Brownsea Island

10th October 2013
We had a few days away in Dorset last week, mainly just to get away from our duties as carers but as always looking for a photo opportunity.

A deal came up on the internut which looked reasonable value for money, well for the UK anyway, so I booked it.

I’d been to Dorset 30 or 40 years ago when I was lot younger and from what I could remember it seemed quite pleasant.

It was only after I’d booked the hotel and started researching the area that I realised how much potential there is in the area for bird, wildlife and landscape photography all within 20 miles or so of our base.

Unfortunately in the short time we had we couldn’t make all the visits that we wanted but high on the list was a visit to Brownsea island. If you don’t know it is a small island owned by the National Trust situated in Poole harbour. There are a few ferry operators that make the crossing to Brownsea from Poole harbour and one of them from Sandbanks.

We used Brownsea Island tours cost £9 return per adult from Poole on arrival at Brownsea there is also a National Trust charge of £6.50 for non-members.

The crossing was uneventful and took about 20 mins from Poole to the island.

Immediately after the entrance there is a public bird hide and with binoculars or a scope you can get reasonable views of part of the lagoon.

Immediately after this there is a walkway into A Dorset Wildlife Trust Reserve, there is a cost of something like £2 per adult and it is well worth paying and entering.

We had only walked about 20yards and up popped a Red Squirrel which kept us occupied for a good while.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

It was a real bonus not to see it on a feeding station, it didn’t bother about us as it was intent on collecting acorns and finding somewhere to put them.

Burying his nuts – that sounds more amusing than acorns!

It was in a wooded area so a high ISO was required to ensure a reasonable shutter speed; I probably went over the top with the ISO as I really wanted to make sure the photos were reasonably sharp.

After being entertained by the squirrel we moved to the first hide, where we had excellent views of Avocet, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Teal, Shelduck, Shoveler, Cormorant and various Gulls.

The light still wasn’t brilliant but good enough to drop the ISO a bit.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) in flight

There were quite a few Avocets around but the largest groups were located on the far side of the lagoon. So the flight shot is a little distant but givesw a good idea of the group size.

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

After that we moved down to the second hide which was on the end walkway into the lagoon.

Obviously the views were of similar birds and the list wasn’t any different from the other hide.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

After that we walked a little further to the villa where the wildlife trust has an office and there is also a feeding station. There were some hens around the feeders and quite a few finches, Robin, etc. What did surprise me were the two Jackdaws doing acrobatics to get seed out of the feeders, quite entertaining and something I hadn’t seen before.

We then moved to a hide/screen that overlooked a marshy area which has a Heronry; we didn’t stay there long but I did get a few shots of Heron in flight.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

We had heard that a Hobby had been seen a few times so we moved to the last hide to have a look there and sure enough it turned up.

Unfortunately I only had one shot at it and almost got it; just out of focus unfortunately.

Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

On the way back to catch the boat a couple of birdwatchers told us that a Grey Phalarope had been seen from the first hide so we visited there again on the way back.

Unfortunately it had attracted all the wardens, anyone interested in birds and the hide was filling up rapidly.

It was a fair distance away and I probably could have got a passable photo but I made do with a look through one of the wardens scope; a lovely little bird.

It was getting a bit hectic more like Euston Station than a bird hide so we made our way back to the landing stage.

While we were waiting for the ferry a Common Tern was flying around so a few shots of that was a good finish to an excellent trip.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

On the return journey the boat meandered back on a different route to the outward journey and the driver of the ferry gave an interesting commentary about Brownsea, some of the smaller islands and the harbour area in general.

A great day out and well worth the small amount of money it cost; I recommend it.

Thanks for reading.


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