Sunday, September 26, 2010

RSPB Arne - Osprey and Spoonbills

RSPB Arne Reserve,Image by Lisa Lawley via Flickr
A lovely sunny day with a cool Autumn chill and a perfect opportunity to stop off at the RSPB's reserve of Arne on my way back from Dorset.  Situated on the western edge of Poole Harbour, it's not that well sign-posted but head out of Wareham to the village of Arne, along a pretty much single-track road across heathland and you'll find it.

The small main car-park was pretty full when we arrived.  No doubt  people were there to see the osprey - which we had too - well I had, not sure about my travelling companion who was along for the ride.  First stop was the hide across Coombe Heath where two of them had been seen during the week.  The heather is almost over but there still a few splashes of purple around and the Autumn colours have just started to appear.  Swallows and house-martins still around in numbers and plenty of small birds.

Within minutes of entering the hide, the osprey put in a brief appearance - it flew gradually closer over the inlet and then headed off out of sight.  A buzzard circled high up over the trees but no more osprey.  Never mind - it was enough to have seen it.  My first sighting of an osprey in this country.

Back to the car park where we were pointed in the direction of the roosting tawny owl - way up in the top of a pine tree on the edge of the heath, near to the car park.  All you could see was a dark blob in the trees and it's feathers.  A few smaller birds, including a nuthatch spotted it and started calling loudly before moving on ... as did we, for a walk to the other part of the reserve.

Past a herd of Sika deer feeding in the fields, around the farm and onto the shore near Shipstal Point.  Here out of the wind and in the sunshine it was lovely and warm.  The tide was in, so very little mud for the waders around.  A few gulls, little terns and cormorants taking off overhead. On the saltmarsh little egret and a curlew.

From the viewpoint up on the heath there's a wonderful view of the reserve, Bournemouth on the far shore
and island in Poole harbour along with the expanse of salt marsh and mud flats.

At the other hide - overlooking the saltmarsh I spotted the spoonbill.  When we first arrived they had their heads tucked in, so looked much like the egret - although their size and stance probably gave them away.  As they stuck their heads out to preen, their spoon bills were clearly visible and in the end there was a flock of ten standing together.  Resting up on the saltmarsh were hundreds of curlew, well, certainly a hundred or so - they were everywhere.  A few of them were out feeding along with oystercatchers and four dunlin busying themselves along the edge of the mud flats.

The occasional black-tailed godwit also came in to view - especially from the higher of the two hides where there are really good views of the roosting birds waiting for the tide to drop.  Dozens of cormorant and oystercatchers, plenty of little egrets with their bright yellow feet, a few shelduck and teal.

All in all a great few hours at a lovely reserve with a mix of heathland, woodland, saltmarsh and mudflats - I'll certainly be back.
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Working Horse Day - Telscombe Tye

A pair of Shire horses ploughingImage via Wikipedia
Come along to the WORKING HORSE DAY on Telscombe Tye, tomorrow Saturday - 25th September starting at 10.30 am.

Follow the horses and help plant the seed. Ice cream and light refreshments available. Cart rides for children and adults.

All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Marsh Harrier And Flycatchers

Western Marsh Harrier, female or juvenile.Image via Wikipedia
Fantastic day over at the RSPB Pulborough.  Not only was the weather great - a cool start but warmed up nicely but a very special sighting of a juvenille Marsh Harrier out on the North Brooks.  Lovely dark chocolate colour with a light, creamy head.  Another first for me, although not a rare sight here.  Pulborough is always full of surprises.

Also out there in amongst the teal and mallard were a couple of shelduck, a single snipe, dunlin and a green sandpiper as well as a fleeting glimpse of the Hobby flying up over the trees.  Two barnacle geese were also feeding in with the canada geese.
It was extremely cold under the trees at Jupps View which was out of the sunshine the other side of the trees, so we warmed up at the picnic area and were treated to a brief view of a Brown Hairstreak - we even found an egg!  A lovely male Brimstone also flew in and settled on a bramble and there were Speckled Woods and dragonflies around too (see how that butterfly course has come in handy).  There were also three spotted flycatchers in the picnic area - flitting out from their perches around the area.

 I was joined for lunch by parents who haven't visited Pulborough, despite driving passed regularly - like many others.  We had the usual delicious lunch in the cafe and they loved the bread pudding too, walked off with a circuit around the reserve.  We saw the flycatchers again as well as the waders and the hobby - above the trees rather than over the brooks.

After they'd left I went over into the heathland area and watched two nuthatch feeding in the top of the conifers along with a goldcrest or two and a coal tit.  I caught a very high glimpse of a sparrowhawk circling over the heathland before moving off into the distance.  There are still plenty of swallows and house martins around on the reserve, although they won't be here for much longer.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Telscombe Tye - Kent Gap

The newly installed Kent gap on Telscombe Tye, at the bottom of the funeral track, leading out onto the south coast road.



Aimed at keeping unauthorised vehicles off the Tye, while allowing access for cyclists and walkers (and horse-drawn carriages - not that we get many of those on the Tye).