I paid a visit to a very cold Dorset last Friday and thought that I would drop into RSPB Arne for a couple of hours whilst I was down there.
Unfortunately due to restricted time I didn't get to see all that RSPB Arne has to offer but I was very impressed with the limited amount that I saw.
Things got off to a good start when I saw some Sika Deer off the track to the main car park.
From the Car Park I had the choice of taking either the Shipstal Point trail which eventually leads to views over Poole Harbour or the Coombe Heath trail to Middlebere Lake (which is more like a tidal creek than a lake).
Middlebere Lake normally holds good numbers of Avocet so I thought I would take the Coombe Heath trail. I saw little of note over the heath other than a small party of Meadow Pipit and a Kestrel. I expected little else given the intensely cold weather, with most of the small birds preferring to feed in the car park, woodland and probably in the farm area.
However Coombe Heath did offer expansive views of the area which was very beautiful and picturesque. I didn't get many shots of the scenery as I was only sporting my telephoto lens but I did get some less picturesque photos of scrub/forest clearance and burning to the west of the reserve.
There is one hide and a viewing screen looking over Middlemere Lake. In some gorse close to the hide I heard a Dartford Warbler singing quietly away. I also got to see it fleetingly before it turned and flew off to sing from another song post further off. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos. I also didn't get any photos of what greeted me once in the hide - a stunning female Sika Deer very close to the hide. I was making too much noise and it scarpered as quick as a flash.
I was promised by regular visitors to the reserve that Middlemere Lake was normally full of wading birds, but this wasn't to be on my visit as it was almost completely frozen over! Overnight temperatures had approached about -10 degrees Celsius so it is hardly surprising but still ever so slightly disappointing.
The local Brent Geese had a quick wander over the frozen creek...
...but soon took to grazing on a field nearby.
Whilst in the hide I also saw a superb male Marsh Harrier quartering over the reed bed in front of the Brent Geese and a Common Buzzard in the trees behind the Brent Geese.
On my way back to the car park I encountered a mixed flock of winter thrushes in the overflow car park.
So overall a very enjoyable couple of hours spent on a lovely reserve. I dearly hope to visit it again sometime so that I can properly explore all it has to offer.