Header photo - credit to Annette Taylor

Insects and animals

We’ve spotted roesel’s bush crickets over on Marston Meadow - you can tell them apart from grasshoppers as they make a continuous buzz (like a power line). They stridulate with their wings instead of their legs and if you get close enough you’ll see they have a bright U-shape on their side. Females have a long spike coming out of their backside called an ‘ovipositor’ which they use to lay eggs. We’ve also spotted bog bush crickets - you can tell them by their bright green under belly.

Bog bush cricket and roesel

Bog bush cricket and roesel's bush cricket

It’s been a great year for ladybirds in the Park, with loads on the nettles in the Wetlands. They’re mostly harlequins (including this unusual one, as pictured) but there are a few of our native red and black 7 spotted ones.

We thought we’d spotted a polecat earlier in the week but it turned out to be a hybrid. The ferret-sized creature is hard to spot, and nearly went extinct at one point. Now you can see them (if you’re lucky) in lowland wooded habitats, farmland and by river banks, but not throughout the whole of the UK. Sadly, you’re most likely to see them as roadkill in these parts.

 Ladybird (credit to Mark King) and polecat hybrid

Ladybird (credit to Mark King) and polecat hybrid


Some of the waders are starting to make their way back from their northern breeding grounds this month. The black tailed godwit (in the video below) will be on its way back from Scandinavia, most likely., in the coming weeks. They’ve suffered from a lot of habitat loss and their current population is very vulnerable with less than 100 breeding pairs in the UK! Project Godwit (based at the Nene and Ouse Washes) aims to increase breeding (at those specific sites) to help the population recover. They use tracking and ringing to learn more about their migratory movements, and manage habitats specifically to attract them - hopefully the project will be successful and we’ll see many more around these parts in future.

You’ll also start to see birds like common sandpipers, green sandpiper and snipe heading back (check out the video below of a common sandpiper from 2014) - if you’re very lucky you might see greenshank or curlew but they’re a lot rarer - if you see one, let us know!

The goldcrest is the UK’s smallest bird and, as a resident, you’ll see them all year round - especially in areas with mature trees or tall conifers. We’ve heard a male singing around the Pillinge - keep an eye out them feeding on tiny spiders, moth eggs and insects (like in this video, taken a few years ago). We had them breeding in the Park this year and although they are pretty common, they appear to be becoming more so. There is normally an influx from the continent in late summer/early autumn as well so if you don’t spot any beforehand, look out for them when the autumn migrants are starting to return.

Another resident bird, ravens, are doing their post-breeding dispersal so you should see a lot more of them over the next few weeks - we haven’t seen them breeding on any of our sites but we know there are some over in Cranfield, so they’re definitely in the Forest area. This video was taken a few years ago, at this time.

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All bird videos credit to Bob Hook