Hello and welcome to another round up of all the action we’ve enjoyed seeing across WWT reserves, throughout the month of June. This month we waved goodbye to spring and celebrated summer with the longest day of the year. We also began to re-open our centres so perhaps some of you have been able to see, with your own eyes, some of what is to follow!
It is the height of summer and prime time for insects on the wing, and our wetland sites are great places to see beautiful butterflies and dragonflies. Birds have also started to arrive back from their breeding grounds; the return migration has started!
Mid-summer is a beautiful time. With the longest daylight hours of the year, you have to be up early in order to catch the summer solstice sunrise!
Happy #CelebrateTheFens Day. A summer sunrise and a winter sunset at Welney. The Fens have amazing views of the skies, made even better when reflected by water. Fen wetlands are incredible places for wildlife and for connecting people to the nature that surrounds them. pic.twitter.com/LQXb5IRSJ0— WWT Welney (@WWTWelney) June 20, 2020
The early migrators have already set off! Waders and ducks are being sighted across our wetlands, as they stopover on their way to their wintering grounds.
We are seeing many parading their breeding plumage and some more unexpected visitors than others, from ruff in their fantastic fluffy finery to a rather lost pale-bellied brent who should be breeding in Iceland at this time of year!
This male garganey was stunning in his breeding plumage. But now that the job of impressing the ladies with his fancy dress is done, it’s time to moult and grow anew. Once fully feathered, he’ll be heading to the warmth of central Africa to over-winter.
Rushy Hide- Drake Garganey now moulting (see video) + two pairs of Avocet nesting, pair with chick (a few more feeding or half heartedly nest prospecting), pair L.R Plover, pair Oystercatcher, 60+ Gadwall, drake Teal, 3 broods Shelduck and more... #GlosBirds pic.twitter.com/MACkqDB0h6— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) June 4, 2020
Green sandpipers are being seen passing through on their return journey from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia, to their wintering grounds in southern Europe and Africa (although a small number will winter in southern England). They’re one of the first waders to be seen passing through and most years you can make a pretty safe bet you’ll see one in mid-June!
The elegant greenshank breeds in the north of Scotland and in Scandinavia. This one is likely a failed breeder and so is now on its way back south, still in breeding finery.
Breeding plumage Greenshank again on the Top New Piece earlier today, has been appearing erratically since last Thursday so it may be feeding out of sight in the Bottom New Piece. Phone-scoped from the Zeiss Hide. #GlosBirds pic.twitter.com/DYW3kksMCI— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) June 28, 2020
Meanwhile our new young keep on getting bigger, others are still breeding, and new life is in full flux with youthful boundless energy.
Here is a glimpse of the goings-on down at South Lake, with avocet chicks growing up fast and wading out into the water, their protective parents keeping an eye. Further from view on the island itself some black-headed gull chicks have hatched.
At least 37 Avocet chicks counted on the South Lake yesterday and many of the Black-headed Gull clutches have hatched, it's very noisy out there! Still 15+ Avocet nests with incubating birds sitting @BBCSpringwatch pic.twitter.com/qRFSszoIBk— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) June 9, 2020
As you can imagine there is a very real need for the chicks to stay well camouflaged otherwise they can often fall prey to predators like this Marsh harrier - a top predator of our wetlands. This female is likely to be providing for her own young family.
Zeiss Hide - Marsh Harrier now moved to Top New Piece and caught Moorhen chick. Flock of 60 Black-tailed Godwit on scrape with 76 Avocet, pair of Oystercatcher, 47 Teal, 31 Gadwall and 11 Shoveler #GlosBirds pic.twitter.com/ivpbajb7ea— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) June 12, 2020
It’s noisy down at Washington now among the breeding common tern colony, which is full of nests, young fluffy chicks waddling around, and squawking mothers.
The weather may have turned but that hasn't stopped our common tern colony! This week we've spotted 25 brand new fluffy chicks joining the boisterous adults on Wader Lake. With roughly 125 nests on the shingle islands, there'll hopefully be many more to come! #springwatch pic.twitter.com/VJhwFQRLGB— WWT Washington (@WWTWashington) June 12, 2020
Castle Espie have been enjoying the lovely sight of a young family of common golden eye ducklings.
We've been enjoying watching a family of common goldeneye in our collection this spring. The thing is, they aren't part of our collection - they're completely wild! pic.twitter.com/MwAk9JHJa6— WWT Castle Espie (@WWTCastleEspie) June 16, 2020
And at Martin Mere it’s exciting to see a Great Crested Grebe mother with young ducklings in tow.
GREBOS: Our Great Crested Grebes are now a family unit, with some of the youngsters often hitchng a ride. We also have a couple of pairs of the more secretive little grebes but snatching just a few moments of video is quite difficult before they duck out of view. pic.twitter.com/hg733ZTAH8— WWT Martin Mere (@WWTMartinMere) June 2, 2020
It doesn’t always have to be about birds here at WWT. Here is a roe deer with her adorable young fawn cautiously keeping very close to its mother at Caerlaverock.
At this time of year it’s also bug-life that really comes into its own. In warmer weather, insects of the air do not sit around in the sun. They are busy flitting and zipping around water bodies, so we are lucky to get some good snapshots of these small, speedy creatures on the wing.
Firstly, at the beginning of the month we have this incredible photo of an Emperor dragonfly freshly emerged from its nymph form.
These black-tailed skimmer dragonflies were captured mating at Welney. They patrol the lagoons low to the water, which gives them their name.
The sun is back just in time for National Insect Week. These black-tailed skimmer dragonflies are about on the wing at the moment, males can be seen patrolling areas of open water like the main lagoon, finding sunny patches of shoreline to sit and survey. #NIW2020 pic.twitter.com/kkIIo973m0— WWT Welney (@WWTWelney) June 22, 2020
At Steart Marshes we have also witnessed an abundance of Meadow browns which you might also have noticed in surrounding open grassland and along hedgerows near you!
There's certainly no denying that it's meadow brown time of year in the world of butterflies! 64 were spotted yesterday during an hour long walk on Otterhampton marsh & the wetland walkway. Also some large skippers are out at the moment - beautiful stripy antennae if you zoom in! pic.twitter.com/G3NbyZKxjt— WWT Steart Marshes (@WWTSteart) June 17, 2020
And finally, here is the beautiful common spotted orchid, one of the sure signs that summer is finally here!
We hope you can join us in saying, ‘hare-ray’ for another reserves round-up!
Morning session on South Middle (aka road field) with cut and collect machine, selective mowing the new headlands (green hay spread in 2019) Flower rich hay full of butterflies, the new ponds and ditches hosting numerous dragonflies and our first Brown Hare sighting for years! pic.twitter.com/unDkgQfe2W— Slimbridge Sightings (@slimbridge_wild) June 24, 2020