News archive

September 2017

Friday, 29 September 2017

Developments at Dungeness RSPB Reserve

This autumn 45 islands on Burroughs Pit at Dungeness RSPB Reserve have been raised using an excavator mounted on a floating pontoon.

The excavator dug out submerged shingle from around the foot of the islands, then dispersed it across the top to raise the level of the islands and so safeguard breeding birds from rising water levels. More birds will be able to use the islands and already early migratory birds have been seen, including spoonbill and over 500 oyster catchers. This work will also make it easier for people to see birds from the visitor centre.

Monday, 25 September 2017

News from the Weald Reserves

It's starting to look autumnal on the reserves, the swathes of purple on the heath are slowly being replaced with oranges and reds in our woodlands. This time of year is the start of migration for several of our summer migrants such as tree pipits and nightjars who have a long journey back to sub-Saharan Africa. In the last few weeks the first wheatear and redstart have turned up at Broadwater Warren on their journey south.

As well as looking up for the birds it's also a brilliant time to look down to the ground for some of the fungi you may find across the reserves, over 1200 species have been recorded on the Weald reserves so hopefully you should spot the odd one or two! We have two fungi foray events coming up in October if you're interested in learning more about this fascinating part of the natural world. The last dragonflies and butterflies can also been seen on the wing, with brimstone and speckled woods being seen at Fore Wood and Tudeley and migrant hawkers at all three reserves. Last month our two new RSPB interns, George and Kirsty, started out on the reserves; they have been busy learning and carrying out habitat management

Broadwater Warren

There are some new interpretations out on the reserve, externally funded by a number of different organisations as part of our 10th anniversary. There are nine signs dotted around the reserve, each giving you a bit of information on different habitats/species found at Broadwater Warren. You may have also noted the slightly strange structures around some of them.... These are our attempts at pony proofing, previously a lot of our signs seem to be the perfect height for bum scratching by our Exmoor ponies despite the many trees they have available to them! The ponies have once again done a brilliant job grazing the heath this summer and will be off to the wintering grounds on the South Downs at the end of September. They did decide to go on a little adventure before they left the other week! Getting out of the grazing compartment, walking through the reserve and the SWT reserve Eridge Rocks before heading towards the A26 and the local pub! Luckily they were ushered into a field by one of our volunteers and a member of the public and we brought them back to the heath. This is just a reminder to please ensure that all kissing gates/bridal gates should be shut after you go through them to avoid further explorations by our ponies.

We had a new species recorded on our reserve recently. The black darter dragonfly was found by our dragonfly survey volunteers Sam and Rob on the series of ponds at the shooting butts. This darter is restricted to acidic shallow pools in lowland heath and moorland bogs, usually with bog-mosses and rushes. This is a brilliant find and shows how the habitat management is succeeding in bringing the heathland species back.

This winter we will be carrying out some further thinning work. Some compartments which are classified as PAWS (Plantation on ancient woodland) will be continually thinned over the years to convert them back to deciduous woodland. Areas which have previously been thinned in the last five years have shown how quickly a variety of wildlife returns, with dormice, garden warbler, silver washed fritillary all being found in them this year.

Tudeley Woods
Tudeley woods is a brilliant reserve for fungi with over 1150 species being recorded! This year the mix of warm and wet weather has provided the perfect conditions for fungi. The fungi that we commonly identify as mushrooms are in fact the short-lived fruiting bodies of fungi preparing to release their spores. They release their spores through a range of different methods. The stinkhorn fungus, for example, relies on insects and attracts them with a putrid-smelling spore cap. Conversely the fruit bodies of the common puffball fungus rely on the forces of nature to disperse their spores. Rainwater activates the release of the spores, which are then naturally carried away on the wind. Fungi do not photosynthesise but acquire the nutrients essential for growth from organic material such as dead wood or leaf litter; they produce nutrient-absorbing threads called mycelium that extend through the soil like an intricate web. These underground fungi networks are essential for woodland life, helping to recycle and replenish essential nutrient stores. 100s of different species rely on the fruiting bodies of fungi, with some it's essential for their life cycle so please look but don't pick on the nature reserve.

We carried out our tooth fungus survey the other week on the reserve with several BAP species being recorded in good numbers. Tooth fungi (sometimes called hedgehog fungi) are so named because of the tooth-like structures found underneath them which help disperse their spores.

Fungus Foray Tudeley Woods - Saturday 14 October, Broadwater Warren - Friday 20 October, 10:30-1pm.
Meet at the reserve car park. Price: £10 per person (£6 for RSPB members) Join national fungus expert Martin Allison on a hunt for our reserves' hidden gems. Chantarelles, parasols, puffballs, deceivers, ceps and blewits. Even Martin won't know what he will find, so it really will be a voyage of discovery for everyone. Contact broadwater.warren@rspb.org.uk or the Wealden office on 01892 752431.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Nightingales reprieved at Lodge Hill

Nightingales reprieved at Lodge Hill

The planning application for this site on the edge of Chatham for 5000 homes has been withdrawn, but the site is still at risk from further development. 12,000 people in 2014 asked the government to 'call in' the application after Medway Council had ignored the evidence and approved it but we still don't know whether Medway Council is willing to remove Lodge Hill from its draft Local Plan.

Adrian Thomas, the #SaveLodgeHill campaign manager, said in an interview on Radio Kent "If Lodge Hill isn't safe then nowhere is."

To keep an eye on any future development plans, go to #SaveLodgeHill on Twitter.