Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Regardless of the weather tomorrow, this week is the peak of summer as evidenced best in the hay meadows around the reserve:

Whilst the birds are quiet now is the perfect time to seek out some of the most ephemeral beauties on the site.  All the orchids are now in bloom - marsh orchids:
The marsh orchids at Tophill are actually often heavily hybridised, we have elements of southern and northern marsh orchid present in most examples.  However they also cross with the common spotted orchids below:
These are generally discernible by their spotted leaves and lighter coloured petals.  However the highlight for most are the bee orchids currently numbering around 15 on the O res between East Pond and the steps on the southern side:
 Close up by Brian Spence:

Also just appearing now is the pyramidal orchid.  These only appeared four years ago on the reserve and are the most uncommon here.  Unfortunately various calamities seem to befall them including bring strimmed by groundsmen and eaten by rabbits often.  As such the chicken wire guard is going up tomorrow! This example is just south of the car park near the butterfly garden:
Finally not quite orchids but very close are the common twayblades:
 These are in full bloom believe it or not - resplendent in green throughout.  Unfortunately these are out of public view but if you do see any on site please let us know as we'd be keen for them to be found elsewhere. 

Bird highlight since last week has been the red-footed falcon.  Ivan again had the bird on Friday night (15th) but very late on at dusk - so if anyone does want to try their luck then it may still be about.  Ivan also has pointed out it is worth looking out for the corn buntings on the wires when approaching Wilfholme landing too. 

Little gull are the other non-breeding wanderers still about - four on South Marsh East today:

Hopefully to hatch out after tomorrow's rain are the avocets: 

Hopefully they will fare better than many other waders - our spies in Portugal tell us there are already exceptional numbers of black tailed godwits and dunlin already going south which have seemingly given up on this summer and gone home.  Unfortunately it seems our sand martins have also become a victim.  After much interest at the end of May they disappeared when the rains returned again.  We have heard from other sites of a lack of food and late arrival meaning the birds have just abandoned breeding this year.  This fledgling robin did make it though - by Chris Ulliott.

Likewise the sedge warblers have fledged a brood on South Marsh East and are showing well under the first hide at the moment - photo by Brian Spence:

Kestrels too have fledged - four over Watton today - photo's by Roy Vincent:

And carrion crows are usually pretty hardy souls:

Young treepcreeper by Chis Ulliott:

We're not sure whether it may be too late for these terns though:

Roe deer riding out the thunderstorms:

Otherwise it is the usual candidates - swallows at Hempholme (Roy Vincent):

Goldfinches (Chris Ulliott):

Lapwings - subtly building in numbers now (CU):

Dave Ware has photos of the barn owls on his blog here

And news to delight some - kingfishers back on North Marsh.  Only fleetingly at the moment but as follows the pattern of the last three years we would expect them to build up in activity over the next month.  We'll be prepping the perches and clearing the vegetation in coming days in anticipation (Chris Ulliott):

This grey heron may appear optimistic hunting on Hempholme meadows as this scrape is only eight months old:

However setting the mink rafts the other day revealed good numbers of sticklebacks already in the ditches which is remarkable given there was only one tiny pool in the wood when we started work.  It is likely that some may have been washed out of North Marsh in the rains.  In time we would expect all the usual coarse fish in there:

Another thing well worth looking at is insects - thanks to Roy Vincent for this of ruby tailed wasp.  They are often encountered on the woodwork of the back to back hides at present:

Four spot chasers have been out a while - Brian Spence:

Whereas this black tailed skimmer was a brand spanker out today on O res: