News archive

March 2016

Saturday, 19 March 2016

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

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

Here's all the latest news from the RSPB Weald Reserves...

It seems it's now safe to say that spring is on its way on the Weald reserves with wood anemones and primroses out in flower at Tudeley, while at Broadwater the first common lizard had been seen basking next to the main path and the first brimstone butterfly was seen on the wing.

It won't be long until the summer migrants start to return. Keep an eye out for any early migrants on our reserves such as tree pipits or warblers that should start arriving in the next month. Please don't forget to send in you sightings.

Broadwater Warren
The woodland work that has been carried out in the last month has been to open up the rides and create scallops. This work will allow light to the woodland floor and enable flowering plants to emerge which in turn will benefit a range of pollinator species and woodland butterflies.

The scallops also provide open areas for species to feed in such as the spotted flycatcher, so keep your eyes open come May, when they arrive back from Africa, for their fly catching antics from perches on the trees.

In the wet woodland areas of the reserve a new pond was created on an area previously covered in rhododendron. This should benefit a range of species such as frogs, toads and palmate newts as well as several species of dragonfly and damselfly including golden ringed.

Wildlife sightings seen at Broadwater Warren in the last week include 2 ravens, lesser spotted woodpecker, woodlark, 12 snipe on the wet areas of heath, stonechats, yellowhammers, marsh tit and 2 little egrets flying out of the woods.

Tudeley Woods
Volunteers have been busy removing rhododendron from the valley mire and scrub from the heathy mire to help encourage native plants to emerge and stop the spread of rhododendron. This work should benefit some of the reptiles found at Tudeley including grass snake and common lizard. We will be expanding our nightjar survey this year to include these areas which have been cleared, the hope being that the reduction of scrub and increase in open areas might attract them.

Work that was carried out by the volunteers earlier in the winter is already proving beneficial. The pond north of Brakeybank that was cleared already has signs of life with frog spawn being seen. It won't be long till other aquatic insects and dragonflies start finding it. Look out for broad-bodied chaser come summer, they are usually a "colonising" species so are the first to be seen once an area has been cleared.

Back in march last year several bee boxes were placed in coppice plots in the Plants at Tudeley. They were used to study fringe horned mason bee (Osmia pilicornis) The idea was to look at the preference with regards to nesting and try to get a better understanding of their ecology. Boxes were placed in old coppiced stalls, trees and on the ground. They were then collected at the beginning of this year and opened up to establish what species had used them.

So far Rosie Earwaker, who carried out the study, has found several different species including species
from the Megachile family (leaf cutter bees).

Wildlife highlights at Tudeley this month include a Dartford warbler on the heathy ridge, woodcocks and a group of 30+ siskin near decoy pond and a lesser spotted woodpecker in Brakeybank.

There are a number of events at Broadwater Warren in April and May, so check out their website to see what's on offer:

Sunday, 13 March 2016

House martin in flight

Spring is on its way

In Southern Spain, House Martins, Swallows and the first Pallid Swifts are back on their breeding territories. Black Kites and Short-toed Eagles have been seen leaving North Africa and crossing the Straits of Gibraltar. The BTO-tagged Cuckoos are also moving on from their winter territories and are beginning to head north to make the perilous journey across the Sahara. Spring is coming.

You can follow the tagged cuckoos journey on the BTO map:

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Piebald Blackbird

Piebald Blackbird

This bird has been seen recently in a garden in Langton Green. Last year a slightly white-feathered male had been around this garden so perhaps this is its offspring. Anyone else seen a white blackbird locally? Do send in your photographs and we will find out which is the whitest blackbird in town.