Most of Radipole Lake is currently underwater, parts are accessible for a welly walk but only as far as the Buddleia Loop. Despite the flooding, Bearded Tits have been showing well in the reed beds outside the Discovery Centre and the Siberian Chiff Chaff has recently been seen. The ducks and swans that are still here have been gathering around the duck feeding platform hopeful for some easy food. The higher than usual water levels means that visitors are closer to the ducks, the swans can now reach the hands that are feeding them! If you can spare the time, do please come to Radipole Lake to feed the ducks, the flooding is making finding sustenance during the short of days of winter a very challenging time for them. As always, refreshments and snacks as well as duck food are available every day until 16:00 pm (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
As the reserve has effectively disappeared and most of the birds have moved to drier ground, it's a good opportunity to look back on our 2019 highlights.
This time last year, a Penduline Tit visited the reserve and stayed around for a few weeks. January started well with Yellow Browed Warblers on both reserves, a Ring Necked Duck visited us for a few weeks, a Lesser Yellow Legs and a Ruff were over at Lodmoor and the Marsh Harriers were much in evidence. The first real cold snap came in February with snow in the north of the country bringing increased bird activity in the south. On Lodmoor there were over 500 Fieldfare, over 250 Redwing, over 100 Golden Plover, over 100 Meadow Pipit and over 60 Lapwing. Among the Lapwings were 4 Spoonbills.
In March, the reserves started to come into flower, the Ringed Neck Duck was around on Radipole Lake, a male Penduline Tit was still about on Lodmoor with the Lesser Yellow Legs and Ruff. Sadly we also had a visitor from the Fire Brigade as one of the bird watching platforms was ablaze. April saw a Savi's Warbler arrive at Radipole Lake on Easter Sunday. Butterflies were starting to appear in abundance and the first Mallard ducklings were seen.
Nesting activity increased in May, the Common Terns were jostling for nest space on Lodmoor's islands. The Ringed Neck Duck was still around at Radipole Lake and a lone Black Winged Stilt was sighted at the North Screen. Swifts, Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins increased their numbers and activity on the reserves.
Back for its 11th year, the Brown Bee Orchid flowered again in June. Typical Bee Orchids were also around with 20 plants counted around the reserve. Bird highlights included; a Glossy Ibis, Great White Egrets, Mediterranean Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Roseate Terns and a Little Gull. Scarlet Tiger Moths were seen in abundance. This month we waved goodbye to Dan Bartlett after 11 years at Radipole Lake and Emily Dragon who moved to a new role over at Arne. We also welcomed Gill Vrdlovcova in her new role as the Visitor Experience Manager at the Discovery Centre. In July over 30 Pyramidal Orchids were counted on the path Kingfisher Gate path. The Marsh Harriers had a successful breeding year, 3 fledglings at Radipole Lake and two fledglings over at Lodmoor.
A Wood Sandpiper and a Spotted Crake arrived in August and numbers of Great White Egrets increased. This month also saw the Painted Lady Butterfly influx, the last one being back in 2009. A quiet month for birds, the reserve was a riot of colour with wildflowers and butterflies. The Jersey Tiger Moth was abundance this month. In September, the RSPB unveiled plans for rejuvenating the reedbeds and enhancing the saltmarsh over on Lodmoor. Plans also include making the birds and wildlife more visible for our visitors. The works will be carried out over the winter months. Birds seen were a Long Billed Dowitcher on Lodmoor and a Common Scoter and genuine wild Black Swan at Radipole Lake. We also welcomed Ben Harrington, Visitor Experience Assistant in the Discovery Centre.
October saw the arrival of Grey Phalarope, a White Rumped Sandpiper and a Jack Snipe on Lodmoor. Some visitors were lucky enough to see a Short Eared Owl fly over Radipole Lake. A Long Tailed Duck arrived in November over on Lodmoor, also a Yellow Browed Warbler, Garganey, an Egyptian Goose were seen several times.
Penduline Tit: Edmund Mackrill @weymouthbirder
Brown Bee Orchid: Edmund Mackrill @weymouthbirder
Painted Lady: Dave Morphew @ davidmorphew
Long Billed Dowitcher: Edmund Mackrill @weymouthbirder
The flood defences are now all in place around the Discovery Centre to protect it from the further heavy rain which has been forecast over the next few days. From all the staff and volunteers at RSPB Weymouth Wetlands we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
For all the latest sightings, contact Radipole Lake Discover Centre, details below or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available.
Telephone: 01305 778313 (Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
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