White-legged Damselflies, 16 June 2018

It's been a long long time since I saw White-legged Damselfly and since then they have been 'discovered' along the River Stour on the Suffolk/Essex border. Armed with site details Belinda and I headed down that way yesterday to combine the trip with a visit to a few of her childhood haunts in the same area.
Reaching the river after a short walk along permissive paths it didn't take too long to ind the first individuals in bankside vegetation and we went on to see several really nicely. Banded Demoiselles were everywhere and it was pleasing to note several Scarce Chasers too. Large red Damselfly, Hairy Dragonfly, Blue-tailed Damselflies and Azure Damselflies joined the party as did Meadow Brown, Large Skipper and several Small Heaths.
The habitat here probably hasn't changed since the war, it was like walking through a slice of old England with Lapwings, Turtle Dove and Reed Warbler also heard/seen.

White-legged Damselflies

Banded Demoiselle

Large Skipper

Meadow Brown

   Small Heath

The Devil's Work, 9 June 2018

With a Saturday afternoon/evening all to myself I decided to venture south to Newmarket and specifically to the Devil's Dyke. This ancient chalk earthwork runs across Newmarket Racecourse which feels slightly strange when you are there, especially when a race meeting is going on like it was on this occasion!

The dyke is a unique local habitat and walking from the A14 end I soon encountered Pyramidal Orchids, shortly followed by my first target - Lizard Orchids. A little further on I found a single Chalk Fragrant Orchid specimen which was huge. These 2 orchids really are at the opposite ends of the fragrance spectrum! Also along the bank I identified Sainfoin (it's near-threatened prostrate form) in good numbers, Dropwort, Small Scabious, Wild Thyme, Goldenrod, Hoary Plainatin, White Bryony and Wild Mignonette. Doubtless there are loads more too! A couple of Willow Warblers were singing and both Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer were also along the same stretch. Insects inluded my first Meadow Browns and Large Skipper of the year plus several Common Blue (butterflies and damsels).

Pyramidal Orchid

Lizard Orchids


Chalk Fragrant Orchid

Small Scabious


Wild Thyme

 Common Blue

Having cleaned up quickly I spent a bit of time having a coffee and a mooch around Newmarket town and started to head home. While in Burger King at Barton Mills I was casually checking Twitter when I saw that a new orchid tick for me had been found near Ipswich so aftera  few messages between me and the finder I was on my way across country to twitch it. On arrival I located the single Heath Fragrant Orchid plant nice and easily but was a bit disappointed that it was also almost snapped off at the stem so won't last long. Still, an orchid tick these days is not to be sneezed at! Beside it were several large Common Spotted Orchids and a singing Reed Bunting.

Heath Fragrant Orchid

   Common Spotted Orchid

Crex crex in Norfolk, 8 June 2018

An evening jaunt out onto the marshes between Earsham and Bungay for the calling Corncrake. Despite not seeing the bird (along with everyone else!) it was great to hear it calling in my home county, a sound that would have once been regular in our countryside. The consensus seems to be that if you've heard it you can tick it so onto my Norfolk list it goes!

The map below shows where the bird is compared to where RBA are reporting it to be. Very important as their arrow is in Suffolk!

Yearlist = 214

A new orchid hybrid for Britain!? 8 June 2018

Well, today may have turned out to be a bit of a red letter day - it looks like I have found a new orchid hybrid that hasn't occured in the UK before!
A photo of the specimen is shown below. It is an Early Marsh Orchid which shows mixed features between the ssp ochroleuca and the ssp incarnata. Both of which grow within a few feet of this plant. The overall whiteness with a hint of yellowy-cream, the 3-lobed lip and the structure all resemble ochroleuca but the pink markings on the flower and the pink wash on the upper sepal hint at the incarnata.

 Early Marsh Orchid ochroleuca x incarnata

Also in the same spot I found 5 ochroleuca Early Marsh Orchids, a few incarnata Early Marsh Orchids, Southern Marsh Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid and loads of Marsh Helleborines in bud.

Early Marsh Orchid ssp ochroleuca

        Southern Marsh Orchid

Earlier I had called in at a roadside site near Finningham where there were 9 Bee Orchid plants including one showing mixed characteristics between the forms chlorantha and flavescens.

Bee Orchid, form chlorantha/flavescens

 Bee Orchid

My final visit of the afternoon was 'The Sink' Redgrave and Lopham Fen which was odonata heaven! Wellies are absolutely essential here but I had mine with me so went for splosh about finding 2 Ruddy Darters, 1 Hairy Dragonfy, Four-spotted Chasers, a few Scarce Emerald Damselflies, a few Emerald Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Azure Damselflies. Although I had to seek id help a Two-banded Wasp-hoverfly (Chrysotoxum bicinctum) was a new one for me.

Ruddy Darter

Scarce Emerald Damselflies

Emerald Damselfly

         Hairy Dragonfly

Two-banded Wasp-hoverfly

'ochroleuca' Early Marsh Orchid - the rarest of all? 5 June 2018

We are lucky enough to have arguably the rarest of all UK orchids growing at it's only UK site which isn't a million miles away.
I visit the site every year and this year I took Andrew Johan De Klerk with me as he was keen to see some British orchids. And what a one to be your first - the creamy white and gorgeous 'ochroleuca' ssp of Early Marsh Orchid! 
Sadly though, I was only able to find 2 plants this year despite there apparantly being several more 'in bud' on 29 May. I have since discovered another small population in a different location at the same site which shall forever remain hush!
Also there were Southern Marsh Orchid (inluding one of the schoenophila ssp), Common Spotted Orchid, Common Butterwort, Yellow Rattle, Marsh Lousewort and Ragged Robin.
Nearby at another site I spent a little time marvelling at a range of dact hybrids, some of which were rather impressive. A Barn Owl was also hunting there and a Cuckoo calling.

The next evening a Red Kite sailed over the garden in Pulham Market at 18.30 - a new garden bird!

'ochroleuca' Early Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchid ssp schoenophila

Yellow Rattle

     Southern Marsh x Common Spotted hybrid, a gorgeous plant!

Norfolk tick - Moltoni's Warbler, Blakeney Point, 3 June 2018

News of this mega (although predicted) bird broke the previous day but when I got the call from Jus I was deep into Suffolk and heading in the wrong direction. So I chanced it, continued with my plans for the day and hoped for some positive news the following morning.

Luckily there was early news so I grabbed my stuff, drove up to Cley and prepared myself for the nightmare walk/slog! And it was every bit as horrible as I remembered but at least the Little Terns on the way were a welcome distraction, not to mention a yeartick . Reaching halfway house I switched over to the beach side and thankfully the going was much easier. I reached the small crowd by the old lifeboat station to the news that it has effectively gone missing and virtually everyone there was standing around chatting. A Reed Warbler was showing every now and again but not the bird we all wanted! Eventually, a few sharp words from another birder shut them up. Then another birder stood next to me decided to give it a quick blast of playback. The male Moltoni's Warbler didn't exactly respond but that did at least seem to wake it up and within a few minutes I had some views. Those views got gradually longer and better over the next 30 minutes as it moved through a bank of brambles. A quite a distinctive bird it was being noticably pale on both the grey upperparts and the buffy-orange underparts with a rather indistinct whitish malar stripe. A brown wash to the remiges indictaed that it was probably a 1st year male.
A county tick at last! My first since autumn 2016 with 2017 drawing a complete blank.
A quick look in the plantation revealed a Spotted Flycatcher, my 3rd new bird for the year of the walk. The return yomp was uneventful but just long, boring and tiring! Along the way I also saw Small Copper, Small Heath and several Common Blues while plants included Sea Spurge, Sea Holly, Yellow Horned Poppy, Foxglove, Tree Lupin and Sea Campion.

Moltoni's Warbler twitch

 Sea Spurge

A quick look at Beeston Common next revealed 'pulchella' Early Marsh Orchids, Southern Marsh Orchid, Heath Spotted Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid and a spot-on example of what we once called Pugsley's Marsh Orchid but which are now regarded as ssp 'schoenophila' of Southern Marsh.

 Southern Marsh Orchid, ssp schoenophila

For the 2nd time in recent years I then drew a blank with coccinea Early Marsh Orchid at Overstand and I now believe the colony must have died out.

Yearlist = 213