RSPB Coombes Valley
Saturday 8th June 2013
Our outdoor meeting season finale was an Expedition to the
RSPB Nature Reserve at Coombes Valley in Bradnop, just outside Leek.
An introduction from reserve volunteers Lizzie and Rachel explained that the reserve is a SSSi, important for Biodiversity.
Intrepid Explorers armed with wellingtons and nets waded into Coombs Brook.
Their catch included a couple of large Bullheads (a fish otherwise known as a Miller's Thumb) as well as an array of aquatic larvae including some impressive burrowing mayfly nymphs (Ephemera danica).
They also caught a number of Signal Crayfish, including a female carrying large numbers of eggs on her underside.
In the meadow the group used sweep nets to sample invertebrate life.
There were a huge range of insects and other arthropods - from tiny weevils and miniscule gall wasps
to a common pill woodlouse and a wide range of spiders and butterflies.
We were excited to find one of the carpet moths, a micro moth associated with buttercups
(Micropterix aruncella), one of the comb-footed spiders and a large-jawed orb web spider.
Butterflies included Green-veined white, Orange tip and Large white.
The pond was full of life.
We caught water fleas, Great diving beetle larvae, pond skaters, water boatmen, tadpoles,
bloodworms and damselfly larvae.
There were lots of smooth newts - males in bright mating colours with gravid females. The group watched food chains in action as the aggressive predatory diving beetle larvae attacked tadpoles in the bowls.
Our day was rounded off with a picnic in the sunshine.
And we celebrated one of our Junior Leader's Birthdays with a delicious Birthday cake!