Here, there and everywhere! 13 - 16 May 2021

The last 4 days have seen me visit a number of widely-flung places. So this is a brief summary of what I've seen.

Thursday 13 May

After finishing a work job at lunchtime I headed out to Target Hill near Mendham. This is a steep sandy hill overlooking the Waveney Valley and I wanted to see what sand-loving plants I might find there. I found Colour-changing Forget-me-not, Wall Speedwell, Thyme-leaved Speedwell (including some pure white plants which I'd not encountered before), Germander Speedwell, Common Vetch, some very low-growing Broom, Spring Beauty, Small Mouse-ear, Meadow Saxifrage and Sheep's Sorrel plus a new fungi for me Petticoat Mottlegill. In a marshy area by a ditch at the bottom of the hill I found Fools Parsley, Celery-leaved Buttercup and Reed Sweet Grass while the lane back towards the car the verges were quite productive with Hoary Cress, Cut-leaved Cranesbill and Hedge Mustard of note. 4 Lesser Whitethroats were singing in the area and a pair of Mistle Thrushes flew over the hill.

Friday 14 May

A day walking with Belinda. First stop was Chippenhall Green where the Green-winged Orchids were putting on a show and I found another new plants for me - the unassuming Blinks. A pond was full of Water Crowfoot but best of all was a singing Turtle Dove found when I'd done the whole perimeter looking! It showed beautifully in a bare tree even allowing me to fetch Belinda from the car for a look. Several Yellowhammers were also around the common. A circular walk around Laxfield produced a surprise Bloody Cranesbill and some Goldilocks Buttercups before we moved on to Framlingham. Here a Brindled Beauty moth was on a shop window sill and it was pleasing to see a good number of Wallflowers growing on the old castle walls. We finished with a visit to Huttons Butchers and Deli in Earl Soham (highly recommended!) for a coffee and then a walk nearby. The highlights were plenty of Cut-leaved Dead Nettle on the edge of an arable field plus Fiddleneck, Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Spotted Medick and Black Medick.

Saturday 15 May

A day doing chores in Norwich and visiting parents but with a slink out to Houghen Plantation at Horsford squeezed in! It was here, in some very marshy Birch woodland that James Emerson had kindly given me directions to a rather special fungus. It took me a little while to find them but then I spotted a marshy pond that held 80+ Bog Beacons. These really are a superb little fungus growing on aquatic debris and emerging from the water in glowing orange fingers. The walk had another highlight - 17 Crossbills showing very nicely, quite often in a bare tree allowing me to get an accurate count.

Sunday 16 May

We were up a bit earlier than usual on a Sunday because I had a date with a beauty in our local Tyrrels Wood. Jane Ferguson had found a pure white 'alba' Early Purple Orchid there the day before. After a merry dance around the wood looking I eventually found a really nice group of c150 Early Purple Orchids away from my usual spot and the white one was easy to pick out. This has been a quest of mine for a number of years and I finally get to see one so close to home! Serching the wood had it's other benefits as I found several Sanicle plants which was a new one for me plus a good number of Yellow Archangel. After returning home for breakfast we headed off out again for our main walk - at Gorleston. Along the undercliff here I found Sea Sandwort, Oxford Ragwort, Buckshorn Plantain and Tree Lupins plus 2 colonies of Sand Martins. Along Warren Lane on the return Annual Mercury was new. We just got back to the car as the heavens opened! Next port of call was Ness Point where we bumped into Jeremy Gaskell. He and I examined the urban 'weeds' alng th seawall finding Common Scurvygrass, Spear-leaved Orache and a strange naturalised shrub tentatively id'd as the US species  Winterfat but looking and smelling very similar to the Curryplant I have in my herb garden at home! We finished our busy few days with a walk around North Cove NR on the way home. Here the Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage was still very obvious and numerous. 

                                                                                                                                    Hedge Mustard
                                                                                                    Thyme-leaved Speedwell (white form)

                                                                                                                Colour-changing Forget-me-not
                                                                                                                                   Petticoat Mottlegill

                                                                                                                                Cut-leaved Cranesbill

                                                                                                                                 Water Crowfoot
                                                                                                            Green-winged Orchid (almost alba)
                                                                                                                           Cut-leaved Dead Nettle
                                                                                                                             Cut-leaved Cranesbill

                                                                                                                                  Bog Beacon


                                                                                              Early Purple Orchids incl the magical 'alba'!
                                                                                                                                   Sea Sandwort
                                                                                                                           Buckshorn Plantain
                                                                                                                                  Annual Mercury
                                                                                                                          Spear-leaved Orache
                                                                                                                             Common Scurvygrass

'God's Acre' and Wortham Ling, 9 May 2021

Earlham Cemetry in Norwich is known amongst it's admirers as 'God's Acre'. With a pointer of whereabouts to look I made my way to a corner of the vast cemetry that I'd not visited before. With much detailed searching I eventually found what I was looking for - the scarce, tiny but rather lovely Subterranean Clover. An inland site for this species really is something unusual. The long search did have other benefits - I found masses of the low-growing Spotted Medick and Dove's-foot Cranesbill as well as Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Ivy-leaved Speedwell, Wall Speedwell, Field Woodrush and then a nice small group of Meadow Saxifrage amongst loads of Bulbous Buttercups and Wild Strawberry. I also checked out a Henbit Dead Nettle plant which is not flowering. 

After a trip to my parents (and a Lime Hawk Moth on Dad's shed!)  and then back home I ventured out in the late afternoon sun to Wortham Ling. I had read that Suffocated Clover occurs 'at the edge of the carpark' but a detailed search of both carparks and I failed to find any. Staring at the ground again had it's side benefits though as I did find Knotted Clover (yet to flower so I'll call back for the 'tick' when it is), Small Mouse-ear and Bur Chervil (both new ones for me), Sheeps Sorrel, Shepherd's Cress, Mossy Stonewort and Bird's-foot.

All in all a most productive couple of short botany visits.

                                                                                                                                Subterranean Clover
                                                                                                                                       Spotted Medick
                                                                                                                            Dove's-foot Cranesbill
Meadow Saxifrage
   Thyme-leaved Speedwell

                                                                                                                                         Wall Speedwell
                                                                                                                                     Lime Hawk Moth
                                                                                                                                     Knotted Clover
                                                                                                                                         Sheeps Sorrel
                                                                                                                                   Shepherd's Cress
                                                                                                                                  Small Mouse-ear
                                                                                                                                     Bur Chervil

Carlton Marshes comes up trumps again, 7 May 2021

Knowing that the weather forecast for today (Saturday) was awful we ventured out yesterday while we could. And what better place than the marvellous Carlton Marshes? I even lured Belinda back there with the promise of their cafe goodies!

There was method to my madness of course and despite Matt the warden warning me they were moving their flock of Belted Galloway cattle onto Peto's Marsh I was pleased they didn't disturb anything. And by 'anything' I mean the Buff-breasted Sandpiper which I quickly located amongst a loose flock of 24 Ringed Plovers and 5 Dunlin. It was distant but scope views were more than adequate and very welcome as it's a species I've not seen for a long time. A quick scan also revealed a lovely Curlew Sandpiper moulting into it's breeding finery and 6 Chinese Water Deer that Belinda was more interested in. We continued our walk to do the whole loop via Share Marsh and scooped with a very active adult Spoonbill en-route plus 3 Willow Warblers and a distant calling Cuckoo. We then chilled with a coffee and some lunch from the cafe - I had to keep my promise!

We spent the remainder of the afternoon in Reydon Woods near Southwold. Here the Bluebells were looking marvellous and I also found a single Early Purple Orchid and a hitherto unnoticed new plant for me Wavy Bittercress. A Garden Warbler and Large Red Damselfly were also my first of the year but the best sighting by far was c3 Great Crested Newts plus several Smooth Newts showing beautifully in the pond. Just a shame I only had my phone camera with me. The same pond was also chock full of Water Violets. We then had to bid a hasty retreat, getting soaked in a prolonged hail shower!

As we were passing on the way home it would have been amiss not to pop into Winks Meadow. Here the Green-winged Orchids are now out in their full splendour. As always there is a good variety of colours including 5 full white 'alba' specimens. 

                                                                                                          Buff-breasted Sandpiper (honestly!)
                                                                                                                                            Water Violet
                                                                                                                             Smooth Newt
                                                                                                                                     Wavy Bittercress

                                                                                                                            Green-winged Orchids


Wood Sandpiper at Dickleburgh Moor, 5 May 2021

When a Wood Sandpiper was found at Dickleburgh just as we left for our long weekend away I thought I'd missed my chance at this local tick. 

Against all the odds however it has stayed for a week and I was able to catch up with it yesterday. It was giving some nice scope views on the nearest part of a the water but still not that close. Also around the reserve was a Greenshank, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, Snipe, 2 Little Egrets, Yellow Wagtail and, at last my first Swifts of the year with c20 amongst the good numbers of House Martins.  

A few days in Kent/East Sussex, 29 April - 3 May 2021

Finally we managed to get away for a few days! It was mainly to do a lot of walking and exploring an area I'd not been to for years but as ever there were a few sightings along the way. 

On day 1 a walk at Bewl Water revealed a small number of Early Purple Orchids plus Yellow Archangel, Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage and Common Sorrel plus Bluebells and Cuckooflowers in abundance and a large flock of Sand Martins. Later, in the town of Battle on old walls I found some Mexican Fleabane.

                                                                                                                                Early Purple Orchids
                                                                                                           Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage
                                                                                                                                  Yellow Archangel

The next morning we were exploring the gorgeous town of Rye. Then we moved on to nearby Winchelsea where an ancient wall had Navelwort, Common Cornsalad, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Western Polypody and White Comfrey. We then embarked on a long walk taking in Pett Levels, The Royal Military Canal, The Pannel Valley and Cliff End. Along the canal Cetti's Warblers were common and I had my first Reed Warbler of the year together with numerous Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats. A hide overlooking a lagoon in the Pannel Valley held a big colony of Black-headed Gulls and closer insection revealed c15 Mediterranean Gulls in their midst. Then, was we continued west through the valley looking for a lunch spot 2 Goshawks were over woodland just to the north - a fantastic bonus. On the beach at Cliff End a few Fulmars were on and around their nests and along the cliff bottom I found loads of the invasive succulent Hottentot Fig and then a single Caper Spurge plant which was a new one for me. Some Scarlet Pimpernel was also along the sea wall and Common Fumitory flowering in Pett Village.

                                                                                                                                   Common Cornsalad
                                                                                                                                   Western Polypody


                                                                                                                                     Caper Spurge
                                                                                                                               Common Fumitory
                                                                                                                                  Hottentot Fig

                                                                                                                                      Cliff End

Saturday saw us exploring the Dungeness area - a particular favourite of mine and a place I've not visited for years. On the beach by the 'patch' off the power station the lingering 1s Iceland Gull was soon found and then back at the lighthouse area I finally got a spring Wheatear with a song-fighting male followed by a female and a single fly-over Whimbrel whistling it's way west. A quick sewatch (with bins only!) revealed c12 Common Scoter accompanied by a single Eider east and a group of c15 Brent Geese also east. Then we weaved our way further eastwards along the coast to Samphire Hoe. Here the numbers of Early Spider Orchids are much diminished these days but I found c45 plants including 2 in the picnic area by the carpark. A Raven cronked over the white cliffs and along the seawall I found plenty of Wild Cabbage and Hoary Cress. We finished the day with a walk in the glorious Ham Street Woods surrounded by Bluebells, Wood Anenomes and Wood Sorrel with the happy news that the mighty Canaries had beaten Reading 4-1 and become Championship champions!

         Early Spider Orchids

     Samphire Hoe

                                                                                                                                        Hoary Cress
                                                                                                                                        Wild Cabbage

                                                                                                                                    Ham Street Woods

Our last day was spent walking in Hastings Country Park and then a circuit of a very wet Rye Harbour. There really wasn't much to write home about but a sign board at Rye Harbour did tempt me to return with details of rare plants there later in the summer! A single Dunlin, Avocets, plenty of Common Terns offshore and calling Little Tern were noted.

                                                                                                                                          Rye Harbour