This week has seen the temperatures rise and has mainly been sunny, which in turn has caused a good increase in insects!
The main news this week is that the swallowtail butterflies have started to emerge!
The first butterfly was seen on 14 May, but they have taken a little while to get going. This week’s warm conditions have initiated an increase in sightings, however they can still take some finding. There have been sightings on our nectar garden, from Fen Hide, along the meadow trail and along Lackford Run. To maximise your chancing of seeing these stunning butterflies pick a warm sunny day as they do not like flying on cool or cloudy days. There is not a huge amount of nectar on the reserve at the moment, so my tip is to find a sheltered sunny area containing nectar and wait, the nectar garden by Reception is a good place for this. Also, a quick reminder that residents gardens are not open to access so please respect privacy and do not enter anyone’s garden unless specifically invited. We should see a further increase in sightings until the second week of June, so they are not on the wing for long, but this is all very weather dependant.
Bird sightings this week have included the return of the pair of spotted flycatchers in the wood, an increase in kingfisher sightings across the reserve, while in the air hobbys have been showing well, with up to seven seen at once chasing dragonflies over the fen. Male marsh harriers have been bringing in food throughout the day to feed their females and young on their nests, the food passes are becoming more regular and shall increase in frequency as the juveniles grow and require more regular feeding. Two bitterns continue to boom, at least three cuckoos have been seen together, with one female present, currently surveying the reedbeds for potential nesting sites.
Butterflies have really increased this week, as well as the swallowtails we have seen orange-tip, small white, large white, green-veined white, speckled wood, brimstone, holly blue, brown argus, wall brown, red admiral and peacock.
Dragonflies are now appearing in decent numbers too; hairy dragonfly remains the largest on show, while scarce chaser and four-spotted chasers are also on the wing, damselflies include large-red, azure and variable as well as banded demoiselle. We would expect Norfolk Hawker to emerge in the first two weeks of June as long as the weather conditions remain favourable.
The reserve is all open and paths are in good condition. The meadow trail is open between the ‘new’ ramp and the steps up to the riverbank, so it is not the usual trail format with the bridge in the middle, but should be obvious and it's not necessary to untie roped off gates or to climb over them.
Enjoy your visit, we look forward to welcoming you to Strumpshaw Fen!
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