August, 2009

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

A date with nature

The latest news from our Date With Nature projects around the UK.
  • Does your brood fancy a date with nature?

    Every parent knows youngsters can be demanding, especially at this time of year.Great crested grebe - Sue Tranter

    So, if you're looking for ways to alleviate school holiday boredom, look no further as we invite you to witness some of Kent's wild birds as they wrestle to meet the demands of their own offspring.

    Waterbirds at Leeds Castle includes a cast of young great crested grebes, moorhens and coots all hatched in June, and now engaged in the sometimes challenging task of being taught how to stand on their own webbed feet!

    From this Saturday we'll be at Leeds Castle with telescopes and binoculars, to show you all the excitement during this final, crucial stage of the breeding season.

    Watching juveniles perfect their feeding and flying skills on the water makes great entertainment for those watching – and gives visitors with their own demanding brood a spot of light relief.

    Come and introduce your own brood to the wide range of wild birds and their young at Leeds Castle - you won't be disappointed.

  • The kittiwakes of Splash Point

    As the kittiwakes at Splash Point start to leave the cliff face that has been their home for the past few months, Kate Whitton, Date With Nature organiser at RSPB South East, gives us an update on their progress:Kittiwake on nest. Andy Hay - RSPB Images

    'Although we didn't manage to do a colony count this year, from what we could see the kittiwakes seem to have had a good crop of youngsters, with many adults fledging at least one chick.

    Unlike last year, the heat doesn't seem to have affected them too much this year - which is a relief, although the crows were seen on many occasions harrying the chicks as they sat in their nests.

    But it hasn't all been kittiwakes - we have had wonderful views of a peregrine family. Two adults have been stooping off the cliff, and their two youngsters have been alarming the colony, sometimes preventing adult kittiwakes from landing back on the cliff by sitting on the kittiwake nests!

    We have had sightings of gannet and common scoter from our viewpoint, as well as watching the antics of nesting rock pipits.

    The kittiwake youngsters were mostly fully grown by mid-July, and the whole colony seemed to be ready to depart back out to sea by the end of our time here.

    I'm sure that this year they started to nest a bit earlier than normal, as when we started the project there weren't lots of fluffy chicks. Instead, many chicks were already starting to grow their adult feathers.

    We've had a really great time watching the kittiwakes - thanks to all of you who came and said 'hi'. And for those who didn't make it down our way - we hope to see you in 2010.'

  • Flying solo

    As the only chick to hatch from a clutch of two, the New Forest hobby youngster has had it easy up until now - being waited on beak and claw by attentive parents. But that's all about to change now that our youngster has finally left the nest.

    Having been lavished with food and attention, this lone fledgling has grown from cute ball of fluff to nearly independent adult, in only a couple of weeks.

    Leaving the nest on Friday was a big step in this hobbies life, as it means he (although it might be a she - the sexes aren't as clear as in other birds of prey) is nearly ready to make his first long-haul flight to stay the winter in Africa – a journey he'll do all on his own!

    We reckon the young bird will stay around the nest for a few more weeks, so be sure to pop down to see us at the New Forest Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst before this bird sets off on a remarkable journey.