The hot dry summer conditions continues!

The highlight of the past fortnight has been the (re)discovery of white-letter hairstreak butterfly on the reserve, with three seen together on the bramble patches in the woodland. There was a single record 6 years ago and before that it was the 1970’s, so the re-emergence of a population is most encouraging. The hairstreaks have possibly eclipsed the confirmation that silver washed fritillaries are breeding on the reserve. We expected them to be breeding on the reserve as they were seen egg laying, but confirmation came in the form of an emergence at the same time as the more traditional sites in Norfolk. White admirals can also be seen throughout the woodland gliding effortlessly through the upper layer of the wood and coming down to the bramble and honeysuckle to breed. The odd swallowtail butterfly is still being seen, however they are now few and far between as the first brood is looking like it is coming to the end.

Dragonflies are also very evident across the reserve, with at least 21 species being on the wing at present. Norfolk hawkers are starting to be replaced by brown hawkers, the small red-eyed damselflies have emerged and are easiest to see on the small pond by reception and southern hawkers are starting to be seen along the woodland edges and riverbank paths.

Birds are still present on the reserve, the highlights being the fledging marsh harriers with their very dark plumage and ginger crowns. Kingfishers are still going back and forth with fish in their beak so second brood young cannot be too far away now. All the warblers are still present but are slightly more stealthy than they were in spring, quietly getting on with feeding their young.

Passage waders have already started to increase at Buckenham with 150 black tailed godwits present from the hide on Tuesday along with 60 avocets, 3 greenshank and a couple of ruff. Other birds present on the marshes include hobby, red kite, marsh harrier and plenty of lapwings and redshank.

The bulk of the reserve is open and in a very dry condition. However, the first meadow on the meadow trail is closed as we are cutting and turning the hay as well as getting the cattle in to graze off some of the rush and reed. This practice has been carried out on these meadows for 400 years and the reduction of biomass from every other field each year is the reason that they are so rich in flora. The meadow on the river side of the trail is still open, so the ditches, orchids and wildlife can still be enjoyed from half of the trail, although there is no through route, so the entrance and exit to the meadows will be from the steps to the river for a few weeks, please observe the signage in place.

There are plenty of insects around to enjoy at the moment and passage waders are also there to enjoy on the wet grassland and on the muddy fringes from Tower Hide so come and enjoy a summery Strumpshaw Fen!