22 Jun 2022

22 Jun 22 - #30DaysWild Day 22 - A Real Show-off

I spent that day doing my weekly volunteering stint on the Dorset Wildlife Trust's reserve on Brownsea. The volunteering tasks include general public engagement, greeting visitors as they arrive on the reserve as the entrance table, pointing out the wildlife to the visitors in the hides and around the reserve & giving them a bit more information on why the various species on Brownsea are special, general wandering around the reserve to ensure there aren't problems etc. So, there is a lot more to the day, than just sitting in one of the hides watching the lagoon. The Avocet hide has a video camera & TV screen which helps to show off the wildlife. The public engagement part of the role has been fun & just about everybody I've spoken to over the last couple of months have been pleasant people, who appear to have appreciated the information that we can share.

I was just about to leave the entrance table at the entrance to the reserve, when a visiting Birder told me about two Roseate Terns on the lagoon in front of the Tern Hide (formally the Mac Hide). He didn't point out that they had actually been found by one of the DWT staff, Nicki, who was off duty & didn't have a radio with her, but maybe he didn't realise who she was. It's sometimes the luck of the draw as to where I'm volunteering at various points in the day & I didn't have time to look from the Tern Hide. Still I was about to man the video scope camera for the next hour in the Avocet Hide (formally the Lower Hide), & that was the next best option. I quickly located the two Roseate Terns on the Boomerang Island, where they largely hung around for the next forty five minutes. I last saw them at 13:15. At 13:30, I then had to returned to the entrance table for the next ninety or so minutes. Finally, there was time to have another, but unsuccessful, look for the Roseate Terns after then. I did look again between 16:45 & 17:30, but still had no joy.
Roseate Tern: The Boomerang Island is one of the good places for visiting Terns to drop in & rest, but sadly it isn't close. They are the left hand two Terns, with one Sandwich Tern and one Common Tern
At one point, I confirmed it was a male & female, as I saw them mating. To respect their rights, there are no photos, but also I was too slow with the camera. They are the back two Terns, with a closer Common Tern
Roseate Tern: This is the best evidence I can provide of mating, taken a few minutes later: I will leave you to complete your own punchline
Given the Roseate Terns were not close when I was in the hide, then this isn't the highlight of my day on Brownsea today. That has to go to this show-off. This year, the Red Squirrels have been harder to see than I remember in the past. But that might be because most of my previous visits have been in the Autumn & maybe I've seen a higher percentage of less timid youngsters on those visits. While I've normally seen one or two Red Squirrels on each visit this year, sightings have either before the public arrive or fleeting views later in the day. Today, this individual appeared in mid-afternoon on the boardwalk by the entrance table. After a couple of minutes, I saw two visitors walking past on the National Trust path & managed to call them over to enjoy the Red Squirrel. Then another visitor appeared on the boardwalk, but he only had brief views as he spooked the Red Squirrel. This Spring & early Summer, they have been generally easy to spook. Fortunately, after running around in the vegetation, it then went up into a tree where it sat for the next ten to fifteen minutes, while a crowd of ten happy visitors watching it ten metres away. This scores highly on the public engagement & showing off the wildlife part of the role.
Red Squirrel: I was happy to get three people onto it at this point
Red Squirrel: The larger group where happy with these views, which were good considering a number of the visitors fail to see a Red Squirrels on a current day trip, let alone get to photograph one
Finally, I'm sure if there was a poll conducted on Poole Quay, a percentage of Poole residents would say they wouldn't want to visit Brownsea as it's just full of dumb animals. I would say that is a bit harsh, but I agree it does get a few dumb animals.
Dumb Animal: This Dumb Animal walked at the back of the lagoon from the left hand end until the beach area in the middle on the lagoon. At that point, he disappeared. I can only assume he landed on the beach & walked to the left hand end without me noticing him, before returning to the beach
As this photo shows, there are very clear signs on the beach area which say "No Landing Birds Nesting on Beach" and indicating it is a Nature Reserve
While people might not think he is doing any harm, this idiot flushed all the birds at the back of the lagoon that could fly. That left all the youngsters unprotected by their parents & at the risk of an opportunistic Great Black-backed Gull swooping in for an easy meal. They don't need this encouragement to grab a youngster that the parents have invested all their breeding season into getting to a chick. Part of our job as volunteers is to look out for the idiots landing on the island & alerting the DWT team, who then have to make the tricky decision of whether to go out & try & encourage them to leave, whilst trying to be more careful not to flush breeding birds themselves. If this individual sees this Blog Post or the twitter posts, then perhaps he might like to reflect on his actions. As to his rights to privacy, in my opinion, they are overridden by the impact he had on the breeding Birds. He looks like he is old enough to be able to read for himself. These are also my person views, rather than ones I might express as a Brownsea volunteer.
These two either couldn't read or decided that the cuddle they had just had back in the late Winter was more important than considering the Birds: Note, the same clear sign in the photo (27 Mar 22)