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Recent sightings

  • 9 October 2014

    Bird bonanza and the science bit!

    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  

     

    Upcoming events

    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.

    Posted by RSPB Weymouth W

  • 25 September 2014

    Exciting start to our winter work for wildlife

    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

    Upcoming events

    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.

     

    Posted by RSPB Weymouth W

  • 15 September 2014

    Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre - gets a bit of a make over!

    Well not quite but we have recently finished having the roof of the Discovery Centre re-thatched, using a large proportion of our very own reed from Radipole’s reed bed, which is fantastic. It had not been re-thatched since the late 1970’s so badly needed doing and was partly funded through a legacy. It looks superb and has some nice touches on the ridge peaks with a thatch swan on each, a bit of a makers mark. Huge thanks to local thatchers Nathan Yates of ‘The Purbeck Thatcher’ and James Scott of ‘Sunrise Thatching’ for a truly splendid job and getting it finished for us!

    The new roof! Michelle Williams (RSPB)

     

    In addition a new piece of artwork generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund has been commissioned for the front of the visitor centre. The large lifelike marsh harrier will celebrate the return of the marsh harrier to Dorset and is being painted by London based street artist ATM who specialises in paintings of birds. He says on his facebook page that, ‘My paintings are a celebration of birds, a reminder of what species once lived here and could again with more consideration and improved habitats.’ He has had fantastic reviews for his work including this from Urban Times:

    "British artist ATM ‘s love of nature is evident in the staggering levels of flair and detail with which he paints endangered birds throughout London. The contrast between nature and the urban environment is something that he says is at the core of his work.”

     Marsh harriers returned to Dorset in 2009 after an absence of nearly 50 years when a pair nested at Radipole Lake successfully rearing 3 chicks. They continue to breed in Weymouth annually and have now started breeding at other Dorset reed beds. This year two pairs of marsh harrier nested on the RSPB’s Weymouth nature reserves fledging a fantastic 6 chicks.

    Autumn migration is well under way at Radipole Lake and with the usual suspects has been some of the more unusual in the shape of a spotted redshank seen just outside the Discovery Centre and a red-backed shrike up at the north hide. Over on Lodmoor, spoonbills have been showing quite well and popping over to Radipole Lake every so often for a change of scene.

    The continued warm weather has meant that lots of butterflies are still on the wing and dragon and damselflies like the amazing blue/green emperor dragonfly. The hedgerows are full of nuts and berries this year with masses of haw berries, blackberries and sloes which the birds are feasting upon. Its a great time to get out and about at the Weymouth nature reserves.

     

    Up coming events

    Sat 20 & Sun 21           Kingfisher Weekend at Radipole Lake                                      10 am-3 pm

    Autumn is a busy time of year for kingfishers. Hopefully a successful breeding season has produced lots of extra kingfishers and now they are all on the move to new places to spend the winter. Radipole Lake is a perfect place for them to spend a few weeks feeding and sussing out their next move. Join volunteers and staff to stake out the best spots at Radipole Lake for a glimpse of this stunning bird. Free – no booking required. Come along anytime during these times over the weekend. Info: 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 28 August 2014

    Canada geese invasion

    Radipole Lake has turned into a Mecca for Canada geese recently with an amazing 300 plus descending on us with a few fantastic feral hangers on in the shape of a barnacle goose and bar headed goose. Its always lovely to see these fellas. Water levels before all this rain were very low and the shallow water made it very attractive to them.

    Autumn waders continue to build up with black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper and common sand piper, a sure sign the weather is on the turn, yes its colder and raining!!  A cheerier sign is the increase in the vibrant kingfishers seen around the nature reserve, guaranteed to cheer up even the dullest day. Its at this time of year kingfishers head to coastal regions for the winter where food is much more abundant. Lucky us!

    Over on Lodmoor the last of the common tern chicks are fledging on the islands and an arctic scarcity a wood sandpiper graced our shores which was very lovely indeed.

    Our Weymouth team had some fun at Weymouth Carnival too!

    We all enjoyed taking part in the Weymouth carnival. It was a very long day (approx 2 hours waiting around in the Pavilion car park before setting off and then we got to the end point at about 8:45pm) Luckily the sun was shining and the crowds were out in their thousands. You will be pleased to hear that our entry won the prize for the best walking entry!!!!

    Michelle as a lobster! RSPB photo credit

      

    Luke Phillips with the cup! RSPB photo credit

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 7 August 2014

    Dip into Radipole Lake...

    Well not literally but its amazing what families are turning up at our pond dipping platform this sunny summer. The ponds are simply heaving with wildlife and as well as the aptly named water boatman comically scooting around, the slow but beautifully formed pond snails who are great at cleaning up the algae and diving beetles with their amazing breathing bubble that they clutch to them, absorbing the air through their body. They have also been finding the super fantastic water scorpions and water stick insects, no prizes for guessing what they look like! These are ambush predators at their best. They have the equivalent of snorkels up their bottom which they stick out of the water allowing them to breathe and stay hiding in one place under water, looking out for prey. How cool is that! This year people have been finding common newt tadpoles with outrageous frilly feelers at the sides of their head as well as lots of stickleback fish and dragonfly and damselfly nymphs. Its a truly remarkable world down there so why not come over and get dipping and see what you can discover. Pond dipping is available 7 days a week from 10 am-4 pm.

    Pond dipping  Jesper Mattias (rspb-images.com)

     

     

    The marsh harrier story continues with we think 6 young fledged and on the wing from the 2 harrier nests (let us know if you have seen more together!) at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor, which is a fantastic result. Lodmoor as ever has been attracting the unusual with 3 great white egrets and a hoopoe during last week. The weather may still be sultry during the day but get out early morning and it feels like autumn is on the way and certainly the autumn migration is well under way at Lodmoor with wading birds like 3 types of sandpiper; green, common and wood, black-tailed godwits, dunlin, lapwing and redshank all busily feeding. Now’s the time to get to know your waders or just appreciate the shear beauty and elegance of these birds.  

    Dunlin  Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

      

    Upcoming events

     

    Outdoor Storytelling

    Tuesdays in August 5, 12, 19 and 26

    11 am -12 noon

    Bring the little ones up to our outdoor storytelling area and be entertained by our volunteer storytellers. Bring a picnic if you like or treat yourself to some goodies from the Discovery Centre before you head off.

    Free – no booking required

     

    Buggymania

    Fridays in August 8, 15, 22 and 29

    1 pm-2 pm

    An hour of bug related fun. There will be different things to do each week.

    Free – no booking required.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 17 July 2014

    Little terns back from the brink!

    Morgan Vaughan and his fantastic team of staff and volunteers have been saving a species right here on our doorstep on Chesil Beach. This year 33 pairs of little tern have nested on Chesil Beach and produced 77 eggs. Hard to believe that just a few years ago the colony here was close to collapse with just a handful of birds hanging on. Its been a fantastic effort guarding the nest site night and day from disturbance by animals and people and now that the chicks have started hatching from birds of prey and other mammals.

     

    Here is Morgan’s story:

    It’s all going very well for the little terns, the weather is being incredibly kind to the terns and plenty of fish are coming in to fill the chicks. A majority of the fishing is happening out in Lyme bay. This was causing the chicks to gravitate up the bank towards the hide, affording volunteers, staff and members of the public wonderful views of the chicks which seem to be growing before our very eyes.

    At the start of the season around 80 coconut matting baskets filled with sand were placed out on the little tern nesting site and the majority of the birds chose these to nest on giving the eggs greater protection and warmth than the cold shingle.

    Sand patch nest with little tern chicks. Picture credit: Morgan Vaughan, RSPB.

      

    Here was one chick yesterday who thought I couldn’t see him/her under the twig!

    Photo credit: Morgan Vaughan, RSPB

     

     

     

    Approx 10 day old chick – feathers starting to come through on the wing.

    Photo credit: Morgan Vaughan, RSPB

     

     

    We have unfortunately started to have interest from a male kestrel at the colony so the excellent wardening team of volunteers and staff have increased their efforts in keeping him at bay and will hopefully prevent the kestrel from having lunch at our section of the beach.

    We have also deployed shelters for the chicks which they have been using to get out of the heat of the sun –  keeping them out of sight from hungry kestrels too.

     2 day old chick using a chick tunnel. Photo credit: Morgan Vaughan, RSPB

     More excitement came in the form of the oyster catchers hatching – This will hopefully cause their parents to be even more aggressive to potential predators and help the little terns protect their young.

    68 little tern eggs have hatched in total this year – The last 2 hatching at the start of July.

    Just hatching!  Picture credit: Morgan Vaughan, RSPB.

    We now have at least 50 fledglings on the foreshore – A phenomenal success for Chesil beach little terns and testament to the dedication of wardens and volunteers involved in protecting the birds through proactive wardening efforts.

    Huge thank yous must also go to funders and partners: EU Interreg PANACHE project, Natural England, Crown Estate, Portland Court Leet, Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Chesil and Fleet Nature Reserve who without their support this would not have been possible.

     

     

     

     

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 30 June 2014

    Marsh Harrier 1 Magpie 0

    The marsh harriers have given us a scare recently after the male seemed to disappear for a couple of days, this was worrying as he should be bringing food in to the chicks or food passing to the female. Shirking his parental responsibilities surely not! Thankfully just as we were tweeting about it he returned and since then the first of the young marsh harriers have fledged from Lodmoor with 3 now testing out their wings over the reserve, very exciting!

    Some of our volunteers based up at north hide were treated to some very unusual hunting behaviour from the female marsh harrier at Radipole Lake who was seen flying into the top of a tree and coming out clutching a magpie. Behaviour more suited to sparrowhawks than marsh harriers!

    Excitingly a bittern has also been spotted flying close to the Discovery Centre at Radipole Lake, a rare occurance in June, all encouraging signs for this bird at our Weymouth nature reserves.

    The skies are full of activity and colour at the moment with lots of dragonflies and butterflies on the wing and newly emerged moths; scarlet tiger and burnet. At Lodmoor a grass snake was seen swimming up the channel.

    One lucky chap who kindly donated to the Chesil Beach Little Tern Project in return for a guided tour of Radipole Lake to see bearded tit was rewarded with great views of them and the masses of young about at the moment and walking back from the hide an otter was spotted along the River Wey too! Check out the fantastic pictures below.

    Bearded tit. Photo credit: Jim Lodge

     

    Otter. Photo credit: Jim Lodge

      

     

    Coming soon! Chesil Beach Little Tern Project Blog

    Up coming events

    Fridays in July

    11,18 & 25               Bat Walks at Radipole Lake                                                      9-11 pm

     

    Everyone knows us for our birds but Radipole has a healthy bat population too. Join us as the night-shift clocks on for a walk and talk to find out more about these fascinating mammals. Bat detecting equipment will be available to borrow and we guarantee no bats in your hair! £6 Non RSPB members, £4 RSPB members, £3 children and WEX members free. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 17 June 2014

    Twos better than one!

    It’s that time of year again when we’re very excited to announce that Marsh Harriers have once again bred at our Weymouth reserves, but this they’ve gone one better... We’ve actually got two pairs!

    Since 2009 we’ve had a male bird which has successfully nested with several different females over the years and in some, managing to bag himself two in same season. At the time that was something we’d never really expected and in fact, joked one year about the possibility of two nests. In recent years we’ve joked about the possibility of two distinct pairs on the Weymouth reserves and earlier this spring we started to realise that this was actually a strong possibility. We’re now very pleased to announce that we’ve not only got two pairs but we’ve got two pairs with chicks! We don’t know how many yet, we’ll have to wait until they fledge which will be another few weeks but very exciting news none the less.

    So why are two pairs better than two nests from the same male? Well, we’ve always been a little worried that our whole Weymouth population replies on one individual male who attracts in females during the late winter and early spring. He’s now at least 7 years old which isn’t particularly old for a harrier but if something was to happen to him we could loose our breeding Marsh Harriers from Radipole and Lodmoor. However, with the appearance of a new male who’s nesting at Radipole, it makes our population much more stable. Our Radipole bird is a younger male so will hopefully stick around for years to come.

    The Radipole birds are real easy to see, the North Hide provides the perfect vantage point to watch these amazing birds. Weekends up until the end of July, we’ll have volunteers stationed at the hide (11am-3pm) to tell visitors about the birds and hopefully show you these impressive predators. See you soon!

    Posted by Luke Phillips

  • 16 June 2014

    Exciting atrofuscus orchid!

    No it’s not the name of Radipole’s new staff band but a rare form of bee orchid which has again been found at Radipole Lake. The so called atrofuscus bee orchid, a dark version without the yellow markings was first spotted in 2010 and has been seen evey year since.

    Atrofuscus bee orchid. Photo credit; Naomi Bailey, RSPB.

    The summer sun is definitely bringing out the colourful butterflies with the lime green brimstone and blue tones of the holly blue floating along. Also whizzing around is the newest recorded dragonfly for Radipole Lake, a scarce chaser. Seen doing a fly past of the Discovery Centre of all things. There are many different damselflies and dragonflies on the wing now so come over and check out their amazing colours and aerial antics.

    Up at North hide a male Garganey has arrived, these ducks are uncommon here but we had one a few weeks ago too, they must like it! Everyone is enjoying the baby bearded tit’s too!

    Over at Lodmoor apparently its ‘like a white throat factory at the moment!’ and what with all the nesting common terns - busy times!  

     

    Upcoming events

    Sat 28                            Herb Walk at Radipole Lake                                       10.30 am–12.30 pm

    A walk with local herbalist Andrew Cowling to find out about the medicinal and healing powers of plants growing on the nature reserve for National Herbal Medicine Week. If wet, there will be a talk held inside the Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre. Cost: £6 non RSPB members, £4 RSPB members. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

Your sightings

Grid reference: SY6780 (+2km)

Long-tailed Duck ()
29 Oct 2014
Bittern ()
29 Oct 2014
Yellow-browed Warbler ()
29 Oct 2014
Cetti's Warbler (1)
28 Oct 2014
Black-tailed Godwit (6)
26 Oct 2014
Mediterranean Gull (2)
26 Oct 2014
Water Rail (1)
26 Oct 2014
Kingfisher (1)
26 Oct 2014
Common Sandpiper (1)
25 Oct 2014
Green Sandpiper (2)
24 Oct 2014

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 50.62230,-2.46648
  • Postcode: DT4 7TZ
  • Grid reference: SY671804
  • Nearest town: Weymouth, Dorset
  • County: Dorset
  • Country: England

Get directions

Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.