21 Jun 2014

21 June 14 - Brownsea Island - Surely It Should Be LotsToSee Island

In the last post, I was focusing on one of the DWT Brownsea's main attractions at this time of year: its breeding Sandwich & Common Terns. But there is so much more to see on the reserve. The lagoon is the obvious centre of the reserve.
Brownsea lagoon: Looking towards the Mac hide
Brownsea lagoon: Looking towards the landing jetty. The Tamarisk island behind the Canada Geese is always worth checking as it's a favourite place for the Spoonbills
Brent Goose: Brent Geese should be on the Arctic coasts breeding grounds in Central & Western Siberia at the moment. However, it's not unusual to find the odd bird remains in Poole Harbour. For the last 2 years, 1 or 2 have over-summered around Studland, this individual seems to have chosen Brownsea instead
Canada Goose: The Canada Geese always seem to have good breeding success around Poole Harbour
Shelduck: Lunch doesn't look appetising
Oystercatcher: Displaying
Oystercatcher: They really are stunning birds close up
Black-headed Gull: Adult. It really is a poor name as they have a brown head
Black-headed Gull: There are a number of breeding pairs on the lagoon, but the adults are not great at keeping an eye on wandering chicks. Not a good idea given there are usually a few Great Black-backed Gulls around
Finally, it was time to explore more of the reserve. Although the lagoon is the centre piece of the DWT reserve, there are also extensive woodland areas, a reedbed blind (screen to look from) & a woodland hide overlooking some freshwater pools. The woodland habitats are more similar to other parts of the island. But with most of the visitors here for the wildlife, it was a lot quieter than the rest of the island on this glorious sunny day. Also the visitors were more interested in the wildlife & thus there is more chance of seeing the birds & animals well on the reserve. The first stop was the woodland hide.
View from the woodland hide: The hide was pretty quiet on this occasion with just a few Shelduck on the lake & a Dabchick calling. There was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly on the Bracken, but it kept perching on obscured perches (so no photos this time)
As well as the reedbed areas, there are a number of Dragonfly ponds around the reserve which provides good views of a number of  the many species of Dragonflies found on Brownsea.
Black-tailed Skimmer: Male
Black-tailed Skimmer: Male
Four-spotted Chaser: One of the commoner Dragonflies on the reserve at the moment
Four-spotted Chaser: Looking at bit tatty
Large Red Damselfly: Mating pair (male at front). The black legs, black segments on the abdomen & broad black stripes on the body (thorax) identify these as Large Red Damselflies. Small Red Damselflies would have red legs and all red abdomens on the males
One of the great thing about Brownsea is it is an island. This has meant that the Grey Squirrels which were introduced into the UK from the States in the mid 19th Century, never managed to reach Brownsea & the other islands in Poole Harbour. This is very important as these islands had populations of the UK native Red Squirrels. Sadly, the impact of these Grey Squirrels have resulted in the complete loss of Red Squirrels over most of the mainland of England & Wales. There are small surviving populations on the Isle of Wight & a few isolated parts of Wales, Lancs & North Yorkshire. There are larger populations in Cumbria & Northumberland & Scotland. A lot of visitors to Brownsea visit specifically to see the Red Squirrels and the DWT reserve is one of the best places to see the Red Squirrels. They are normally around the villa buildings. I did see one there, but it was proving to be very elusive on this occasion. However, as I was talking to my mate, Graham Armstong, who is one of the regular volunteers on the reserve, one came running along the track. It stopped briefly, before taking to the trees to avoid a couple of visitors & then ran right past us.
Red Squirrel: Just checking out these visitors
Red Squirrel: An action shot as it ran past us
Red Squirrel: Now calm again
Five-spot Burnet: heading back to the ferry I found a few on these on the wet meadow next to the reserve boardwalk. Some  populations occur where the spots tend to run together as seen on this individual
Just time to catch my boat back to Sandbanks & as often happens, see the Studland ferry put out just as we pull alongside. Another 20 minute wait until I can get to the drink in the car. Still it was still a glorious summer's day & the Sandwich Terns were feeding just off the landing jetty. So I can't complain too much.
Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Tern: Getting ready to plunge dive
Sandwich Tern: They plunge dive vertically