Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Swanning around

Today's sunlit potter was round a very famous site: Otmoor reserve run with the usual unobtrusive care by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. A neighbour took us on an introductory ramble with plenty of stops to photograph the Common Blue Damselfly above (plus its pal or love rival in the background) and the pair of cygnets below.

We also found this Five-spot Burnet (or more probably Narrow-bordered Five Spot which is very similar but commoner) day-flying moth below,  the curious beetle-like creature pictured after that and a couple of fine, plump caterpillars which will turn in due course into Peacock butterflies. They should pupate soon and hatch into adult insects just in time to catch this year's emerging buddleia flowers.

Otmoor has an extraordinary management history; for centuries a communal area used for winter wildfowling, it was enclosed in the 1830s to exceptional fury from villagers in the moor's 'seven towns' who put up one of the fiercest fights on record against the removal of their ancient rights. Attempts at drainage for farming failed twice, first after the enclosures and later in the mid-20th century when the land and floodwater proved unco-operative even in the face of powerful electric pumps.

Now the RSPB is buying up the area as and when it can and restoring it to the wetlands of old (but with no wildfowling allowed). Ironically, the history of glitches continues; the river Ray is so vulnerable to nitrate and other farming pollution that its overflows are kept out of the reserve by yet more pumps and dams, and the meres and scrapes are reliant on rainfall.