There’s lots to catch up on since our last blog. Continuing the theme from last time, moths are building in numbers and the trap is being run most night. Do pop into the hut first thing in the mornings to see what we’ve caught. Morning visits are being quite productive at the moment with the occasional Cuckoo being heard along with very good numbers of Dartford Warbler and other regular heathland species such as Meadow Pipits and Linnets. We were very excited to hear about the first ‘churring’ Nightjar of the year was back this week. One was heard Tuesday (3rd) evening. Perfect timing for the start of our summer Nightjar Walks which kick off on the 18th May. Spaces are available so give us a ring on 01929 553360 to book a place. All the details can be found here - http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-398085
The warmer weather this week has brought out the insects with butterflies being seen in good numbers today. In just a few minutes in our shop and cafe gardens we saw Orange-tip, Small White, Large White and several stunning Brimestone. This one was photographed near the visitor hut yesterday.
Reptiles have also been a big feature this week. Common Lizards are living up to their name and are certainly the most commonly seen but Sand Lizards are close behind. Excitingly we’ve had a few reports of Adder at Arne this week. Hopefully a sign of them increasing as we do work to improve their habitat. This picture of a Sand Lizard was sent in this week by Chris Lucas.
If you happen to take any nice pics whilst visiting us we’ve love to see them. Either email them across to firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet @RSPBArne. You can also facebook us at https://www.facebook.com/RSPBEastDorset/ .
Exciting times here at Arne as finally, after the clear and crisp nights of the winter months, humidity and clouds have returned once again to our night skies. This means one thing and one thing only... Moths! The traps have been dusted off, bulbs replaced where needed, and dodgy electrics ignored by tactical application of plastic bags. We're ready to go. After a couple reconnaissance sessions we've found there are an abundance of things flying around already, albeit still distinctly brown, but nevertheless exciting and a taste of things to come. Arne is host to a huge variety of Lepidoptera due to the diverse range of habitats found throughout the reserve, which means, when coupled with our location on the south coast, you never quite know what will show up.
Emperor moths are the current catch of choice, on the wing from April to May, this stunning creature is widely common throughout Britain. Yet due to its immense size and appearance there'd certainly be no dismissing of one if it turned up in the trap. The likelihood of this happening is particularly good too as aside from bramble its food of choice is heather, something Arne isn't in short supply of. They were even spotted flying regularly on our summer Nightjar Walks last year (the first of this season beginning from May 18th onwards) so we have consequential proof they're out there!
Female Emperor moth - Female flies by night and the male by day
But even if this fantastic noctuid proves elusive to light there's still a wealth of potential out there. Given the mild winter we've had many species will be out and about earlier than usual. Scalloped Hook-tip was caught only two days ago, a delicate and expertly disguised little moth that you'd expect out towards the end of April rather than mid.
Weather permitting we'll aim to have at least one trap on every night. We'll then sift through our findings at the visitor hut upon opening at 9am, so feel free to come along and have a nose through as well. As the season progresses we may even look to run special trapping events at Arne, as ultimately that's when you get the real excitement of being there as and when the creatures drop in. It's something the visitor team here at Arne are passionate about and so if there's an audience for it we'll do it.
So leave the porch light on, keep an eye on your street lights and conveniently forget to bring in any white sheets from the washing line, as our often overlooked, night-time loving friends are starting to come out again.
So April is here and so are the birds! As are April showers which have soaked a few people out of the reserve today but it's worth the effort! The last couple of days has seen the return of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps which are now joining Chiffchaffs and Swallows which have been building up over the last week. Big excitement yesterday was provided by an Osprey fishing out in Middlebere throughout the day and it’s been seen again today. It was sadly narrowly missed by our ‘Discover Arne’ walk this morning but they enjoyed brilliant views of a Marsh Harrier flushing hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits. A few Spoonbills are still hanging around but lots of the waders and ducks have now departed. However a Spotted Redshank has been seen a few times in Middlebere this week.
More entertainment has been provided by a Great Spotted Woodpecker who’s taken drumming on the bird feeder outside the hut. There’s a short video of him on our RSPB Arne & East Dorset Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/RSPBEastDorset/
Don’t forget we’ve got the Sounds of Spring walks coming over the next three weeks. We'll make the most of the migration this month and we really hope to hear Arne's first Cuckoo of this 2016 on one of these walks. This Sunday is the first followed by the next two Sundays. Ring us up on 01929 553360 to grab a space. Starts at 7am at the visitor hut. The cafe will be very kindly opening slightly earlier for us that day so we don’t have long to wait for a coffee!
We had some great feedback from a visitor last week who specifically came to Arne after seeing a picture of some cake. We promised we’d continue so here’s some vanilla and chocolate marble cake! So if it does rain the cafe's a great alternative.