News archive

February 2016

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Birds seen in Kent today

Birds seen in Kent today:

Iceland gull at St. Margaret's at Cliffe, spoonbill at Stodmarsh NNR, Jack snipe at Elmley NNR, great white egret, Slavonian grebe and black-necked grebe at Dungeness RSPB, Caspian at Dartford Marshes and Siberian chiffchaff at Snodland.

On Tonbridge Water Meadows this afternoon I saw a flock of around 80 fieldfare, plus four lapwing, and I flushed a snipe!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Spotted flycatcher on perch

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves

Recently it has been quite challenging to tell what season it's meant to be. There were early hints that we might have a winter this year, and reportedly a frost was spotted at Fore Wood in January. Things quickly changed and we are now seeing daffodils and snowdrops popping up everywhere and the woodlark are singing out on the heath, announcing the start of nesting season.

Soon will be that exciting time of year when dormant wildlife starts to stir again, even more so with the mild weather we have been having. Please don't forget to send in your sightings. We want to know when you see your first butterfly, bumblebee or basking lizard.

Broadwater Warren
With the woodlarks now marking their territories out on the heath, the volunteers have had to say goodbye to one of their all time favourite tasks: pine pulling. Over the winter our dedicated volunteers have painstakingly pulled out a carpet of pine saplings from an area of around 10 hectares (around 14 football pitches). The saplings grew from seeds dropped by the trees that made up the pine plantation before we restored it back to its former heathy glory. Without this work the heathland would quickly revert to a monoculture of pine, and our priority birds such as nightjar and tree pipit would be out of a home.

In the wet woodland areas of the reserve, we have been coppicing small glades and creating dead wood. This work is focussed at increasing the plant and invertebrate abundances. Dead wood insects love boring into rotten wood, which in turn will benefit woodpeckers which feed on them. The glades also provide foraging opportunities for spotted flycatchers which dart about from open perches chasing flying insect prey. Last year we carried out similar work resulting in confirmed breeding of spotted flycatchers in one of the glades created. We aim to put up some specially designed spotted flycatcher nest boxes in March to encourage more breeding.

The areas cleared of mature pines by contractors this winter have been enhanced following the extraction of the timber. The pine needles have been scraped up to allow light and warmth to reach the heather and gorse seeds buried in the ground. We have also had several ponds excavated to provide new homes for dragonflies, damselflies as well as other aquatic invertebrates, plants and amphibians. The ponds come with shallow edges, where most of the wildlife will thrive in the warmed water.

At RSPB, our management work is always based on science. To better understand population trends, and which species are most in need of help, we monitor wildlife on and off of our reserves. This is why we will be carrying out a full "common bird census" this year at Fore Wood (as well as Broadwater Warren). This method of monitoring birds involves mapping out territories of all birds over series of visits. For example if birds of one species are found to be singing in similar areas on multiple visits, we can map these occurrences and work out territories and therefore the likely number of breeding pairs of this species. If you want to learn more about our monitoring methods or how you could get involved in helping out with survey work, please get in touch.

Tudeley Woods
Volunteers have been ploughing along with the winter ride management work. The results will soon reveal themselves to us as flushes of wildflowers begin to show themselves over the coming months. If you have trouble identifying any flowers you see on the reserve, please send the photos in and we would be glad to provide an answer. Brakeybank has seen the majority of the work, where the ride and glade networks link up to the recently restored meadow. Personally, I will be watching eagle-eyed for emerging flowers where the treeline has been pushed back to reveal 1.3 hectares of bare ground. The rediscovered pond in the meadow has also undergone a restoration which will hopefully see an influx of returning wildlife.

There are a number of local events to look out for:

Walk with a Warden - Broadwater Warren - Saturday 9th April - 11:00am -1pm - Free

Dawn Chorus Wildlife Walk - Broadwater Warren - Saturday 23rd April 05:00-7:30 - £5 (£4 for RSPB members) Booking essential

Early Bird Wildlife Walk - Broadwater Warren - Tuesday 17th May 07:00-10:00 - £5 (£4 for RSPB members) Booking essential

Sleepy Dormouse Hunt - Broadwater Warren - Saturday 21st May - 09:00-12:00 - £15 (£10 for RSPB members), £5 for children Booking essential (this event is very popular).

The Broadwater Warren website has more details.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

RSPB Tonbridge Group Newsletter

The latest edition of our Group Newsletter is now available. If you are a local RSPB member you will be sent a copy by email, if you have chosen to do so. Hand deliveries will be made by volunteers over the next few weeks.

If you would like an early preview, or if you are not a member, you can download it here.

Download file

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Nearly 6 million birds spotted so far!

Nearly 6 million birds spotted so far!

Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

It is still not too late to submit the birds you counted last weekend.

The results so far show:

Surveys submitted: 182,808 People who have taken part: 283,346 Birds spotted: 5,793,621
That's close on 6 million birds. Last year the total birds spotted was over 8 million, so there are probably lots more results to come.

The Big Schools' Birdwatch continues until the 12th February, so encourage young people to take part. The more data received, the more powerful the arguments that can be made for caring for the environment.