On this short break we will explore some of Dorset’s best nature reserves from a delightful, award-winning Elizabethan manor hotel adjacent to Corfe Castle. Early summer is an ideal time to enjoy the wildlife of the ‘Jurassic Coast’ and its hinterland and on our first afternoon we will look for breeding seabirds, raptors and Ravens before heading to a purpose-built hide for some Badger-watching. We will visit RSPB’s Arne Reserve to look for Sand Lizard and the very rare Smooth Snake, as well as birds such as Dartford warbler and Hobby. At Radipole Lake Marsh Harriers, and numerous breeding warblers including Cetti’s Warbler will be among the species we will hope to find before heading to Lodmoor and Portland Bill. Finally, we will comb selected beaches along the Jurassic Coast for fossils which bear witness to the area’s special 185 million-year-old natural history.
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Présente le mardi et vendredi toute la journée
Tue 26th May - Fri 29th May - 867€
Tue 23rd Jun - Fri 26th Jun - 867€
-Accommodation: We will be staying in a lovely inn in the village of Broadmayne.
-Food: All meals are included in the price except lunches.
* These tours are operated by Naturetrek (ABTA Y6206) for which Nature et Terroir acts as agent.
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Byron is an Ecuadorian Ecologist and Field Ornithologist who has been working as a researcher and bird watching tour leader since 2000. A keen birder and nature lover by 'nature', Byron has a vast knowledge of the neotropical and Western Palearctic avifauna, particularly in his native Ecuador and neighbouring Colombia. His sharp ears and eyes permit him to locate the most elusive forest-dwelling birds in the field, successfully leading more than two-hundred trips so far. As a Field Ornithologist, Byron has contributed with many important discoveries for the Ecuadorian Ornithology, all published in scientific magazines and bulletins, such as the first record for Ecuador of the Thicket Antpitta (Hylopezus dives), Feb. 2007; the rediscovery of the Yellow-eared Toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis), Aug. 2006; and the discovery of the Choco Vireo (Vireo masteri), Sept.2004, A New Bird Species for Ecuador. Byron currently works as an independant Wildlife Consultant for leading wildlife companies and conservation organizations, having also become actively involved in many birding and conservation programmes in Spain, where his birding field skills have rapidly made him one of the authorities amongst the Iberian wildlife world. Byron currently lives in west Dorset, England, with his daughter Isabel.
Jon graduated in Zoology, Botany and Conservation and works as director of rural programmes for The Tree Council. His work takes him all over the UK and occasionally further afield to Europe, the US and Mexico. As part of his job he is also part of the national committees for Orchards and Hedges. Jon has studied the Wild Gladioli, the life of the Small Blue butterfly and has written/co-written eight books on trees. He was also a trustee of Plantlife for over 10 years. Jon is an enthusiastic, all-round naturalist with a particular interest in plants, birds, whales and Lepidoptera. He is always keen to share his wealth of knowledge of natural history, and has travelled widely throughout Europe, North America and Australia. Jon is based on the south coast of Hampshire where he lives with his wife and two children.
NB. Please note that the itinerary below offers our planned programme of excursions. However, adverse weather & other local considerations can necessitate some re-ordering of the programme during the course of the tour, though this will always be done to maximise best use of the time and weather conditions available.
Arrive Dorchester, RSPB Radipole and RSPB Lodmoor
Those participants arriving by train will be collected from Dorchester Station (South or West) around 1300 hours, before driving to the nearby hotel, where there will be the opportunity to drop the bags off and meet those arriving by car. The exact timings and arrangements will be given in the final joining instructions. Accommodation for the four days will be in a comfortable inn in Broadmayne. After checking in, we will head for the RSPB’s Radipole Lake, a reed bed reserve with lagoons positioned in the heart of Weymouth. This urban oasis is packed full of wildlife, and as we walk along the paths we will be listening out for the ‘pinging’ calls of Bearded Tits, the explosive song of Cetti’s Warblers, and the songs of Reed and Sedge Warblers. The bushes and denser habitat will be good for Blackcaps, Whitethroats, and Lesser Whitethroats. Sparrow-like Reed Buntings may pop up at the top of Phragmites reed stems, and Marsh Harriers frequently quarter the reed beds with their wings held in a v-shape. The pools will be ideal for Tufted Ducks, Little Grebes, Moorhens, and Coots, while Water Rails may be heard squealing like young piglets.
At the RSPB’s Lodmoor reserve on the other side of Weymouth, the open water and shingle islands are home to one of the largest Common Tern colonies in the south-west. We will stop here to watch the playful antics of the terns as they settle down to nest. We will also look for Sandwich and Little Terns plus early returning wading birds such as Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and Common Sandpipers. The bushes will be worth scanning for Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, and Stonechat. The marshland and reed beds here are also home to Bearded Tits, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Gadwall and Shelduck.
Durlston & Arne
Following breakfast we travel to Durlston Country Park and its seabird cliffs, not far from Swanage. We will take time to look through the breeding Guillemot colony, and spot other seabirds such as Razorbills, Shags and Fulmars. It will also offer the chance to hear and smell a seabird colony if the wind is in the right direction! The cliffs are good for spotting Rock Pipits, Jackdaws, Ravens and Peregrines, while Gannets, shearwaters and terns often pass offshore. The wildflower meadows, with their multi-hued blooms, attract in lots of insects, particularly butterflies, and we will take time to enjoy this lovely habitat.
We will make the short journey north, back towards the RSPB’s Arne nature reserve where we will have the opportunity to look for rare reptiles. The warm, acidic soil around Arne and the Purbecks forms the perfect heathland habitat for all six of the UK’s native reptiles, including the Sand Lizard and the Smooth Snake.
Some of the afternoon will be spent exploring the heathland for birdlife, and perhaps spotting more snakes and lizards. In the nutrient-poor soil, plants need to find food in novel ways – we will spot sundews close to the ground with their round leaves scattered with thin red stalks and sticky droplets at their tips. These carnivorous plants catch small insects using the sticky ‘dew’ and slowly digest them. As we explore the heathlands we will be looking for Dartford Warblers with their unique scratchy calls, alongside more common species such as Stonechats, Woodlark, Spotted Flycatchers, and possibly hawking Hobbies. Acrobatic fliers, Hobbies are well known to catch and eat dragonflies on the wing and there are a wide variety in the area for them to feed on including Emperor Dragonfly, Downy Emerald, Keeled Skimmer and the rare, delicate Small Red Damselfly. Foxgloves will also be at their best showing off their pink-purple tubular flowers, while the yellow flowers of gorse will have a scent of coconut. Below our feet voracious predators such as Green Tiger Beetles will be foraging, stripy Raft Spiders can be spotted walking across pools of water, and lines of large Wood Ants are hard to miss as they march to and from their nest mounds. Larger herbivorous mammals such as Sika and Roe Deer may also cross our path. The extensive reedbeds are home to Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings and nesting waterbirds such as Shelducks and Redshanks, and out over Poole Harbour we will be alert to the possibility of Common and Sandwich Terns.
After dinner we will head out to the heath and wait for the sun to set. In the late evening light, Nightjars will hopefully begin ‘churring’ - and when they stop singing it is time to watch for movement as they fly like a kestrel but on lighter wings and silently. Males show patches of white on the tips of their wings, and sometimes make clapping sounds with them as part of their display. Meanwhile, the low light will also draw out bats including the Common and Soprano Pipistrelles which quickly dash up and down open rides and around bushes, while Britain’s largest common bat, the Noctule Bat will be hunting high above.
Today we will spend the day exploring the wonderful Jurassic Coast between Chesil Beach and Durlston. It’s made up of sandstone, limestone, chalk and clay, each eroding at a different rate to create some stunning coastal landscapes. Fossils can be found along much of this coast line, which produced the famous skeletons of sea dragons known as Ichthyosaurs, found by fossil collector Mary Anning, a little further to the west. We will stop at various points along the coast to look for birds, other wildlife and perhaps a fossil or two. Our likely destinations will include Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Kimmeridge, for Common Seal, Fulmar, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and European Stonechat. Further inland is Thomas Hardy country, the area that inspired his literary work, Egdon Heath. Although much of the habitat is now fragmented, we should still find a good number of species, including Dartford Warbler, Hobby, Woodlark, Heath Tiger Beetle, Dorset Heath, various orchid species as well as insectivorous sundews and butterworts. We will find a nice pub or café for a sitdown lunch at some point in the early afternoon.
In the early evening we will head out in good time to position ourselves for our evening of Badger watching. There are a number of sites locally where there are well established clans and badger are regularly seen. Your tour leader will make a decision on the best location to visit, depending on the recent badger sightings. We hope to spend at least a couple of hours observing these fantastic nocturnal mammals in their natural habitat. Whilst wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed, we have a good chance of sighting these denizens of the night during the tour. Badgers aren’t the only nocturnal creature around, so we will also keep an eye out for owls, foxes and bats.
To sustain us during the evening, we will aim to take a picnic dinner with us that we can eat at leisure while we keep watch.
NB: We are likely to be out for several hours this evening so having some warm clothing with us is essential. There will also not be access toilet facilities for much of the evening.
Portland Bill & Chesil Beach
After breakfast we will head for the southern tip of Portland Bill where in May and June shearwaters, auks, and skuas can be spotted offshore. We will pass the southern end of the 18-mile long shingle Chesil Beach, and stop at Ferrybridge where at low tide small waders such as Ringed Plovers can be seen feeding on the lagoon along with fishing Little Terns and Little Egrets. As we drive across the Isle of Portland we will see some of the Portland Stone or oolitic limestone rock that makes up the isle and is still used in the building industry today. The Isle of Portland sticks out into the English Channel and is an ideal location to spot seabirds as they pass by the coastline. Down near the lighthouse, the West Cliffs are home to small numbers of breeding Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Fulmars, while some Puffins and Razorbills may also be present. The large, white forms of Gannets often pass by in ones and twos, while Manx Shearwaters glide low over the waves. Small parties of Common Scoters are not unusual in May and June, while late skuas such as Pomarine Skuas are also possible. Ravens and Peregrines will be fledging young and can often be heard before they are seen. Depending on the weather and migration patterns we may pop into the bird observatory at Portland where thousands of migrating birds are ringed for the British Trust for Ornithology each year. The rocky coastline and bushes are also good for looking for late migrants such as flycatchers and warblers, while Rock Pipits usually nest in the rocks. Around mid-afternoon our tour will come to an end and we will go our separate ways.