Sunday, 24 July 2016

24th of July: Lots of butterflies and fish

This week has been a good one for butterflies, with an increase in both number and species being seen daily. We have been seeing dozens of Grayling in the dunes and on the sun-warmed shingle. In flight, a flash of marbled orange will give them away but once settled, grayling tuck their fore wings beneath their camouflaged hind wings and appear to vanish against the ground. The Gatekeeper is another striking species we have been seeing on the reserve in recent weeks, with its brown bordered, bright orange wings and subtle eye spots.


If you’re out on the reserve this month, stop and have a little look on the leaves and flowers of the Ragwort plants and you may see the caterpillar of the Cinnabar moth feasting on this important foodplant. Easily recognisable with its handsome stripes of orange and black, the Cinnabar moth is a UK BAP priority species due to its marked decline - 83% over the last 35 years - and so conservation of this species and protection of its foodplant here on Blakeney Point is crucial.

Cinnabar moth caterpillar feeding on Ragwort

Our last round of seine netting has kept us busy with and given a closer look at all that dwells in the water. Now that the waters are starting to warm up, some species will start moving out to colder parts further from the shore. This meant that species like pipefish and sandeel were found in lower frequency in the harbour and creeks this month. The highlights included several species of baby flatfish, which is a good sign for health of the water systems and nursery habitat, and also thousands of Herring and spratt (tern food) in the sea.  It is important to sample the fish species here to understand more about our breeding birds, in particular the rare Little Tern; to see which prey species they are feeding on and how they might change their foraging strategies to adapt to their movements.

 Cuttlefish (Anne Casey)

Flat fish (Anne Casey) 

Garfish (Anne Casey) 

Squid (Anne Casey) 

Weaver (Anne Casey)

We have had regular sightings of a male Black Redstart around the Lifeboat House aswell as juvenile Wheatear and male Cuckoo moving through. There are still large flocks of Knot present on the Point and good numbers of Dunlin and Sanderling on the tideline.

Wynona (Seasonal Assistant Ranger)
with thanks to Anne Casey (Business Development Manager) for fish photography

No comments:

Post a Comment