Monday, 4 June 2012

Adventures on Brownsea Island

Twenty Minutes by boat from Poole in Dorset on the south coast lies Brownsea Island. A five hundred acre magical island consisting of pine, mixed woodland, heathland and salt marshes full of wildlife and adventure. 

Click Images to Enlarge
We hopped aboard a ferry on a blissfully sunny afternoon last weekend weaving our way through a multitude of sailing vessels en route to the island. Brownsea Island Ferries have been operating a service from Poole Quay to the island for over a hundred years.




Brownsea's most famous claim to fame happened on an August morning in 1907 when Robert Baden Powell held his first camp on the island. Twenty-two children began their island adventure with the sounding of an African kudu horn followed by a glass of milk and a biscuit, 30 minutes exercise and prayers before being put into groups of Wolves, Bulls, Curlews and Ravens ready to begin their tasks as the first members of what would become the International Scout Movement.


The primary objective for this visit was to see a rare red squirrel, a creature we are so fond of we even have squirrels in our wreath designs. A creature hardly seen on the mainland of Great Britain due to being driven out by their more successful grey cousin. There are about 200 red Squirrels that live on Brownsea Island. Very shy creatures with their tufty ears and little pale furry tummies that they love to fill with pine seeds, acorns, hazelnuts and chestnuts that grow on the island.



I was told that the hot weather was not ideal for squirrel spotting and that the chance of seeing one in June was very rare. I was determined to put all my knowledge gathered from growing up reading the Observer's Book of British Wildlife into action to search for my illusive ginger friend. An afternoon of wandering through the woods ensued, we saw rabbits, creepy crawlies, a million midges, birds of all shapes colours and sizes, chickens, peacocks and deer.


As we slowly walked and chatted, keeping our eyes on the canopy above, my eye was drawn down to the flick of a tail on the ground a hundred yards away from us. Walking deeper into the forest watching the flickering tail,  looking through the viewfinder and carefully traversing a fallen log I got as close as was possible. I took several quick shots and then stepped on a dry twig, SNAP! the ginger blighter shot up a tree stopping briefly to pose for one last portrait and then raced out of sight.


With our mission accomplished we made our way back to catch the last boat. The return journey to the mainland included an hour long narrated tour around the entire island taking in its history and that of it's neighbouring islands.


Waving goodbye to the island, we vowed to return to Brownsea in autumn when the red squirrels are more active and easier to see. I haven't finished with you yet, little monkeys. I'll be back!

30 comments:

  1. Very cool, Paul! That was speedy photography!! So cute, especially the ears. I'd love to visit Brownsea....autumn would be beautiful with the foliage colors. BTW, we have black squirrels in addition to the grey ones. Ciao, Loi

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    1. Only in the Excited States of America! Quoting blog friend Millie :-)

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    2. Black and Grey squirrels Loi! Well I might have know you would even colour coordinate your wildlife!

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  2. Dear Paul - well done, catching the little red squirrel. They are so much more beautiful than the grey. I love your collage photos, you have made a brilliant job of them. I am particularly taken with the peacock one. You would not believe it but someone gave me some photos of one the peacocks on Brownsea Island today with his tail fully opened.

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    1. Isn't that an amazing coincidence Rosemary what are the chances! The Peacock in my triptych was laying at the bottom of a sloping lawn eyeballing me, turning left to right telling me to keep my distance or else!

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  3. I remember visiting Brownsea many years ago, a magical place
    Sharon
    x

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  4. Hi Paul: What a pleasant day you had. I love riding on ferry boats and I'm glad you got to catch a glimpse of the red squirrel any way. You certainly saw some other beauties. It looks like a great place to while away some time. Now you have all the fun of anticipating a return trip..Happy Monday..Judy

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  5. Brownsea is an island I've never visited....but would love to! Interesting Boy Scout history, and all those lovely animals, birds etc. Hope you can return in Autumn for better red squirrel viewing - but you did get a couple of great shots this time, know that's was great fun.

    The grey squirrels here are a real nuisance, but only if one feeds birds as we like to do. WEhave dozens of them living in the trees in the back garden. There is no such thing as a 'squirrel-proof bird feeder' no matter what the manufacturers say! We spend a huge amount on good birdseed but I bet 90% of it is devoured by squirrels. They are intelligent, cunning and fearless, acrobatic and daring...............and so darned cute at times!!!!! We're not filling our feeders while in Africa - 3 weeks for the little birdies to fend for themselves - and the squirrels I know will still find plenty to eat in our garden as they dig up acorns and hickory nuts which are plentiful.

    Thanks for taking us along on your island adventure Paul - it was delightful.
    Mary

    P.S. Loved the sailboat pics - looked like a perfect day.

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    1. We stopped feeding the birds here some years ago because the squirrels got to the seeds first and then field mice started to raid the garden room where we kept the seed. We now leave it all to nature and never cut the garden back in autumn so the birds eat direct from the seed heads, the squirrels dig up the bulbs and the field mice seem to stay in the field so everyones happy.
      Have an amazing trip look forward to hearing all about it.

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  6. Yes, thank you for taking us on your island tour. It was lovely. Your red squirrel look a little different than ours here in Nova Scotia. No tufted ears, and tail seems shorter. We are rather overrun with them right now..baby squirrels are running about like mad things. All good though..all good.

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  7. What a lovely and informative tour. I loved every minute of this adventure. Your photography is wonderful, but your writing even better than that. Thank you. I just found your blog and looked over a few other posts to see that you have many spectacular points of interest. I am your newest follower. I'm not sure if you would like my blog or not. I'm just a retired grandmother, that is enjoying every wonderful day the good Lord blesses me with and blogging about my projects in art, furniture re-dos, local road trips, etc. I would love to invite you to follow, but not sure if I'm interesting enough for your young adventurous soul. Have a great day and thank you again for the splendid tour.
    Connie :)

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  8. What a lovely spot to visit and walk around. Beautiful photos and what looks like a glorious day to be out on the water and in the woods. Pamela

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  9. Paul - this is the most wonderful adventure -- just the type of outing that I would love. I could have hiked around that island all day! Your photos are amazing -- it will be totally lovely to be there in the autumn.

    I am so jealous that you are in the midst of the great jubilee right now -- Id love to be there for all the happenings!

    Vicki

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  10. What a wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing!
    Markus

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  11. Hi Paul - thanks for visiting my blog and following. I've taken a mad dash through a number of your posts - very interesting material and wonderful photos. I shall have to return as time permits to read/view more. Judging by your photos here I think Brownsea Island needs a spot on my bucket list !

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  12. [It would appear that Google gobbled up my first attempt at leaving a comment, so I will save this one as a file first and then publish ...]

    Hello Paul, and thank you for visiting and following my blog. I have made a mad dash through a number of your posts - very interesting material and wonderful photos. I shall be back to read/view more as time permits. Judging by your photos, I think Brownsea Island needs a spot on my bucket list of places to visit. And I'm glad that so many of those old castles and ruins are left standing for us to marvel at instead of being razed (lovely photos you have of some of them).

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  13. Your pics are wonderful Paul. Brownsea island looks like a great place to visit with the bonus of some beautiful wildlife.

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  14. I like your blog and your desing! :D
    I'm new in this

    diamangel.blogspot.com

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  15. Hello Paul:
    What a wonderful time you had! Although we have often been to Poole, Studland and Swanage we have never been to Brownsea Island as it happens. Your enticing pictures have ensured that we have made a mental note to rectify this situation when we are next in the area.

    You were obviously very fast on the draw with your camera to capture the elusive Red Squirrel. They are such attractive animals and it is sad that their numbers have diminished so much in recent years with the ever increasing presence of the Greys.

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  16. This is certainly a place I would enjoy visiting - lovely photos!

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  17. Thank you for taking us to Brownsea Island with you, a new place for me. I just checked it out on the Google satellite map. Great photos! Have you thought to post them larger on your blog? For those like me that use reading glasses!

    Will try to capture the black squirrels in my yard, they have an interesting story of how they got here.

    I loved the coverage of the Jubilee celebrations, so sorry about the rain. Did you have fun?

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    1. Hi Cindy. If you click the phoitos they will pop up in an enlarged sized for easier viewing. Let me know how you get on with that. regardless of the rain, we had a wild weekend of fun here in London.
      Paul

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  18. Dear Paul,
    as I never read the comments before writing one myself, this statement might have been done before: "Confess - you have been a boy scout!" I love them (husband has been one, but he was an altar boy too) - and reading the 'Observer's Guide to British Wildlife' sounds like the good deed for the day :-)
    So you love ginger squirrels too - our son is crazy about them - though in Germany we have 'only' the red ones. I was astonished in Kensington Garden to see only silver backs - my (till then) unknown Facebook-friend Louise from Dover told me about the suppression - or should I call it gentrification? However: your trip must have been a lovely one, thank you for pictures and text!
    Ah: here squirrels live in our street - and they are not shy.

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  19. Great photos, my favourite is the peacock-collage! :o)
    Traude

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  20. Hi Paul,

    You had beautiful weather for your visit to Brownsea island! Never been there myself, but it looks promising. The blue sky, sailing boats and sunshine shining through the branches of the trees make your photo's perfect!

    Your search for the red squirrel sounds special. The two of you must be real nature lovers. I am happy to hear you saw some in the end. I believe in Holland the red squirrel is in minority as well. Such a shame.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Madelief x

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  21. Wow I really need to start travelling more in my own country!! Especially when the weather is as good as it's ... oh wait, I just looked out the window. Right, well I'll go exploring next summer then...

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  22. That's the sort of crazy thing that I would do. Looks like a wonderful trip to a magical place x

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  23. Hi Paul, just discovering your blog. Wow, Brownsea Island is a beautiful place to visit. Near Dorset? I will check it out. Those red squirrels are amusing. We have lots of black and gray squirrels here in Toronto, passing by our backyard and front lawn every day. I love England. The countryside and even the seashore are both beautiful!

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