Further information can be found on the Sussex Wildlife Trust
This page is for information on all aspects of local wildlife. It provides
an additional home for monthly newsletters from the Sussex Wildlfie Trust, who
kindly provide the information on a regular basis. Click on the headings on
the left to read the news on Sussex wildlife and wildlife activities.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Here is the April news in brief from the RSPB reserves at Broadwater Warren and at Tudeley Woods.
- · Our summer events season starts in April with Dawn Chorus walks at Tudeley on the 14th and at Broadwater on the 22nd. In addition everyone is invited to our Tudeley Woods reserve on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th for a weekend of woodland flowers.
- · There are lots of birds on the reserves now. Chiffchaffs returned in March, as did Blackcaps. You can find details of both and hear their different songs via our website www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/index.aspx . Tree creeper, Nuthatch and Jay have all been regularly seen or heard, and Blue Tits and Great Tits have certainly been very busy.
- · A Woodlark was spotted at Tudeley Woods on 21st March on patches where heathland has been created. It has since been seen displaying and heard singing. This is the first Woodlark recorded at Tudeley since a brief sighting in summer 2009.
- · Our ponds are alive with frogs. At the Decoy Pond at Broadwater, the western end has big patches of frog spawn. Over the next two years we’ll be gently restoring and enhancing this pond.
- · There is now plenty of butterfly and moth activity at the reserves. Butterflies you might see include Comma, Brimstone, Orange-tip, Holly Blue, Small White, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and Peacock. There have been Orange Underwing moths flying around the car park at Broadwater and a Ruby Tiger moth has pupated on the post of the kissing gate.
- · 5 Exmoor Ponies arrive at Broadwater Warren on 4th April. They will spend the summer with us, grazing in the newly cleared areas and in the small wet woodland and grassland paddock. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to help with the regular checks.
- · The Broadwater Warren Doggy Code leaflets are now available at all entrances to the reserve. These remind everyone what is expected. Crucially, dogs must be kept on the paths and under control (not necessarily on leads). We hope this will be useful and will also resolve the problems being caused by irresponsible dog walkers. We’ve also set up an informative web page
- · More trail improvements will take place in April and May. At Broadwater we’re extending the nature trail to include the zig-zag boardwalk and improving several other tracks. At Tudeley we’re renewing trail markers and refreshing our three different trails.
Please check out our reserve webpages for details of events and to see recent photos
What an exciting time on the RSPB Weald nature reserves.
- · Woodlark returned to Broadwater Warren on February 16th, after many years absence. They have taken residence on areas cleared of conifer. Their lovely, warbling, descending song might be heard at any time of day but your best chance of hearing them is morning on the eastern side of the reserve. It’s well worth a listen to the song on our website.
- · Other birds to listen out for at the moment include Yellowhammer, Goldcrest, Blackbirds and Song Thrush. Sparrowhawks, Buzzards and Crossbills have also been regular visitors. Some of the Crossbills at our Tudeley Woods reserve have been observed feeding on chestnut buds and grubs, rather than the usual pine cone seeds. Several Woodcock have been seen and there has also been a report of a Firecrest at Broadwater. Soon we might hear the Blackcaps adding their tuneful twitter. You can hear an example here.
- · Our winter work programme is now complete. The cutting of vegetation, coppicing, scrub clearance, control of invasive species, pond creation, scrapes and fencing are now all done. It’s now all about seeing and enjoying the wildlife.
- · Five Exmoor Ponies will be arriving in April. We are looking for volunteers to carry out the checking of the ponies, water and fences one nominated day per month. Please contact us if you can help by e-mail or tel:01892 752430
- · Our Broadwater conservation volunteer team planted another 100 trees in February. The trees are being planted to enhance the woodland and provide more diversity, especially for dormice. Oak, Hazel, Willow and Mountain Ash have all been planted in abundance, as well as shrubby plants like Hawthorn, Spindle and Field Maple.
- · Three new ponds have been created and we hope these will quickly be colonised by all sorts of wonderful wildlife. Now all we need is some rain! We’ll monitor how these ponds and scrapes develop and, based on this experience, develop more ponds and scrapes for wildlife over the coming seasons.
- · A new Doggy leaflet will be launched at Broadwater in March. This small postcard reminds and encourages dog walkers to follow our code to help everyone enjoy the nature reserve and avoid disturbance to the wildlife. The code merely states what is already requested and will hopefully lead to a better experience for everyone. Most of our dog walkers and their dogs are excellent and I’m very grateful to the group of Broadwater Warren dog walkers who have helped to develop this leaflet.
- · A national meeting of Woodland Wardens took place at Tudeley Woods and Broadwater Warren. As well as RSPB wardens, there were also representatives from Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation, Sussex Wildlife Trust and The Bat Conservation Trust.
- · Our early summer events programme is attached. We hope you will join us on the reserves. Most of the events require pre-booking, and places are limited, so please contact us to book your places.
- · Our first butterfly of the year, a Red Admiral, was spotted on a warm 4th January. Last year we had to wait until 16th February before a butterfly was recorded.
- · Woodlarks will now be returning to the High Weald to look for breeding territories. These lovely birds (similar to skylarks) could find the newly cleared areas at Broadwater especially attractive. They haven’t bred at Broadwater for many years and their long-term decline was one of the key factors in the RSPB buying the site in 2007 and embarking on this ambitious landscape restoration project. It would be lovely if 2012 was the year they came back. Please let us know if you hear one on the reserve. You can hear their distinctive song on the following webpage: http://www.rspb.org.uk/woodlark
- · The new fencing and gates at Broadwater are almost complete. We’ve created a 150 acre area that can be grazed. Five Exmoor Ponies will be arriving in April. They are currently grazing on the South Downs where they spend their winters mulching through the rank grasses. Here’s their website: http://sussexponygrazing.co.uk
- · Large flocks of Lesser Redpoll have been seen up on the eastern side of the reserve. Flocks of 50+ have been seen frequently. A flock of over 300 was whirling over the open areas on 16th January.
- · A new sighting for the reserve: On 26th January, a Little Egret was seen flying over from north to south. The killing of Little Egret for their feathers was one of the factors that led to the establishment of the RSPB. This beautiful white heron returned to breed in the UK in 1996 and is now a regular and successful breeding species. http://www.rspb.org.uk/littleegret
- · Another unusual sighting.... a Mazda MX5 was spotted at various locations on the reserve, after contractors left a gate open and a visitor drove in, looking for the car park. Finding the gate then locked he had to call us at the reserve office to be let out.
- · Several wooden towers have appeared on the reserve, built from the off-cuts left over from the recent felling work. We rather like having a couple of these interesting and surprising environmental sculptures on the reserve. You can see photos on our Broadwater blog: http://www.rspb.org.uk/broadwaterwarren
- · We’re not only removing trees at Broadwater, we’re also planting trees. 16 of our volunteers have just attended a tree-planting training day and planted 50 native trees and shrubs in an area that we have coppiced for the benefit of our resident dormice. More tree planting will take place in February to enhance areas for dormice and to help restore a rich and diverse native woodland.
- · An excavator has been busy at Broadwater all winter, creating soil scrapes and piling up the material into bunds. This will have uncovered the heather seedbank and we should see lots of heather growing in the scraped areas in 2012 and 13. This expensive but effective method of soil preparation should produce benefits in heather growth for at least 70 to 80 years.
- · 3 small ponds are about to be dug. This is something of a test but we hope these spots will become focal points for wildlife and will also provide an alternative water source for the grazing animals. If successful, we hope more small ponds can be created over the next few years.
- · The dam at the decoy pond has had to be repaired and reinforced this winter. More work at this large pond will take place in 2012 and 13 to make pond more wildlife friendly. Coppicing the trees on the island is going to be a particular challenge!...any volunteers?!?
- · Coppice cutters are close to completing their winter cutting at Tudeley. These guys are cutting sweet chestnut which is then shaped for fencing or other uses. The coppice stools then regrow and the same area can be re-cut in around 15 years time. In the meantime there is a flush of woodland flowers that is great for butterflies and other insects. The new fence posts at Broadwater were cut from the woodland at Tudeley.
- · Heather cut at our Tudeley Woods Reserve has been used at the new Pembury Hospital site in the ground work and restoration around the new hospital buildings. The heather cuttings will provide seeds that help lovely heather-rich banks to develop around the site.
- · Assistant Warden, Mathew Allen, and a team of volunteers finished opening up one of the main rides that had been made impassable by scrub and logs. This work has created a beautiful sunny ride that will be great for butterflies like the Silver-washed Fritillary. Link: http://tinyurl.com/swfritillary
- · An exciting and varied 2012 events programme for both Broadwater and Tudeley is being put together. Details will be sent out in the March update.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.
RSPB Weald Sites Manager
Mobile: 07766 697785; Office: 01892 752431
RSPB Wealden Office, Unit 10, Sham Farm Business Units, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 9JA
Here are some links:
RSPB Broadwater Warren: http://www.rspb.org.uk/broadwaterwarren
Sussex Wildlife Trust reserves: http://www.sussexwt.org.uk/reserves/index.htm
The short-haired bumblebee reintroduction: http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/subt_project.html
Sussex Butterflies news and sightings: http://www.sussex-butterflies.org.uk/sightings.html
Photo courtesy of Bill Baston
And now - click here to hear the Wadhurst nightingale:
recorded by Peter Collins on a tiny Sanyo digital recorder in May. Turn
the volume fo your speakers down or you will be deafened!
If you would like to hear more - Peter can supply a 16 minute CD for
£3. Contact him by e-mail