Spectacular is a difficult word to live up to but our Greylake event certainly managed to live up to its billing. Firstly the weather was warm, sunny with a light breeze, not unusual for mid May I hear you say, but this is May 2012, wet, cold and windy, almost every day except the day of the event! The wildlife was also spectacular with a booming Bittern in the reedbed being a totally unexpected bonus.
The afternoon event ran from 2.00 until 5.00pm and the team of staff and volunteers were buzzing with the opportunity to show off the reserve at its best. A Hobby flew over the reedbed as we set up to get us off to a good start. John Crispin and Nick Edge displayed their amazing photographic works showing the wildlife of the reserve and the surrounding area. Pond dipping was very popular with our volunteer Charlotte Ward netting the star of the show, a great silver diving beetle with her one and only dip into the ditch. This species has a restricted distribution in the UK. Visitors enjoyed seeing this together with other species such as Water Scorpion and many Stickleback, even pond snails and leeches had plenty of admirers. Staff and Volunteers pond dipping efforts and expertise was soon over taken by the children. especially young naturalist of the day, Rowan, who was soon showing us where to dip to get caddis fly larvae in their cases and commented “I’ve been into underwater wildlife all my life and I’m six now!” - so there is hope for the future.
Wildlife walks and hide guidance was provided by Dion Warner, Mike Tout and Steve Miller, and more than once the afternoon was interrupted and everyone went silent to listen to the Bittern booming from the reedbed.
We were back on the reserve at about 8.00 for the evening Bird and Bat walk and moth trapping session in conjunction with Somerset Bat Group. Bat detectors were supplied for almost everyone and Ed Wells of the bat group gave a talk as Andy Maude and I went off to set up moth traps near the reedbed. As the group walked past we were all treated to the almost constant booming of the Bittern at very close quarters, along with three reeling Grasshopper Warblers on separate field edges at the viewing screen. As night fell Lapwings and a Cuckoo could be heard calling. One of the group said they had seen four Bittern at Ham Wall in the morning but were told this one was extra special as it was Greylake’s very own first ever boomer.
The bats were also spectacular with close views by strong torchlight of their distinctive flight patterns combining with different frequency calls on bat detectors revealing Common and Soprano Pipestrelle, Noctule and the amazing Daubenton’s flying low across the surface of the pool inside the boardwalks. Moths were the one disappointment of the day, low temperatures did not help, but one species, the Flame Shoulder was a poor return for the effort put in, but that`s the unpredictability of wildlife. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day, it was a great chance for the team to meet and enthuse with visitors about just some of the great wildlife that can be found on the reserve.
Paul Parmenter, Assistant Warden
Photo: Lynne Newton
Come and enjoy the spectacle of Spring at Greylake this Saturday, 12 May from 2pm to 5pm. Have a wriggle through the new willow snake, peer through the woven viewing screen and pop into the hide and see all our new information panels. We'll be pond dipping and offering walks to look at the wildlife around the reserve. You might be lucky enough to see lapwings with chicks, redshank, sedge and reed warblers, little egrets, and listen for cettis warbler, and, at last, the swallows and house martins have arrived. A sure sign that SPRING IS HERE! And be sure to take a look at our excellent photographic exhibition, bring your camera and have a go, and even take part in our photo and drawing competitions. Our photographers can give you lots of tips.
And maybe even join us for our Evening Wildlife Stroll (8-10.30pm) to look out for the weird aerial displays and noises of snipe, listen for bats and marvel at the moths of the night . You can book by phone on 07774 620879, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to one of our Information Wardens on the day and we can add you to the list. £5 per person/£10 per family.
And the weatherman promises 11 hours of sunshine on the day, so why not bring a picnic too!