Happy New Year everyone!  

This is a good time to see one of Radipole Lake's star species - our resident Marsh Harriers.  Currently there are two males at Radipole and one male over at Lodmoor.  No females have seen as yet.  Photographer Paul Williams captured these stunning shots of the male coming in to land.

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Photo Credit: Paul Williams - website: www.paulwilliams.photography

The Marsh Harriers are frequently seen flying low over the reedbeds and can often be spotted from the warmth and comfort from our Discovery Centre much to the delight of our visitors.  Another good site is from both of our viewing shelters which give excellent views over the reedbeds.  At this time of year our seasonal winter trail is open known as the 'Welly Trail'.  This gives visitors the opportunity to visit the conservation area at north of the reserve normally closed during the spring and summer so as not to disturb the nesting Marsh Harriers and other wildlife.  As the name suggests, wearing wellies is essential!  The path is often damp or wet but it is another good site to see the Marsh Harriers and wildfowl.

To increase your chances of seeing our Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and Radipole Lake's other wildlife, join one of the Discover Radipole Lake guided walks around the reserve.  The walks run on the first Thursday of every month and are a great way to discover nature in the heart of town. We will guide you on an in depth look at RSPB Radipole Lake to see what lives here and it's a great time to see birds and wildlife in the heart of Weymouth town!  Only £2.00 per person and there is no need to book in advance, just meet at the Discovery Centre on the day and we can lend you binoculars if you need them.  Upcoming Thursday dates: 1st February and 1st March.

Bearded Tit
Photo Credit: Martin Jones-Gill, RSPB Volunteer

Winter Management at RSPB Radipole Lake

The last few months we have seen some fairly miserable weather, definitely the sort of weather that makes you think that the swifts have the right idea; I hear Cape Town is lovely this time of year! However, despite the wind and the rain our team of dedicated volunteers have been hard at work, cutting, chainsawing, strimming and burning trying to keep at bay the ever encroaching scrub that surrounds the reedbed at Radipole Lake.

But why? RSPB Radipole Lake is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) designated for its freshwater reedbed habitat. If we allow the bushes and the trees to grow too much the reedbed starts to dry out. This is an ecological process known as succession. Leaf litter builds up around the scrub each year, this raises the level of the reedbed and eventually other plants can colonise making it too dry for the reed to grow. If we did not manage the scrub eventually we would lose this valuable habitat and the incredibly diverse range of species that it contains.

Therefore, we cut down the scrub on a rotational basis. This means that during the breeding season there is still plenty of areas for birds that use the bushes and trees (such as Cetti’s Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats and many more) to nest in, whilst protecting the reedbed and keeping it from drying out.

There is also the added bonus that by keeping some of the scrub clear, we can open up views of the reedbed and the ditches and pools that intersect it, allowing you to get closer to the awesome wildlife that the lake contains.

Radipole Lake's Dedicated Conservation Volunteers

Radipole Lake's Dedicated Conservation Volunteers.

Left to right: Len Watling, Dave Ryland and Ian Clarke

Weymouth Starling Murmuration

If you walk through the Weymouth Town Centre, around half an hour before dark, you may have seen the oddly shaped black cloud the streaks over the streets below. It darts across the corner of your eye and can stop shoppers in their tracks. Some people dismiss it as a unessacary distraction from their consumer needs; however, a few will stand and (carefully) look up towards this fascinating natural phenomenon. A starling murmuration is one of the classic sights of winter. Starlings in their thousands flock together at dusk forming fantastic aerobatics across the sky. No-one is certain as to why they do this, some suggest its a defence against predators, or to disguise where they roost, others suggest it they may be their way of communicating the best feeding sites to each other for the next day.  

After seemingly exhausting every shape imaginable, the starlings head for cover. This in itself is something that’s worth taking five minutes out to your day to witness. Although many starlings tend to use reedbeds to roost during the winter, RSPB Hamwall being a place to see over a million coming down to roost on the somerset levels, it is not always the case. The Weymouth starlings have chosen two large home oaks in the courtyard of St Mary’s Church as their favoured spot. The noise when they first come in to roost is incredible, the sound of over 3000 birds chattering about their day bounces around the streets of Weymouth, mystifying some and bringing a warm smile to those of us who know. 

Big Garden Birdwatch

Remember that this year's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place on 26th, 27th and 28th which is this weekend.

For further information and the latest sightings, contact Radipole Lake Discovery Centre, details below or pop in and see us. Hot and cold refreshments and snacks available.

Telephone: 01305 778313