The Dorset reserves team has been involved in a number of projects over the last few weeks. One of our main focuses has been at our Lodmoor reserve in Weymouth where we having been battling through a tangle of scrub to make way for a new fence line. We need this fence as we are planning on grazing part of the reserve to control the level of scrub in the area and hopefully create a better habitat for a diversity of species. We have had the help of many volunteers on this project and we could not have made so much progress without them.
At Arne this week we have been planting trees with the help of some Animal Behaviour and Welfare students and their lecturer from Kingston Maurward College, to mark out a new trail area that we hope to open in the future. Advance planning is always key in creating these areas as we want to ensure our visitors have a great experience whilst making sure that the needs of our wildlife are met. Some of the species we were planting include Rowan, Hazel, Blackthorn, and Wild Cherry these will be a great habitat and food source for many species.
Another project that has been on the go is habitat creation for the Purbeck Mason Wasp. This rare wasp feeds on Bell Heather nectar and needs areas of bare ground to build its nest in. We had some more willing volunteers at our Dorset heathlands helping to give them some much needed habitat.
Our volunteers are vital to our work and we always welcome new helpers, if you would like to be involved and come along and help us then contact us on email@example.com or visit the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/joinandhelp/volunteering/ then click game for anything and select Dorset to find volunteering opportunities.
Great sightings are still coming in thick and fast from recent visitors to Arne. Plenty of birds are now starting to sing which is a very encouraging sign. Winters starting to get a little old now... Around the car park Great Spotted Woodpeckers are drumming, Stock Doves are wooing away and Jackdaws are busy checking out potential nest sites. Even a few Red Admiral have started flying.
Further out on the reserve the Birds of prey are still putting on a show with Hen Harrier almost daily this week along with Marsh Harrier, Merlin (2 yesterday), Peregrine (2 yesterday) not forgetting our Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. Coombe Heath and Middlebeare are still by far the best spots for raptors.
Wader numbers are still reasonable but starting to thin out slightly as springs appearing on the horizon. Avocet numbers are around 300ish with Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Redshank making up the rest of the numbers. Spoonbill numbers took a drop last week with less than 10 most days but yesterday we were back up to 23 but that’s still less than we’ve come to expect through the winter. Are they just hiding in the harbour somewhere or have they headed back home to mainland Europe?
Out on the heath things are still keeping their heads down as we’re still getting some fairly hard frosts. Dartford Warblers are giving people the run around but are being seen most days. They should start to get easier in the next few weeks. Views like this should be on the cards as the days start to warm up and get longer.
Photo Credit: Luke Phillips
A date for your diary
On Monday 2nd March and Monday 16th March we’ve got walks taking a look at Arnes fascinating history. We’ll be looking at things from a Bronze Age Burial mound to a World War II gun emplacement. Walks set off from the Visitor Hut in the car park at 10am and will finish around 12noon. No booking required and it’s free so just come along and enjoy!
Also don’t forget our Wednesday ‘Discover Arne’ walks. Every Wednesday, 10am at the hut, free and no booking required!
Yesterday we had a visit from a couple of entomologists from Buglife. They were doing a survey for Natural England and were hoping to find some extremely rare, and very tiny spiders living in the heaths at Arne. These particular spiders, a type of money spider, are called the smooth groove-headed spider - Tabinocybu mitis and they will only know if they've been successful in finding the critters when they get them under a microscope! They are only 2-3mm long, and are restricted to heaths around Poole, found only in heather and pine leaf litter.
Unsurprisingly I couldn't find a picture of these spiders, but we'll endeavor to keep you posted on these and other rare species found at the reserve!