At the end of September we headed back to the Purbecks with our Young Naturalists to repeat March’s snowy residential, and the weather was glorious!
Staying once again at Brenscombe Activity Centre, just outside Corfe Castle, we headed over on the Friday evening to make the most of the weekend. On Saturday we once again visited Brownsea, with the weather a stark contrast to the freezing cold of our last visit.
We met up with Dorset Wildlife Trust staff member Nicki and volunteer Claire, who took us on a guided walk around the part of the Island managed by the Wildlife Trust.
From Low Hide we had great views of the birds on the Lagoon, spotting Cormorant, Black-headed gull, Spotted redshank, Avocet, Common redshank, Spoonbill, Little egret, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Grey heron, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Moorhen, Little ringed plover, Starling, Great black-backed gull and Dunlin.
We then headed further in to the reserve on our walk, past The Villa Wildlife Centre and through Venetia Park up to the viewpoint. This was the view we missed out on last time:
On our way we spotted Wood pigeon, Magpie, Coal tit, Great tit, Chaffinch, Blue tit, Pheasant, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Canada goose and on stopping to break for lunch we had great views of a Sparrowhawk overhead. We were now on our way to the beach and on a part of the reserve not open to the public – it was great for red squirrel spotting and we saw a number up in the tree tops.
After exploring the old buildings we headed down to the beach. At first look it was fairly clear of litter, but on closer inspection we managed to collect a fair amount of rubbish from the shoreline and spotted a few natural finds too, including crab claws, oyster shells and pottery fragments. Given this part of the reserve is not open to visitors, all of the litter we collected had washed on to the beach from the harbour.
After carrying the litter closer to the path for Nicki and Claire to collect later, we carried on with our walk and headed back towards The Villa, again red squirrel spotting along the way. We also spied a female Common darter basking in the sunshine.
On reaching The Villa we thanked Nicki and Claire for their time and made our way to the area by the Church. This spot had given us some great close up views of red squirrels last time we were here and we had about 45 minutes to spare before having to catch the boat back. We were lucky enough to get quite close to a Sika deer that wasn’t at all worried by all the people around her as well as peacocks and red squirrels.
We were enjoying the weather so much we decided to spend some time on the beach at Shell Bay after leaving Brownsea, paddling in the sea, beach combing and having a wander along the shoreline.
On the Sunday we headed up onto the ridge above the activity centre and walked towards Corfe Castle.
We then headed back to the coast, this time heading over to Kimmeridge Bay for some fossil hunting and rock pooling. Before going down to the beach we visited Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre. We loved the indoor rock pool and the centre is well worth the visit if you are ever in the area.
To give the tide more time to go out we then walked up to Clavell Tower, enjoying the view down to Kimmeridge Bay below.
After lunch on the beach we began fossil hunting for ammonites, something the group really enjoyed as they constantly tried to find an ammonite to better than the one they already had.
Finally we finished off with some rock pooling and a walk back along the beach, looking for shrimp, anemones, fish, shells and larger ammonites still under the water:
Admittedly it was a while ago now, but we had a fabulous time in the Purbecks and certainly enjoyed the sunshine on the Saturday. The group really enjoyed spending time on the coast, spotting red squirrels on Brownsea and the beach clean, an activity they are very good at!
Thank you to Nicki and Claire for showing us around Brownsea on the Saturday and to our brilliant volunteers Geoff, Nigel and Michelle for again giving up another weekend to join us, we certainly couldn’t run the weekends away without them!
Our Young Naturalists group is kindly supported by the Cameron Bespolka Trust.