News archive

May 2018

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

RSPB Weald Reserves E-Update

RSPB Weald Reserves E-Update

Spring has finally arrived on the reserves in the last few weeks. This much needed warm and dry weather has meant that the majority of paths are slowly drying out so it should be a bit easier and less muddy to get round the reserves to see all the wildlife.

This is the time of year that practical habitat management is restricted due to the bird breeding season, but the time for us to carry out surveys across the site to measure the abundance and diversity of species which will help steer our management plans for future.

The heathland bird surveys picked up the first singing tree pipits at Broadwater Warren. Butterfly surveys have started on the sites, with brimstone, commas, holly blue, green hairstreak, orange tip, peacock and small tortoiseshell being recorded.

Spring flowers have also started appearing within the woodland areas, with Fore Wood and Tudeley being especially impressive with bluebells and early purple orchids starting to appear.

Our reserve volunteers at Broadwater Warren, Tudeley Woods, Fore Wood and Rowlands Wood and those who work in our office in Eridge Green contributed an incredible 8600 hours of their time from April 2017 to March 2018. That's an increase of 1500 hours compared to last year. The main reason for this increase was a fantastic 64% increase in the time contributed by our Tudeley Woods conservation volunteers. Without their efforts we simply couldn't operate and our reserves wouldn't exist. I'm sure you'll join with me in thanking them for all the work they do.

Broadwater Warren
Species highlights in April:
Two ring ouzels were seen on the heath on Friday the 13th. The ring ouzel (or "mountain blackbird") were stopping off on their migration up north to breed in the hills and mountains of Northern England and Scotland. This was a new record for the site so brings the total for the reserve to 98!

The first tree pipits have started to sing out on the heath and in the scrubby margins blackcaps, willow warblers and chiffchaffs can be heard. A peregrine falcon was also seen flying across the main heath at the beginning of the month. Five ravens were seen flying over and the first cuckoo was heard last week.

Other highlights this month include toad spawn, smooth newts and dragonfly larvae being found in the new pond next to the veteran oak, this pond was only created 18 months ago.

The Exmoor ponies are now back on the reserve, this year 10 ponies will be on site to carry out conservation grazing out on the heath. They provide a natural structure to the Molinia grass and heather which provides ideal habitat for feeding and nesting of our ground nesting birds - woodlark, tree pipit, nightjar and woodcock. Please be aware that these are wild ponies and shouldn't be fed as this can cause them to become ill.

The volunteer reptile surveyors also moved some of the survey mats to a new area of heath to monitor how the reptiles are using the site, hopefully we will find some using it this year. Their first survey of other areas of the heathland produced 28 slow worms, one adder, one grass snake and a couple of common lizards.

Tudeley Woods
Wildlife Highlights:
Lesser spotted woodpeckers have been seen in the Brakeybank area of Tudeley woods in the last month. Other notable birds include a pair of ravens displaying over the woodland and marsh tits in areas of wet woodland near decoy cottage. Orange tip, brimstone, commas and holly blue butterflies have been seen on the reserve.

The volunteers were busy removing scrub in the valley mire before the breeding bird season started. This work is vital to ensure that the mire stays open and doesn't dry out through scrub encroachment, this should benefit a host of invertebrates which in turn will provide feeding opportunities for several species of insect catching birds such as spotted flycatcher and hobby which can be found on site in the summer.
The volunteers have also been helping increase the amount of wet woodland/mire habitat by creating leaky dams. Using logs and brash from our coppicing work to dam up some of the smaller flushes will hopefully hold back more water which will provide more decaying wood which should help hole nesting bird species such as marsh tit and lesser spotted woodpecker.

As well as the important habitat creation work the volunteers have carried out a "spring clean" at Tudeley, unfortunately there has been a lot of litter just dumped on the edge of the reserve by people. If you see any fly tipping on our reserves you can report it on the following website which should mean the council will come and collect it https://www.fixmystreet.com/

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

Broadwater at Dusk - Broadwater Warren
Friday 8th and 15th June
8:30pm- 10:30pm
Price: £12 (£9 for RSPB members and children)
Booking essential
Join our staff and volunteers on a rare opportunity to see the reserve at night. Enjoy a hot chocolate while listening/looking out for some of the species that come out at dusk. We should see the elusive nightjar and hear its strange churring sound as well as hopefully seeing roding woodcock, bats, glow worms and hear tawny owls. We will have a moth trap to see what some of these species are feeding on.
For more information on events or if you are interested in any of these volunteering opportunities, please contact broadwater.warren@rspb.org.uk or the Wealden office on 01892 752431.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Space for Nature - Artwork Exhibition

Artwork which was the subject of our January talk will be on display in London later this month. Artist Rolf Williams carried out his Space for Nature art project during an art residency at Durlston Country Park, Swanage in Dorset between December 2015 and July 2016.

There will be six pieces on display, each depicting a specific spacecraft and an animal. They are designed to reflect a variety of research projects that shed light on environmental issues from across the world.

The free exhibition runs at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR from May 30 until June 6 2018. For more details:

Friday, 11 May 2018

Quiz Night Success!

Over £1,100 was raised for the RSPB at our Quiz night on 14th April. Many thanks to Geoff and Liz, the organisers, and to Alan, our quizmaster. We are also most grateful to those who contributed raffle prizes and everyone who came along to support us and who helped to make the evening such a good time.