Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Water meadow magic

Garn Lakes Local Nature Reserve near Blaenavon has seen some changes over its short gestation period. From open cast development to bland bog standard 1990's style landscape restoration and on to a more enlightened approach to habitat creation and management. The most recent enhancement has transformed an area of marshy grassland to water meadow with ditches and ponds aplenty. This is now a naturalists delight and a credit to those who have worked hard to achieve it.

With the recording year curtailed by indifferent weather conditions and a sense that the evenings are closing in, a mild panic has set in which has motivated me to get out of an evening before the summer disappears over the horizon. Armed with a feeling that the landscape of Garn Lakes LNR is concealing some interesting wetland species I ventured through verdant vegetation in search of a late summer thrill.

First up was odonata. Squelching through the meadow with it's developing phagmites beds hundreds of black and common darter dragonflies took to the air. The open water areas with its floating vegetation and algae mats were busy with emerald and blue tailed damselflies and an odd golden ringed dragonfly oviposited oblivious to my presence.

Botanically things are looking interesting as well. The discovery of arrowhead was something of a surprise and various floating pondweeds supported the aforementioned odonata. The most interesting find however was common stonewort (Chara vulgaris). Although not a vascular plant this family of algae is very much under recorded due to its totally submerged existence. To retrieve a sample to photograph resulted in a wet boot and trouser leg up to the knee!

Finally the recently formed ditch system in an area of muddy margin a green sandpiper was flushed.

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