Nature Notes by Paul Stevens, Reserve Manager
Bat survey last week – we didn’t get many bats. The hot weather is great for insects so the bats are well fed and able to eat quickly. Some are in maternity roost at the moment as well. We did find a soprano pipistrelle in our noisiest bat box, the box on the gate we take the tractor in and out of the reserve on!
While there weren’t many bats I did spot the barn owl at the far end of Wetlands Discovery. I trained a camera trap on the owl box there and got a few photos of a barn owl perched atop the box. I keep hoping to catch proof they are nesting here, like a photo of the owl taking prey into the owl box to feed young.
Gatekeeper butterflies are now on site. Many green veined white, large and small whites. More sightings of commas now and peacock butterflies on the buddleia flowering on path to the Sand Martin hide in ‘butterfly alley’. Past years this is the butterfly hotspot on the reserve.
Small red-eyed damselflies no on Wetlands Discovery. We recorded our first sighting of an emerald damselfly in Wetlands Discovery as well. Plenty of azure and blue tailed damsels about and plenty of banded demoiselles.
On Monday I saw and emperor dragonfly in the Lakes & Forest exhibit areas in addition to the broad-bodied chasers, black-tailed skimmers onsite. I also spotted a brown hawker on Sunday. Ragwort across from the Outlook In building was covered in hungry cinnabar moth caterpillars.
Many ducks are going into summer moult or eclipse plumage. There are fewer onsite and they are tucking away in the heat and as they moult. We are still seeing a few teal, pochard, shoveller and tufted ducks. In the mornings we are seeing grey herons fishing, Suzi spotted three herons on Saturday morning and four little egrets. I saw two of each on Monday morning from Scrape hide. At the Ramsar hide I spotted a water rail sneaking back into the edge of the reeds there.
Our Bewick’s swan pond is empty and drying out so we can de-silt it. This has attracted pied wagtails and grey wagtails who are hunting for invertebrates in the mud. The pied wagtails are nesting on the roof of our visitor centre. I spotted a handful of house martins flying over the reedbed on Sunday morning. I also spotted four linnets on the Tranquil Trail to the Lapwing hide.