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The birds of Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is renowned for its diverse birdlife and is considered one of the most important sites for birdwatching in the United Kingdom. The unique combination of habitats, including saltmarshes, mudflats, reed beds, and lagoons, attracts a wide variety of bird species throughout the year. Here are some notable birds of Poole Harbour, including rare species, and information that would be interesting to bird watchers:


Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia): The Poole Harbour area is a vital breeding ground for the elegant and charismatic Spoonbills. These large wading birds with distinctive spoon-shaped bills nest in colonies on Brownsea Island and other islands within the harbor. They can often be spotted probing the mudflats for prey using their bill, creating a striking sight for birdwatchers.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta): Poole Harbour is home to a thriving population of Avocets, a species known for its distinctive upturned bills and black-and-white plumage. These elegant birds are a delight to watch as they forage in shallow waters, using their bills to sweep from side to side to locate small invertebrates.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus): During migration seasons, Poole Harbour serves as a stopover site for Ospreys. These magnificent raptors can be seen hunting fish by hovering over the water before diving feet-first to catch their prey. Observing an Osprey in action is a thrilling sight for birdwatchers.

An osprey sat on a branch, looking down at the camera
Ospreys are annual visitors to Poole Harbour

Little Tern (Sternula albifrons): Poole Harbour is one of the few breeding areas for the Little Tern along the south coast of England. These small and delicate seabirds construct nests on the shingle beaches of Brownsea Island and other parts of the harbor. Their aerial acrobatics and courtship displays make them a sought-after species for birdwatchers.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa): Poole Harbour is an important wintering ground for Black-tailed Godwits. These long-billed wading birds flock to the area in large numbers, feeding in the mudflats during low tide. The sight of a flock of Godwits taking flight in unison is a remarkable spectacle for birdwatchers.

A Black-tailed Godwit bird - a resident bird of Poole Harbour - stood on sandy ground with grass behind
A Black-tailed Godwit - a resident bird of Poole Harbour

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus): The reed beds and marshy areas of Poole Harbour provide an ideal habitat for Marsh Harriers. These birds of prey can be seen soaring above the marshes, hunting for small mammals and birds. The males' striking pale plumage and the acrobatic flight displays during courtship are fascinating to observe.

Rare Birds: Poole Harbour has a reputation for attracting rare and vagrant bird species, making it an exciting destination for birdwatchers hoping to spot something unusual. Rare visitors have included species such as the Lesser Yellowlegs, White-winged Black Tern, and Pectoral Sandpiper. Birdwatching enthusiasts, keep a keen eye on the harbour, as there's always the possibility of encountering a rare bird.


If you would like a trip around the harbour to see the amazing birds that call it home, or would like a drop off and pick up to the remote bird watching areas, please give us a call!


For more information about the Birds of Poole Harbour we recommend visiting www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk who are a charity completely dedicated educating people on the stunning variety of bird life in the Harbour.

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