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I have not previously blogged about the Golden Dock as it tends to appear in the conservation areas which are not accessible to the public. Not this year! I am pleased to report the Golden Dock has appeared in very public part of the reserve right next door to the Discovery Centre and under the noses of the DC staff!
This a Dorset Rarity. It has long been known at what was it's only site over at Lodmoor. In 2009 a further 50 plants were discovered at Overcombe when several members of the Dorset Group and myself surveyed the area.
In the winter of 2007 the ditches at Radipole were cleared. In August of 2008 our former Site Manager, Nick Tomlinson, found some plants at the edges of one of the ditches that had been cleared. This was the first time the Golden Dock had been recorded at Radipole since 1960. More plants were subsequently found on ground which had been disturbed during the restoration of the North End of the reserve. The RSPB are the custodians of the only sites in Dorset where this scarce dock appears.
Last year I was delighted to discover the Golden Dock on the island in front of the Discovery Centre while I was looking through the telescope. It was September and the Dock has turned bright gold as its seed heads had ripened making it easy to spot. Today I again look through the telescope looking for signs of its presence but none were obvious. While Danny was filling up the tea machine, I thought I would have a look at the reed bed by the patio as I hadn't looked lately. I discovered a plant right next to the wall! After a Radipole cuppa, Danny found me a step ladder and some wellies and I went over the top and surveyed the area. I counted 30 plants. If you look over the wall of the patio you can see several plants. There are some very good specimens next to the DC. Ask the DC staff who will be pleased to show you
Other plants I found were the Celery Leaved Buttercup which likes marshy areas and the Marsh Yellowcress which favours areas which dry out.
Water Chickweed also favours marshy ground while the Redhank, also known as Redleg, likes bare ground and mud. I have noticed in the past the Golden Dock and Redshank are often seen in the same location suggesting they prefer the same conditions.
It was nice to find a large clump of the Common Orache which prefers bare disturbed ground.
If you require further information, please contact the Discovery Centre on 01305 778313.
Posted by Angelica
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.
The Lodmoor Marsh Harriers were joined by 3 fledglings around 20th June, and then a 4th youngster in the first week of July. Marsh Harriers also nest at Radipole and 2 fledglings were see from the North Hide on 6th July. A Bittern was at Lodmoor on 21st June.
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. A Great Crested Grebe juvenile 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, Gadwall and Pochard may be seen on both reserves.
The Common Tern chicks at Lodmoor have suffered from Herring Gull predation this year, with only 3 chicks left on one of the main islands on 9th July. A few of the adults are attempting second broods.
Other recent sightings include Cetti’s Warbler (which are everywhere) Hobby, Mediterranean Gull numbers are building back up and the Hooded Merganser is still around but looking very scruffy as he is in eclipse plumage.
An Otter was seen twice on June 12th. Bat species at Radipole include Pipisterelle, Noctule, Serotine and Daubenton’s Bats, most of which are being seen on our regular Bat Walks. Ask staff for more details. Water Vole sightings are on the increase too.
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 Radipole Survey Team. The spiders were also discovered on 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 Bee Orchids, including the nationally rare Atrofuscus Brown Bee Orchid. See staff or the Radipole Map in the DC for locations. Southern Marsh Orchids are going over now, and Pyramidal Orchids are coming into flower.
The Pyramidal Orchids are now in flower here at Radipole Lake. I counted twenty plants on my walk this morning and I am sure more will appear in the next week or two. They can easily be seen after the kingfisher gate, about 50 paces on the left hand side of the path on the way down to the North Hide.
Elsewhere on the reserve, the hedgerows are beginning to change to the yellow and pinks of summer wild flowers. The Greater Willowherb is starting to bloom in the wetter parts of the reserve. This plant can grow up to 1.8 m tall. Near the Pyramidal Orchids is a stand of Perforate St John's Wort with its large yellow flowers.
Over at the Discovery Centre there were two Little Egrets on the island and five Grey Herons nearby. Over at the North Hide, the Marsh Harriers, Peregrine, Kestrel and Hobby have been seen. The Bearded Tits have been seen by the Discovery Centre more frequently in recent days.
The Brown Bee Orchid is still attracting visitors on the reserve. The very last flowers at the top of the spike are now in bloom. The photos below were taken this morning.
Join us for a guided mini beast hunt followed by a bring your own picnic by the lake. Suitable for children of all ages, accompanied by an adult. at 11:30am Thursday; 28th July, 4th,11th and 18th August.
Booking essential - cost £3 per child or £e per child if RSPB member
Contact Lindsey on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01305 778313 to book.
I went out on the reserve this afternoon to check on the progress of the first Brown Bee Orchid to make its appearance this year. Another flower was in bloom. The plant had clearly had many visitors since I first found it as the area had been trampled and some 'gardening' had taken place. I searched the hedgerow counting the Bee Orchids and found the second Brown Bee only six feet (1.8 metres) away from the first.
In the vicinity of the Brown Bee Orchids I found five more typical Bee Orchids. Photos I took this afternoon of a couple of the best specimens are below:
Elsewhere on the reserve spring is giving way to summer. The honeysuckle and meadowsweet are starting to bloom in the hedgerows. I like to take the time to stop for a moment, smell and enjoy the deliciously scented flowers.
On the way to the office to write this very blog I found a Common Broomrape Orobanche minoron on the edge of the car park near the Discovery Centre. I had been looking for this plant on the reserve these past couple of weeks, so I was very pleased to find one. The Common Broomrape is a parasitic plant which does not have any chlorophyll. The stems are normally brown, the flowers have a papery-look and are lilac veined. Broomrape needs a host plant to survive and obtain the nutrients it requires to grow. The preferred hosts in this case is the red clover but the plants have been known to use members of the pea family as hosts.
For locations of the Bee Orchids and the Common Broomrape, pop into the Discovery Centre or phone on 01305 778313. You can be sure of a warm welcome. With a heat wave predicted next week, the Centre will have ice cream and cool drinks available.
This morning when I visited the Discovery Centre there had been reports of typical Bee Orchids around the reserve but none as yet of the Brown Bee Orchid. I am pleased to report that I did found our Brown Bee Orchid on my wildflower wander. The photos below were taken this afternoon. There are currently two flowers with more to come. I will be coming back next week to check on its flowers. So far I have only found one plant but there could be more. In the past two or three have been recorded. Contact the Discovery Centre for further information and for the location on the reserve.
Below are photos of other Bee Orchids on the reserve. The photo on the left does not qualify as a Brown Bee but some of the yellow makings are missing. The photo on the right is the typical Bee Orchid. All together I found 9 Bee Orchids around the reserve.
Other sightings today include 29 Southern Marsh Orchids with two near the viewing shelter. In the hedgerows there is now Hedge Woundwort which can be mistaken for an orchid but is in fact a member of the Lamiaceae, the Dead-Nettle family.
Butterflies seen today include Holly Blue, which stayed long enough for me to take the photo below, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood butterflies. A Scarlet Tiger Moth was also seen but did not want to settle for a photo shoot.
It has been warm and sunny on Radipole though it did cloud over for a while in the afternoon. The Purple Heron over at Lodmoor has now moved on but today three Little Egrets came to visit. They were joined by Grey Herons and Black tailed Godwits. The Marsh Harrier was seen from the North Hide.
The orchid season has definitely begun with an Southern March Orchid count of 16. I'm sure there will be more as the season progresses. Pop in or contact the Discovery Centre for the locations. I did not see any Bee Orchids on my wander I'm sure it won't be long before the first sighting is reported.
Elsewhere on the reserve the hedgerows have a distinct yellow hue at the moment. There is an abundance of yellow irises this year making welcome splash of colour. In the hedgerows is Meadow Vetchling along with Creeping and Meadow Buttercups. I also saw Bulbous Buttercups and Wild Parsnip in bloom.
On the ground was the yellow flowers of Creeping Cinquefoil and Silverweed. Both plants are the species Potentilla which is in the Rosaceae (Rose) Family and enjoy the grassy wayside habitats on the reserve. Silverweed is our only common yellow flower with silvery pinnate leaves.
Butterfly sightings reported today were the Painted Lady, Holly Blue and Brimstone.
June is traditionally the peak time of year for our bee orchids which appear on both Radipole and Lodmoor. Radipole has become well known for the 'Atrofuscus' or 'Brown Bee', a variety of bee orchid which I first discovered in 2008. (The very first atrofuscus which I discovered is my blog avatar). Below is my account of the discovery of the orchid which appears in Biodiversity News in 2011:
Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) grow in a variety of base rich habitats – grassland, scrub, sand dunes, spoil heaps and roadsides. Though its usual sites are well drained, the orchids can also thrive equally well in damp habitats. Bee Orchids are notorious for being prolific one year on a site and either few or no plants appearing the following year. A key characteristic of the Bee Orchid is the lip, which bears a resemblance to a bee, is a warm rich red-brown colour with golden bands and a golden tip folded underneath.
In 2008 I discovered an unusual Bee Orchid by one of the footpaths at the RSPB’s Weymouth Wetlands, at Radipole Lake. Instead of the typical bee markings on the lip, this plant had a completely plain red-brown lip and the markings were completely absent. In 2009 I counted a record thirty-one Bee Orchid plants on the reserve. This year also saw a second flowering of the ‘Brown Bee’, as it came to be known, on the same site but this time a second plant was found two metres away.
As the markings on this Bee Orchid were so unusual I undertook some research and established that it was a variety called Ophrys apifera var atrofuscus. This variety had first been discovered in Sussex in 2001, although it may have previously occurred in Herefordshire and has also been recorded at a site in Leicestershire. The atrofuscus plant at Radipole Lake is the first record for Dorset and it is Dorset’s only known site.
The ‘Brown Bee’ has flowered again this year with three plants being found in the same location. One plant in particular was spectacular with eight flowers. The ‘Brown Bee’ has flowered now three years in succession and we very much hope to see the plants bloom again in 2011. (End of Article).
The 'Brown Bee' has flowered on Radipole every year since 2008 and has since been found at different locations on the reserve. Mid June is normally the best time see these orchids. We are now on avidly looking for 2015's Brown Bee Orchids. If you see any on Radipole (or discover them on Lodmoor) or would like to know where they are on the reserve, visit the Radipole Lake Discovery Centre or telephone on 01305 778313.
Other orchids to look for on the reserve in June are the Southern Marsh Orchids, Common Spotted Orchids and in July, Pyramidal Orchids. Contact or visit the Discovery Centre for the locations.
Radipole volunteer, Allan Neilson, discovered this spider, Hyposinga heri on one of his surveys at Radipole. Though this species doesn't have a common name, the female spider in Allan's photos has become known as "Harriet". Below is Allan's account of his discovery:
On 28-May-2014 Sara Cookson, Allan Neilson and Jacquie Rayner were nearing the end of a butterfly survey when they saw a very small brightly-coloured spider on Hemp Agrimony near the seat by the path to North Hide. Allan took some photographs, checked his Collins Field Guide and posted them to the Spider Recording Society’s web-forum asking for confirmation of the ID. Experts visited Radipole in in July 2014 and confirmed it was Hyposinga heri; a much more exciting result than he expected.
Despite repeated surveys there, the two previous accepted UK records of H. heri were in 1898 and 1912 at Wicken Fen near Ely, Cambs, and it was on the point of being removed from the British list. It is thought a general drying-out of the Fen led to its extinction there as the species is widespread in damp habitats in Europe.
On 7-May-2015 Sara and Allan found H. heri on Hemlock Water Dropwort by the section of path leading to the gated-bridge: again it was a 3.5-4.5mm long female (photo above). Somehow she had survived the area being repeatedly flooded and the path’s verges run over by tracked-machinery during autumn and winter and then clear-strimmed at the start of spring.
During the Wetland Bird Survey on 17-May-2015 Allan found another female on the track between North and South Reed: this time on Common Comfrey in a lush growth of nettles and about as far from the river as is possible on the reserve.
So 3 sightings of this tiny spider in moderately tall herbs near reeds and water. Where else might it be found on the reserve? And where are the even smaller (2-2.5mm) males?
If you can answer Allan's questions, please do let the Radipole Lake Discovery Centre know, 01305 778313.
Photo Credits and Text: Allan Neilson
Stop Press: Allan has now found H. heri on Lodmoor. In all 18 spiders were counted last Sunday, 24th May. The males are still elusive...
Grid reference: SY6780 (+2km)
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