What to spot in May in our Recording Area...

As we enter into May, we approach one of the most exciting times of the year for our wildlife at Sandwich Bay. Spring migration continues to occur with later species such as Cuckoo, Swift, Spotted Flycatcher and Turtle Dove beginning to arrive through the month.

Many of our summer migrants have settled in now and the dawn chorus is full spirit with a great variety of species.

On our wetland areas, May can see some excellent wader passage with species such as Dunlins, Ringed Plovers and Sanderlings dropping in and feeding before heading northwards.

Many of these species will be heading to the Arctic tundra which will only just have thawed out in time for the short but plentiful Arctic summer. If you’re lucky, the Kentish Plover can be encountered amongst the Ringed Plovers in Pegwell Bay, which remains the best site in the country to see this rare wader.

Over the marshes, the distinctive silhouettes of Hobbies will become a common sight, these migratory falcons displaying great aerial prowess as they catch the many Dragonflies on the wing. Warmer days can also bring movements of Red Kites and occasionally scarcer raptors such a Honey-buzzard, Osprey and Black Kite, many drifting straight over the Recording Area.

Some rarer birds are also possible during the month, the musical fluting call of the Golden Oriole is one to listen for in May, this bird sometimes dropping in briefly into the Recording Area. Another is the distinctive flight-call of the Bee-eater, a beautiful southern European species that is often encountered in small flocks during this time of year.

Many of our plant species come into bloom through the month too, the deep, purple Green-winged Orchids will remain in flower during the early part of May whilst in the wetter areas of grassland, the pink Southern Marsh Orchid will flower.

On the beach-front, the impressively tall Lizard Orchid will grow in their hundreds, their strange petals looking like the tongues of reptiles whilst the scent of the flower strangely resembles that of goats.

The small, diminutive Sand Catchfly is rare flower found in the area, hiding almost in plain sight on the duneland areas. On the beach-front, Sea Kale, Sea Aster and Yellow-horned Poppy are in flower, these plants adapted to the changeable coastal conditions.

Insects also come to life. Butterflies in particular are notable, the male Orange-tip is a key feature of early spring, this attractive butterfly often seen as it flits past. On the grassland, species such as Common Blue, Brown Argus, Small Heath and Small Copper may be encountered basking on sunny patches. Dragonflies and Damselflies also become apparent with many species emerging in May. On Worth Marshes, Scarce Chasers, Broad-bodied Chasers and Four-spotted Chasers hawk actively whilst in areas of long grass, damselfly species such as Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed and Variable take shelter. On the slower-moving waterbodies, the Banded Demoiselle demonstrates its distinctive wings and flight-pattern.