Studland – 15th February 2024

We had a wonderful day which was dry and very mild with some sunshine. 15 members met at the National Trust car park by the Ferry toll, where we enjoyed singing Greenfinches, Chaffinches, a Blackbird, a Robin and several Blue Tits, the latter using the Toll booth feeders.

At the Ferry end of the car park a wooden bridge passes through alder carr, a scarce habitat on Studland. Here there were Mallard, Black-headed and Herring Gulls on the water and Magpies and Woodpigeons in the trees. (Early bird Phil had also recorded Chiffchaff and Goldcrest) The bridge ends in the sand of Shell Bay Beach. From here, three Great Northern Divers in winter plumage were soon spotted in the English Channel. They were spread out diving but then all three came together in a cluster and we all got great views through the telescopes. We also saw a group of Sanderlings in flight, Oystercatchers sunning themselves and a passing Cormorant.

Next stop was Bramble Bush Bay overlooking Poole Harbour where we heard the first of many Dunnocks, saw a Great Tit, a Little Egret, and some Turnstones lounging on a boat. The sun came out and illuminated a pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers, a Great Crested Grebe and a small gaggle of Brent Geese. Behind us in the gorse we spotted a female Stonechat and heard a Wren. It was so hot by now we were all taking layers off.

We returned to the car park, heard a Green Woodpecker yaffling, then drove to Brands Bay where Penny spotted a Slavonian Grebe The telescopes came out and we all got a look at this scarce winter visitor. We also saw Shelducks, Lapwings, many Pintails, Redshanks Wigeon, Teal, a few Shovelers, Dunlin, Common Gulls, Curlews, our only Rooks of the trip, and an elusive and solitary female Goldeneye.

Next was lunch on the beautiful Knoll beach where people were swimming. We saw a Pied Wagtail, a hovering male Kestrel, and a distant Black-Necked Grebe in the water, spotted by Phil.

After lunch, we headed off to Middle beach where the elevated watchpoint allows better views of birds on the sea. Here, we caught up with the Black-Necked Grebe, this time through the telescopes. We also saw a Shag and several Mediterranean Gulls. It got a little cloudier here but there was plenty of opportunity to compare the differences between gulls which was really helpful.

We moved on to the South beach walk which was more inland and woody. Here were House Sparrows, some Long Tailed Tits and several Jackdaws. A Song Thrush was very close and not bothered by us at all; it was on the ground in a field of little hairy pigs! In the trees were two Coal Tits and in the adjacent scrub a Wren sounding an alarm call because a cat walked by. We also got very good views of another Dunnock eating in a bramble bush. Our final spot of the day was a pair of Collared Doves.

We were back on the ferry when the rains came so thought ourselves very fortunate indeed and agreed it was a great day out. With thanks to Steve for organising the visit and to Phil and Janette for their help with spotting the birds.

Mute Swan, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Goldeneye, Red-Breasted Merganser, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Black-Necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Shag, Little Egret, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Black-Headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch.

Report by DG and SO

Great Northern Diver by Lorraine Blakey