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Squirrelling about in Poole - 06/09/15

Sandy and I decided to spend a couple of days away in the Poole area. The main reason was to join Mark Everard and his crowd, mostly Environment Agency scientists or associates in a species competition to see how many sea fish species we could catch off Poole harbour.

However, after travelling up on the Wednesday, we went by ferry from Sandbanks to Brownsea Island to try and see a red squirrel. I remember them as a kid, but Sandy had never seen one having been brought up in the Black Country. It was one of those days when the young were grown and feeding for the winter on the abundance of cones and nuts. We counted over 20 as we walked a circular route. We also spotted a Peregrine Falcon land with a bird in its claws on top of a pylon-like structure in the centre of the island. It proceeded to watch us as it pulled the feathers from its pray and devoured it.

Before we caught the return ferry, we decided to have a cup of tea and cake for a late lunch. We were plagued by wasps, so Sandy put the little jam jar on the next table.  Then suddenly a squirrel appeared and started to lick the jam pot. Clearly the wasps annoyed him too, so he picked up the jar and ran off with it.

We returned to our hotel for a truly uninspiring evening meal, but a much better breakfast the next morning before the angling party gathered at 7.30 on the quay. There were about 20 of us split between two boats, all trying to catch the most species. The fishing was very enjoyable on a flat calm sea although I only managed 4 species; pouting, plaice, black bream and this tub gurnard - a species I had not caught before, which differs from the red gurnard by the flash of blue (might not be, could be purple as I am colourblind) around the edges of the fins.

I was also amazed by the number of massive jellyfish floating by. We must have seen between 20 and 30, all about two feet (600mm across). I was also equally surprised how quickly they move when you poke them with a rod. I even had two line bites from them.

We had 13 species on out boat, but the other boat had 19 aided by Adrian Pinder who had 12!!! A great way to spend a day and see fish species I had never seen before which were readily identified by the scientists on board.