Weather: At the start of the month, a westerly flow brought cloud and rain, while weak ridges of high pressure brought warmer and drier conditions. It was a generally unsettled month, with only brief fine spells. The first few weeks were warm in the south-east but cool in the north-west, while the third week was mostly warm and sunny, followed by a thundery breakdown. From then on it was wet and often quite cool, with some heavy persistent rain at times.
Places Visited: Amwell; Rye Meads; Sawbridgeworth.
Star Sightings of the Month:
Mammal: Water Vole
Butterfly: Small Copper
Odonata: Banded Demoiselle
Insect: Hornet Mimic hoverfly
‘One woe doth tread upon another's heel, so fast they follow.’ Hamlet
Yet another poor month, weather-wise, resulting in only three visits. Apart from a very hot week in June, summer seems to be giving it a miss this year. It’s yet another drain on the fun sponge.
There has been the odd hour of sunshine, but mostly it’s been cloudy with rain, including a few thunderstorms. Very disheartening. With not much in the way of birds at this time of year, it falls to the invertebrates for entertainment. However, the dull weather has even kept most of them undercover.
The three trips I did make were to Amwell, Rye Meads and a walk up the River Stort to HMWT Thorley Wash. Unfortunately, the highlights were few and far between. I think I need another holiday.
The local walk was the first outing of the month. There were a few Buzzards screeching high in the sky; a family of Kestrels put on a very good flying display; there were several Coot and Moorhen families; a Common Tern was fishing up and down the river; several Swift were screaming overhead; a Kingfisher zipped up the river and there were several sightings of Warblers - including a Blackcap and a vocal Grasshopper Warbler.
Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Tern, Swift, Kingfisher, House Martin and plenty of singing Warblers were the highlights at Rye Meads.
Amwell had Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Lapwing, Common Tern and Kingfisher. There were few Warblers and very little in the waterfowl section.
Overall, it proved to be a disappointing month for birds. However, June and July are notoriously quiet on the birding front, so it wasn’t unexpected.
Summer months are usually reserved for those, like myself, that have an interest in wildlife other than birds, such as invertebrates.
There wasn’t much in the way of mammals this month. Very few sightings, in fact. However, while a buck Muntjac was seen at Amwell, the highlight were four Water Voles at Thorley Wash, three of which were only fleeting glimpses. However, one of them came out in to the open, quite close to me and only realised my presence when I started taking photographs. It soon scampered away into the reeds.
Butterflies and Moths sightings continued to increase. All three visits resulted in seeing well over ten species. Cinnabar Moth caterpillars showed up on the Ragwort at Rye Meads, while the first Gatekeepers, Ringlets and Small Coppers appeared. Essex and Small Skippers showed well along the River Stort. There were numerous Meadow Browns and Red Admirals about.
Despite the poor weather, dragons and damsels happily continued to appear. Banded Demoiselles continued to delight, as did several Red-eyed damsels. Black-tailed Skimmers and Emperors were still around, some seen ovipositing. Shockingly, the only Broad-bodied Chasers I have seen this year were in France. Large Red damsels and Hairy dragons have now finished their season. However, they have been replaced with Common and Ruddy Darters, as well as Brown Hawkers.
Not a great domestic odonata season so far. I’m hoping the weather will improve to bring them out. That’s not to say that they are not around, it’s just the lack of good weather preventing me going out. Lethargy and torpor are also factors, probably.
Apart from the usual insects seen this month, the star spot must be another sighting of a Hornet Mimic hoverfly, at Amwell. There have been lots of Marmalade hoverfly sightings, allowing me to practice my macro photography, with my new camera. I had another fortunate sighting of a Robber Fly having lunch, at Amwell. Hundreds of Soldier Beetles were seen along the River Stort, while several Thick-kneed Flower beetles were seen in several areas.
The flowers blossomed, as to be expected at this time of year. However, they were only helpful, to me, in finding invertebrates.
The poor weather continues to dampen my enthusiasm. However, I’m optimistic that August will be a huge highlight. Watch this space!
‘It’s a Twitcher that normally blows the world up, while a Birder is opposite the fan that the sh*t gets thrown at.’
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