Radipole Lake and Lodmoor are perfectly situated on the south coast where spring migrant make first contact with the UK. Over the past few weeks we have been scanning the skies and staring at bushes waiting for the first wanderers to return. Chiffchaffs are the only migrants so far to have appeared although some of these sightings might involve some of our brave wintering birds which have miraculously made through the winter. Species we are still waiting for are Sand Martin, house martin and Swallows. Wheatears usually appear on Lodmoor about this time of year as well. Hopefully we'll see some in the next few days now the wind has shifted round to the south.
Luckily, some of our wintering residents have been grabbing the attention, especially our Bittern. It spends the whole day last Saturday sitting opposite a busy road and pavement oblivious to all the on looking admirers. It was even seen catching fish! The Marsh Harriers also made an appearance plus snipe numbers are particularly impressive with nearly 70 seen at one time from the visitor centre window.
We’ve been enormously busy these past weeks - heads down and noses to the grindstone - ensuring that our habitat management objectives were met in the diminishing window of winter water levels, (levels are gradually increased over the coming weeks to allow reed to flourish). The pile-up of work we’ve gradually worked through does explain our recent lack of blog action (our blog-jam?), but I pledge to henceforth keep updates as regular as notable events on the reserves dictate, and hopefully punchier than what will now follow!
Bittern have been virtually a daily record on Radipole of late, with sightings at one pool and its surrounds being unusually prolific. Encouragingly, this particular pool underwent excavation in September as part of the overall restoration of the site which bodes well for bittern extending their residency into spring and beyond - if not this year then in the not too distant future. We are yet to record a ‘boomer’ this year and should we do so it is sure to set the nerves jangling in the same expectant manner that the marsh harriers managed to grip us last summer, before the three fledglings took flight one glorious day in July.
Despite the sustained biting winds from the north-easterly quarter, spring is gradually beginning to elbow winter aside. Celandines are beginning to flower along the verges, showing the way to the great diversity of botanical cheer that will follow in coming months -which we take great pains encourage with sympathetic management. Dunnock are in great voice and can be seen forming their complex bonds in the undergrowth. Cetti’s are at last beginning to find their full battle cry, attempting to drown out the drone of the Weymouth traffic and I wholeheartedly support them in their efforts! We are keeping ‘eyes to the skies’ in hope of our first sand martins of the decade that, by my reckoning, should be here any moment now.
STOP PRESS! Construction of the Radipole sand martin wall is to commence on Monday. We are hopeful of accommodating a few tardy stragglers after it is completed, if all goes to plan, a few weeks from now. As always ‘watch this space’!