Grasshopper warblers at the Great Fen, marbled whites at Cambourne, common terns nesting at the Nene Wetlands and an osprey over Trumpington...

During the summer months our monitoring teams are out and about recording wildlife. You may have seen them on BBC Countryfile recently surveying slow worms at Totternhoe nature reserve. This survey is part of a 10 year study keeping track of 900 slow worms that were trans-located to the reserve after a bus route was built over their habitat. On the same programme we were also helping the University of Cambridge study the impact of climate change on butterfly species, particularly the rare Duke of Burgundy. Totternhoe nature reserve is home to over half of the UK's butterfly species and the research being done is informing our reserve management. Watch us on iplayer.

Now is a great time to spot butterflies but the weather has been warming up and with the heatwave comes wildlife impacts. After a few weeks of high numbers of butterflies, the foodplants of their caterpillars are now drying out, and unless we get enough rain nectar sources may also be drying up. On the other hand, it’s a good season for migrant butterflies in the UK, with painted lady butterflies passing through, a scatter of diamondback moths, and migrant dragonflies such as lesser emperor and red-veined darter on the east coast and further south.

At our Cambourne HQ we've seen lot's of marbled white butterflies in the nearby meadow. The striking black-and-white checks of the marbled white are unmistakable. Watch out for it alighting on flowers, such as lady's bedstraw and field scabious, on chalk and limestone grasslands and along woodland rides.

Marbled white on knapweed at Cambourne Nature Reserve

Marbled white on knapweed at Cambourne nature reserve - Robert Enderby

Over at the Nene Wetlands we've been pleased to announce that a pair of common terns have bred successfully and are raising two chicks at Skew Bridge Lake. With help from our friends at Canoe 2 and funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund we provided two rafts for terns to nest on. Common terns have been in decline in the UK so it's great to see them here. 

Common terns breeding at the Nene Wetlands

Common terns breeding at the Nene Wetlands

At the Great Fen it has been a good year for grasshopper warblers, which have been recorded at Darlow’s Farm, Rymes Reedbed, Summer Standing and also Woodwalton Fen where they have produced fledged chicks. Cuckoos have also been present in many parts of the Great Fen, turtle doves are doing well and corn buntings have been recorded in a number of locations, breeding in the specially protected field margins. We also had some very promising sightings of wheatears. Reed warblers are clearly breeding in the expanding reedbed at Rymes, as well as lapwings in the more open areas.

We have been busy with our grassland plant survey, as well as bird and invertebrate surveys. The wildflower meadows up at Engine Farm are showing great promise, with yellow rattle spreading and problems species coming under control; a very satisfying result for both the staff and volunteers who have witnessed the development of these fields. Please see the Great Fen website for more details.

Grasshopper warbler by Amy Lewis

Grasshopper warbler - Amy Lewis

Summer Leys is always a great place for wildlife sightings with recent highlights including lesser spotted woodpeckers, little egrets, purple emperors, common buzzards, barn owls, lapwings (and their chicks) and sand martins. At Trumpington Meadows we were treated to a rare spectacle when a majestic osprey flew over the reserve on June 22nd. Nearby in Fulbourn Fen the wet meadow has been full of meadowsweet. One of the many names of meadowsweet is 'Queen of the Meadow' for the way it can dominate low-lying wet meadows.

Osprey by Stefan Johansson

Osprey - Stefan Johansson

It's been very hot lately but for the intrepid wildlife enthusiast there's lots of wildlife to see, particularly insects, wildflowers and reptiles. Keep hydrated, wear sunscreen and please share your sightings with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram