Radipole Lake

Weymouth Wetlands

Weymouth Wetlands
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Radipole Lake

  • April 2018 RSPB Radipole Lake Update

    The Radipole Lake Big Spring Clean (aka Litter Pick)

    Saturday 24th March saw a gathering of around 30 local volunteers to give the Radipole Lake Drive a long overdue spring clean of all the rubbish and litter which had accumulated alongside the road and edge of the lake. The volunteers first gathered in the car park for a preliminary chat and health and safety briefing by Dan Bartlett, Visitor Experience Officer. Equipment and bin bags were distributed and the volunteers got stuck into the wet and sometimes muddy task in hand with great determination and enthusiasm.

    Dan addresses the volunteer crowd Volunteers litter picking

    A substantial amount of the litter gathered was food and drink related, with bottles, cans, wrappings from confectionery/sandwiches and takeaway tea/coffee plastic cups. Many of these items had accumulated by the fishing /viewing platforms and made the area very unsightly. 

     Food and drink packaging in the marshOne of many bags of litter

    Our volunteers were willing to wade in up to their knees getting as much litter out of the lake as possible and make it a much cleaner, safer and pleasanter for our wildlife and for visitors to enjoy.  Larger items such as tyres, picnic tables, gas canisters, road signs and bollards were also pulled out.

    Willing to wade inTyres were hauled out

    After three hours of labour intensive litter picking, the fruits of the volunteers labours was gathered together in a parking space in the car park. Over 70 bags of litter were piled up while Dan looks on proud of all our volunteers efforts. The entire length of the road was cleared and looking a much better place.  A special mention here for our newish roving reserve guides;  Colin Grant, Kei Little, Neil Bowler and Carlo.

    70 bags of litter 70 bags of litter

    After a successful morning's hard work and efforts, our volunteers were duly rewarded with a free hot drink in the warm welcoming Discovery Centre.

    Volunteers enjoying a hot drink in the CentreVolunteers enjoying a hot drink in the Centre

    The RSPB are hoping to run a similar event early next year.  If you have the time and would like to do more litter picking throughout the year, you would be very welcome.  Contact the Discovery Centre, details below.

    The RSPB would like to sincerely thank everyone who donated their time and effort to this event:

    • Radipole Lake RSPB Volunteers
    • Friends of Radipole Park and Gardens
    • Dog Friendly Weymouth

    Photo Credit: All litter pick photos by Martin Jones-Gill, RSPB Volunteer

    March at RSPB Lodmoor - Conservation Work

    Dave Morphew, RSPB Estate Volunteer writes: So that’s official, it’s no longer winter and while it’s sunny as I write this, I’m not entirely convinced the weather forecast will back up my claim. But so far as the RSPB Estates Team are concerned winter ends when April begins and we can’t cut any more scrub until the birds have finished nesting. In fact the tree felling season has already ended but that’s another story. So while RSPB Radipole Lake has been having something of a makeover thanks to contractors cleaning out the channels in the reedbeds, the Estates team volunteers have been at Lodmoor for most of March.

    Job number one on the list was to prepare the islands for the return of our Common Tern colony who have been spending the winter somewhere even sunnier than Weymouth. The birds nest on the ground so every year we weed the islands to provide plenty of bare stones for them and brush cut the areas where there is reed on the islands. If you’ve ever tried pulling reed out by hand you’ll know why we use a brush cutter.

    Common Terns

    Photo Credit: Martin Jones-Gill, RSPB Volunteer

    This year we’re trying something new; a fence around one of the islands to see if we can reduce predation by gulls. This is a difficult topic but although the tern population is rising the number of birds fledging isn’t and the gulls have to take a large part of the blame. When gulls fly over the island the terns fly up en-masse to chase them away, but if the gulls are sneaky and fly in low, they can often grab a chick before the birds have time to react. Will it work? Honestly we don’t know, it seems to work at Brownsea and we figured it was worth trying. It probably won’t stop predation but we hope it will make it more difficult.

    The tern fencefrom the inside

    Photo Credit: Dave Morphew, RSPB Estate Volunteer

    Moving on, the Lodmoor paths have had their winter cut . You may remember that scene in Poldark, where Ross was in the meadow with a scythe and his shirt off. It’s just like that apart from two details:

    • Lodmoor is far too cold for shirt off antics
    • We use a mower to do the hard work.

    If you have a garden you’ll know there’s always something that needs doing, so we also knock back the bramble and vegetation that encroaches on the paths every year. This makes access easier and we hope to see more flowering plants which of course will be nectar sources for insects. In fact Brimstone butterflies are already on the wing. This winter we’ve also widened the path that runs from Southdown Avenue back to Overcombe. Most birders don’t venture down there but they’re missing out because it’s the best place on Lodmoor to see Sika deer. And then working on the parts of the reserve that aren't open to the public we’ve been maintaining the paths and bridges that the cattle will use when grazing starts again and clearing more blackthorn scrub on the wet grassland area to the north of the reserve, which of course will make it a better place for wildlife.

    Volunteers work in all weathers

    Photo Credit: Dave Morphew, RSPB Estate Volunteer

    Now all of this work has been done by volunteers with a little help and direction from the RSPB Wardening team. There’s always more to be done so if you have some time on your hands and like the idea of working outdoors we’d love to hear from you. Weymouth.reserves@rspb.org.uk  It’s only fair to warn you that you will get muddy, wet and probably scratched by blackthorn, but on the plus side you’ll be working with a great team, get to know the reserves really well and perhaps learn some new skills. 

    Other Radipole Lake News:

    Our new Visitor Experience Assistant, Emily Dragon, arrived just before the start of the Easter weekend. Emily comes to us having spent a year with the RSPB London team as a volunteer membership recruiter. She has a degree in Marine Zoology, and enjoys scuba-diving and snorkelling. She has worked at a manatee rescue centre in South America, and is with us full-time for at least 6 months. There are two other new faces in the centre. Sally Maslin and Patricia Mailer have also joined the Discovery Centre team.

    Our resident Hooded Merganser appears to have been one of this winters victims, and hasn’t been seen since mid January. Hoodie was 10 years old, so he's not done bad for a wild duck.

    Hooded Merganser

    Photo Credit: Martin Jones-Gill, RSPB Volunteer

    New spring migrant arrivals this month include: Willow Warblers, Reed Warblers, Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins.  An Osprey was seen on Thursday 12th April.  Over on Lodmoor this week, Grasshopper Warbler, Wood Warbler, Redstart and the first Cuckoo of the spring calling.

    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



  • March 2018 RSPB Radipole Lake Spring Update

    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.

    Black Tailed Godwits

    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

    Hairy Bittercress

    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.

    Radipole Lake Discovery Centre ViewRiverside View Winter Management

    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.

    Lodmoor Tern Islands

    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



  • March 2018 RSPB Radipole Lake Update

    The two top subjects of discussion this month - the weather and the Ross's Gull! The arctic weather conditions brought in some interesting species to Radipole including Dunlin, Fieldfares and Avocets. The icy view from the Discovery Centre picture window below.

    An Arctic Radipole Lake

    Ross's Gull

    The Ross's Gull, the third record for Dorset, which first appeared on 21st February stayed around Radipole for two weeks.  The gull is named after the great British Arctic explorer James Clark Ross. The breeding grounds are mainly in remote areas of northern Siberia, a long way from human habitation.  In the non breeding season the gull lives among the pack ice and coastlines in the Arctic.

    Ross's Gull

    Photo Credit: Wawlee

    The Ross's Gull is similar in size to the Little Gull but the wings are larger, longer and more pointed, the tail has a distinctive wedge or diamond shape and the legs are red. The juveniles take two years to attain full adult plumage.

    Ross's Gull Birdwatchers

    The Ross's Gull was certainly a popular fella, with many enthusiasts watching and waiting around the Discovery Centre.


    RSPB Volunteer, Martin Hill-Jones took these lovely snaps of Avocets feeding and in flight over at Lodmoor.  A total of 10 Avocets were counted.


    Avocets in flight

    Photo Credit: Martin Gill-Jones

    Waterways at RSPB Radipole Lake

    We have been busy on the reserve re-establishing the channels and pools that create a diverse array of habitats throughout the reed bed at Radipole Lake. Our wildlife will benefit in a myriad of ways thanks to this work. The channels and waterways act as a highway through the reed bed, allowing everything from otters to invertebrates a way to move through the reed to find food, breed and escape predation.

    One of our bird species, the Water Rail (below) breeds in the reed beds and builds its nest just above the water level from whatever plant material is available nearby.

                                                                                                            Photo credit: Mark Wright @markwright12002

    The edge habitat created as a result of the ditches being dug out, will also have great botanical value, allowing fenland flora to flourish and providing a nectar source for many invertebrates throughout the summer. The work also has the added bonus of providing a window into the secretive world of Reedbed wildlife. 

    The Radipole Lake Litter Pick

    We are also having a litter pick work party along Radipole Park Drive, a lot of rubbish was exposed when we cut back the scrub so we are having a bit of a tidy up. If anyone is interested in coming along we will be running it 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm on Saturday 24th March.  Meet at the Discovery Centre.

    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