Thanks to our fantastic volunteer Graham for his report and photos from Sunday's 'hides & trails':

Although there were a few showers it was mostly dry at PB yesterday. There were a good number of visitors and plenty of wildlife highlights.

At Fattengates Courtyard I met Mark, one of our regular visitors. He showed me a photo of a golden-ringed dragonfly that he had taken last Wednesday from the path near the turning to Fattengates. Near Simm’s Pond I saw my first small skipper and marbled white of the year.

Small skipper

Marbled white

At the gate near West Mead I again joined Mark, who had found a distant cuckoo and a second calendar year peregrine. Sadly, these were too far away to photograph, but I was able to show the peregrine to a few other visitors.

 After a spell in Winpenny Hide (fairly full of visitors because of the rain) I went to the ditch dipping ponds. There were several blue-tailed damselflies there, including examples of different colour forms of female.

Female blue-tailed damselflies showing different colour forms.

Very close to the left hand dipping platform the rain had made a funnel type spider’s web very obvious to see. This was occupied by what I believe to be a labyrinth spider (Agelena labyrinthica).


Labryinth spider

Along Adder Alley I found two male variable damselflies, so this is clearly a good spot to check out all the ‘blues’.

Male variable damselfly.

After finding the second variable I noticed a couple of visitors back along the path looking at something on the ground. When I went back to enquire about what they were looking at they said they thought they had found a purple hairstreak, and I was able to confirm this when I saw this very smart looking female.

Purple hairstreak butterfly

It shortly flew up to perch by the path at head height giving the opportunity to get some shots of the underwing.

Purple hairstreak.

I was also able to show it to a number of other passing visitors. Also at Adder Alley a nightingale came into view for a couple of minutes and perched on the fence. As you can see from the photo it was standing on its left leg only. It would appear that most of its right leg is missing!


Time had flown by, so I never even got as far as Hanger View, let alone Jupp’s/Nettley’s. Instead, I made another brief visit to the ditch dipping ponds, in the hope of finding a white-legged damselfly that Lydia had advised me a visitor had reported (without success). I then headed back to the Centre via the Winpenny/West Mead route. At Redstart Corner I found Mark and some other visitors watching at least three recently fledged stonechats being fed by their parents. Unfortunately, one of the young stonechats has a severely distorted bill with crossed mandibles.

Juvenile stonechat.

I think this individual may have a lot of trouble securing its own food when its parents stop feeding it. I also took a picture of one of the other fledgelings, and this one looks in good physical shape.

Juvenile stonechat.