If you wanted to see Water Rail this afternoon you couldn't fail if you spent 5 minutes looking out of the visitor centre. Past winters have provided us with great views of them wandering past the window but today individual decided to spend most of its time out in the open posing for all to see.
Our friendly Merlin paid us another visit this afternoon. It was first seen sitting on top of the visitor centre window (yes really!) and then had a bath and dried itself off on the island. About 20 people managed to see it before it headed off over town pursuing a rather worried Snipe. Later this afternoon it went back to the North hide where it was sitting on the hide before sitting on the Sand Martin wall. The only structure it hasn't sat on is the buddleia viewing shelter. Tomorrow perhaps??
It’s not very often that you get a merlin visit your bird feeder, but this afternoon that happened to us! If you've been to the visitor centre you would have noticed our little bird feeder hanging from the window. It’s usually home to several sparrow though there could have been one less if the Merlin was a little quicker. Following its attack on the sparrows it sat outside the visitor centre for a few minutes before doing something completely out of character. It sat on a lamp post over Weymouth bypass, something you'd expect from a Kestrel but certainly not a merlin. They are very scarce visitors to Radipole and Lodmoor so to see this one so close is pretty special!
Whooper Swans are still up on the Buddleia Lake and seemed fairly settled (touch wood!) and at least one Bittern is still at Lodmoor along with 2 Scaup and a Dartford Warbler.
Received some news over the past weeks about a few more colour ringed gull sightings.
Most recent was the information for a Herring Gull which was seen on the 27th September. It was originally ringed at Pitsea Landfill Site in Essex on 6th March 2010. It was the first sighting of this bird since it was ringed.
Recent Med Gull sightings include R60N (Green). This was also the first sighting of this bird which was ringed at Conchil le Temple, Pas de Calais, FRANCE on the 11/06/2010.
We've also had R67K (Green) which was ringed at the same place on the 22/06/2010. It was re-sighted on 23/07/2010 nearby at Le Portel, Pas-de-Calais
The most interesting sighting recently was a Yellow legged Gull with a yellow ring on. Its from the the Camargue but haven't got the details yet.
No offence to the good old Mute Swan but Whooper and Bewick Swans are by far more exciting and interesting. Dorset doesn't get many of either species with Whooper being the rarer so you can imagine our surprise when a family of four Whooper Swans landed outside the visitor centre window at Radipole Lake. This was yesterday morning and spent most of the day at the back of the pool. They then relocated to the Buddleia Lake where they are still currently floating around happily.
Heres a couple of photos
The restoration is now in its the last few days, with only a couple of ditches still left to restore and the work so far is looking wonderful. Our bittern pool , which was completely overgrown with vegetation, has now been restored to something like it's former glory.
Once the water levels come up again in the spring the area in the middle will be submerged, providing just the right conditions for good strong reedmace growth (otherwise known as bullrush) which will provide a nice sheltered location for our bittern to build their nest whilst the ditch around the outside will act as a moat, detering unwanted visitors - all aimed at encouraging our regular wintering bittern to stay through the summer
A little further out into the reeds this...
has been turned into this....
....A wonderful reed fringed shallow pool already teaming with fish (and kingfishers!), at the head of which, behind the screen of reed, is our bittern pool, so the des res is next door to the right fine diner
As well as the kingfishers and herons, our otter is enjoying the new pools and ditches - how do we know? well fresh spraint (otter poo) was found yesterday at a favourite territory marking point and, just this morning, around 50 m from where this picture above was taken, fresh tracks running alongside a new ditch - in the still, cool morning air, a truly lovely sight!