The reed beds were alive with the sound of birdsong as I walked around Radipole Lake this gorgeous sunny morning. I could see and hear Cetti's, Reed and Sedge Warblers chirping away. Swifts were screaming overhead along with Swallows and Sand Martins. The hedgerows are becoming more colourful now, plants coming into flower now include Cow Parsley, Hemlock Water Dropwort, Common Vetch, Common Comfrey, Common and Meadow Buttercups. Pale Flax, Ox Eye Daisy and Common Corn-salad were flowering just outside the reserve. Also about on the wing were Orange Tip and Small White Butterflies.
Outside the Discovery Centre on the island were Oystercatchers, Common Sandpipers, a Black Tailed Godwit, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochards and several Little Egrets. Our resident Hooded Merganser was also on the island having a morning nap. Danny, Senior Assistant in the Discover Centre reported a large flock of Swifts arriving over at Lodmoor last weekend.
Amongst the latest arrivals are the Common Terns, two could be seen this morning on the island and others can be seen over at Lodmoor looking for suitable nesting sites. The Sandwich Terns have also arrived at Lodmoor but nest over on Brownsea Island. Lastly the Little Terns have arrived down at Chesil Beach. These are the terns that you are mostly likely to see in the Weymouth area, pictures below will help you to identify these beautiful birds.
The Little Tern is a delightful chattering seabird is the UK's smallest tern. It is short-tailed and has a fast flight. Its bill is a distinctive yellow with a black tip. It is noisy at its breeding colony where courtship starts with an aerial display involving the male calling and carrying a fish to attract a mate which chases him up high before he descends, gliding with wings in a 'V'. Its vulnerable nesting sites and its decline in Europe make it an Amber List species.
Common Terns are delightful silvery-grey and white birds have long tails which have earned them the nickname 'sea-swallow'. They have a buoyant, graceful flight and frequently hover over water before plunging down for a fish. They are often noisy in company and breed in colonies.
The Sandwich tern is a very white tern, with a black cap on its head, a long black bill with a yellow tip and short black legs. In flight it shows grey wedges on its wings tips and it has a short forked tail. In the UK, many of the important colonies survive because they are on nature reserves.
Water voles occur mainly along well vegetated banks of slow flowing rivers, ditches, dykes and lakes. Our Discovery Centre Manager, Lindsey Death saw a Water Vole, on the reserve a few days ago and managed to capture a photo. Water voles tend to be active more during the day than at night so you are more likely to see them than the more elusive otter which are also on the reserve.
For more information on any of the above, contact Radipole Lake Discovery Centre or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available.
Telephone: 01305 778313
Ducklings Toddler Group
Dates: Friday 13th May, Friday 10th June, Friday 8th July
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Cost: £5 per child: includes organised session, juice drink and a hot drink for parents/guardians
Radipole Lake presents a new nature themed toddler group for the under 4s who like to get outside! Each session will have a wildlife theme and involve an activity outside, a craft activity or game and a themed story as well as time for little ones and parents to have a drink and snack (drinks included in the £5 charge).
The theme for Friday 13th May is ducklings!
Booking isn't essential but to get an idea of numbers let us know if you are interested.
For more information, contact the Radipole Lake Discovery Centre or pop in and see us:
Hello there! My name is Tamsin and this is to be my one and only blog post as I am soon to be completing a 6-month stint as a volunteer at RSPB Weymouth Wetlands. “I'm the intern here” is a phrase that I have so often used to introduce myself lately, having filled a permanent role with a short-term agreement which has seen many mostly young people pass through it. I have so much enjoyed my time here. Not only was I new to the RSPB and birding when I started but I was also new to the area, having come from the Norfolk coast. I was welcomed en masse, even by an otter on my first day! I reckon it took me nearly the whole placement just to memorise every volunteer’s name (don’t ask me for last names)! There are people who make up the work party team, the centre volunteers and the survey team, people often popping over from Arne and oh so many Daves and Julies! Every one of them is absolutely lovely and the RSPB is so lucky to have their dedication and support.
One thing that has struck me from doing this placement is how flexible it was from the very beginning. When would you like to start? How long would you like to stay? What do you want to do? Naturally I wanted to do a bit of everything and I have had so much fun along the way. I was, perhaps unwisely, very quickly trusted by Dan and Lindsey to occasionally be in charge of the Discovery Centre and all the responsibilities that go with that. I also spent hours designing kids craft activites and games; I designed interpretation signs to go around the reserve; I took part in the practical side of things by joining the Monday and Thursday teams to make the place look as it should by picking up litter, cutting back scrub and building new fences; I joined bird surveys and, alongside another volunteer Will Putt, we did our own preliminary survey work so that hopefully in the future water vole surveys will be set up at local reserves such as Radipole Lake and Lodmoor, Lychett Fields and Arne Moors; I progressed to eventually lead walks, including the Discover Radipole walk at the beginning of this month; I was sent off to complete my first aid training and also the ‘RSPB Experience’ course at RSPB Headquarters The Lodge in Bedfordshire, a course usually only for newly employed staff (photo of us all below); finally I will assist Lynne Burningham by manning the RSPB table at the Lyme Regis Fossil festival this weekend.
Time has just flown by! I would love to be able to stay on and enjoy beautiful Weymouth in the summer but I feel it’s time for me to move on. I have learnt so much whilst I have been here that I will be able to use when applying and in future jobs, most probably leading me on to a career in wildlife conservation. And as for my bird knowledge, I’m nowhere near an expert but I can name quite a lot at first sight, even if it is just intuition. Radipole Lake is made so special by being right in the middle of town. On a good day with the cettis' warbling it is simply beautiful and not a day goes by when our marsh harriers are not seen. I urge anyone to visit the reserve, and if you or anyone you know would like to replace me as intern, well even better!
I want to end with a little para about recent sightings. Surely there has never been a blog without some species mentions. A wryneck was seen on Sunday morning and 4 whimbrels flew over Radipole yesterday. One or two swifts have been spotted already and more waders than usual are on the reserve – greenshank, common sandpiper, oystercatchers and black tailed godwits! Exciting stuff!
Over and out.