News archive

September 2016

Thursday, 15 September 2016

State of Nature 2016

State of Nature 2016

The latest report on the State of Nature in the UK has been released this week. The scale of decline is alarming but there are some positives. The RSPB has produced a summary from which the main points are:

56% of UK species have declined over recent decades: The report reveals that over half (56%) of UK species assessed have declined since 1970. Of the three taxonomic groups assessed - vertebrates, invertebrates and plants - a higher proportion of invertebrates are declining than other taxonomic groups, with 59% having declined since 1970.

15% of species in Great Britain are thought to be extinct or threatened with extinction: More than one in ten (1,199 species) of the nearly 8,000 species assessed in the UK are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether, including species such as the high brown fritillary butterfly, rigid apple moss and bog hoverfly. 2% of species have already gone extinct from Britain.

New biodiversity intactness index shows UK is one of most nature-depleted countries in world - ranked 189 out of 218 countries

Drivers of change in the UK's wildlife - agricultural management and climate change

Examples of conservation action: habitat restoration, re-introduction of species eg red kite, large blue butterfly

Actions you can take to help wildlife:
The State of Nature partnership is reaching out, asking readers to get involved in helping wildlife by taking action: although the report paints a picture of decline, it also demonstrates how conservation action by individuals can make a difference.

Friday, 2 September 2016

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves

At this time of year the heath is at its best with a swathe of purple and the scent of heather across the reserve as well as a hum of bees taking advantage of the nectar source from the heather. Even though the summer seems to be flying by, there's still a chance to see a lot of wildlife across our reserves before the weather starts to change. It was dragonfly galore at Fore Wood the other week with well over 100 migrant hawkers darting across a recently coppiced area of wood, southern hawkers and red eyed damselflies can be seen over decoy pond at Broadwater as well as the largest species in the UK the golden ringed. This is also a good time to keep an eye out for passage migrants, species like redstart and wheatear may be seen on the heath at Broadwater Warren or Tudeley Woods. Also keep an eye out and watch your step on the paths for toadlets!

Broadwater Warren
This year we carried out a full breeding bird survey at Broadwater Warren, mapping out territories of all the species we heard and saw from wrens to woodlarks. The initial figures for the heathland priority birds look promising with slight increases in woodlark and tree pipit numbers. These should increase further over the next few years with the 15+ hectares that have been cleared over the last winter already showing promising signs of heather regeneration.

One species that we had last winter was Dartford warbler, this species tends to breed in thickets of gorse, which is one thing we seem to be lacking on the heath. So volunteers have been planting out the gorse across the heath this month that they collected last year and grew over the winter. Hopefully as these areas progress some dartfords will be tempted to stay into the summer and breed.

We were lucky to have grey wagtails breed again at decoy pond, producing 2 broods of young. 2 juveniles were also released on the reserve, which had been handed in to the nearby Folly Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Unfortunately there has been some vandalism to some of our signs and interpretation across the reserve recently. If you see anyone carrying out damage to our signs/interpretation please let the Wealden team know at broadwater.warren@rspb.org.uk or phone the Wealden office on 01892 752430. As well as this one of our volunteers cars was broken into in the car park, even though nothing was on show. Can I just remind everyone to ensure you leave nothing on show in your car and if you see anyone acting suspiciously to report them to the police on 101.

Tudeley Woods
The volunteers have been busy carrying on with ride work, helping to clear away some of the bracken and ensure the scallops are retained for a variety of flora and invertebrates such as the white admiral butterfly. A few volunteers carried out a plant survey at brakeybank meadow last month looking for what flowering species were present.

We were pleased to find over 45 species including sneezewort (so called because the latin in its name ptarmica comes from the Greek word ptairo (=sneeze) and means 'causes sneezing' Some positive meadow indicators such as yellow rattle (so called because the flowers are yellow and the seed pods rattle) and red bartsia were also recorded. It will be interesting to see how the meadow progresses, especially the newly created area after further green haying.

If you would like to help out with any of the work being carried out at Tudeley Woods we have work parties once a month on Sundays and every 2 weeks on a Wednesday, let us know if you would like to join by contacting tudeley.woods@rspb.org.uk