We’ve been spotting broad bodied chaser dragonflies in the Park - you can tell males and females apart as they have different coloured abdomens (if you can see them from the right angle). Males are blue and females are golden brown. You’ll see them near ponds and smaller lakes and they are often the first dragonflies you’ll see at new ponds, so if you’ve put one in your garden during lockdown - watch out for them!

Ringlet butterflies get their names from the beautiful ringed pattern on their wings - you can tell them apart from the meadow brown butterfly for this reason as well. You often see them feeding off bramble and wild privet and, unlike many butterflies, they are out in cloudy conditions rather than just the sun.

We’ve talked about large skippers before but we have some great, close-up shots of them courtesy of our Ranger Nicola - you can tell them apart as the male (header photo) has a black line through its upper wing. You’ll see them out in the sun, probably feeding on bramble, otherwise sitting on large leaves.

Ringlet butterfly and large skipper female

Ringlet and large skipper female butterflies

If you have time, please make sure you register with Butterfly Conservation and let them know what species you’ve seen and where, to help them with their vital research into the effects of the climate crisis on butterfly species in the UK.

Easily mistaken for an earwig, the devils coach horse is a pretty formidable looking beetle. It feeds at night, on decaying matter and usually rests under stones or in decaying leaves during the day. It’s essentially a mini scorpion, and its tail raises when threatened - it may be small, but its bite can be painful so be careful if you see one.

The box tee moth has only been in the UK since 2007 but it’s population is growing. Too many of their larvae can disfigure entire, ornamental hedges and topiary and they are actually considered a pest in some parts of Europe.

Box tee moth and devils coach horse beetle

Box tee moth and devils coach horse beetle


Goat’s beard is also known as ‘Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon’ as its pretty yellow flowers close up by lunchtime. It’s similar to a dandelion but a lot bigger - our photo shows the seed head and closed up flower (what you’re most likely to see).

The pretty white blossom from wild cherry trees is now ripening into cherries - a summer favourite for us as well as birds and small mammals, who distribute the seeds.

Goats beard and wild cherry

Goats beard and wild cherry

We’ve looked at common knapweed but this week we’re looking at it’s close relative - greater knapweed. It’s a pretty, purple flower that you’ll see on grasslands and woodland rides around here, and clifftops elsewhere. Butterflies love them - common blues, marbled whites (check out our photo below of a marbled white on an orchid) and meadow browns flock to the flower when the sun is out. The ‘flower’ itself is actually made up of lots of smaller flowers, or ‘florets’.

 Greater knapweed and marbled white butterfly on orchid

Greater knapweed and marbled white butterfly on orchid

Poppies are out in force at the moment - obviously we all know their significance but you may not know that they come in other colours. They can be pink, yellow and orange. You can see a pink one amongst the field below.

After our look at great mullein caterpillars last week, we have a photo of the plant they famously feed off. Commonly seen on waste ground, verges and in gardens, great mullein is impressively tall and has furry leaves.

Ribbed melilot is out a bit early on farmland, grassland, verges and wasteland. You can’t really tell it apart from tall melilot without looking closely at the seed pods. It’s a great source of nectar for honey bees and if you’re up close, you’ll smell its sweet scent.

Pink poppy, great mullein, ribbed melilot

Pink poppy, great mullein, ribbed melilot


We’ve had more swift success this week over at St Mary’s Church in Marston - this fantastic slow-mo video shows one entering its nesting hole. As you can see, they move very fast! There are at least 3 sets of them nesting there currently.

You’ll sometimes spot redshanks on our meadows - we have at least 5 or 6 on the Pillinge in the Wetlands Nature Reserve this year. Normally they breed here, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that this year, sadly.

Magpies normally nest in the trees - sometimes in massive roosts of up to 40 birds - but for the past few years they have actually bred on our Woodland Walkway ramp that leads up to the Tower Hide. Again, this year they haven’t sadly, but we have plenty in the Park - check out our videos below to see some up-close magpie action:

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All bird videos credit to Bob Hook