Saturday and Sunday 25/26 January – Poole and Wareham Forest
The ground might have been water-logged but the air was dry on Saturday morning when we met at Sherford Bridge to begin our walk through the varied habitat of Wareham Forest. We saw a Moorhen walking the river bank and Song and Mistle Thrushes were singing. As we progressed we saw a Goldcrest, a pair of Ravens, a Carrion Crow, Buzzard, Grey Heron and Cormorant and a Kestrel. Further on we noted Robin, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Grey Wagtail, Coal Tit and Bullfinch for our list. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were photographed and in the open heathland Dartford Warbler and Stonechat hopped in and out of the gorse. We enjoyed our lunch break at Lawson Clump, where a Peregrine obligingly circled above until seen by just about everyone. On to Middlebere Farm where a male Hen Harrier treated us to a wonderful display, followed five minutes later by a female Marsh Harrier. The lower hide added Teal, Shelduck, Little Egret, Lapwing, Dunlin and Grey Plover plus a probable Yellow Legged Gull. From alongside the hide on the hill above the farm we looked down on Little Grebe, a Green Sandpiper, and a flock of Brent Geese. We were grateful for the good weather as the forecast for the Sunday was dire.
On Sunday those who took a pre-breakfast walk along the coastal footpath stayed dry, enjoying the song of several Blackbirds, Wren and House Sparrow while Gulls, Crow, Pied Wagtail and Sparrowhawk flew by. But after breakfast the heavens opened and so we set off for the comparative shelter of the hide at Brand’s Bay on Poole Harbour. Huddled together in the middle of the hide we were rewarded with two Sandwich Terns, one adult and one first winter, a Great Northern Diver, Bar-tailed Godwits, Wigeon, Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Avocets, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, and a pair of Red -breasted Mergansers. Having decided to abandon Poole Harbour and the torrential rain, we took the Ferry across to Sandbanks, adding Shag, Mallard and Turnstones to our list, with a possible Red-necked Grebe, then on to Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve. By now the rain had stopped and on the feeders outside the Visitor Centre Siskin and Greenfinches were busy. From the Woodland Hide we watched Lesser Redpoll visiting the feeders just outside the large glass window, soon joined, to the delight of everyone, by Mealy Redpoll, giving clear views of their distinctive features, while a tiny Vole scurried around in the leaf litter below. This Reserve was new to many of us and well worth a return visit. Also seen here were Black-necked Grebe, Goldeneye (displaying males), Pintail, Great Crested Grebe, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Reed Bunting, Pheasant, Collared Dove, Rook, Shoveler, Pochard, Teal, Gadwall, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Tufted Duck, Pintail, Egyptian Goose, Goldeneye, Jay, Long-tailed Tits, and Coal Tits.