It's time for our reptile weekend at Arne! Join us on Saturday and Sunday 23/24th between 1-4pm to drop in and meet some of the reptiles that call Arne home. Sand lizards, common lizards, smooth snakes, grass snakes, adder and slow worm all live here and have been spotted by some lucky members of the public around the reserve recently but you're in with a greater chance of seeing them if you come to our event.
BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY!!!
Back by popular demand, we will be doing some bird ringing demonstrations on Monday (weather depending) so come along between 10am-12:00 and find out how the experts carry out this important task. It might be a great opportunity to see those familiar garden birds at close range.
blue tits by Yogi bear
Spotted flycatcher pair can be seen regularly in the overflow car park field, on the way to Coombe Heath, spoonbills are still around, although in smaller numbers so can be harder to track down, nightjar have arrived and can be heard on the heaths at night although one was even heard on our regular Wednesday walk in the middle of the day this week!
Dartford warbler, siskin, swifts, swallows, house martins, stonechat, tree pipit, meadow pipit, curlew, redshank, shelduck, oystercatcher, peregrine, hobby, sparrowhawk, barn owl, tawny owl, buzzard, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, treecreeper, goldcrest
Lots of things to be seen nesting/fledging and feeding young too so do pop into the visitor hut and see what we've seen!
Large areas of the Arne reserve are managed by grazing which helps keep the vegetation under control to create ideal habitats for wildlife. Much of the Estates Team’s work over the last few weeks has therefore involved making sure that our fences and gates were in good condition before the cattle went out onto their summer grazing land. Miles of fences at Arne, Stoborough and Grange have been checked and, where necessary repaired to reduce the risk of animals escaping. Gates have also been repaired and replaced to make them easier for members of the public, staff and graziers to use.
While the fence repairs have involved battling with gorse and ants, and removing a huge tree that had fallen on the fence at Grange, there have been compensations. For many volunteers it was the first time they had been to Grange to see the curly-haired pigs, and Sand Lizards and Slow Worms were spotted basking along the fence line.
Removing a large tree from the fence line at Grange
At our Radipole and Lodmoor reserves in Weymouth the focus has been on keeping paths clear and cutting back vegetation. At this time of year, especially when the weather has been both warm and wet recently, plants at the side of paths like Hemlock Water Dropwort grow rapidly and can take over if not cut back occasionally. Cutting back some of the taller plants allows more light in for flowers like the beautiful Bee Orchid, as well as making sure our visitors can get past.
At Radipole we have also been keeping the reeds around the visitor centre short in readiness for the planned extension to the patio area where visitors will be able to sit out on sunny days and admire the birds on the lake.
In other Radipole news a very rare spider has been found on the reserve. Until one was found last year during a butterfly survey Hyposinga heri had not been recorded in the UK since 1912! Radipole appears to be a nationally important habitat for this species so we will have to watch out for it when planning future work.
Hyposinga heri, photo courtesy of Allan Neilson
There has also been a lot of fence and gate work at Garston Woods but there the aim has been to keep grazing deer out of areas of hazel that were coppiced over the winter and to prevent them becoming trapped in areas where there may not be enough food available. Coppicing is a traditional method of managing woodland by cutting the stems of trees back almost to ground level and allowing them to regrow. This allows more light to reach the woodland floor as well as producing hazel poles we can use to build shelters for events such as our Big Wild Sleepout. As the stems regrow the new shoots make tasty treats for deer. As well as fencing these areas off we have been loosely covering the stumps with twigs to try to foil the hares who also like to nibble on them.
New deer fence at Garston
It is always a pleasure working in Garston, and over the last few weeks we have been able to watch the carpet of flowers on the woodland floor develop, from the appearance of early wood anemones and bluebells to the blooming of orchids and the pungent flowers of Wild Garlic. It has been particularly encouraging to see the flowers taking advantage of the sunlight in the coppiced areas.
On the 11 May a group of staff and volunteers had some reptile survey training in preparation for increasing the surveys we do at Arne. During the course we found Smooth Snakes, Sand Lizards and Slow Worms and hope to find many more over the next few months when we put our training into practice. If you are interested in seeing any of these fascinating creatures for yourself you might like to come along to the Reptile Weekend on 23-24 May at Arne. There are only limited places available for the morning Reptile Rambles but the Show and Tell event each afternoon is open to all. If you can’t make it this weekend there will be a further event in July. See the Events section on the Arne webpage for details.
May is an amazing month to visit Arne. Our last blog highlighted some of the great birds that are around at the moment plus some of our non-avian highlights. If those weren’t enough to get you hot footing it to Arne then we’ve also got some great events happening over the next few weeks which might well entice you across.
Moths apparently aren’t for everyone but I beg to differ! Butterflies in my opinion hog the limelight when it comes to fluttering insects in the UK. Some are indeed very colourful and rather stunning but I reckon moths give them a real run for their money. The next two Mondays we’ll be trying our best to prove that moths are not only stunning insects but also a vital part of our UK wildlife. We’ll be at the visitor hut between 9am and 10am to go through the previous nights catch. There’s a small donation of £1 for RSPB members and £3 for non-members.
(ok, not the most colourful of moths but still impressive!)
Reptiles are another feature of this month. They are all out of hibernation and enjoy the occasional sunny day by basking on the edge of the paths. All six native species occur and thrive at Arne which is why we are having one of our very popular Reptile weekends!
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May
Guided walks 10am-12 each day. Booking is essential as places are limited]
Join one of the expert guides out on the heaths to look for the extremely rare Smooth Snake along with it’s less rare but by no means less interesting relatives. Sand Lizard, Common Lizard, Slow Worm, Adder and Grass Snake could all be on the cards as well. Could be a rare chance to see all of our native reptiles! Cost is £5 for RSPB members, £8 for non-members and £2 for children. Ring 01929 553360 to book a place.
Reptile ‘show and tells’ - 1pm-4pm both days at the Hut.
No need to book for these, show and tells will be on the hour with the last at 4pm. Again, it’s a rare chance to see UK reptiles up close and find out what the RSPB are doing to help them. Hope to see you there!