An ultra rare Norfolk orchid, 21 June 2015

What better way to celebrate the summer solstice?! The first record of Lizard Orchid in Norfolk for 60 years! No site details will be published I'm afraid but here is the beast looking rather splendid. A small number of Pyramidal Orchids were there too and 3 Stock Doves.

In late news - A Spotted Flycatcher back in the garden in Pulham Market on 25 June. They seem to get later every year but that's 4 consecutive years now.


The Narborough Marsh Warbler, 18 June 2015

With an explore I've been meaning to do just down the road today was the ideal opportunity to drag myself up to Narborough for the Marsh Warbler of the last week or so. It was singing like mad on arrival and continued to do so on and off for the 2 hours I was there. And a very entertaining 2 hours it was listening to and watching this lovely songster. Identified as being mimicked in its song were Blackbird, Skylark, Blue Tit, Blackcap and even Nuthatch! It gave some nice views too in a large bush and sometimes on reed stems. Frustratingly it always seemed to be partially obscured making photography difficult!
There wasn't much else to trouble the scorers, just a couple of Common Terns over and several Banded Demoiselles along the stream.


Strumpshaw etc, 16 June 2015

The day started off down near Diss where a singing Turtle Dove at Fersfield was my first of the year. Then up at Strumpshaw I bagged 2 Swallowtails easily in their usual garden and also managed Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Large Skipper, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood. Along the Lackford Run a Cetti's Warbler showed really well and a Cuckoo was singing away to the west. A couple of Norfolk Hawkers and a Broad-bodied Chaser were the pick of the odonata.
A quick pop in to a site on the edge of Norwich revealed several nice Bee Orchids.


Tree Bumblebee

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

 Large Skipper

Random Suffolk stuff from the weekend

Just a few random photos from the last couple of days. Frog Orchids are out at last at Winks Meadow where a few Common Blues where also whizzing about. And at Southwold a small leaf beetle in the rain on the seafront happened to be Chrysolina banksi looking rather arty with it's raindrops!
Nothing much else to report apart from plenty of singing warblers at Southwold including several Cetti's Warblers and some nice close-up and personal views of a male Marsh Harrier.

A variety of marsh orchids, somewhere in Suffolk, 9 June 2015

I had to visit a house nearby to quote for a job so it saeemed like the ideal opportunity to check out the marsh orchid situation at a fen I visit most years.
I quickly found a flowering 'ochroleuca' Early Marsh Orchid and with a detailed search eventually found 7 spikes out, or partially out. A few Southern Marsh Orchids are poking their heads up and I also found 2 plants that look pretty good for Pugsley's Marsh Orchid. Common Spotted Orchids are well behind this year with a few only just starting to open up.
Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Reed Bunting were in full cry despite the chilly evening temperatures!

'ochroleuca' Early Marsh Orchid

Pugsley's Marsh Orchid

 Pugsley's Marsh Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

White Helleborines in Cambs, 6 June 2015

A quick call in to a woodland local nature reserve I'd not been to before.
We were on the way to the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge (seriously don't bother with that!) and called in to Beechwoods as it was only a couple of miles off route. This nice mature beech woodland holds good numbers of White Helleborine which is right at the eastern edge of its range here. We didn't stop long but I quickly found a few plants less than 50 yards into the wood.

The day had started with a welcome if rather unpredicted garden tick - a Reed Warbler singing at 04.45 in the tree outside our bedroom window. It was still going strong at 08.30! We've also had Tree Bumblebee and Common Carder Bumblebee in the garden in recent days.

Variations in Green-winged Orchids

I spent a couple of hours at Winks Meadow, Suffolk this afternoon. Hoping to see Frog Orchid but sadly I was a little early and there are no signs of them yet. Instead I turned my attention to the Green-winged Orchids which literally carpet the whole meadow this year. Despite the lateness of the season there were plenty of good looking specimens about. The species is very variable in colouration so I set about trying to photograph some plants to illustrate the differences. Most pleasing were 4 plants of the variation 'alba' showing no pink or purple pigment in the flower at all.

The typical and most common form with violet-purple flowers and a paler central lip with purple spotting  

A close up of the most common form

A specimen showing no whitish area on the central lip

A specimen, not uncommon, showing a very pale lip with very faint spotting but retaining some purple in the sepals

Variation 'alba', scarce in this population and amost always less than 1% of any population. Completely lacking any pink or purple in the sepals or lip but always with those distinctive green veins on the sepals

Variation 'alba' again

The only other bits of interest around the meadow were a singing Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, my 1st Common Blues of the year plus lingering Orange Tips. I'm still working on identifying the bumblebees! 

French bits and bobs, 25 - 30 May 2015

A week in the Paris area doing other stuff but as ever I kept my eye open for what else I could find! A day walking in the Foret de Fountainebleu on 28 May was probably the most productive. The vast rocky woods are lovely and throughout the day we were never far away from the song of Wood Warblers. Also seen/heard were several Nuthatches, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, a Melodious Warbler, Tree Pipits, Firecrest, 2 Cuckoos and a Serin singing in the garden of our guesthouse in the village of Barbizon. Best of all though were a pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers in the forest, my first ones since 1987!
Insects were good too with 2+ Grizzled Skippers, Brown Argus, Wall Brown, Speckled Woods and c5 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. An impressive longhorn beetle turned out to be Rhagium sycophanta.

Black Redstarts were seen in bucket loads, every village seeming to have a pair or 2 including some of the abandoned buidlings we were exploring. Melodious Warblers were noted at several locations with Turtle Dove, Nightingale, Corn Bunting, Common Redstart, Common Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker and White Wagtails also being seen.

Rhagium sycophanta

Forest pool, Foret de Fountainebleu

 Grizzled Skipper