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  • Buzzards - Life in the nest 2014

    Three years ago we set up a camera on a buzzards nest out on the heath and have been waiting patiently ever since for them but it looks like it is third year lucky! All though a pair of buzzards have visited the nest every year and added new material they have never settled before but this year we have 3 eggs. The first of these was laid on Tuesday 4th May with the second appearing on Thursday. It is usual for buzzards to prospect a couple of nests and then pick one and it looks like we have come trumps this time. In the last two years we had a mallard duck take up residence and successfully hatch a clutch of eggs which was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

    The best thing is that we will be streaming the picture on the web so that you can keep up with the action. Bird of prey nests are always amazing to watch and this is the first time one has been filmed in Dorset so we are all very excited about it at Arne.

    Both male and female will incubate the eggs for around 34 days so we are expecting the first one to hatch in the first week of May – I am going to stick my neck out and guess the 4th.

    To watch the action as it happens click here

    Buzzard at Arne - Rob t

    Not only do we have a camera on the buzzards nest but we have got other cameras that can be watched on the big screen in our visitor centre. For the last few years we have been watching a kestrel family that have successful raised 12 chicks in the three years that I have worked here. There hadn’t been a huge amount of activity in the box but a scrape had been made and in the last couple of days eggs have appeared with the female sitting.

    We are also watching a tit box which has had a blue tit in and out of it for a couple of weeks but no eggs as yet. We are hoping to get our barn owl cam back up and working in the next week or so as we have had a pair of roosting barn owls here in the last couple of weeks.

    So if you want to have a look at any of these come up to the reserve and pop in to the visitor centre where we can tell you what is happening.

    I have also set up a forum where you can keep up to date with what’s happening on the buzzards nest and comment on anything that you have watched on the web cam. On the Arne main page I have called it Buzzards – Life in the nest 2014

    Our cameras are provided by Wildlife Windows a Dorset based company that install wildlife camera systems around the country. Their website has lots of video footage and links to other webcams and is well worth checking out

    Also on the subject of birds of prey an Osprey was seen perching in the trees from Coombe heath yesterday. Fingers crossed for more sightings over the next couple of days!

  • Easter Fun at Arne!

    The Easter Holidays are upon us and if you are looking for somewhere to bring the kids then Arne is the perfect place for a great family walk.

    Over the holidays we have got two family trails to choose from. The first is 'Whose baby is it'. As spring is a time for new life around the reserve we have have put pictures of all types of baby animals along out red trail. All you have to do is match the pictures to the adults on the answer sheet and spell out the mystery word. The second is a spring treasure hunt with lots of thing to look out for and find out on the reserve. Pop in to the visitor centre to get an answer sheet and come back at the end to get a prize!

    If you are planning a trip to the reserve here is a little taster of what to look out for.....

    See if you can spot Sika deer along the red trail. There is even a white one out there!


    As it is warming up common Lizards are coming out to bask in the sunshine

    Dom Greves

    Wood ants nests are bustling with activity

    AP Read

    Great spotted woopeckers are drumming through out the woods

    Yogi Bear

    Look out for raft spiders on the ponds


    And see how many types of butterflies you can find

    Comma by OliverM

    On Easter Saturday we will be having our 'Meet the Wildlife day' when we be asking visitors to come back and tell us everything they have seen on the reserve. Spot it books will be available to help get you started. We wil are also hoping to have moths and reptiles to show at the centre and ther will be bird ringing demonstration from the Stour ringing group through out the day.

  • You say goodbye, I say hello.

    It’s been a fantastic start to spring, which is a huge contrast to this time last year. We have seen the arrival of migrant birds much earlier than last year. On Sunday the first cuckoo of spring arrived at Arne and was seen and heard throughout the day at Arne Farm.   This is over 2 weeks earlier than last year. The sight of a solitary swallow hunting insects at the farm yesterday was a very welcome, but again much earlier. The farm is clearly the place to be at the moment as there has been a male blackcap warbling well there for the last 3 mornings. There are a good number of chiffchaffs on the reserve; when walking early in the morning, it sounds like every other bird is a chiffchaff! Wheatear sightings have been sporadic over the last 10 days as they stop off on their way north. Stonechats and linnets have returned to Coombe Heath and Dartford warblers have been showing very well in the sunny weather.

    Whilst we are welcoming summer migrants, we are also saying farewell to many of our winter visitors. There has been no sign of the avocets over the last few days so it is likely that they have left for their breeding grounds in the Netherlands. The spoonbills which have been faithful to their Arne Bay roost site have been moving around the harbour much more of late. We have been seeing between 25-30 birds regularly from the Shipstal hide most of the winter. 11 were sighted at Middlebere Lake yesterday and others are now dotted across Poole Harbour and further afield. It looks like they will be heading off soon, but there is still time to see them if you’re quick! Lesser redpolls have been seen at various different spots around the reserve over the last fortnight. They are fairly rare visitor to Arne so it’s great to see these acrobatic little finches around. As well as the regular visitors to the feeders at the visitor centre such as great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches, siskins and goldfinches have been regularly seen over the past month.

    Great spotted woodpecker on the feeder cam by myself

    There is a lot of nest-building and courtship activity all around the reserve. The ravens are always very impressive at this time of year with their twisting diving displays. Listen out for their loud kronking calls anywhere on the reserve.

    The warm weather has meant that all 3 species of reptile have been seen in the last week – slow worms, common lizards and sand lizards. We have had many sightings of green tiger beetles charging around the sandy areas in search of a meal. Whilst out on an evening walk on Monday evening, one of our residential found a male minotaur beetle. These are common on heathlands and sandy grassland areas, where there y eat dung, mainly of rabbits. The male has 3 distinctive horns to defend their underground nest with. The female has very small horns, which can be difficult to see. I have since learnt (thanks to Richard Comont for imparting his wealth of knowledge) that the size of the central horn is determined by the nutrition it receives in its larval stage. This male has a small central horn so is likely to have had a shortage of food at some stage.

    Male minotaur beetle by myself.

    Come along to our meet the species event on Saturday 19th April from 10am-3pm to get up close and personal to Arne’s fantastic wildlife. We will have a range of wildlife to show you - This will also run at Radipole Lake the following day.