© Andrew Moon

Unlike last year we had bright sunshine even if it was a bit windy and on the cool side of comfortable. So it was a pleasant morning walk for the 5 of us. Surprisingly given that it had rained all day the day before birds generally were conspicuous by their absence Again without some really cold weather up north bird numbers on the lake remain low. But it does not explain the lack of birds among the trees.

There were 6 of us plus me this year. It was dull but calm and not too cold. The poor light made identifying the birds a bit tricky. There were not a great many birds on the lake or in the trees in the surrounding area. We saw all the species we heard and ended with a tally of 35 species (half a dozen up on last year).

A beautiful sunny day attracted 10 attendees for the 2017 Dragonfly and Butterfly walk. We were very fortunate to have Damien Weller, the Three Rivers District Council Park ranger, with us carrying his sweep net and bug examination pots. This gave us the opportunity to see some dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies close up. As usual all attendees were on the lookout for flying animals as well as some non-flying ones.

Following a warm, sunny week Sunday 25th was a dry day - perfect for the walk to look at the wildflowers around the reserve. A group of around 12 met on the causeway. I talked briefly about the type of plants to expect to see growing on unimproved, neutral soil, and that the smaller the plant, the more quickly it is likely to disappear. Species diversity is inversely proportionate to infertility of the soil.

Three of us this year gathered on the causeway at half past eight for a walk round the lake. The weather was cold and gloomy, far from ideal for our task and about as different from last year as you can get. The recent cool weather had again slowed leaf growth making seeing the birds a bit easier than in some years. We saw most of the expected birds. There were swallows, house martins and swifts in quite good numbers over Stocker's and Bury lakes No woodpeckers, reed bunting or house sparrows though.

Anna Marret and I spent our afternoon on the canal side of the reserve armed with Anna’s telescope trained on the heron and egret nests on the islands on the opposite side of the lake.