Weekly wild news from our reserves - 6 November

Misty morning at Church Farm - Jamie Smith

Find out the latest from our nature reserves with our Reserve Warden’s blog – this week the ponies got a manicure, we spotted a stonechat and a snow bunting and lots more stunning autumn wildlife...

Stonechat - sounds just like two small stones being hit together!

Debs Crawford, Valley Fens Reserves Assistant, remarks on these small, dumpy birds full of charisma and autumnal cheer. ‘The stonechat is a little smaller than a robin with a big head and short tail. It can be seen on heathland and boggy habitats like here at Redgrave & Lopham Fen nature reserve. A pair have been spotted frequently sitting on the top of scrub, flicking their wings and making a call like two small stones being hit together or out and about in search of invertebrates, seeds and fruit, such as blackberries’.  

Male stonechats have a black head, brown back, black throat with a white half-collar, and orange-red breast. Females and juveniles are paler. On heathland in the south of England, Dartford warblers can often be seen following stonechats around, perhaps catching the small insects that the larger bird disturbs. 

Small copper butterfly

The small copper is by name and nature a small butterfly on the wing throughout the summer until autumn. John Yaxley is a regular visitor to Redgrave & Lopham Fen nature reserve who captured this weathered individual right at the end of the season. Males are territorial and can be seen basking on bare ground or rock waiting for females, every now and again chasing off other insects that encroach on their space. Adults can be seen feeding on ragwort and thistles, while the caterpillars feed on common sorrel and sheep's sorrel. It's found in dry, sunny habitats, including heathland and woodland edge habitat. The small copper has bright orange forewings with dark brown spots and a thick, dark brown margin. It has dark brown hindwings that are banded with orange. 

Small copper butterfly at Redgrave & Lopham Fen - John Yaxley

Small copper butterfly at Redgrave & Lopham Fen - John Yaxley

Can you spot the snow bunting?

A snow bunting was spotted concealing itself amongst very muddy ground at Hen Reedbeds this week. Snow buntings are black, brown and white sparrow-sized birds that breed in the Arctic and overwinter in the UK, mainly around the coast.  

Snow bunting at Hen Reedbeds - Daniel Doughty

Snow bunting at Hen Reedbeds - Daniel Doughty

Conservation grazers have a manicure!

Our ponies had a visit from the farrier this week, here they are looking a bit apprehensive about having their hooves trimmed! 

Peregrine falcon filmed hunting starlings at Hen Reedbeds

The starlings formed some spectacular shapes whilst being pursued by a peregrine falcon at Hen Reedbeds this week. They’ve now moved further down the coast. 

96,000 steps for nature

Sarah Groves, Communications Manager, challenged herself to walk 96,000 steps to raise money for our campaign to preserve 30% of land and sea for nature to allow it to begin to recover. Find out how you can get involved here www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/30by30. As part of her challenge, Sarah walked her local nature reserve, Reydon Wood and captured some beautiful autumn wildlife. Reydon Wood is an ancient coppiced woodland great for spotting birds such as tawny owl, sparrowhawk, long-tailed tit, woodcock and treecreeper.