I’ve had the most amazing summer holidays, I’m almost sad that they are drawing to a close.
I’ve been singing the Louis Armstrong track, ‘What a Wonderful World’ all summer, so I rewrote the words to reflect some of the fantastic things I’ve seen.
I see stars at night, red skies too, I see them shoot into the blue, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Around mid-August there was the Perseid Meteor Shower and it was at its best for us when we were camping in Lyme Regis, it was just mind blowing.
Watching the stars shoot through the sky, puts things in to perspective and makes you think how small we are. There’s just something particularly magical about looking up at the stars on a clear night and watching the milky way come to life, it’s absolutely incredible. There were millions of stars, like someone dusted icing sugar all over the sky
I see waves of blue and cliffs of white
I absolutely love the sea, walking on the beautiful white sand, swimming, dangling off the pier and crabbing, you name it, I love it ! Hours can fly by and your mind goes blank as you sit and stare out to sea
There was a lovely garden at Swanage watchtower, with flowers planted in an old boat. It was so pretty and scenic, just perched on the top of the headland, what a beautiful garden, showing you can grow anywhere!
The sundews shining, catching the light, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Just before I set off to Dorset my old primary school teacher got in touch, he’s mad about carnivorous plants too. He told me about some sundews (they are so tiny, but when you look close up, they are very pretty, like dew droplets on a leaf), ‘giant’ drosera intermedia, yellow flowered bladderwort, sarracenia purpurea that were growing in Wareham Forest. He sent me some cracking directions and boom we found them no problem. He was right about the ‘purps growing crazy’, they were in such massive clumps and looked really healthy. With the weather being so dry it wasn’t quite as boggy, but what a magical place, thanks for that Mr Lister!
The slowworm basking, the lizard scuttling by, and oh the pretty, perching dragonfly
I was really lucky to have a quick private reptile tour by volunteer Graham at RSPB Arne, he looked under sheets of corrugated iron and logs (which heat up during the day, ‘cos reptiles are cold blooded they need heat to warm up their bodies) and eventually came across a slowworm. I held it for a short while and they are surprisingly strong, I mean not boa constrictor wrap around your arm kind of strong, but strong enough, with a lovely smooth skin. We saw a couple of lizards too, they are so cool, you sometimes associate them with hot countries and there you are on your walk and there they are basking in the sun.
On another visit I bumped in to RSPB Arne intern, Fabian; he was giving a reptile talk, chatting about the 6 native reptiles we have in this country. He told me all about internships too, which was extremely interesting!
Before setting off on our travels RSPB volunteer and twitter friend Lyn, recommended a visit to Holton Lee Nature Reserve. Here we saw an interesting array of birds, reptiles and insects including a raft spider; they are one of the only spiders that hunt underwater and are only found in a few places down south. Their distinctive white lines down their backs make them easier to see. Wasp spiders are really distinctive too, because of their bright colours and lightning shaped pattern on their webs.
It was great to bump into young naturalist, Avonbirder in one of the bird hides, we follow each other on twitter, she takes some awesome photos
On the subject of insects we saw quite a few lively and camoflauged graylings, many common blues and speckled woods, a Jersey tiger moth, red admirals. We also saw loads of dragonflies and chasers and a really interesting ant wasp.
The Osprey fishing, feasting on its prize. The Dartford hiding, sheltering from my eyes
Birds of Poole Harbour have launched a programme of introducing (juvenile) ospreys (a large fish eating raptor) with a specially designed nursery. This new project aims to boost the number of ospreys nesting at Arne/Poole Harbour. Ospreys are beautiful birds with a brown back and underside and a white face with a brown slash.
Here I am with RSPB Arne volunteer, Barbara. I’ve met her on a number of occasions now and she’s so passionate and knowledgeable. She set the scope right on the perch, where an osprey was feasting on a huge fish. Later at the café we hooked up with Barbara and she took me in the visitor shop and treated me to a ‘bird song’ book as I really need help with identifying birds by their song. Thanks Barbara it really was so kind of you and it’s a fab book
When we arrived at Charmouth Beach one day, we were in for a surprise, I spotted a falcon like bird flying overhead, landing on the beach nearby. I thought it was a peregrine falcon as I knew there was quite a few in the area. I got out of the camper and saw it on some pebbles; however it struck me as odd that people were walking so close to it. On closer inspection I saw that it had a kill – a gull for that matter – it took off and I got a remarkable view as it flew just a few feet in front of my face. It truly was a memorable experience.
Some of the other birds I’ve seen this summer – kingfisher, sparrowhawk, swift, swallow, housemartins, nightjar, tawny owl, marsh harrier, tern, curlew, black tailed godwit, heron, little egret, great spotted and green woodpecker, linnet, stonechat, green sandpiper, turnstone, finches – green, gold, chaffinch, tits – blue, great and coal, nuthatch
So, for seven years Dartford Warblers have eluded us and despite several visits to where they nest, we still didn’t see them – they don’t like the wind, the wet or the cold – I’ve no idea why they make their home in Britain!!
I hear nightjars chur, I see them fly. The bats swoop down as I cycle by, and I think to myself , what a wonderful world
Nightjars are really cool, a species you don’t see a lot. They are absolutely beautiful birds, I’ll describe the flight as ‘paper caught in the wind’, they seem to fly effortlessly through the air and if you get a close enough view you can see their patterned grey back. What’s really interesting, I learnt this recently, is that most birds perch vertically, but nightjars perch horizontally, with their body running down a rock or branch. They fly surprisingly close to you, I could hear the wingbeats in my ear!
Just a few of the mammals I’ve seen this summer – roe & sika deer, fox, rabbit, grey squirrel, rat, hare, bats
Yes, I think to myself , what a wonderful world
So, here it is, my version of ‘What a Wonderful World’
I hope you have had a wonderful summer too – leave a comment below about your highlights….
……and now we welcome autumn and all the seasonal delights, bring on the harvest!