Walton Hall Nature Trail, what's on July/Aug
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- Damselflies and dragonflies are abundant along the river. The large, extremely agile, hawker dragonflies are also common around campus. They zoom along catching insects with the bristly hairs on their legs.
- The pink flowers with white anthers of great willowherb or 'codlins and cream' can be seen around all of the wet areas on the trail. Not to be confused with the other tall pink flower 'policeman's helmet' or himalayan balsam which grows mainly along the river. The seed capsules of this introduced species explode when touched scattering seed over a wide area.
- The river is normally low at this time of year, unless we get a thunderstorm, so it is easy to see the fish and the stony river bed from the bridge. It is also clear that there are many weed covered deep holes ideal for some of the larger fish which the anglers will be pleased to tell you about. There should still be a few floating white flowers of water crowfoot left but nothing like the spectacular show last month when the river was white from bank to bank in places. You may also see the blue flash of a kingfisher darting past although I have not noticed as many this year.
- Many of the grasses in the meadow have set seed and are being dried out by the hot weather but the white fragrant flowers of meadowsweet are still about especially where the meadow joins the swamp (Walton Lake).
- The sedge and reed warblers are as noisy as ever around the swamp despite their song being somewhat drowned by the traffic noise (an excuse for not getting a good recording yet).
- Returning to the river, the dodder has moved again and for the first time in 4 years appears to have deserted the OU section of river bank. However there are some good patches about 100 metres downstream.
- The one period of wet weather earlier in July brought on the white mushrooms in the pine plantation. There were several groups (25/7/95) looking like part of an ancient fairy ring which may have been present before the trees were planted. See main trail text for warning about eating fungi.
- There are plenty of house martins nesting on Venables again this year, it is remarkable how they single out certain buildings to form a colony.
- The indian bean trees in front of the maths building are in full bloom at present. They look spectacular with hundreds of white flowers, large yellowish green leaves and some of last years bean pods.
- Finally look out for butterflies especially the brightly coloured red admirals, peacocks and small tortoiseshells which congregate on buddleia bushes at various locations round campus.