There are three big items of news this month. The first has to be the glorious sunshine and warm temperatures we have been enjoying over the past two to three weeks. The prolonged sunshine means that our reserves are thriving with life and they are looking fantastic and colourful at the moment. A family of Tufted ducklings have been seen on the reserve, along with Mallard ducklings and Canada Geese goslings. Also a record 35 Mute Swan cygnets have been counted around the reserve.
10th Anniversary of the Brown Bee Orchid
The next next news item is that 2018 is the 10th anniversary of the discovery of the Brown Bee Orchid (Ophyrs apifera var. atrofuscus). Radipole Lake has become well known for the 'Atrofuscus' or 'Brown Bee', a variety of Bee Orchid which Naomi Bailey, RSPB Volunteer, first discovered on the reserve back in 2008. (The very first atrofuscus discovered on Radipole Lake is this blog’s avatar). This variety had first been discovered in Sussex in 2001, although it may have previously occurred in Herefordshire and has also been recorded at a site in Leicestershire. The atrofuscus Bee Orchid at Radipole Lake is the first record for Dorset and it is Dorset’s only known site.
The Brown Bee, which the atrofuscus has become affectionately known as, has flowered on Radipole Lake every year since 2008 and has since been found at different locations around the reserve.
On 15th June a 10th Anniversary Orchid Walk was held to celebrate this event. The walk was led by Dan Bartlett, Naomi Bailey and attended by 17 visitors in glorious sunshine weather. Four Brown Bee Orchids have made their appearance this year along with five of the typical Bee Orchids.
This walk also gave visitors the opportunity to see the reserves other orchid species. The next one shown to our visitors was the Pyramidal Orchid on the path near the Kingfisher gate. Normally at their best in late June/early July, five plants were counted with one coming into flower. The Pyramidal Orchid count on 29th June was 22 plants in full bloom. Finally, visitors were shown our most abundant orchid on the reserve, the Southern Marsh Orchid with a count this year of forty-eight plants on the path down to the new Viewing Shelter.
Marsh Harrier Update
The next item of news is the Marsh Harriers. Over on Lodmoor, four juveniles were seen enjoying the summer sunshine. The superb photos below were taken by RSPB Volunteer, Edmund Mackrill. All four of the juveniles can be seen in the first photo, then one of them took off to explore the Common Tern colony.
All Marsh Harrier Photos Copyright: Edmund Mackrill, RSPB Volunteer
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
Spring has well and truly begun start after the cold, wet late start. Thanks to the Estate Team's careful hedgerow management, the paths are now a sea of white froth with Cow Parsley lining the hedgerows and the Hawthorn Blossom. Amongst the white froth are splashes of colour from the purples, pinks and creams of Common Comfrey, also Yellow Iris, Marsh Marigold, Hedgerow Cranesbill, Common Vetch, Ground Ivy, Common Mouse-ear and Red Clover.
During the coming month Estate Team will be out on Buddleia Loop busy widening the path. Our intrepid team will be doing the work by hand around the whole loop. The path widening will make much it easier and clearer for motorized wheelchair users to get around the reserve and enjoy the birds and wildlife.
The sunny weather has brought out a myriad of butterflies making the most of the spring blossom.Up in the Hawthorn branches on the Buddliea Loop a Brown Tail Moth has laid eggs which are now hatching into caterpillars. Look but don't touch as the nest can give you a nasty rash. Portland is another good place to see the nests at the moment.
Butterfly Gallery: Small White, Peacock, Red Admiral, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Brown Tail Moth Caterpillar nest.
Butterfly photo credits: Martin Jones-Gill and Naomi Bailey, RSPB Volunteers.
Our roving volunteer, Martin Jones-Gill was out and about at Lodmoor this morning and took this superb snaps of Whimbrel, Common Terns and a Bullfinch:
At Radipole, Martin managed to snap Great Crested Grebes doing their courtship dance and one of our group of 8 Pochards often seen outside the Discovery Centre window.
Finally a warm welcome to our new fluffy arrivals:
Marsh Harriers - Latest News
One of our specialties, the Marsh Harrier, is frequently being seen around both reserves at the moment. Nest building is underway with birds being seen carrying twigs. There are two nests at Radipole and one at Lodmoor. The females are likely to be sitting on eggs. The signs are good for a successful summer.
April Bird Sightings
The 1st April saw Garganey on Radipole and Lodmoor and the Ruff continues to be seen at Lodmoor. At least one Ruff now overwinters. On 3rd April Spoonbills were seen and House Martins, Swallows and Willow Warblers were starting to arrive along with Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers, steadily increasing in numbers by 7th April over 40 Swallows and over 50 Sand Martins were counted. Common Tern activity on the islands over at Lodmoor was seen as well.
A pair of Oystercatchers were prospecting potential nest sites over at Lodmoor on 10th April. By 11th April the numbers of Willow Warblers had substantially increased, several hundred were counted on Portland, Radipole Lake was alive with their birdsong. A Grasshopper Warbler was seen over at Lodmoor. on 12th April a Cuckoo was seen at Lodmoor and an Osprey at Radipole. The 15th April saw Whimbrels arrive at Lodmoor and a Spoonbill also noted.
The next day a Cattle Egret was on Lodmoor. An Arctic Tern was sighted at Lodmoor on 21st April and was around on the reserve for a few days. Swifts began to arrive on 24th April along with a Great White Egret who visited both reserves. The next day 37 Whimbrels were sighted on Lodmoor. Late at night on 28th April a Tawny Owl was observed flying down Radipole Lake Drive. The first Hobby of the year was also seen.
The 16th April saw an Otter sighting at Radipole Lake. Another one of our specialtieswas seen for the first time this year, Hyposinga heri, a rare spider species affectionately known has 'Harriet'. Butterflies species are now increasing in numbers with Brimstone, Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Comma, Orange Tip, Speckled White and Speckled Wood being seen fluttering around the hedgerows on both reserves on our sunnier days.
Little Tern Wardens Requested
If you would like to help look after the Little Terns on Chesil Beach during the nesting and fledging season and have some spare time during the summer from late May to the end of July, please come along to the volunteer pre-season meeting which is being held at the Chesil Beach Centre on Thursday 10th May at 7pm. Contact Scarlett, RSPB Little Tern Project Officer at Scarlett.Hutchin@rspb.org.uk or on 07590 441414 for further details.
Finally check out the Marsh Marigolds along the path to the New Viewing Shelter, they are looking spectacular this year.
For the latest sightings, contact Radipole Lake Discovery Centre, details below or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available.