Zoё McMinn, Heathland Mitigation and Grazing Warden for the Borough of Poole, reveals Canford Heath's VIP Visitor!

Across the Poole harbour from wildlife-rich RSPB Arne, Canford Heath silently stands watch. Whilst its swathes of reptiles hibernate, its cattle-grazed slopes are the steadfast heathland habitat for hardy winter wildlife such as the Dartford warbler, stonechat, and – our special guest this year – a single great grey shrike.

Photo 1: Great Grey Shrike at Canford Heath by Zoë McMinn 

This scarce visitor from Europe has not overwintered on Canford Heath for a decade, making it a real treat for the Natural habitats team of the Borough of Poole. We have been keeping an eager eye out for it’s characteristic, bouncing flight, hoping to spy it perching on standing deadwood or flying up from its larder; infamously, the Great grey shrike stores its winter catch of dead rodents and insects by impaling them on thorns or even barbed wire, ready for hungrier times. As the days get longer, we can expect our shrike to leave the sanctuary of Canford Heath and set off back to mainland Europe, leaving the Heath Wardens of Poole to watch for signs of spring.

Photo 2: Purbeck from Canford heath, evening by Zoë McMinn 

To find out more about Poole's heathlands, click here.

To keep up-to-date with all of the Winterwatch news at RSPB Arne, visit:

Facebook: facebook.com/RSPBEastDorset

Twitter: @RSPBArne

Website: rspb.org.uk/arne