It was one of my days off today and as the weather had improved dramatically from the weekend I took the opportunity to travel the 20 miles from Wareham to Weymouth to explore the two RSPB reserves there. My first stop was Lodmoor which is an area of shallow pools, reed beds and salt marsh on the edge of town. Unbelievably I had never been before so I wasn't sure what to expect but it is was a good sign when I caught sight of at least 6 wheatears hopping around the car park as I arrived! As I walked into the reserve I was greeted by a cacophony of bird song. I was surrounded by reed and sedge warblers singing in the reed beds and I stood and watched my first whitethroat of the year sitting on the top of a hedge. There where loads of shelducks, tufted ducks and gadwall in the pools and summer plumage bar tailed godwits feeding on the marshy grassland. I was lucky enough to see my first ever whimbrels and the highlight for me was a cattle egret which was in front of one of the main viewing areas. In recent years more and more cattle egrets are being seen in this country and it is possible that they may start to colonise in a similar way that little egrets did in the 1990's. Cattle egrets are smaller and more squat looking than little egrets and I could clearly see the yellow beak, paler legs and shorter neck on the one that I was looking at. It was a warm morning and there were plenty of insects around so there were lots of swallows skimming over the pools. I also spotted a couple of orange tip butterflies as I headed back to the car park.
Cattle egret by Jeroen Stel (rspb-images.com - Note the smallr yellow beak and the shorter neck. Keep your eyes peeled at Arne for any of these small white herons turning up amongst our little egrets.
After leaving Lodmoor I headed to Radipole Lake to see what was about. The centre is closed at the moment and is due to open in the next couple of weeks but the reserve itself is open as normal. As I was along the paths my ears were assaulted by the sonic explosion that is the song of the cetti's warbler. My recognition of bird song isn't quite as good as it should be but even I can spot a cettis a mile off. The song tends to come in bursts and is far louder thanany other warbler you are likely to hear. Cetti's warblers are another relative new comer to these shores as they were only first recorded in the early 60's. Radipole is famous for being the first place in Dorset for marsh harriers to breed after an absence of 40 years! Today I watched an impressive male hunting over the reeds.
I was only in Weymouth for a couple of hours but it was one of those special days when everything seemed to be there all at once. So if you have never visited the Weymouth wetlands then give them a go, you never know what is going to be about and the most amazing thing about these reserves are they are both surrounded by busy roads and houses! To find out more about these reserves go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lodmoor/index.aspx and http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/r/radipolelake/index.aspx
Thanks Nick, only just seen this, fingers crossed, have been worried about them as not read any reports of anyone seeing them for a long time.
Great stuff Michael. Not sure what the deal is with the kingfishers Pudweena - the floods will have got perilously close to their burrow... More if and when we get an idea of what's going on.
Nice day off by the sound of it and you picked a beautiful day too. No Kingfishers? , not that you didn't see plenty as it was!