As promised for those who attended the moth event on Saturday (and for those who may also be interested), here is the moth list for the evening:
On wine ropes:
Yesterday was a great day to be out on the reserve, as there was plenty to see. On the Wednesday walkabout, I decided that we would focus on wildflowers, as there are plenty to see at the moment. It didn’t take long to chalk up a respectable list, including purple loosestrife, marsh woundwort, tufted vetch and hemp agrimony. As usual, they were all “showing well”, which plants have a great habit of doing!
As we reached the north east corner of East Wood, a hobby was directly overhead and several marsh harriers were nearby. Two cuckoos were also still calling, and one flew over the reedbed. The kingfishers near New Fen viewpoint were busy flying back and forth and the fen ragwort nearby was also “showing well!”
On the way back towards the visitor centre, there were several interesting caterpillars to be found. The common ragwort was covered with cinnabar moth caterpillars. If you have never seen them before, they look like tigers with their orange and black stripes! There was also a gigantic mullein moth caterpillar on one of the large mullein plants, which is well worth taking a look at if you get the chance.
I nipped down to Joist Fen viewpoint after work and managed to see bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit in quick session. I always used to think that it would be impossible to see all of three of these species in the same place on a particular day but it is perfectly possible here at Lakenheath Fen.
As we were heading down to the west end of the reserve for an evening’s moth trapping a pair of barn owls were swooping around the Landrover looking for an evening meal. We were trapping in Botany Bay SSSI, and we caught some fantastic moths. Undoubtedly the rarest moth we caught was a marsh carpet moth. If you are not familiar with this species, it is only found in East Anglia and we think we have the largest population in the country.
We caught plenty of other great species, including both privet and large elephant hawkmoths. My personal highlight was a large emerald moth, which lives up to its name being a beautiful emerald colour and was really rather large! Also of interest was a large emperor moth caterpillar and a brown hawker resting in the darkness.
Yes it has been rather warm recently! It certainly makes nature watching more challenging when it is sweltering! It has been business as usual for our reedbed specialities though. There are plenty of bearded tit families roaming around the reedbeds and the adults will already be thinking about a second brood.
Bitterns are very busy, and there may be as many as six nests on the reserve this year. It is well worth looking out for feeding flights, especially from New Fen and Joist Fen viewpoints. Marsh harriers are also very busy, and there may be as many as sixteen nests, so look out for them passing food.
Golden orioles are still being quite vocal, especially in the mornings, and they are still being seen from time to time. They will soon stop singing, and can be extremely difficult to track down in July. The kingfishers nesting in East Wood are keeping busy and are seen fairly regularly from New Fen viewpoint.
There are now plenty of fenland plants in flower, including common meadow rue, comfrey and tufted vetch. The caterpillar of the mullein moth can still be found on mullein plants, and there are plenty of cinnabar caterpillars on the ragwort.
There is plenty to see at Lakenheath Fen at the moment, so we hope to see you soon.