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  • Ginger-haired harriers the weekend is back!

    Hi all, here's hoping you've had a great week and are looking forward to lots of lovely sunshine this weekend!

    Today those of us who were unable to leave the Visitor Centre were treated to stunning views of a young marsh harrier preening itself on the far side of Burrowes' Pit - right opposite our main viewing window!  A family comprising of kids, parents and grandparents were very excited to have had such good luck, and a long queue quickly formed at the telescope!  We were able to tell it was a juvenile due to the bright flash of ginger hair  - a bit like a flattened orange mohican - very bang on trend I hear.

    Here's a list of the other bird life that's been seen this week, with dates and locations where last seen:

    Garganey – one at ARC on 25th
    Black-necked grebe – one at Makepeace Hide on 24th.
    Marsh harrier – one juvenile preening on far side of Burrowes’ pit opposite Visitor Centre on 25th.
    Little ringed plover – on Burrowes pit on 22nd.
    Dunlin – one on Burrowes pit on 25th.
    Snipe – ten over Hooker’s ramp on 22nd.
    Black-tailed godwit – at Burrowes pit on 22nd.
    Whimbrel – one on Burrowes pit on 24th.
    Redshank – on Burrowes pit on 21st.
    Greenshank – on Burrowes pit on 22nd.
    Common sandpiper – on Burrowes pit on 25th.
    Curlew sandpiper – on Burrowes pit on 22nd.
    Common gull – nesting on far left raft at Denge Marsh and often on roof of the visitor centre.
    Common tern – nesting on tern rafts at Denge Marsh, four chicks seen on 24th.
    Yellow wagtail - three on Visitor Centre roof on 24th

    Hunting marsh harrier

    This weekend we will be at the New Romney Country Fayre, as well as open for business as usual at the reserve, so we hope to see you one way or another while you are out and about!

  • A summer of exploration and adventure!

    We have some fantastic events coming up to keep the family entertained and inspired throughout the summer holidays!

    The ever popular Pond Dipping, Wildlife Safari and Den Building sessions are running every week in August, plus, back for it's second year is the fantastic Dungeness in the Dark!  

    Dungeness in the Dark takes place on Saturday 9 August, from 8.30pm - 11.30pm

    Price: Adult £10. Child £5. Adult RSPB member £8. RSPB Wildlife Explorer members £4 - booking is essential.

    Dungeness is an amazing place after sunset as well as during the day! Recent after dark sightings have included beautiful barn owls, whizzing bats, a brightly-coloured array of moths and stealthy foxes!

    What wildlife will come out to play once the stars are out at Dungeness in the dark? What distant galaxies might we spot through the telescopes? Most important of all....how many marshmallows will you pile on top of your hot chocolate?!

    A barn owl at home at RSPB Dungeness

    We are hoping for clear skies at this unique event, as it coincides with the Perseid meteor showers - imagine exploring this amazing reserve with shooting stars streaming overhead!

    Come and join our friendly, knowledgeable staff on a unique chance to see this wonderful reserve at a time that few others get to see it - in the dark!

    Fun activities will be provided for children that come along, that will inspire them to look after and explore the nocturnal nature that lives round your way.

    So gather your friends and family, wrap up warm and come on down for an unforgettable experience!

    Children must be accompanied by an adult.

  • 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.