This week we’ve started to see common vetch coming into flower (pictured above)- a pretty purple flower which is a member of the pea/legume family (there’s archaeological evidence which suggests people used to eat them - we don’t recommend it now though!) We’ve also started to see bird’s foot trefoil at Rectory Wood (but it is everywhere), which is normally yellow but can also be orange. Often called eggs and bacon, it’s another member of the pea/legume family and you’ll see it in a lot of grassland areas. You can spot a (catchily named) Cyptocephalus aureolus on one below - a green, beautifully shiny leaf beetle who specifically likes yellow flowers and is rarely seen in east anglia, so you’ll be lucky to see one locally.

Yellow and orange bird

Yellow and orange bird's foot trefoil

Southern marsh orchid leaves are beginning to show in the Millennium Country Park - we’ve found two so far so expect to see their pink flowers shooting up soon. They’re often thought of as a coastal flower, as they like to grow in chalky areas and sand dunes but they are often found in damp meadows or on river banks. Clumps of common comfrey are now out all over the place and despite being considered a weed, it’s actually great for enriching soil with minerals and it’s leaves make an excellent slug repellant.

Southern marsh orchid and comfrey

Southern marsh orchid and comfrey (Credit to Michelle Newstead)

You’ve probably seen herb robert by now too - it tends to prefer shady places but it can be a pain once it starts self seeding as it gets everywhere, so keep an eye on it in your garden! There is also an abundance of hawthorn flower out there - if you’re lucky you’ll see many different colours (we saw white, pink and dark pink - all natural variations, we assume, as they were spotted in a farm field hedgerow).

Herb robert and hawthorn

Herb robert (Credit to Michelle Newstead) and hawthorn 


Oystercatchers have officially hatched on the Pillinge, in the Wetlands Nature Reserve! This is old footage from a few years ago, but it shows adults bringing food to their young, which will be a common sight in the Park now. 

We’ve had another rare sighting - a male gargany was seen in the Millennium Country Park last weekend, which isn’t rare in the broad sense but it is for the Park. The last time we had them breeding here was when it first opened, back in 2000/2001, so to see one here is pretty exciting. We’re not sure if they’re breeding or not, so we’ll keep you posted.

You won’t be able to escape the singing of blackbirds at this time of year - probably in your gardens as well as on your walks. Listen below:

Speaking of singing, you’ll definitely hear the garden warblers if you’re in the Millennium Country Park. They’re easy to mistake for black caps, song wise, but they tend to migrate here slightly later and - once you can see them up close - they look quite different, with pretty much no distinguishing features (which, ironically, makes them distinct!)

Insects and animals

Common blue damselflies have emerged! Look out for the skin (or exuvea) they leave behind on reeds around lakes and ponds, as their larva are aquatic and use them to climb out as they emerge into adulthood. You can see one here chowing down on some poor insect (they’re carnivorous) and also a rare photo of one emerging.

Damselfly emerging and eating

Common blue damselflies (Credit to Nicola Ceconi)

There are a lot of red and black froghoppers around right now. They’re one of the largest bugs in their order (Hemiptera) and are normally seen on grass stems (pretty hard to miss as they stand out a mile due to their colouring.) Interestingly, we aren’t sure if they’re brightly coloured to put off predators because they’re actually poisonous or if they’re just mimicking ladybirds, which are. You should be seeing more butterflies week by week - the holly blue and green hairstreak will be out now, and we’ve talked about the orange tip a lot to date but we’ve had to include this stunning photo of one taken by Martin Rogers!

Orange tip (credit Martin Rogers)

Orange tip (Credit to Martin Rogers)

Green hair streak (credit Paul Ceconi) and holly blue (credit Martin Rogers)

Green hairstreak (Credit to Paul Ceconi) and holly blue (Credit to Martin Rogers)

We’ve had a bit of a rare spot this week, coincidentally on the week we’ve put up volunteer Robin’s beekeeping video - one of our off-duty rangers has spotted a honeybee swarm! We have no idea if they’re wild or escaped from a local bee keeper, but you can see them in this photo in their new, temporary (perhaps) hive in this hollow tree. When colonies get too big, a group of workers, drones and a queen will split from the original group in spring and look for a new home, creating a temporary one until they find somewhere suitable. We wish them lots of luck in their new home/ on their hive hunt!

Red and black froghopper and bee swarm in a tree (credit Nicola Ceconi)

Red and black froghopper and bee swarm in a tree (Credit to Nicola Ceconi)

Next week we’ll be doing another look at the moths you’ll be seeing in May, so watch this space…

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All bird videos credit to Bob Hook