After the recent cold snaps, winter is starting to lose its grip and signs of spring are starting to emerge over the reserves. On 13th March a Small Tortoiseshell was seen at Radipole and a Brimstone over at Lodmoor. Great Crested Grebes are starting to show signs of their characteristic courtship dancing. On 14th March a Spoonbill put in an appearance at Radipole. A pair of Bitterns, one actually booming were seen over at Lodmoor on 16th March. On Sunday 18th March saw another snowfall which brought in a variety of birds to the reserves. At Radipole: over 400 Redwings, 80 Fieldfares, over 250 Meadow Pipits, 80 Golden Plover, a Little Ringed Plover, a Kingfisher and a Stonechat. Over on Lodmoor: over 300 Redwings, 50 Fieldfares, over 80 Snipe, 18 Black Tailed Godwits and a Bar Tailed Godwit. Down on Weymouth Beach there were over 500 Meadow Pipits, an Iceland Gull and a Sandwich Tern.
Photo Credit: Black Tailed Godwits, Peter Clinch, RSPB Roving Volunteer
The Spoonbill stayed around the reserves for several days and was joined by another on 21st March at Radipole. A Ruff and Mediterranean Gull were also seen. Marsh Harriers have continued to be sighted over the reserves for the past few weeks.
Photo Credit: Spoonbill, Peter Clinch, RSPB Roving Volunteer
Among other signs of spring emerging, blackthorn is finally bursting into bloom. Several Hawthorn trees are greening up with leaves and two trees have flower buds but none flowering yet but it won't be long. A scattering of Lesser Celandine flowers can be seen along the edge of the river on the way to the Viewing Shelter. On one of the bridges a lone Hairy Bittercress plant has made its home between the planks by the fence demonstrating how resilient and resourceful nature can be.
Winter Management at RSPB Radipole Lake
You may have noticed that removed lots of trees, bushes and scrub have been removed from the sides of the paths at Radipole. This is because the reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designated for its freshwater reedbed habitat. If the scrub, bushes and trees are allowed to encroach too much, the reedbed starts to dry out and eventually this valuable habitat and the diverse range of species would be lost. The scrub is removed on a rotational basis so that during the breeding season there are still plenty of areas for birds (e.g. Cetti's Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats and many more) to use the bushes and trees to nest in whilst protecting the reedbed and preventing it from drying out. An added bonus is that by keeping some of the scrub clear, views of the reedbed together with the ditches and pools are opened up allowing our visitors to get much closer to the wonderful wildlife in our lake.
Tern Island Management at Lodmoor
The estates team have also been busy over at Lodmoor putting a fence around one of the tern islands. The aim is to reduce gull predation on the Common Tern chicks this summer.
Photo Credit: Lodmoor Tern Islands, Misha Downton, Discovery Centre Intern
For all the latest sightings, contact Radipole Lake Discovery Centre, details below or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available.
Telephone: 01305 778313