End of Summer Update

by Gill Cardy, Reserve Warden

We had not seen signs of the grass snakes for some time and feared that they had been drowned in the floods. An enormous amount of silt was deposited between January and May when we had several flooded days.

However all has dried out now and there has been a huge growth of everything, especially nettles. Anybody who wants a little exercise is welcome to join our working parties to help move some of these (3rd Saturday of each month, 10am-12:30pm). They do provide food for lots of butterflies and there have been substantial numbers of Peacock, Comma, Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies to be seen.

I was delighted to find a basking Grass Snake on 13 May, but there have been no other sightings. At least we know there are still snakes around.

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Banded Demoiselle

The dragonflies have been enjoying the recent warm weather. The Banded Demoiselles were the first to appear and are still flying even on a dull day. White-legged damselflies have been hard to find but here is a photo of one seen at the end of June.

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White legged Damselfly

We were delighted to see a few Scarce Chaser Dragonflies in mid July - all males, which was unusual. There were also some Azure Damselflies around the same time, and an Emperor Dragonfly was seen laying eggs in the surface vegetation of the river, just to show how important these plants are to the life of the dragonfly population in the river. Let us hope that the proposed canal project will not be allowed to damage our river wildlife.

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Scarce Chaser

Late in August came Common Darter and larger dragonflies. Southern Hawker was quite common and Migrant Hawker, often seen up to November is now patrolling his territory.

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Common Darter

On the down side we have had a spate of vandalism since late July, starting with the log seats being damaged and thrown in the small pond. Their sharp screws were projecting so we removed and destroyed the seats. Sorry folks there are no seats there now. An information board has been wrenched off its post, but it will be replaced soon. Our new notice board, recently replacing one which was destroyed last year, has had its front cover pulled off which makes it difficult to post information. At the moment we are reduced to just two at the other gates.

Recently the signs asking people to keep their dogs on a lead and another one about the reserve have been torn off. It is disappointing to see such stupid acts in a place people enjoy.

On a brighter note, a bat walk in August attracted a good crowd of young and old to see the Pipistrelles, a Serotine and Daubenton's on the river.

A family event run by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, also in August, saw some young nature detectives searching and finding a remarkable number of insects. Little people are always good at finding little things!

All above photos copyright Gill Cardy

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