With a warming of the weather for the third day running, it was just enough to bring out some of the insects and butterflies, so much in short supply during the previous month or so and this was to ensure the small group generously invited into the Club’s estate that day had a great time working out ‘What Was About’.
With Mallards and Grebes watching us from the stream, we were soon seeing Meadow Brown Butterflies and striking Banded Demoiselle damselflies in reasonable numbers in the formal gardens.
Once we got into the un-mown grasses near the tennis courts, more insects provided identification challenges. This included what I always call the Popeye Beetle.
In reality it is Odemera nobilis or Thick-thighed Flower Beetle. The male has very exaggerated thigh ‘muscles’ which always reminds me of the benefits of eating spinach! Nearby we noted a day-flying moth which turned out to be a Mother Shipton, so called because of the face of an old witch etched out on its wings. A dazzling Clouded Silver day-flying moth popped into view fleetingly for some of us to admire.
("Popeye" Beetle - photo Mark Hemmings)
(Mother Shipton Moth - photo Chris Callestege, Wiki Commons)
Other butterflies at this point included Meadow Browns in profusion and a couple of Large Skippers which are able to hold their rear wings in a semi-upright position, a bit like the twin tail fins of modern fighter planes!
And among the various beetle species we noticed was the all-black Hairy Click Beetle but it failed to demonstrate its amazing jumping abilities (during which one can hear the ‘click’ of its leg joints!)
(Large Skipper - photo Gail Hampshire – Wiki Commons)
There were many tiny Marmalade Hoverflies and we found a pair of what we supposed to be the Tobacco-coloured Longhorn Beetles (Alosterna tabaicolor) mating on an Umbel. A couple of us stragglers also espied the dramatic Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle which is surprisingly common among long grasses and wildflower borders.
(Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle - photo Robert Flogaus-Faust, Wiki Commons)
There were quite a few birds about, with Blackcaps warbling in various corners, and an increasingly-rare sound of a singing Chaffinch; where have they all gone these days?
We had hoped for a good display of damselflies at the lake, where dozens of pairs had been egg-laying on the surface a few days before, but it was a little disappointing on that score. Also, the two pairs of Canada Geese and their 31 juveniles had all moved off.
However, a pair of Egyptian Geese proudly disported their three offspring to us beside the Lullebrook.
On the return to the car-park it was good to notice about five pairs of House Martins nesting under the eaves of St George’s Lodge, one of the very few places left in the Cookhams where this summer-visiting bird still nest.
Another walk here is planned for later in the month so we await to see what else might be ‘About’ in this lovely setting.