Bird song may be dwindling but there is still a vast array of fantastic wildlife to be seen (and heard!) around the reserves at this time of year. As summer progresses dragonflies and butterflies become more numerous with July heralding the emergence of exciting species such as the Silver-washed Fritillary and Emerald Damselfly at Nagshead, and the striking White Admiral which can be seen gliding along the rides at Highnam Woods.
Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa, RSPB Nagshead (photo: Lewis Thomson)
There are of course still birds to be seen, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Chiffchaffs can be heard singing and Spotted Flycatchers are now feeding young. Roaming flocks of Crossbills have been seen at Nagshead recently, listen out for their metallic 'plink plink' calls around the pines and heath on the long trail. The weird and wonderful churring song of the Nightjar can still be heard from the larger clearings around Nagshead on warm calm evenings along with supporting performances by roding Woodcock, Tawny Owls, Glow Worms and several bat species.
European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (photo: Lewis Thomson)
We will be giving a guided butterfly walk on Saturday 16th July 11:30am-1:30pm at Highnam Woods which is home to a wonderful variety of species. Please do get in touch to book your place by either ringing us at the office on 01594 562852 or emailing us at email@example.com.
Twenty-seven of our 400 nestboxes at Nagshead have been occupied by pied flycatchers this breeding season. This is an improvement on last years 21, and it has meant that most visitors have witnessed these charming birds flitting in and out of boxes or between the trees. The males being so strikingly piebald are easy to see against the green of leaves!
Very good views of crossbills were had last week. A female had come down to feed on (presumably) on the seeds on the path at the top of the Long Trail. The usual diet of these birds consists of conifer seeds and hence they are most often witnessed in this area, where there is a plantation abutting the heath.
Small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies are a species which is declining throughout England. However they seem to be doing well on the reserve this year. Habitat management to increase its larval food plants (marsh and dog violets) must be reaping benefits, as last year only three individuals were counted at the same time. This butterfly can be identified by the numerous 'pearls' on the underside of its hindwing.
We are holding a nightjar walk this weekend (11 June). If you are not able to make it along to this, we are repeating this event on Wednesday 22 June. These birds start making a fantastic noise just as dusk is approaching. If you have never witnessed this before, it really should not be missed. There is the chance of catching up with our other night-time residents including woodcock, tawny owl, deer and even perhaps the elusive wild boar! Call the office on 01594 562852 to book your space or e-mail Nagshead@rspb.org.uk