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Recent sightings

  • 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

  • 8 May 2014

    Some unusual visitors...

    have been spicing up life at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor this week. It all started with a lonesome garganey which has been hanging out at Radipole Lake during the week. The garganey is the only duck that comes here to spend the summer and is a rare breeding bird in Britain. They are a small duck and the males are distinctive with a large white stripe on their head, they are greyish brown with darker mottling.

    Male garganey, photo credit: JP Walls


    Over on Lodmoor a black-winged stilt has been the main attraction, famous for its stupidly long legs but then they give it the edge enabling it to feed in deeper water than most other wading birds so it doesn’t care. Normally they hang out in saltpans around the Mediterranean but sometimes overshoot their migration from Africa landing on our shores.

    ‘Oh damn gone too far’ Black winged stilt at Lodmoor Photo credit: Luke Phillips, RSPB.



    We have also had reports of a rare gull-billed tern at Lodmoor too. Let us know if you saw it! Like a sandwich tern but with a short, thick all black bill.

    Wader migration is well underway now with bar-tailed godwit, black-tailed godwit, greenshank, common sandpiper, whimbrel and dunlin. Osprey was also seen passing through over Lodmoor.

    On a cute and fluffy note the first of the baby bearded tits have emerged from the reeds so look out for them around the reserve and an adult otter and cub have been spotted too, it’s great to know that they are breeding in the area.

    Baby beardie looks out. Photo credit: Luke Phillips, RSPB.


    Upcoming Events

    Fri 16                           Nightingale Walk at Holworth                                               6.30-8.30 pm

    Have you ever heard a nightingale sing? Not many people know that these shy little birds actually breed here in Dorset. Why not join the RSPB for a summer evening walk along part of the world famous Jurassic Coast, to try and hear one of the most beautiful songs in the bird world. There is a fairly steep hill to climb during the walk. Meet at Holworth National Trust car park above Ringstead village.

    £6 Non RSPB members, £4 RSPB members, £3 children and WEX members Free. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 28 April 2014

    Meet the warblers

    They are arriving in their droves to Radipole’s reed bed and certainly seem to love playing hide and seek in the reeds! Warblers; can they be a bit confusing or what? There are so many different types, they are small with muted colours, not hugely distinctive plumage and they like to hide away in the undergrowth, moving constantly through it. If you like a challenge then warbler watching is for you! Their one saving grace is their distinctive songs, which is sometimes the only way of working out who’s who. Most have attractive songs hence the name warblers and if not attractive then they are at least powerful!

    Two of the most common found in the reeds at Radipole Lake are the reed and sedge warblers. Reed warblers are more uniform in colour than sedge with warm red-brown upper parts and buff white below. Sedge warblers are paler brown above with dark streaks across their back and wings with a white cheek and dark crown and a very distinctive white eye stripe across the side of their head. Sedge warblers have an impatient sounding chatter of harsh and sweet notes in contrast to the reed warblers song which although similar is more relaxed and repetitive.

    Sedge warbler; photo credit: Ben Hall (

    Reed warbler; photo credit: John Bridges (


    Savi’s warbler, heard and not found have been paying us a visit along with grasshopper warbler, so named as they sing a grasshopper sounding song that is too high for many people to hear. It seems the discovery trail is the place to hang out at the moment as Savi’s warbler was heard along there and our lovely otters have been seen during the day time along there as well. Look out for bubbles in the water and that grey streamlined whiskered head.



    Up and coming events

    Sat 3                              Its the Dawn Chorus at Radipole Lake!                                 5 am-7.30 am

    First light is the best time to come and listen to the birds as they wake up and sing. So kick off the duvet, spring out of bed and come and join us on this early morning walk to catch the sounds of the birds as they wake. Finish it all off with a sausage sandwich in the Discovery Centre as a reward for your early start (vegetarian option available). £10 Non RSPB members, £6 RSPB members and children half-price. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Fri 16                           Nightingale Walk at Holworth                                                 6.30-8.30 pm

    Have you ever heard a nightingale sing? Not many people know that these shy little birds actually breed here in Dorset. Why not join the RSPB for a summer evening walk along part of the world famous Jurassic Coast, to try and hear one of the most beautiful songs in the bird world. There is a fairly steep hill to climb during the walk. Meet at Holworth National Trust car park above Ringstead village.£6 Non RSPB members, £4 RSPB members, £3 children and WEX members Free. Booking required on 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 17 April 2014

    The reeds are alive with the sound of bird song

    They really are! All this warm sunny weather always helps to speed up the arrival of migrant birds and at the moment, they can’t get here quickly enough! Sand martins, house martins and swallows are streaming across the skies and the reed beds are filling up with reed and sedge warblers from Africa, to join the already resident Cetti’s warblers and bearded tits. Cetti’s warblers in particular are a bit easier to see at the moment. Don’t worry about going to look for them as they will find you! With their explosive loud call you cannot miss them. They are dark red-brown, whiter beneath with short wings but a full rounded tail. They liked it so much they stayed after breeding here in the UK for the first time in 1973. Cetti’s warbler, photo credit: Chris Gomersall.

    Along the hedgerows the blackthorn flowers are just fading as the hawthorn begins to bloom. At this time of year its easy to tell these two hedgerow friends apart as the blackthorn flowers first then come into leaf and the hawthorn gets its leaf first and then comes into flower usually in time for May day and hence its other name, ‘May.’ Hawthorn in bloom, photo credit: Naomi Bailey



    Marsh harriers are a regular feature of the sky line in Weymouth at the moment, with a fantastic 5 or 6 birds in residence and people have had spectacular views of them in flight, on the path up to the north hide, in fact if you are in the hide you may well miss the action! Harrier antic’s above Weymouth, photo credit: RSPB


    Over on Lodmoor two avocet have also put in an appearance which is unusual for the time of year and we are keeping our fingers crossed for the bitterns!


    Join in the Easter Fun!

    Fri 18 & Sat 19 April    Easter Fun Trail at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre   10 am–3 pm

    See if you can answer all the questions on our trail and win a chocolatey reward.

    50p per child – no booking required. Info: 01305 778313.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

Your sightings

Grid reference: SY6780 (+2km)

Common Sandpiper (6)
28 Jul 2014
Cetti's Warbler ()
28 Jul 2014
Kingfisher (1)
23 Jul 2014
Little Ringed Plover (1)
21 Jul 2014
Water Rail ()
19 Jul 2014
Black Tern (1)
19 Jul 2014
Arctic Tern (1)
19 Jul 2014
Gadwall ()
28 Jul 2014
Shoveler ()
28 Jul 2014
Dunlin (6)
28 Jul 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.