Lizards and butterflies herald spring at Thames Road Wetland

So warm and sunny was it on March 15th at Thames Road Wetland that although it felt like the kind of day the Lizards would start to come out in force, they didn’t begin to show on the old tyre basking sites until late in the afternoon. Particularly pleasing was the day-long activity of at least 8 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies, possibly 10 – a species that has suffered a major decline, but will have benefitted from the extensive Nettle bed at the east end of the wetland which is situated within what has been a relative hotspot for this insect in recent years. A Chiffchaff was seen, and was later heard singing. Spring was in the air. 

Common Lizard at Thames Road Wetland on March 15th.

Small Tortoiseshells were much in evidence on the dryer banks surrounding the wetland. The number of sightings around Bexley this spring suggests that a modest recovery in numbers may be underway.

Some winter visitors were hanging on though – 2 Teal and a Snipe being inadvertently flushed.

The Sallow saplings were loaded with a haze of open flower spikes, attracting many bees, and also a Comma butterfly and one of the Small Tortoiseshells to feed on them.  There were also 2 Peacock butterflies around, sometimes chasing the Tortoiseshells when they weren’t chasing each other. A small White butterfly just would not settle, but appeared to be the Small White itself and not the Green-veined White.

Sallow provides a superb spring nectar source for bees and other insects.

Other prominent spring flowers were the white of the Blackthorn and bright yellow of Lesser Celandine.  Easier to overlook were the tiny blue flowers of the Early Forget-me-not (Myosotis ramosissima).

As usual a Cetti’s Warbler and a Water Rail were present. A Greenfinch was briefly heard calling from the sewer bank and a Song Thrush at dusk.   

Thames Road Wetland looking south-east on 15/3/17.

Chris Rose. Thames Road Wetland Site Manager for Thames21.

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