Leaders Tony and Bryan Cook

Twelve members joined the leaders on a warm day with sunshine and a light/moderate breeze.

A stroll north along the hard track to a couple of viewing points was slow progress as we were finding many insects and spiders in the vegetation, while keeping ears alert to bird song and calls and an eye to the skies.

Anthocomus rufus ( Red Malachite Beetle © Glen Maddison

Tibellus oblongus (Grass Spider) © Glen Maddison

A small red beetle was later identified as a Red-Malachite Beetle (Anthocmus rufous) was a nice find by Glen M. Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies flitted around the bramble and nettles and umbellifers attracted various flies and bees including White tailed bumblebee while Southern and Brown Hawker dragonflies whizzed around and over our heads, hunting small prey. A male Emperor searched for small insects low over the water close to the reeds while a male Black-tailed Skimmer typically flew low, landing on the track, rather than in vegetation.

Gatekeeper © Richard Bottle

Southern Hawker dragonfly © Richard Bottle

Emperor Dragonfly © Richard Bottle

Birds encountered on this linear walk included Cattle and Little Egret, photographed above by Richard Bottle, Cormorant, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe and a distant Hobby. Bird song was obviously sparse, but a Cetti’s Warbler sang very briefly and adult Reed Warblers were calling to their fledged young in the reeds and a few were visible close to the path.

Lucy heard some “pinging” of Bearded Reedling from the first viewing point. We then headed towards The Mire, wet heathland with birch and sedge, which was extremely dry because of the prolonged absence or rain over last winter and more recently. Here we found Roesel’s Bush and Long-winged Cone-head crickets, Field and Common Green Grasshoppers and for most of us, our first Ruddy and Common Darter of 2022.

Holly blue butterfly © Glen Maddison

We found a Common Blue and a Holly Blue butterfly (second broods) but only a few of us were lucky to glimpse the Clouded Yellow (migrant) as it flew by at some speed! A Willow Warbler sang its soft descending notes from the nearby woodland contrasting with the loud and harsh rattling calls of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

While lunching near the ponds at Ham Wall, we enjoyed four Hobby, all flying quite close and low in the direction of Shapwick. We could also watch a pair of Swallows that were nesting in the open-fronted shelter closed off to the public. Heading for the Avalon Hide, we stopped on the old railway bridge to view several Marsh Harrier, a species we saw again from the hide. Wildfowl included Gadwall, and among them, a lone female Pochard and a Little Grebe.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly © Glen Maddison

Blue-tailed damselfly © Richard Bottle

Common Blue Damselfly © Richard Bottle

Dragonflies took our attention again: Male Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue, Red-eyed (on lily pads), numerous Small Red-eyed on leaves of bushes alongside the tracks and grassy paths, along with Blue-tailed Damselflies with Brown and Southern Hawkers hunting over the vegetation. Perhaps the most delightful encounter was the large numbers of Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the Hemp Agrimony.

Lucy Starling

Furry Dronefly Eristalis intricaria, Ham Wall © Alvan White

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly Volucella Zonaria, Ham Wall © Alvan White

Alder Leaf Beetle Agelastica alni Westhay © Alvan White

Kentish Snail Monacha cantiana, Westhay © Alvan White

European Nursery Web Spider Pisaura mirabilis, Westhay © Alvan White

Furrow Orbweaver Larinioides cornutus, Westhay © Alvan White