Only six of us turned up at the site south of Scunthorpe today where we were welcomed by Eddie Gaunt and two other insect and plant specialists. We spent almost three hours moving slowly through scrub, woodland paths, heathland and marsh margins.
Ringlet, Comma and Red Admiral butterflies were easy to spot, so were the familiar small Common blue damselflies. However, nearly very plant had an interesting insect lurking on it or under it which enabled the specialists to point out Micro-moths, Soldier flies, Scorpion flies and White-tailed bumblebees. We must train our eyes to notice these species when we visit other reserves even if it just to notice the Pollen beetles on the yellow Cat’s ear flowers.
The Spear thistles were in full flower and the willow herbs were coming into bloom. Marsh orchids joined Greater bird’s foot trefoil to add colour to the grassy areas. The dense thickets of Phragmites rush and Hemp agrimony screened the water’s edge which in place was infested with the succulent leaves of Bogbean. I had not seen the yellow carnivorous Bladderwort before and here was a pond covered with it. Chris Packham would have had an underwater camera showing how the plant traps and ingests passing water fleas!
We saw birds – rafts of Tufted ducks and Coots, some elegant Great crested grebes a pair of Common terns with 3 fluffy chicks and a lone Pochard and we were treated to a fly past of 3 Egyptian geese. Young Cormorants were hanging out their wings to dry whilst Sedge warblers warbled in the reeds.
Towards the end of our stroll through the reserve Specialist John was asked about the presence of fungi. This was his cue to disappear into patch of woodland and to emerge clutching a football sized Puff ball fungus.
It was a fascinating visit – so different from our Wolds and coastal areas. I think we should find a date next summer when more people are able to be enthralled by the insects and flowers of these worked out quarries. RW
I have attached some more of Jane’s excellent pictures as well as adding a photograph kindly send to me by Geoff Mullett entitled, ‘the Brood of 2017’