Over the summer holiday’s, we took part in the Wessex Museum’s Climate Change Challenge.
The kids were sent journal’s to fill in about their activities over the summer holiday’s and were also invited to take part in special activities.
One of these activities was a visit to Brownsea Island.
Brownsea Island is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour and is owned by the National Trust. The northern half of the island is managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the National Trust, as the island is an internationally important nature reserve featuring rare wildlife, including red squirrels and wading birds.
To get there, you need to catch the Brownsea Island foot ferry, which runs every hour from Poole Quay and takes around 20 minutes. If you are lucky you may spot dolphins, or a friendly seal on the way there.
We were there to meet Jonathon, the Wild Brownsea Project Officer, who had a day full of fun and learning planned for us all.
There is plenty to do and see on Brownsea Island, but having a guide made it extra special.
Wild Brownsea is a three-year programme of works and investment in Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Brownsea Island Reserve which is delivering new access, wildlife observation and learning facilities, together with a programme of activities to enable people of all backgrounds and abilities to learn about, enjoy and play an active role in managing this unique place.
There was lots to see and so from the start and one of our first wildlife spots was a Ruddy Darter dragonfly.
He was brilliant with the kids, finding out their knowledge and then building on it with fun facts and information about the animals that call Brownsea their home. The kids were hoping to spot a water vole, and although we didn’t see one, we did spot one of its tunnels.
My kids love being in and around water, so their favourite activity of the day was the pond dipping.
They found all sorts of creatures including dragonfly larvae, pond skaters and water boatman, but it was Sebby that got the best catch of the day – a great diving beetle.
Isaac found himself a dragonfly magnet and had one land on his t-shirt and his hat.
Once we had finished pond dipping, we had a break for lunch. The kids immediately spotted some skulls decorating the area and enjoyed examining them and guessing what animal they belonged to.
They discovered a deer, badger, duck, gull and Sebby’s favourite, the peregrine falcon.
After examining their treasure, we then headed into the woods to see what else we could find.
We managed to spot a couple of red squirrels, although they were too quick for my camera. We also found ants nests and funghi and found out more about both.
The final part of our day was visiting the bird hides and playing a game of bird bingo, where we managed to spot 11/12 of the birds listed, including the avocet, heron, tern, gulls and egret with the help of their powerful telescope they have in the hide.
It was then time to explore by ourselves, although we ran out of time to get to the other side of the island.
If you are planning a visit to Brownsea Island, you can pick up a tracker pack for your family to help identify and find some of the creatures that live there, which include Sika deer and peacocks.
There are also Dorset Wildlife Trust and National Trust volunteers dotted around the island, to help with any questions you may have and plenty of exciting things to do and see for any age. I would recommend taking a little pot / carton with you, so the kids can collect their “treasure” as you explore.
Brownsea Island is open to visitors until 31st October, so plenty of time to visit during half term. Keep an eye on their facebook page for events and activities. We cannot wait to return.
You can read more about the exciting #WildBrownsea project and how you can get involved here.
Disclaimer: We were invited to Brownsea Island as guests of Wessex Museums. All thoughts and opinions are our own