A real downpour, plus very strong wind, kept us indoors the whole of yesterday and this morning.
After lunch, the sun made an appearance - and so did we. Maybe Strumpshaw would be sheltered in the still rampaging wind. The approach road was under deepish water for the first 25 metres, there's a dip in the road and the surface water from a field collects there. Not a problem for us, we drove through behind a bow wave.
After reading that the feeders had been taken down for the summer, 'as there was plenty of natural food on the reserve' - not what the RSPB have previously recommended - we had a look at the wildflower garden hoping for some butterflies. Plenty of Mason, Leafcutter and Solitary Bees and Pam saw a dayflying micro moth. No butterflies.
From the hide, a load of brown, eclipse ducks slept in the shelter of the far bank, a Grey Heron huddled amongst the thrashing reeds, two Marsh Harriers made short flights and a Kestrel tried its best to hover - before giving up to sway madly in the top branches of a tree.
Overhearing a man thank the duty receptionist for directions to the larvae, Pam asked which ones. Swallowtail butterfly. Only 50 metres away too, on milk parsley, its food plant, near the first dipping pond.
Still small, the two larvae present took some finding but we succeeded. More than we did at photographing them. I kept one shot.
''The young caterpillars are black and white at first and look similar to small bird-droppings. In later instars, the caterpillars become a pale green with black and orange rings. The caterpillars of butterflies from the Swallowtail family (Papilionidae) posess a unique forked structure just behind the head which is normally hidden. Known as the osmeterium, this can be everted when the caterpillar is threatened, emitting a smelly secretion which contains terpenes. The larvae pupate within a few weeks and generally remain in this state throughout the winter, emerging as adult butterflies the following spring although, occasionally a second brood occurs in mid-summer when some pupae emerge as adults rather than emerging the following spring.''
Even a splendid Buddleia nearby held only bees. I saw a Blue-tailed Damselfly briefly near the dipping pond before we walked on to the further one. Nothing at all there.......
Buckenham Marshes were an extensive , empty apart from Greylags, green marsh. Why do dog owners and families with children think that nature reserves are playgrounds? Dogs off the lead at Buckenham and children likewise at Strumpshaw. The RSPB have encouraged families by building play areas, picnic tables, nature trails etc. All very commendable unless you want to watch wildlife in peace and quiet without rampaging children, who have to run and shout, unchecked by regardless adults. Rant over.