Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Holes Bay - 16th October 2012

Holes Bay is in Poole and there are lots of birds there so this could be the most relevant post yet!!

There are lots of good looking areas around Poole Habour for birding but I haven't quite sussed out access details to some of the areas where I'd like to go and it might not even be possible for some of these. So in the meantime I'll settle for Upton Country Park/Holes Bay as there's free parking at Upton House and likewise at the eastern end of the bay if I park at prime Laughing/Ring-billed Gull habitat - McDonalds! The latter is where I started yesterday as after crossing the dual carriageway you are straight onto the path which goes round the bay. A couple of hundred yards to the north of here is a drain where this Grey Wagtail posed for just one photo before flying off

Grey Wagtail

Not a great photo but I'm a birder who takes photographs of birds rather than a photographer who takes photos of birds. With winter just around the corner the duck numbers in the bay are starting to build up with Wigeon and Teal the commonest and with it being quite a busy recreational site they aren't too bothered about human activity which on the plus side means they can be quite photogenic

 Wigeon - drake coming out of eclipse


Wigeon - female

Teal - drake

Photographs never seem to do justice to the brilliant irredescent sheen that this superb little duck gives off, and what cracking vermiculations!

Walking further west this Curlew was escaping the high tide in a field to the north of the bay


Holes Bay itself does hold good numbers of waders but variety is a bit thin, Black-tailed Godwit (300+) are probably the commonest at the moment followed by Redshank (150), with probably a dozen Curlew and a couple of Oystercathcer. There was just one Dunlin today and on a previous visit I've seen a Spotted Redshank and small numbers of Ringed Plover.

 Black-tailed Godwit


I'm sure as winter progresses Little Egret numbers will swell and there were 16 roosting in a dead tree over high tide with a couple showing well as the tide dropped. I still enjoy seeing these birds perhaps because years ago I had to do a BBRC description for the first one I ever found!

Little Egret

Just as I was approaching the hide I noticed a Nuthatch fly from a post by the path and was annoyed with myself that I hadn't spotted it as it would have been quite a good photo opportunity. However, another one flew down and then I noticed that a few posts had sunflower hearts placed atop, result. I love Nuthatches, they're one of my favourite bird families and hopefully I may see Beautiful Nuthatch in India next March - fingers crossed. Anyway I digress, with the birds seemingly oblivious to my presence I set myself up and rattled off loads of photos as the light wasn't great and most shots were slightly blurred through movement of these hyper little birds. I have no idea how many individual birds came down but the most I saw at any one time was three.


I took about a hundred shots of these and here are my two favourites, not perfect but they'll do for me and I'm looking forward to going back and getting the money shot.

On a nearby Oak tree a Treecreeper worked it's way up the trunk and I managed a few shots of another fantastic species


Other visitors to the seeds included Great, Blue and Coal Tit with just one female Chaffinch in attendance and it took me ages to get some shots of Coal Tit that I was happy with. They just don't sit still being smash and grab merchants, they'll collect one seed and then quickly hide themselves away to eat it in peace.

Coal Tit

As with Nuthatch, I'm hopeful of improving on these shots, but what a great place to get close to some stunning birds.

There wasn't a great deal from the hide so I started to make my way back, a couple of Moorhen were feeding on the grass near the "duckpond" so I took a few shots as the light was quite good here but then the battery ran out on the camera  - I think I may have overdone it on the Nuthatch front!


Gull numbers were building up in the bay near the dual carriageway and I soon picked out an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the water along with at least 2 1st winters and then I noticed a typically smart 1st winter Caspian Gull, which are not as regular down here as they are in Kent. I don't know if this particular spot is well watched but I'm hoping that this might be a good place for a bit of gull watching and I'll remember to take a spare battery next time! Hopefully it will reappear when I've got some battery life in my camera as I fear it may be a description bird! I hadn't intended being out so long so I needed to get home and have a quick bite for lunch before picking up the kids from school.

A pleasant few hours birding and all on the doorstep.

After just writing this I thought I'd have a look in the Best Birdwatching Sites in Dorset book and it looks like there may be less than double figure records for Caspian Gull in Dorset so with luck it, or another, will show itself to any regular Poole Harbour birders.


  1. Nice to see you blogging Marcus. I shall follow with interest.

  2. I cant do Coal Tits either Marcus :-)

  3. Hi Marcus

    Welocme to Dorset. we run a county email group to share bird news etc. If youa re interested in joining just get in touch. Cheers Shaun

  4. Hi Shaun,
    I would love to join the email group, could you let me know how to sign up please?

    Thanks for getting in touch,