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The magic that is Brownsea

October 15, 2008

Today was another day of meetings and emails and planning and phone calls and everything else that goes with being a Volunteering Manager….  Except that today was different, because today, my meeting was on Brownsea Island.  One of my favourite places, where the world can do whatever it wants, because I am cut off from it all, on an Island…

Brownsea slopes - ready for next week

Brownsea slopes - ready for next week

My meeting was with the Wardens, to discuss plans for the forthcoming blitz on the stacks of Rhododendron that has been cut and stacked throughout the summer.  We have 3 BIG volunteering days coming up very soon, with over 500 volunteers coming in to help us to burn the huge stacks of wood – to help bring back the pine and understory that the habitat should consist of.

Fortunately for me, the meeting didn’t take too long, as we have been doing these tasks for several years now so the planning goes like clockwork and is just a matter of ensuring that we all know our particular tasks and we then get on with it – easy!

Of course, you can’t spend time on Brownsea without a quick look around for squirrels (Red ones of course!) and it was only a matter of a few minutes before I was playing hide and seek with one as it tried to keep to the opposite side of a branch, but still wanting to keep a beady eye on me!

Peek a boo with a red squirrel!

Peek a boo with a red squirrel!

With an hour or so to spare before the boat was due to whisk us back to Sandbanks, Anthony and I decided to pay a visit to one of the hides to while away the time.  Opening the door and peering through the windows is always exciting as you never quite know what will be out there….

Nothing out of the usual today, however the Avocets were in quite close, giving great views of their amazing feeding action, sweeping their upturned bill back and forth in the water.

Avocet in feeding mode!

Avocet in feeding mode!

There were hundreds of them scattered across the lagoon, some sleeping, some feeding, and a few of them flying around.   I forgot to mention eralier, as I had walked by the lagoon when I first arrived, a female sparrowhawk had flown over the lagoon casuing absolute mayhem!  She must have missed her target though as she flew into the trees next to me, before dashing off again when she saw me nearby.    The avocet numbers will continue to build as winter approaches to well over 1000 birds.  I’m sure they will be a star performer for Autumwatch at the end of the month, so be sure to tune in and see them!

As well as Avocet, there were plenty of other birds out on the lagoon, including spoonbills!  There were 16 in the morning, although we only counted 4 and they were too far for my camera lens to pick out very well.  I settled instead for a shot of a duck teal as she waddled out from the reeds in front of the hide.

 Teal - enjoying the mud!

Teal - enjoying the mud!

For the birding types out there – I also picked out redshank, greenshank, spotted redshank, turnstone, godwit, dunlin, wigeon, shoveller, shelduck plus the standard fare of gulls, cormorants, swans etc.

All too soon it was tiome to leave so we headed to the quay for the boat.  As a final notable bird, a kingfisher was using one of the ropes as a convenient perch – although he didn’t want to have his picture taken!  I did get one last shot though – of some large mullet that were shoaling under a boat moored at the quay.  Not that you’d know they were mullet, or even fish, looking at the picture – but you’ll have to take my word for it!

Mullet - just trust me on this one!

Mullet - just trust me on this one!

 I’ll be back on the Island again next week for a few days, so hopefully will get some pics of the kingfisher – and maybe even a believable picture of the Mullet!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2008 5:02 pm

    Hi Steve. Great pictures. Love the one of the “peeking” squirrel and the avocet feeding. What an amazing job the volunteers have done with all that clearing… amazing! That’s going to be one hell of a bonfire! Don’t worry I believe you about the mullet – even if they do just look like blobs in the water… Jane

  2. October 17, 2008 10:00 pm

    Hi Jane
    Yes, there’s a huge amount to be burnt. We have our fingers crossed for the weather – don’t want it wet and windy!

    I’m determined to get a better mullet picture (the fish, not the hairstyle!)


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