Radipole Lake has been hooching with birds lately, our fantastic bearded tit walk was fully booked and people got great views of an amazing 50 bearded tits erupting from the reed bed, its been a great year for them. We also saw chiffchaff (still here!), marsh harrier (magnificent!), reed bunting (always nice to see them) and kingfisher (dazzling colours). We are ringing bearded tits on site to find out where they end up. If you happen to be around when it’s going on it’s a great chance to see these birds in all their amazing minute detail and see some important science happening. Numbers of bearded tits will start to reduce as they disperse elsewhere, hopefully the science will tell us where!
Bearded tit in the hand. Picture credit: Luke Phillips, RSPB
Also turning up in big numbers are Mediterranean Gulls with 100 recently arrived and numbers growing every year. Hard to believe that only a few years ago these were a real rarity. Some of these birds are ringed and reading the colour combinations enables us to see a couple of regulars turning up like our favourite R13U or R2D2 as he is affectionately known! These rings tell part of his life story and its fascinating seeing where he has been hanging out. First ringed as a chick in Pas-de-Calais in northern France he seems to spend his autumn and winter at Radipole Lake/Lodmoor, obviously he really likes it here and summers in France. Very nice too.
Med Gull R2D2 to his friends. Picture credit: Luke Phillips, RSPB
On another science theme ‘birds eye view’ technologies are being used to survey and monitor habitats on our reserve at Lodmoor using the sci fi sounding ‘Drone’. These remote controlled GPS mini helicopters are great for surveying inaccessible habitats like marshes and reed beds producing high quality images of the site quickly, easily and with less disturbance to wildlife than traditional methods and they are fun to fly too!
Drone view of Lodmoor. Picture credit: Drone/Matt Self, RSPB
Other exciting bird news comes in the form of a bittern seen flying around the reserve and an appearance of an avocet for a time last week. Radipole Lake is also home to a Dorset plant rarity golden dock, we had spotted it growing on the Discovery Centre Island so Luke Phillips donned his waders and went to have a look and discovered 24 plants over there!
Golden dock, living up to its name. Picture credit: Naomi Bailey, RSPB
Half term fun
Mon 27-Thurs 30 Bird feeder making sessions at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre 1-2 pm
This is a great time of year to start feeding the birds. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures starting to drop which means birds will be looking for extra food. Join us to make your very own feeder to take home for your garden. 50p per feeder. No need to book. Info: 01305 778313.
Fri 31 Halloween Trail at Radipole Lake 10 am-3 pm
Join us if you dare to venture out into the weird and wild world of Radipole Lake. There’ll be a spooky trail to follow but also keep your eye peeled for the wildlife peeking back at you from their hiding places deep within the reeds. Free – no booking required. Info: 01305 778313.
Fri 31 Halloween Party at the Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre 6–7.30 pm
Come along in your spooky wildlife themed costume to an evening full of apple bobbing, scary music, games and more. You might also get to meet the Wicked Witch of the Weymouth Wetlands! Prize for the best fancy dress. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Free but booking essential on 01305 778313.
This year we are very lucky to have received a generous grant from SITA to enhance the reserves wetlands around the North Pool.
This Autumn the existing North Pool will be getting a face lift, removing built up vegetated soil and encroaching vegetation. A section of the fields to the south of the existing pool are also benefiting from the Grant with the creation of a completely new ‘scrape’ system. This, whilst also improving viewing opportunities for the public, will ensure that it meets the needs of a variety of species that are found at the site throughout the year, increasing feeding opportunities and providing more space for roosting waders and wildfowl and hopefully drawing in higher numbers and increasing the importance of Radipole for migrating, breeding and winter bird life. The creation of a new scrape calls for some big equipment, so visitors can expect some disturbance during works which will be taking place between 30th September and the 10th October. Another fancy bit of machinery will be helping us manage the reserve during the same period; the Truxor. This bit of kit enables us to get into very wet areas and cut back reed encroaching into the water channels, which not only opens up views for us but also stops the reedbed drying out.
Its a bit of a beast; the Truxor in action, Picture credit: Toby Branston, RSPB.
As autumn arrives so do the waders and over on Radipole Lake the new moon tide has meant very low water levels, exposing the mud and creating the perfect feeding ground for black-tailed godwits, snipe, green sandpiper, common sandpiper, dunlin and water rails. Amongst the reeds bearded tits have been seen in large numbers early morning and up at north hide its been fantastic for birds of prey with a rare merlin putting in an appearance along with a hobby (chasing the last of the migrant hawker dragonflies that can be seen around the nature reserve) and marsh harriers still around. Seems a perfect time to head over and make a day of it.
The magnificent merlin. Picture credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Over at Lodmoor we still have 2 Belgium spoonbill teenagers on a european tour, well they may not exactly be from Belgium but probably from there or Holland and obviously like it at Lodmoor as they have been hanging out for a while. They have been joined by black-tailed godwits, a few ruff with a wryneck mixed in for good measure, oh yes and a tree sparrow seen flying over head. Lets hope he stops in Dorset and finds something to his liking, we need more!
Tree sparrow. Picture credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Radipole Lake’s fantastic marsh harrier mural is all finished and looks incredible, many thanks to artist ATM. Come over and take a look at the finished piece.
Marsh harrier mural nearing completion. Picture credit: Michelle Williams, RSPB
Thurs 2 Oct Discover Radipole Lake – Bearded tit special! 8-10.30 am
This is by far the best time of year to see the elusive but beautiful bearded tit hence this extra ‘Discover Radipole’ walk. Radipole Lake provides them with the perfect habitat and this year we have good numbers of this special bird. Autumn is when young birds start to explore and get the urge to find new reedbed to colonise. This behaviour is called ‘erupting’ but you’ll have to come along to find out why! RSPB members £3 and non-members £6. Includes a hot drink at the end of the walk. Booking essential on 01305 778313.
Little Stint, Little Egret, Bearded Tit, Black-tailed Godwit, Cetti's Warbler, Pintail (female), Marsh Harrier.