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  • Writer's pictureRoo

Speckled Wood Wildlife Trip Report - Example

After every field trip we provide a copy of a comprehensive trip report to all participants. Here is an example report;

A walk along the river for butterflies and damselflies

(Example Trip Report: 3rd July 2021)

With the weather anybody’s guess we decided to go and arrived at the church late morning to find everyone chatting under the large spruce in the churchyard. No time for “hellos” there were some gorgeous Banded Demoiselle perching up along the edge of the adjacent meadow. Males with the bluer colour and banded wings were alongside the emerald green females, catching the sunshine like winged jewels. Not a bad start!

Male Banded Demoiselle at the meadow adjacent to the churchyard

Close up of the head and thorax of a male Banded Demoiselle

showing the lovely metallic colours.

Female Banded Demoiselle,

note the green colour to the wings and the white pseudo-pterostigma.

We enjoyed watching these damselflies in their dainty bouncing flight and managed to find the target species, a single teneral female White-legged Damselfly perched up in amongst the low vegetation. Nice views, but better was to come when we explored the meadow to find a handful more of this stunning and quite rare damselfly. The pale tenerals were accompanied by the stunningly blue adult males, with their bright blue eyes. In fact a suggested new name for this species in some texts is Blue-eyed Featherleg. Many Meadow Brown were seen, mostly males, but some more orangey females.

Our first White-legged Damselfly, a teneral female.

We made our way slowly along the river, accompanied by many Banded Demoiselles which regularly flew up as we walked passed and also finding a lovely Ringlet butterfly. Not far from the church, a noisy family of Reed Bunting were feeding in a riverside tree, with one rather cute fluffy individual showing nicely. This was probably the bird highlight of the trip as we saw very few species and a calling Willow Tit sadly flew off and failed to show. A Lesser Black-backed Gull was largely ignored by all except Roo! We reached the woodland and Nicky found a very bright yellow-green Shield Bug which so far is eluding us with its identification!

Shield Bug species.... one to investigate!

We then climbed the short but steep set of wooden steps which Roo regards as the Stairway to Heaven: when you reach the top the sight that greats you is a sea of orchids. Common Spotted Orchids dominate, but there are plenty of Pyramidal and, with a little searching, a few Bee Orchid were found as well. It’s a hard place to walk round as you have to watch your step all the way to avoid treading on a wonderful array of wild flowers.

Wild flowers in the sheltered meadow, simply gorgeous!

Note the path is in the middle, what there is of one!

Bee Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid

Of course in amongst the flowers were butterflies and damselflies. Marbled Whites flitted gently through the flower heads, mostly males seeking females. There were many Meadow Brown and Ringlet as well, the latter showing the lovely yellow eye-spots on the underwing when they perched. Alongside the butterflies were many Banded Demoiselle, and also many more White-legged Damselfly which hadn’t been seen in the expected high numbers until we reached this lovely meadow.

Lovely Marbled Whites in amongst the oxeye daisies.

Close up of a male White-legged Damselfly showing the white legs and vivid blue eyes.

After a short walk which added a few Small Skippers (close views enabled the two-tone wing and orangey underside to the antennae tips to be seen) and a Common Blue (we only saw two all day as they are towards the end of the first brood flight period), packed lunches came out and what a fantastic place for a picnic, surrounded by wild flowers, butterflies and damselflies! Roo went for a short walk, finding corrugated iron sheets which hid toads and slow worms, something to look at later, but a Scarlet Tiger Moth flew away not to pose for the camera.

Male Small Skipper (not the black scent brand on the forewing).

After a nice chat and completing lunch, we wandered slowly around the reserve, enjoying the plentiful marbled Whites, damselflies and the wealth of meadow flowers. A few Small Skippers were seen, along with a single Large Skipper. The Banded Demoiselles teased those trying to get pictures and Nicky was forever chasing Burnet Moths, eventually finding a Six-spot which perched well for the video camera.

Six-spot Burnet Moth.

Fortunately she re-joined us to use her Hawk-eye eye-sight (did someone say Popeye?!) when we looked under the corrugated iron to find two or three Slow worms: “Look there’s a toad, and another one, and there’s a third one” when the rest of us were largely seeing dried leaves and twigs! More gentle wandering was interrupted by a stunning Scarlet Tiger Moth flying around us, with this one deciding to perch up nicely on some bracken. A stunningly beautiful moth with iridescent forewings covered in white and cream spots, which hide the scarlet hindwings which stun the eye when it flies. Finally we decided to make a move back to the river. However at that point a large orange butterfly flew in like a miniature jet fighter, whizzing round the edge of the meadow. It was a gorgeous male Silver-washed Fritillary which thankfully perched so that good views through binoculars were possible. A bright Comma joined in the fun making us think we had two Fritillaries at one point!

Record shot of the Silver-washed Fritillary, note the large black sex-brands along the first three wing veins on the forewing indicating this is a male.

After that very unexpected bonus, we walked back, spotting another interesting moth, a Shaded Broad-bar and finding it hard to leave this enchanting meadow. The last little bonus was a pair of Comma around the information board at the top of the steps, which we descended and headed back along the River Wye. Nothing new on the walk back, although plenty of Banded Demoiselles, a Cinnabar Moth and a bird of prey which morphed into being a Mistle Thrush on closer inspection! A fabulous day, with the sunshine holding for the duration bar a two minute shower. Some gorgeous wildlife including butterflies, moths, damselflies, amphibians, reptiles and flowers.

Selected species seen (not in order as table missing)

Small Skipper (c5)

Scarlet Tiger (2)

Pyramidal Orchid (many)

Large Skipper (1)

Six-spot Burnet (several)

Common Spotted Orchid (lots)

Common Blue (2)

Cinnabar Moth (2)

Bee Orchid (3)

Small Tortoiseshell (5)

Shaded Broad-bar (1)

Comma (3)

Silver-washed Fritillary (1 male)

Slow Worm (5)

Ringlet (many)

White-legged Damselfly (many)

Common Toad (4 or 5)

Meadow Brown (many)

Banded Demoiselle (lots!)

Reed Bunting (family group)

Marbled White (many)


Thanks for coming,

Roo and Nicky,

Speckled Wood Wildlife,

3rd July 2021.

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