Latest wildlife sightings – May 2021

Latest wildlife sightings – May 2021

What wildlife did we see across Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside in May? Take a look at our latest sightings to find out!


Last month we reached a new milestone with two new bee species taking the Brockholes bee list to a remarkable 60 species! The two newcomers are Geoffroy's blood bee (one of the smallest members of this family of solitary bees) and the least furrow bee (which loves habitats with sandy soil – like Brockholes!).

As well as some VIBs, Brockholes filled with some VIPs (Very Important Plants) last month. Ragged robin, greater stitchwort, herb Robert, germander speedwell, yellow rattle and guelder rose added a riot of colour and scent to the reserve, much to the delight of garden bumblebees and small copper, common blue, speckled wood, small white and green-veined white butterflies.

The Brockholes baby boom officially began in May, with moorhen and coot chicks paddling after their parents and a female goosander swimming around with her young on her back. Most excitingly, terns nested on our tern rafts! We have a live camera on one of the rafts so you can watch the tern pair raising their chicks.

Our tern rafts are really important because they mimic the gravelly shores where common terns like to nest, but it costs £250 to make a single raft! Can you spare a donation to help us build more tern rafts and increase the breeding population of common terns?

Help our terns

A common lizard resting in a pool of water at Astley Moss nature reserve

Common lizard at Astley Moss by Jamie Lawson

Chat Moss

Whoever says that peatlands are lifeless has clearly never visited Chat Moss! Last month this incredible network of peatlands in Greater Manchester filled with insects, with four-spotted chasers, large red damselflies and green tiger beetles all spotted at Little Woolden Moss. Visitors enjoyed watching the local pied wagtails gathering nesting material and our volunteers even spotted this common lizard enjoying a lovely bath at Astley Moss.

Heysham harbour

One of the Heysham Bird Observatory volunteers had a close encounter with a great skua (or ‘Bonxie’) at Heysham harbour last month! Around 600 gulls were feeding on the middle skeer when all of a sudden they took to the air, swirling in a panicked frenzy. The volunteer looked up, expecting to see an osprey, when a herring gull was chased no more than 5m over his head by a great skua. Suddenly it was like being in a huge spin drier, with hundreds of screaming gulls engulfing him until, less than a minute later, the Bonxie flew off, leaving the gulls to their foraging.

Though the rest of May’s Heysham harbour wildlife sightings were decidedly less adrenaline-fuelled, they were no less memorable. Whimbrel, sanderlings and ringed plovers busied themselves on the skeer; around 150 turnstones were spotted feeding on a honeycomb worm-bed and a female whinchat alighted on the clifftops. There was plenty to see out at sea, too, with black and red-throated divers, little terns, harbour porpoises, common scoters and a pomerine skua recorded during seawatches.

Close-up of water avens growing amongst grasses

Water avens by Philip Precey

Salthill Quarry

Salthill Quarry comes alive with wildflowers in spring, and May was no exception. Cuckoo pint covered the woodland floor, water avens emerged along the path and cowslips peppered the car park. If you haven’t visited yet, make sure you head over this month to see bee orchids, bugle and lady’s bedstraw blooming in the meadow.

Middleton Nature Reserve

It seems that Heysham is the place to spot warblers in spring, with eight different species – including the lesser whitethroat – recorded at Middleton Nature Reserve in May. This was alongside a wonderful display of marsh orchids, swans and their cygnets, and noisy groups of long-tailed tit chicks. Broad-bodied chaser dragonflies were spotted near the shallow scrapes and the air filled with butterflies:

  • Speckled wood
  • Orange-tip
  • Green-veined white
  • Peacock
  • Small heath
  • Small copper

Excitingly, signs of otters were spotted along the western edge of the main pond in the form of signal crayfish remains and possible spraint. Fingers crossed!

A Mother Shipton moth resting on a blade of grass in the sunshine

Mother Shipton moth at Heysham Nature Reserve by Janet Packham

Heysham Nature Reserve

Heysham Nature Reserve proved to be a fantastic place for a spring stroll last month, with chiffchaffs, willow warblers, reed warblers, sedge warblers and whitethroats all singing beautifully. Moth lovers enjoyed the sight of Mother Shipton moths fluttering around the grassland, searching for clovers and grasses to lay their eggs on.

With summer on the horizon, we can’t wait to see what the next month of wildlife sightings brings to Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. We’d love to see what you spot as the seasons change – click one of the icons below to share your sightings with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.