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Recent sightings

  • 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 (



    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 (


    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



    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

  • 5 June 2014

    Booming Back

    All had gone quiet on the bittern front at Lodmoor after the initial flurry of booming in March and April. For the last 6 weeks or so the booming had ceased and we had begun to feel a bit unsure of what was going on... only for the booming to come back this week! The fact that no bitterns had been seen since early April leads us to think that this is a new bird and that the other bird did not find that special person in his life. Might this be a NBOTB or New Bittern On The Block. Perhaps a failed breeder from the Somerset levels who took a little flight down south and liked the look of Lodmoor. Sadly its unlikely to breed now but the fact that we have had 2 potential bitterns booming at Lodmoor suggests they like what we are doing with the reserve. One boom closer to bittern babies we hope.

    Bittern. Picture credit: HappySnappy

    Talking of babies the good news for the common terns is that although the colony at Lodmoor is half what it was the birds have settled down to breed and many are now on eggs and awaiting the first babies, fingers crossed for lots of baby terns. Come and watch their aerial antics.

    Common terns at Lodmoor and one very brave/crazy pair of oystercatcher. Picture credit: Toby Branston

    A rare bird for the UK, Temminck’s stint turned up at Lodmoor recently, a tiny wader with beautiful markings. These birds breed in the arctic during June and are on passage from Africa. The last record for Weymouth was over 10 years ago.

    Over at Radipole Lake their is even more baby news, with baby bearded tit’s being seen around the nature reserve especially on the discovery trail, looks like a very successful breeding year and a great chance to see them. As you wander around the trails enjoy all the colourful flowers and look out for flowering bee orchids along both Radipole Lake and Lodmoor nature trails. Flowers don’t come much better than these gorgeous creations.

    Bee Orchid. Picture credit: Toby Branston

    Upcoming Events

    Thurs 12         Discover Radipole Walk                                                               10 am–12 noon

    This friendly walk is suitable for those who wish to find out more about our beautiful    nature reserve in the heart of Weymouth and how the RSPB looks after it. Free binocular hire included. Free – no booking required. Info: 01305 778313.  


    Fri 13             Nightjar Walk at Hardy Monument                                             9.30-11.30 pm

    Many people have heard the eerie sound of the nightjars call without even realising it. It is one of the most commonly used sound-effects in the film industry. Why not join the RSPB for a summer evening walk at Hardy Monument where these weird and wonderful birds breed. If we find them its a sound that you’ll never forget. Meet at Dorset County Council car park just below Hardy Monument. £6 Non RSPB members, £4 RSPB members, £3 children and WEX members Free. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 22 May 2014

    Terns Return!


    After an anxious wait 30 common terns have returned to Lodmoor recently on the tern islands but are having difficulty settling. These graceful white birds with black caps arrived in the UK from South and West Africa, a reminder that summer is on its way. Its fantastic watching them diving into the water to catch small fish and insects from the waters surface. Interestingly there is a lone arctic tern with them again and we are pretty sure it’s the same one as has been hanging out with them for the last 4-5 years. Lets hope that they do settle down and nest successfully this year.

    Common tern. Photo credit: Allan Neilson


    On the marsh harrier front there are nests on both Radipole and Lodmoor again which is superb but its the males which are causing the wow factor at the moment with their aerial battles and territorial disputes. Come and see the excitement!


    Upcoming Events

    Mon 26 May        Reptile Day at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre                   10 am–3 pm

    Dorset is the best county in the UK for reptiles; you can find all 6 of our native reptiles within its borders. Can you name them all? Join us at Radipole Lake to learn about the scaly side of the reserve. There will be regular show and tells throughout the day, on the hour every hour (first at 11am and the last at 3pm). Free – no booking required. Info: 01305 778313.

    Fri 13 June       Nightjar Walk at Hardy Monument                                            9.30-11.30 pm

    Many people have heard the eerie sound of the nightjars call without even realising it. It is one of the most commonly used sound-effects in the film industry. Why not join the RSPB for a summer evening walk at Hardy Monument where these weird and wonderful birds breed. If we find them its a sound that you’ll never forget. Meet at Dorset County Council car park just below Hardy Monument. £6 Non RSPB members, £4 RSPB members, £3 children and WEX members Free. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

Your sightings

Grid reference: SY6780 (+2km)

Wryneck (1)
19 Sep 2014
Marsh Harrier (1)
20 Sep 2014
Water Rail (6)
20 Sep 2014
Kingfisher (1)
20 Sep 2014
Bearded Tit (20)
20 Sep 2014
Cetti's Warbler ()
20 Sep 2014
Ruff (1)
20 Sep 2014
Spoonbill (2)
19 Sep 2014
Black-tailed Godwit (6)
19 Sep 2014
Common Sandpiper (1)
19 Sep 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.