A return visit to one of our favourite places - Arne Nature reserve near Swanage - and as we were so near to the wonderful Dean Mason and his amazing harvest mice, we thought it would be rude not to book a combi session with the woodland hide.
After hitting the M27 diversion and an awful lot of sighing and huffing from Mr A! we finally made it to the RSPB car park and cafe at Arne for a well earned breakfast and coffee - nearly an hour late!.
Following breakfast, the plan was to visit the wildflower meadow hunting for bugs and butterflies, how long could that take... apparently 3-4 hours!
Arne is very diverse, meadows, woodland and beeches, it also is home to Sika deer, various invertebrates and a whole host of birds, plus cute squirrels. We started off on the Dumbledore walk across a wildflower meadow, and within seconds began to lose track of time. Bugs are spectacular up close with a macro lens but they sure do move fast when they want to and trying to catch the butterflies was nigh on impossible at that time of day, however it was quiet and warm and we soon became engrossed with the busy lives of these wee beasties.
Cake and coffee at the cafe was then the order of the day, as it always is, where we dissected the morning and dreamt of having such a beautiful place in our back garden, although we do have a resident hedgehog now!
As it was an early start the next morning (it always is and I am not a morning person!), we decided to head back to the B&B, Ferndown House in Wimborne Minster.... and our lovely host Karen (I love her pink hair) - wonderful accommodation with a fantastic breakfast and highly recommended (this is the only B&B that I know of that offers V.I.Poo in the bathroom - a nice touch).
Sunday morning and Dean Mason's Windows on Wildlife hide plus the extremely cute and entertaining Harvest Mice. What can I say, the man is a legend, he persuaded me to get the Nikon D500 and its amazing - thank you Dean. Dean and his wife Steph are so passionate about the mice that they even have a special voice when they talk to them - "mummy and daddy's little darlings!"
The mice are never handled but always transferred with their own transport and only model for a few hours at a time - I think they even have little contracts. Dean has now decided to go into the property business and is in the process of buying up quirky cottages for his little family. Seriously though, Dean and Steph treat these animals with respect and a lot of love!
As always the reflection pool was perfect and Dean has introduced a woodland area for ground feeding birds, the hide itself is so comfortable and there is even a loo! We had regular visits from Jays, Woodpeckers, Robins, Bullfinches,
Blackbirds, Yellow Hammers, Siskins and a little performance by a Pied Wagtail.
All in all, a fabulous day and a lot of fun, followed by a good meal, beer and more laughter. We will be back.
P.S: Top tip, turn off the touch screen on your camera if you have one, if you want to know why then ask Mr A or Dean! I will give you a hint... NOSE!