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