Above: Beautiful Demoiselle © Andrew Harrison

Leader Lucy Starling

The forecast of heavy rain and threat of thundery downpours may have deterred many members attending. But, the rain stopped within 15 minutes of the meeting start time of 10.30am and two Nats stalwarts, Tom R and Andrew H, and a brand new member joined me in the sunshine, albeit accompanied by a very strong wind in search of wildlife.

Bird song is obviously diminished now, but we enjoyed bursts of Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren and Chiffchaff. In the hedgerow due west of the ditch within Bathampton Meadows, I heard tit calls and initial thought was Marsh Tit. The Merlin Bird ID app confirmed this. Great Tits do mimic Marsh Tit calls but the two sightings of birds in and out of the hawthorn did appear to be small and dull coloured, resembling Marsh Tit. ( I visited here again on Sunday morning but nothing doing, only a Robin singing). Other notable encounters here were a Jay, Buzzard, a male Kestrel, the latter looking for prey within the long grass and a Meadow Brown butterfly on the bramble flowers.

Near the cattle grid entrance of New Leaf Farm is the extensive grounds of the manor, previously an orchard, but now overgrown and undisturbed. We watched a Chiffchaff flying in and out of a bush close to the hedgerow, clearly catching insects and caterpillars and feeding young. Tom then spotted a pair of Common Whitethroat further back in the lush undergrowth of brambles and elder, again, breeding birds. Blackcap and Dunnock were singing in the area and no doubt also nesting.

Pyramidal Orchid © Lucy Starling

Oedemera Nobilis beetle on an Ox-eye Daisy

Oedemera Nobilis beetle on an Ox-eye Daisy © Lucy Starling

Ambling through the grassy path alongside the cycle path towards the Tollbridge, we found a few Pyramidal Orchids, an Oedemera Nobilis beetle on an Ox-eye Daisy, and a nymph Dark Bush Cricket. It was good to find two pairs of Sand Martin nesting within the holes in the stonework of the Tollbridge. As we watched the birds hunting aerial insects, a Red Kite flew into view! Another Common Whitethroat announced its presence close to the bridge at Batheaston but sadly no Swifts or House Martins active around Batheaston. 

Large Skipper © Andrew Harrison

And, finally, our first Odonata species, a female Beautiful Demoiselle. Bathampton Farm field below Bathford was more productive- two Swifts, two House Martins, one Sand Martin, a female Azure Damselfly, male Banded Demoiselles, White-legged Damselflies and a Large Skipper butterfly.

Lucy Starling