A mixed week of weather, starting off fairly cool and showery but ending with a bit of warmth, which is promised to continue through the weekend!
Due to the hot sunny conditions this weekend, I would say that it should be a very good weekend to see Swallowtail butterflies. They have been showing very well on the nectar garden by Reception, indeed this seems to be the most reliable location on the reserve; however they have also been seen along the Lackford Run, in the Meadow and along Tinkers Lane. With this being the first really good forecast while the swallowtails have been out, I expect the reserve to be fairly busy, so could I ask that all that come by car to park sensibly between the wooden posts as we are very space limited. Also a reminder that the cottages down Tinkers lane and their gardens are private property, please do not leave the track unless specifically invited.
Along with the swallowtails, we have also seen a decent selection of other butterfly species including several wall browns and a few brown argus as well as many of the more common species.
Dragonflies have begun to feature ever more on the sightings board, the first few Norfolk hawkers showing in the clearings along the trails, the area by the gnarly oak can be good, as can the overflow carpark! Scarce chasers can be encountered along the riverbank, red-eyed damselflies on the lillypads from the riverbank viewpoint and a good selection of blues including variable damselfly along all the trails. Hairy dragonflies are best seen in the Meadow or the first section of the woodland trail.
Birds have continued to sing well, but many are now busy feeding young so stop singing fairly early in the day. There are still at least three grasshopper warblers singing and two bitterns booming. The pair of spotted flycatchers spent Wednesday and Thursday in the den building area in the woods, one of the target species for the glades creation. Marsh harriers can be seen bringing in food to their nests, some of our males appear to be very pale this year, which sometimes causes a double take!
The fen meadow has been slow to start flowering this year, but we are starting to see the first few orchids emerge, bog bean leaves are visible in the meadow, but no flowers yet, the ragged robin has also started to flower, which is a favourite of the swallowtails. If in the meadows you may see a small purple pea-like flower with dark foliage, this is marsh lousewort and is an interesting parasitic plant favouring wet meadows. There are two bee orchids (yet to flower) between the reception and the railway crossing and also the common twayblades have just started to flower, these can be found just left of the map sign.
Moths have started to increase in number now that the temperatures have increased, our red-tipped clearwings have started to emerge and can be seen basking in the sunshine along Sandy Wall, they can also be seen nectaring on the guelder rose and creeping thistles. The clearwings are a rather odd family of moths, looking more like flies than moths!
The reserve is all open and paths are in good condition. The meadow trail is open between the gnarly oak/pond dipping platform and the new ramp (bridge in the middle is closed), the trail layout should be obvious and it is not necessary to untie roped off gates or to climb over them.
Enjoy your visit, it should be insect hunters paradise in the coming few days!
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