And just like that summer is over for another year and what a busy summer we have had! New Countryside Ranger Emma Buck joined the team in June helping manage the conservation side of the estate along with Jerry Kinsley. June started with our annual school visit from Norwich School with 100 year 9 children over two days participating in a variety of activities including pond dipping, tree studies, owl pellet dissection and a nature walk. Next year we hope to have many more school visits here engaging children with nature and hopefully inspiring them to protect it. If you know of a school you think might be interesting in visiting Mannington please get in touch. June is a great month for insects and we were excited to find Norfolk Hawker dragonflies around the estate in good numbers. This species is listed as endangered on the British Odonata Red List but seems to be doing well and spreading in Norfolk at the moment. We set to work monitoring the wildlife around the estate with the help of trail cameras and discovered that our large Badger sett is still active, Water Voles are still using the fen as well as at least one Otter! Trail cameras are a brilliant way to study more secretive and nocturnal species around the estate. A single female Great Crested Newt was a lovely surprise to find and hopefully they are still breeding in our ponds, they have been on the estate since 2001. Butterfly numbers and species were fairly low in June sadly with Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell mainly absent, there were also very few caterpillars. This could just be a blip or more likely another sign of climate change. On a positive note to end the month Common Whitethroat and Chiffchaff bred in good numbers all-round the fen in the scrubby vegetation.
After a very dry and hot June, July was the complete opposite with rain and much cooler temperatures. Around the scrape and on the fen the ground was alive with tiny toad and froglets who obviously had a very good breeding season. There were a few butterflies of note this month including Painted Lady, Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral. We set to work clearing the ditches on the fen to make the habitat more inviting for Water Vole, it was a muddy job but we had some dedicated volunteers to help. Other jobs included replacing the worst sections of the boardwalk, this is a big and expensive job and will be ongoing until we can replace the whole thing. If you would like to sponsor a section of boardwalk let us know we would really appreciate it! We also started work trying to clear the over grown vegetation in the scrape removing invasive species and opening it out for the bird life. This year our Little Grebes raised two chicks, we had several Moorhen chicks which were very comical to watch running over the lily pads! While clearing we also installed some Kingfisher perches which worked immediately with visitors getting amazing photos of them eating Stickleback in front of the hide!! We also had a Grasshopper Warbler ‘reeling’ on the meadow on July 10th. In mid-July we had a moth expert, also known as a Lepidopterist, who came and did a survey overnight. He was really impressed catching (and releasing) 676 moths of 125 species. Interesting moths included Minor Shoulder-knot which is near threatened according to the IUCN red list, micro moth Orthotelia sparganella which has just 10 records for 2022, Dingy Shears, Roeslerstammia erxlebella and Slender Brindle. Next year we hope to set up a more regular moth monitoring schedule. We also started a bird ringing programme which is an excellent way to study the birds using the estate. Emma is a qualified bird ringer licensed by the British Trust for Ornithology, with her help we have started bird ringing demos and in November will be starting a winter monitoring project to further help the BTO. We have already discovered through ringing that Mannington is a stronghold for Marsh Tits which is a Red listed species in the UK. Mannington also seems to be a sanctuary for the quickly declining and also Red listed Spotted Flycatchers however no nests were found this year and we did fear this may be our first year without seeing them but on the 26th an adult was seen in Duffer’s Wood feeding at least two fledged chicks! Near the end of July the summer holidays started and we brought back our Nature Discovery Days for children which included lots of nature themed activities, quizzes and crafts. Butterflies did much better in July and we had some great counts from visitors during the Butterfly Conservations Big Butterfly Count period, thank you to everyone who participated.
The weather slowly improved again in August and began to warm up. We did some mammal trapping with the Nature Discovery children who were very excited to see mice and voles up close. It was extremely successful with lots of small mammals caught which is probably why we have so many birds of prey! We also did some Harvest Mouse releases as part of our captive breeding programme. The Grey Wagtails chicks bred near the moat dispersed and were seen around the scrape plus a Green Sandpiper feeding on the mud in front of the bird hide. Near the end of August our wonderful volunteers gave the bird hide a much needed lick of paint and we started on the big task of cutting the meadow which has to be done every year to increase flora biodiversity. We ended the month with a fruitful evening walk and dinner. After the delicious dinner we went for a wander around the boardwalk listening for owls hooting and deer barking then into the woodland and ending back at the hall where lots of bats were flying around the trees and moat, we were even treated with an amazing full moon rising over the hall and a shooting star!!
If you would like to volunteer with our conservation team please get in touch.
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