20 July 2017 Shatterford

Lesser Bladderwort

© Richard Coomber

Geoff and Sue plus 12 set off from Shatterford car park on a rather grey and unpromising morning after the exceptionally heavy rain of the previous 2 days. Apart from wheeling House Martins, there at first  seemed little to be seen across the heathland but a few Silver-studded Blue butterflies soon appeared and the botanists spotted all 3 types of heather, an excellent specimen of Lesser Bladderwort, Round-leaved Sundew and White-beaked Sedge. 

Fallow bucks in velvet
© Richard Coomber
The shelter of the woodland was more rewarding and we lingered near a glade where weak sunshine shining through the canopy onto some lower vegetation revealed a haven for mixed birds feeding  providing excellent views of Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Great Tit and Blackcap. Unfortunately, the sun was not strong enough to bring out the large variety of butterflies that Sue and Geoff had seen on their recce, but Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper and Brimstone were identified. 

Marsh Frog moments before it 'plopped'
© Richard Coomber
After our refreshment stop, we watched a solitary Roe Deer browsing in the woodland, apparently unconcerned by our presence. Shortly afterwards, in an adjoining open field, we saw about a dozen Fallow bucks with antlers still “in velvet” and again we lingered to make the most of the sight. 

Digger Wasp and
Beautiful Yellow Underwing caterpillar
© Richard Coomber
Crossing some boggy ground just out of the woodland, a large green frog was spotted in one of the pools. This was thought to be a non-native Marsh Frog but unfortunately was camera shy and soon plopped beneath the water. Further botany highlights were identified namely Jelly Fungus, Harebells and Coral Necklace. The back-markers found a parasitic Digger Wasp excavating a burrow into which it dragged a Beautiful Yellow Underwing caterpillar 

Further chocolate biscuits were issued to fortify us for the uphill stretch past Bishop's Dyke back to the car park which we did not reach till about 1.30, the walk having yielded a larger tally than anticipated at the start. Congratulations to all who completed the course.

Other highlights were:Birds: Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Chaffinch, Siskin, Redstart. Plants: Branched Bur-reed, Marsh Pennywort, Lesser Spearwort, Bog Bean, Alder Buckthorn, Cotton-grass sp and Bog St. John's Wort.Insects: Broad-bodied Chaser, Keeled Skimmer, Blue-tailed and Large Red Damselflies and a Fox Moth caterpillar.