Tuesday, July 09, 2013


After our recent trip to Canada and unscheduled few days in Scotland things are finally returning to some normality!

Weekend on the Oxford canal
Like most people I've been out and about enjoying the countryside in 'summer' and have even managed a couple of weekend cruises out along the Oxford Canal. These produced numerous butterflies, odanata and bird species including of note: Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow Wagtail, Common Tern, Barn Owl,  and a dozen or so Yellowhammer. On Saturday evening a Daubenton's Bat entertained us skimming over the water close to the boat on several occasions.

Friday last had Dee and I completing our annual Glow Worm search at Brandon Marsh and this year we were joined by several of the Brandon volunteers and wives. I'm happy to report that these charming little bio-luminescent insects seem to be doing reasonably well and for a few of the team it was actually their first experience of seeing one. From my perspective it seems that this current hot spell has somehow rebooted the whole of nature and it was a real surprise to find no less than three Grasshopper Warblers reeling away at Brandon during our late evening visit. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Sedge Warbler were all recorded in full song and hopefully this bodes well for what could possibly be the forerunner to second broods.

Meadow Brown - Considerable numbers at Brandon today!
Today's visit to Brandon Marsh in glorious sunshine produced a whole host of flying bugs, odanata, and butterflies on the wing, the breakdown of which were: (3) Marbled White, (4) Speckled Wood, (1) Common Blue,  (4) Comma, (3) Small Skipper, (6) Large Skipper, (1) Small Heath, (1) Red Admiral, (1) Brimstone, (2) Large White and (3) Small Tortoiseshell. I literally stopped counting Meadow Brown and Ringlet, which were in considerable numbers throughout the reserve. Brown Hawker, Common Hawker, Southern Hawker and Black-tailed Skimmer Dragonflies, plus Azure, Common, Red-eyed Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle were also recorded.

Longhorn Beetle
On the birding front, not too much time devoted to the hides with Hobby, Sparrowhawk, (2) Green Sandpiper and the usual selection of youngsters, which included Oystercatcher, Little-ringed Plover, Great-crested Grebe, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Gadwall and Tufted Duck.

The only disappointment to an otherwise excellent visit was when Mike, Derek and I reached River Meadow to find it being mutilated by a grass cutting tractor. A real disaster from a conservation point of view, as the meadow had been looking stunning with lots of wild plants, odanata, bugs and butterflies. As we arrived just after the event butterflies had been dislodged and were literally everywhere and plants had simply not been given a chance to seed, a real disaster zone. As this is not currently part of the BMVCT remit and totally out of our hands, I have spoken to the trust manager and the chairman of our group in the hope that the grass cutting timings can be reviewed.