This week, our wildlife garden is blooming the best it ever has done. With thanks to hardworking volunteers, the garden has been extended and transformed with lots of insect-friendly plants added. Jackie and James, our volunteer gardeners have done a fantastic job, nurturing plants in their greenhouse at home and then bringing them in to give us an outstanding array of flowers for our visitors and wildlife to enjoy. Our wildlife garden is situated next to our visitor centre so please do pop in and have a look!

It is important to create space for wildlife where we can, and a garden (or any small outdoor space) is perfect for it. From a small balcony or window box to acres of garden, everyone can do their bit to create a corridor of food and habitat for our insects, birds and other wild animals. Lots of plants rich in nectar for the insects include sunflowers, lavender, cosmos, sweet peas, fuchsias, foxgloves, snap dragons, and native wildflowers such as poppies, thistles, borage and daisies. 

Flowers that produce good seed heads for birds include sunflowers, teasels and thistles, so leave them standing once they've finished flowering and you might just see a few finches or tits who would be delighted to gobble them up for you!

It's important to try and create a food source for wildlife all year round. And encourage all wildlife. Remember slugs, ants and aphids are food for birds, hedgehogs and frogs! Please try and refrain from using pesticides as poison doesn't just stop at the 'pests' it enters the food chain and can hurt other wildlife too. The only thing we've done in our garden is rabbit proof it with fencing. There is plenty of food to eat for the rabbits elsewhere on the nature reserve, so they can keep off our nasturtiums! 

Last week we had the positive identification of a Norfolk Hawker on the reserve. This is a rare dragonfly, which has been increasing in range in recent years, with it first being recorded in Kent about 10 years ago. It is identified from the similar brown hawker through a few different features, such as bright green eyes as opposed to the brown of the brown hawker. It also has yellow on the abdomen compared to the blue of the brown hawker, the other key identifier is the colour of the wings with them being clear on the Norfolk and brown on the brown hawker.

Norfolk hawker

Birds of interest on the reserve this week include; large flocks of lapwing, common terns, glossy ibis, green sandpiper, black swan, cattle egret, ringed plover and cuckoo.

Green sandpiper - Dave Clarke