For the final day of our holiday we decided to pay a visit to the RSPB reserve at Arne. As the warm sunny weather was still with us we decided to walk the Coombe Heath section of the reserve first and on leaving the car park we were greeted by the sight of a Spotted Flycatcher flitting about in the nearby mature trees.
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Once on the heath we headed to check out the pond. Here there was a Hairy Dragonfly showing well and also a couple of Four-spotted Chasers. On the heath itself we only managed the briefest views of Dartford Warbler. Arne is supposedly one of the best places to see Dartford Warblers but in my experience during a number of visits over the years it has been fairly pants. Yes I have seen them each visit but views have been fleeting at best (alright for a list tick but not much else in my opinion). My advice, go looking for them at lesser known sites such as Hartland, Stoborough or even the New Forest heaths! At these places I have had much better, closer and more rewarding views of said species.
Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense)
Next stop was the hide overlooking the Middlebere Lake (which is actually not a lake but a tidal channel) and it's adjoining area of salt marsh. From the hide we could see 6 Spoonbills out on a distant point. Also out there were good numbers of Shelduck.
From the hide we walked the trail back across the heath towards the visitors centre. On this leg we had cracking views of a Meadow Pipit with a bill full of food.
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
After a spot of lunch we headed out on the larger north side of the reserve. Under the trees between the meadows/lawns there was a herd of Sika Deer sheltering in the shade away from the early afternoon sun.
At Shipstal Beach there was little of note but for a Little Egret on the associated saltmarsh and a Sandwich Tern that was busily flying around over the open water.
The pools on the near the next stretch of heath were very productive with a small number of Palmate Newts basking near the surface. A Palmate Newt is fairly easy to identify as they have a needle like spike (approx. 4-8 mm) at the tip of their tail. Also at this pond were 2 Downy Emerald dragonflies, a Broad-bodied Chaser and a handful of Four-spotted Chasers.
From the pools we headed out to the raised hide overlooking the salt marsh. Whilst walking along the track a Sika Deer came trotting across in front of us before clocking us and dashing off. On the salt marsh there wasn't too much of note but for a couple of Curlew, an Oystercatcher, a Redshank and a pair of Shelduck.
Sika Deer (Cervus nippon)
As we walked the small scrubby heath near Big Wood we saw a number of rather stunning Rose Chafer beetles feeding on the Rhododendrons. Also in this area were a couple of Green Hairstreaks and in a glade on the edge of Big Wood (just before Arne Farm) we encountered a pair of Spotted Flycatchers.
Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata)
Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)
What a superb last day of the holiday on a superb reserve...back to the hard work that is central England birding/wildlife watching next week...ah well!