Welcome to our AFON Advent Calendar! Each day leading up to Christmas you will find a wonderful new post by a different member. This years theme is your favourite nature reserve; where do you go to escape from the world and connect with nature? Enjoy!
It’s a crisp Autumn morning at RSPB Arne nature reserve, up high in the trees the sweet sounds of birdsong fill the air, a Sika stag appears against the morning sunrise and the reserve twinkles with dew. As you wander into the woodland, the Autumn colours make the pathway look as though it has been painted in gold, crimson and copper. Your ears suddenly hear the sharp tapping of a great-spotted woodpecker finding a nearby beech tree. As you venture through the woodland, fungi appears to be popping up as you notice fly agaric. On a nearby dead beech tree you see porcelain agaric sprouting amongst the branches.
Onto the heathland and the unmistakable call of the stonechat can be heard in the distance, and then, before you know it, the scratchy call of the Dartford warbler is heard. With patience and silence you suddenly see it appear! Singing from on top of the gorse, to see this small long –tailed bird is a rare delight as it shows itself for all to see. Before you know it, this warbler bobs back into the heather. Upon the heath, the sunlight peers through and the heath seems as though it has developed a golden hue. Meadow pipits flutter along the lowland heath, seeming to dance in the sunlight.
As you enter the hide, you can see the mudflats teaming with life. From wing to wing avocets, black-tailed godwits, lapwing, brent geese, curlew and redshank cover Middlebere Lake. Swiftly you look up to the sky and there, with their necks stretched out, you can see a unique spoon shaped bill; the spoonbills have arrived. As you watch the spoonbills fly in front of the hide, you catch your breath.
Arne is a spectacular place with a tremendous amount of wildlife because of the unique variety of habitats that it boasts. This one reserve contains old oak woodland, Dorset heathland, mudflats, saltmarsh and grassland. Its location as a peninsula in Poole Harbour means that in Winter thousands of wading birds arrive which is extraordinary to witness. Arne contains beautiful heathland which means I have gotten to encounter my favourite bird of all – the nightjar. With its unique silent flight behaviour and the male’s unforgettable churring noise, these mysterious birds are my favourites, and Arne has meant I have had the opportunity to see these elusive birds in real life. I can’t wait for April to see them grace the heathland once again.