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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Biking Birder scores a '54'! Blashford to Arne RSPB reserve 6th February 2015

Friday 6th February

The evening before had been wonderful, spent with Kerry Reynolds and her famous son, Dominik.
Dominik won the Animal Hero's Award last year and got hugged by Brian May at a prestigious award ceremony at the Grosvenor in London. Well deserved.
I had first met the pair back in 2011 when we were at the RSPB 'Stepping up for nature' campaign launch together. They had just delivered the campaign petition and names to 10 Downing Street.
Dominik as a young 10 year old was phenomenal. His talk to a full room of RSPB supporters, celebrities like the superb Kate Humble and the then Environment Secretary, Julie Spellman, as well as the RSPB chief people, Mike Clarke, Mark Ian Avery, etc, was confident and eloquent.
Dominik, with the support of not only his Mum but also of Chris Packham, now tries to do as much for nature as he can through his fund.
An early start after a huge breakfast from Anita at The Lamb in Ringwood, So much I took a doggy bag of sausages, hash browns and bacon!
Straight to Kingfisher Lake, the southern most of the Blashford lakes. After two no ways at two different doors I came to a large wrought iron security gate with a view over some of the lake. Views from here weren't quite as restricted as last night but still no sign of the ferruginous duck. A man in a white van came out through the gates and asked what I was up to. On hearing he suggested I ask at the hosue as they were sure to let me in to view the lake.With him gone the gates shut behind him and I was in. The only problem was there was no one to answer the door at either the large building with apartments nor at the hosue around the lawned driveway. I was trying to be onest and await confirmation that I could look of the lake for the elusive duck but I did keep having a crafty look. To no avail alas!
Finally, on realising that I was now trapped inside the establishments beautiful grounds I headed back to the gate to see how I could get out. A young Czech Republic girl, Veronica, arrived and I explained how I had got in and why. She made a phone call to Carol, one of the apartment owners and Carol phoned me to ask what was going on. She then said that she would phone the fisheries head, Ted.
Anyway, cut this section a bit, 3 hours later, after a couple of birders had been and left giving up and having enjoyed the company of the brilliant birder and bird book author Rob Hume, I went off along the lake for a call of nature and returned to the restricted viewpoint of the small semi-submerged bushes.
There it was! Preening on a branch coming out from the right hand island of entangled roots. I screamed out with joy! “Yes, yes, yes!”
Then the scramble to try and get a photo. Well I should have done that first but I wanted to tell my mates back in the Midlands. They had been so brilliant keeping me up to date with news and encouragement that I texted them all and then looked up. The little blighter had gone. It had been there for all of a minute and now I couldn't see it again.
After a while I took stock. I had seen it. I may not have a photo but I had seen it. I needed to get to a cycle shop to review the inner tube situation and I needed to see at least three RSPB reserves in the Arne area to get back on track, still being 2 days behind.
I went around the lake euphorically, back to Ted's caravan and told him my good news; about how after three hours it had come out for around a minute. We talked about that, the importance of the bird in the Green Year list context and then about the fishing at the lake. The lake contains carp approaching Dick Walker's old record carp weight of 44lbs but Ted thinks otters take too many fish. Unusually for an angler he doesn't blame the many cormorants to be seen there roosting in the trees.
With a code given for my escape, I did just that and left to get to the cycle shop seen in nearby Ringwood. There Stefan told me that I had been tightening the nut to tight on the thread and this had probably caused the problem with the inner tubes. He also pointed out an imminent split in the front tyre so I bought a new one. With instructions on how to properly inflate a tyre with the 'new to me' valves, I thanked him and left with fully inflated tryes, a luxury I had not had for a few days. I'd never had this problem with the old fashioned wider valved inner tubes but I had never used the narrow ones before so was grateful for the lesson. I knew it had to have been my fault.
The bike now flew, almost literally with a strong NE wind behind me and I made good progress to Holton Heath on the west side of Poole. Down Station Road I cycled to reach the railway station and view the only parts of the RSPB reserve that one can see. No entry is allowed here due to previous military activities.
Before reaching Holton Heath I had views over Wareham Meadows RSPB reserve that borders the dual carriageway along the Poole to Dorchester road. I was thrilled to see the amount of reedbed management work being carried out there. This had been one of my favourite early morning birding places when I used to live in Swanage and I used to regularly see woodlarks and lesser spotted woodpeckers here.
Adjacent to Holton Heath RSPB reserve was an accessible reserve, Sandford Heath. Typical heath with large conifer stands and a huge, high spiky steel fence bordering large areas along the heath side and the road to prevent access. Not many birds, another friendly robin came very close, also a green woodpecker. Otherwise a buzzard chased by crows was the most interesting.

Next it was through Wareham, stopping to view the large flood meadows and the scenic view over the river to the church, Along to Stoborough and then to Arne RSPB reserve. A phone call on arriving was from Big Clam Bart. Great to hear him and his fabulous laugh. I miss my friends but they are only a phone call or a text away as ever.

Down to Shipstall Point with very close encounters with a number of Sika. Interestingly the does and the stags seemed to be separate from each other at this time.

Searching through areas of larger gorse with the occasional gentle pish, I heard a few buzzes and then out came a dartford warbler. Brilliant! This was the bird I was looking for and it was now on the year list. I do actually get stressed over such birds as I only have so much time to bird and so many RSPB reserves to visit. I wanted to get this bird here so I could relax about it and enjoy Arne the next day. Arne is a massive reserve and the management work done since my last visit in 2010 had seen large areas of heathland restored from the dead conifer plantations. Fabulous.

Year list now stands at 132. Next it';s onto the other RSPB reserves in the area before getting to Lodmoor and Radipole.

Now please have a look at the photographs of today on my facebook page -

Also if you could please make a small donation to any of the charities that I am supporting then please click on the links to the right. Thanks.

All the very best everyone. Love to you all xx

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