Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 111 Brownsea Island

Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 111 Brownsea Island

Spending a lovely, peaceful week on Brownsea Island as the out of hours' warden and living amongst the island’s wildlife.

It is such a privilege to volunteer on the beautiful, natural Brownsea Island and this week I take on the role of out of hours’ warden and stay overnight in Rose Cottage when on duty. The troubles of the world, Russia invading Ukraine, the increasing cost of living in England all seem far away. There is very little in the news regarding the coronavirus pandemic and covid in England is approaching the same status as the common cold. International travel is booming again but the airlines struggle to keep up with demand.

Walking on Brownsea Island in Dorset

Monday 02 May 2022

May bank holiday today but no lie in for us as we have to report to the Outdoor Centre at 9 am and then our out-of-hours shift is finished. But we are woken by an air sea rescue helicopter flying low over Brownsea Island. Later we discover two young men went for a joy ride in Poole Harbour in the early hours of this morning. Their boat hit a navigation buoy and now one of them is missing and a full scale search is in progress. At the Outdoor Centre I meet a camper who is ready to head for the pier and the first ferry across to the mainland. Although she has plenty of time I decide to take her to the pier in the Gator, a small electric buggy. Once I have finished my shift my friend and I have a walk around the island and take a picnic lunch with us. We are delighted when we catch sight of a pheasant – the bright sunshine draws out his stunning colours.

Pheasant on Brownsea Island in Dorset

This evening we are back on duty and set off to patrol the South Shore beaches. It is so peaceful on the island once all the visitors have gone. Last to leave the island are a group of air sea rescuers who have been searching the island in case the missing man washed up on its shores but they have not found him yet.

Air & Sea Rescue Boat off Brownsea Island in Dorset

There were 87 campers here last night but this evening there are none. It has turned cold with a fine misty rain so we take the Gator and check the beaches from several viewpoints. As there are no boats moored off the island it is unlikely we will find either barbecues or dogs on the beaches. It is our brief to report any sightings to the Duty Manager.

Pottery Pier on Brownsea Island in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Pay cut for working from home employees at one of London’s oldest legal practices have been told they can work from home permanently — but at the price of a 20% pay cut. Another City law firm, has paid Paws in Work, an animal therapy provider, to bring in a litter of “adorable puppies” to offices in a bid to lure workers back

Tuesday 03 May 2022

This morning we join Tuesday Club on Brownsea Island. This club helps with the maintenance of the campsite and Outdoor Centre. We start with a coffee break while tasks are allocated. I spend the day clearing an area ready to build the bases for two more bell tents. Two of us are working in this area and we are very proud when we manage to get it cleared by the end of the shift. I get the staff boat back to the mainland with my friend as he is leaving the island today. I need to return to my flat to collect the food shopping I did before coming over to the island. It should keep me going during my week long stay on the island. This evening I patrol the beaches on my own. I see red squirrels, Sika deer and lots of rabbits. Since I started volunteering on the island 6 years ago I have only seen one rabbit but this evening they are everywhere.

Rabbit on Brownsea Island in Dorset

In the News Today

Channel crossing reach new high More than 580 migrants in small boats reached the UK over Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday, taking the total this year past 7,000 – three times last year’s rate for the same period of time. These journeys followed 11 days of bad weather.

Wednesday 04 May 2022

This morning it is warm enough to have breakfast outside. A Common Woodpecker comes to the feeder on the lawn. Beneath him a bullfinch is hopping around the grass looking for tasty morsels. The cottage’s resident peahen appears and casts longing eyes at my muesli and banana. When I arrive at the Outdoor Centre to sign off for the day there is no-one there - just the resident peacock who keeps a watchful eye on me as I wait for the duty manager to appear. Released from all duties I stroll back to Rose Cottage and get down to some writing – all I can hear is the song of birds outside – no distractions here and no WiFi.

Peacock at the Outdoor Centre on Brownsea Island in Dorset

Late this afternoon I walk along the beach on my way back to the Outdoor Centre to take over. Three pairs of Oyster Catchers are nesting here so I stop and watch them for a while. I feel some heavy drops of rain as I am walking along the claggy area. So, not wanting to be caught in a shower, I scramble straight up the cliff face and climb over the fence into the campsite. There is no-one at the Outdoor Reception but the Trading Post is open and they tell me there are two people from the National Trust camping overnight to see what it is like. One of them is trying a tree tent, the other, the more comfortable bell tent.

Tree Tents on Brownsea Island in Dorset

This evening, as I set off on patrol I see two Sika deer, a mother with her baby, under a tree. I stop to watch them. The adult goes up on her hind legs and pulls leaves from the tree while the kid looks on. It is not long before they sense my presence and scamper away. I continue with my patrol. Our campers are okay and the beaches are deserted.

Sika Deer Feeding off a Tree on Brownsea Island in Dorset

In the News Today

BP profits put pressure on PM as calls for a windfall tax on energy giants have grown after BP reported that its profits more than doubled in the first three months of this year after oil and gas prices soared.

Thursday 05 May 2022

After an early breakfast I return the Gator to the pier as requested yesterday. I walk back to Rose Cottage via the woods behind the church hoping I may see some red squirrels. I am in luck and spend some time watching a curious red squirrel darting from tree to tree stump to fallen logs around me.

A Curious Red Squirrel on Brownsea Island in Dorset

I work at Rose Cottage all day. It is a lovely sunny day so I have lunch at a picnic table on the lawn. I go back to the Outdoor Centre to sign on for my evening shift. First I take one of the volunteers to the pier in the Gator. On our way we help a woman on the verge of an angina attack. My companion jumps out of the Gator, we help her on board and I take her down to the quay. Once she is re-united with her husband and daughter and has taken her medication she is will enough to board the ferry to the mainland.

Rose Cottage on Brownsea Island in Dorset

This evening, on my patrol, I see three boats moored off the island but there is no-one on the beaches. I hear some booms in the distance and extend my patrol to see if there is anything happening on the island’s beaches. I can see yachts racing out to see and realise it must have been the starting canons I heard.

Yachts Racing in Poole Harbour, Dorset

In the News Today

UK hot weather: 26C heatwave in DAYS as experts forecast 'proper summer' for 2022 temperatures will soar as a result of a blast of hot air from Europe, a weather forecaster has said and the become "very warm" by May 20. He said that temperatures will become "progressively warmer" throughout the month.

Friday 06 May 2022

This morning I get the first boat to the mainland and cycle back to my flat (I had stored my bike in the National Trust shed). I am currently considering buying a house in this area and I have a viewing at Christchurch today. I get the bus there and arrive early enough to have a look around the area before seeing the interior of the property. The property is close to the river with lovely views but also very close to a busy main road. So, my mind is made up before I see the interior. The proximity of the road is definitely a deal breaker. But, it is a nice day out, in the sunshine.

River Stour in Christchurch, Dorset

When I get back to Brownsea Island I discover the key for Rose Cottage is missing from the key box. I left my key inside the cottage thinking it would be safer there than taking it to Christchurch. Other people working on the island use this cottage so, it seems, someone has gone off with the key in their pocket. Now I have to find the spare key – this takes an hour as the spare key hook is also empty. Finally, the Duty Manager finds a key, a sign for it, return to Rose Cottage, let myself in, grab my key and take the spare back to the Property Office, as promised. Now it is time to set off on my patrol – we have some campers on the site tonight so I start there. On my round I am delighted to see a group of five deer.

Skia Deer on Brownsea Island in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Ministers ‘ignoring Covid inequality’ and have been slow to tackle systematic racism and racial inequality during the pandemic, according to a leaked letter from black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders to the head of the Covid-19 public inquiry.

In the News Today

Sunak told to cut taxes after the Bank of England warned that the economy could tip into recession next year. The Bank forecast that inflation, which rose to 7% in March, would hit a 40-year high of 10.25% this autumn. “A recession feels inevitable, we may already be in one,” they said.

‘Final stand’ in Mariupol Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the situation in Mariupol as “hell”, as Ukrainian fighters in the city prepare for what could be their final stand against Russia. The UN said a third operation to extract civilians from bunkers in an industrial plant is due today.

Saturday 07 May 2022

I have volunteered to cover the volunteer shift at the Outdoor Centre for two hours this morning as there is no-one on the rota. I report at 9 am. Although we are expecting 57 campers this morning they are not arriving until later so, apart from covering reception when necessary, there is not much to do. I leave the Outdoor Centre at 11 am and head for the mainland via the staff boat. I need to use the WiFi at my flat to catch up on some work. My friend is coming back to Brownsea Island with me this afternoon. We get back on the island in plenty of time to start the evening patrol. It is a lovely evening and there is more activity on the water tonight so we spend some time just sitting on a bench enjoying the lovely views after we finish the patrol. One young family is on the beach and we can hear the squeals of delight as the children race around on the sand.

View Across Poole Harbour from Brownsea Island in Dorset

In the News Today

Police probe Starmer claims that Sir Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules on a visit during which he drank beer in an MP’s office. Detectives in Durham initially decided that no offence had occurred on 30 April last year, but said they had since received “significant new information”.

Sunday 08 May 2022

It is my last morning on Brownsea Island and the sun is shining and the sky is blue – the perfect day for a walk. We clean the cottage before taking out luggage to reception where we store it securely and then set off for a walk. We make our way to the nature reserve and spend some time in the hides watching the birds on the lagoon. The terns are busy feeding their young, swooping in with small fish or sand eels in their mouths. Sometimes, they tease the recipient. Terns are very territorial and occasionally a fight erupts when someone crosses a border. Some Oyster Catchers hanging around remain aloof  from these noisy birds.

An Oyster Catcher Takes Flight on Brownsea Island in Dorset

We move on to the Villa, the wildlife centre, and then take the path up to the viewpoint. As we are in our volunteers uniform we decide to check the beach that fringes the nature reserve. We are shocked at the amount of plastic waste that has washed up here and decide we will return with rubbish bags to clear it. As visitors and boats are banned from this area it is very quiet. We walk along the water’s edge keeping away from the nesting areas. Just off this shore is the old chain ferry – a new home for fish and birds.

The Old Chain Ferry off Brownsea Island in Dorset

We walk as far as we can along the beach, well beyond the nature reserve area and climb up to the campsite where we have a sandwich from the Snack Van with a cup of tea. We then walk briskly back to the Pier hoping to catch the staff boat at 3.20. We get there in plenty of time. While we are waiting on the pier a schooner sails by, its sails billowing in the wind. A wonderful sight and a lovely end to our time on the island.

Schooner Sailing out of Poole Harbour

In the News Today

British Airways is the latest airline to cut its summer flight schedule as it scrambles to hire enough staff to cope with the rebound in air travel following its decision to cut almost 10,000 jobs when it faced travel restrictions during the pandemic. The UK airline is joining several other carriers in slashing the number of flights it is offering passengers this year.

EasyJet to tackle staff shortages by removing seats from planes so it can fly with less crew. The Civil Aviation Authority bases its requirements on the number of crew members needed per flight on the number of passengers flying. By removing the back row of seats on its A319 planes, the budget airline will be able to fly with three crew members instead of four.

Some Government Statistics

The government has changed the way it reports COVID-19 statistics and no longer gives daily totals but from Monday to Friday it gives a 7-day total with no statistics reported on Saturday and Sunday. In the last 7 days, by Friday 13 May (no statistics on bank holidays or weekends), the number of people who tested positive is 76,87 bringing the cumulative total to 22,159,805. The number of deaths within 28 days of positive test is 1,389 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 176,708. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate this week 193,713 an increase this week of 1,247.

More next week

Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller Valery Collins the Experienced Traveller
 An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.