Last weekend was our Raptor Weekend which was very successful. Over the course of the weekend we saw the seven species of birds of prey that we were looking for, including: osprey, peregrine, marsh harrier, buzzard, hobby, kestrel and sparrowhawk. On Saturday morning, an osprey was seen perched on a dead tree from the Coombe Heath viewpoint. Early visitors had a great view of this for a couple of hours. Sunday’s highlight was an osprey being mobbed by a raven that was being mobbed by a sparrowhawk! It was a very busy weekend with lots of visitors coming down to Arne to catch a glimpse of an osprey.
Over the weekend a grass snake was seen by many visitors in the ponds near Shipstal hide as well as raft spiders and wasp spiders. Kingfishers have been frequently seen at the front of the Shipstal hide recently. As a result of increased kingfisher activity at this time of year here, we have decided to install kingfisher perches in front of the hide. Avocets are starting to return from the Netherlands with small numbers seen in Arne Bay and Middlebere. Spoonbill numbers have also increased with 17 birds known to be in the harbour.
Spponbills at Middlebere Lake, photo taken by Keith Rogers.
Our Discover Arne walks have started up again in September, and on both this week and last week’s walk we have seen two ospreys from Coombe Heath. On this week’s walk we also saw a peregrine being mobbed by a raven. Our Discover Arne walks are free to everyone, just turn up at 10am on a Wednesday morning at the Visitor Hut in the Arne Car Park and make yourself known! You can find out more about our Discover Arne walks here.
As autumn approaches we have some exciting events coming up including our Wild Food Walk which will consist of tracking down wild foods such as fungi, berries, herbs and anything else that we can find. You can find out more about this event here. Our Sika Deer Rut will be happening on the 18th of October where we will be venturing out on an early morning looking for sika stags in the rutting season. We will be listening out for their eerie calls as they attempt to corral a group of hinds and fend off any competitors. Equipped with large antlers they will only fight if it’s absolutely necessary, but when they do lock antlers it can be spectacular! You can find out more by clicking here.
Next weekend is Raptor Weekend here at Arne! We will be having viewpoints manned by volunteers and staff in the most likely spots for seeing birds of prey.
Its fun for all the family as we will also have a trail for children to follow with prizes if they get all of the answers!
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had a very obliging osprey sitting on the perch seen from Coombe Heath. On our Raptor Weekend this time last year we had 8 osprey seen together so fingers crossed for the weekend!
As well as osprey we have high hopes of hobby, kestrel, sparrowhawk, marsh harrier, buzzard, peregrine and possibly merlin. Come and see how many you can find!
No need to book, You can find further details here
Osprey on perch from Coombe Heath in April, by Mark Wright
It’s been another fantastic summer so far, which has been of great benefit to wildlife on the reserve. The favourable conditions have been great for breeding birds in particular, with nests being spotted all over the reserve including successful robin, green woodpecker and goldfinch nests on the edge of the car park recently. After the three buzzard chicks fledged, some weeks ago now, the barn owls at Arne farm have fledged. The fledglings are still using the nest box to roost in but are now hunting at night! You can still see them on the live webcam here.
On Tuesday evening we had the first of the ‘autumn’ ospreys using our feeding post by Middlebere Lake. Two ospreys have been seen around the Wareham Channel lately and we expect to see more by the end of the month. Our Raptor Weekend is on Sat 6th & Sun 7th September, where we’ll open manned viewpoints in the hope of seeing many of the birds of prey we have on the reserve but mainly osprey.
Last Wednesday was the last of our Discover Arne Walks until September as we are running Bug Hunts every Wednesday until then. We had a large group so split it in two. My group were lucky enough to encounter a real rarity as we headed back from Coombe Heath. A hornet robberfly landed in front of us and posed for photos. In my view, this is the king of flies. It’s a fearsome predator that will wait on a perch for a passing insect, take off and grab it with is very long legs and stab it with its sharp mouthparts. It will then find a spot to suck of the fluids of its prey for around twenty minutes. The hornet robberfly is a hornet mimic that is mainly found on heathland in Wales and southern England. It is a UK priority species due to its scarcity and sadly its decline. Big thanks to Trevor Wilkinson who took these great photos on the walk. Note the huge eyes, what a beast! Two more were found by visitors last Friday. I have only seen two in my life, both at Arne.
Hornet robberfly by Trevor Wilkinson
Speaking of rare insects, our estates team found a heath (or wood) tiger beetle on Tuesday. The much scarcer cousin of the green tiger beetle. They are dark with cream spots and charge around sandy areas in much the same way as the green tiger beetle. If you see one whilst out on the reserve, please report it.
Wednesday was the first of our summer bug hunts and it was great fun! We had an excellent turn out and all the kids did really well in filling in their spotting sheets and finding mini beasts to put in their bug pots. We found 6 raft spiders on the pond, 3 wasp spiders, a slow worm and countless woodlouse, worms, snails, harvestmen, grasshoppers, ladybirds and other beetles, spiders and butterflies. We set a moth trap the night before and had some interesting moths to show at the end, including a female oak eggar, mint moth and brimstone moth. If you’re looking for some family fun over the school holidays, come along. We are running them every Wednesday in August from 11am-12.30pm and it’s free! Meet at the visitor Centre just before 11 and make yourself known. More details here.
Looking at Raft Spiders on Coombe Heath taken by me.
One of the 3 wasp spiders we found, badly taken by me.
Our 5thannual forage festival will take place on Saturday 25th October from 11am-4pm. The Arne Forage festival is a collection of local traders, local food producers and craft stalls including hands on bush craft with the Ancient Technology Centre, knife skills courses, forage walks and hands on crafts! This year, more than ever, there is the chance to try your hand at a range of activities in the great outdoors. More details here.