Wednesday 14th May 2014 - Brownsea Island

Today we took the ferry across to Brownsea Island to enjoy its great array of wildlife. Brownsea is situated in Poole Harbour and is well known for it's colony of native Red Squirrels.  The Island is owned by the National Trust and about a 3rd of it is managed as a reserve by the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
We caught the first ferry over to the island and headed straight to the lagoon on the Wildlife Trust reserve.  Here there is a hide accessed by a jetty that takes you right up close to a Sandwich Tern colony.  The sights and sounds of this colony really are something else and Sandwich Terns are great looking birds with their black spiked punk hairdos!   On the small islands near the hide there were also  nesting Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Also of interest on the lagoon were c.60 Black-tailed Godwits and a single Spoonbill (which unfortunately was on the far a bit distant for a decent photo).  This strange looking bird uses it's spoon-shaped bill to sweep from side to side in the water to catch it's food (crustaceans, small fish etc.)

Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)...distant record shot

From the lagoon we walked towards the villa and picked up on our first Red Squirrel of the day clambering through the trees.  A high point for me came at the small pond near the villa where a rather stunning Downy Emerald was flitting about. This was the first time I had seen this metallic green/bronze looking dragonfly and it was as species I was hoping to connect with during the week.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea)

From the villa we took a walk to the hides that overlook the lakes.  There was little of note here birdwise but a Hairy Dragonfly was flitting about outside the hide as were a few Rose Chafer beetles.

On the far side of the island we went down onto the shore line where a pair of Oystercatchers were sat seemingly just chilling.  I the trees nearby I was surprised to hear the unmistakable 'spinning coin' sound of a Wood Warbler singing.  We also had cracking views of another Red Squirrel in this area followed by 2 more on our walk back towards the main buildings.

Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus)

Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris)

We finished of our visit sat in the garden of the tea room where the most obliging Red Squirrel was busy feeding on the hanging feeder there.  Also of note in the tea garden were a couple of Wall butterflies and a rather cheeky Jackdaw who landed near our table,  sat down and proceeded to eye us up the whole time we were eating our cakes.  Not a chance my friend!

Wall (Lasiommata megera)

Any chance of some cake?


  1. great read sir as always also made a note of it for a future trip

  2. Like that Jackdaw shot, very charismatic.

    Brings back memories, i used to work on Blakeney Point, the largest ST colony in the UK (then, 1980's, some 4,500 pairs so you can imagine the noise) - happy days. I read somewhere that Little Egrets first bred in the UK on Brownsea? Are they still there?

    Laurie -

  3. Gizz - Cheers really is worth a visit!

    Laurie - I bet that number of Sarnie Terns was a real spectacle! As for the Little Egrets, I did ask a warden that very question but unfortunately they are no longer breeding there

  4. They certainly were! - I only have to hear a single bird shriekin and the memories come flooding back. I found Norfolks first recorded nest of Kentish Plover and 2nd observer of what became the 2nd record of Lesser Crested Tern.....I sha'nt be repeating that sort of stuff in West Mids anytime soon :-(

    Laurie -

  5. I really enjoyed reading about your trip to Brownsea Island Jason! I have never visited but will 'pencil it in' for a visit in the future.

    Super images you have taken, I especially like the Sandwich Tern image, a wistful look!