Saturday, 4 August 2018

17. SWT Carlton Marshes

Brought to my attention via social media when the American bittern made a visit to this reserve, we finally decided to pay it a visit ourselves. On a day with weather that has become commonplace this summer, with glaring sunshine and a temperature of around 30°, we walked the full trail around Carlton Marshes. A stunning landscape, somehow even flatter and with even more views of the horizon than similar reserves in Norfolk. We primarily visited for dragonflies, with plenty of brown hawkers on the wing and a few emerald damselflies, and I was pleased to find my first small red-eyed damselflies, their eyes almost glowing demonically from their turquoise and metallic brown bodies. Males mate-guarded, clasped fast to the females as they oviposited and a female brown hawker joined in, submersing most of her long abdomen to lay her large eggs into underwater plant material.

Emerald damselfly
Small red-eyed damselflies
Plenty of butterflies were enjoying the Sun too, with bright and fresh red admirals accompanied by other slightly more worn individuals. Gatekeepers and meadow browns fluttered along the waterside vegetation, accompanied by plenty of whites. A peacock butterfly, having seen better days, rested for a while and I had to avoid treading on a skipper.

Any small birds remained quiet, but a number of raptors obliged. A common buzzard soared on thermals, whilst a daring kestrel held its ground on a post until the last second as we approached. As we watched the kestrel, a marsh harrier glided low overhead, showing off its blackened wing tips and pale head as it turned.


  1. A lovely post. This is one of our favourite reserves, Sarah. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes once the new developments (improved visitor centre etc.) are complete. We finally got to see a Fen Raft Spider here - and it's a good place for Grass Snakes, too.

    1. Yes, that will be interesting! I'll have to make an effort to visit again before the summer's out, but hopefully on a slightly cooler day...