Fortunately, I was up early, and dressed presentably, when the van appeared at 07.20.
So... what to do with the rest of the day?
Our Lass phoned the Admiral, who was, or at least had been, fast asleep. A plan was hatched to high-tail it over to Welney, for a pleasant stroll through the summer meadows of the Ouse Washes.
You can see where this is going, can't you?
We arrived at the WWT reserve shortly after 11am to the news that the summer meadows were still under water and a few of the viewing areas, including a hide, were out of bounds. Consoling ourselves with a pot of tea and a round of blueberry muffins, we discussed whether to cut our losses and try RSPB Lakenheath or the National Trust's Wicken Fen instead. To be honest, Welney was very quiet, which rather appealed to our grumpy natures, so we stayed put and went out into the reserve along the only path available.
Walking along a hedgerow between banks, we were amazed at the number of dragons and damsels on the wing. Ruddy and Common Darters were everywhere, there were goodly amounts of Black-tailed Skimmers and several Brown Hawkers were spotted. Most of the damselflies were Blue-tailed, with the occasional Common Blue to break the monotony. The Admiral found a very late Scarce Chaser and a couple of Southern Hawkers occupied a ditch behind one of the hides.
A sudden screeched call brought us out of this odo-tastic reverie and we were just in time to witness a Sparrowhawk fleeing the scene with a presumed Blackbird in its talons.
|Yep, birds eat birds...
Towards late afternoon, exploration of a patch of grass sward revealed all manner of roosting insects. Butterflies (Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Green-veined White, Small Skipper), beetles, grasshoppers, a Roesel's Bush Cricket and most of the odes mentioned previously. Including a female Emerald Damselfly, the only one we saw all day.
|insects eat insects...
After a bit of a chat with one of the wardens, we were wandering back over the bridge to the Visitor Centre, when another photo opportunity presented itself.
|and, predictably, birds eat insects
On the left, a Pied Wagtail, Motacilla alba, with, on the right, a Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum.
Happily, this wasn't my last ode of the day. A swift trip (with Swifts!) to Wicken Fen produced a few more darters (very much alive) and yet more Blue-tailed Damselfies.