© 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.

Before the walk started we took the opportunity to look at some dragonfly exuviae (shed nymph skins) to appreciate the differing shapes and sizes and Damien had already netted male common and blue tailed damselflies. A brown hawker was also seen patrolling the area. Setting off from the causeway we walked along the river Colne, around the lake and ended in the meadow next to Stocker’s House taking a total of 3 hours. We saw 3 different species of dragonfly: male and female common darter, brown hawkers and a probable southern hawker in flight - one poor dragonfly was seen struggling in the river- we hope it managed to reach a branch from an overhanging tree and haul itself out.

Our 4 damselflies included: male and female common blue, male and female blue tailed, a male banded demoiselle normally seen in good numbers this one was on the far side of the river, red eyed damselflies on their favourite lily pads plus one common blue damselfly that had rather odd black markings on it.

We saw 8 species of butterfly: green veined – this caused some confusion as it had wing spots but Damien could also see darker triangle patterns on the wing. On further research, the second brood of green veined does have a spot on the wings. Several small white, 1 small tortoiseshell, 1 red admiral, 1 comma, 2 speckled wood, 1 meadow brown and a brimstone.

Other sightings included a kingfisher on the river - it flew past several times - plus a dead common shrew, a nest of hornets, a green caterpillar hitching a ride on someone’s T-shirt, 2 very small eggs on the underside of a leaf that took on a glittering effect in the sunlight, a rather large terrapin and only one damselfly exuvia on a reed.  The shrew will be entered onto the Herts Natural History Society Mammal Atlas records.

Jane Archer