It’s been a little while since we last updated you with our Arne sightings so here goes. Things have started to liven up with plenty of bird song in the air. Spring visitors in the form of Chiffchaffs have started popping up. We have had wintering individuals on site but there’s been an obvious increase in the last few days. There was a very early House Martin reported last weekend which potentially was the first seen in the UK this spring! We are eagerly awaiting our first Wheatear, Swallows and hopefully Willow Warblers aren’t too far away.
Winter visitors are starting to leave the harbour. Avocets have pretty much all gone, Black-tailed Godwits are hanging on, as are some Brent Geese. Birds of prey are also thinning out. The odd Hen Harrier is still being seen, same with Marsh Harrier. A Merlin was seen this morning which could be one of the last sightings of the winter. Spoonbills are still in good numbers however. 24 were seen yesterday at Shipstal Hide.
Pic by Keith Rogers.
Those of you who have visited the hut this week will have noticed that our Buzzard nest cam is back up and running. This morning we were treated to views of the birds nest building. It’s great to be able to watch their nesting season right from the very start! Come and check it out. Here's a picture from last year when one of the chicks fell out of the nest. It was safely returned to the nest.
For almost daily updates from Arne check out our Twitter account. www.twitter.com/rspbarne
Another busy few weeks around the Dorset Reserves, some long term projects have been continuing such as the Battle for Butterflies work parties taking place at Garston wood, The predator fence is nearing completion on Arne Moors ready for the arrival of breeding waders and passerines and the tree planting as seen in our previous blog has now been completed all thanks to many hours of work from our many volunteers.
With winter fast becoming spring new projects are now starting up ready for our spring species to show themselves. The estates team and many volunteers have taken part in Adder Emergence training in the past couple of weeks. With the weather improving and temperatures increasing reptiles are beginning to show themselves around Dorset. Arne has been recognised as an excellent habitat for Adders, however there are limited records as to their numbers and locations around the site. The training aimed to give the participants an idea of how to recognise adders and locations which you may expect to find them. This is going to be an ongoing survey in the hope of increasing our knowledge of their whereabouts.
An exciting thing we have been running for a number of years is the Osprey nest project. There are three artificial nests based around Arne which have been constructed in the hope that Ospreys which pass through Poole Harbour on migration may decide to stay for the summer and possibly breed at some point in the future. The habitat and the availability of food have improved greatly in the Poole Harbour area, making this ideal habitat. Over the next few months the birds should be passing through allowing for a good chance of seeing them. This week those nests have had running repairs and a few refurbishments.
Down at Radipole Reserve the winter cut of the footpaths has been completed and a section of reeds around the animal picnic benches cleared so as to improve the views over the waters and hopefully allow better views of the birds as well.
Garston woods Dormouse boxes have received their spring clean ready for the Dormice to come out of hibernation. There are over 100 boxes placed throughout the wood to provide additional nest sites for this fragile population.
We will continue to keep you informed as to our activities and should anyone be interested in further information on volunteering then feel free to contact: Arne@rspb.org.uk
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.