A bird bonanza!
August is one of the best months for stacking up your species list
It’s been a strange year so far for us, but for the birds it’s been a blessing in disguise. Less disturbance in traditional places has seen many birds have a better than average breeding season. The great weather we enjoyed for much of the spring and early summer also benefitted feathered parents busy raising the next generation. There was an abundance of food, and the birds probably couldn’t quite believe their luck.
What has been fascinating to see is how wild birds have adapted and thrived without us in their manor. Take RSPB Arne, an area managed specifically for both wildlife and people. There’s no shortage of rare species at Arne such as Dartford warbler, woodlark and nightjar, but what was interesting, is that during the ‘re-opening’ phase, certain paths had to remain closed to the public as birds had begun nesting on the path edges around the reserve in areas they don’t normally breed. Another great example is at Sunnyside Farm, a wetland area we co-created and restored in partnership with
Natural England last year. Three pairs of lapwing raised six young on the pools this spring, almost certainly as a direct result of people not regularly visiting the site for walks.
This is a great month for birdwatching. In fact, you can see more species of bird in
Poole Harbour during August than at any other time of year. It heralds the start of mass autumn migration with millions of warblers, chats, flycatchers, swallows, raptors and waders all heading south across Europe.
Here is Dorset, sites like Durlston, Portland, Christchurch and Poole Harbour act as the ‘departure lounge’ for many of these birds. They hang out in these locations fuelling up on food, helping to build fat stores and muscle for the long flight ahead.
An early morning walk along any stretch of Dorset coast in August could reward you with a dazzling array of birds including redstart, yellow wagtail, and pied flycatcher through to birds of prey such as osprey and hobby, all species that can normally be quite tricky to see in Dorset.
Waders are also on the move during August, keen birdwatchers should beat a path to the bird hides on Brownsea Lagoon (if the island has reopened to the public) or Lytchett Fields an RSPB reserve on the edge of Poole. Both are hot spots for scarce wading species such as wood and curlew sandpiper, little stint and ruff; often a rare or scarce vagrant for North America pitches up here too.
There’s no better place to explore than Dorset, especially in August. It has the weather, the views and most importantly… it has the birds. Thanks to lockdown there are plenty of them!
‘An early morning walk
along any stretch of Dorset coast in August could reward you with a dazzling array of birds’
ABOVE: Common redstart can be spotted on the Dorset coast BELOW: Look for rare wading birds such as wood sandpiper at Brownsea Lagoon and Lytchett Fields