A wetland reserve with an abundance of butterflies
Heysham Nature Reserve consists of a wide variety of habitats including open water, reedbed, marsh, Gorse and Hawthorn scrub, acid and neutral grasslands, heath and tree and shrub plantations. The variety of habitats has produced a great variety of flowering plants: 215 species recorded including Bee Orchid and Yellow-wort. These in turn produce the number and variety of butterflies and day-flying moths which are such a feature of the reserve in summer. The 21 species of butterflies include some local or uncommon ones such as Small Skipper, Grayling and Small Copper. Butterfly numbers - especially Common Blue - can be spectacular. Over 200 species of moths have been recorded. The reserve is also important for its dragonflies and damselflies: 14 species occur, including less common species such as Ruddy Darter, Emerald Damselfly and Emperor Dragonfly. Large numbers of migrant birds occur on the reserve in certain types of weather conditions, usually east or southeast winds with poor visibility. The number of migrants is certainly enhanced by the 'lighthouse' effect produced by the power station's many floodlights. The most obvious 'falls' are of thrush species in October and Willow Warblers during the last two weeks of April and the first week of May: migration and ringing studies are carried out, especially at these times. Common bird censuses are undertaken to record the breeding birds, including Moorhen, Meadow Pipit, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Linnet, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler, which reflect the range of habitats found at Heysham. Water Rails, Snipe and Woodcock overwinter here. Several rare species have occurred, notably Wryneck (2000), Night Heron (1990), Bee-eater (1984), Serin (1990), Woodchat Shrike (1989), and at least 10 Yellow-browed Warblers from Siberia.
Species and habitats