Despite the wind this last week, we have still been seeing good numbers of Dragonflies and Damselflies. Walking through Sprat's Water look out for Willow Emerald Damselflies perched at about eye level or higher in Willow or Alder. They may be scouting for a place to lay their eggs, as Willow Emeralds lay their eggs in the bark of trees overhanging water, favouring Willow and Alder. The larvae then falls into the water the following year. We've also had ongoing interest in the Vagrant and Lessor Emperor dragonflies which have been seen here recently on the newly created scrapes. On these new scrapes, and on the old scrapes too, we have been seeing lots of migrant waders including regular sightings of Green Sandpiper. Listen out for their high pitched call as they fly fast over the scrapes. Green Sandpiper breed in Scandinavia up in trees, using old birds nests and squirrel dreys. Look out for this years young waders too with paler colouring like the Avocet chicks below and the Lapwing youngsters with their short, stumpy crest.
It's the time of year again when volunteers are busy clearing the wet meadows and fen at Carlton Marshes, whilst I have been cutting them. Sat in a tractor raised above the reeds can be a great place to spot wildlife. Earlier this week I saw a Bittern amongst the reeds at Oulton Marshes opposite the viewing platform. Bittern are often seen here, but be prepared to scan the reed edge of the dyke for a while as these birds are not easy to spot, unless you've got a tractor. Cutting the meadows in the smaller tractor also gives me great views of frogs and toads, hopping or walking in front of me. The hop of a frog or walk of a toad is the best way to tell the two apart if you are unsure. Gunton Meadow and Sprat's Water are both great places to spot these amphibians along the edge of ponds or the miniature broads.