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Cambridge’s Newest Nature Reserve

Trumpington-panorama

 

It has been a little while since I last gave you an update on my project to document Trumpington Meadows, the newest nature reserve taken on by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust, so today I will be sharing some of my latest photographs of the site. First though, some exciting news – the reserve will be officially opened to the public on Saturday 11th June, so please do come along and find out all about it for yourselves! If you are interested, the details of the opening event are as follows:

 

Cambridge's Newest Nature Reserve

Now for that update I mentioned: I had hoped to take some lovely wintery images around the reserve but as you know, this winter was exceedingly mild and those beautiful icy conditions never really materialised. I had to settle for some signs of spring instead and there were plenty to find. Along with dainty, nodding Cowslips nestled in the long grass under the hedges there were Lesser Celandines glowing yellow in the undergrowth along the river’s edge.

 

Lesser-Celandine-(Ficaria-verna)

 

The trees were draped in fresh green clothing and bejewelled with soft blossoms. The cherry trees wafted a sweet scent into the surrounding air and insects thronged round the Crab Apple in search of sugary nectar. Among them, Early Bumblebees, Dark Bordered Beefly and one of my favourite solitary bees, Osmia bicolor which nests in empty snail shells.

 

Cherry-Blossom

 

Bee

 

The scent on the breeze wasn’t the only thing I noticed, there was glorious birdsong all around. There were Sedge Warblers in the small reed bed while Corn Buntings sang from the hedgerows and Skylarks trilled overhead.

 

Skylark-(Alauda-arvensis)

 

Corn-Bunting

 

The highlight for me was my first damselfly of the year, a very fresh female Large Red Damselfly. I’ve seen many since my last visit to Trumpington but there is still a little buzz of excitement with the first I see each summer.

 

Large-Red-Damselfly,-female

 

I can’t wait to get back there again soon for yet more photos and I know that the wildflowers are preparing for another wonderful display – bring it on!

 

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Summer at Trumpington Meadows

Last week I told you about an exciting project that I’ve begun with Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but in truth it is hardly a new venture as I’ve been involved for several months now. So, I thought that you might enjoy seeing a few more of the images that I’ve taken this summer at Trumpington Meadows.

Trumpington Meadows covers quite a large area and I had yet to explore it fully. My second visit in June offered the perfect opportunity. I spent the best part of a day wandering around, enjoying the summer sunshine and drinking in the atmosphere. In the past few weeks, the wildflower meadows had burst into bloom, the few initial flowers were now here in profusion and there were great swathes of colour.

 

Summer, Wildflower-meadow

 

There were even masses of wildflowers under the newly planted saplings by the pond.

 

Meadow

 

I particularly enjoyed finding lots of Meadow Cranesbill, Geranium pratense, nestled in the long grass. The blousy blue flowers give way to long, pointed seed pods that give rise to its name.

 

Meadow-Cranesbill-(Geranium-pratense)

 

There were plenty of insects enjoying the flowers too. I saw lots of these Thick-Legged Flower Beetles, Oedemera nobilis. This individual is a male, distinguished by his chunky thighs on his back legs.

 

Male-Thick-Legged-Flower-Beetle-(Oedemera-nobilis)

 

June also brought a dazzling array of damselflies to the reserve. There are several wet ditches as well as the river and pond so plenty of suitable habitat for them, and it was evident as they seemed to be everywhere!

My particular favourites are Banded Demoiselles, Calopteryx splendens, which are wonderfully metallic green and blue. The males have dark bands across their wings and they beat their wings in a beautiful aerial displays to catch the females’ attention.

 

Male-Banded-Demoiselle-(Calopteryx-splendens)

 

By contrast, the females are green and have no dark markings on their wings. Capturing images of these stunning insects was quite tricky as they were very flighty!

 

Female-Banded-Demoiselle-(Calopteryx-splendens)

 

July’s visit was much later in the month than I had hoped but it was fascinating to see how the season had progressed and the landscape had changed even in the few weeks. The hot, dry weather which we had been enjoying had scorched the long grass and many of the flowers had set seed. This image shows one of the many paths through the reserve and the last vestiges of the summer blooms. The warm days will soon be over and the meadow will be mown changing the scene yet again.

 

Path

 

Despite the heat of summer there were still a few new flowers to be found. The first I spotted was this gorgeous little Vervain, Verbena officinalis, which was thriving in the gravel beside one of the paths.

 

Vervain-(Verbena-officinalis)

 

Another that I was particularly pleased to come across was a patch of sky blue Cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus. These wonderful ‘arable weeds’ are far less common than they used to be, largely due to a change in farming practices, and I am always happy to find them. I picked out a single flower that was leaning over a clump of daisies for this image.

 

Cornflower-(Centaurea-cyanus)

 

Crossing the bridge over the M11 towards the far end of the reserve I came across a Seven-Spot Ladybird amongst the twigs of a Cotoneaster there. As a keen gardener I’m rather fond of these little colourful critters, they do such a good job of keeping aphids under control. I couldn’t resist a picture!

 

Seven-Spot-Ladybird-(Coccinella-septempunctata)

 

Little did I know that my latest insect encounter was to set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. I found to my delight that the clouds of damselflies and demoiselles had been replaced this month by flurries of butterflies. The first I spotted was this Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus.

 

Common-Blue-(Polyommatus-icarus)

 

Shortly afterwards I caught sight of my first Small Copper of the year. I love these vibrant and feisty little butterflies. The first I saw actually had a deformed hind wing on one side, although this didn’t seem to impede it too much. I soon spotted several more though and captured this one at rest on a Yarrow leaf.

 

Small-Copper-(Lycaena-phlaeas)

 

I was also really pleased to see several Six-Spot Burnet Moths flying around. Having chased a few with the hope of getting an image I was relieved to find this individual feeding on a Knapweed flower nearby and unperturbed by my presence.

 

Six-Spot-Burnet-Moth-(Zygaena-filipendulae)

 

Once again I came away spiritually satisfied and with a pleasing set of images. I am already growing to love this reserve and all it has to offer. Summer at Trumpington Meadows was wonderful and I am really looking forward to sharing my experiences of the reserve’s development and progression over the coming months.

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