It was a dull, grey overcast day on Sunday, but I was determined to get out and stop SAD (seasonally affected disorder) setting in! So out came the OS map and off I went with a small rucksack, camera, bottle of water and a small(ish) bag of M&M’s.
Overlooking Middlebere Lake
I’ve written about Arne in a previous post, well Middlebere Heath and Lake are right next to it. Middlebere Heath is supposedly the location for Thomas Hardy’s fictional Egdon Heath in Return of the Native. A lot less visited than Arne, Middlebere is still a marvellous place to watch wildlife. With a mix of farmland, lowland heath and tidal inlet (not actually a lake!) you aren’t too sure what you are going to spot first.
Walking down the farm track (which used to be a tramway to carry clay from a local pit), I was heading in the direction of the Lake (an inlet from Poole Harbour) and my first sighting was of a sika deer stag and young doe (or was it a roe deer… not absolutely sure??).
Deer Stag at Middlebere
Although this area has a lot of deer it’s the first time I’ve seen a stag this size. This was a very handsome fella with full antlers and thick winter coat. Unfortunately he didn’t stay around long (two “twittering” birdwatchers marching up the track in bright red anoraks made sure of that!) so I have slowed the video down, just so you can get a good look at him.
Continuing along the track you go through National Trust heathland finally arriving at a hide overlooking the inlet. Luckily for me I had it to myself, so I settled down with my binoculars and aforesaid M&M’s…. bliss! As luck had it, I spotted a bird that I’ve never seen before, a male stonechat. Robin sized, with orange breast, black head and loud call, he was hard to miss on the bramble right in front of me!
Coming out of the hide I was bombarded by little flying mice… OK I know I’ve got mice on the brain, these were actually long tailed tits but they look so much like plump little flying mice. I’ve had to slow this video down as well (as they were so blimin fast!) consequently their song sounds a bit “long winded”.
Long Tailed Tits
Heading for home I took one last detour to a hide overlooking Corfe Castle. You can just make out the Castle in the distance (the hump in-between the two sloping hills). Such a haunting, mysterious place in the misty late afternoon light.
Looking towards Corfe Castle