Saturday, 31 March 2012

Another Sunny Day.....

In Dorset this time, at the beautiful RSPB reserve at Arne. An early start again, but well worth it. By the time we arrived at 8, the sun was up and there was not a cloud in the sky, and it remained that way all day. Things were quiet early on, but it didn't take long for the birds to start waking up. Chiffchaff, Green and Great Spotted woodpecker and a small flock of Goldcrest were for starters on the way to and from the heath. Once up there, we were treated to very showy Stonechats, Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Woodlarks; the latter being one of my favourite to watch as they spiral from the sky with their unmistakable song. It's a real shame these birds are in decline; heathland like this at Arne is scarce nowadays, luckily there are more and more projects aimed at trying to bring back some of this stunning habitat, and protect the areas that still remain.

Meadow Pipit, Anthus pratensis

This followed us all round the heath, during which time we added Buzzard to the list, and had a fly-over Raven. From the hide overlooking Middlebere lake we had Redshank, Black-Tailed Godwit (starting to get their summer plumage), Teal, Shelduck and a potential but very distant Yellow-Legged Gull. A lone Swallow also shot past the window, my first for the year. Just as we were sitting down to have lunch in the shade up on the heath, one of the target birds of the day flew right past us, a Spoonbill. Not the place I was expecting to see it!
Onto the other side of the reserve, and there was just as much activity from Nuthatches busy lining their nests with moss, Woodpeckers calling and two Mistle Thrush feeding in a field, amongst roughly 140 Sika Deer. A close relative of the Red Deer, the Sika Deer was introduced from Japan, and hybridisation is a concern as populations of the two species meet.

Sika Deer, Cervus nippon

Arne Bay was relatively quiet, with most of the waders already gone to their summer breeding grounds. However, there were still good numbers of Curlew and Redshank, a few Little Egret, some lingering Brent Geese and three Red-Breasted Mergansers diving further out into Poole Harbour. The sound of another spring arrival was also prominent, the Sandwich Tern's "Keerik." Just to round off a lovely day, a Speckled Wood appeared and settled on some gorse for a nice photo.

Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria

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