Things with wings and others with tails and scales
The past week has shown a lot of competition for the limelight from the animals that we sometimes place in the “Other” column. So I think its time they got more recognition in this blog. As you can see from the sightings list below there has been a lovely variety of Dragonflies and Damselflies as well as Butterflies and day flying Moths. In fact there have been nearly as many non-bird sightings and there have bird sightings and I’m going to focus on two species and give you a little bit of background info along with some hints and tips on how to see them.
The Marbled White butterfly with a wingspan of 53–58mm is easily distinguishable from other butterflies with its black and white wing colouration and pattern. Preferred habitats include grassy meadows, woodland clearings and road verges where it hopes to find purple flowers such as Knapweed and Thistle to feed on. Although we do not have swathes of grassy meadows at Newport Wetlands, there are grassy areas and areas with purple flowers. The Orchid Trail (The blue path on our map) has some fantastic areas with purple flowers, particularly where the Orchid Trail and the Sculpture Trail (Green on the map) overlap. This area is good for other species of butterfly and day flying moths including the Narrow-bordered five-spot burnet moth, especially along the South facing flowers in direct sunlight. The Marbled white is in flight between June and August but its peak time is July.
Marbled white by Tim Melling
Marbled White by Peter Eeles
When trying to identify animals the easiest time is when they are stationary but unfortunately they rarely are. Dragonflies hunt on the wing for small insect prey and they can often be seen hawking just above water bodies, almost skimming the surface. It is tricky to look at defining features while they change direction rapidly as they prowl. Dragonflies are larger than damselflies but there is one key behavioural difference that sometimes makes identification a touch easier. When stationary, or gripping to a plant, dragonflies rest with their wings flat and open, giving a good perspective of the body colouration and wing pattern. Here at Newport Wetlands, look into the reeds along the edge of the water lagoons and ponds to try and spot a dragonfly. See if you can find a Four-spotted chaser. It is on the wing from the end of May to August. They are a fairly broad-bodied dragonfly golden-brown in colour, getting darker towards the tip of the body and with yellow spots along the sides. Two dark spots at the front edge of each wing give this dragonfly its name and an easily recognisable appearance.
Four-spotted chaser dragonfly by Matt Cole
Full list 24/06/15 to 30/06/15
Avocet, Bearded tit, Black headed gull, Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-tailed godwit, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunlin, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great tit, Greenfinch, Grey heron, House martin, House sparrow, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lapwing, Lesser black-backed gull, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle thrush, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Song thrush, Stonechat, Swallow, Teal, Tufted duck, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Other things with wings and others with tails and scales
Bee orchid, Black-tailed skimmer dragonfly, Blue-tailed damselfly, Broad-bodied chaser dragonfly, Cinnabar moth, Common blue damselfly, Common spotted orchid, Drinker moth caterpillar, Emperor dragonfly, Narrow-bordered five-spot burnet moth, Four-spotted chaser dragonfly, Fox, Garden tiger moth, Grass snake, Large skipper butterfly, Latticed heath moth, Marbled white butterfly, Meadow brown butterfly, Painted lady butterfly, Rabbit, Red admiral butterfly, Ringlet butterfly, Rudd, Scarlet tiger moth, Southern marsh orchid, Stoat, Weasel.
Please note that we take our recent sightings list from the visitor sightings board that anyone can contribute to. This is great as everyone can get involved, but obviously can lead to potential errors too as they aren’t always verified! We try to keep this list as accurate as possible but if you see something unusual feel free to comment here!
Pond dipping season is in full swing, and never fails to amaze us with the variety and ingenuity of the myriad life forms found in the reens and ponds of the wetlands. A clear favourite has to be the Cased Caddisfly, which demonstrates the craftsmanship and engineering skills of the natural world.
Unlike the adult Caddisflies which can be rather tricky to identify, there are some distinctive cased larvae that can be grouped by the characteristic shape and material of the cases. From ‘log cabins’ to ‘toblerones’ the cases are miniature works of art created from tubes of silk threads to which plant material, sand grains, small stones and shells can be attached. Once they pupate they tend to emerge at night to avoid mass predation by fish, but none-the-less they still run the risk of being a tasty snack for any Daubenton’s bats that happen to be passing by.
Photograph by Tara Okon
This week has also seen the presence of some other fascinating species, including the Bee orchid. In a classic example of mimicry, the plant has evolved bee-like flowers that look like and even smell like female bees. This unscrupulous deception aims to lure unsuspecting male bees to visit the plant and attempt to mate. The male insect becomes covered in pollen, and left frustrated moves onto the next plant, pollinating it as he visits. After all that effort, the right species of bee doesn't occur in the UK, so Bee Orchids are self-pollinated here!
You can find out more about the amazing wildlife at Newport Wetlands on 'The Wetlands Walk' on Saturday 27th June from 10am - 1pm. Please call 01633 636363 to book a place.
Photograph by Richard Revels (rspb-images.com)
Full sightings 10/06/2015 to 16/06/2015
Avocet, Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chiffchaff, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dabchick, Dunlin, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greenfinch, Grey heron, Hobby, House martin, Jay, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Raven, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Robin, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Skylark, Song thrush, Sparrowhawk, Swallow, Swift, Tufted duck, Woodpigeon and Wren.
Invertebrates and flora
5 spot narrow bordered burnet, Small skipper, Painted lady, Blue-tailed damselfly, Drinker moth caterpillar, Lackey moth caterpillar, Speckled wood, Meadow brown, Peacock, Cinnabar moth, Bee orchid, Small tortoiseshell, Southern marsh orchid, Pyramidal orchid, Marsh helleborine, Grass snake.
Let’s go fly a kite
Or not as the case may be at Newport Wetlands due to the high powered electricity cables that criss cross above the reserve. I’m talking of course about the feathered variety of kite known as the Red kite.
One was seen on Wednesday 10th and although Wales has the stronghold of Red kites in the UK, they are not such a common sight across South Wales. In the coming years, Red kites will become a more regular visitor at Newport Wetlands but for the time being it is nice to report it as a special sighting.
Red kite by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
It has been a good week for Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths), with the 5 spot narrow bordered burnet moth being the star of the show. Not to be confused with the 6 spot burnet moth or the Cinnabar moth.
The Painted lady butterfly is always a treat as well.
5 spot burnet moth by Sue Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
6 spot burnet moth by Sue Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
Cinnabar moth by Richard Revels (rspb-images.com)
Bearded tit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Carrion crow, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Green woodpecker, Greenfinch, Grey heron, Herring gull, Hobby, House martin, House sparrow, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied flycatcher, Raven, Red kite, Redshank, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Robin, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Skylark, Song thrush, Starling, Swallow, Swift, Teal, Tufted duck, Willow warbler, Woodpigeon, Wren.
Lepidoptera and a mammal
5 spot narrow bordered burnet, Large skipper, Painted lady, Scarlet tiger moth, Small skipper, Speckled wood, Weasel.