Trip reports

Middlebere and RSPB Arne

Heather at Arne nature reserve

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

For our annual trip to Middlebere we were lucky to have a dry day prior to Storm Doris; however it was rather windy, keeping the smaller birds under cover. 16 members set off from the cars and were first given excellent views of a male Bullfinch displaying its full breeding plumage, for such a bright bird they can be remarkably difficult to see well. From the viewpoint overlooking Wych Lake we picked out Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and several gulls, but the most pleasing sight was a large group of Curlew foraging in long grass. These are reported to be drastically dropping in numbers so it was good to see so many. We walked past the barns scanning for potential Barn Owls, the box we saw had no evidence of a resident. The hide was a welcome shelter from the wind and we spent a long time looking for the Yellow-legged Gulls which we had seen on previous visits, but sometimes you have to admit defeat. There was a distant Avocet to add to the list and in the field next to the hide was a large flock of Brent Geese, all were the dark-bellied race and they looked rather unsettled, perhaps they are thinking about the summer in northern parts. A Marsh Harrier floated past on the wind and as we were getting ready to leave Rob found a Spotted Redshank. It kept disappearing as it walked along a deep gully but eventually everyone saw it, an elegant bird with paler plumage and longer bill than the Redshank.

After lunch we gathered again for a walk around Coombe Heath and almost immediately had good views of a Goldcrest. Had the conditions been more benign we might have found a Dartford Warbler, but no sooner than we were settled in the hide than Glynis had found the Spoonbills from a different direction, we all had excellent if rather distant views of the stars of Autumnwatch. From the shelter by the harbour we watched the rising tide bringing in flocks of Dunlin and Redshank, but not disturbing the Black-tailed Godwits. We finished fairly early and some of the group went home via Wareham Forest where they found a Great Grey Shrike and others enjoyed a group of 16 Waxwings in the new plantation at Bere Regis.

In all about 42 species were recorded.

Mary Robins