates this better than Holes Bay, a large shallow bay in the north of Poole Harbour; its bordered by a dual carriageway, a railway line, supermarkets and a large retail park. Oblivious to this urban encroachment, on a low or rising tide during the winter, species such as Avocet, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Little Egret, Spoonbill and Kingfisher can be seen just metres away from the cycle path that runs around the whole of the bay.
The best place to witness this avian gathering is in the north-east corner of Holes Bay. Here two outflow channels filter in to the bay, warming up the water and attracting birds to feed. You can have up to 3000 birds in this area, giving you incredible photo opportunities and the chance to really swat up on your bird ID.
Over the years Holes Bay has attracted Smew, Great Northern and Red-throated Diver, Goosander, Scaup, Whooper Swan and Common Scoter…it’s a bird watching heaven slap bang in the middle of town!
So, next time you find yourself in the urban areas of Poole during the winter, make time to pop over to this corner at Holes Bay, if you get your timings right you could find yourself face to face with a Spoonbill!
See more at www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk
• A look back at Dorset’s wildlife news from 2016 - Sally Welbourn from Dorset Wildlife Trust looks back on the county’s wildlife stories of 2016