A Weekend out West, 12 - 14 April 2024

With warm temperatures forecast we took ourselves away for a long spring weekend in our motohome.

Our first port of call and overnight stop on Friday was West Acre, a favourite spot of ours. Pulling up on the carpark we were immediately greeted by a singing Willow Warbler, my first of the year and a few freshly emerged Orange Tips. Spending the afternoon walking West Acre Common, village and woods I clocked up a few more insects of note - personally I enjoyed a confiding White-spotted Fungus Weevil the most but 2 other weevils were also found - Small Nettle Weevil and Nettle Weevil plus the fly Bibio anglicus. Butterflies were much in evidence with Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Brimstone. In the early evening I ventured a little along the river valley to the east with my newly-aquired sweep net and was able to find the beetle Athous haemorrhoidalis, Woundwort Shieldbug, Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug, Hairy Shieldbug, Kentish Snail, Orange Rust Fly, Gorse Orbweaver, Red and Black Froghopper, Buffish Mining Bee and 24-Spot Ladybird.

                                                                                                                    White-spotted Fungus Weevil
                                                                                                                              Green-veined White
                                                                                                                                    Bibio anglicus
                                                                                                                                     Gorse Orbweaver
                                                                                                                             Woundwort Shieldbug
                                                                                                                           Athous haemorrhoidalis
                                                                                                                                  Orange Rust Fly
                                                                                                                              Small Nettle Weevil
                                                                                                                     Red and Black Froghopper
                                                                                                                             24-Spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                      Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug
                                                                                                                                Nettle Weevil

Saturday saw us visiting nearby Oxborough Hall where the best finds were a fortuitous Water Shrew, Ashy Mining Bee, the beetle Anisodactylus binotatus and both Creeping Comfrey and Hidcote Blue Comfrey. After that a quick pop in to Boughton Fen revealed Sedge Warbler, 2 Cetti's Warblers and a pair of Marsh Harriers. A further pop-in was a Cranwich Camp where I had a confrontation with a selfish dog owner who's dog kept jumping up at me and saw Early Forget-me-not, Rue-leaved Saxifrage and 14-Spot Ladybird but little else. That evening we 'camped' along Harling Drove, deep in the woods north of Brandon. a brief wander down a familiar side ride revealed Crucifer Shieldbug and Straw Barred Pearl moth.  

                                                                                                                               Ashy Mining Bee
                                                                                                                               Rue-leaved Saxifrage
                                                                                                                               Early Forget-me-not
                                                                                                                            14-Spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                            Crucifer Shieldbug
                                                                                                                            Straw Barred Pearl

On Sunday we moved the short distance through Brandon to Santon Downham for a long walk both ways along the river and adjacent rides. For once birds stole the show with c90 Lesser Redpolls, 3 Woodlarks, Willow Warblers, Mandarin, 2 Grey Wagtails, Siskins, Firecrest and the curious sight of an early singing Common Whitethroat sharing the same sallow with late-lingering Bramblings! 2 bees nectaring on dandelions proved to be Gwynne's Mining Bee and Red-tailed Mason Bee. The latter was new to be and seemingly a Brecks speciality locally. My first odonata of the season was a Large Red Damselfly on the church wall. 

                                                                                                                           Gwynne's Mining Bee

                                                                                                                           Red-tailed Mason Bee

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