23 Nov 2023

23 Nov 23 - A Bonus Tick On A DWT Brownsea Members Day

Brownsea Island closes for the winter at the end of October school holiday. This allows the National Trust & Dorset Wildlife Trust to get on with essential maintenance work on the island. However, there are a few days when the island is open for visitors e.g. the DWT Members Days. As a volunteer, I get the chance to visit on some of these days to show the members the Birds on the lagoon and to get involved with general public engagement. It's also an excuse to have a look at the lagoon over the winter. There was a reasonable selection of Waders on the lagoon to show to the members. But as the tides were heading to neap tides, many Waders were roosting closer to their preferred feeding grounds, rather than on the lagoon.

I spent most of the day in the Avocet hide talking to members and showing them the Spoonbills, Waders & Ducks on the lagoon and telling them how to identify them and various other snippets of information. Finally, in mid-afternoon we had a change over with volunteers in the hides and I decided to have a wander around other parts of the DWT reserve. There was time for a quick visit to the Lake hide, which confirmed there was nothing on the lakes, other than a couple of Mallards & a couple of Canada Geese. Then I spotted this Western Conifer Seed Bug on one of the windows. It's a species I've seen photos of on a number of occasions from the Weymouth area, but it was a Tick for me.
Western Conifer Seed Bug: This is an introduced Bug from North America that occurs to the West of the Rocky Mountains from California to British Columbia and as far East as Idaho & Nevada. In recent times, it has expanded its range to Eastern North America and it has been introduced to the UK, parts Europe, Chile & Argentina through imported timber products
I walked off the reserve with one of the other volunteers & as we had a few minutes to spare, we decided to walk up to look for some more Red Squirrels by the church. In normally don't walk up to this area, as it's usually very disturbed by visitors in the summer. But it was quiet today as the members were heading to the quay for their boat. As expected, there were several Red Squirrels in the area. But as we heading off the reserve to find the gentle path to the area, we saw this female Mallard right next to the path & typical for Mallards in this area, she was very tame & approachable.
Mallard: Female
It soon became clear, why she was particularly approachable as she wasn't on her own. She had three youngsters in tow & this was late Nov and not early June. I hope there is a mild winter which will increase their chances of survival.
Mallard: This should be a photo from June, not late Nov
The members had a four hour trip onto Brownsea & there has been a lot of positive feedback to the DWT team from the members. It had been a good day.