I have not previously blogged about the Golden Dock as it tends to appear in the conservation areas which are not accessible to the public. Not this year! I am pleased to report the Golden Dock has appeared in very public part of the reserve right next door to the Discovery Centre and under the noses of the DC staff!
This a Dorset Rarity. It has long been known at what was it's only site over at Lodmoor. In 2009 a further 50 plants were discovered at Overcombe when several members of the Dorset Group and myself surveyed the area.
In the winter of 2007 the ditches at Radipole were cleared. In August of 2008 our former Site Manager, Nick Tomlinson, found some plants at the edges of one of the ditches that had been cleared. This was the first time the Golden Dock had been recorded at Radipole since 1960. More plants were subsequently found on ground which had been disturbed during the restoration of the North End of the reserve. The RSPB are the custodians of the only sites in Dorset where this scarce dock appears.
Last year I was delighted to discover the Golden Dock on the island in front of the Discovery Centre while I was looking through the telescope. It was September and the Dock has turned bright gold as its seed heads had ripened making it easy to spot. Today I again look through the telescope looking for signs of its presence but none were obvious. While Danny was filling up the tea machine, I thought I would have a look at the reed bed by the patio as I hadn't looked lately. I discovered a plant right next to the wall! After a Radipole cuppa, Danny found me a step ladder and some wellies and I went over the top and surveyed the area. I counted 30 plants. If you look over the wall of the patio you can see several plants. There are some very good specimens next to the DC. Ask the DC staff who will be pleased to show you
Other plants I found were the Celery Leaved Buttercup which likes marshy areas and the Marsh Yellowcress which favours areas which dry out.
Water Chickweed also favours marshy ground while the Redhank, also known as Redleg, likes bare ground and mud. I have noticed in the past the Golden Dock and Redshank are often seen in the same location suggesting they prefer the same conditions.
It was nice to find a large clump of the Common Orache which prefers bare disturbed ground.
If you require further information, please contact the Discovery Centre on 01305 778313.
The Lodmoor Marsh Harrier pair and their 4 fledglings have now dispersed as have the Radipole pair with 2 young.
There are chicks, ducklings and cygnets about on both reserves. Oystercatchers at Lodmoor have 2 healthy chicks, Mute Swans on both sites have good numbers of cygnets with them. Great Crested Grebe chicks can be seen outside Radipole Discovery Centre and Bearded Tit juveniles may be seen around Buddleia Loop or from the Concrete Bridge. Ducklings, including Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Gadwall and Pochard may be seen on both reserves.
The Common Terns from Lodmoor have dispersed, having had a tough season due to gull predation. They only raised 3 young this year.
Mediterranean Gull numbers are building back up (230+ counted on 17th July).
A greater variety of waders is being reported from Lodmoor, and there have been more reports of Bearded Tits as their youngsters have become more mobile.
Roe deer have been seen regularly on Radipole. Bat species include Pipistrelle, Noctule, Serotine and Daubentons Bats most of which are being seen on our regular Bat Walks, ask staff for more details.
Butterflies, Moths and other insects
Our survey team have recorded Painted Lady, Brimstone, Holly Blue, Large Skipper, Scarlet Tiger, Hummingbird Hawk-moth, Common Blue Damselfly, Blue Tailed Damselfly, Broad Bodied Chaser and Tree Bumblebee recently, as well as many commoner species.
The most exciting news is the discovery of an extremely rare (for the UK) spider species called Hyposinga heri. This tiny spider (approx 3mm) was on the point of being declared extinct, when they were discovered by our Survey Team at Radipole and then at Lodmoor. Ask staff for more details.
June and July are the best times to look along the sides of the paths for Orchid species. These include Pyramidal Orchids which are in flower and Strawberry Clover has been recorded on the way to the North Hide. In the hedgerows are meadowsweet, fleabane, wild angelica, wild parsnip, wild carrot, ribbed melilot, stone parsley, hedge parsley and mugwort. In the wetter parts of the reserve there is water mint, marsh woundwort, purple loosestrife, square stemmed St John's wort, water figwort, water chickweed and marsh bedstraw. Buddleia and hemp agrimony are in bloom attracting the butterflies. Along the paths is red bartsia.
If you have any questions pop into the Weymouth Discover Centre or telephone on 01305 778313.
Hi everyone! Today I want to tell you about the amazing time I had last weekend, I had the pleasure to help at a Big Wild Sleepout! It took place at Arne and we invited 72 people to camp on the Friday night, parents and children from local school in Poole. The RSPB organisers were aiming to engage families to have fun in nature and raise awareness of conservation. The children were about 5-6 years old, they were lovely and very curious: as soon as they arrived at the campsite they started running and playing around the woods! It was very refreshing for all the volunteers to see them having fun in contact with nature, considering how technology-absorbed society is nowadays.
We greeted the families with cream teas and helped them to set their tents up. Tom, the staff host, cooked dinner for everyone whilst the children made animals and shelters out of clay and natural elements. Somehow, Tom managed to make an delicious curry from scratch on an open fire. For dessert, we had fruit and an upside down pineapple pudding, yes...upside down! Tom dug out the recipe from YouTube (see it here), after mixing ice cream, flour, sugar and pineapple a surprisingly nice dessert was made. After some nice smores at the fire circle, we all got ready for a night walk. We walked around areas usually inaccessible to the public, showing the families secret Arne with nightjars and bats. We ended up knackered, perfect for a night’s sleep in a sleeping bag.
Being woken up at 6am by singing birds and screaming children wasn’t as bad as it might sound, especially after the delicious full-English breakfast Tom prepared! Following it, we had to clean the cooking pots and organise the mess tent. And, before I could realise it, the sleepout was over and I was on my way back to my own bed. It was exhausting but I had a superb time getting to meet wonderful families and enhancing their interest in nature.
Next week I'll be starting butterfly surveys and learning more about British Wildlife and how to identify different species. More about that in my next blog. Hasta la vista!