Monday, 22 July 2013

July at Hickling

Caroline de Carle, Hickling Visitor Centre Coordinator
Wow what a proper summer we are having at Hickling and the wildlife, on the whole, is loving it. Needless to say the swallowtail butterflies have been out in profusion with lots of caterpillars as a result. Given the late date of the first adult population flight, however, we are unlikely to see a second lot of adults flying this late summer. But we'll wait and see. It is an interesting year in terms of wildlife adapting to climatic extremes and we could learn a lot on our reserves.

Hickling is literally buzzing with insects, in every shape, colour and size, reptiles, flowering plants and of course, birds. Concerns were voiced early in the year that the terrible early spring had decimated our bearded tit population, but, thankfully lots of healthy youngsters are being seen feeding in the reed beds.

Marsh harrier by Daren Mulley
Another species which seems to have thrived this year is marsh harrier. One of the highlights reported by a visitor to Hickling this month has been the sight of parent harriers feeding two well grown chicks in flight. Male marsh harriers are fabulous food providers when the female is on the nest, and the species is well known for the male to pass food on the wing to the female in a very graceful flight dance. When fledged chicks are learning to hunt, Mum and Dad copy this food pass routine and the little ones, with their long, strong legs, grab food from their parents in flight, so preparing them for adult life.

As we prepare for the summer holidays, it is so exciting to know that every visitor'’s experience is going to be different from the next and our “sightings board” is going to be full every day with new encounters with wildlife.

Find our more about the many species of wildlife we have in Norfolk in NWT's Species Explorer. View stunning images in our online gallery and if you have any wildlife questions that remain unanswered, get in touch!

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