Monday 17 to Friday 21 October – Lulworth Cove Leader: Alastair Fraser

Day One: Our first day’s bird walk was to Morden Bog a NNR in Wareham forest, a remnant of Dorset’s once extensive heathland. We walked along a sunken footpath lined with oaks and pines, opening out into a heathland of birch, gorse, and sedge tussocks. Fungi were plentiful including Fleecy Milkcap, False Chanterelle, Russula brittle stem, Sulphur Tuft, Boletus, Amanita citrina, and Charcoal Burner. However, the birds we’d hoped to see (Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Woodlark) eluded us, but we did see Stonechat, Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tit and a very poised male Chaffinch. After a cream tea at the hotel we had a short walk to Lulworth Cove to see gulls, Cormorants, Rock Pipit and a Kestrel.
Day Two: We set out for the RSPB Arne Reserve on a beautiful, sunny morning. Arriving at the car park, several feeders were busy with the Blue Tits, Great Tits, etc. plus two Nuthatches. We took the Trail to Shipstall Point, stopping on the way for distant views of Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. On a spit opposite the Point were groups of Cormorants, Spoonbills and Oystercatchers. At a viewpoint nearby we had a close view of a Dartford Warbler. Returning to the café for lunch, we had an excellent view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker perched in the top of a tree. In the afternoon we headed out to Coombe Heath where we found a huge collection of ducks and waders on an estuary with a dropping tide. Among the species seen were Avocets, Godwits, Shelduck, Wigeon, Redshank and Spotted Redshank. We also had great views of a Marsh Harrier and Kestrel. Altogether, a very enjoyable and productive day.
Day Three: On Wednesday we visited sites around Poole Harbour that were new to most of us. We began at Upton Country Park where the habitat includes a walled garden filled with flowers, pasture, woodlands, a boardwalk through a reed-bed and a hide overlooking the expanse of Holes Bay. The last of these was the most exciting with big numbers of Wigeon and Teal, and flocks of waders to search through. Checking the ducks revealed a dozen Shoveler and eight Pintail. Amongst hundreds of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit we found four Avocets, a Grey Plover, a Ruff, Redshanks and a few Bar-tailed Godwits. We counted 22 Little Egrets and heard a squealing Water Rail. After a pleasant picnic lunch in the gardens, we moved on to Lytchett Bay where a walk down a country lane following a flock of Long-tailed Tits led to extensive pasture and saltmarsh holding 400 Teal and a few Wigeon. We added Lapwing and Greenshank to our trip list as well as another Ruff, Redshanks and three Black-tailed Godwits. A Buzzard soared over, and we were pleased to find an adult Yellow-legged Gull for the trip list.
Day Four: On a showery morning we headed to Poole. On the beach by the car park were Turnstones, Cormorants, Pied Wagtail and a Little Egret. We took the ferry to Brownsea Island, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was soon seen. After a short, sharp shower, the weather brightened to a sunny afternoon. At the two hides overlooking the lagoon, there were good numbers of waders, notably 53 Spoonbills, and many ducks. The latter included 160 Teal, 40 Wigeon a few Shovellers, a Shelduck and a couple of Gadwall. Amongst the waders in the distance were two Sanderling, a Ruff, 28 Avocets, about 300 Dunlin and six Grey Plover. A feeding Greenshank and a Redshank crossed right in front of the hide allowing clear comparison. Two Water Rails were seen or heard. The woods yielded small passerines plus red squirrels, busy burying the glut of nuts. From the Reed-bed hide, some birders saw a Kingfisher and Sika Deer. From the ferry back, we saw a swooping Sandwich Tern. On the drive back to Lulworth, we called at Ham Common Nature Reserve, overlooking Poole Harbour and saw a Sparrowhawk fly over. A Dartford Warbler obligingly perched for several minutes in full view and three Stonechats sat up on the gorse. The total bird species for the day was 57. Many thanks to Alastair for organising and leading. Clive Burton, Kate Cashmore, Jane Cumming, Alison Griffies.