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Bright and Beautiful

Wednesday, July 22nd 2020

Kingfishers are back at Foxglove! These small stunning birds have been absent from the observation board for over a year. However, they have been sighted recently at various places around the reserve. Most people's experience of the Kingfisher is a snatched glimpse of turquoise flying away and out of sight. This is not surprising as they can fly fast; it is estimated that they can reach speeds of up to 28 miles per hour on a still day. During the last CES ringing session, the bird ringers caught a juvenile male twice in the same woodland net! It was a real privilige to see the bird up close and in so much detail.

In most of Europe there is only one Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis and because there aren't any others, we call it the 'Kingfisher', although it is more correctly known as the Common Kingfisher.  Common Kingfishers don't just feed on fish, they supplement their diet with invertebrates such as damselfy larvae. Some Kingfishers migrate. The german name for the Common Kingfisher is Eisvogel (ice bird), because of its southerly movements when waters freeze over. This may explain why they have been absent from Foxglove since the last 'proper' cold winter. Ringing the birds will hopefully help to shed some light on this theory.

As well as bright birds, there are many colourful flowers out at the moment. Most of the orchids that have put on such a great show are starting to go over now but other wildflowers such as Betony are still in full swing! In some places, it lines the footpaths, especially where staff and volunteers worked hard last winter to thin scrub and encourage more light to the ground.

From June until the first frosts, the sturdy stems carry compact spikes of vibrant, rosy-purple flowers which are almost orchid-like in their appearance. These are a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators late in the season. 

Foxgloves are still adding a splash of colour everywhere including this lone one in the reedbed! 

July and August are great months for spotting butterflies and you can't walk far without finding a Ringlet;  unmistakable when seen at rest due to the rings on the hindwings which give this butterfly its common name. The uppersides are a uniform chocolate brown that distinguish it from the closely-related Meadow Brown.

If you visit this month, please share your sightings with us either by writing them on the board in the Field Centre or sharing your photographs on Facebook. Look out for the Kingfisher (usually seen on the lake). A good tip is to try to learn their call, a piercing and high pitched whistle. If you hear it, scan the water for a bird in flight.

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