Not quite such a nice week weatherwise on the reserve but we've still had plenty of satisfied visitors and a great selection of wildlife on offer. During sunnier spells one of the most noticeable things has been the sudden movement of invertebrates when the temperature goes up. Dragonflies are some of our most obvious and amazing insects on offer. More species are merging as time goes on. This week we've seen: Emperor, Black tailed Skimmer, Broad Bodied Chaser, Scarce Chaser (one last week too) and an abundance of 4 Spotted Chasers - particularly around parts of Waltons and Loxtons. On cooler mornings they can be seen perched on reeds waiting to catch some sun and warm up - an excellent photo opportunity. Another great snap from John Crispin proves the point:
In terms of damselflies there are again several species on the wing. The blues in particular are hard to tell apart to the untrained eye. At present the majority are Azures but there are a smattering of Variable damselfly and a few Common Blues just to confuse things. Blue tailed damselfly, Large Red and Red Eyed are all present and one of my favourites the Banded Demoiselle (thanks to Giles Morris for the photo of this male):
These were seen around the Waltons gate yesterday - they fly very differently to other dasmsels and are easy to pick out. In fact this Waltons gateway was a bit of a hub of activity yesterday. Red Eyed Damselflies could be seen sitting on floating vegetation and a Marsh Frog could be seen in the drain inflating his air sacks and croaking - there's quite a chorus from these at the moment. A stoat also ran across this gateway during the day too and just at the top on the track a small adder linked quickly across the track. Grass Snake had also been seen around the Waltons Trail - this is now also the GIving Nature a Home Trail. A walk around here will give you many ideas how you could help nature where you live no matter how small your garden. The corner by the bend in the boardwalk and pondsis particularly interesting.
On the bird front there have been many stars this week. As is usual for the month of May, Bitterns have been very active. Some females are feeding young but there are still interactions between birds with several chases in flight seen this week. These four were captured by John Crispin this week:
4 Bitterns in flight
The footage on Spring watch this week has been fascinating and goes to show there is still much to learn about these birds.
Another 2 stars have been the Common Terns in Waltons. They are often on the small floating pallets and not, unfortunately on the lovely tern raft provided not far away. The blog post previous to this gives a bit more detail. Fascinating to watch these birds and their behavior too.
Yet another favourite has got to be the Barn Owl. Often seen out hunting in the daytime (particularly if wet the night before) is a good indication that there are young which need feeding. They have also been seen perched outside the box oppostite the 1st platform but today too one was using the Kestrel nest box which is in a Silver Birch a little distance left of the owl box. They have been seen daily and are always a treat.
Cuckoos have been a regular sight and sound on the reserve this week. They have been seen both in flight and perching around Waltons, Loxtons and in front of the 1st platform and the familiar sound of spring is heard frequently each day.
Another top sighting of the week was that of 2 Otters swimming within Waltons on bank holiday Monday. We find a fair number of signs of the presence of Otter but sightings are hard to come by and always most welcome along with two other firm favourites, Great White Egrets & Marsh Harriers which have a good number of sightings on a daily basis.
Also this week: Bullfinches on the rail path, several sightings of Great Spotted Woodpecker including 2 this morning over the 1st platform, a fair number of Hobby sightings particularly at the back of Loxtons from the 2nd platform (Street Heath area), KIngfishers at several locations but Waltons a good bet with one perched by the screens on Thursday, Peregrine reported this morning but unsure of location - Loxtons area I think, Rabbit seen on rail path and evidence of continued use by Badgers, Roe deer in field on reserve perimeter, 2 Shelduck in Long Drove section and several Great Crested Grebes but the best being 2 adults with 3 young in Waltons.
That's it for this week - have a great weekend!
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