Open University Exploring Nature Walks

Monday June 3rd
Higher Hyde Heath

With the air temperature fairly low, but with plenty of warm sunshine, we had ideal conditions to see reptiles trying to raise their body temperatures by basking in the sun. Our first sighting though was an insect, a fine Four-spotted Chaser, which let us get some really close photos as it too took advantage of the warm sunshine.

The first reptile to be seen was a slow-worm. It was well-warmed up and soon escaped but later we got a closer look at it and could see that it was quite an elderly individual, probably female, with plenty of blue scales starting to show.

Reaching the hide, we spent a few minutes watching the family of Little Grebes. This video was taken here a few weeks ago.

Birdwatching was good outside as well with blackcaps and willow warblers singing well and a great-spotted woodpecker making an occasional appearance. One of the group saw a Grass Snake slip into the pond but most of us were busy sorting out the bewildering variety of dragonflies that were buzzing about all over the place.

Our pond-dipping session produced some very interesting invertebrates including some extremely thin caddis-flies and a very charming little flat-worm.

So far we still hadn't seen any Sand Lizards, so we had one last look before walking back to the car park. This was when we found the superb male pictured at the top of this report. With several of the group particularly hoping for a sighting of this rare species, this amazing animal brought our short excursion to a very exciting end.

English Bluebell
Water Horsetail
Greater Stitchwort

Little Grebe
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker (heard)
Chiffchaff (heard)
Willow Warbler
Blackcap (heard)
Wren (heard)
Siskin (heard)

Grass Snake
Sand Lizard
Common Frog

Four-spotted Chaser
Broad-bodied Chaser
Downy Emerald
Common Hawker
Azure Damselfly
Large Red Damselfly
Cinnabar Moth

Aquatic Invetebrates:
Mayfly larvae
Water Boatmen
various beetles
Mosquito larvae
Midge larvae

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