It seems like mid Summer rather than Spring with all this glorious weather. The birds are just getting on with things regardless of course. Lapwing and redshank are the main waders about. Lapwing chicks have been seen from the hide. A pair of little grebe are often seen down in front of the hide. Yellow wagtails are about but are difficult to see. Our wonderful volunteers Rob, Jo and Mark have all seen red kite over the reserve recently. Also look out for marsh harrier, buzzard, sparrowhawk and hobby. The odd cuckoo and kingfisher are also being regularly seen. Bittern are regularly heard booming and are sometimes seen. These birds can be enjoyed in between listening to and searching for the reed, sedge and cetti's warblers. At Swell Wood the grey herons and little egrets are still nesting in the trees and hobbies are often seen over the woods.
Not too much management is happening at the moment, not by us anyway. The first cows are now back on the least sensitive marshes. We're concentrating on bird monitoring, on and off site.
Insects and particularly dragonflies are coming in to their own now. The early Large Red, Blue-tailed and Azure Damselflies have been joined by Variable Damselfly and there are plenty of Four-spotted Chasers and Hairy Dragonflies around.
Female Four-spotted Chaser (David Miller)
There are also a few day-flying moths to look out for such as Latticed Heath and Small Yellow Underwing.
Latticed Heath (David Miller)
The Small Yellow Underwing is uncommon but should be looked for where you find Common Mouse-ear, which is nearly everywhere where there is grassland! My strategy is not to look for it and suddenly it appears! It worked for me at Saltholme last year (didn't have my camera) and near Dewlands Farm on Saturday (had camera but muffed my settings). Still, I got this passable shot.
Small Yellow Underwing (David Miller)
Cuckoo-flower has had an excellent Spring season and Common Comfrey is now out in flower on the path edges.
In Swell Wood the Bluebells are going over now but there is still plenty to see. Some Early Purple-orchids are still in full bloom and if you're lucky you might bump in to Twayblade, a subtle orchid which is in full flower now. More obvious are Yellow Archangel, Wood-sorrel, Sweet Woodruff, Pignut, Sanicle, Bugle, Herb-robert, Wood Speedwell and Germander Speedwell.
Sweet Woodruff (David Miller)
Butterflies are going in to a quieter period as the Orange-tips and Green-veined Whites are declining in numbers, like the Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells. At the beginning of the month I bumped in to this impressive Longhorn Beetle with Helen, and then it flew on to my arm, for a selfie perhaps? It's about an inch long without the antennae.
Rhagium mordax in Swell Wood - a fairly common Longhorn Beetle (David Miller)
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