Saturday, 24 June 2017

Rat bike and Moonrise in the Forum: Norwich is just such a cool place to live!

Recently there was an art installation at the Forum in Norwich that included a fabulous globe of the Moon: as far as I could make out, it was perfect in every detail and, needless to say, attracted a lot of interest.

Today's star item was this incredible 'Rat Bike' parked at the top of the market: it was a real piece of art.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Strumpshaw Fen: Swallowtails, Kites, amazing moths and odonata!

I spent my lunch hour at the Fen today, having decided not to risk another frustrating hunt at Queen's Hills: in the event it was a good decision - I had one of my most enjoyable sessions of the Summer!

I walked the 'reverse circuit', starting at the treatment works: the first dragonfly I came across was my first definite Southern Hawker of the year: I saw two more as I continued round. Further on I found two interesting colour forms of Blue-tailed Damselfly: rufescens, with a reddish thorax, and violacea with a lilac one!

One of the Strump specialities I wanted to photograph was Marsh Pea - a beautiful plant, somewhat reminiscent of a smallish Sweet Pea. I found quite a few on the Boardwalk, where there were lots of Common Lizards being enjoyed by a friendly couple from Leicestershire.

Continuing round I added Scarce Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer and lots of the expected butterflies. As I reached the junction with Sandy Path, an obliging mint-fresh Swallowtail began nectaring on a variety of flowers: I was pleased to be able to call over several visitors who'd walked right past it! A Whitethroat was very confiding as it fed by the path.

Still no clearwing moths, but the Woodland Trail added White Admiral to the daylist, as well as a dragonfly with dark wing tips: Ade from Bugalert kindly informs this is a female Scarce Chaser. That possibility hadn't occurred to me, because in 30 years at the Fen, I've never seen a SC in the woods! Cheers Adrian! Walking back to reception I picked up two Red Kites by their call, with a further, different individual drifting west over the broad: I had some difficulty persuading the vols and visitors that they weren't Buzzards!

Last night's moth catch had been released at Reception and were dozing on the rush screen: there was a Buff-tip as well as several Poplar Hawk Moths, an Elephant Hawk Moth and an Eyed Hawk Moth: it was great chatting about them with a couple of ex-pat Londoners and their delightful Mum! I thought I recognised them and it turned out that their family business is the Highway Garden Centre on the Beccles Road.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Yellow Wagtails at Blofield Heath

Before the rain I thought I'd have a bash at the Red-veined Darters at Queen's Hills, Costessey: despite a good trudge round the only insects I came across were Black-tailed Skimmers, Banded Demoiselles and the usual June butterflies.

On the way home, as is my usual practice, I took the long route via Bullacebush Lane and Ranworth Road: in the past I've encountered Montie's, Golden Plover and Bean Geese along this stretch. Today the Yellow Wagtails were back and I managed a few photos: what stunning birds they are!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Lesser Butterfly Orchid and other amazing plants!

This is part two of today's blog: the botany section! The highlight of the walk around Beeston Common was the fabulous number of orchids we encountered: Lesser Butterfly, Common Spotted, Fragrant, Southern Marsh, Marsh Helleborine and Pugsley's (I think!)

Other interesting plants included three insectivorous species: Butterwort, Sundew and (in the pond) Bladderwort.


Fabulous Orchids, amazing insects and a Dartford Warbler

A really great day out on the North Coast with Norman and Brian produced some fantastic wildlife encounters - so many I'm forced to split them into two posts: animals in the first, plants in the second!

First stop was Holt Country Park, where (despite an early arrival) plenty of dragonflies were on the wing. The woodland pool held Broad-bodied Chaser, Four-spot and - new for this part of the park - Keeled Skimmer. Since none of these deigned to slow down for a photo, we walked out to the Lowes where the Keeled Skimmers were more obliging. Also good to see were some very large Sundew plants and a couple of Woodlarks: a pair of Crossbills flew over calling.

Returning to the Country Park we bumped into old acquaintance Trevor, who was hoping for Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth. Despite a stake-out of the Red Campion we failed to pick one out, so continued round to one of the sunny bramble patches. Quite quickly we added Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral to the day's tally, and were pleased to be able to point them out to Trevor!

After coffee (and scones!) at Cley, we moved to Kelling Heath. Almost the first living thing we saw was a Brown Argus, quickly followed by dozens of Silver-studded Blues. A slow walk around the perimeter path delivered good views of a singing Dartford Warbler and another Woodlark.

Last stop was Beeston Common, where we ate lunch on the benches overlooking the pond. This was alive with mating Emperors, depositing eggs, washing their tails and charging around after rivals! A walk through the woods to the marshy valley produced find of the day for me: a single flower spike of Lesser Butterfly Orchid - what a belter! Several other orchid species provided back-up, including Marsh Helleborine, Fragrant Orchid and others I need to check! Also good to see were several clusters of another insectivorous plant, the Butterwort.