ARNE PENINSULA - MIDDLEBERE & RSPB ARNE - HARTLAND MOOR - PORTLAND HARBOUR
WEATHER: wet and very windy all day, some dry spells. Temp 10C
It was almost a complete wash out today with just a couple of hours without rain. High winds hampered our birding and hence I do not have a lot to report!!
We headed to East Dorset to visit RSPB Arne and Middlebere tidal inlet hoping to add a few species to our wader list. The rain stopped for a short time whilst we sat in the hide at Middlebere but that did not help us at all because the tide was very high (I have never seen the water level so high) and consequently very few birds were out there in the marsh.
the view from Middlebere hide
We saw three Curlews, a bunch of Teal and Wigeon, a flock of Lapwings flew over and the odd Black-headed Gull braved the strong, gusting wind. We had more fun watching the antics of a Wren just in front of the hide in some brambles.
We had much more luck at Arne where we found shelter from the wind but got a very good soaking later. As we stepped out of the bus in the RSPB Arne carpark, we heard a Firecrest calling. Then two birds appeared, it looked as though the male was courting a female, he was flicking his wings and his crest was raised at times, looking beautiful. She was interested I think and hung around for a while. That was a great start to our visit.
At the feeders near the visitor’s centre in the car park we saw: Blue, Great & Coal Tits, Chaffinches, Dunnocks and Robins and Pam pointed out a Treecreeper very close to us. We then took the ‘yellow trail’ down onto the reserve to visit the hide overlooking Poole Harbour. We saw a couple of Fieldfares along the way and not much else.
The area of the harbour visible from the hide was pretty much sheltered and harboured hundreds of birds. On the water we picked out large flocks of Wigeon and Teal, also Mallard and a dozen Pintail as well as Lapwings, Little Egret and Common Shelduck.
Redshanks roosting on a fenced-off area
On a floating caged construction 20+ Redshanks were roosting with half a dozen Starlings? On the many islands and sand bars out in the bay we noted Curlew, a small flock of Avocets, lots of Oystercatchers, a few Ruddy Turnstones and three Grey Plovers. On the sand bar that was most distant from us there was a flock of 9 Spoonbills.
From then on the visit went downhill, the weather got much worse, with higher winds and lots of rain. We added a couple of Rock Pipits and we saw a couple of groups of Sika Deer but that was it. We got soaked once again as we made our way back to the café near the car park.
A hot coffee, a bowl of hot soup and a slice of Dorset Apple Cake cheered us up. We watched the feeders from the café windows and saw Siskins with the usual common birds.
For the next ½ hour or so we searched the heathland around Middlebere for Dartford Warbler without luck, then we drove around to Hartland Moor and did the same. This time we had a modicum of success, seeing at least 3 Dartford Warblers, a couple males showed well but very briefly.
the ruins Corfe Castle viewed from Hartland Moor
A regular and reliable place north of Wareham for Yellowhammers was our next destination, it was windy and wet when we got there and all we saw was Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches, a Grey Wagtail and a Sparrowhawk sitting in a bush. It was now 2:30pm so we decided to drive back to Weymouth for yet another look for the Red-necked Grebe.
Of course, we couldn’t find the grebe, the weather was against us once again, it was raining, windy, cold and the visibility was awful. We did see Shag, Great Crested Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Eider Duck and a Kittiwake but not the RN Grebe.
We had had enough by 4pm and so we went back to the guest house, to get warm and dry and enjoy a hot cup of chocolate.