© Andrew Moon

A beautiful sunny day attracted 10 attendees for the 2017 Dragonfly and Butterfly walk. We were very fortunate to have Damien Weller, the Three Rivers District Council Park ranger, with us carrying his sweep net and bug examination pots. This gave us the opportunity to see some dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies close up. As usual all attendees were on the lookout for flying animals as well as some non-flying ones.

Following a warm, sunny week Sunday 25th was a dry day - perfect for the walk to look at the wildflowers around the reserve. A group of around 12 met on the causeway. I talked briefly about the type of plants to expect to see growing on unimproved, neutral soil, and that the smaller the plant, the more quickly it is likely to disappear. Species diversity is inversely proportionate to infertility of the soil.

Three of us this year gathered on the causeway at half past eight for a walk round the lake. The weather was cold and gloomy, far from ideal for our task and about as different from last year as you can get. The recent cool weather had again slowed leaf growth making seeing the birds a bit easier than in some years. We saw most of the expected birds. There were swallows, house martins and swifts in quite good numbers over Stocker's and Bury lakes No woodpeckers, reed bunting or house sparrows though.

Anna Marret and I spent our afternoon on the canal side of the reserve armed with Anna’s telescope trained on the heron and egret nests on the islands on the opposite side of the lake.

Like last year the weather was cool damp and grey with mist and very fine drizzle thrown in. The party this year numbered just 4. Clearly the weather had put people off. Again, without some really cold weather bird numbers were fairly low.

It rained throughout our walk this year. So we limited the walk to the canal side. The light was poor which made spotting and identifying the birds tricky but it has to be said it was several degrees above freezing so not too cold. That meant that while there were good numbers of birds on the lake, there were very few to be seen in the trees. And so, the six of us set off. We saw all but one of the species we heard and ended with a tally of 28 species (10 down on last year) so better than we feared.