Are you becoming a garden wildlife explorer?

Are you becoming a garden wildlife explorer?

Carlton Marshes by John Lord

Despite unusual circumstances and not being able to see the wildlife at Carlton Marshes, I am still able to enjoy the wildlife that my garden and local area has to offer. Can you spot wild plants on the roadsides and in cracks on the pavement? Read on for wildlife news from across the Suffolk Broads, Carlton Marshes habitat creation updates, and to hear about the volunteers that make it all happen (or perhaps not quite).

Despite the lockdown, wildlife at Carlton Marshes continues to enjoy the wetland paradise that has been created for it but because of the lockdown staff are unable to do the usual careful counting of breeding birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Staff and volunteers haven't started their usual annual surveys, as we are only visiting reserves for essential livestock and safety checks.

Across the county we are all getting the opportunity to focus on our garden wildlife and the wildlife we can find on our daily walks, runs and bike rides. Many people have started a garden bird list, I've managed to add red kite, greenfinch and sparrowhawk to mine in recent days. Butterflies are now out and I've seen a variety of species over the beautiful Easter weekend, including peacock, small tortoiseshell and orange-tip butterflies. The fresh, bright orange colour of the newly emerged orange-tip butterfly have certainly been a welcome sight for me and I've also been spotting their caterpillar food plants on my walks. Garlic mustard, or Jack-by-the-Hedge, is one of them and is a common plant on road verges and hedgerows and it is important because it is one of the plants that orange-tip caterpillars feed on. If you crush it in your hands it smells strongly of garlic. Other plants which butterflies depend on include: nettles, bird's-foot-trefoil, ivy, common sorrel and common dog-violet, as well as grasses such as cock's-foot, timothy and meadow foxtail. You may have some of these plants in your garden, could you leave a patch unmown for the butterflies this spring? 

I like taking pictures of wild plants I've seen in the garden or on walks. I struggle to take good pictures of birds and butterflies, but luckily plants stay still, so you can get a decent iPhone picture. I've put some of my recent finds below. Perhaps lockdown could be an opportunity for us to get to know the plants around us a bit better. You could do the Garden Wildflower Hunt a new lockdown survey by Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) to get people recording the wild plants in their garden. Can you start appreciating some of your 'weeds' for the beautiful wild plants they are? 


Ellen Shailes at for more information about volunteering across the Suffolk Broads reserves or

Barry Bradnum at for more information about the Waveney Valley Wildlife Group

Current volunteering roles:

Dog Ambassador - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

Visitor centre volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve

Learning volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

and more... 

Heritage Fund

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and a £4 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our vision to buy and restore 384 acres of land for wildlife in the Broads National Park is taking flight.