The walk for June was changed from Wootton Bridge to Shatterford due to the poor weather and the consequent decision to arrange a shorter walk.

Shatterford provides a well-known and popular walk but has not been immune from the recent bad weather.

Much of the low lying area was under water especially around the bridges over small streams.

The flooding has been compounded by the decision to reinstate meanders and slow down the flow of water to prevent flooding further downstream. Even so the amount of lying water was unheard of in recent memory.

It is rather strange to be walking in water one minute and bone dry sandy areas the next whenever the land rises by a few inches.

Nevertheless the warm wet conditions provided ideal conditions for plants, insects and birds.

Some things in nature may be delayed by bad weather but others appear on time and accept the consequences.

Wild Gladioli for instance can be seen at Shatterford regularly towards the end of June and this year was no exception.

The flowers can be recognised as smaller cousins of the garden varieties and their purple red colour is every bit as stunning but their flimsy stems look more like grass than solid spikes.

Wild Gladioli are also very fussy about where they will grow preferring to hide amongst the bracken but only short bracken which is relatively widely spaced.

This year they also had to contend with cattle grazing amongst the bracken that seem to regard wild gladioli as a culinary delight.

A few stems of gladioli however had escaped by growing in the centre of clumps of bracken or at the edge of the path.

Silver Studded Blue butterfly
It is also amazing how Silver Studded Blue butterflies all emerge at the same time.

When one of these butterflies is seen and you congratulate yourself on spotting a rare specimen it is then something of a disappointment to find them everywhere you look.

Fortunately seeing numerous blue butterflies flying between the heather is a good way of identifying them because seeing the silver studs is almost impossible.

Only the males are blue and they have a broad black edge to the wings with a small white rim.

The females are brown in common with most of the blue butterflies.

The undersides of the wings have a distinct pattern of black and orange dots but are rarely on display and the silvery blue studs even more so.

The boggy areas at Shatterford are home to insect eating plants which being small are easily overlooked.

Both Oblong Leaved and Round Leaved Sundew can be seen even in damp areas but Bladderwort catches insects under water so is found in areas of permanent acidic pools.

The sundews were not quite in flower but Bladderwort was in flower at the time of the visit.

The small yellow flowers rise above the water on slender stems an inch or two high and require close observation to see details.

The plant gets its name from small bladders which contain a vacuum allowing the plant to float below the surface and when an insect touches fine hairs at the mouth of the bladder it opens and sucks in its prey.

Later in the year the bladders fill with water and the plant sinks to the bottom.

Birds are generally quiet and difficult to see due to the foliage at this time of year.

Stonechats and Meadow Pippets flew between the tops of gorse or high bracken. House Martins and a few Swallows could be seen flying around the edges of forested areas.

It is particularly satisfying to stand and watch the birds swooping and diving as if from nowhere and having to trust their ability to miss you by a few inches in their constant search for food.

The general lack of birds could be accounted for by the presence of a Goshawk that was seen resting in a tree.

Their numbers in the forest have increased slowly over the past years but if you calculate their weight using say Blue Tits as a unit of measure then lots of small birds must have been sacrificed to enable their survival.

In fact the lack of small birds was more probably due to the lack of insects for food.

This is particularly surprising as the warm wet weather would normally have meant a huge rise in the number of insects.

The low number of insects is good news for car windscreens but could be a disaster for birds and the whole food chain.