When out on the reserves at the moment, it’s impossible not to notice the fantastic amount of insects; be it buzzing in the air, crawling through the grass, swimming in the water, or hanging suspended by silk, life is everywhere you look! And of course, this means there’s a great deal of food for all the species that enjoy feasting on insects. This week it seems we have had an influx of beautiful damselflies and dragonflies. I was lucky enough to take an evening stroll around Exminster marsh with camera in hand, and capture some of these little jewels with wings in the evening light. (Please do excuse the black marks on the photos, my poor camera has been put through its paces over the years, and I think might well be on its last legs.)

Common blue damselflies in the evening light

List of damselflies and dragonflies likely to be seen:

-       Large Red Damselfly

-       Common Blue Damselfly

-       Common Darter

-       Golden-ringed Dragonfly

-       Emperor Dragonfly

In amongst the damselflies was a nice rather round bottomed spider. I’m terrible on spiders, so if anyone out there knows their spiders, it would be great to have an identification!

Unknown spider enjoying the abundant mayflies 

Forget the liar birds of Australia, think reed warblers of Exminster. On two occasions this week, I have been completely fooled by the remarkable mimicry of reed warblers. We have a number of oyster catchers which enjoy flying from Powderham marsh to Exminster, noisily announcing their presence by piping at the top of their voices in that manor only oyster catchers know how. Or at least that’s what I thought in till I was well and truly stumped by what appeared to be an oyster catcher hidden in a small patch of reeds. But this could not be, I know oyster catchers are waders, and are more than capable of inhabiting reed beds, but this was merely two feet from where I was, and there was certainly no space for that sized bird to hide - but there was plenty of space for a reed warbler, and out popped its head to reveal itself. 

It was my first weekend shift in Bowling Green hide this week, and it was such a brilliant experience. It was great to get to meet so many enthusiastic people, some of you had come from across the country, and some from just up the road, but everyone was enjoying the wonderful weather. I had the pleasure of working with Lorraine who really knew her stuff and made the experience really easy and good fun. Weekends in the hide are a brilliant way for us at the rspb to engage with people, provide information about what’s out there and what we’re up to, but also for you to give us feedback. The hide at Bowling Green, Topsham, is open weekends from 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm. So please come, grab a cuppa, a snack, and relax in possibly the most comfortable hide in the country! This week’s treat was a lapwing feeding right in front of the hide!