Saturday, April 21, 2012


Not sure if this is going to work but there is now an option to have bigger photos, so I thought I would go for it. You would think it would be quite straight forward but it is not as everything has to be changed about, it also decides some things for you which you seemingly dont have a say in, such as shite brown coloured headings, the header photo being off centre etc etc so things might look at bit odd to start with.

Great weather nearly all day today. Nice and sunny with no wind. 

First stop was for the Golden Pheasants. The best place to try and see these birds is now around the Wardens Cottage area as it is the only stand of Rhododendron left on the island, after extensive clearance work.
From the photos below, it all looks very easy. Just stroll up and the birds will be just wandering around the gardens. However this is most definitely not the case! They are extremely secretive birds. The cover is very dense and they invariably stay in there. The males are quite vocal in spring so hearing one wasnt a problem, but I needed a photograph!
We could hear at least one bird continually calling but it was impossible to see. Our technique, (me and Claire) was to wait at the ends of walkways hoping it would scuttle across. This lasted for about 30 minutes until I lost interest. I did try getting in there to 'encourage' it out but the cover was completely impenetrable. Later a regularly calling bird seemed to be quite close to the wood edge so we set ourselves up by a gate with a view across the lawn there. After about another 30 minutes we were thinking about leaving when the bird appeared from the cover at the back, then ran right across the lawn and back into thick cover again. Long enough time to get a few shots.

The plan is to clear all remaining Rhododendron so the future of Golden Pheasants on Brownsea looks a bit bleak unless they try and find some alternative. I did enquire as to why they couldnt just leave this last remaining bit. The reason is that the plant can carry a disease which can be transmitted to our native trees.

Ropey shot of an investigating Blackcap

A job well done there then. Next stop the cafe. 
I thought these were part of the stonework at first

Very regal! 

Tanks now full, it was off to the lagoon. Despite having missed the high tide there still seemed to be plenty of birds about. Knot was the next target bird as they will soon be clearing off and I didnt want to wait till next winter to tick it.
They were still about, along with a bonus bird Curlew Sandpiper who kept in their company
They were rather distant so the Powershot and scope had to be deployed.

The nesting Yellow-legged Gulls were even further away, but thought I may as well get the tick on offer.  List now 185.

In for a penny.. May as well get in this ropey shot of Avocet. This was one of just two birds left.

On the way to the Macdonald Hide, there was a small viewing gap just befor the fence line where a Spot Red and Greenshank were feeding

I had to get my knees dirty for those shots. Thats what you call commitment!

Now in the hide it was time for some traditional point blank shots of nesting (or pre-nesting) birds. These taken by Claire

Dont think he's quite got the hang of it yet

I should have videoed them really as it was quite comical. The male looked like he was skateboarding rather than mating as he constantly tried to remain on board whilst the female walked up and down the small island.

Sandwich Terns only on the further island at the moment

Heavily cropped Common Tern pic on same island. Havent seen one with such a dark body colour before. 

Got a call from Graham Armstrong who was also on the island, that Chris Thain had found a singing Firecrest near the arboretum.
It was a particularly restless bird and defied a real decent shot

The skies were soon darkening so we headed back. Just as we were reaching the main hide the heavens opened and we had to take cover.
There were 3 Spot Reds at medium range, sitting it out

On the way back to the quay we spotted this foxes tail on legs sprinting down the boardwalk

It was then joined by another who surprisingly started heading back towards us

It then proceeded to walk right up to us

I didnt realise that they could be this tame. This one just sat there feet away as though waiting for some sort of handout.