We would like to thank all of our wildlife surveying volunteers that gave their time and knowledge to complete 332 hours of surveying work to make this report possible. You're all amazing!


A total of 75 transects were walked this season, spread roughly among the 5 existing transects, and the Purple Hairstreak transect was walked 7 times between July and August at approximately weekly intervals.

There were 23 butterfly species recorded, a reduction from 28 species in 2022. One of the most notable absent species this season was the White Letter Hairstreak. Despite surveyors checking locations they were found in 2022, none were seen. There was also a lack of Green Hairstreaks this season. They were only found in one location in the Park previously and despite management having not changed in that area, none were seen this season.

The summer butterfly species seemed to do better than the earlier emerging species, possibly due to the weather conditions at the start of the season.

Records at Orton Mere, Thorpe Meadows and the Rural Estate are more ad hoc as in previous years. However, there have been good records of species such as Small Copper at Orton Mere, and Marbled White again on the Rural Estate.

Bumble Bees

A total of 31 transects were walked this year around Ferry Meadows, using 4 of the 5 existing transects. Including ad hoc records, 13 bee species were recorded this season, including a new species for the park – Hairy-Footed Flower Bee.

The most numerous species recorded this year was the Common Carder Bee, followed by the White-tailed and Buff-tailed bumblebees. The least frequently recorded were the hairy-footed flower bee, tawny mining bee and a leafcutter bee that was not identified down to species level.

Wild Flowers

Quadrat surveys of some areas have continued this year, in a mixture of areas that have been surveyed in previous seasons and some areas that had not been surveyed before. In total 88 quadrats were surveyed across four areas – three areas at Ferry Meadows and one at Orton Mere.

Dragonflies and Damselflies

As in previous years, dragonflies and damselflies have been surveyed by a single volunteer, as well as some ad hoc records. 19 species were recorded through the season, the same number as the 2022 season but with two variations. Broad-bodied chaser and Variable Damselfly were not recorded this season and were in 2022, and Small and Large Red-Eyed Damselflies were recorded in 2023 but not in 2022. The variation in records is likely to be because of inconsistencies in recording over the season rather than presence or absence of species. Odonata is an area that we are keen to expand if volunteers or staff with the relevant knowledge come forward.


Wetland Bird Surveys (WeBS) have continues across the park, carried out by the surveyors registered with the scheme through the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). These give a good overview each month of what birds are being seen through the year. Numbers are picking up again now winter has arrived, numbers through the summer are generally very low, but to be expected due to the nature of the site.

The majority of bird records are on an ad hoc basis, reported in by volunteers, staff and members of the public, but mainly centred around Ferry Meadows. At the time of writing the bird species list for 2023 stood at 120 species, slightly lower than in 2022 but this is likely to be inconsistencies in recording and could still increase through the winter.

The Sand Martin bank had another successful season, with 100% of the nest holes used, 90% of these were double nests and the other 10% single. There were a lot more unhatched eggs (52 up from 36) and dead chicks (14 up from 3) found this year compared to 2022, potentially due to weather conditions early in the season.


Otter sightings have continued to follow patterns of previous years, with sightings dropping off through the summer months and increasing through the colder months.

There have been two potential Water Vole sightings this year, although no photographs to be able to verify them as correct sightings. Both have been in roughly the same area of the park, around Ham Mere and the backwater. One search for any signs near the location of the first sighting didn’t turn up any results. However, we will keep close watch in the coming months.

The mink traps have produced minimal captures, but sightings have also been almost non-existent which shows that the traps are hopefully working to control numbers.


The species confirmed on the public walks in 2023 were Soprano Pipistrelle, Common Pipistrelle, Daubenton’s and Serotine, identified by echolocation call on the detectors, flight pattern and feeding behaviour. Plans for the 2024 season include some more widespread activity surveys in different areas of Ferry Meadows to begin with.

Invasive Non-Native Species

Chinese Mitten Crab
Chinese Mitten Crab have been seen in very large numbers in areas of the park in recent months, namely Orton Water pond. This species is very disruptive to the local ecosystem and should be a cause for concern.

American Mink
There have been very few activations of the mink traps that are out around the park this year, any activations were mainly in the first couple of months of the year around breeding time. There have also been very few sightings of mink in and around the park, which hopefully means the population around the area is now very low. We will keep the traps out in key locations, maintained by the Countryside Restoration Trust, in the hope that this will keep numbers low.

Himalayan Balsam
Large stands of Himalayan Balsam can still be seen on the river banks, and it is starting to creep in to other wet areas such as the lakes at Ferry Meadows. Work this year to combat its spread was mainly focused on margin areas, such as the edges of the lakes and the inlet from the river in to Gunwade Lake, to try and minimise the spread any further. Next season hopefully there will be time to map the extent of the coverage, allowing us to fully see the extent of the work needed and also be able to track progress between seasons.

And that concludes the 2023 Wildlife Report! All figures are correct as of 28th November 2023.