Another colourful point of interest for those who peer into the lower tiers of greenery, as well as scan the skies and trees for the slightest movement, has been the emergence of some spectacular moths along the start of the hide path at Radipole. Over the last couple of weeks, the translucent papery cocoons have been concealing the amazing metamorphosis within and over the weekend the burnet moths have revealed themselves. I found some today, clinging on to the swaying grass and cow parsley stems; several had wasted no time in pairing up and getting on with producing the next generation. As the picture shows they have a certain athletic flair when it comes to mating.
I know what you're thinking... Are these Five-spot Burnets or Narrow-bordered Five-spot burnets? The truth is I'm not quite sure, and I believe that they can be difficult to distinguish. The middle pair of spots is less likely to be merged in the latter species, so if pushed I'm going for Narrow-bordered Five-spot burnet, but inexperience on such fine points prevents me from insisting on it...
These are day-flying moths so it's very easy to admire their metallic-looking finery, and the sight of one taking to the air this afternoon was reminiscent of the flight of a rubber-band powered model plane - slow, somewhat determined, unlikely to produce any breathtaking aerobatic feats or long distance records but a joy to watch nevertheless.
It's half term in Dorset so in celebration of the counties children;s freedom our very own Amber Phoenix has come up with some rather exciting looking week day activities. Head down to the new Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre at Radipole Lake any time of day monday to friday this week and bring the family. Learn how to make homes for bees, feeders for butterflies (there are plenty of both around Radipole in the sunshine) wild flower bombs (now they do sound fun) and be the first to take part in the Dorset wide 'Spot It' challenge; pick up a booklet from the centre, head out onto the reserve to see if you can tick off all the plants, birds and bugs and return for a certificate and badge, BUT there is more! In the same booklet you will see the 3 other RSPB Dorset reserves too, the more reserves you go to with your spot it booklet the better- visit one reserve and get a bronze certificate, visit two and get silver and visit 3 or more get gold (it's like the wildlife olympics).
My top tip for the week is stop on the bridge to the north hide or the new semi circular boardwalk and look down into the water- I bet you see a stickleback!
Also a reminder. Our first 'Reptiles at Radipole' event is coming soon on saturday 23rd June (I hear on the grapevine that the event has been advertised in a magazine on the 9th- DO NOT BE FOOLED, its the 23rd!)
The hedgerows around Radipole are very abundant and colourful now as we move into early summer. This is the time when Radipole's orchids start to appear by the paths. I counted three Southern Marsh Orchids in the early stages of flowering on the Buddleia Loop this afternoon. I hope plenty more are on their way. The Bee Orchid I passed twice this afternoon before I noticed it in the grass by the path to the North Hide. Bee Orchids are an opportunist plant and can turn up in unexpected places. Some years it is abundant on a particular site and in others it can be sparse. Both pictures below were taken this afternoon.
The year 2009 was a particularly orchid abundant year when 32 Bee Orchids and 170 Southern Marsh Orchids were counted around the reserve. Other orchids to look for on Radipole is the Common Spotted Orchid which normally appears on the Buddleia Loop near the viewing shelter and the Pyramidal Orchid which flowers in July and is usually by the path down to the North Hide.