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Large areas of the Arne reserve are managed by grazing which helps keep the vegetation under control to create ideal habitats for wildlife. Much of the Estates Team’s work over the last few weeks has therefore involved making sure that our fences and gates were in good condition before the cattle went out onto their summer grazing land. Miles of fences at Arne, Stoborough and Grange have been checked and, where necessary repaired to reduce the risk of animals escaping. Gates have also been repaired and replaced to make them easier for members of the public, staff and graziers to use.
While the fence repairs have involved battling with gorse and ants, and removing a huge tree that had fallen on the fence at Grange, there have been compensations. For many volunteers it was the first time they had been to Grange to see the curly-haired pigs, and Sand Lizards and Slow Worms were spotted basking along the fence line.
Removing a large tree from the fence line at Grange
At our Radipole and Lodmoor reserves in Weymouth the focus has been on keeping paths clear and cutting back vegetation. At this time of year, especially when the weather has been both warm and wet recently, plants at the side of paths like Hemlock Water Dropwort grow rapidly and can take over if not cut back occasionally. Cutting back some of the taller plants allows more light in for flowers like the beautiful Bee Orchid, as well as making sure our visitors can get past.
At Radipole we have also been keeping the reeds around the visitor centre short in readiness for the planned extension to the patio area where visitors will be able to sit out on sunny days and admire the birds on the lake.
In other Radipole news a very rare spider has been found on the reserve this month. Until one was found last year during a butterfly survey Hyposinga heri had not been recorded in the UK since 1912! Radipole appears to be a nationally important habitat for this species so we will have to watch out for it when planning future work.
Hyposinga heri, photo courtesy of Allan Neilson
There has also been a lot of fence and gate work at Garston Woods but there the aim has been to keep grazing deer out of areas of hazel that were coppiced over the winter and to prevent them becoming trapped in areas where there may not be enough food available. Coppicing is a traditional method of managing woodland by cutting the stems of trees back almost to ground level and allowing them to regrow. This allows more light to reach the woodland floor as well as producing hazel poles we can use to build shelters for events such as our Big Wild Sleepout. As the stems regrow the new shoots make tasty treats for deer. As well as fencing these areas off we have been loosely covering the stumps with twigs to try to foil the hares who also like to nibble on them.
New deer fence at Garston
It is always a pleasure working in Garston, and over the last few weeks we have been able to watch the carpet of flowers on the woodland floor develop, from the appearance of early wood anemones and bluebells to the blooming of orchids and the pungent flowers of Wild Garlic. It has been particularly encouraging to see the flowers taking advantage of the sunlight in the coppiced areas.
On the 11 May a group of staff and volunteers had some reptile survey training in preparation for increasing the surveys we do at Arne. During the course we found Smooth Snakes, Sand Lizards and Slow Worms and hope to find many more over the next few months when we put our training into practice. If you are interested in seeing any of these fascinating creatures for yourself you might like to come along to the Reptile Weekend on 23-24 May at Arne. There are only limited places available for the morning Reptile Rambles but the Show and Tell event each afternoon is open to all. If you can’t make it this weekend there will be a further event in July. See the Events section on the Arne webpage for details.
Posted by RSPB Dorset G
It 's a sunny day here in Radipole and spring has definitely arrived.The reed beds are now alive with the chirping of the cetties and sedge warblers while pochard, gadwall and shelducks are paddling about in front of the Discovery Centre. Today we had two welcome visitors, a redshank on the island and two common terns. There have been sightings of a family of swans, five cygnets in all and a coot family with two chicks. The swallows, house and sand martins have all arrived to spend the summer with us. I've even heard the elusive Bearded Tits today but unfortunately did not see them. A few butterflies were around today mainly cabbage whites and red admirals.
The hedgerows around Radipole are also becoming ablaze with colour. Outside the Discovery Centre and lining the car park are Alexanders, the first of the umbellifer family to flower.
The Cow Parsley is also coming into flower, May being the peak month. The Cow Parsley is accompanied by the white and purple flowers of the Common Comfrey.
The cuckoo flower is dotted about on the damper parts of the reserve. This plant is well know for being the fool plant for the orange tip butterfly. The buttercup family is also coming into flower. The Lesser Celandine with its bright yellow flowers and heart shaped leaves are to be found along the damp paths. The much larger Marsh Marigold is at it's best at this time of year adding a welcome yellow splash to the hedgerow. Yellow irises are also coming into flower.
If you look closely you can see the small purple flowers of the Ground Ivy bordering the paths adding a purple hue among the green leaves and hedgerow cranesbill. The trees are also bursting forth with the white blossom. Some of the hawthorn trees are densely packed with white flowers making the branches look like they are covered in snow.
Just off the reserve near the kingfisher gate is a mini meadow of flax flowers and common cornsalad.
For information on recent sightings of birds and the events on this coming Bank Holiday, please contact the Discovery Centre on 01305 778313.
Posted by Angelica
Monday 25th May from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Reptile Day
Expert handlers will be at the RSPB Radipole Lake, Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre DT4 7TZ providing hourly talks and offering the chance to handle some of the animals. Talks will be on the hour from 11:00 a.m. No need to book for this free event.
Saturday 30th May Binocular and Telescope Day
The RSPB are holding an optics demonstration day between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the Radipole Lake Discovery Centre.
For more details for both these events contact The Discover Centre on 01305 778313.
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)
Posted by RSPB Weymouth W
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.
This weekend on Sat 13 Dec, is the last one of our fantastic binocular and telescope events at Radipole Lake and is your last chance to come along and try out a wide selection of optics, a great present for a loved one or a treat for yourself perhaps. Expert staff will be on hand to help you make the right choice and Radipole Lake is a great place to try optics out with its big picture window and plenty of wildlife to focus on! Drop in anytime between 10 am and 4 pm.
Also on that day is a treat for the little ones as a big red and white bearded fellow puts in an appearance, yes you guessed it, Santa Claus is coming to Radipole Lake! He will be feeding the ducks from noon until 2 pm so come on down and join in all the festive fun.
Its all about birds on mass at the Weymouth nature reserves at the moment with a spectacular 300-400 lapwing over on Lodmoor and hundreds of gulls at Radipole Lake including 150-200 Med Gulls and large numbers of common gulls. Winter is the time when birds flock together and large numbers of birds are an awesome sight whether in flight or settled on the ground.
Winter lapwing flock. Picture credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
The marsh harrier males have also been having a bit of a spat with each other recently with aggressive flight and talon locking while the female looks on.
Up coming events for the New Year 2015
Mon’s 19, 26 Jan Beginner’s Birdwatching Course at Radipole Lake 10 am-12 noon
and 2 Feb Identifying a range of birds and using binoculars correctly are just some of the skills you’ll pick up on this 3 week course. Free but booking essential on 01305 778313.
Its that time of year again and Radipole Lake has a whole host of events lined up with something for everyone from shopping events to crafts to Santa coming to town!
Looking for that perfect present for the wildlife lover in your life or just want to treat yourself why not pop along to Radipole Lake on one of our Binocular and Telescope Demo Days. It’s a great chance to try out a wide range of optics from our panoramic viewing window with expert staff on hand to advise you and help you make the right choices. Date: Sat 13 Dec. Drop in anytime between 10 am- 4 pm.
Binocular and Telescope Demo Days. Picture credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Want to make Christmas extra special this year why not book onto one of our Christmas Cake Decorating mornings with our fantastic cake maker Marion and learn sugarcraft cake decorating techniques. This is your chance to decorate a fantastic Christmas cake to take home and all for £5! Dates are: Fri 5 and Mon 8 Dec. Booking essential on 01305 778313.
Some of last years amazing cakes. Picture credit: Michelle Williams, RSPB
Keeping the children entertained can be tricky during the Christmas holidays especially with all the excitement so why not bring them along to our Christmas crafts for Children drop in sessions from 10 am-3 pm every weekend until Christmas and get them crafting!
And lastly an event not to be missed is our Feed the Ducks with SANTA !! on Sat 13 Dec from 12 noon-2 pm. Ho! Ho! Ho! Yes Santa will be paying us a visit and here is your chance to feed the ducks with him. Fantastic.
If you are just heading over for a wander there is plenty of wildlife to entrance you. Recent highlights include wintering bittern and marsh harriers who have been seen sky dancing which gives strictly come dancing a run for its money. Male and females tumble together down through the air while locking talons and often passing food. Spectacular stuff!!
Marsh harriers sky dancing. Picture credit: Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
The winter work program for wildlife continues at great pace with the creation of a massive (check out the picture!) scrape at the northern end of Radipole Lake for waders. Only completed a couple of weeks ago it has already attracted grey heron, common sandpiper, flocks of black-headed gulls and loafing ducks. The next step is to link the scrape to the public trails and install a viewing area.
Scrape near North hide. Mark Singleton, RSPB
Also seen around the nature reserve in the last few weeks have been fantastic views of bittern, kingfishers, marsh harrier and lots of bearded tits. Extra special comes in the form of a female long-tailed duck in winter plumage which arrived on the 21 October and is still around now. It has been visible from the Discovery Centre window on numerous occasions, how very convenient! While munching on ploughman’s and wonderful cake and sipping coffee its amazing what you see from this huge picture window. Its a great place to watch wildlife on cold wet days and the cake's not bad either!
Long-tailed duck pictures. Luke Phillips, RSPB
Another much rarer visitor has been a white-winged black tern, this young bird seems to have been wandering around the south coast and popped into Radipole briefly before heading off again realising that it should be elsewhere!
Over at Lodmoor people have been enjoying the winter evenings of starling antics as a few thousand flock together and put on an aerial display to rival any air show.
Last week a great bustard was spotted flying over presumably one from the reintroduction programme on Salisbury Plain. People have also been enjoying views of marsh harrier, bittern and bearded tits.
Up coming events
Christmas Crafts for Grown-ups at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre.
Fri 28, 11 am-1 pm
Try your hand at making something to decorate your home this Christmas. £3 per adult. Booking essential on 01305 778313.
Christmas Crafts for Children at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre.
Sat 29 & Sun 30, between 11 am-3 pm
We’ll be using natural materials to make something a
little bit different for Christmas. Free.
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.
Grid reference: SY6780 (+2km)
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