The Dorset reserves team has been involved in a number of projects over the last few weeks. One of our main focuses has been at our Lodmoor reserve in Weymouth where we having been battling through a tangle of scrub to make way for a new fence line. We need this fence as we are planning on grazing part of the reserve to control the level of scrub in the area and hopefully create a better habitat for a diversity of species. We have had the help of many volunteers on this project and we could not have made so much progress without them.
At Arne this week we have been planting trees with the help of some Animal Behaviour and Welfare students and their lecturer from Kingston Maurward College, to mark out a new trail area that we hope to open in the future. Advance planning is always key in creating these areas as we want to ensure our visitors have a great experience whilst making sure that the needs of our wildlife are met. Some of the species we were planting include Rowan, Hazel, Blackthorn, and Wild Cherry these will be a great habitat and food source for many species.
Another project that has been on the go is habitat creation for the Purbeck Mason Wasp. This rare wasp feeds on Bell Heather nectar and needs areas of bare ground to build its nest in. We had some more willing volunteers at our Dorset heathlands helping to give them some much needed habitat.
Our volunteers are vital to our work and we always welcome new helpers, if you would like to be involved and come along and help us then contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/joinandhelp/volunteering/ then click game for anything and select Dorset to find volunteering opportunities.
Half term is almost here and with it comes some great family fun to be had at the Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre at Radipole Lake from Sat 14 Feb – Sat 21 Feb Drop in any day between 10 am and 4 pm to join in with the free craft activities including seed bomb making and the return of the ever popular pebble painting.
The seed bombs are made by getting a ball of wet clay and rolling it in compost and wildflower seeds. People then take these home and launch them into the garden where they grow into wildflower areas; beautifully simple and great for wildlife.
On Wednesday 18 Feb we are doing something a bit special and having an Otter Day from 10 am – 3 pm to celebrate the otters that live on Radipole Lake nature reserve. Otter day is dedicated to these fantastic animals and you can make an otter mask, follow our otter trail around the nature reserve and take part in our quiz plus lots more ottery fun and its all free! You may even be lucky enough to see one!
Ottery Fun! Picture credit: Mike Langman
We had a visit from a bit of a legend at the weekend. Having visited Arne yesterday, Gary Prescott #thebirdingbiker made it to Radipole Lake on his way to Devon. Gary is fund-raising for us and other charities by cycling around the UK, and visiting ALL 200+ RSPB reserves en-route. Occasionally allowing himself a stay at B+B's, he is mainly sleeping out at night. And he's only just started, the challenge will take him all year. What a TOP MAN.
If you would like to support Gary with a donation, offer of accomodation, bird sightings (he's hoping to see 300 species this year) or just wish him luck you can go to his blog http://bikingbirder2015.blogspot.co.uk/
Gary Prescott and the RSPB Radipole Lake team, RSPB
At Radipole Lake spring is on the way; catkins, bullfinches feeding on the buds and violets out in flower all the signs of a change in season. We might not quite have the weather to match it yet but it won’t be long.. Its been an amazing bearded tit winter with lots of people getting fantastic views of them, bitterns have been seen again and water rails too and one of the rarer visitors last week was a Siberian chiffchaff.
Bearded tit winter. Picture credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
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.