Lucy is our all rounder intern, and is having possibly the oddest introduction to the RSPB! 

Here she shares with us some of her highlights;

With the reserve only partially open, I thought I’d share some updates on some of our breeding successes, as well as some other wildlife that can be found in the parts of the reserve that are currently accessible.

Our nesting Bittern has been busy raising her chicks during lockdown, and we now have 3 or 4 youngsters roaming the reedbeds. They’ve been seen hanging around in the top of the reeds and stretching their wings; they don’t seem to quite know what to do with themselves yet. Booming can still be heard within the reserve and from Bolton Ings, and we believe there are 3 males in the area.

Bittern - Gerald Lax

Our first breeding pair of Marsh Harriers are also doing well, and can be seen from Bittern Bus Stop hunting above the reedbeds and bringing food back for their chicks. There is also a second, somewhat scruffy female which has been seen in the area. Other birds of prey have been showing well including Hobby, and a Peregrine is often seen sitting on the electricity pylons.

Marsh harrier - Gerald Lax

I’m happy to say a pair of Mediterranean Gulls which were pushed out of a spot in front of the family hide earlier in the year are currently with chicks on the mere, which can also be seen from Bittern Bus Stop.

With many of the trails and all hides being closed, I’ve been taking more time to observe the other wildlife around the reserve including plants and insects. Flowers like Ragged Robin, Marsh Marigold, Yellow Iris, and Marsh Orchid have been seen around the trails close to the visitor centre. We were beginning to lose hope of any Bee Orchids emerging, but a single flower spike was spotted behind a sapling on the path to the wildlife ponds by a couple of eagle-eyed visitors.

­­The eventual appearance of the sun the other week brought a wave of newly emerging dragonflies and damselflies. The Four-Spotted and Broad-Bodied Chasers have been joined recently by Common Darters, Emperors, and even Hairy Dragonflies. As well as masses of Azure and Common Blue Damselflies, there have been Banded Demoiselle, Blue-tailed, and Red-Eyed Damsels.

Newly emerged four spotted chaser - Lucy Kucharik

Female common blue damselfly - Lucy Kucharik

I’ve been trying my hand at moth trapping and have been amazed at the number and variety of species I find. Poplar Hawkmoths have been a common sight, with other impressive species like Eyed Hawk and Elephant Hawk appearing occasionally. Peppered, Buff-Tip, and White Ermine have been among my favourites, though identifying the many smaller, browner moths such has those in the Noctuid family (eg. Small Square Spot, Rustic Shoulder-Knot, Triple-Spotted Clay) has proven a fun challenge.

Eyed hawk moth - Lucy Kucharik

Peppered moth - Lucy Kucharik

One of my favourite sightings recently has been that of a large Grass Snake which I disturbed from its basking spot near the bank at bittern bus stop, it was only the slight rustling of the grass which made me turn around to see it crossing right across the path behind me!

Lastly, one surprising fact we’ve learned recently has come from a species we take for granted – the Seven-Spot Ladybird. Dozens of these have been pupating on the stone walls of the buildings here at old moor, and as we watched them emerge, we noticed that they came out yellow, turning red and gaining their spots as they dry out in the sun! Every day in nature is a school day.

Newly emerged seven spotted ladybird - Lucy Kucharik

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