Readers of this blog may have realised that my birding in the UK and even locally haven't been what they once were. I have become a little jaded with the UK birding scene. Maybe it's an age thing, maybe it's the fact I've been at it for so long, maybe it's because there are now far more birders chasing far fewer birds. Whatever it is I have turned to other strands of natural history and have been really enjoying the learning process.
So, when news of a first for Norfolk in the form of an eclipse drake Lesser Scaup at Colney GPs broke a few days ago I wasn't in a massive hurry to go. News from the field was that viewing is difficult, the bird distant etc didn't fill me full of enthusiasm. But I cracked and went early on Sunday having spent the previous two days laid up with a flu/cold shitty thing. Yes, I saw said bird and it is an addition to my Norfolk list but did I enjoy the moment - not a huge amount! 2 Common Sandpipers and 1-2 Common Terns were almost as enjoyable to be honest.
Heading off down the A11 to Attleborough I began 'phase 2' of the day - a train ride to Cambridge for some botanical twitching. Why the train? Well at just 20 quid return it was cheaper and more relaxing than driving! I literally bought my ticket online on the platform and 10 minutes later was boarding. The subject of the trip was a long-wanted plant Ivy Broomrape that thanks to a contact in Cambridge I knew was flowering in the spot I asked him to check for me. It was a 3km walk from the station but on arrival I was amazed to find hundreds of plants, all growing on Atlantic Ivy under a single Holm Oak in some very unnatural-looking surroundings! See the pic below.
With time to kill before my return train I had a good mooch around Cambridge including a good read in the natural history section in Heffer's bookshop. Cutting through Parker's Piece I noticed a corner which has been left to go wild (and probably scattered with 'wildflower' seed) and it contained Cornflower, Forking Larkspur, Ladies Bedstraw, Wild Carrot and Musk Mallow.