Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Lytchett Bay Annual Report 2015

 Lytchett Bay has been one of the cornerstone patches of PWC and now has four contestants taking part for 2016. Included is an abridged version of the 2015 annual report. The full version is available to download from the Facebook Group.

The Bay was visited on all but 6 days (!) as set out below. Records came from an increasing number of birders but Ian Ballam again takes the honors as an almost “ever present”.

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2015 proved to be a year of quality and quantity. Lytchett Fields continued to develop as an attractive habitat and there were many excellent birding days in both spring and autumn. Given this change it was perhaps surprising that many of this year’s rarities were found in other parts of the Bay.

Three records are still outstanding with the Dorset Records Panel. They are included here and in this summary marked *. On the assumption that all 3 are accepted then the annual species list reached 160 for the first ever time. Once decisions are forthcoming then updates will be published in future reports.

3 new species were added to the Bay list. Wryneck was long overdue and showed well to those who arrived quickly. A Melodious Warbler* was always a potential addition and a wet, warm August day produced the right fall of warblers. Sanderling, my personal favourite. Completely out of place on the mud at the “back” of Poole Harbour. The Lytchett Bay list is now 222*.

In terms of pure thrill our 2nd Bluethroat probably brought the most joy. Though for the finder, two vis-mig Penduline Tits*, also our 2nd, will never be forgotten. Similar memories will be banked by the finder of another “fly-by”, our 2nd Lapland Bunting which called with jaw dropping clarity overhead.

Other notables included 3rd Great White Egret*, 4th and 5th Egyptian Geese, 5th Little Tern and Black Redstart, 6th Kittiwake.

Redshank bred again and Shelduck bred for the first time in a number of years.

The following species occurred in either greater numbers or greater frequency than ever before. And it was perhaps the spectacle of waders and waterfowl on Lytchett Fields which brought the most pleasure to visiting birders.

Teal, Shoveler, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Wood Pigeon, Kingfisher, Tree Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest.

I have birded the Bay for 24 years and I think this year was my most enjoyable.

Lytchett Bay – people and wildlife

2015 built on the progress which began in 2014 (see last year’s report). Two major access improvements were made and these were supported by improved interpretation and an electronic guide to birding the Bay. A number of events were hosted and there is no doubt that more people were able to enjoy Lytchett Bay and its wildlife than ever before.

The primary improvement in terms of access occurred thanks to a partnership between The Birds of Poole Harbour and the RSPB at Lytchett Fields. With development of some high quality and very bird friendly habitat in the preceding couple of years we had a real desire to open up every day access for people to enjoy the birds. This was realised before the spring migration with the creation of the Sherford and French’s viewpoints. A new view was also installed at The Pool. These changes proved hugely popular with visitors. Thanks to the RSPB’s field management the birds loved the habitat and the views were splendid.

At Lytchett Bay View, Lytchett and Upton Town Council’s excellent leadership in developing the site continued. Thanks to a partnership with The Borough of Poole, Birds of Poole Harbour and support from Viridor landfill tax credit schemes and Wessex Water, a new board walk was installed which created a circular walk linking Turlin Moor and Chad’s Copse. Management works on the whole site were carried out to increase diversity and tree structure. As these changes bedded in the feedback and increased use of the site was very positive. New interpretation was installed in partnership with The Great Heath and a bloom of Pyramidal Orchid’s attracted much interest.

Lytchett Bay View is used by many local people for dog walking and recreation. This board helps draw attention to special nature interest in the site. (S.Robson)
The Great Heath sites continued to improve with better signage and further improvements to footpaths. In partnership with Stour Ringing Group, another successful bird ringing demonstration was “sold out” in late August. 2 guided walks were hosted to share the birds of Lytchett Bay and covered Dorset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve and Lytchett Bay View.

After last year’s improvements to the Turlin Moor bird screen, The Borough of Poole worked with local charity the Richmond Fellowship to repair the screen and give it a face lift.


Attention to small details can make a big difference. Reed management ensured that views of the Bay were retained. (Z.McMinn)
With all of these changes going on we took the opportunity to promote the site. A birders guide was created and this hosted by the Birds of Poole Harbour website and is available here.


Thanks to this progress our motivation to do more grows. A future vision for Lytchett Fields is in preparation and engagement has begun. Lytchett and Upton Town Council are preparing a management plan for Lytchett Bay View. Community events connected to the Great Heath project are planned for 2016.

Livability, the occupants at Holton Lee are working in partnership with the RSPB to manage land on the south side of the Sherford and this supports the overall vision of seeing the Bay as a whole ecosystem with the future goal of fitting this within the wider context of Poole Harbour.

Finally, the planning application for house building at Policeman’s Lane was granted. This application contains an exciting opportunity to open up a SANG to the west of Slough Lane. This will not only provide opportunity for dog walking and thereby relieve pressure on more sensitive sites it also has the added benefit of creating addition habitat for nature.

On a personal note I’d like to thank everyone from the organisations mentioned for their passion, commitment and support.

Before 2013 there had only ever been 5 records of Spoonbill. This year the species was recorded on 69 dates! (I.Ballam)
Bird Ringing 2015

1904 birds were ringed at Lytchett Bay. Efforts were spread around 3 ringing sites. The banks of the Sherford at Lytchett Fields (512 birds / 8 dates), Sandy Close Pond (131 birds / 16 dates) and at Lytchett Heath and reed bed (1261 birds / 23 dates).

Early summer was blessed with very good conditions and more than 100 birds were ringed on 5 mornings. This included more than 200 on 3 mornings.

Our main target remained the “red listed” Aquatic Warbler but conditions remained almost entirely unfavourable during August. When winds did move to the south east during September we could not take the opportunity.

This quantity of birds produced an excellent selection of re-traps and controls. These are all detailed in the species accounts in the systematic list. Studying the patterns of passerine migrants makes for interesting reading. Several birds make counterintuitive northerly movements during autumn, birds ringed on the same morning in the same weather conditions then head off in entirely opposite directions despite having apparently similar final wintering destinations. More typically we continue to establish that many of our Sedge Warblers move south in staged flights stopping to refuel on the Atlantic coast of France.

Colour-ring reading produced plenty of highlights and interesting information about our visiting waders. Black-tailed Godwits, Avocet and Spoonbill again starred. We also have information on our first colour-ringed Common Sandpiper and Black-headed Gull.

21,802 birds of 82 species have been ringed since 1983. Bluethroat being added to the list this year.

The full details of controls, recoveries and interesting re-traps are in the systematic list. Appendix 2 details the individual species totals at the end of the systematic list.

Stour Ringing Group would like to thank Wessex Water, The RSPB and the landowner, the Lees Estate, for their kind permission to ring at Lytchett Bay.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust and ARC for their permission to ring on land around Lytchett Heath, we are very grateful for this, the site continued to prove its value to migrant and breeding birds.

Thanks are due to the RSPB, DWT, ARC, Lytchett & Upton Town Council, The Birds of Poole Harbour Charity and The Borough of Poole for their support in relation to various matters associated with their site and we look forward to continuing to work with them in 2016.

I’d like to add additional thanks to Ian Ballam and Paul Morton for their enthusiasm for birding at Lytchett. To friends at Stour Ringing Group for companionship and hard work. Nick & Jacqui Hull who put considerable effort in to collating a checklist of other wildlife, carrying out breeding warbler surveys and operating our first “listening station”. To all of the observers who supplied records and comments via Twitter and other information sources. We look forward to seeing you all again this year.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The first photo of this species at the Bay.(N.Hull)
“Bluethroat Bob” strikes again. 23 years after he caught the last Poole Harbour bird at Keysworth, he went and did it again (S.W.Smith)
This photo of a confiding Firecrest at Lytchett Fields is one of the best I have seen (I.Ballam)

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