Spider surprises and dragonfly drama

Spider surprises and dragonfly drama

Carlton Marshes by Steve Aylward

Insects are stealing the show here at Carlton Marshes, whilst the excitement builds for the visitor centre opening in late September. Read on for wildlife news from across the Suffolk Broads and to hear about the volunteers that make it all happen.

Whilst visiting Carlton Marshes during the hot summer months it can be difficult to spot many birds, but if you take the time to notice our smaller inhabitants you will get a real treat. Through June to October staff and volunteers survey the fen raft spider populations at Carlton and Castle Marshes. These rare spiders can be difficult to spot, but on dewy mornings their webs can stand out on the surface of the dykes. Once you've found one, use your binoculars to search for the young spiders in the webs and the female standing guard nearby. This year webs can easily be seen in the dykes either side of the main track at Carlton Marshes. Another beautiful spider to look out for is the wasp spider, which can be seen in meadows throughout August. Lound Lakes is the best local nature reserve to spot these striking spiders. 

Dragonflies are also performing their dyke-side dramas throughout the summer and Carlton Marshes is one of the best nature reserves in the country for spotting a huge range of dragonfly species. All of these different species means there is an array of interesting behaviours to observe. Some dragonflies, like the male emperor dragonflies, can be seen patrolling their territories attacking other dragonflies that enter it. Females can be seen laying their eggs, also called ovipositing, in a range of different ways. Some females lay their eggs into plants, carefully choosing specific types of plant in the perfect location. Willow emerald damselflies prefer willow overhanging a dyke or slow running stream, whilst norfolk hawker dragonflies prefer to lay their eggs into water soldier - one of the rare aquatic plants found here at Carlton. Other dragonflies are a bit less picky and simply flick their eggs haphazardly into the water. 



After many delays due to the coronavirus, the visitor centre is now near completion. Staff had another sneak peak last week and we're all excited for our first coffee and cake overlooking the autumn marsh landscape from the expansive area of decking surrounding the new visitor centre. The view of the marsh that visitors will soon be able to enjoy is spectacular, taking in the huge skies, famous lightning trees and marsh harriers hunting along the dyke lines. A bridge now joins the visitor centre to the marsh, leading to the new trails and hides. The new centre will be welcoming visitors through its doors at the end of September, so watch this space! We hope to be able to welcome some wildlife visitors to the new centre as well, with swift boxes, bat holes and a wildlife pond collecting the runoff from the roof. Local people and local wildlife will soon be enjoying the visitor centre for years to come. 

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.