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Your window on wetland wildlife - July 2020

Posted on 07 Aug 2020

As promised, we have another whistle-stop tour of some of the top wildlife highlights from across our site reserves throughout these changeable summer days of July.

Now’s the time for the rearing and fledging of young, with protective parents chasing off preying predators. Many species are in a feeding frenzy, fattening up before the colder months ahead when the abundance of food, which is currently readily available, becomes a lot sparser. Some birds will need that energy to make the long migration south for the winter…

Chick sensations

First off, in case you missed all the excitement around the appearance of black winged stilt chicks on our reserve at Steart, enjoy this short video clip as the new family wade in the shallows, blissfully unaware of their new-found fame on social media.

This species is rarely seen in the UK and breeding attempts are rarer still. To hatch out three chicks is a big deal and the only ones we know of in the country this year – most other stilts will be breeding around the Mediterranean.<

And a very cute photo of one of the young Little Ringed Plover chicks looking very healthy and going strong at Slimbridge.

Do the twist

Egrets are also common visitors, most staying all year round, due to changes in our weather patterns. At Washington, Reserve Warden David Dinsley, has been observing them doing what looks like a version of River Dance perhaps, performing this foot stirring technique to force their prey hiding in the silt up into the water.

If you’re in the WWT Washington area and you spot a little egret, you can contribute to our survey. Please send your sightings to david.dinsley@wwt.org.uk.

It’s wading time!

Many of our late summer migratory birds are now using our reserves to feed up before continuing their migrations or in some cases, already fattening up for the winter! Some wonderful views have been reported from our hides of these birds returning to our sites early; from the sandpipers, ruff, green shank, and of course one of our favourites, the black-tailed godwits.

Birds of prey

There’s recently been many vulnerable waterbirds and wader young that might make a decent meal for our birds of prey. However, some raptors are able to make use of the bountiful number of insects on the wing. There’s nothing more a hobby likes to munch on than a big juicy dragonfly!

There are also newly fledged barn owls at Caerlaverock, which can now be seen on the wing scoping out their surrounding territory, after roosting in the visitor loft during lockdown. This magical species looks like something straight out of a ‘Harry Potter’ film, appearing from their safe hiding place.

Colours of summer

Beautiful wild flowers in full bloom are making their brief appearances across our sites and the shimmering greens, iridescent blues and golden colours of flying summer insects are to be enjoyed as they zip or flutter by.

At Slimbridge we have seen a new appearance of marsh skullcap in brilliant purple. This is quite a rare plant and many staff had never seen it before.

At Arundel a dazzling emerald damselfly basking in camouflage here – a very good spot!

Also a beautiful water lily, blooming in perfect symmetry.

And, if you haven’t yet participated in the Great Butterfly Count there is still time this weekend. At Steart they counted a mighty number of species around Otterhampton Marsh.

That's all this time round, but please catch up on all our going's on directly on centre's social media channels for the most immediate sightings. Or come and enjoy all these experiences for yourself directly by booking your next visit to any of our centres, which are now all open!

Visit a wetland

See all the summer sights in person by paying a visit to one of our wetland centres. To help keep everyone safe at the moment we’ve made a few changes to our sites, and are asking everyone to book in advance, so we can give you the best possible experience.

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