The Grand Tour begins...

Tomorrow we set off on a 4-week grand tour in our motorhome. Our route takes us up to the West Highlands via Cumbria and then over to Northern Ireland. Here we plan to make or way up the Antrim coast as far as Derry where we then strike south into Sligo and then the botanical heaven of The Burren. From there we explore Kerry and Cork in the south west before winding our way along the south coast to Rosslare and the ferry back to Fishguard. A couple of days in south Wales finishes the trip before we head for home.

Along the route we have a mixture of 'wild' camping and pre-booked sites and a variety of touristy and nature-related activities.

Wish Belinda luck being cooped up with me for a month! 

Drayton Drewray, Booton Common and Horstead, 3 May 2022

I had a rendezvous in Horstead with Louis Parkerson yesterday so he could show me some bits around his patch. Before that though I had a couple of things I wanted to look for. 

Firstly, Eared Willow in Drayton Drewray which I failed to find despite much searching. Going there did have it's benefits though as I found my first ever Bog Stitchwort in some damp areas as well as Tutsan and Pendulous Sedge.

Secondly, Alder Buckthorn at Booton Common which I also failed with! Again though, as is often the case with botany, I found some other goodies. Most noticably Large Bittercress which ironically was one of the things Louis was going to show me later! Also there I found Marsh Valerian, Cuckooflower, Glaucous Sedge and Red Currant while sploshing about.

I met Louis by Horstead church and we walked the wet area behind the church, nearby verges and the pond by the Frettenham Road. Large Bittercress was seen (again) plus Norway Maple, a strange naturalised laurel sp that seems to be Azores Laurel while a Cetti's Warbler sang a couple of brief snatches. Along the roadsides a curious bushy patch of Spotted Medick with really big leaves was thought to be the 'Giant' Spotted Medick cultivar (good homework by Louis!) and we also had Hoary Cress, Caucasian Stonecrop, Barley (!), Rough Chervil and Bur Chervil before we went to the pond. Here I was shown the distinctive Tufted Sedge and while there spotted the colourful Common Malachite Beetle on a some Lesser Pond Sedge

My grateful thanks to Louis for giving up his time. 

                                                                                                                                         Bog Stitchwort
                                                                                                                                   Large Bittercress
                                                                                                                                     Glaucous Sedge
                                                                                                                                         Red Currant
                                                                                                                             probable Azores Laurel
                                                                                                                                         Hoary Cress
                                                                                                                                 Norway Maple
                                                                                                                                       Tufted Sedge
                                                                                                                                 Caucasian Stonecrop

                                                                                                                        Common Malachite Beetle

Roydon Fen, 2 May 2022

A quick bank holiday walk around Roydon Fen near Diss before some holiday shopping in the town.

It was pleasantly mozzie-free even in the woods and the circuit revealed a few bits and bobs. The best was probably the rather good looking Rustic Sailor Beetle, Cantharis rustica found while bending down to inspect some Wild Clary. I also found the large and impressive Pendulous Sedge along the northern perimeter together with huge numbers of Cuckooflower and Garlic Mustard plus both Goat and White Willows

                                                                                                                              Rustic Sailor Beetle
                                                                                                                                      Wild Clary

                                                                                                                                 Pendulous Sedge

A walk in the Waveney Valley from Homersfield, 1 May 2022

A lovely Mayday walk in one of our favourite sections of the Waveney Valley. 

Starting and finishing by the bridge in Homersfield we ventured along the valley to Target Hill near Mendham and then returned along the lane. Recording 6 species of warbler including my first Lesser Whitethroats (3) and Garden Warbler of the year plus House Martin at last. 

I stopped to photograph some Greater Chickweed and spotted a small beetle that turned out to be a Yellow-patched Dung Beetle. The other insect of interests were a faded Tawny Minging Bee on Target Hill and loads of St Mark's Flies.

Other plants of note were numerous Yellow Archangel, carpets of Wild Garlic and Bluebells plus Bur Chervil, Round-leaved Cranesbill, Hedgerow Cranesbill, Bugle, Bird's Foot, Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Gemander Speedwell and strangely Broad Bean on a verge which was obviously a relic of past cultivation.

                                                                                                                    Yellow-patched Dung Beetle
                                                                                                                                 Greater Chickweed

                                                                                                                                       Wild Garlic
                                                                                                                                     Bird's Foot
                                                                                                                              Tawny Mining Bee
                                                                                                                                      Bur Chervil
                                                                                                                           Round-leaved Cranesbill
                                                                                                                                Hedgerow Cranesbill
                                                                                                                                   Broad Bean


The Rights of the River Wensum, 30 April 2022

Yesterday afternoon Belinda and I attended the 'Celebration of the Declaration of the Rights of the River Wensum' (what a snappy title!) event held in Wensum Park in Norwich. 

It was an event organised by the Stop the Wensum Link and included some really inspirational speakers on subjects such as the biodiversity of chalk streams (of which the Wensum is one of only 260 in the world), an artists view of rivers, conservation of the Wensum and it's catchment and then a rousing call to arms by Nick Acheson before a ceremony to 'bless the river'. All on a glorious sunny afternoon with a great turnout, stalls and coffee! I even snuck off to find a small patch of Perfoliate Alexanders in a wild corner of the park. 



Alderfen Broad, 26 April 2022

An evening meander out to Alderfen from Norwich to try and locate some botanical goodies that lurk there. Walking down the entrance track from Threehammer Common no.1 target was found with ease - the stunning shrub Darwin's Barberry with it's yellow/orange flower clusters and dark green almost holly-like leaves. While admiring it a Great Spotted Woodpecker was chipping away at a dead tree above my head and then my first Cuckoo of the year started calling. Entering the reserve itself it would have been hard to miss target no.2, Red-berried Elder as it was taking over one area with loads of bushes. Luckily some were within camera range without having to brave a ditch! I then embarked on a walk finding a couple of other new plants of my own - Heath Wood-rush and the impressive Greater Tussock Sedge as well as Raspberry

On the walk back I noticed a vaguely familiar broom-like bush beside the path which, upon closer inspection turned out to be French (or Montpellier) Broom. This find caused a little excitement within the local botanical community as it is a completely new site and only the 2nd ever vice county record. I was chuffed to say the least!

                                                                                                                                Darwin's Barberry

                                                                                                                                    Red-berried Elder
                                                                                                                              Greater Tussock Sedge
                                                                                                                               Heath Wood-rush
                                                                                                                                   French Broom

Norwich, week beginning 25 April 2022

I've been working in Norwich all week and staying at my parents. Taking the opportunity to nip out a couple of times in the evenings I managed to catch up with a couple of rather uninspiring grasses - Annual Meadow Grass and Early Meadow Grass but failed to find Bulbous Meadow Grass. They left me a bit cold to be honest but in my quest to reach 1000 plant sp by the end of the year they all count!

In an alley close to where I was working I found a distinctive Wavy Bittercress plant.

In Earlham Cemetery on Wednesday I managed to find a patch of Rosy Garlic which had just one bud starting to open. It is widely believed that they will probably be mowed before they flower. Meadow Saxifrage seems to be doing well there though. 

                                                                                                                           Annual Meadow Grass
                                                                                                                             Early Meadow Grass
                                                                                                                                  Wavy Bittercress

                                                                                                                                  Rosy Garlic
                                                                                                                             Meadow Saxifrage

Holkham and Wells, 24 April 2022

We braved the North Norfolk coast on Sunday but pretty soon realised why I wouldn't want to live there any more. Everything overpriced, busy, full of people I'd rather not associate with and dogs, bloody dogs literally everywhere! 

Anyway, rant over and down to our walk. We parked up in Wells town and did a long loop to the beach, along the beach and then pines, past Lady Anne's Drive and on to Meols House, returning to Wells via Holkham Park. A Red Kite over Wells lifeboat station kicked things off. My main aim other than the walk itself was to see some interesting plants in the area near Meols House and it didn't disappoint. My 3 targets of Yellow Figwort, False Alkanet and Rose of Sharon were all found easily although the latter was still in bud. Also there were a mass of Hairy Shieldbugs on Stinking Hellebore and a posing mating pair of Orange Tips. Into the bargain my first Reed Warbler of the year was singing, Flowering Currant looking good and in the dunes immediately north of the house I found Heath Dog Violet and Early Forget-me-not. Earlier my attention had been drawn to a cronking Raven about a quarter of a mile east of Lady Anne's Drive that glided into view over the trees and headed east over the marsh.

On the walk back to Wells east of Holkham Park a large patch of Common Fumitory contained the biggest flower spikes I've ever seen on the species and some Annual Wall Rocket was by a pavement in town.

                                                                                                                                      False Alkanet
Rose of Sharon

                                                                                                                                   Yellow Figwort
                                                                                                                                  Hairy Shieldbugs

                                                                                                                              Heath Dog Violets
                                                                                                                                     Orange Tips
                                                                                                                                Common Fumitory
                                                                                                                                  Annual Wall Rocket