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!
Hello everyone, including volunteers old and new!
The Little Tern Project at Chesil Beach is a one that aims to help boost the dwindling number of feisty little terns that nest here, in partnership with other land-owners and charities (Natural England, Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve, The Crown Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust and Portland Court Leet). The colony is the only one in the South West- an accolade we are all very proud of!
This season has been a series of ups and downs, and with an early blow in the form of a fox attack, it looked as though the Project team were in for a tough ride this year.
The terns had other ideas. They hunkered down, rode out the storm, foxes, kestrels and crows to produce a grand total (so far) of 33 nests, with nests 1, 6 & 13 (we number each nest to make it easier to survey them) blazing the trail for the other pairs as survivors of the fox attack (cue Destiny’s Child outburst). To date, over sixty chicks have hatched, including as many as thirty fledglings seen since June 23rd!
We have three nests still incubating (45-47), so our total looks set to rise even more, which will further boost the population of this endangered little bird.
Our colony is watched around the clock, and I am one of the lucky night wardens who gets to watch the sun set and rise again, all in the name of conservation. Being on duty until 6am gives us the opportunity to do the first nest count of the day, and make sure all is well with the colony. Fortunately our nocturnal neighbourhood foxes have been relatively scarce to date, so that when they do pop up, we’re almost eager to see them off!
However, one animal determined to rain on our parade is the Kestrel. These beautiful and highly-skilled predators have had their beady eye on our terns from the off. We took heavy losses throughout June, with fears that the suspect pair from Portland would greatly deplete chick numbers.
But, as mentioned above, this is a rollercoaster season, and the introduction of diversionary feeding on the concrete buttress has proved highly effective. The station has successfully done its job, cutting down on the number of tern chicks taken, which is great! And our diligent volunteers, have been helping out with the kestrel deterrent dance, involving everything from clapping, hand-waving to shouting and, on my part, some verbal abuse!
So despite the constant threat the kestrel poses, this season can still be a positive one if we continue to join forces with the terns and keep those pesky kestrels away. Thanks to our team of dedicated volunteers for all your effort so far! Find out how our volunteer, Julia, got along volunteering at Chesil beach here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/weymouthwetlands/b/weymouthwetlands-blog/archive/2015/07/14/big-beach-little-terns.aspx
Nicole Walton, Chesil Beach Little Tern Project Assistant