Cattle grazing the buttercup meadows.
Rain overnight started off the day in sombre mood but by lunchtime the fresh wind had veered from slightly north of West to the SW, with the incoming tide. The clouds started to disperse, producing a very warm bright afternoon!
The meadows on the Reserve, with their mantle of buttercups, looked brilliant in the sunlight Everything sprang to life: damselflies were flying in good numbers along the margins of the Lonning and pools; Green-veined Whites and Wall Brown butterflies were flitting about and dragonflies (possibly Four-spotted Chasers) could be picked out across the wetlands from the hide; Chaffinches were in full song in many places along the Lonning as was a Willow Warbler; the colours of the cattle grazing the meadows contrasted with the carpet of buttercups.
. . . in all a perfect day!
Male Azure Damselfly on pond-side vegetation.
Males overlooking the pond adjacent to the hide.
Activity below - Large Red and Azure damselflies ovipositing whilst still in tandem.
It's worthwhile spending some time scanning these ponds and pools with binoculars . . .
. . . to discover the hidden world of these small interesting creatures.
Wall Brown butterfly flying in today's sunshine - the first we've seen this year.
Obviously a plentiful supply of insects for this Chaffinch's young.
Cattle heading for the watertrouigh.
Meadow Pool fringed with Flag Iris.
Little rabbit snatching a quick supper.
Young Crows looking very attentive.
Begging for food
. . . has its rewards!
Wren catching the last rays of the sun.
Barn Owl hunting across the saltmarsh.
It must have spotted something!
A thundery sunset.
Red orb as it disappeared beyond the horizon.
May blossom and gorse in bloom - Campfield Marsh.
Spring was late this year – universally accepted, we think. We might add that here at Campfield, we are used to late Springs! We swear to you folks that the Ash trees at the top end of the Lonning only started to come into leaf 10 days ago! - but now we have had a few good days of sunshine, everything has exploded into life.
The landscape seemed to change overnight: the meadows – emerald green; buttercups – we have never seen so good and so many of them; late celendine everywhere; bluebell – a welcome shot of nectar for the bees and butterflies – are splendid; the yellow flag has virtually flowered overnight. But bullrushes and catkins, though, have gone back already, along with the dandelions. There are Damselflies everywhere (and even a Four-spotted Chaser) – their flickering wings can be seen on the Lonning denoting their massed presence in the sunshine. Female Mallard are shepherding their young about the reedy corners of the pools; Linnets, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff and Whitethroats vie with each other and Blackbirds declare their territories from the tops of trees. Herons are hard at work on the wetlands. Oystercatchers dotted about the meadows tending their broods, with Lapwing chicks busily running around on the flooded meadows.
We don't think we have ever seen the Reserve look so wonderful – the green of the Birchwoods against the blue of the distant hills – the 'sands' of the estuary contrasting with the green of the saltmarsh, shot with the ribbons of creeks reflecting the azure of the sky, and the Seapinks coming into bloom . . . all this against the cadmium yellow of the gorse emphasised by the milk-white of the May blossom. The Shelduck rivalling this feast with their brilliant plumage, and uniquely for us at Campfield, the wind seems to have given up blowing and small Constable cumulus clouds are drifting across at their leisure.
What a feast!
Wigeon, Mallard, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit on flooded meadows.
Pair of Shoveler on floodwater.
Look out for the Little Grebe on the Meadow Pools on the righthand side of the Lonning. It spends a fair amount of time diving and so will suddenly pop up when you least expect it!
Caterpillar feeding on nettles. Any ideas as to what moth or butterfly it will become?
David White - Lakenheath Fen Blog says: "Drinker Moth - they get their name from drinking the dew of grass and reed stems
Four-spotted Chaser on hedgeside hawthorn.
Male Azure Damselfly.
Female Azure Damselfly on bramble leaf.
Azures and Large Red damselflies coupling on water plants - pool adjacent to hide.
Grey Heron greeting each other on landing on wetland in front of the hide.
Two or three of them can often be seen fishing on the wetlands like this.
View from the hide across the meadows of buttercups.
Crows successfully hatched - nest overlooking farm pond.
Cattle reflections across field of buttercups.
Young Lapwings quickly starting to acquire adult plumage.
May is now beginning to flower along the farm hedgerows and edge of saltmarsh.
. . . unlike the willow whose catkins are now passed their best.
Grey Heron hunting on Meadow Pools.
Little Grebe can be seen quite frequently from the second screen on the RHS of the Lonning. On this ocassion it was bathing.
Large Red Damselfly seen in good numbers, along the Lonning on sunny days. This one is a female.
Azure Damselfly (this one is a male) can be seen above pathside vegetation as their wings flicker in the sunlight.
Female Shoveler with her successful brood of at least seven duckling - seen from pool in front of hide. According to Dave Blackledge, Campfield Reserve Manager, these are only the third confirmed breeding records for the Reserve of this species.
Mozaic of landscape viewed from the hide: Buttercup meadow; rushes; heather, Cotton grass (raised bog); woodland; distant low hills.
View from the hide. Buttercup spectacle across to the distant Pennines
Very few other species of butterfly seen as yet with the exception of these Green-veined Whites.
Oystercatchers collecting on the receding tideline.
A number of Grey Heron and Shelduck were feeding on the incoming tide.
The Lonning clothed in its early Summer vegetation.
Saltmarsh Pool and Criffel
Looks promising for the breeding season, late as it is.
One of the first warm mornings bring the newly arrived cattle out onto the mudflats.
Spring lambs enjoying the sunshine too.
Willow Warbler catching insects under the sycamore canopy.
We were being watched from the lonning hedge (one of a number of Sedge Warblers spaced along the Lonning hedges)..
First Mallard ducklings we've seen this Spring - Meadow Pools
. . . and braving the elements alone, at that!
Roe Deer seen from the hide - over by the wood near Rogersceugh.
Peacock on Lonning track. First one seen this year.
Newly sown bird seed wasn't really meant to be eaten yet!
Linnets overlooking seed field.
Redshank on flooded meadow.
Cattle grazing the saltmarsh.
Young rabbit munching vegetation.
Courting Jackdaws - synchronised footwork.
Little Grebe slumbering in the evening sunlight on Meadow Pool.
Willow Warbler in Ash tree.
Chaffinch basking in the evening sunshine.
Stock Dove looking rather resplendent.
Greylags on Meadow Pools.
Male Whitethroat singing from roadside hawthorn.
Ash trees just coming into leaf.
Contented cattle on the farm.
Orange Tip feeding on nectar from late flowering bluebells.
Small tortoiseshell butterflies are starting to appear. They too are benefitting from the the bluebells.
A number of crab apple trees along the marsh edge are now flowering.
Lapwing fledglings after the storm.
There had been 24 hours of really quite heavy rain. This was not good news at this time of the year as we knew Lapwing had been breeding in the wet meadows along the Lonning and Snipe in the wetter areas of the Reserve. Let's face it – their nests are not very sophisticated!
Lapwing nesting amongst the Ladys Smock.
The day had dawned with brilliant sunshine although the wind was cold but we began to be reassured on entering the Lonning – a pair of Bullfinches were evident as were the Sedges, Willow Warblers and Whitethroat and on one of the pools a Mallard with five young.
A pair of Bullfinch after fruit buds.
A secretative Sedge Warbler along Lonning hedge
. . . suddenly declared its territory.
Willow Warbler singing.
Whitethroat picking about in the gorse and singing.
The water levels in the wet meadows were right back up to winter levels but, on anxiously scanning the area, to our delight we saw that the Lapwing had removed themselves to the higher part of the pasture and formed into a closely knit defensive group along with their young which could be clearly seen running around. This seemed to cause a few difficulties amongst the male Lapwing who were trying to shepherd their young about but trying to keep the other Lapwing away.
Lapwing and Redshank on flooded meadows.
Lapwing vigorously defending its territory.
They all looked splendid amongst the Lady's Smock. “Lady's Smock”! - sounds a bit Jane Austen to me, “Oh, Mr Darcy”! We used to call them “Milk Maids” - More Thomas Hardy: hard work in the hay meadows; sort of thing! So it looks as if everything had survived the flooding and the male Lapwing, being in a closer group, were making short work of the patrolling Crows and Black-headed Gulls, whilst sending a circling Buzzard to the 'naughty corner' in short order.
Lapwings with young in meadow of Milk Maids.
The talk on the Reserve has been of success for Snipe who seem to cope slightly better with wetter conditions. These Spring storms are a big problem for nesting birds – especially prolonged rain – but we are now basking in wonderful sunshine, as I write, with the trees and hedges exploding into leaf, giving better cover. Butterflies and Damselflies are now emerging - Orange Tips always point to higher temperatures: they never seem to fly in cold weather!
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly along Lonning.
Small Tortoiseshell and Green-veined White butterflies on bluebells'
Orange Tip butterfly.
Large Red Damselfly on trackside vegetation.
However, the final chapter has yet to be written for this particular Spring, as the weather forecast for the coming week is not looking good!