Wildlife highlights – A riot of colour
Wetlands aren’t just good for birds, hopefully with warmer conditions here to stay an explosion of insect life is overdue, from bees, dragonflies, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, slugs and more. There should be plenty to spot along the footpaths between the hides and from the viewpoints. Also, June is the month that wetland wildflowers start to colour the washes. Blooming flowers do their best to attract pollinating insects and providing food and shelter for many creatures.
There are wildflowers big and small wherever you look around the reserve, and of most colours you can imagine. Great swathes of bright yellow buttercups colour Lady Fen in May and June, providing a beautiful scene from the visitor centre. Over on the washes you will soon spot stands of dark green leaves with sunshine yellow flowers – these are flag iris or yellow iris, you’ll find them on islands in front of hides, out across the washes and along the footpaths. The more subtle yellow of meadow rue, with its ‘fluffy’ looking flower heads can also be found along footpaths and out acoss the wetlands.
As you explore the footpaths and walkways you will find markers alongside some examples of these wildflowers and as more wetland plants start to bloom we will place additional highlighters. We also put out willow tags to highlight some of the insect species to look out for, but these are more mobile than the plants so keep your eyes peeled. A kaleidoscope of butterflies can now been seen as sunnier weather is upon us. The earliest species being orange-tip, green-veined white and a few brimstone. Peacock and small tortoiseshell, small white have also been spotted and it won’t be long until comma, speckled wood and meadow brown will be evident too.
Take a closer look
Watching along the waterways and vegetation along the footapths you will be able to see the first dragonflies zipping around, hairy, dragonfly four-spotted chaser and scarce chaser to start. A close look will reveal lots of dainty damselflies including red-eyed damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly and then the three ‘blues’ azure, variable and common which are a little more tricky to tell apart but all very enjoyable to watch none the less. Use the close focus on binoculars to take a look at these species without disturbing them whilst they are handily perched on vegetation.
A closer look at flowers and grasses (again with binoculars or by carefully searching) under leaves and on petals and stems should reveal an amazing array of caterpillars, beetles, crickets, snails, flies and bees. Some are brightly coloured to warn potential predators of an unpleasant taste ahead, and some mimic those brighter colours to take advantage of the warning associated with them.
Make your visit complete
Although the summer flooding had been devastating for breeding birds, there are some broods of young around the reserve and on Lady Fen as well as the resident or summer visiting adult birds to see too. Check our wetland highs and lows blog to read more on this. If you don’t have binoculars yourself we do offer binoculars for hire at the visitor centre. Our Teal WWT Viking binoculars are the perfect entry level optic, lightweight and easy to use, with close focus, perfect for insects as well as birds. Hire is £5 with a £50 deposit.Wetland highs and lows blog
As well as our hides being open again, we have added back our indoor seating in the café, takeaway service can now be enjoyed at tables overlooking the bird feeders and Lady Fen as well as the option of going outside or over into the reserve too. Within our gift shop, we have a range of items in the shop which would make perfect Father’s Day gifts – our Father’s Day hamper display, has some great ideas to start you off with items to suit a range of interests. Or there are plenty more items around the shop if you want to add to your gift. Also, now that we are headed into warmer weather, now may be the time to upgrade your current drinks flask to make sure you have water on you for a days’ exploration. A new range of WWT flasks have just landed, this range come in a few colours, have a loop on the lid so can be attached to bags and hold 500ml.
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