News archive

August 2014

Friday, 29 August 2014

Hobby chasing dragonflies

Autumn migration

Keep a look out in these winds - you never know what might be passing over. There have been several reports of wryneck in Kent, plus ortolan bunting, melodious warbler and barred warbler. A hobby was seen careering over Tonbridge water meadows this evening and there were swallows going over in groups, feeding low over the fields as they flew south.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves, focussing on Broadwater Warren

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves, focussing on Broadwater Warren

Update from Chloe Ryder, Assistant Warden

A new ecological audit will take place at Broadwater Warren, working with field experts to survey birds, dormice, bats and reptiles, to better understand and assess the impact of our work so far and obtain advice on how to continue.

Two blocks of dense conifer plantation to the west of the main car park will be removed. The work will open up superb views from Broadwater Forest Lane. It will look brown and bleak at first, but as the previously restored areas can attest - it will recover!

As well as the conifer removal, there will be thinning work going on in many areas of woodland which still contain dense conifer plantation. To give our native oaks, hazels and rowans a chance to thrive we need get more light in. This will provide better homes for many of our declining woodland species, like dormouse, lesser spotted woodpecker and marsh tit, all of which are already found on the reserve.

2014 has so far been a super year for wildlife - the best since the RSPB took over the site in 2007 - confirming the restoration of Broadwater is well underway. Woodlark and tree pipit are two heathland birds that have both had terrific success raising young, and nightjar numbers have also increased this year. In fact, we've recently had confirmed breeding success when two nightjar chicks were spotted! Other recent wildlife sightings have included a family of spotted flycatchers, seen in the trees around the brash piles and around the Decoy pond. Grey wagtails have bred on the island in Decoy pond for the first time, yellowhammers can be heard singing from scrub patches and first-time records for whinchat and great grey shrike have been noted. Dormice are well into a highly productive breeding season, butterflies have been seen in abundance in all corners of the reserve and bees and other invertebrates have boomed in number this summer. The heather is now just beginning to come into its own, carpeting the ground in purple blooms, especially over the eastern side where restored heathland is in to its fifth summer.

The results of our visitor surveys are showing that the number and variety of visitors using Broadwater has increased again this year. Families and children are visiting more frequently to enjoy the open space, and wildlife enthusiasts are travelling from far and wide to see the heathland come to life.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me, or the rest of the Wealden Team, we're here to help. We welcome your feedback and encourage you to get in touch if you would like more information.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

RSPB Tonbridge Group Newsletter

Here is our latest newsletter with a variety of articles of local, UK and international interest. We hope you enjoy reading it.

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spotted flycatcher on perch

Broadwater Warren - spotted flycatcher

A monthly survey of Broadwater Warren has produced some exciting news. Spotted flycatchers have successfully bred on the reserve, possibly for the first time. Two adults were seen feeding with at least two juveniles. They probably bred in brash piles. This is very good news as these birds are in decline. According to the BTO there were six times as many spotted flycatchers in the British countryside just thirty years ago. It is thought that a decrease in the annual survival rates of birds in their first year may have driven the decline.

There was also a lot of great spotted and green woodpecker activity, quite a lot of chiffchaff in the bracken, a few willow warblers and a young buzzard calling in the larches.

Friday, 1 August 2014

A fantastic "tern around" in the fortunes of Langstone Harbour's little terns

A fantastic "tern around" in the fortunes of Langstone Harbour's little terns

It's been a record year for the little terns at Langstone Harbour in Hampshire with at least 28 chicks fledging on the RSPB reserve's shingle nesting areas on the Solent.

In the last two years there has only been one chick raised and high tides and food shortages devastated the little terns when the chicks were young and vulnerable. Smaller numbers of adult little terns were returning to Langstone Harbour each year.

Over the last two years RSPB staff have worked hard to build up the shingle spits before the migrating birds returned to the area in the spring from Africa. This helped the little terns' nests survive this year and they did not lose any to the sea. Dwindling fish supplies were also a cause for concern this year but the adults managed to feed themselves adequately and made sure their chicks got a good start in life.

"In 1989 there were 171 pairs of little terns recorded as breeding in Langstone Harbour, a number that has gradually been falling ever since as (mostly human originated) problems beset the colony year after year," said Wez Smith, the warden at RSPB Langstone Harbour. "By 2014 we had reached a low ebb and only 32 pairs of little terns came to the harbour to breed (the third lowest number ever recorded). It's against this backdrop that this year's success can really be appreciated."

Electric fences have kept out foxes who eat little tern chicks and take eggs, and the installation of a camera which is regularly monitored aims to act as a deterrent to anyone considering disturbing the colony.

"The key now is consistently delivering sustainable productivity levels," Wez said. "At present, due to the funding over the last few years and effort of many people, the Langstone Harbour little tern colony is in as good a position to do this as it can be."