Monday, 15 September 2014

Chats on the Flats

An early Sunday morning circuit of the Flats was significantly quieter than the week before, the biggest change was the lack of Sylvia Warblers, I didn't see one Blackcap or Lesser Whitethroat and I only found two Common Whitethroats. Whilst there were still good numbers of Chiffchaff moving through the area constantly contact calling, the Willow Warblers had all but moved on - as is the fast pace of migration at this time of year.

The 1st Stonechat of the year did the decent thing and stuck around for a few days allowing us low-listing weekend birders to add it to our year lists, it also obligingly perched up on the logs south of the Broom fields before being flushed by the usual dog-walker and disappeared further into the long grass and was lost amongst the last of this years flowering Rosebay Willowherb.

Wanstead Flats

The Whinchat were slightly harder to come buy and weren't where I would expect to see them on top of the Broom south of Long Wood, but I did eventually find four birds on the western edge of the SSSI, an area I've not seen them in before, maybe they too were also looking for somewhere else to reside away from the constant flushing and disturbance!

Wanstead Flats

Wanstead Flats


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Nose to nose with a Red Squirrel

It's been a few years since I last visited Brownsea Island, so whilst recently staying near Poole Harbour it was too good an opportunity to miss to not go again, especially as I'd promised my two children guaranteed views of Red Squirrel - I was potentially setting myself up for a fall there!

To this date Brownsea Island still remains the only place I've ever seen these shy and diminutive Squirrels away from Scotland and with a healthily population of up to 200 Red Squirrels on the Island your chances of seeing one is very good - although not always guaranteed.

Despite the rather inclement August weather it didn't take us long to locate our first Red, high up in a large Beech tree shelling nuts (job done and dad had been vindicated) but once he'd spotted us he was soon off and was lost amongst the canopy of leaves, we continued to see only fleeting glimpses of a few other Squirrels as we made our way around the island but all that changed when we came across one of this years young coming down an old dead tree with the top-half missing. Clearly it was a little bit startled at the prospect of having to come down the tree with four pairs of eyes staring up at him, especially once it realised it had nowhere to go other than in a downward direction, so this little fella gave us all brilliant views as he scampered down the tree in a circular motion not dissimilar in style to a Treecreeper, all the time doing its best to avoid us, before skipping across the ground and up the next available tree and away.

A thrilling way for my children to engage with this true native species of mammal, which sadly is no longer a part of our pine forests on the mainland.


Dorset, Brownsea Island, National Trust

Dorset, Brownsea Island, National Trust

Dorset, Brownsea Island, National Trust