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Recent sightings

  • 3 April 2014

    One swallow doesn’t make a summer...

     but actually we have had a steady stream of swallows skimming across the skies of Radipole heading for unknown destinations across the UK. It never ceases to amaze me of the incredible journey these small birds take from the heat of South Africa to the temperate climes of Britain to breed. Swallow. Photo credit: Chris Gomerall (

    This spring we are also playing host to 15 or so shovelers who are extending their winter break into spring. These ducks have fantastic spatula shaped beaks that they use at the surface of the water to filter small insects and plants. As usual the males get all the colourful feathers with dark green heads, white breasts and chestnut flanks while the females are beautifully mottled brown. They are a key bird for Radipole Lake and it is great news that we have such good numbers at this time of year.

    The first cuckoo flower also known as ladies smock are out along the paths for those of you eagle eyed enough to spot their pale pink flowers amongst the green mass of spring growth.

    Over at Lodmoor the bitterns continue to boom and marsh harriers at Radipole continue to entertain everyone. What a great time of year.

    Upcoming events

    5 – 21   April                Easter Fun at Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre                 10 am–3 pm

    During the Easter holiday there will be crafts, pond dipping and other activities at the centre. Free family fun for all ages. Come along any day to take part. Free – no booking required.


    Thurs 10 April             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.


    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.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 27 March 2014

    Booming bittern!

    The hugely exciting news from our Lodmoor nature reserve is that we have a booming bittern. The crazy deep sound like someone blowing over the top of a bottle has been heard for over a week, coming from the reeds. Bitterns are shy herons and males ‘boom’ like this to attract females. We have had bitterns booming in the past but never for this length of time so we are hoping that they will breed.

    We have worked hard to get the reed bed into a healthy state at both Radipole Lake and Lodmoor including creating more ditches and open water and at Lodmoor installing an eel pass to allow eels into the waterways which happen to be to bitterns what chocolate is to humans.

    Bitterns are beautifully marked with brown and black streaky feathers, making them blend into the reeds superbly. Photo credit: RSPB


    Bitterns were nearing extinction in Britain 20 years ago, when only 11 pairs were recorded by the RSPB in England.  Since then, thanks to conservation projects in areas like the Avalon Marshes, the bittern has made a remarkable come-back and it would be wonderful if Lodmoor and Radipole Lake could play a part in the recovery success story of the bittern.

    Lodmoor has also been on the flight path of our migrating birds with swallow, osprey and wheatear passing through this week. Might be a good time to get down to Lodmoor!

    At Radipole Lake its all about the Marsh with Marsh harriers showing well in the skies and Marsh marigolds also known as Kingcup like yellow gold out in flower on the path up to the north hide amongst the reeds. They cheer up the dullest day.


    Marsh marigold in flower. Photo credit: Naomi Bailey


    Upcoming events

    Sun 30 March       Mother’s day special offer

    A half price cream tea for all Mother’s today.

    Come and relax in the Discovery Centre, or take a walk around the nature reserve. Today only we will be giving all Mums a half price cream tea!

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 17 March 2014

    Birds without borders

    Spring is here you can feel it and see it all around you, comma butterflies on the wing and a stoat seen slinking through the reeds. Radipole Lake has been busy the last few weeks with birds arriving, nesting, passing through on migration and even taking a little holiday for a while elsewhere.

    Latest arrivals are the buff and pale yellow coloured chiffchaffs who sing their name over and over again, (just in case we forget who they are!) some over winter but many migrate and so at this time of year their numbers swell, meaning you are never far from a chiffchaff. Chiffchaff photo credit: RSPB

    Also seen passing through Radipole Lake on migration from Africa are the wonderful sand martins, flying high in the air with white bellies and brown wings on their way to their breeding grounds across Britain. Will our specially constructed sand martin wall tempt them to stop here and breed this year?  

     Nesting already are the Marsh harriers who have been seen carrying twigs and reeds this week which they will build into a mound for nesting on. We will keep you posted as to how they get on.

    Bird in residence, the Hooded Merganser left us for a months holiday only returning last week. We still do not know where he went! Do let us know if you saw him on his travels. Hooded merganser Photo credit: RSPB


    Find out more about our National Campaign: Birds Without Borders and how it is helping migrant birds:


    Upcoming Event

    Sat 22 & Sun 23 March   Strictly Grebe Dancing   10.30 am-3 pm

    If you’ve never seen a pair of Great Crested Grebes doing their courtship display, you don’t know what you’re missing. It is simply delightful. They shake their heads in sync and dance round and round. Just come on down this weekend and see for yourself! We will have friendly guides on hand during the weekend and viewing telescopes around the reserve. There will also be Grebe themed activities and a nature trail for children to follow. Free – no booking required.

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 14 March 2014

    Making a home for kingfishers

    Its turning into an exciting week at Radipole Lake nature reserve. After the team carried out a clear up of the earth bank by the north hide removing vegetation, extending and compacting it, they were rewarded for their hard work by the arrival of a pair of kingfishers just the next day! They have set to excavating it with their beaks to make a nest, which is fantastic. This is really welcome news as since they first nested here in 2011 they have not breed. In 2012 they were flooded out and did not attempt last year so we have everything crossed this year will be a success for them.

    Kingfisher on perch. (

    Oh yes and when you are not staring at an earth bank don’t forgot to watch the skies for the Sky dancing marsh harriers who are getting into spirit of this warm spring weather by performing some fabulous tricks tumbling down through the air at great speed and only pulling up at the last minute, all to impress the girls of course. This warm weather brought out those colourful butterflies too with small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock and brimstone all floating around Radipole Lake.

    Brimstone male butterflies are a wonderful yellow/green colour and look like leaves with their angular shape and veining which makes for great camouflage when they settle on plants. Photo credit: Lyn Pullen


    At Lodmoor 3/4 spoonbills are still an impressive sight.

    Its too late to make a home for nature where you live visit::

    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 6 March 2014

    Getting you closer to wildlife

    You can now get much closer to wildlife at the Weymouth Discovery Centre due to the arrival of a new high powered electronic microscope linked to a large digital screen. Its hugely popular with visitors looking at items from the nature table, under it and will be great for close up views of pond dipping finds later this spring. So come over and have a go, simple things like feathers are transformed when you see them magnified.

    Its not just nature finds that we are getting closer to but we also have a new wildlife camera in the reed bed overlooking the island which you can control from the Discovery Centre, pan tilt and zoom are at your fingertips! What fantastic wildlife will you see at close quarters?

    This week marsh harriers have been very active over the skies of Radipole Lake and it probably will not be long before they start their spectacular aerial displays. A very unusual bird for Radipole Lake turned up this week, a red legged partridge. Normally a farmland bird perhaps it needed a change of seen! Red legged partridge photo credit Andy Hay (


     The iconic spoonbill is also in residence at Lodmoor with 4 birds there at the moment.

    Upcoming event

    Fridays 7, 14 & 21 March        

    Prams, Pushchairs & Toddlers     10.30 am-12 noon
    Calling all mummies, dads and grandparents! Try something different and join us for a short stroll around the nature reserve and then back to the Discovery Centre for a chat in the relaxed atmosphere with perhaps a hot drink and a cake. A great way to meet new people or tell your friends and come along together! Free (food and drink to be purchased separately)


    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 27 February 2014

    Last days of Winter & first signs of Spring

    Winter visitors, bittern and marsh harrier are still with us and we are hoping that they are enjoying their stay at Radipole so much that they might even stop for the spring/summer and breed. Wouldn’t that be great! At the moment two bitterns have been lurking in the reeds up by the north hide. So if you head up there and with a little luck and patience you may see one. Will this be the year they breed? Other winter visitors who we are fairly sure will stop and breed again are the magnificent marsh harriers. Two birds have been staying over the winter and have just been joined by a new bird.

    An unusual sighting was a second glaucous gull arriving in as many weeks. These huge pale gulls are arctic visitors to our shores and only a hundred or so make landfall in the UK each winter so its exciting to see these scarce birds.

    Stop press our very own Luke Phillips took these stunning pictures this morning of another glaucous gull enjoying the balmy weather in Weymouth, on their journey back to the Arctic.


    Signs that spring is on its way are the first spring flowers along the paths and the wonderful colourful peacock butterfly. We have also had great views of the secretive stoat, spring tends to make them bolder as males search high and low for that perfect female partner.

    Peacock butterfly by Grahame Madge (


    Upcoming Event

    Accessible Walk at Radipole Lake nature reserve

    Thursday 6 March 11am  Free event

    Radipole Lake is one of the most accessible nature reserves in the country. If you find you are usually unable to take part in guided walks because you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, then this walk is especially for you! We will go at a pace that suits all. Accessible toilet onsite and there is pay and display parking right outside the centre.



    Posted by Emma Foulger

  • 3 February 2014

    Recent Sightings

    This week has seen very changeable weather and with it varying numbers of people wandering around the reserve. Sightings have been fairly predictable with a couple of little surprises thrown in. Bittern is still being seen most days though generally very briefly in flight. Buddleia Loop still seems to be the best place to hang around in the hope of a sighting although on a day like today you’d be better off looking from the Discovery Centre window with a hot cup of coffee in hand. If a Bittern doesn’t appear for you at least you’ll probably see the almost resident Water Rail that’s often wandering around the reeds. In fact, as I type, four people are watching it from the window!! Also, our Tufted Duck flock has taken to spending most of their time in front of the centre window. Up to 80 have been around most days and it’s quite a sight.

    Bearded Tits have been elusive but occasional and yesterday evening a Siberian Chiffchaff was up near the hide with a few other Chiffchaffs. Hopefully that one will reappear at some point.

    This afternoon two lucky visitors were treated to good views of an Otter from the bridge on the way to North Hide. North Hide itself has been a little quiet but up to three Marsh Harriers are about most days.

    Also just a quick mention about a talk being held at the centre Wednesday evening. The title, ‘There’s no such thing as a Seagull’ implies that there’s more to these birds which don’t have the best of reputations. There’ll be a bit about the different species plus plenty of stories about their surprisingly interesting lives. It starts 7pm and there’s a small charge. Might see you there!

    Posted by Luke Phillips

  • 23 January 2014

    Bittern are back!

    After a very slow start to 2014, at least one Bittern is now being seen at Radipole Lake. However, Lodmoor doesn’t appear to have a resident Bittern this winter so far. This is almost certainly down to the rather mild temperatures we’ve been experiencing so far this year. Bitterns migrate to the UK to escape the cold weather on the continent but perhaps they haven’t made the journey yet as the real cold weather hasn’t really happened. Other Dorset Bittern hotspots such as hatch pond in Poole have yet to get any Bitterns. Things might change in the next few weeks if the weathers going to change.

    Back at Radipole the Bittern hasn’t exactly been showy but at least on Tuesday it wasn’t too tricky to see. Lots of people managed some brilliant photos, some of which are in our Gallery. Me on the other hand only managed one shot of it as it flew off up the reserve.


    Not bad but could do better....

    Also just a quick note to say that we had three male Marsh Harriers at Radipole yesterday! They put on quite a show at the North Hide for a few lucky visitors!

    Posted by Luke Phillips

  • 18 January 2014

    Sightings and flood water situation

    Just a quick blog to update you on a few recent sightings and to put everyone’s minds at rest with regards to water levels and flooding. I’ll start with flooding which thankfully has been minimal. The reserve is effectively a flood plain so it’s not surprising that the meadows have been underwater for sometime. The ducks and herons are really enjoying their somewhat larger lake at the moment. North Hide has been closed periodically due to the approaching boardwalk being underwater. If your planning a visit and want to know the latest on the North Hide give us a ring at the Discovery Centre on 01305 778313.

    Sightings have been somewhat hampered by the high water levels combined with the unseasonal mild weather. Duck numbers are down but the variety is still here. Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard, Teal, Shelduck and Tufted Duck are all about but just lower numbers than normal. Tomorrow we have the monthly wetlands bird survey so it will be interesting to see how the numbers vary compared to last year. Bittern finally showed itself yesterday which is the first definite sighting this side of Christmas, one showed a couple of times yesterday around the buddleia loop. Marsh Harriers have also been regular both at Radipole and Lodmoor, though Lodmoors in a similar position as Radipole with regards to everything else.

    The most exciting thing this week was an Otter that swam right past the Discovery Centre window yesterday morning!! Will be nice if Otters start to make a more regular appearance. This could be a start!

    Posted by Luke Phillips

Your sightings

Grid reference: SY6780 (+2km)

Red-rumped Swallow ()
8 Apr 2014
Avocet (2)
16 Apr 2014
Little Ringed Plover (1)
16 Apr 2014
Whimbrel (1)
16 Apr 2014
Bar-tailed Godwit (5)
16 Apr 2014
Cetti's Warbler (8)
16 Apr 2014
Singing/breeding calls heard
Iceland Gull ()
16 Apr 2014
Common Sandpiper (2)
14 Apr 2014
Wheatear (1)
14 Apr 2014
Water Rail (1)
12 Apr 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.