This week has seen the continued rise of the insects!
The weekend was beautifully hot and sunny, which certainly brought many visitors to the reserve, luckily the swallowtails were also performing very well, with up to five swallowtails at once on our nectar garden by reception hide. This is without doubt, the top spot on the reserve for seeing and photographing the butterflies so it is definitely worth checking out first. We are probably at our peak swallowtail numbers right now, so with sunny spells this weekend I would expect them to continue being seen despite the predicted wind and showers on Saturday.
We have also seen good numbers of the more common butterfly species around the reserve with low numbers of wall brown, painted lady and brown argus still to be found if you are lucky.
Dragonfly numbers have increased dramatically this week, Norfolk hawkers are the most abundant large dragonfly currently on the wing, these can be seen best in the glades by the ‘gnarly oak’, the first section of the woodland path and along the meadow trail, but generally can be encountered anywhere on the reserve, watch out for their dazzling green eyes as they dash about. Other dragonflies on the wing include; hairy dragonfly, black-tailed and scarce chaser, four-spotted and broad-bodied chaser, banded demoiselle, variable, azure, common blue, blue tailed, red-eyed and small red-eyed damselflies. With tomorrows wind predictions, I would expect to see large numbers of Norfolk hawkers, as well as other dragonflies and damselflies in the clearings that are sheltered, it could be quite a sight!
Marsh harriers can be seen bringing food in to the nests and passing food to the females in dramatic ways (some are better at catching than others!). We have a number of bitterns flying around the reserve, some of which are hopefully nesting, please report any sightings to reception so that we can try to piece together the sightings and see if we do have any nests, as in a springwatch fashion, it’s a very important bit of citizen science for us! There are lots of family groups of bird species around the fen, including a flock of 30+ long-tailed tits, which are quite entertaining to watch, many of the young birds appear to have a smoky bandit mask still. A female/eclipse male garganey has been seen from Tower Hide on a few occasions this week along with at least 250 gadwall, great crested grebes with their humbugs as well as the black headed gulls still nesting on the island in front of the hide, many gull chicks can now be seen too. Lots of warblers are still present around the trails, however singing has become more restricted to early and late in the day.
The meadow trail is beginning to flower nicely now, however we are aware that there appear to be far fewer orchids than in previous years, perhaps due to last year’s very hot summer? The ragged robin flowers are now appearing in good numbers, which is a favourite of the swallowtails. There are two bee orchids (yet to flower) between the reception and the railway crossing and also the common twayblades one of which is in ‘full’ flower (see below), these can be found just left of the map sign.
The reserve is fully open and paths are in good condition. It is still just the first field that is open on the meadow trail, but thanks to the new ramp a circuit can still be made.
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