Brownsea comes up trumps..

So, you have the day off work.  It promises to be a pretty good day weather-wise so it’s got to be a camera day of course.  Where to go?  There was only one option really – so I headed for Brownsea Island..

One of the famous Red Squirrels of Brownsea

 Why was there only one option I hear you ask?  Not literally of course, but I’m sure you are wondering all the same..

Before I get into all that though, let me explain where we are time-wise in the blog posts.  It’s actually Sunday evening as I put this one together and I went to Brownsea on Friday – so I’m basically catching up.  I could have backdated the publish date to make it look like I wrote it on Friday evening – but there’s a good chance that you would know that you hadn’t seen this post before Sunday at the earliest so would be rightly suspicious!

Well, I suppose I should add here that I’m at a bit of an advantage as I work for the Wildlife Trust, so I get to hear of what’s been seen quite quickly..  Sure enough, on thursday afternoon I got to hear that some owls were fledging, that a nightjar was still being seen around the place, and a grass snake had made an appearance.  That’s why a visit to the island was top of my list for my day off!

So, how did it go?  Not a great start, as the owls had all gone having fledged the day before and despite some very careful searching of the area they were not to be found.  Next stop then, was to check for the nightjar.  These birds are extremely well camouflaged and simply sit absolutely still on the ground  making them almost impossible to see even when you are stood right next to them.

Not really making best use of its markings!

Rather odd then, that this particular nightjar has decided it should blend in by sitting on top of a fence post!  Odder still, in that it’s been doing just that every day for over a week now – surely it must realise that there are better places to hide away during the day?  Or is it really revelling in the attention it gets from the nearby Hide!

Wandering back down the track I bumped into Chris, the Reserve Manager, on his way to see if the grass snake was in its basking spot.  We headed off to the log and sure enough, in amongst the rush on the far end of a log, was the snake..

Quite a rarity on the Island - a basking grass snake

 That more than made up for missing the owls, and I was happy to wander around the Island for a couple of hours taking in the tranquility – before heading into the Mac Hide and sheer chaos!

A young tern takes a peek out from under a wing

Right in front of the Mac Hide are three small Islands that have been created (and that’s another story!) for use as nesting sites for terns.  There is a good sized colony of 200+ pairs of Sandwich terns (black bill, yellow tip), quite a few pairs of common terns (Red bill/black tip) and plenty of bakck headed gulls (Brown head, just to be confusing!) -all crammed onto the Islands, and all competing for some sort of vocal championships it seems!  It’s fascinating to watch though as there are duels, squabbles and courtships rituals going on all over the place.

A rather agitated Common Tern

All good things come to an end though, and with the rain heading our way I decided it was a wise move to head off home for a cup of tea and cricket on the TV!

A quick update from today (Sunday..) – the great tits fledged overnight and all seems very quiet in the garden again.  The Starling is still using her nestbox though, and has even brought in a few feathers today.  Still no sign of a mate for her though so it’s probably just wishful thinking on her part at the moment.  Fingers crossed that Mr right comes along soon for her. 

So that’s the blog up to date!  I have no idea what’s next in line, although I would hope to get out and about some time this coming week..

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