On Saturday we went out for a walk around our local Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve: the Old Sludge Beds. The sludge beds are sandwiched between the River Exe, Exeter canal, a sewage works and a large reedbed that stretches under the M5. The sludge beds don't have many visitors - probably because you have to walk past the sewage works to get to them, but they're well worth putting up with the smell in our opinion.
At the driest time of year the sludge beds consist mostly of reedbed and trees with a few ponds, but in the Winter most of the reserve is underwater. There are paths with some stretches of boardwalk, but it is definitely a place that requires wellies. The sludge beds are home to lots of species of birds and insects and we even saw an eel there once.
Yesterday we were fortunate enough to see hundreds of dragonflies - mostly migrant hawkers, but also some southern hawkers and common darters. The weather was variable which was great because it meant that the dragonflies settled quite often and I was able to take lots of photographs.
Male migrant hawkers:
Migrant hawker pair in the wheel position (something I've never been lucky enough to see before):
Over the next few months we will be mapping the sludge beds as a demonstration project for our company website so I'll probably write several more blogs on the reserve.