Wildlife update by visitor ranger Sophie Rolfe

January was an exciting month for me as I finally caught sight of the Thorpe Meadows seals, for the first time since I’ve been working at Nene Park. Although it was a very brief glimpse, it was still my wildlife highlight of the month!

Some of the avian highlights in January included:

Already this year my list of birds sighted is up to 68 species, this probably isn’t all of them, but a good number to start the year with. Only 65 species to go to match the number from last year. Some of the highlights included:

  • Redshank
  • Wigeon
  • Teal
  • Kingfisher – the pair on Ham Cut are often seen from Ham Bridge at the moment
  • Barn Owl
  • Woodcock
  • Fieldfare
  • Little Grebe – very small, dark coloured birds, often seen along the backwater at Ham Mere
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Lapwing
  • Tufted Duck – one of my favourite ducks due to the distinctive, funky hairdo (mainly seen on the males)! 

Other things to look out for:

  • Common Seals – 2 have now been confirmed in the river around Orton Staunch, as well as in the Rowing Lake and around the Boardwalks nature reserve (managed by Froglife). I recommend a wander down the tow path at Thorpe Meadows and keep an eye on the river, that’s where I saw one of them anyway!
  • Otters – still a few otters being seen around, Ham Bridge seems to be a good place to spot them as well as the Kingfishers.
  • Snowdrops are now in flower. The best places to see them are either in the Wildlife Garden near the Visitor Centre, or on the path to Bluebell Wood from Milton Ferry Bridge.
  • Other early wild flowers will be coming up soon. One that is easy to identify is Lesser Celandine, a low growing, sprawling plant with a bright yellow flower. It often comes up along the edges of the path through Bluebell Wood, so take a walk through there for a bit of winter colour.
  • Hazel catkins are bursting and the flowers on the buds are coming out – next time you pass a Hazel tree stop and have a look for the flowers, they are tiny! Little pink things on the end of the buds. 

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