red eyed damselfly at Pensthorpe

May 2020 – Reserve

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4 Jun 2020

Large number of dragonfly and damselfly species

One would think the lack of people and amazing weather would be evident in the wildlife but May in lockdown on the reserve appears not to have a big impact on wildlife. Hares are hiding in the Wildflower Meadow and cuckoos are calling over the reeds but there are no extra numbers to report although recording of our wildlife has obviously been very limited.

One exception seems to be lapwing, which has increased in numbers of pairs both on the scrape, with three chicks, and in a new location, Rushy Marsh. But the latter is more likely to be the result of constant winter flooding having created muddy conditions perfect for them.

Also on the Wader Scrape, avocet returned with early indications of good breeding but this has failed to materialise with currently only four pairs on site and only two currently sitting. This may be to do with either inexperienced birds, a very big drop in breeding gulls which help defend them or maybe something else? But still plenty of time as both common terns and little ringed plover have only just begun to show signs of breeding. A Hobby was spotted hunting over the Scrape on Sunday too, along with a marsh harrier spotted over the Wensum wetland.

The weather has been decidedly odd! Long periods of dry hot weather may suit us but the impact on the landscape is noticeable. For weeks there was very little growth but, now plants are moving, the grasses seem to be far less vigourous in the drier areas like Mid and Horse Brec, creating a situation where flowering plants like black knapweed are now growing much quicker. Wildflowers are seemingly later and sparser, which must have knock-on effects for insects. This however isn’t seemingly reflected in the woodlands as quick checks of some of the nest boxes found very successful and very plump broods of both great tit and blue tit ready to fledge, indicating a good year for them.

Both dragonflies and butterflies have been slow to emerge but we are now seeing large numbers of common blue damselfly in the wetlands and common blue butterflies on the meadows. On Sunday we saw Norfolk hawker on several pools and the river, with others including four spotted chaser, hairy dragonfly, emperor, black tailed skimmer, banded demoiselle, large red damselfly, common blue damselfly, blue tailed damselfly and a single azure blue damselfly. A new colonisation seen includes red eyed damselfly holding territories on the new pond dipping area.

Main image: Red eyed damselfly (unknown)