July and Summer, at last!

I've been to Strumpshaw a couple of times this week and had some very hot, tiring but pleasant days there. Just yesterday (July 3rd) saw a profusion of butterflies and hover-flies along the Woodland Trail: Peacock, Red Admiral, White Admiral (or "Black admiral" as I call it!), Small White, Green-veined White, Comma, Small Skipper and Ringlet. Insect-wise that part is a real "Des Res", attracting lots of bees, hover-flies and others; including ones that leave me with large, swollen bite marks! Along the Fen Hide trail there were a few Ringlets, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral. Small Skipper and again, many variety of insects, including what looked like hundreds of small Soldier Beetles feeding on Hog Wart. Had a pleasant hour or so in Fen Hide with a new friend, Caroline, who like me likes to meet people and share a sense of humour while waiting for the next sightings. We saw the "usual culprits", like the old female Marsh Harrier who was looking rather disappointed that there were no more gull chicks to predate! The Kingfisher and an Otter had been seen, but not by us. A Tern provided entertainment as it dived into the Fen Hide Scrape and came out empty beaked, several times. A couple of Cetti's Warblers could be seen darting in and out of the reeds and Sedge in front of the hide. The Bitterns were still "booming" between the hide and river. A walk along the river path saw a Blackbird resting and preening in the baking sun, its beak opening as it let out hot air. After a few minutes it went under shade. Further along, at the third viewpoint, a dead grass snake lay close to the "fence". Had it been dropped by a Harrier? There were plenty of LBJ's (Little brown jobs) darting to and fro amongst the exuberant foliage of the trees and bushes along riverside. The day before was quite interesting as well and my highlight was the exotic looking Little Egret, who landed on the second branch out, in front of the Fen Hide; I have never seen that before! I got some cracking shots of it as it landed, sat there and later took off. Although many regular visitors, like me, say "it's quiet here!" we are still treated to some special sights and sounds and I feel privileged to see all these things happening in one area. If only there were another hide on the mid-west side of the site!