Butterflies, wagtails and new dyke creation...

By Steve Aylward

New dykes are being created across the new land and butterflies and dragonflies are out on the marshes. 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!

Butterflies and dragonflies are out across the reserves, which makes the marshes come alive at this time of year. Carlton Marshes is known as being a great reserve to see Wall Brown butterflies, in fact this is one of the only sites in Suffolk where you can still see them in good numbers. Wall Brown, otherwise known as 'Wall', are named for their habit of basking on walls. Their favourite spot at Carlton is the sluice wall along the river Waveney path at the northern end of the Share Marsh track. The Wall Brown is a conservation priority species because of recent rapid declines in their range and population. Brown Argus butterflies are also on the wing in good numbers, with many being spotted by surveyors on the field where the new visitor centre will be built. They can be distinguished from similar looking species by the black dot in the middle of their forewing. Look out for dragonflies too with Norfolk Hawkers and Scarce Chasers seen on the wing this week. 

There are plenty of goslings, cygnets, ducklings and wader chicks to be spotted on the scrape and in the dykes across the reserves. Also look out for Yellow Wagtails hopping around on the scrapes and also hunting for insects in the heaps of mud on the new land. Yellow Wagtails like to nest on wet marshes and meadows, so Carlton is perfect for them. There are always interesting plants to look out for at this time of year, with a beautiful display of Cotton Grass at Castle Marshes and in Sprat's Water at Carlton Marshes. Orchids are now flowering on the wet meadows so look out for these just off the path whilst you're walking on the reserve.

New dykes are being created on Peto's and Share Marsh. The two pictured above don't look like much now, but they are brand new homes for wildlife. Plants, dragonflies, aquatic insects, birds, mammals, amphibians and more will soon move in and make it look rather more inspiring! Plants and insects will move in first, as they swim, fly and drift from the connecting dykes. As soon as next spring we may find Water Vole, Otter, Norfolk Hawker dragonflies and diving beetles using these new dykes. 

New chicks have also arrived this week on one of the new Peto's Marsh pools. 3 young Avocet chicks were sheltering from the rain under the adults wing when I saw them for the first time this week. It may take quite a few years for this area to become a reedbed, however in the meantime it will provide habitat for other species. In a similar spot as these young Avocet are sheltering with their parent this year, in 10 years time young Bittern may be learning to hunt for fish. 



Ellen Shailes at ellen.shailes@suffolkwildlifetrust.org for more information about volunteering across the Suffolk Broads reserves or

Barry Bradnum at waveneyvalleygroup.swt@gmail.com for more information about the Waveney Valley Wildlife Group

Current volunteering roles:

Conservation work party volunteer - Gunton Warren nature reserve

Dog Ambassador - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

Learning volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve and across Lowestoft

Pop up café volunteer - Carlton Marshes nature reserve

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.