Sunday, 25 June 2017

Open gardens at Acle

As some of you may know, I taught at Acle Primary School for 18 years: 12 of these were my happiest times as a teacher, not the least because that's where I met Linda! I also met friends Paul and Penny at the school, teaching all three of their lovely daughters and playing in a band of which Paul was the bassist.

They have a beautiful barn conversion just south of the village, where today they and their two neighbours hosted a charity open garden event. Now I know this is allegedly a wildlife blog, but there is a tenuous link, in that all three beautiful gardens were designed with wild plants and creatures in mind. Swallows nest under the pantiles, while bees, butterflies and other insects were abundant.

As you'd expect, Linda and I bumped into lots of people we knew from 'the old days', as well as neighbours Peter and Sue, who arrived too late for me to buy them tea and cake!

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.