I was looking forward to a nice relaxed paddle around the sheltered waters of Poole Harbour as I hadn’t ‘done’ the islands for many years.
Even better the wind was forecast very light, but by the time I got on the water my fingers had been nipped by the breeze straight out of the north, so the gloves went on.
The sun arose hopefully behind the Sandbanks ferry but then disappeared behind a sheet of cloud.
I crossed the channel to the south side of Brownsea island which was supper-sheltered from the wind.
I looked hard for a Red Squirrel (which I have seen once as I paddled past here, long ago), but the movement that caught my eye turned out to be a herd of five Sika Deer, who seemed so surprised to see me slipping past in the early morning mid-January half-light, they couldn’t resist coming a bit closer for a good snoop.
Lovely to see them so close. Like seals, it doesn’t seem to have taken them many years to lose their fear of people when they don’t appear in the sights of a rifle as often as they used to. (seals are now completely protected, deer are culled in a specific season).
I did a figure of eight loop around Fursey Island and Green Island, with the top of a big spring tide allowing to get in good and close. At low tide there is an awful lot of mud exposed. I could hardly believe the industrial hum coming from the middle of the pine trees on Fursey Island was an oil well. It was staggeringly well concealed.
Then I crossed over to paddle round the back of Round Island and Long Island via the Wych Channel. A drake Red-Breasted Merganser was fishing here.
I kept well out from the mouth of Arne bay beacause I knew it would be stuffed full of resting birds (because it is an RSPB reserve), but was surprised to see a splurge
of white was a roosting flock of about thirty Spoonbills. These birds were an extreme rarity until very recently.
As I crossed the mile and-a-half of open water back to Brownsea the surface glassed of completely.
A piping posse of Oystercatchers performed a close fly-past.
I looped right around the eastern end of Brownsea island but instead of crossing back to my start point couldn’t resist another paddle up the flat calm water of the island’s southern shore.
This time I had a close encounter with a pair of Brent Geese, winter visitors from the arctic Tundra. Their chattering contact call is the soundtrack of the winter around here.
So it was worth the extra effort, but was then it was DEFINITELY time for lunch (and my toes were starting to freeze).
The deer could carry on doing their thing without worrying about what on earth the idiot in the little yellow boat was up to. They had that look in their eye.