A bird bo­nanza!

Au­gust is one of the best months for stack­ing up your species list

Dorset - - WALK -

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

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