News archive

December 2017

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

News from the RSPB's Weald reserves

A lot of wildlife at this time of year has gone to warmer climates or hibernated, but for some bird species the UK is a warmer climate! This is the time to look out for some winter thrushes such as redwing and fieldfare which have come over from Scandinavia to feed in our countryside. You may also notice more of our commoner garden birds while on a nice winter walk such as robins and blackbirds, these are also birds from the continent who come here to winter. You may also see mixed species flocks of finches or tits feeding and roosting together in winter. These mixed flocks come together in the winter for several reasons, more eyes and ears help alert the group to predators in a time when there is less cover from tree foliage as well as more eyes for spotting prey items. Roosting in large numbers also reduces the chance of losing body heat and energy on cold winter nights. If you see any interesting sightings on the reserves please do email us where and when they were seen.

This year was the 10 year anniversary at Broadwater Warren and it been amazing to see how the site has been transformed from a dark pine plantation to lowland heathland where we are now starting to cut some of the heather which has returned. The cutting is mimicking traditional management of the heath, where heather would be used for animal bedding and fodder. It also creates different structure and height within the heather which in turn provides ideal feeding and nesting habitats for some of our ground nesting birds such as woodlark and nightjar. Over the last month we have been busy with our volunteers in the woodland as well, coppicing areas on the boundary track and working with the Sussex wildlife trust on a joint practical conservation work party.

Contractors have also been busy harvesting some of the remaining conifer in the woodland, roughly 1000 tonnes has been harvested this winter with the profits going straight back into the nature reserve to help improve it further for wildlife. This work has also created some nice wide woodland rides which should create ideal sunny and warm conditions for a range of butterfly species such as silver washed fritillary as well as scrubby corridors for our dormice.

Some of the highlights at Broadwater this year -

First black darter dragonfly recorded bringing our total dragonfly/damselfly species up to 22!
3 new bird species recorded on the reserve - honey buzzard, ring necked parakeet and Mediterranean gull bringing our total to 95!

New recycled plastic dipping platform installed on decoy pond allowing local scouts (Groombridge scouts built our "bug hotels" in the car park) and other groups to get kids connecting to nature
Highest number of singing male woodlarks at 13 over the heath.

Tudeley Woods

The volunteers have done a fantastic job removing the scrub on the heathland scrapes on the 3 fields at Tudeley over the last few months. We have now moved onto the heathland ridge where we have started to cut some heather and fire breaks to ensure the heath has better protection from accidental fires in the summer.

Some highlights from Tudeley Woods this year -

The best year for the rare community of hedgehog fungi since we started surveying with 696 individual fruiting bodies being recorded compared to our previous high of 184!
65 species of plants being recorded in the recently restored area of Brakeybank meadow and 90 across the whole meadow. 100s of common spotted orchid were recorded in the meadow.
Nightingale and turtle dove were recorded at Tudeley this year
Nightjar being recorded on the Oakey Heath thanks to the hard work from the volunteers.

Volunteering Opportunities

Fore Wood weekend work party - 1st Saturday of the month. Meet at 9:30am at Fore wood lane entrance, Crowhurst, TN33 9AG
Tudeley Woods Weekend work party - Takes place once a month on a Sunday. Meet at the main car park at 10am
Tudeley Woods Weekday work party - Takes place every fortnight on Wednesdays. Meet at the main car park at 10am
Broadwater Warren Weekend work party - Takes place once a month on a Saturday. Meet at the main car park at 9:30am.

Events

New Year's Volunteer Taster Day
Saturday 6th January at Fore Wood
OR
Sunday 14th January at Tudeley Woods

10:00 to 15:00
Price: Free (booking essential).

Join our warden for a chance to undertake some practical conservation work on our ancient woodland reserve. Learn about coppicing and why we undertake this traditional woodland management practice for the benefit of the wildlife that calls the reserve home.

There will be plenty to do to help burn off that Christmas turkey; with a bonfire to build, branches to saw and log piles to build.

For lunch we will provide a jacket potato cooked on the fire, to be enjoyed while surrounded by nature.

No experience or equipment necessary, we'll provide everything you need. Please wear old clothes and sturdy footwear. Children are very welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult.