During the 1990s, I helped out in the management of this stretch of disused canal – the bit in the borough of Broxtowe but this is the first time I’ve seen it since then. It all looked very familiar, though in those days, I think I knew my odonata better and there was an active, artificial ski-slope nearby, rather than a hilly and botanically diverse piece of former colliery spoil; the canal still holds water (always a difficulty then) and there are lots of aquatic plants to be seen. At least I know them better now, than I did then.

I recalled seeing Arrowhead here, though the ever reliable Dave suggested that Sagittaria sagitifolia was only ever found on the stretch nearer Trowell.

Then I remembered the leaflets that I wrote back then and I found some on a dusty shelf; sure enough there is an ink drawing of Arrowhead in one of the leaflets but it is in the Awsworth and Eastwood edition, and the text relates to the Erewash Canal – in Derbyshire of all places!

I probably knew Branched Bur-reed Sparganium erectum then, but I don’t recall Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris despite these being quite dominant today, with the latter adding a contrasting colour to the dominant greens.

Branched Bur-reed
Marsh Woundwort

Wood Wednesdays are about botany and we all learned something from our guru, but warmth and water provided other attractions and I was notably deficient in naming them. However perusal of the adequate photos enabled these:

Ruddy Darter

It’s not clear from this image but they definitely had a waist on the abdomen and I don’t think there were any Common Darters present.

Banded Demoiselle

Male Banded Demoiselle are easy but we were a bit mixed up between this and Emerald Damselfy, however the white pterostigma clinches this as a female Calopteryx splendens and the broader wings, clasped whilst perched would give a regular odonatist no problem at all.

Emperor Dragonfly

This one didn’t occur on the canal in the 1990’s; it has moved in since – first to larger bodies of open water and now, to my surprise to sites such as this. I need to spend more time observing these beautiful creatures. All I need is time and sunshine.

Brown Hawker

An easy one; big, brown and the females don’t look too different.

My first Holly Blue of the second generation was the only real notable among the nine species of butterfly that came our way and plants not already mentioned include Greater Spearwort Ranunculus lingua, Water Dock Rumex hydrolapathum, Marsh Bedstraw Galium palustre, Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum, Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina and Sweet Flag Acorus calamus.

Sweet Flag would definitely have gone unnoticed but for Dave’s prior experience and detection of the wrinkly leaves that otherwise looked so much like Branched Bur-reed, it would never have been picked out – at least, not by me. Any doubting Thomas’s were satisfied by the pleasant but seemingly indescribable scent from a crushed leaf.

And finally, the jizz of two sedges:

Juncus acutiflorus
Juncus articulatus

Well, Dave and Rob never looked in the book.