After putting the moth trap out last night (7th) and checking it this morning hoping for a December Moth and drawing a blank, I was thinking I hope the RSPB BirdBoat wouldn't be the same. Well I have to say that we had lovely weather and a super cruise up the Wareham Channel and back around the harbour's island finishing with views over Brownsea Lagoon.
As we left Poole Quay and headed towards the Wareham channel amongst the gulls roosting on the marina pontoons were a handful of Turnstone. There was very little else to see other than a few Cormorants and occasional Brent along the shoreline until we were well up channel. Here I spotted a distant Marsh Harrier soaring over the forest towards Arne and within minutes a Peregrine came on the scene and then a pair of Raven. The Peregrine took a dislike to the Harrier and we saw an aerial scrap with full tallons drawn before the harrier moved off. The Peregrine then made a move on one of the Raven before soaring off high. Wareham meadows held Lapwing, Greylag Geese, Mute Swan and a few Little Grebe popped up along the reed bed edge, even Bearded Tit appeared for a few flitting across the reedbeds.
Our return back to the harbour added another two Marsh Harrier, a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit, a few Mallard and Wigeon and several flocks of Curlew flew overhead. As we passed Gold Point and entered the harbour our fourth Marsh Harrier crossed the channel behind and the peacefully roosting Oystercatchers decided to take evasive action and took flight. Mark called "diver" which turned out to be a Great Northern our only one of the trip. We crossed what is known to the local fisherman as Balls Lake towards the central harbour. Here we found Goldeneye, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe and our first real numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers.
Around the back Green Island we had a large flock of Mergansers and more Goldeneye. Brand's Bay produced Grebes and at least three Eider but no one found the Surf Scoter so it was around to Brownsea Lagoon it was crammed full of birds, with over a 1000 Avocets, hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwits. Stonechat was on the wall, and much further round on the lagoon were 8 Spoonbill and several Grey Herons a great end to the trip and it was back to the Quay.
After a spot of late lunch we headed off towards Cheselbourne to look for the 2 juvenile Common Cranes that have been spending time in a stubble field for a few days. We found them quite easily in the end as there were a few birders already watching them. Such beautiful and graceful birds they were delightful to watch, at one time standing together like two very smart garden ornaments! A brilliant way to finish our day's birding.