Wildlife update by visitor ranger Sophie Rolfe

Anyone else wondering where February went?! The otters have still been seen fairly regularly in their usual spots around Ferry Meadows and the Thorpe Meadows seals continue to be spotted regularly too. One in particular is beginning to enjoy the attention, and spends a lot of time relaxing and posing on the wooden boards used by the rowing club for getting in their boats.

Some of the avian highlights in February included:

  • Tree Creeper – one of my favourites of the small birds. They “creep” in a spiral up the tree trunks, using their curved bills to seek out insects from the crevices of the bark. When they get to the top of the tree they fly to the bottom and start again on a different tree, it’s thought this may save energy. Due to their camouflage they are quite difficult to see unless you see them move!
  • Hen Harrier
  • Black Tailed Godwit
  • Cetti’s Warbler
  • Lapwing - including a flock of approximately 150 on one day!
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Water Rail
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Barn Owl
  • Pochard
  • Whooper Swan

Other things to look out for:

My colleagues Chris Park and Paul Easthope emptied the Sand Martin bank on the island in Lynch Lake and recorded the usage from last season. It was another season of 100% occupancy, and 90% of the nest holes had been used twice. We can tell this as Sand Martins build a new nest on top of the first nest for a second brood, got to keep the nest clean! There were more failed eggs this year than last year, probably due to the heat last summer, but another successful year for the Sand Martin bank none the less. 

The other nest boxes have all been emptied and cleaned out ready for the new breeding season, all 121 of them! Thanks to the rangers who took on that task, it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

The wildlife survey volunteers are ready to swing back into action, continuing our butterfly and bumblebee transects and wild flower surveys, as well as some new surveys including Rapid Grassland Assessments, hedgerow condition surveys, reptile surveys and possibly helping with mapping invasive non-native species across the Park too. 

I think that's all for February, keep your eyes peeled for the first Sand Martins of the year arriving soon, as well as early bumblebees and butterflies. I saw my first bumblebee of the season at the weekend, and there have been reports of some early butterflies (such as Peacocks and Brimstones) on the wing on warmer days.

Please keep us informed if you spot anything exciting on your March walks and share your photographs with [email protected].