1 Jan 2015

1 Jan 15 - The Poole Harbour Pelagic

Today was the traditional Poole Harbour Pelagic which has been running on the 1st Jan every year for about 12 years now. The boat left from Poole Quay at 11:00 allowing a full three hour pelagic before returning. Occasionally in previous years we have almost left the confines of Poole Harbour to allow for a look for Purple Sandpipers on the groynes at the Poole Harbour mouth, but this year, we didn't get that far. Therefore, there is generally little chance of seeing more than a selection of Divers, Grebes, Duck as well as a look over the seawall at the Brownsea lagoon and any other Waders we bump into along the edges of the harbour. But it is a great sociable day out with many of the local Birders as well as a good selection of Birds.
This is always a popular pelagic
The trip started off pretty normally with a few Great Crested Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers & a Great Northern Diver as we headed for the Harbour mouth. No sign of the Purple Sandpipers on the groynes (they had been seen earlier, but there were so many grockles out for a walk, I wondered if some new shops had opened on the beach).
Great Crested Grebe: A common species in Poole Harbour
Shag: Another common species in Poole Harbour
Onto Brownsea, where a good selection of typical Waders were on view by looking over the sea wall,  including Greenshank, Redshank, Grey Plover, good numbers of Avocets, as well as various commoner Ducks & a single Spoonbill.
Brent Goose: This individual was on the water just off the Brownsea breakwater. Another common species in Poole Harbour in the winter
Carrying on, the two Sandwich Terns that had been around the Harbour mouth at first light put in an appearance for everybody. It is an unusual year when we miss Sandwich Tern on the first of Jan pelagic. This was followed by the appearance of the 1st Winter Little Gull that had been hanging around off Furzey Island for the last couple of days (that is a more unusual species given the lack of recent Winter storms). The obligatory look for the Furzey Island Golden Pheasants on the slipway was tried, but none seen today. You really need a couple of hours more than than two minutes we gave it as we cruised by. Then it was onto Newton Bay on the West side of the Goathorn Peninsula from Studland. I always enjoy a look along this part of the coastline as it is an area that is difficult to view from the land as most of it is private & the views from public access paths are distant. This produced a selection of typical Waders & this Spoonbill.
Spoonbill: This one in in Newton Bay was one of three seen today. A species we rarely miss on the 1st
Spoonbill: As the great Father Jack (from Father Ted) would eloquently put it - arse
Normally, we would continue onto the Ower/Fitzworth Bays before reaching Arne. But today the tide was too low & we had to return towards Brownsea. A good thing, as on the return somebody at the back of the boat picked up a Black Guillemot. This has probably been around the Poole Harbour area now for about three weeks. In that time, it has been seen for about 15 minutes off the Harbour Mouth, then a week later I refound it off Old Harry (where it was on view intermittently for an hour) & then seen for a minute yesterday at the Harbour Mouth. After the shout went up, the boat was turned around & the twitch was on. A few minutes later, this Poole Harbour rarity finally gave itself up to the boat.
Black Guillemot: This is only the third individual in Poole Harbour this millennium
The initial Black Guillemot twitch: We had to go around again as half the boat were down tucking below tucking into soup & cheese
Finally, a big thank you to Mark & Mo for inviting us all onto the boat. Also a big thank you to Justin for bringing along some stunning local cheeses (I can recommend you pop into the the Town Mill cheese shop if you are in Lyme Regis). A great day out. Finally, if you are thinking it's not really a pelagic, then we were in the second largest natural harbour in the world & Black Guillemots are a pelagic species.