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  • Exciting news for the famous short-haired bumblebees!

    Kent’s famous short-haired bumblebees have shown signs of breeding success! 

    Two worker bees found at RSPB Dungeness last week are evidence that the queen bees introduced from Sweden this spring have nested.

    A short-haired bumblebee worker feeds on red clover, a protein-rich nectar source.

    Project officer Dr Nikki Gammans has been out with volunteers monitoring Dungeness and the Romney Marshes for rare bees, she said: “This is exactly what we hoped to find this month. The meadows provided for the bees, in partnership with local farmers, are rich in nectar and pollen and offer corridors for the queens to disperse and find good nesting places.”
    The queens build nests underground, as their scientific name subterraneus suggests, producing worker bees, all females, that build the colony. The next step, in late August to early September, is that the colony produces males, and new queens. The males do not survive the winter but the queens hibernate and so the cycle is continued.
    Wet winter weather can flood and kill the hibernating queens, but it also gives the meadows a real boost and the bees are reaping the rewards now.

    This is year three of a five-year project to reintroduce queens from a thriving population in Sweden to South Kent and aims to re-establish the species, which became extinct in the UK in 1988. The project is a partnership between Natural England, Hymettus, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the RSPB.

    This week sees the publication of The Bumblebees of Kent, by Dr Gammans and Geoff Allen. The complete guide to identification will help gardeners, in particular, to know what is visiting their flowerbeds. “Planting lavender, sage, rosemary, mint and thyme is good for the kitchen, but also great for bees,” said Dr Gammans, “It is fun knowing which species are in your garden, and you may even be rewarded with a visit from a short-haired bumblebee… how else would you know?”

    Native bumblebees have suffered serious declines, two species are now extinct, and seven are very rare. Only through the joint efforts of farmers, gardeners and conservation partnerships will we recover these popular and important insects to our gardens, meadows and orchards. “ 

    ‘The Bumblebees of Kent’ by Dr Nikki Gammans and Geoff Allen, is available from www.bumblebeereintroduction.org, online (Amazon), and from the RSPB Dungeness shop.

    One of the wonderful wildflower meadows created for bees by the Short-haired Bumblebee Reintroduction project at Dungeness.

  • Update: Changes to event, admission and equipment hire charges at RSPB Dungeness

    Please note the charges detailed below are are different to those previously advertised, as is the date on which the changes come into force.  

    In order to continue to do the best we can to save nature, the RSPB have reviewed some of the fees that we charge on our reserves.

    These revisions will also ensure you experience consistency and value for money across all the reserves you visit.

    As of Monday 1st September 2014, RSPB Dungeness will charge the following:

    Entrance fees
    Adult - £4
    Child (5-17 yrs) - £2
    Student - £3 (on production of a student card)
    Family - As above, with one child free per family

    RSPB Members - Free
    Under 5s - Free
    Carers - Free (when accompanying registered disabled visitors)

    Event fees
    RSPB Members and Wildlife Explorers will receive a discount of 20% on all event admission fees.

    Equipment hire charges
    These charges will be altering in the near future, with notification being provided at the time.

    If you have any queries or require further information on these changes please feel free to contact us in the following ways, we will be very happy to help:

    Email: dungeness@rspb.org.uk
    Call: 01797 320 588
    Or have a chat with a member of staff next time you visit.

    The team at RSPB Dungeness (and our wonderful booming bitterns) would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support of the reserve.

    We could not ensure our threatened UK wildlife has somewhere to call home without loyal support of our members and visitors.

    You are directly saving nature through this support, so thank you again!

  • 1915 - A Summer at Dungeness, week 8

    Collingwood Ingram was a Captain of the Kent Cyclist Battalion, the ‘Home Guard’ of WW1, at the start of the Great War. He was posted to New Romney, so when off duty he was able to indulge his passion for birds.

    Tuesday 13 July 1915, Kingsnorth
    Wishing to settle a few small accounts I took my company down to New Romney for the day. With an hour to spare before lunch I bathed and strolled along the sands to the end of the dunes. The tide was just ebbing and small numbers of small waders were feeding with feverish haste on the still wet and glistening strand. The majority of these were dunlins, garbed in their black summer waistcoats, but ringed plover were also present in goodly numbers and among these a fair sprinkling of Kentish plovers.

    View of Lydd church

    Sunday 18 July 1915, Kingsnorth
    Today I paid another visit to New Romney and Littlestone, to which places I have become quite attached. 
    To get up with the lark is a very apposite saying. While it is still deep dusk, the first cold streak of light showing low on the north-east horizon they are up and singing. Before three in the morning.

    Nightjar in flight

    Thursday 22 July 1915, Kingsnorth
    I have been to London on two days’ leave and during that time I visited the Natural History Museum to have a look at the nestling terns. I found that these fell naturally under two headings, (a) the dusky-throated with long-tailed adults (the common, arctic and roseate are good examples) and (b) the white-throated with shorter-tailed adults (such as the lesser, Sandwich and etc.).

    Collingwood Ingram went to France in 1916 and served as a Compass Officer with the Royal Flying Corps. His 1916-18 diaries show his response to the horrors of war, but is also a celebration of the countryside of France behind the lines, where ordinary life continued and birds sang. They are published by Day Books, and available from all good bookshops. Cost: £10.

    For background information about Collingwood Ingram visit www.erniepollard.jimdo.com