Aside from yesterday's birds, if you like your insects the reserve won’t disappoint either- we are bursting at the seams with migrant hawker, brown hawker and ruddy darter dragonflies. Common darter, red-eyed damselfly, common blue damselfly and southern hawker are plentiful too. The butterflies taking centre stage at the moment are the late summer specialists- red admirals and painted ladies, both of which are everywhere, especially on buddleia and hemp agrimony flowers. They are often joined on the buddleia by the chunky and impressive volucella zonaria, a harmless hoverfly that does its best to mimic the looks and habits of a hornet to keep itself safe, when it really has no real defences. It’s about as big as a bumblebee and quite approachable if you are after photos. Hummingbird hawkmoth have been occasional on the buddleia too, a beautiful graceful migrant that always seems, to me, too tropical for our climate. This year is pretty good for them- perhaps they rode over on the backs of the all the painted ladies that have arrived here this summer.

 Photo credit: Migrant hawkers by Heidi Jones

Other butterflies to keep an eye out for include common blue, brown argus, small tortoiseshell, small white (looking really fresh at the moment), comma and peacock. Comma are another species that thrive in late summer and have a love of overripe blackberries and other wild fruit such as sloes (blackthorn fruit). Interestingly, the second brood of comma that are on the wing now usually have a darker underside as they are likely to be the ones to hibernate when the weather turns colder, and it helps with camouflage- this is thought to be the reason for the difference. With wings closed, nestled in a bark crevice or shady spot, you can imagine how hard they might be to see. The odd brimstone and speckled wood should be on the wing too.

 Photo credit: Red admiral and hornet mimic hoverfly by Heidi Jones

Our little common lizard, with a very long tail, has developed a bit of a following as he/she likes to bask on the wooden sleepers that make up the planters in front of the centre. He/she is quite content to watch people walk past as it soaks up the rays! It does it’s best to blend in but keep an eye for a pair of beady black eyes looking back at you.

There’s still a few flowers in bloom on the trails at the moment, with hemp agrimony, yarrow, tufted vetch, hawkweeds and common toadflax all popular with the bees and the butterflies.

 Photo credit: Common toadflax by Heidi Jones

Five things to look out for on a visit in the coming weeks:

  1. Good numbers of beautiful autumn butterflies like comma, red admiral and peacock as we flap towards autumn.
  2. Wader lucky dip on the Washland, viewable from the footpath on the flood bank) where you could see passage waders like green sandpiper.
  3. Ripening berries- blackberries, sloes and hawthorn berries ripening ready to feed hungry birds.
  4. Fungi, such as the impressive puffballs growing on the footpath from the Photography Station to the Visitor Centre.
  5. A last chance to see hobby, swallows, house martins and warblers before they move south for the winter.

 

Hope to see you soon!

Anonymous