With Nichola working a shift swap, and Isabelle moping about at home with her arm in a sling (again) after a skating fall, I decided to get out for some fresh air with Josh and Alex. Despite the weather being less than ideal, with more cloud than sunny spells, we headed to Huncote Embankment. I was hoping to get a chance to photograph a few dragonflies / damselflies but the lack of sunshine was always likely to make this a non-starter.
When we got there, I was surprised to find that there was hardly any parking space along the road. It soon transpired that Bardon Aggregates and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust were running an open day with activities for kids. Couldn't have worked out better.
After we'd walked along the track to the pond, with Alex pointing out every pile of rabbit shit on the way, they soon got stuck into pond dipping. Plenty of bloodworms, leaches, toad-poles, water boatmen, water snails and other bits to look at. We then had a walk along the board walks before heading back to the entrance and up the embankment steps to the plateau over-looking Croft Quarry.
Here's a map I sketched earlier by freehand (okay, it's an old ariel shot nicked from the excellent MultiMap). The red dot marks the entrance and also the access steps up to the plateau marked by the white spot. The straight line from the red dot to the yellow dot is the main track running between the embankment side and adjacent floodplain/farmland. The yellow dot marks the excellent dragonfly pond, and from there you follow a bendy boardwalk trail around to the south-western end of the reserve. There are a couple of other shaded ponds along this track, roughly where the the pale blue dot is. I have to say that this is developing into a great looking site with a lot of habitat diversity. I've enquired about moth recording there - I reckon it could be very interesting.
Not many photographic opportunities though with the lack of sunshine. I would have been better off with the CoolPix rather than the DSLR as we kept finding shiny beetles and stuff that I couldn't get onto well enough.
Banded Demoiselles were knocking about, but always settling in an awkward place away from the track.
There were a lot of these flies setting on the boardwalk - I think it is Mesembrina meridiana (would welcome confirmation or correction from any Dipterists out there).
View from the boardwalk looking back towards the main pond - the embankment is rising up behind the shrubbery.
Part of the excellent boardwalk.
Just needs an iconic Windmill and it could be Wicken Fen.
Reedy margins and ponds - excellent.
Looking across from the embankment plateau towards Croft Hill.
Croft Quarry is still fully operational.
A Discworld-esq dwarf mining operation run by the Low King.