Ringlets started to appear at Paxton Pits in mid-June and there should be plenty around in July. Look for them over the long grass in the meadows and around bramble flowers, one of their favourite nectar sources. They seem a rather dull dark brown at first glance but if you get a chance of a closer look you will see that their velvety wings have a white fringe and an attractive pattern of circular spots, especially on the under sides. Ringlets have increased in number and expanded their range in the UK in recent years.
Dragonflies, hawkers in particular, can be a challenge to identify as they speed overhead, chasing flies. Brown hawkers are a good place to start as their golden-brown wings are quite conspicuous, and unique to this species. Their bodies are also mainly brown, though with some yellow and blue markings, so they are well named. July and August are the peak months to see them: the Visitor Centre meadow is a favourite hunting ground.
The reintroduction of red kites is one of the greatest success stories of UK conservation. After hundreds of years of persecution, the population dropped to just a handful of birds in central Wales in the 1930s. There was a slow natural recovery but in the 1980s there were still only about 50 pairs. Then, in 1989 the RSPB started to import birds from Sweden and Spain and release them at carefully selected sites. One of these was at Fineshade wood near Corby and this is probably where the kites we see every day at Paxton Pits spread from. The UK now has at least 4000 pairs of red kites, over 10% of the world’s population. Ironically, numbers in Spain have fallen since the 1990s and British-born birds are now being taken to Spain to help re-establish the population there. In spite of their impressive size, making them one of our largest birds of prey, red kites are not fierce hunters: they feed mainly on carrion and are also partial to earthworms! You sometimes see several following a tractor as it ploughs a field.
There has been plenty of otter activity on our trail cameras recently, including this footage of four otters, presumably a family, romping along a gulley at 10.30 one morning. Visitors have reported good views on Heronry Lake South, so keep your eyes peeled whatever the time of day.