Sunday, 24 September 2017

RSPB Weymouth Reserves

For the first time in a little while I went on a wildlife expedition today. I headed over to Weymouth, a seaside town on the Dorset coast which is home to two small RSPB reserves.

First up was Radipole Lake, a reedy lake in central Weymouth. It reminded me a lot of one of my favourite nature reserves, Winnall Moors in Winchester, but this is even more urban. You can see just how close it is to the town in this photo.

My first sightings were members of the heron family, a grey heron and a little egret. Both are always welcome sights. 

There were also plenty of ducks around including tufted ducks and mallards

You can see a mallard here who looks a little different. It's possible that this individual is still undergoing losing it's eclipse plumage. Male mallards moult between June and September and look very similar to females during this time. It's also possible that this individual might be a cross breed, the result of a mallard breeding with a domestic duck or another species. 

I spotted a few cormorants sat on a pile of rocks near these ducks. 

Whilst some cormorants are resident in the UK, the numbers vastly increase over the winter months. I've started to notice cormorant numbers increasing significantly everywhere I've been over the last few weeks. 

It wasn't just birds that I saw at Radipole. It may be late September but there were still plenty of butterflies and dragonflies around including this peacock butterfly and common darter

Though not as glamourous, I also saw a large slug. 

Then it was on to Lodmoor, which houses another large reedbed. It too is located very close to the town centre. 

It was something of a feeding frenzy at Lodmoor with every bird I saw intent only on finding food. I saw my third species of duck of the day, a teal

This individual is almost certainly a wintering bird from Europe, probably having come from the Baltic or Siberia. 

Nearby was a moorhen with two juveniles still sticking close to it. 

Moorhen chicks can feed themselves within a few days of birth but clearly stick near their mother for some time. Moorhens lay between four to twelve eggs but it's common that only the two eldest survive as had probably happened here.

I was pleased to be able to get closer than I ever had before to black-tailed godwits at Lodmoor. There were good numbers Lodmoor and a few at Radipole too.

Most appeared to still be in their browny-orange breeding plumage but the odd one, like the last photo here, were already in their winter plumage- it may be that this was a juvenile. 

Another, much smaller wader that was present at Lodmoor were dunlins

Dunlins are the most common wintering waders with around 360,000 birds feeding on our shores.

I'll leave you with a few more photos of the lovely Weymouth reserves. 

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