Unusual flyovers, beautiful wildflowers, scrape creation and more...
It's been an interesting few weeks for birds and plants across the Waveney reserves. A Savi's Warbler has been attempting to attract a mate on Whitecast Marsh, the tidal reedbed that can be seen from the car park. Savi's Warblers are unusual UK visitors with only 1 - 3 pairs breeding each year. Their song is similar to that of a Grasshopper Warbler, which is long and reeling sounding similar to grasshoppers on a summers day. We have also had some exciting flyovers this month, with a White-tailed Eagle being spotted in various locations in Suffolk in late April and early May, seen in the distance from Carlton Marshes. 7 cranes also flew over heading North, we're hoping in the years to come they'll decide to stay at Carlton instead of just passing through. There has been some great wildlife at Castle Marshes too! The list from my conservation work party last week included 8 Whimbrel, 2 Wheatear, 1 Stonechat, 1 Hobby, 1 Sparrow Hawk, 1 Buzzard, 2 Marsh Harrier, 10 Swifts, 2 Shelduck and a stoat!
The marsh plants are creating a beautiful display as well, with Cuckoo Flower and Water Violet in flower, two of my favourite plants. Carlton, Oulton and Castle marshes are home to many rare aquatic plants because of the brilliant water quality here. Plants that seem to be common here are rare across the rest of the country. Some other stunning marsh plants to look out for across the reserves are Flowering Rush and Bogbean.
The habitat creation work on Share Marsh has started, with the Share Marsh track now closed until next year. Other circular walks to try across the reserve include the sprat's water summer path, which is great for seeing warblers and beautiful orchids in the summer. For another alternative follow the footpath past sprat's water and past the poplar trees to the bridge at the edge of the reserve. You can then carry along the footpath across the railway line to marsh lane and then sprat's water lane, which brings you back over the railway line again to Carlton Marshes. These quiet lanes are great for spotting Bullfinch and Sparrowhawk.
The start of the work on Share Marsh is creating a huge scrape, with the material from that being used to improve the Share Marsh track. The scrapes being created are only shallow, with most areas being no more than 30cm deep. Their higgledy-piggledy shape isn't a mistake! This will create more muddy edge when they are filled with water, which is perfect for feeding waders and their chicks.
In other news 13 Belted Galloways (a breed of cattle) arrived at Oulton Marshes last week. This hardy breed of cattle are great for the fen areas at Oulton Marshes and they look cute too, with their shaggy black and white coats and smaller stature. Cattle grazing helps to create variety in these fen areas, which is great for plants, insects and birds.
Meet the volunteers!
Our volunteer Peter has been coming down to the marshes since he was very young, as a baby pushed in a pram with his mother. Peter has more recently volunteered for one of the least glamorous jobs at the reserve, monitoring dog mess! This job is essential to help us see whether our work to reduce dog mess at the reserve is working. Peter isn't just a dog mess monitor, he is our go-to man for odd jobs around the centre. He is also a great advocate for the trust, always speaking enthusiastically to visitors at the pop café and events. Peter told me why he is so enthusiastic about volunteering for Suffolk Wildlife Trust "I volunteer because it’s a privilege to be part of the reserve team and the work they put in for the preservation of it. I also like to give something back for future generations and I know my mother would be so pleased to know that everything at Carlton Marshes has been saved and what a wonderful place it’s going to be. It was her who taught me to love nature and to respect the flora and fauna and the beauty and colours of the marsh. Something I have never forgotten."
Ellen Shailes at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about volunteering across the Suffolk Broads reserves or
Barry Bradnum at email@example.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
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.