Wildlife update by Visitor Ranger Sophie Rolfe.

End of June already, where is the year going?!

It’s been a relatively quiet month on the wildlife front this month, as June can be, but still had some interesting sightings.

Wild Flower highlights:

  • Bee orchids
  • Adder’s Tongue fern - see photo right. A really understated plant, named after the little stalk that holds the spores that sticks up which looks like a snake’s tongue, and is an indicator of ancient meadows
  • Early Marsh Orchid
  • Yellow Rattle (just starting to go to seed – when it dries the seeds rattle inside the pods, hence the name)

Avian highlights:

  • Common Sandpiper
  • Sand Martins
  • Gadwall & 5 chicks (uncommon breeding record for the park)
  • Hobby
  • Common Tern – great to watch fishing over the lakes

Other highlights:

  • The otters have been back – a pair were spotted on Lynch Lake earlier in the month
  • Purple Hairstreak butterfly season has started. A little team of us will be examining the tops of the oak trees (with binoculars!) between Oak and Coney meadows one evening a week from now until the end of August trying to count them as they flit between leaves and branches. 
  • White Letter Hairstreak butterfly season has started too – we’ve not managed to spot them yet but as probably our rarest butterfly in the park we’ll be on the lookout. As a specialist on Elm trees, the best places to spot them are the tree belt near Lynch Lake Community Hub and along the Boardwalk.
  • Dragonfly season is well and truly underway – watch out for the various sized and coloured dragonflies, damselflies and demoiselles around
  • We’ve been doing the first Rapid Grassland Assessments of some of the larger areas of meadow around the park, including our SSSI field at Castor (one designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England), part of Heron Meadow, Short Meadow, Long Meadow with some of the survey volunteers. We trialled using the method with a corporate group on Horse Meadow too. Most of the survey results were better than expected, and the method works well too!
  • First butterfly survey at Tenter Hill, where we saw 5 butterfly species, multiple dragonflies damselflies and bees around, and introduced some of these to some interested visitors

Coming up for July:

  • Big Butterfly Count run by Butterfly Conservation (14th July-6th August). Take part at home or in the park, and look out for some ranger led butterfly themed events.
  • Keep an eye out for some of the summer butterflies. The “Terrace Field” between Castor and Sutton is worth a visit at the moment – loads of wild flowers as well as loads of butterflies, including Marbled Whites, Skippers and Meadow Browns.
  • Purple Loosestrife should be flowering soon, the best place to see the blanket of purple is the 2 bird hides down Ham Mere. 
  • Bats are very active this time of year, if you’re up late enough to see them!
  • The young birds and other animals will be starting to grow up and get more independent, keep an eye on the lakes.