Winter walks on Brownsea Island

Today was the first day of the year that Brownsea Island was fully open to the public for their winter weekends. I’ve been meaning to get out there for a little while and as it looked like we were going to get relatively good weather, we caught the first ferry out from Poole Quay.

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Searching for a dry seat on the boat…

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It’s about a 20 minute ferry ride to the island, where everyone disembarks and filters through the ticket office before disappearing off into the woodland.

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The first open space we came across, Church Field, was filled with dozens of colourful chickens…

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… who literally run towards you expectantly, before pecking the ground in disappointment after realising you have no food for them.

For those who don’t know, Brownsea Island is home to a population of red squirrels, surviving due to the lack of squirrel-pox carrying grey squirrels. So of course I came prepared, with £4.99 worth of hazelnuts in my pocket ready to attract me some squirrels.

We were even armed with a location tip off – legend told of a red squirrel encounter near the church where the squirrels came and ate nuts from a photographer’s hand.

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All of a sudden, Luke spotted something rustling in the trees – a little pair of batman ears

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Gone! Oh well. We saw a red squirrel! That’s one more than last time we went…

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Off through the woodland…

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… where I heard a ‘nick nick nick’ noise and saw little bits of pine cone being flung from the canopy above us.

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Ok, maybe I am an advanced squirrel-finder but still very much a beginner squirrel-photographer. We kept going…

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…and found a spot by the sea for our lunch.

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Back into the woodland…

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… joined by a surprise visitor!

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Just a bit friendlier than the squirrels!

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Wait, what’s that? More batman ears…

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But back up into the trees. I don’t understand it; if I was a red squirrel I’d make a beeline for this attractive tree stump scattered with hazelnuts. You’ll just have to imagine a squirrel there please…

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Never mind. To be honest it was just nice to actually see them and get to watch as they jumped from branch to branch, with their little tufty ears and fluffy tails.

We continued around the island, after checking the time and realising that we needed to get a move on to make it back for the ferry (I’m still not sure what happens if you miss the last ferry home – although obviously if it came to it I would have been the picture of survival with my bag of hazelnuts).

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One thing I love about the island is how quickly it switches between beach and woodland…

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Surprise ducks!

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And red squirrel #4!

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Ok sorry, that was a bit of a cheat.

2:45! Just in time for the 3pm ferry back to Poole Quay. No need to live a feral life as a hazelnut eating islander.

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See you soon Brownsea Island!

Anna xx

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