Nature Notes by Paul Stevens, Arundel Wetland Centre Reserve Manager
Boat driver Alex spotted another club-tailed dragonfly, this one a bright green male. Boat driver Simon saw one too on Monday but it looked newly emerged, its wings still glistening so it’s difficult to tell what sex it is as both emerge yellow and the males colour up green. You can easily tell them from other dragonflies as there eye do not meet atop their heads.
A great crested grebe has been onsite since last Tuesday, staying mainly on the Arun Riverlife lagoon.
On Sunday we had two kestrels hunting onsite and carryng food back to the direction of the Offham hangar. Perhaps they are a pair feeding young.
What a difference in a week. The sustained hot spell has brought out the butterflies. Our butterfly survey last week counted 10 species on the transect. Meadow brown were the most prolific, lots of commas and all three whites: green veined, large and small. We also counted ringlets, small heath, large skipper and Essex skipper. Noticeably absent were peacocks, red admiral and gatekeepers.
Its quieter today as many of the young black-headed gulls out from Ramsar and Sand Martin hide have fledged now. Crows have predated any late nest and they may have got the oystercatchers nest as well as they are no longer on the gravel island.
Fleabane is flowering in sunny spots and tansy is about to burst out. Lots of yellow loosestrife in flower at the Wetland Secrets plant house, full of yellow loosestrife bees who gather its oil to build their cells. Hemp agrimony looks about to flower in many spots. Meadow sweet is dominating at the moment giving a lovely fragrance to today’s breeze. Every Wednesday in July is Wildflower Wednesday. Talk a walk with wetland herbalist Sheila then make a seed bomb to take home. No booking is required, meet at Wetlands Secret Plant house at 10.30 am for the walk.
On Wetland Discovery I watch two male banded demoiselle fight each other for territory, their dark fluttering wings giving them the looking of angry, battling butterflies. At the Holt bug hotel I can see that leaf cutter bees have been at work, the ends of several bamboo canes are pugged with buts of leaf.
I hear Cetti’s and sedge warblers singing as I enter the reedbed. Azure damselflies are everywhere and plenty of pond skaters and whirligig beetles in the water. The reedbed has really bounced back, full of aquatic life since we limited hand feeding of the birds onsite. Fewer wild mallards in the reedbed has led to prolific insect life.