Field Event Reports

6th June 2015 - Pinkhill Nature Reserve, Farmoor

Leader: Jeremy Biggs, Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust

An excellent group of 15 adults and 6 children gathered in the Farmoor Reservoir main car park at 10.30 and then convoyed at slow speed, avoiding casting fly fishermen seemingly oblivious to our approach, around the reservoir to the Pinkhill Reserve car park. Jeremy was joined by Penny Williams, Technical Director at Freshwater Habitats Trust, whose detailed knowledge valuably supplemented that of Jeremy who had such a large group to organise. Our initial survey point was the boardwalk beside the ponds near the entrance, where Jeremy's copious kit was laid out. A good hour was spent dipping the deep clear pools with numerous specimens hauled out and identified.

We then took a single file 'safari' through the dense marshy undergrowth to the far side of the main Pinkhill scrape, where another dipping session ensued. The water was quite shallow here so that we could wade out well into the pool to collect specimens, although the 'catch' was less than previously. This location was also excellent for observing the 'aerial' life of butterflies and warblers in the marsh behind us.

The group returned to the Pinkhill car park, where thanks were conveyed Jeremy and Penny for an excellent 'dip' to a part of Oxfordshire that is not normally accessible to the public. A small group then walked along the hedgerow beside the Reserve and back along the Thames path as far as the pumping station. This was a slow amble as we identified numerous plants, dragonflies and birds. We then returned to our cars and slowly drove back to the main car park.

As well as the expert knowledge of Jeremy and Penny, to whom great thanks, the group benefited greatly from the detailed knowledge of several of our own members who shared their knowledge so willingly of plants, insects and birds of this unusual habitat. It was also a delight that a group of children joined us, whose excitement at fishing underwater monsters from the deep was a joy to see.

Listed below are a selected sample of the life forms seen.

Freshwater animals:
Great Diving Beetle (Dytiscus marginalis), Common Black Diving Beetle (Agapus bipustulatus), Brown Hawker Dragonfly larva (Aeshna grandis), Ninespine Stickleback (Pungitius pungitius), Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata), Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris), Phantom crane fly larva (Ptychopteridae), Midge larva (Chironomidae), Mayfly larva (Ephemeroptera), Damselfly larva (Zygoptera), Caddisfly larva (Trichoptera), Common Water Slater (Asellus aquaticus), Water Scorpion (Nepa cinerea), Water Stick Insect (Ranatra linearis), Great Pond Snail (Lymnaea stagnalis), Keeled Ramshorn Snail (Planorbis carinatus), Duck Mussel (Anodonta anatina), Alderfly larva (Sialis lutaria), Jenkins Spire Snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum), Frog tadpole (Rana temporaria).
Pond plants:
Stonewort (Chara vulgaris), Small pond weed (Potamogeton berchtoldii), Canadian pondweed (Elodia canadensis), Curly Water Thyme (Lagarosiphon major).
Butterflies:
Common Blue, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Painted Lady (first of the season).
Dragonflies etc:
Azure Demoiselle, Red-eyed Damselfly, Banded Demoiselle, Common Damselfly, 5-spotted Chaser.
Birds:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Mallard, Black-headed Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Kestrel, Red Kite, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Robin, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Magpie (Coot, Mallard, Cormorant, Great-crested Grebe, Pied Wagtail, Swift, Swallow on/over Reservoir).
Participants:
Jeremy Biggs, Penny Williams, Mike Wilkins, Graham Bateman, Tony Rayner, Richard Lewington, John Killick, Vivienne & Hugh Summers, Adrian Allsop, David & Beatrice Vautain, Ian Smith, Katharine & Ian de Villiers + 6 children.

Graham Bateman