Its 2015!! and winter has well and truly arrived. Across Radipole Lake amongst the floods we have had freezing winds, frosty nights and icy days. All this hasn’t deterred the male and female marsh harrier from cavorting about as if it were spring, tumbling through the air, sky dancing and people have been treated to fantastic views of the courting couple. Amongst the reeds, bearded tits are being seen in good numbers and a bittern has been spotted both on Lodmoor and Radipole Lake.
Radipole Lake is such a great place to see the often elusive water rail and I have often watched them from the cosy warmth of the Discovery Centre window. At the moment we have one affectionately known as Wally that at dusk has been out on the duck feeding platform.
The elusive and beautiful; water rail. Photo credit: Mike Richards (rspb-images.com)
Over on Lodmoor the buds of the hedgerow bushes like blackthorn are attracting good numbers of bullfinches, the males showing up fantastically well in their pink suits.
Male bullfinch. Photo credit: John Bridges (rspb-images.com)
Don’t forget its Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend, 24 and 25 January, giving people across the UK the chance to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey. Around half a million people across the UK took part in 2014 and between them counted more than 7 million birds.
Get counting! Photo credit: Rahul Thanki (rspb-images.com)
As part of the Big Garden Birdwatch, RSPB Radipole Lake nature reserve in Weymouth will be hosting a series of special events during the weekend with something for everyone.
On Saturday 24, get involved in the family fun and make a fantastic magical mini-garden out of natural materials anytime between 11 am and 2 pm. £2.50 per child. Dan Bartlett, Senior Visitor Centre Assistant said “Bring the kids down for a great time using an array of natural materials to make a mini garden, let them run wild around the nature reserve and enjoy the tea and cake in the Discovery Centre whatever the weather.”
On Sunday 25, there will be FREE guided walks around Radipole Lake nature reserve leaving from the Discovery Centre at 10.30 am and 1.30 pm both lasting an hour and a half. Dan Bartlett, Senior Visitor Centre Assistant said, “Come on down to Radipole Lake nature reserve for an easy stroll around this stunning wildlife site, comical bearded tits, majestic marsh harriers, who knows what we might see!
As well as this, you can find out about taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time then submitting the results to the RSPB. For the second year, running the RSPB is also asking participants to log the other wildlife they see in their outside spaces, to help the charity build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for giving nature a home.
Find out more about the Big Garden Birdwatch at: rspb.org.uk/Birdwatch
Find out more about these events at Radipole Lake at: rspb.org.uk/events or calling 01305 778313.
And lastly some sad news after 10 years as Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre Manager, Michelle Williams has moved on to pastures new. Michelle ensured the smooth running of the centre over the years and was a great people person, fantastic at helping people to have a great experience at Radipole Lake. We will miss you and wish you all the best on your new path. Always ready to dress up in fancy dress it was hard to choose a goodbye picture!
Goodbye and Good luck Michelle from all the RSPB Dorset Team; staff and volunteers alike.
This weekend on Sat 13 Dec, is the last one of our fantastic binocular and telescope events at Radipole Lake and is your last chance to come along and try out a wide selection of optics, a great present for a loved one or a treat for yourself perhaps. Expert staff will be on hand to help you make the right choice and Radipole Lake is a great place to try optics out with its big picture window and plenty of wildlife to focus on! Drop in anytime between 10 am and 4 pm.
Also on that day is a treat for the little ones as a big red and white bearded fellow puts in an appearance, yes you guessed it, Santa Claus is coming to Radipole Lake! He will be feeding the ducks from noon until 2 pm so come on down and join in all the festive fun.
Its all about birds on mass at the Weymouth nature reserves at the moment with a spectacular 300-400 lapwing over on Lodmoor and hundreds of gulls at Radipole Lake including 150-200 Med Gulls and large numbers of common gulls. Winter is the time when birds flock together and large numbers of birds are an awesome sight whether in flight or settled on the ground.
Winter lapwing flock. Picture credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
The marsh harrier males have also been having a bit of a spat with each other recently with aggressive flight and talon locking while the female looks on.
Up coming events for the New Year 2015
Mon’s 19, 26 Jan Beginner’s Birdwatching Course at Radipole Lake 10 am-12 noon
and 2 Feb Identifying a range of birds and using binoculars correctly are just some of the skills you’ll pick up on this 3 week course. Free but booking essential on 01305 778313.
Its that time of year again and Radipole Lake has a whole host of events lined up with something for everyone from shopping events to crafts to Santa coming to town!
Looking for that perfect present for the wildlife lover in your life or just want to treat yourself why not pop along to Radipole Lake on one of our Binocular and Telescope Demo Days. It’s a great chance to try out a wide range of optics from our panoramic viewing window with expert staff on hand to advise you and help you make the right choices. Date: Sat 13 Dec. Drop in anytime between 10 am- 4 pm.
Binocular and Telescope Demo Days. Picture credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Want to make Christmas extra special this year why not book onto one of our Christmas Cake Decorating mornings with our fantastic cake maker Marion and learn sugarcraft cake decorating techniques. This is your chance to decorate a fantastic Christmas cake to take home and all for £5! Dates are: Fri 5 and Mon 8 Dec. Booking essential on 01305 778313.
Some of last years amazing cakes. Picture credit: Michelle Williams, RSPB
Keeping the children entertained can be tricky during the Christmas holidays especially with all the excitement so why not bring them along to our Christmas crafts for Children drop in sessions from 10 am-3 pm every weekend until Christmas and get them crafting!
And lastly an event not to be missed is our Feed the Ducks with SANTA !! on Sat 13 Dec from 12 noon-2 pm. Ho! Ho! Ho! Yes Santa will be paying us a visit and here is your chance to feed the ducks with him. Fantastic.
If you are just heading over for a wander there is plenty of wildlife to entrance you. Recent highlights include wintering bittern and marsh harriers who have been seen sky dancing which gives strictly come dancing a run for its money. Male and females tumble together down through the air while locking talons and often passing food. Spectacular stuff!!
Marsh harriers sky dancing. Picture credit: Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)