Today Rob and I were the hosts of a large visit from our fellow colleagues that work in the south west region. All year Rob and I have been going on and on to our bosses about how great Arne is, so they turned round and said 'well show us then'. So the pressure was on when around 40 eager RSPB employees turned up expecting a show......and a show it certainly was. It started of with Robs group finding the Great Grey Shrike with in minuets. This stunning vagrant from Scandinavia is still hanging on at the reserve, but it shouldn't be too long before it heads back. Whilst my group on the Middlebere Channel were treated to around 500 Black Tailed Godwits and a few Bar Tailed Godwits some almost in full summer plumage. Then I had a text come through from Rob just saying 'Osprey'. I quickly called him and he told me that they had just watched an Osprey fly in from the south west and land in a tree. My group quickly followed in hot pursuit, and were grateful to find it still sat there. If you want to look for these amazing birds, then check the 'Middlebere dead trees'. Ask at the visitors centre for directions. These amazing sightings were then followed with views of Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, 7 Dartford Warblers, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Woodlark, Swallow, Sand Martin and even Smooth Snake and Slow Worm.
I am pleased to say everybody went home with a smile on their face. It just goes to show the magic of spring. If you want a chance of seeing some of this amazing wildlife then I can highly recommend our free Wednesday walks, as Rob and I know where to look for most of it.
Here's a nice close up of a Chiffchaff that probably only arrived back from Africa a few days ago.
Well, firstly thanks to nikon4pete for passing on some sightings for Dorset today; osprey were at Portland Bill, so it's only a matter of time untill they show up on the reserve.
Secondly, between Paul and I we have now spotted all 6 British reptiles on the reserve! And the best news of all is the smooth snake we found was last years young, which is proof that Britains rarest reptile is still breeding here. Pictures to follow. Some of the best places to see reptiles at the moment is over on Shipstal Point on the heath near the beach, go check it out on a sunny day!
(A word to the wise: Please do not attempt to handle any reptiles on the reserve, it can be potentially dangerous if it turns out to be an adder and smooth snakes and sand lizards are protected by law and it is illegal to handle without a licence)
Other recent sightings include blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, wheatear and we still have the great grey shrike, brent geese and spoonbill. Some really great news is that after a recent post here by myself about stonechat not only have I seen a good number on the reserve but best of all thanks to all those who let us know of their own sightings and photographs of these brilliant birds. Butterfly on the reserve at the moment; peacock, brimstone, small tortoiseshell and comma. Check the edges of any of the reserve ponds at the moment too for raft spider, it has an unmistakable yellow stripe down each flank.
Something else returns today too; the next Arne Video Diary and this one we had to set our alarm clocks a tad earlier than we prefer...
Also, a little bit of a challenge for you....in the video Paul and I listen to a few bird songs, unfortunately two of the calls were not loud enough to come through when we played the video back, so, we had to do some fancy editing and dubbed over two of the songs with recordings. Can you tell which ones? Enjoy.
I was having a look through all the entries into our photographic competition that ends this month and got to the latest entry by lisa.lawley. It is a beautiful shot of the heathland specialist; green tiger beetle. This is one of the reserves 'top' species as they are not very common and you'd be hard pressed to spot one other than lowland heathland.
After a long cold winter, and having to wear a million layers to keep slightly warm, I was over the moon to be able to were just a T-shirt today. Obviously not just a T-shirt, as that would of raised a few eyebrows, but you know what I mean. With the sun beating down, and no breeze it made for ideal Dartford Warbler watching conditions. Up on Coombe, at least 5 were spotted flitting from gorse bush to gorse bush. For those of you that don't know, this little bird is the whole reason the RSPB became involved at Arne back in 1963. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure they have been affected by this cold winter and we're certainly not expecting to have 52 pairs again like we did last year. The picture below was taken by our community member 'nikon4pete' up on Coombe today.....
Elsewhere on the reserve a Badger was snuffing around the fields opposite the Coombe hide, and the Seal was again off Shipstal. The Great Grey Shrike is still about, with a very brief sighting by one of our volunteers up on Coombe. 5 Spoonbill were commuting between Middlebere and Shipstal. The only migrants consisted of a Sandwich Tern off the beach, a Chiffchaff singing in the woods, and numerous Meadow Pipits up on the heath. Raft Spiders and Palmate Newts were keeping the ponds occupied whilst 6 Buzzards were circling and calling to each other high above.
There is just over a week left of our photography competition, so if you think you have that 'killer picture', then enter it asap. Instructions on entering are here........ http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/a/arne/photocompetition.aspx
My Dad always told me to be aware of 'frisky birds'!!! If I was to take his advise then I would of had to leave work today. I'm not sure if its the nice warm sun that we've had recently, or whether its just that time of year, but it seemed that everywhere I looked today, our feathered friends were enjoying some 'him and her time'!!
It started when I switched on the TV in the visitors centre, only to find I had turned it on just as the Barn Owls thought they would make the most of some quite time!! Oops. I then heard some horrendous flapping in the oak above, thinking the Sparrowhawk had successfully ambushed some prey, only to look out and see 2 Wood pigeons performing an erotic balancing trick on a very small twig. About an hour later I came down to the car park to find I was being mooned by the 2 male peacocks as they tried desperately to out do each other in the fight for the only hen Peacock....
and if all that wasn't enough for one day...I was then dive bombed by not one, not two, not three BUT FOUR Nuthatches as they squabbled over a suitable nest hole. These little beauties are looking stunning now in their full breeding colours, this one below seemed to be the victor out of all four....
On a less 'frisky' subject, our regular Wednesday walk today came up trumps again with the second Wheatear of the Spring, two Dartford Warblers, 4 Spoonbill, and also still 8 Avocet, which is great as I thought they had all gone. Also over the last couple of days, more Stonechat and Meadow Pipits seemed to have arrived, plus there are still Red Breasted Mergansers in the Harbour, loads of Brent Geese, Black Tailed Godwits and a couple of Greenshanks. Tip of the week is to keep an eye on the fields across the Middlebere Channel, as 2 Brown Hares have been seen boxing the couple of days.