Mersehead Recent Sightings 22nd - 28th June 2019

This week has been a warm week with daily temperatures reaching over 20°! We are feeling the heat on the reserve, however thankfully not 40° like Europe. The warm temperatures seem to have awaken the Painted Lady Butterflies, you can see them all over the reserve, particularly near the coast on the yellow flowering plant, Sea Radish. Painted lady butterflies are a very common species and can be found all over the world, except for Australia and Antarctica. It’s not just been about the Painted Lady's though as there have been lots of different butterflies around the reserve. Small Copper, Small Heath, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Green Veined White, Small White, Ringlet and Common Blue have all been noted.

Painted lady. Photo credit: Dave Jackson

Species found in our moth trap Thursday night included Buff Ermine, Marbled Minor, Middle-barred Minor, The Flame, Flame Shoulder, Dog’s Tooth, Dusky Brocade and many more! There were 14 different species and 42 individuals all together. A Mottled Rustic was identified by its blurred kidney marks. This moth is a species of high conservation concern and is listed as a UK BAP priority species meaning there is concern over the threat to this species. Around reserve, day flying moths Six-Spotted Burnet and Cinnabar have been spotted. The Cinnabar moth is easily spotted by its black and bright red colouring- this colouring warns predators that it is extremely unpleasant to eat. The larvae feed on the poisonous leaves of Ragwort, from which the poisonous substance remains in the body until the adult stage to give a fowl taste if preyed upon.

Cinnabar moth. photo credit: C. Pollard

 The warm temperature also means that the Natterjack Toad pools have been drying out. Around 80% of one of our most tadpole abundant pools has dried out. We noticed that the pool was quickly drying out and to try and save some that was isolated from the rest, we excavated a small channel between the isolated patch and the rest of the pool. It was great to see the tadpoles instant swim through what the volunteers called ‘Tadpole Alley’. Even though the pool has dried out from the hot weather, there are still 11 different spawn strings which have all developed into tadpoles.

Digging the channel for the pools to connect. Photo credit: C. Pollard

Sightings from our visitor centre includes Sparrowhawk, 6 Stock Doves, 2 Cuckoos, Peacock Butterfly Caterpillars cluster found on a nettle leaf. The Barn Owl was spotted flying out of the old farm buildings this week. A Kestrel and Red kite were also spotted. Lesser White Throat, Green Woodpecker, Rock Pipet on coastal trail by saltmarsh, in the woodland Spotted Flycatcher, Treecreeper family, Nuthatch, Wren, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Great Tit family and a Whitethroat in the hedgerows along the main track. Common Spotted-Orchid is also popping up around the reserve. The petal colour can range from white to pale pink to purple and have distinct pink spots and stripes. The name comes from the purple ovals on the green leaves.  

Common Spotted-Orchid. Photo Credit: Dave Jackson

Red Kite and Hen Harrier were spotted from the Bruiach hide this week along with 16 Lapwing, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Curlew, and 3 Heron.  

Sightings from our Meida hide include a Moorhen family with 4 chicks, a Swan family with 4 cygnets, Sand Martin, Swallow, Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Buzzard, Speckled Wood butterfly and the an Otter has been spotted in the evening at around 7:30pm.

Speckled Wood butterfly. Photo Credit: Dave Jackson

On Tuesday morning, we held a beach clean event. We do beach cleans to pick up the plastic waste from our beach, to prevent it from entering our environment. There was a good team of both the public and our regular volunteers. When it comes to beach cleans, every little helps and there are future beach clean events taking place this year. Our next beach clean is on the 27th August. Visit our website to get information on how to get involved.

We have other events coming up including Summer Discovery Walks- discover what summer brings with a guided walk around the reserve, Badger Banquet event- come and watch badgers feeding in our garden from the indoor comfort of the Sulwarth Centre, and On the Night Watch – search for creatures of the night with a short walk using infra-red cameras and bat detectors. See what insects you can catch at Under the Surface- Pond Dipping.


Cheye Pollard

Residential Volunteer