Monday, 26 July 2021

Some changes afoot ……

The reserve has seen many changes over the years, with the majority of them being made for the benefit of wildlife or to enhance the visitor experience. With change comes some level of disruption in the short term and that has been seen in recent weeks with the engineering works on the mains water pipe for the water treatment works around south lagoon and works being carried out at Hempholme by the Environment Agency. The engineering team have reported that the shaft at south lagoon edge has been excavated, despite hitting hard ground initially and a concrete plug has been poured. The access gate had to be widened in order to allow access for specific machinery.

Unfortunately, this has led to some restricted access and alternative routes for visitors but has had limited impact on the wildlife habitat. Areas will be reinstated in the fullness of time.

One of the reserve’s main aims is for visitors to want to return and report favourably to others, therefore we endeavour to provide as many visitors as possible with an enjoyable experience. Our wildlife is mostly viewed from hides overlooking the many habitats, so the state of those hides is an important aspect of visitor experience and one that was revealed in Yorkshire Water visitor survey carried out in 2017; visitors stating that many hides on the reserve needed upgrading.



The new reception hide is proof that visitors value the improvements that have been made over recent years, positive comments being made on a regular basis. Another outcome from our own visitor survey and ones that were commissioned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Fieldfare trust in 2018 showed that accessibility for all users across the nature reserve is of high importance to visitors. We therefore need to reconsider on a regular basis the usefulness and safety of the ever ageing hides. Although still safe to use, the south marsh west and D reservoir east hides are two in point, as they are both inaccessible to all visitors and they are showing signs of deterioration. The photographs show the deterioration in the woodwork in south marsh west hide, a hide that was built before 2000.

 


The state of the woodwork of south marsh east hide


D reservoir east hide was also built over 20 years ago and although the supporting woodwork was considered sound in 2017 it still needs considering for replacement.

     

The state of the woodwork of D reservoir east hide


In order to consider the options for these two hides, like any construction on the reserve, there is a need to carry out a newt survey and relocation study prior to the commencement of any works that may be carried out in the near future. To this end our visitors will notice the erection of newt fencing, a requisite from Natural England due to the legal status of the great crested newt. This fencing and the accompanying survey and relocation work will be in place over the summer and into the autumn prior to the hibernation period of this species. The great crested newt population at the reserve remains healthy and they can be found at various places across the site so there are many locations for them to be relocated to, if this was necessary.

We ask for your patience with the restrictions and changes in the short term and as always we believe that the wildlife at Tophill Low and its visitors will benefit in the longer term.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Butterfly bonaza at last!

 

Butterfly bonanza at last!

With the recent warmer temperatures and sunnier days, we have seen an increase in the number and variety of butterflies across the reserve. The season has been quite slow up to now with a variety of butterflies being seen but not in large numbers, a picture that has been repeated not just on the reserve but in people’s gardens.


Small tortoise shell


Marbled white

Brimstones and orange tips have been on the reserve since late spring but were the only species in flight for a long period of time. Slowly more species were seen with the first common blues and dingy skippers being recorded on 4th June and a speckled wood on the 5th. Later in June (22nd) saw the appearance of cinnabar moth, meadow brown, painted lady and large skipper. A ringlet was first recorded on 24th June and small tortoiseshells seen across the reserve from the 27th feeding on the flowering brambles and then knapweed, particularly on north scrub at the north end of D reservoir. The beginning of July saw more sightings of meadow brown and ringlet in higher numbers and also an increase in the number of small tortoise shells.


Comma


Common blue

Red admiral was recorded on the 1st July, six spot burnet on 5th and the first marbled white on north scrub meadow on 9th July with small and large whites recorded too from the beginning of July. A comma butterfly along the path around the north end of D reservoir on the 17th but as yet (22nd July) no one has notified us of seeing a peacock.

Up until the 8th August you can record your butterfly sightings to Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count and be part of this fantastic nationwide data collection; brilliant citizen science for everyone to be involved in. Either log your records, as many as you can do, on their website or download the Big Butterfly Count app onto your smartphone and send off the data from the field immediately. The app comes with a good identification guide and is very user friendly and a great way to involve all the family whether its on a trip to the reserve, out on a walk on holiday or a record of the butterflies in your garden, all valuable data records.


Red admiral


Speckled wood

Of course butterflies are just one of thousands of flying insects to be found around the reserve and with the 748th species of moth having been trapped overnight this month, they certainly deserve some focus but that’s for a separate blog.

Thank you to all visitors for posting their sightings, in particular to Pat Hogarth

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Notification of restricted access

 

Engineering works on the reserve and restrictions to access

From Monday 12th July there will be some restrictions in place to access the southern end of the reserve. These will be in place for approximately three weeks to enable essential engineering works to take place at the southern end of south lagoon. A new water mains is being constructed under the river to connect with the water treatment works. Up to now the work has been taking place on the far side of the river to reduce any disturbance to wildlife habitat.


Baswick

In order to construct the new water mains a tunnel has been excavated which has been accessed by the building of a well shaft on the far side of the river. To complete the construction a new well shaft to the south of south lagoon will be drilled over the next few weeks. This requires a whole host of machinery that has to be moved onto the site and hence we need to make sure that visitors can pass safely in order to access the southern part of the reserve, an area south of the north lagoon and around the south end of south lagoon will therefore be out of bounds to visitors




Photos from the last tunneling scheme

The map highlights the areas that will not be accessible and the alternative gold route that can be used to reach the south marshes and Watton nature reserve. There will be no access along the boardwalk from north lagoon to O reservoir and no access to south lagoon hide. In order to get to the south marshes, visitors will be required to walk anti-clockwise around O reservoir. Please note that this route is not all hard standing, and the grass can be wet and slippery at times.


Restricted access and alternative routes to the south marshes

Prior to the commencement of the works the area was carefully prepared by the reserve teams before breeding season. Throughout the process the area has been subjected to intensive surveys by professional ecologists in order to minimise disturbance. All work has been suspended this weekend to ensure that a family of reed warblers nesting in the immediate area, fledge safely.

Once the construction work has been completed then we will be undertaking mitigation habitat works to offset any disturbance that has been caused to the habitat and we will create a permanent access track to the chamber lids.

As always at Tophill, the reserve will be enhanced by this habitat work despite the short term disturbance.

Thank you as always for your patience.

Margaret

 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Summer is here

 

Summer begins……..

Thankfully after a cold and dry April, and a cold and wet May, June has brought some warmer and drier weather. Many of the bird sightings and in particular the butterfly sightings are noticeably later this year, but I think it true to say that summer is here.

By the beginning of the month breeding across the site was in full swing, the sand martins filling over 20 of the nest holes in the sand martin bank at South Marsh west and black headed gulls sitting on over 60 nests on South Marsh. The sand martin colony and the emerging dragonflies have attracted several hobbys which have remained throughout June, hopefully breeding nearby.

A pair of oystercatchers have managed to raise two chicks successfully, amazing to see that long beak seemingly stretch overnight. The little ringed plover pair have three chicks at the moment, fingers crossed for their survival. At the beginning of April, before we re-opened we were able to use Yorkshire Water’s drone team to view the reserve from above. The footage confirmed six grey heron nests and a possible two marsh harrier nests. Each heron nest had four eggs at the time and in the last few weeks, youngsters have been very vocal and can be seen poking their necks out over the edge of the nest and testing their wing muscles. The marsh harriers have yet to be seen with any young away from the nesting areas but can regularly be seen hunting over both the north and southern end of the reserve. Greylag geese have been successful with raising broods, unlike the mute swans on north lagoon which were seen with six young one day and a couple of days later had none, presumably predated. Little grebes have been on north lagoon since the beginning of the month after quite a long absence, but no signs of breeding have been noted.


Family of greylag geese on south marsh

Cuckoo has been heard calling and there have been a number of sightings all through June so we hope that there may have been some breeding birds staying around the area. Common tern (4) have also been present but breeding has not been confirmed.

The summer migrant passerines; chiff chaff, willow warbler, blackcap, garden warbler, sedge warbler, reed warbler and common whitethroat have all shown signs of breeding, in full song throughout June. Add to those the resident Cetti’s warbler, with at least a count of 14 singing males at one point across the reserve.


Common whitethroat

On wet, damp days the number of swifts feeding over the reservoirs has reached thousands, along with swallows, house martins and sand martins. All attracted to feed on emerging flies, pushed down with low cloud and drizzle, it makes quite a spectacle.

Of course, our iconic kingfisher is attracting plenty of attention from visitors, many heading straight for the best places. With young fledging around the middle of the month, the chances of catching either a glimpse of the unmistakeable bright blue flash or a prolonged view of an individual perched and then fishing from a prominent post have increased. The 60 pupils from Filey school, with the help of our volunteer Graham, all managed to see one from North Lagoon hide, their experience retold in the many thank you letters from year 5 that we received.

Birds that are on the move and seen on the odd occasion are osprey, little egret, redshank, black tailed godwit, common and green sandpiper. The visiting waders should start to increase in terms of numbers and variety from mid- July onwards, especially as we slowly drop the water level on the marshes.

Unfortunately, the barn owl pair, which nested in the box that was not on camera, have failed, let’s hope they try for a second brood. They can often be seen flying along the riverbank. Much harder to spot are the tawny owls in reception wood, although if you get that feeling that you are being watched, then definitely look up! They did nest in one of the boxes, but no one has posted lots of baby tawny owl photos, so we are unsure whether they have successfully bred.

Common buzzard, sparrowhawk, kestrel and the odd red kite on the approach road have all been regular sighting. The sparrowhawks have realised that our service vehicles driving up D reservoir straight disturb the small birds that feed along that stretch, so have learnt to follow the vehicle for a quick meal! Otherwise they perch on the reservoir wall in sight of the bird feeders. Feeders which have been attracting great spotted woodpeckers and bullfinches, nice additions to the goldfinches, chaffinches and tits.

When the birds are difficult to track down in the woodland unless you can rely on picking out their songs and calls, there have been good numbers of dragonflies and damselflies, the reception pond a good place to spot and photograph them. Four spot chasers and common blue damselflies were the earliest to emerge, since then hairy dragonfly, red eyed damselfly and banded demoiselle. The banded demoiselle have increased in number and range across the site since they were first noted around five years ago.


Four spotted chaser


Female banded demoiselle

Butterflies have been in low numbers except for orange tip and brimstone, although sightings of dingy skipper, speckled wood, painted lady, common blue, red admiral and ringlet have now all been noted. Hopefully July and some increasingly warmer weather will lead to better numbers. Moths are recorded regularly, Rhodophaea formosa made it the 743rd species to be recorded on the reserve.

Flowers however have been in profusion since mid- May, the woodland floor and then the grassland around the reservoirs and in north and south scrub carpeted with colour. In amongst the throng, ragged robin has been one to note and the emerging orchids. The first bee orchid was spotted along with marsh and common spotted on 8th June. Once one appears then many more follow, a count of nearly 40 bee orchids and thousands of common spotted now at the end of June.

Marsh frogs continue to entertain visitors with their strange “song” as they breed in the water courses. Their expanding air sacs making many a good photograph subject. More interestingly a group of at least 20 toadlets were seen leaving north lagoon onto the road and also through reception woods. Although not the thousands that used to be seen, good to see a successful breeding season. Roe deer, rabbit and hare can all be seen on sight and several visitors have been lucky enough to spot fawns hiding in the vegetation. Otters are more evasive but north marsh seems to be the nest area. Since mid- June  a number of grass snakes have been seen swimming in the marshes or out on the grass heaps sunning themselves, the refugia along the nature trail a popular place to see them.


Marsh frog on reception pond


Roe deer (photo by Maurice Dowson)

The BBC Look North crew spent a number of days filming at the reserve in late May so they started off the month by showcasing the reserve on their own Springwatch style clip, on the back of which we saw a number of visitors come to the reserve for the first, but hopefully not the last time.

Watch again here

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Wildlife in full swing

 

Wildlife in full swing


Since we re opened in the middle of April we have had dry and cold weather followed by wet and cold weather, so the arrival of summer migrants has been delayed, a similar story across the UK.

By the beginning of May the first swifts (2nd) and house martins had arrived and now when the weather is cold and wet the number of swifts and hirundines (swallows, sand martins and house martins) number in the hundreds and it is quite a sight as they feed on the emerging flies. The number of feeding birds has attracted several hobbies throughout the month and the resident pair of sparrowhawks frequent the reservoir wall, no doubt in anticipation of an easy meal; the male is regularly seen from reception hide.

The woodland across the reserve has burst into song during the month as more summer migrants have arrived. Early May allows a brief glimpse of the songsters before the trees come into full leaf and the birds are lost in the canopy. Nearly all the regular summer migrants have now arrived; chiff chaff, willow warbler, common whitethroat, sedge warbler, reed warbler, blackcap, garden warbler are all to be found along with the resident Cetti’s warblers. Garden warblers and reed warblers have been the latest to arrive but have given good views to visitors, particularly the garden warblers which have been singing out in the open near the path. Cuckoos have been heard on several occasions in south scrub but it does not appear that any have stayed in the area. The arrival of the summer migrants has added to the woodland chorus which up to April was made up of wren, robin, blackbird, song thrush, bullfinch, treecreeper, dunnock, greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinch. A pair of great spotted woodpeckers are resident alongside the treecreepers in the reception wood and a pair of tawny owls is also nesting in that part of the woodland and we are anticipating the fledging of youngsters very soon. Both goldcrest and chaffinch have nested very near the car park and are often seen feeding around the wooden office building.


Water violet flowering in reception pond


Semifree morella


Vinegar cup fungus

The woodland floor is covered with more flowers coming into bloom. Wild garlic and dead nettle were the first to appear following the earlier violets and ground ivy but now there are a few bluebells (although the ones on the reserve are not native), pink campion, yellow archangel and woodland forget me not. The blackthorn blossom has died off and in the last week been replaced by hawthorn which is attracting a host of pollinators. Also, in the woodland there have been some fungi. A couple of species of slime fungi at the beginning of the month and more recently vinegar cup fungus and semifree morella. So, as well as searching the canopy to find the singing birds, make sure you look closely on the woodland floor. One of our volunteers happened upon a roe deer fawn when he was doing just that.


Young roe deer fawn

In terms of insects the butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies are also late to appear and are still in low numbers. As regards butterflies, brimstone, speckled wood, small tortoiseshell, small green veined white and orange tip have all been seen. Our volunteers that set out the moth traps have had a very slow month with Least Black Arches, Yellow barred brindle and an English sulphur tubic being the highlights. Four spot chaser dragonfly and two species of damselfly, the common red and the large red are the only ones to have emerged in the last week.

On the water bodies there are still about 20 tufted duck on D reservoir and 4 great crested grebes which have been seen displaying. Elsewhere gadwall, mallard and teal have been breeding. A drake garganey appeared on south marsh on 4th /5th May, then a second male made an appearance on 10th May but these were last seen on 12th May. Greylag geese have young on North and South marsh and two pairs of mute swans have bred, one on north lagoon, one on south marsh west. There are 64 nesting pairs of black headed gull and possibly two pairs of common tern nesting on south marsh. Yellow wagtails have dispersed onto nearby farmland to breed, numbers dropping to single figures in the past couple of weeks compared to over 40 at the beginning of May. Pied wagtails and the occasional grey wagtail can be spotted feeding on the flies on top of the reservoir walls.


Oystercatcher chick (photo Maurice Dowson)


Greylag family on south marsh


Male garganey (photo Maurice Dowson)

There have been several waders passing through, usually on south marsh with a greenshank, 2 dunlin, 4 ruff and 2 common sandpipers on the 5th, common sandpiper on 11th and a wood sandpiper on 21st. A pair of oystercatchers have raised 2 young on south marsh and a pair of little ringed plovers continue to try to nest, let’s hope they are successful. Lapwings have been seen displaying over decoy fields and at Watton nature reserve.

There appears to be two pairs of marsh harrier breeding, one near North marsh, one near south lagoon and a pair of kingfishers in the southern part of the reserve. Both species attracting interest as they are such iconic species of a wetland habitat. Little egrets are seen now singularly passing through, but the grey heron colony is very busy in the north marsh area of the woodland. Osprey is another species that we would like to stay in the area, and one has been seen on several occasions, probably a non breeding bird and still a nice record for the reserve.


Common tern (photo Maurice Dowson)

And finally, the marsh frogs are in full voice and can be found in any of the lagoons and ponds, that distinctive “song” of croaks and quacks puzzling many a new visitor. They provide an excellent food source for many of our predators but it is the grass snake that has not been seen too many times just yet, no doubt it, like the rest of the wildlife and ourselves is hoping for warmer weather.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Monitoring our wildlife

 Bird ringing at Tophill Low

Last week saw the start of our bird ringing season here at the reserve. For the past eleven years Graham Scott has conducted a Constant Effort Site (CES) ringing scheme in an area of South Scrub. 


Cetti's warbler

The CES scheme, co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology starts on the 1st May each year and runs till the end of August. During this time ringing days are planned (weather permitting) every 10 days which equates to about 12 sessions. Here at Tophill, Graham has carried out this commitment each year with a team of ringers (except in 2020) and in doing so has ringed 1,673 birds, covering 35 species, ranging from kingfishers to Cetti’s warblers.


Sedge warbler

The CES scheme has been running since 1983. Ringers use the same nets in the same locations over the same time period at regular intervals throughout the breeding season and this is carried out at 140 locations across the UK. The aim of the scheme is to monitor a particular site to establish the number and variety of species that are breeding in the area. It provides valuable trend information on abundance of adults and juvenile productivity at a particular site and also adult survival rates for 24 common songbird species. Re traps give evidence that birds are staying within the targeted area year on year and the number of each species ringed gives an overall picture of whether the numbers of certain species are remaining constant or changing over the years. Re traps of adults ringed in previous years are used to estimate survival rates. All this data adds into other data sources such as the Breeding Bird Survey and other ringing schemes co-ordinated by the BTO providing a detailed picture of bird populations.


A tiny metal ring is placed around one leg


Birds are caught in mist nets and carefully removed by trained ringers who must hold a licence

The process of bird ringing is carried out by people who have been trained and hold a valid permit that is issued by the BTO. Birds can be caught by a variety of methods but the most common, and the one used at the reserve is by mist netting. This requires a very fine net, secured by poles that is placed within a certain area. Birds are unable to see the net, they then fly into it and are safely held in a pocket of netting before being carefully removed ready for processing. The process consists of identifying the species, noting its sex and age, recording its wing length and its weight. A tiny metal ring is then carefully secured around a leg, the specific number recorded before the bird is released. The metal ring is similar in weight proportionately to wearing a wristwatch, causing no adverse affect to the individual


The wing length is recorded


The bird is weighed

Last Monday a total of 46 birds, of 17 species were caught and ringed, 7 birds were re trapped birds; a good start to the survey this year. Of the birds that had been re trapped; a reed warbler was first ringed in Jun 2019, a willow warbler was ringed in August 2020, a robin was first ringed in April 2019, a Cetti’s warbler had been ringed in June 2019 and a very long lived long tailed tit was ringed as an adult bird at the reserve in June 2018. Small passerines such as these species are known to be fairly short lived, information such as this data adds to that evidence.



Long tailed tit

Today the ringing team were back, they caught less birds, only 20 this morning as the weather wasn’t as ideal and will return on another ten occasions throughout the breeding season.



Dunnock

Over the years (2010-2019) the scheme on the site has shown that willow warbler and chiff chaff numbers have remained fairly constant, with two poor years (2014, 2015). Sedge warblers have increased throughout the period but have shown high fluctuations in numbers between years. Similarly reed warbler numbers have increased. With both species this may be due to the addition of a new net ride near some reeds but within the period that this ride existed numbers have also increased. The fluctuation in numbers in recent years is often due to ringing on days when passage birds appear to be moving through. Blackcap  numbers have remained fairly constant with double figures ringed annually in most years.

Some notable recoveries (when the bird has been caught in a different area to the CES site) have been a sedge warbler  that was caught in Lesteven, France, a reed warbler than was caught in Jersey, another two reed warblers were re trapped in Sussesx. A blackcap has been recovered at Stanford reservoir in Northamptonshire, a robin at Spurn and a long tailed tit travelling to Flamborough head, East Yorkshire. Two birds that were caught at Tophill, yet ringed elsewhere are both reed warblers, one ringed in Woumen, Belgium and one ringed at Fishlake meadows in Hampshire.

The scheme will be up and running throughout the summer now that rules have been relaxed and the ringing team are able to get back on site. We will continue to keep everyone updated on this fascinating aspect to our wildlife monitoring at the reserve. Our thanks go to Graham Scott and his ringing team for their efforts, in particular Will Scott who has provided all the ringing data records.


Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Open at last!

 

First week back

We’ve been so pleased to open up the reserve this week after being closed for so long. It has been great to welcome visitors old and new to the reserve. We’ve had a chance to catch up with the wildlife and the people that make this place so special.

As visitors have passed through the reception hide they have logged their sightings and so I think the reserve has been well viewed over the first week back.

Reception hide opens to visitors

The week started with a chill in the air yet chiff chaffs and blackcaps were singing across the reserve; chiff chaffs I am sure have been around for several weeks now but the number of singing blackcaps has increased daily in D reservoir wood, north scrub and reception wood. As the week progressed more summer migrants arrived with an overnight fall of willow warblers on Tuesday, 14 noted in D woods on Wednesday morning. By the end of the week a couple of sedge warblers (in reception wood and south scrub) had been found. At the same time a redwing was spotted on north scrub and overwintering goldeneye and tufted duck are still in good numbers on both reservoirs. Several great crested grebes are on D reservoir and have been seen displaying at times. A new bird species for the reserve was a visiting male hooded merganser which stayed for a couple of days. The bird is believed to be the same bird that has been seen at Hornsea mere and having a ring suggests that it is probably an escapee from a collection. Never the less an attractive bird. Although hiding under the far wall of D reservoir made viewing difficult and a telescope essential. It returned on Monday 19th, giving better, closer views. Also seen on Monday was a male long tailed duck in summer plumage.

Sand martins have been investigating the sand wall on the reserve, in between feeding over D reservoir. Waders are still on the move with up to 60 curlew moving between Watton nature reserve and south marsh on Friday 16th, dropping down to 10 on Sunday 18th. Redshank have been seen on both these sites, so too a male black tailed godwit and 2 ruff, the males starting to show their stunning summer plumage. A pair of oystercatchers look quite settled on south marsh and on Sunday a pair of little ringed plover were recorded for the first time this year, fingers crossed for some successful breeding. Lapwings are displaying over the farmland to the west of D reservoir whereas they are in flocks on south marsh and Watton nature reserve; these birds presumably ones that will move further north before finding breeding sites.

The heronry in D woods is busy but will become more so once their eggs have hatched and young need feeding. Up to 8 Little egrets have been on south marsh, a single great white and a single cattle egret were reported on Watton nature reserve on Monday 12th, the cattle egret recorded again on Monday 19th.

Kingfisher sightings have tended to be on the north and south lagoons and also on south marsh. As well as the flashes of blue flying past, birds have been enjoyed sitting on the posts in front of the hides. Visitors sitting in the Izzard hide have even been splashed by the plop caused by a bird diving into the water from the roof of the hide. Now that’s what I call a wildlife experience!

Wildfowl can be seen across the reserve, whether it’s the wintering ducks on the reservoirs or more settled birds such as gadwall, mallard, shoveler and teal on the lagoons. A male garganey was recorded on south marsh on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th. Two families of greylag geese brought their new goslings out from the reeds on south marsh at the weekend and its thought that a further pair are nesting on north marsh.

Greylag geese family on South Marsh

There seems to be two pairs of marsh harriers, one at each end of the reserve and a pair of buzzards around O reservoir, all giving good views both from hides and from the footpaths. In reception wood we have a nesting tawny owl; it can often be heard calling during the day,  finding it roosting somewhere in the canopy is quite a challenge though!

A delightful sight has been over 40 yellow wagtails feeding on the wall at the far end of D reservoir. They arrived on Thursday 15th and are constantly moving along the wall, along the road and into the bordering hedgerow. In amongst them there has been a channel wagtail and a possible blue headed wagtail, so it is definitely worth walking to that end and spending time looking through all the birds. The channel wagtail could possibly be a returning bird, one that has bred in the vicinity a couple of years ago. Grey, pied and white wagtail have also been seen along the top of the wall which is covered by emerging flies. Reed buntings and chaffinches are also feeding there.

Yellow wagtail on D reservoir wall

Channel wagtail on D reservoir wall
    
Cetti’s warblers are in full flow, bursting out their bubbling song at full volume and can be heard along the boardwalk bordering the north and south lagoons, but also in D woods and south scrub. Competing for volume is the tiny wren but it can be distinguished from Cetti’s by its longer and more shrill, scratchy song.

No otters have been reported by visitors this week so far, but roe deer seem to be popping up everywhere; in some cases walking right across the paths in front of people. They have had the reserve very much to themselves for the last year so it may take a while before they skulk in the bushes during the daytime to avoid disturbance. Hares can be seen clearly in the adjoining farmland as crops are not yet tall enough to hide in; the approach road giving some of the best views.

A number of butterflies; peacock, red admiral, large veined white, speckled wood, brimstone and orange tip have all been seen as the weather has got warmer over the past week. A few bee flies have also been spotted feeding on ground ivy and violets. Cowslips along the ditches around O reservoir make quite a carpet of pale yellow in the grass, a few primroses are dotted around, ground ivy and violets are giving a nice blue tinge to the woodland floor, before the bluebells emerge in full bloom in a couple of weeks.

Cowslips on O reservoir 

That’s made quite an exhaustive list of wildlife in the first week back open but as you can see the range and variety means there is something for everyone to find and enjoy and always plenty to see.