News archive

February 2015

Sunday, 22 February 2015

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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Friday, 13 February 2015

Put your nest box up

Put your nest box up

Birds are already gearing up for the breeding season, so you are encouraged to put up a nest box during National Nest Box Week - 14th to 21st February.

We've already received records of nesting birds, with mallard, moorhen and mistle thrush known to have fledged chicks. Through volunteer-collected data we know that the breeding season in the UK is advancing, with many species of birds laying their eggs up to 30 days earlier than they did in the mid-1960s.

National Nest Box Week, which runs from 14-21 February, encourages people to put up nest boxes, providing the ideal opportunity to contribute to our on-line national breeding success survey, Nest Box Challenge.

Use the link to register your garden and nest boxes and then record what you see throughout the breeding season. All the information provided, even if your nest box is not used, is of value to the scientists at the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology).

Sunday, 1 February 2015

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves, Broadwater Warren and Tudeley Woods.

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves, Broadwater Warren and Tudeley Woods.

Broadwater Warren

Although it doesn't always feel like it at the moment spring is around the corner - birdsong is back! Already great and blue tits along with wrens, robins and blackbirds are filling the air with song on sunny days. Long tailed tits can still be seen in large groups chattering away in tree tops, along with flocks of siskin and small numbers of bullfinch. Listen out for the drumming of woodpeckers too. February and March are great months to spot all three species at all three of our Wealden Reserves, before the leafy canopy obscures them from view. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a rare lesser spotted woodpecker!

Snipe have been spotted a few times over the last couple of weeks, out in the 'wet flush' on the main heath. These wetland birds skulk around pools in search of worms and grubs, probing the ground with their long, slender bills. They are incredibly good at camouflaging themselves against the ground, but if spooked from their hiding spot they will launch into a zigzagging flight known as 'jinking'.

This month also heralds the return of one of our success story species - the woodlark. We're really proud to welcome them back for a third year after our hard work to recreate the ancient heathland landscape. There are already singing males at Broadwater, found high in perch trees, projecting their beautiful song into the air in the hope of attracting the ladies. The real action starts in the next few weeks as they begin to 'parachute' and sing to set up and defend their breeding territory. Woodlarks (along with other heathland birds) make their nests on the ground - one of the main reasons for us asking that all visitors, and especially dogs, stick to the paths so as not to disturb the birds at their most vulnerable.

1st February also brings about the return of our 'Dogs on Leads Season'. From now until September 30th, we'll be insisting that any dogs visiting the reserve be kept on their lead to protect the heathland and woodland wildlife that we're working so hard to preserve. We're looking for volunteers to promote and encourage the responsible use of our nature reserves; reminding people to pick up their dog's poop and keep them on a lead at this sensitive time. A big thank you to those who've already shown their support in this, and those dog owners who have been respecting our nature reserve

Tudeley Woods

The Dartford warbler is still sticking around on the Heathland Ridge in the southern part of Tudeley. To promote the growth of the gorse bushes it needs to survive through winter. Patches of older gorse were cut to break up the age structure and encourage new growth, and the remaining brashy material full of seed pods was gathered up to spread in new areas. Fingers crossed for new shoots in the next few years!

The volunteers have now been working in the woodland areas to the north of the reserve, concentrating on the ride edges. By coppicing the small trees along the paths edges, it keeps wide corridors open for sun loving species to migrate through. Look out for silver-washed fritillaries and beautiful demoiselle damselflies in summer, enjoying the benefits of the ride widening - the masses of woodland flowers that spring up in the cleared patches.

There was a new botany record for Tudeley that was discovered recently: Centunculus minimus or 'chaffweed'. It's a miniscule plant as the Latin suggests, with flowers only 1mm wide! And although it might not look like much, it's on the ICUN Red List of endangered species. We're lucky enough to have this at both Tudeley and Broadwater!

Volunteer Recruitment

We wouldn't achieve vast amounts of our best work without the support and enthusiasm of our fantastic volunteers. From surveying, practical work or administration - volunteers are an integral part of the RSPB and our team here. Over the next few months we're looking to expand our army of regular volunteers, and recruit people to help the RSPB's work in a number of ways through the following roles:

o Visitor Engagement Volunteer - welcoming new visitors to the reserve, engaging with the public, answering questions about the wildlife and the work. Requires a cheerful disposition and an enthusiasm for wildlife. A bit of natural history knowledge would be great too!

o Dog Ambassador - promoting responsible dog walking on the nature reserve, encouraging poop scooping, answering questions, ensuring visitors with dogs know about 'on leads season'. Requires being able to talk to people and a bit of tact. Having your own dog is useful but not essential!

o Species Monitor - contributing to national databases and RSPB records by carrying out targeted surveys for different taxa not currently being monitored, including dragonflies, amphibians, birds, reptiles, fungi and flora. Requires fairly regular dedication and a good grasp of species knowledge and id skills.

o Volunteer Warden - patrolling the reserve, reporting and solving problems, answering question, highlighting issues or needs. Requires the ability to walk long distances and face challenging weather conditions. A personable demeanor and practical capabilities would be preferable too!

Volunteers are desired at all three of our public Wealden Reserves: Broadwater Warren, Tudeley Woods and the lesser mentioned Fore Wood, near Battle. Full training comes with all of these roles, and you would need to register as an RSPB volunteer. If you are interested in any of the above opportunities or would like more information, then please get in contact with the Wealden Team on 01892 752 430.