June is a transitional month in the life of the reserve.  After all the spring activity as birds establish territories, find mates and build nests, after the new growth of the reeds, June calms down.  The reedbeds become quieter as the birds shift their effort to feeding young and our migrants start to put on weight for their next journey.  We still have a huge variety of species, 73 bird species in June, but most are a little harder to find.

In contrast, some are very much easier to find.  The most obvious examples are Mallards which have nearly finished raising their young, no longer need their breeding finery and go into a dramatic moult.  The males all lose their striking colours and all their flight feathers; what’s left is a layer of feathers that look almost identical to female plumage.  This has the advantage of being much better camouflage for a bird that is flightless for a few weeks.

Image credit: Kirsty Lindsay, 7 Male mallards all showing eclipse plumage

Image credit: Kirsty Lindsay, Mallard ducklings you will have seen in a couple of the recent blogs, almost fully grown!

Late May and June mark the start of dragonfly and butterfly season.  A few butterflies, often species that have over-wintered as adults, are on the wing in April and during June we saw 14 species during our weekly butterfly surveys (part of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme).  Dragonflies could be seen over open water hunting smaller insects or the females could be watched egg-laying by dipping the end of their abdomens just under the water’s surface and onto submerged vegetation. The easiest to spot (and to photograph) are the four spotted chasers which roost near the bouncy bridge and can frequently be seen there basking in the early sun.

Image credit: Hannah Beynon, Common Blue.

Image credit: Kirsty Lindsay, Shrill carder bee.

After a slow start in Spring (presumably because of the very sparse rainfall), our plants put on a lot of leafy growth with relatively few blooms in May.  But, in early June that changed, and we had a couple of very successful orchid walks.  We were able to show participants all five of our orchid species in a short walk not far from the visitor centre.  In between orchids we talked a bit about the useful (and not so useful) properties of many of our other wildflowers (in summary, don’t pick or eat any of them).  We’re now seeing Grass vetchling, Ribbed melilot, Narrow-leaved everlasting pea, as well as drifts of flowers from more common species.

Image credit: Jeremy White, Bee orchid. We counted over 20 bee orchids just around the welcome kiosk this year. 

We’ve had a few surprises, too.  A very dark Grass snake slithered across the drive past the visitor centre one afternoon (we’re not used to seeing them there).  And, the spilt food under the kiosk bird feeders have begun to attract badgers and provide some nice trail camera recordings.

Image credit: Charis White

We have had our most successful year with our bitterns, and they are still very active with almost daily sightings by many visitors. The feeding flights are in full swing with a hotspot on the western side of the reserve. Clearly there is lots of Rudd over there!


Image credit: Liv Davies

We are on Big Wild Summer countdown and we have a great plan of events for families and nature lovers. Check out our events here: https://events.rspb.org.uk/browse?filter[name]=newport

Our summer activities will be available to book soon. 

Common toad, Bearded reedling, Bittern, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-headed gull, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Collared dove, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great black-backed gull, great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey heron, Herring gull, Hobby, House martin, House sparrow, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lesser black-backed gull, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, little owl, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh harrier, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pochard, Raven, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Robin, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stonechat, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Tufted duck, Water rail, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren, Scorpion fly, Garden chafer beetle, Common carder bumblebee, Early bumblebee, Shrill carder bee, Comma butterfly, Common blue butterfly, Gatekeeper butterfly, Green-veined white butterfly, Large skipper butterfly, Large white butterfly, Meadow brown butterfly, Painted lady butterfly, Peacock butterfly, Red admiral butterfly, Ringlet butterfly, Small tortoiseshell butterfly, Small white butterfly, Speckled wood butterfly, Blue tailed damselfly, Common blue damselfly, Common darter dragonfly, Emperor dragonfly, Four spot chaser, Elephant hawk moth, Peppered moth, Poplar hawk moth, Badger, Bank vole, Brown rat, Grey squirrel, Rabbit, red fox, Stoat, Water vole, Bee orchid, Common spotted orchid, Marsh helleborine, Pyramidal orchid, Southern marsh orchid, great willow herb, hemp agrimony, ribbed melilot, rosebay willow herb, Grass snake


 Author: Jeremy White