This morning the Bure was beautifully transparent. Many Brown Hawker dragonflies hunt in the air around us as we glide downstream. At the confluence with King’s Beck, a Kingfisher called and whirred its way past us. In the river itself, groups of Whirligig Beetles live up to their name, whilst below Pike gave themselves away by the gentle flutter of their pelvic fins and the cruel stare of their hunter’s eye. At Bream Corner one large specimen hangs in the slow current as we pass by and then slips imperceptibly to the sanctuary of a deep weed bed. The Canoe Man shepherds a party of canoeists up to Oxnead – the party a picture of enjoyment and first-time exploration.

This year’s barley straw is a rich yellow ochre. The wet Summer has had something to do with this. Perhaps the sugar levels are different to normal due to the lush growth. Indeed, the summer of 2012 has been memorable for rich natural colours throughout; the grass and hedgerows have maintained that emerald spring freshness and the electric intensity of blue corn flowers seem to have exceeded the usual soft English palate. All of this before accounting for the joyful man made colour of the Jubilee and Olympic parties which have dominated June and July.

In my mind David Hockney was the catalyst for all of this. His exhibition in London in the spring seemingly saying that there should be a celebration of colour at this time. The message being to open one’s eyes and this prophecy is one that has come true.

This morning’s soaring temperature has brought a welcome crop of new butterflies. On our way round with the dogs a Buddleja at Romany Cottage was laden with newly-minted Peacock butterflies. Seemingly no more than a few days old, their wing colours are vibrant and polished. They stand out amongst the more weather-beaten Red Admirals and Commas which have been flying for some time. A single Painted Lady bustled about – possibly a migrant from the continent as the steady winds have been from a south-easterly direction for the last few days.


One flying insect group that is showing well this year are the Dragonflies. Yesterday evening a splendid Southern Hawker patrolled the Street near Common Lane and the railway line is graced with a number of other varieties. The Wide Bodied Chaser is a particular favourite. Dragonflies names mainly concentrate on the subjects hunting methods. “They do what they say on the tin”, so to speak.

A couple of years ago we watched many species as they gathered to catch a prolific outpouring of flying ants from their nests in the railway cutting. The action was brutal, graceful and mesmerising all at the same time. We sat entranced as the hunters gathered around the emerging prey, the action probably continued on into the evening after we had moved on. But only for that day, at that temperature and at that point in the ant colony’s life cycle. Thankfully some of the emerging flying ants did get away. Either the perfect aerial hunting insect has some weaknesses or they were satiated. Nature has ways of balancing the odds.