News archive

September 2015

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Birds on the Move

The autumn migration is now in full swing... A grey phalarope was seen at Bough Beech last Tuesday and the Dungeness Bird Observatory yesterday reported a nice little arrival of migrants with 80 chiffchaffs, ten blackcaps, 20 whitethroats, a spotted flycatcher, 20 robins, a redstart and 12 wheatears on the ground and overhead passage including 3000 swallows, 1500 house martins, 30 yellow wagtails, six grey wagtails, three tree pipits, 250 meadow pipits, 300 siskins, two redpolls and eight reed buntings.

On Friday the wryneck was seen again at the Observatory along with three firecrests, 20 chiffchaffs, a sedge warbler, two spotted flycatcher, ten wheatears and six whinchats. There was another large movement of birds overhead in the miserable weather with a hobby, 5000 swallows, 150 house martins, nine grey wagtails, 62 yellow wagtails, nine tree pipits, two rock pipits and 150 siskins.

Why not get out and see what you can find.

Sunday, 6 September 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.

Birdlife highlights last month include hobbies and crossbills spotted at Broadwater Warren and Tudeley Woods, as well as good numbers of spotted flycatchers and juvenile grey wagtails at Broadwater. We've counted at least four young grey wagtails which indicates that the pair on the decoy pond island have done well this year. Woodlarks have also been spotted again on the fields at Tudeley Woods.

Tudeley Woods
Last month we told you about the meadow restoration taking place at brakeybank meadow this month, which will be stating imminently. This month we received some encouraging news courtesy of Dr Ian Beavis of the Tunbridge Wells Museum. Whilst out and about in the meadow he came upon a nationally scarce species of bee called the red bartsia bee (Melitta tricincta). The bee is restricted to the South and collects pollen solely from red bartsia, such as that found in the meadow. It wasn't the most likely of locations to find the bee and comes as a complete shock to us. The restoration of the meadow will create more foraging habitat for specialist invertebrates such as the red bartsia bee, and I hope we continue to be shocked and surprised by what we find there. Follow Ian Beavis on twitter to learn more about entomology and local history around Tunbridge Wells.

The volunteers at Tudeley Woods have been busy throughout August beating, bashing, pulling and slashing the bracken around the heathland areas of the reserve. They completed the work just in time to open up stunning views of purple heather beneath. They will now move on to ride and glade creation in September where their cutting dragging and burning skills will be put to the test. If you would like to join them for weekend or weekday work parties, please do get in touch to find out more.

Broadwater Warren
This year's restoration work has begun. Contractors will begin with thinning in the southern woodlands before moving north in October/November time to begin the heathland restoration. Please make sure you adhere to the path closures for your own safety, and report any suspicious activity to us. Reserve staff will also be out and about carrying out tree felling operations as part of the trackside management. Edges will be softened and glades created to encourage wildflowers, scrub and associated pollinators and birds. Once the nightjar have migrated back to Africa we will also begin to manage some of the smaller trees in the heathland areas in order to maintain the open habitat.

A new species for the reserve was spotted by one of our volunteers, Lesley, and her two boys. The wasp spider may sound like a terrible nightmare to some of you, but it is truly a stunning looking arachnid. They arrived in the UK from the continent over the last century and have been the subject of some classic tabloid scare stories. They of course pose no real threat, and can be easily identified by their bright colouring and signature zigzag pattern found on their webs.

It has taken two years, but the Natural History Museum has confirmed that an ichneumon wasp found at Broadwater Warren in 2013 was the first record of the species' existence in the UK. Tony Davis of Butterfly Conservation spotted the wasp (Lymantrichneumon disparis) by chance whilst out looking for our rare olive crescent moth. A paper was published recently in the Entomologist's Gazette formally confirming the find.

Broadwater is a brilliant place for hazel dormice and we have always practised a rigorous monitoring scheme to assess the impact our management works have on them. Being an EU protected species, it is important to make sure they are given all the help they can get. This month a PhD student from the University of Exeter will be radio-tracking dormice to see how they respond to the large scale habitat management we are carrying out. Dormice are arboreal (they travel in trees), which means we have to give them special consideration during felling works. One of the ways we do this is to leave corridors of trees in situ to enable them to disperse into the surrounding woodland. The radio tracking will involve night time work, so you may expect to see someone driving around the reserve at night (if you happen to be passing).

Check out the two reserve websites for details of fungus forays in October and a walk with Ian Beavis on 19th September.