I'd just like to start by apologising for the lack of blogs since David left. We are doing what we can, but please bear in mind, we are short staffed, and with lots to do out on the reserve, we just haven't had the time to do more of the blogging side of things. David's replacement will start in mid August, when hopefully the blogs and recent sightings will be updated a bit more regularly! Here's what's been going on for the last week or so...
You can tell it's a bit quiet on the bird front, when all we write about on the blog is about insects! I've been moth trapping fairly regularly on the reserve, with Friday mornings being the main time reserved for looking through the moth trap. A good haul from last night with 49 species (there were more, but the robin beat me to some and I didn't quite get all the micro-moths...) found in the trap. Top of the list was a Dewicks plusia, which is an immigrant to these shores, although there is a thought that they are now breeding in the UK.
Photo credit: Katherine Puttick
I'll not list the other 48 (though if you are interested, let me know!) but canary-shouldered thorn, broad-bordered yellow underwing, yellow tail, brown tail, white satin, scalloped oak, archers dart, copper underwing and coxcomb prominent were among the catch (check out the Norfolk moth website for pictures).
Plenty of dragonflies still on the wing, including scarce chaser, brown hawker, emperor and southern hawker. Here are two super photo's of common darter and four-spotted chaser both by Matt Walton.
Out on the reserve, we've been busy trying to keep the grass down at viewpoints and along the trails. We are always very aware that there are lots of flowering plants (some may say weeds...) along the edges of paths, and that these produce a good source of nectar for our local (and indeed immigrant) insects. So we do try and avoid large patches of flowers where we can. With that in mind, if you happen to be walking along a well mown path, and you come across a slightly rougher bit with some clover, etc in it - we haven't missed it, it's been left intentionally for the bees!
It's also amazing what you can find when you're trying to be selective about what you are cutting. Whilst strimming along a footpath in Botany Bay (carefully of course to avoid common-meadow rue - food plant of the rare marsh carpet moth), I found this stunning musk beetle. They live for up to three years as a larvae!
Photo credit: Katherine Puttick
Two more insects of note to mention...we had our first humming-bird hawkmoth of the year feeding on toadflax at the western end of the reserve at the start of the week. And in the same area a few days later, Emma spotted a small, but perfectly formed, wasp spider, also a first for the year. Keep an eye out for these stunning stripey spiders, which could turn up anywhere on the reserve.
As I mentioned at the start, it has been fairly quiet for birds lately. Juvenile marsh harriers are very entertaining just now as they burst from the reedbed when they see one of their parents coming back with food. They're very demanding! Look out for three with green wing tags, which were tagged a few weeks ago as part of a long term project to find out marsh harrier movements. Bitterns have been showing well, particularly at Mere Hide and from Joist Fen viewpoint.
Photo credit: Matt Walton
Our resident cranes still have not fledged their single chick, but hopefully it should be airborne any day now. We get glimpses of it on a trail camera, but otherwise they are keeping themselves very hidden! There have been another pair of cranes around in the last few days, we're not quite sure who they are or where they're from, but it's certainly been nice seeing them!
Kingfishers have been showing well on the visitor centre pond, with a favourite perch being the one closest to the centre near the right hand feeder!
That's about all to report at the moment! If you have any photo's you would like us to use on the blog or in the visitor centre, please do send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We always like to see your photo's!
Hope to see you on the reserve soon!
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