Before we set off a curiosity was produced by Sara: a bed bug, safely dead and bottled as supplied by a local entomologist. This neat, light-brown insect was about 5mm long with a disc-like abdomen flattened dorso-ventrally: a first sighting for most of us.
Today’s walk was through a variety of habitats involving woodland, dry and damp heath, stream and pasture. Thirteen headed downhill through newly flowering heather then along a cycle track to Dockens Water. Though cloudy with a cool breeze, a few butterflies, including a Silver-washed Fritillary (right), were already flitting amongst the bracken and bramble flowers. Near the footbridge small parties of finches included a single Siskin.
Turning south-west, the cycle track cut between spaced out dwellings, tall trees and small fields with Nuthatch calling and two Green Woodpeckers (left), an adult and juvenile, clinging motionless in tandem to the side of a telegraph pole as though glued in place. Approaching the small knoll of Black Barrow where the view opened to the north, Richard spotted a Goshawk passing over the heathland near Hasley Inclosure. A small drying-up puddle by the trackside bore a network of Coral Necklace strands, already setting seed, and sundew, mainly Oblong-leaved Sundew, formed clusters among the low heather and grass.
Just beyond Black Barrow we left the cycle track, turning southeast over the hill beside paddocks and through tall bracken with good views west and south over Black Heath to Red Shoot at Linwood. We turned left at the T-junction, through a gate and onto a public footpath between and through buttercup fields, tackling several stiles.
With the emerging sun came more butterflies including Ringlet, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Holly Blue (below), Speckled Wood and Comma. Our last half mile or so zig-zagged between smallholdings and gardens until we popped out just below the Inn to continue uphill to the cars with a final sighting of a Common Buzzard.