The Mersehead Warden lives on the reserve and is going to try and keep you updated on the wonderful wildlife they see at Mersehead at this challenging time during their daily walk and whilst completing essential work on the reserve in line with government guidance.

RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 2nd – 8th May 2020

As Sunday was a bright and sunny day I decided to hunt amongst the Cuckooflower for Orange-tip butterfly eggs. The eggs are usually laid on the flower stalk and are surprisingly easy to spot even though they are only 1-3mm. The eggs are white when first laid, quickly changing to a vivid orange. Caterpillars will quickly hatch and will molt through 5 different stages, known as instars before the caterpillar creates a pupa where it will remain for the next 10 months. I will have to see if I can find some caterpillars to photograph over the bank holiday weekend!

Orange-tip butterfly egg. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

With white butterflies fluttering in every direction across the wetlands it can be confusing to know which species you are watching. Eventually however, they will settle to feed which is a great opportunity to study the delicately patterned underwing. The green and yellowish mottled patterning of the Orange-tip butterfly is very distinctive whereas the Green-veined White butterfly derives its name from the underwing design. As its name would suggest the Large White is larger than the other two butteries and again has a different underwing pattern.

Orange-tip. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Green-veined White. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Large White: Photo credit. G.Chambers

For those concerned by the damage inflicted to the sand dunes by the spring tides in March there is some good news! The strong eastly winds over the last few weeks have blown sand particles down the beach which have become trapped by the marram grass and built up at the base of the dunes. After the much more devasting storm surge in 2014, the sand dunes naturally recovered and the same is gradually happening again.

Dunes reforming. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Dune ridge forming. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Whilst walking around the back of the reedbed I noticed an obvious run over the banking where the grass was flattened. As this run was coming out of the water, I guessed that it had probably been created by an otter. I returned with a camera and recorded an assortment of mammals and a woodpigeon on this busy highway! Below are some stills from the video footage the camera recorded. A camera trap is a great way to find out what nocturnal wildlife is visiting your garden too.

I am extremely lucky to live at Mersehead and to still be able to walk across the reserve and complete essential work in line with government guidance.

We look forward to welcoming visitors back to Mersehead again once restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, stay safe and I hope you enjoy the weekly Mersehead updates.

Rowena Flavelle, Warden

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