but actually we have had a steady stream of swallows skimming across the skies of Radipole heading for unknown destinations across the UK. It never ceases to amaze me of the incredible journey these small birds take from the heat of South Africa to the temperate climes of Britain to breed. Swallow. Photo credit: Chris Gomerall (rspb-images.com).
This spring we are also playing host to 15 or so shovelers who are extending their winter break into spring. These ducks have fantastic spatula shaped beaks that they use at the surface of the water to filter small insects and plants. As usual the males get all the colourful feathers with dark green heads, white breasts and chestnut flanks while the females are beautifully mottled brown. They are a key bird for Radipole Lake and it is great news that we have such good numbers at this time of year.
The first cuckoo flower also known as ladies smock are out along the paths for those of you eagle eyed enough to spot their pale pink flowers amongst the green mass of spring growth.
Over at Lodmoor the bitterns continue to boom and marsh harriers at Radipole continue to entertain everyone. What a great time of year.
5 – 21 April Easter Fun at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre 10 am–3 pm
During the Easter holiday there will be crafts, pond dipping and other activities at the centre. Free family fun for all ages. Come along any day to take part. Free – no booking required.
Thurs 10 April Discover Radipole Walk 10 am–12 noon
This friendly walk is suitable for those who wish to find out more about our beautiful nature reserve in the heart of Weymouth and how the RSPB looks after it. Free binocular hire included. Free – no booking required.
Fri 18 & Sat 19 April Easter Fun Trail at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre 10 am–3 pm
See if you can answer all the questions on our trail and win a chocolatey reward. 50p per child – no booking required.
The hugely exciting news from our Lodmoor nature reserve is that we have a booming bittern. The crazy deep sound like someone blowing over the top of a bottle has been heard for over a week, coming from the reeds. Bitterns are shy herons and males ‘boom’ like this to attract females. We have had bitterns booming in the past but never for this length of time so we are hoping that they will breed.
We have worked hard to get the reed bed into a healthy state at both Radipole Lake and Lodmoor including creating more ditches and open water and at Lodmoor installing an eel pass to allow eels into the waterways which happen to be to bitterns what chocolate is to humans.
Bitterns are beautifully marked with brown and black streaky feathers, making them blend into the reeds superbly. Photo credit: RSPB
Bitterns were nearing extinction in Britain 20 years ago, when only 11 pairs were recorded by the RSPB in England. Since then, thanks to conservation projects in areas like the Avalon Marshes, the bittern has made a remarkable come-back and it would be wonderful if Lodmoor and Radipole Lake could play a part in the recovery success story of the bittern.
Lodmoor has also been on the flight path of our migrating birds with swallow, osprey and wheatear passing through this week. Might be a good time to get down to Lodmoor!
At Radipole Lake its all about the Marsh with Marsh harriers showing well in the skies and Marsh marigolds also known as Kingcup like yellow gold out in flower on the path up to the north hide amongst the reeds. They cheer up the dullest day.
Marsh marigold in flower. Photo credit: Naomi Bailey
Sun 30 March Mother’s day special offer
A half price cream tea for all Mother’s today.
Come and relax in the Discovery Centre, or take a walk around the nature reserve. Today only we will be giving all Mums a half price cream tea!
Spring is here you can feel it and see it all around you, comma butterflies on the wing and a stoat seen slinking through the reeds. Radipole Lake has been busy the last few weeks with birds arriving, nesting, passing through on migration and even taking a little holiday for a while elsewhere.
Latest arrivals are the buff and pale yellow coloured chiffchaffs who sing their name over and over again, (just in case we forget who they are!) some over winter but many migrate and so at this time of year their numbers swell, meaning you are never far from a chiffchaff. Chiffchaff photo credit: RSPB
Also seen passing through Radipole Lake on migration from Africa are the wonderful sand martins, flying high in the air with white bellies and brown wings on their way to their breeding grounds across Britain. Will our specially constructed sand martin wall tempt them to stop here and breed this year?
Nesting already are the Marsh harriers who have been seen carrying twigs and reeds this week which they will build into a mound for nesting on. We will keep you posted as to how they get on.
Bird in residence, the Hooded Merganser left us for a months holiday only returning last week. We still do not know where he went! Do let us know if you saw him on his travels. Hooded merganser Photo credit: RSPB
Find out more about our National Campaign: Birds Without Borders and how it is helping migrant birds:
Sat 22 & Sun 23 March Strictly Grebe Dancing 10.30 am-3 pm
If you’ve never seen a pair of Great Crested Grebes doing their courtship display, you don’t know what you’re missing. It is simply delightful. They shake their heads in sync and dance round and round. Just come on down this weekend and see for yourself! We will have friendly guides on hand during the weekend and viewing telescopes around the reserve. There will also be Grebe themed activities and a nature trail for children to follow. Free – no booking required.