Painted Lady migration and orchid explosion

Aerial view of Carlton Marshes by John Lord

Water is already flooding into the newly created scrapes and orchids are blooming in the marshes and meadows. 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!

Painted Lady butterflies have arrived in good numbers over the last few weeks, with lots of sighting across all the local reserves. The numbers of Painted Lady butteflies seen in the UK each year varies hugely because of their unusual life cycle. Painted Lady butterflies don't stay in the UK all year round, they migrate here, thousands of miles from the Atlas mountains in Morocco. If you head out in the countryside at the moment, especially near the coast, you are likely to see these beautiful butterfly migrants. Carlton Marshes is also full of dragonflies and the Fen Raft Spider breeding season is about to start. The dykes are the place to look for wildlife spectacles at this time of year. Norfolk Hawkers are quartering the dykes, Fen Raft Spiders are building their nursery webs and other interesting invertebrates such as Water Stick Insects and Water Scorpions can also be seen here. For most of these species you need a bit of patience to spend time at the edge of the dyke, looking along the edge or on the small lily pad-like leaves of Frogbit or in the crown-like leaves of Water Soldier. Remember to check the neighbouring marshes for Southern Marsh Orchids as well.

Head over to Gunton Meadow nature reserve to see hundreds of Orchids, Bee Orchids, Pyramidal, Common Spotted and Twayblade. The meadow and roadside verges are awash with purple and pink flowers and the accompanying buzz of insects. Meadow Brown and Skipper butterflies can now be seen in the meadows here in good numbers. At a Discover Gunton Warren event in mid June over 100 species of plants, birds, insects and reptiles were recorded in one day, including Common Lizard, plenty of Painted Lady butterflies, Green Tiger Beetles and Yellow-horned Poppy. Head to this beautiful coastal reserve on a summers day and you will be amazed at what you can find. 

Scrapes and pools which have only been dug in the last few weeks are already starting to fill up with water, helped by the heavy rainfall over the past week. In order to help bring more water onto the new reedbed when necessary a new water control structure has been installed along the river wall. This will allow us to bring water onto the nature reserve from the River Waveney. A number of other water control structures have been installed in order to help us hold back water on the areas where we want it. All of these measures will ensure we can maintain a perfect habitat for Lapwing, Bittern, Marsh Harrier and a huge number of other bird species throughout the seasons.

The archeological dig now finished, the visitor centre build will be starting throughout July. This is a really exciting time for the people side of the project here at Carlton Marshes. The picture above is the architects vision of what the visitor centre will look like between the oak trees at Carlton Marshes. This new centre will provide a café, improved education facilities, outside seating, decking area and playground. 


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:

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

National Lottery 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.