News archive

April 2017

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Cuckoo perched in tree


A cuckoo is calling this morning on Tonbridge Water Meadows. So far one turtle dove has been seen and heard. It was on the wires beyond Eldridges Lock. A nightingale was singing in the same area last week, but has not been heard since. There are also several lesser whitethroat singing amongst the other warblers.

Monday, 17 April 2017

News from our local reserves

News from our local reserves

Spring has definitely arrived at the weald reserves with spring flowers starting to emerge in the woodlands and the first summer migrant birds arriving back on the heathland such as tree pipit and whitethroat. The last week has seen several species of butterfly on the wing including the first orange tips, speckled wood, holly blue and commas. The warm weather has also seen several bee species digging in some of the vertical bare sand that is found at Broadwater warren. The ponds across the 3 sites have started to come alive with the sound of toads and spawn being seen in decoy pond at Broadwater Warren. In our workshop our resident blackbird now has chicks in the nest.

Lesser spotted woodpeckers continue to be seen on all 3 reserves, there is now a dedicated website to recording them - see link below.

Tudeley Woods:
Wildlife highlights this month at Tudeley Woods include woodlark, lesser spotted woodpecker and 2 ravens cronking over the heathland. A new species was added to the reserve list, the Golden cup fungus. This little fungus was found near the decoy pond and brings the total number of fungi recorded at Tudeley Woods up to an impressive 1162!

Our hard working volunteers have been carrying out rhododendron removal on an area of the valley mire as well as planting some more gorse on the heathland ridge to help with the chances of Dartford warblers staying beyond the winter months.

At Tudeley it has also been a case of more ride work. Zone 2 management has been carried out along some of the rides in the plants. This work should enhance the ride network for a range of wild flowers. On some of the rides where this work was carried out previously we now have a flush of violets and primroses appearing.

Broadwater Warren:
Wildlife sightings at Broadwater warren this month include the first adders being seen and the first orange tips, speckled wood and holly blue on the wing. It's been a good week for raptors on the reserve with over 6 buzzards seen above the woods, a sparrowhawk displaying, kestrel and a peregrine on several occasions.

As you may have seen, our volunteer work parties have been busy improving some of the paths around the reserve, hopefully ensuring that areas will now be easier to walk on come the following winter. All the material used has been recycled from the winter work that has been carried out in the woodland, with the chip being from the conifer clearance work.

The carp removal took place this month, with around 80 individual fish being removed from the pond. This should improve the fortunes of all the dragonfly and damselflies come the summer as well as a range of other aquatic invertebrates.

Volunteer co-ordinator needed:
We are looking for a volunteer to help Alan, our Volunteer Co-ordinator and Office Manager (a volunteer himself), in the office here in Eridge. Our volunteer team now totals nearly 90 and we require someone who could give 2 days a week to help with volunteer management. Please get in touch with Alan on 01892 752430 or if you are interested and would like to know more.

Saturday 6th May - Dawn Chorus Wildlife Walk - 05:00am to 07:30am
Price: £6 (£4 for RSPB members) Booking essential.
Saturday 20th May - Dormouse walk and talk - 09:00am to 12:00
Price: £15 (£10 for RSPB members), £5 for children. Booking essential.
Thursday 25th May - Learning bird song - 07:00am to 10:00am
Price: £6 (£4 for RSPB members). Booking essential.
Contact or the Wealden office on 01892 752431.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Bough Beech birds

Bough Beech birds

The 11th April dawned still and sunny, an ideal day for a trip to Bough Beech reservoir to look for some early spring migrants!

Arriving on site just before 07:00hrs, I quickly ticked off the first dozen or so species of the 58 to be recorded that day, those being the more common and regular ones, like coot, mallard, grey heron, song thrush, blackbird, moorhen, reed bunting, chiffchaff, robin, woodpigeon, great crested grebe, pheasant, tufted duck, mute swan, greylag goose and Canada that order!

Scanning more thoroughly over the two sides of the causeway, out onto the calm water, I added mandarin duck, shoveler, cormorant, shelduck, plus a sneakily camouflaged snipe that hid away in the shoreline vegetation.

After and hour or so, I walked the short distance to the visitors center, on the way I heard my first willow warbler of the year singing from the habitat around the old orchard, as well as a blackcap and a dunnock. A quick scan over the Roy Coles flood, adjacent to the visitor center area, gave me good views of a cracking male gargany, which was feeding with five teal, better views were had from the hide, from where the likes of kestrel, green woodpecker, carrion crow, jay, swallow, pied wagtail, stock dove, magpie and starling were added to my days species tally, as well as a common whitethroat, plus, more surprisingly, a common sandpiper, which alighted all too briefly before flying off again, the latter two species being the third and fourth new summer migrant for this year. On the way from the hide, I stopped to watched the action at the bird feeders outside the visitors center, this added house sparrow, chaffinch, goldfinch, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, great spotted woodpecker and wren to the day list.

A walk through some of the surrounding woodland and meadow areas provided good views of treecreeper, goldcrest, bullfinch, green woodpecker and skylark to add to my notebook, but not the expected, greenfinch, nuthatch or marsh tit today!

Back at the causeway, mainly to have a skywatch, yielded another two raptor species for the day, those being sparrowhawk and buzzard, but the sky was not very busy today, just herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, jackdaw and rook were added to my growing list. Another scan over the water was more profitable, as my first common tern of the year was found, sitting on one of the buoys, bringing up my 5th new summer migrant of the year, then the 6th was quickly added when a flock of feeding sand martins flew low over the water's surface. A couple of linnets dropped in to feed on the shoreline of the main reservoir and it was while watching these I noticed a cracking male wheatear had also dropped in without me noticing, the final species of a most enjoyable morning.

Warren Baker