© Andrew Moon

Ten of us met at the causeway on a cloudy but warm day. We hoped the sun would break through the clouds. A slightly disappointing start as there were not a lot of flowers in bloom excepting the hemp agrimony and buddleia, but the walk turned into a real team event with the sighting of a large dragonfly flying near and then landing on the buddleia near the pumping station. With the aid of a good zoom lens on Cliff Buckton’s camera a female southern hawker was identified after eliminating it as a possible emperor.

Our next find was a lesser stag beetle balancing on a dead stem but sadly in my enthusiasm for a closer look I knocked the stem and it fell to the floor. There have recently been a number of sightings nearby so it looks like a good year for them. Freshwater mussels were seen in the small water channel created between the canal and the lake. Last year I was alerted to them as the water was drying out and they were left stranded on the mud and had been eaten.

At one of the angling spots we found some damselfly exuvia on reeds at the lake edge. We failed to see any of the larger dragonfly exuvia on either reeds or trees. Last year was a good year for those so possibly we were out of sync with the next emergence or too early or late in the season.

Our next spot was a pair of mating blue tailed damselflies- again identified using digital photography by checking the ante humeral stripes on the thorax and the colouration on the abdomen.

Our first butterfly was a possible fleeting glimpse of a speckled wood. We did see at least one green veined and 2 small white butterflies also. A red eyed damselfly was spotted on a lily pad on the river Colne and later a brief glimpse of a brown hawker which had flown past before most of the group had assembled. A holly blue was seen and landed on the flower of bindweed briefly before flying off. Later as the temperature warmed up a little a few common blue damselflies were seen.

A good number of bees and hoverflies enjoyed the thistles and the few other flowers in bloom and there were also good numbers of pond skaters on both the lake and river.

Jane Archer