Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Red Squirrels On Brownsea Island...?

M and I had a Treat yesterday- we took ourselves off to Brownsea Island with no children in tow whatsoever. It's a sign of changing times I suppose: the oldest two (16 and 19) have revision and job hunting to do and the youngest (13, going on 25) has made it perfectly clear that days out with his parents are the last things on Earth he wishes to be doing. So we went by ourselves, and it was DELIGHTFUL.

 

We drove down to Poole, hopped on the Brownsea Island ferry and 20 mins later disembarked onto the jetty. Because we're National Trust members, we swanned through while all the other poor buggers were queuing to pay :o)




 
Brownsea is the largest of several island in Poole harbour, which is itself one of the largest harbours in the world (second only to Sydney, if memory serves). Most of the other islands are in private ownership but Brownsea is open to the public because it is managed by the National Trust. We were there because it is one of the best places to see native Red Squirrels in their natural habitat outside of Scotland. We tried on the Isle of Wight five years ago and failed, so I was hopeful that things would be different on Brownsea.

The Easter hols meant there were lots of families with Small People there, enjoying the sun, so we headed off to the more remote part of the island past the lagoon and through the nature reserve.

There were Avocets...




 
Noisy Black-Headed Gulls...


And more Godwits than you could shake a stick at... 



The same went for Oyster Catchers...


And Cormorants...


We also had a Close Encounter with a Noisy Wren who wasn't remotely concerned by our presence...

M was Rather Taken with the Carr, an area of wild wetland accessible only through raised walkways. It has been created from what was fields only a few years ago....


The mosses growing there were a beautiful lush, fresh, bright green....


He also liked these Southern Wood Ants we found high up in the pine forest area of the island...





And I was Rather Taken by this cockerel who was adamant he was going in to Church, Come What May....



Poole's harbour was visible from certain points across the water...





After a couple of hours, we wandered back to the Jetty, eyes peeled for our illusive little red friends but not a single squirrely face was to be seen. We took advice from the lady manning the Dorset Wildlife Trust Strand by one of the Hides and she recommended we return in September 'when the mast is down and all the noisy children and their parents aren't here!'.

We ate ice cream (salted caramel) on the quay waiting for the boat to pick us up and take us on a homeward-bound tour of the islands, including the one where oil was discovered and a 51% stake in it recently went for £670 million!

 
As we left, the Captain pointed out Brownsea Castle, which was built by Henry VIII and is now owned by the John Lewis Partnership. They who use it as a holiday place for their employees. There is currently a four year waiting list!


A Gorgeous Day and one we will repeat. This Going Out Without Grumpy Teens In Tow has a lot to recommend it :o)

I'll leave you with some pics of the Hounds. 

First, Pop exhausted by zooming about on her walk this afternoon....


Next, Teddy sunbathing by the door...


And finally, the pair of them on Guard Dog Duty...


Hope you are all well,

CT :o)

42 comments:

  1. Looks fantastic, I never get to go to the best wader spots round here

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    1. I've done a lot of bird watching this winter and never been to a place with so many so near. Well worth a visit if you're ever down this way, but bear in mind the Island is closed Nov through to March (double check first just in case).

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  2. Looks like you had a wonderful day out, Harry looks at me with horror if we suggest a day out together as a family, a meal out is fine though as are trips with the hound! So yes, a day out without grumpy teens & naughty doggies is fantastic especially to places that bores them or is that just mine! Such cute guard dogs how could anyone be scared? xx

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    1. L won't even do dog walks these days :o( Meals out- yup, he's fine with those. Aren't they funny?
      Fab day, we felt very grown up! Will def repeat! xx

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  3. I have never heard of Brownse Island but it looks lovely, and you had brilliant weather for the trip.

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    1. Just as well, Molls- I was a bit worried about feeling sick on the boat but the sea was flat as a mill pond :o)

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  4. Looks like a wonderful outing! Thanks for sharing all the nice photos.

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  5. Great to read your post about Brownsea. I have only been once as a small child, and a peacock stole and ate my mars bar, whole with the paper wrapper and everything - thankfully it was only paper not the modern plastic wrappers. So you totally erased my memories of that now and I can think of the beautiful and interesting things you saw instead!! xx

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    1. Naughty peacock! Am glad my pics and account has allowed you to banish that particular memory :o) xx

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  6. What a lovely place, and all of those birds, my eldest would be in heaven. It sounds like an excellent day out, and salted caramel ice-cream too. I have all the grumpy teenage stuff ahead of me. I do have a grumpy eleven year old though, so I'm starting to have an idea of what it will be like. CJ xx

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    1. I think your gang would love it. A boat trip makes it feel more of an adventure too. Dorset's not too far for you- I guess you could do it as a day trip in Summer? Yes, L's teenagehood also started at 11! xx

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  7. We only have red squirrels where we live...in the city they only have grey squirrels. C'est la vie!
    Jane x
    PS Did I spy leaves on the trees?

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    1. I've yet to see a single red squirrel in the wild so I envy yours :o)
      Yup- leaves are a-coming x

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  8. I have heard of Brownsea and I hae just arrived back from the I.O.W. this evening and am disappointed that you did not see the Red Squirrels. I did see 2 on the I.O.W this time. Looks a lovely place to visit and I will havee to look it up and ssee if it is possible to visit it from the I.O.W. the next time I visit there.

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    1. I remember your post with red squirrel pics on the IoW from last year. Glad you got to see more this time around. :o)

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  9. What a lovely trip, a lovely day and the weather looked perfect - thanks for sharing.

    All the best Jan

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  10. Sounds like it was a wonderful time, despite no show squirrels. Interesting at the church they have bootscrapers on each step, as if to say, really make sure your feet are clean before entering! Love the stonework, weathered - like the ant tree

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    1. The Church is Victorian and was, I think, built for the farm workers on the Island, so I guess they may well have had muddy boots :o)

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  11. interesting -- i remember when we first moved to Canada, it was primarily red squirrels that we had. then the grey and black ones moved in.....only in the past couple of years have i spotted a couple of red ones at my parent's house. i almost fell off my chair when i saw one scampering along the fence. still only the greys and blacks out here in the country though....

    what a gorgeous place to visit! and without surly teens in tow! marvelous! :)

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    1. I listened to a father on the boat over wrongly telling his son that Greys kill Reds. I'm not sure there's any evidence for that. It seems to be more a case of the Greys being better at competing for resources like food and shelter. Great that you saw Reds at your parent's house- hopefully they'll make a come back into the rural parts of Canada too.

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    2. collective wisdom over here actually marks the reds as being the more aggressive variety -- although they're half the size of the blacks and greys so i've no idea how true that is! i remember being amazed how few squirrels there were here in the country as opposed to in town where we were quite over-run!

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  12. Oh, how I would enjoy a day like this. The beauty alone would keep me fascinated for hours. How lovely to romp about in such beauty.

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    1. You would love it there- it does remind me of some of the places you've shown on your blog near you. Pine trees and rocky places.

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  13. Keep wanting to go over to Brownsea, but when we stay in Bournemouth we always have William with us and there's no dogs on Brownsea...shame. I'll enjoy it via your visit and photos instead :-)

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    1. It is worth a visit if you can find a William-Sitter for the day :o)

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  14. Lovely photos - so glad you managed to visit - it really is a magical place. The best sighting of a red squirrel we had there last summer was at the back of a visitor centre or cafe (can't remember which) which had a feeding station for them. In all the years of going to the IofW I have only ever seen 2 red squirrels there. They can be elusive!!!

    It looks as though you managed to visit the bird reserve there which I missed :( Must go back again one day.

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    1. I think it might have been the visitor centre further in to the Island, with the high pines on the hill behind? We were told that was the best place to see them. Will go back in Sept and try again :o)

      The lagoon was a total haven for birds- have never seen so many in one place- you would love it.

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  15. A lovely tour CT, after visiting Poole a few times and looking at trips across, I'm interested to see a quick tour of it. Sorry you didn't see the Reds, they are such lovely creatures...still you can look forward to a visit later in the year.

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    1. You would love it there Suzie, so many lovely things to see and it was so peaceful.

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  16. That's somewhere I've never been but would love to judging by the photo's.
    I remember when ours were growing away, but once they had all fled the nest I wished they were all back again. It took me ages to not lay a table for 5, lol
    As for the works next door, they have been ongoing since September and with no workmen to be seen look as though they will be continuing for a bit yet.
    Briony
    x

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    1. I'm sure I will be the same, Bri :o) xx

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  17. Hey CT,
    I have noted Brownsea Island as a trip with the boys in the summer. Marc's new job is in Poole, and we shall be visiting during the holidays to stay with him. Loved all the birds that you saw.
    Leanne xx

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    1. You'll all love Brownsea. Maybe we should think about meeting up while you're down? Poole is about 45 mins drive from here. xx

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    2. That would great. Would salted caramel ice cream be on the menu? ;))

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  18. Exciting! I've been past the island a few times when we used to take the old Barfleur ferry from Cherbourg to Poole. It's a beautiful harbour and a lot more interesting than coming in to Portsmouth which we tend to do these days. Shame you didn't see any red squirrels though. Salted caramel is a common flavour over this side of the channel but seems to be gaining in popularity over your side now. :-) xx

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    1. We first had salted caramel in Normandy several years ago, it seems to be everywhere here now- yum! The harbour is a lovely place to sail through xx

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  19. It's one of my most favourite places in all the world!
    I have only been there in high summer - and we didn't see any red squirrels either...

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    1. I think we have similar tastes in places :o)

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  20. I remember too the enjoyment too of going out without the teenagers! We haven't been to Brownsea Island for many years. It was good to see so much wildlife in your pictures. We have seen the squirrels there in August. Sarah x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x