Thursday 4 April 2019

First 2019 Lizard Sighting (for us) at NT Wicken Fen

We had another good day out at NT Wicken Fen last Saturday, and this time the reserve was a bit quieter.

You never know what you will find in the water around the reedbeds: we have watched Grass Snakes and Caddisfly larvae in the past. But on this occasion it seemed to be the turn of the snails, as you can see from the photo above - snails and what I think is a Water Strider. I know virtually nothing about freshwater snails, but I think the two small flat ones, at the end of the penultimate yellow line, may be some kind of Planorbidae or Ramshorn snail. As ever, please let me know in the Comments if you can confirm this or correct me.

Aside: the difference in size between the tiny snails and the large central one brought to mind the giant sea snail in Dr Dolittle!

Strangely, and with the exception of House Sparrows, we didn't see many birds. We would probably have missed the female Mallard below, but the drake's iridescent plumage caught my eye. It is always a joy to hear the yaffle of the Green Woodpecker.

We had hardly arrived in the car park before a male Brimstone butterfly started flying up and down along the edge of the hawthorn hedge. We saw several more during the course of the afternoon, largely in the area of the Woodland Walk. Sadly, these beautiful Brimstones were too quick for my camera. The Peacock butterfly below was not in such a rush... 

We noticed it perching on a reed. You can just make out the wind pump in the background.

Further into the reserve, in the Woodland Walk, we encountered more Brimstone butterflies, fluttering up and down the hedgerow. We also noticed a resting Comma, one of the first I have seen this year...

Ladybirds, largely 7-spots, were showing well throughout the reserve (and in the car park).

We noticed a couple of Bee-flies, but, as usual, they rarely stayed still long enough for a photo...

The trees were showing wonderful signs of spring...

... and there was new growth in the reedbeds, too.

Do you think these are fresh stems of phragmites?

I love the watery reflections and the contrast between the dark peat (you should see the molehills!) and the golden reeds.

I apologise for the quality of the spider photo above, but I include it because I am intrigued by the bundle the spider is bearing (prey or offspring?), and also by the abdominal marks: are these marks meant to look like eyes, to warn off predators? You would, of course, only see them when the spider was dangling. The shape on the left is a reed.

Zoom shot of Common Lizard camouflaged against the bark of a tree

Our greatest thrill of the afternoon came when we noticed our first Common Lizard of 2019.  These lizards, despite a name that might indicate otherwise, need protection. You can read about their status here.

All too soon the light started to fade, but we weren't quite ready to leave.

Above: David enjoying a spot of reedbed relaxation!
Below: Lesser Celandine emerging from dead leaves.


Muntjac in evening sunlight


Kay Weeks said...

All so carefully documented, but I must admit scrolling down to the lizard at NT Wicken Fen.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely series of photos, Caroline, specially the ladybirds.

Wonderful to see the lizard, we rarely see them up here, though when we do there are often a lot in the same place.

eileeninmd said...

Beautiful nature scenes and photos. I love the ladybug and the lizard. Wishing you a happy day!

Lowcarb team member said...

I always enjoy your posts and beautiful photographs from Wicken Fen :)

All the best Jan

Amanda Peters said...

It's such a great place for you to go and watch nature, stunning photos and how amazing to see the lizard. I have never seen one or a snake.
I would love to learn more about whats in the streams and pond on my patch at the park, I get funny looks now ! Often on the floor looking for insects. One lady came over once as she thought I had collapsed on the ground!
Always lovely to see what you find.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Wonderful post and photos Caroline - what a superb reserve to stroll around. So good to hear of all the butterflies you saw (I have only seen 3 here!). It must have been exciting to see your first lizard of the year :) Apart from Wall? lizards at Ventnor Botanic Gardens I haven't seen one since I was a child! Not sure why - perhaps I need to look harder :) Do hope you have a good weekend.