15 members and friends gathered on the car park at Lodmoor on a bright, sunny but slightly chilly morning. Andrew started out by describing how the marshland of Lodmoor had been designated an SSSI in 1952 but had still suffered from being used as the municipal rubbish dump until the 1970’s. Mercifully, only about a quarter was infilled but this is still evidenced by the vents allowing gases from the landfill to escape – into the car park. Nice.
Lodmoor lies on the east side of Weymouth the earlier parts of which lie on slightly higher ground which separates Lodmoor from Radipole Lake to the west. As the area drains south eastward toward the sea, the freshwater marshes become progressively more brakish until, close to the sea wall and the sluices which control the flow of water between the moor and the sea, it becomes saltmarsh.
The flat nature of the area means that reeds, rushes, and other vegetation can obstruct clear views, but we walked along the perimeter paths which gave good visibility out over some of the pools. There were plenty of birds to see including numerous Canada Geese, Lapwings, Teal, Mallard, Shoveller and Gadwall as well as a variety of gull species. The highlight was a flock of around 40 Golden Plover which occasionally got up and flew around together in the sunshine, alternately showing their white undersides and speckled golden upper parts as the swooped around in the blue sky. There were also plenty of Grey Herons as well as several Little Egrets and at least three Great White Egrets. Unfortunately, the Spoonbills which often show up at Lodmoor were not present. These, as well as Egrets, were very unusual birds on Lodmoor 30 years ago but are now relatively commonplace as they colonise the south of the country.
There were relatively few wader species to be seen. In addition to about a score of Black Tailed Godwits there were a handful each of Dunlin and Snipe.
After being a bit irritating by only showing briefly above the reeds a Marsh Harrier eventually made a decent, very visible flight across the moor. This is another bird, once vanishingly rare in Weymouth which is now resident and breeding and which can usually be seen at Lodmoor and Radipole.
After lunch we went over to Radipole Lake which, like Lodmoor, is now managed by the RSPB as a nature reserve. Very different to Lodmoor, visibility is much more restricted by the dense reed beds which make up so much of the reserve. In summer these are full of Reed and Sedge Warblers but throughout the year you can hear the distinctive, and very loud, call of the Cetti’s Warbler. We had our ears peeled for the distinctive call of the Bearded Tit or Bearded Reedling as it is now known (because technically it isn’t a Tit) because this beautiful but elusive bird is more often heard than seen. Unfortunately, we were unlucky although we did hear the unmistakable squealing call of the Water Rail, another rarely seen resident of the reed beds.
At the top end of the loop path known as Buddleia Walk, we had views out over the open water where we added Pochard and Tufted to our list of ducks. By the time we dispersed from the car park at Radipole we had seen or heard 40 species of birds, which included Swallow, several of which were flying over on their way south throughout the day.
Photo: Avocets (Izzy Fry)
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