Gunton Wood and Meadow, Suffolk, 31 July 2018

Armed with some good directions from a friend I went in search of orchid no.38 of the year, Broad-leaved Helleborine  in Gunton Wood near Lowestoft today. They proved easy to find, indeed I saw a total of c15 plants at 3 different locations. One in particular was an absolute monster and another was close to being var.viridiflora/chlorantha being small, pale and with no pink/purple on the lip, just green. It did however have a dark inner hypochile ruling it out.
Also there were 2 Brown Hawkers, numerous Gatekeepers, Comma, Small White and some rather good looking hoverflies which I have been happy for others input to the id! The first one in particular was huge and I mistook it for a Hornet initially!

Broad-leaved Helleborines in all their guises


Volucella zonaria

Myathropa florea

Helophilus hybridus

 Eristalis nemorum

Violet Helleborines in the rain, 30 July 2018

A quick pop down into Suffolk for my (nearly) annual visit to the Violet Helleborines that grow in a couple of woods there. It's fairly safe to say the weather has broken because I got bloody soaked trying to photograph them with many mozzies also after my blood!
The numbers were rather disappointing compared to previous years, I found just 8 plants which varied from completely gone over and going to seed to other plants where there are still loads of flower buds still to open.

These represent my 37th orchid species of 2018 

 Violet Helleborines

Four Wader Yearticks, North Norfolk, 28 July 2018

A day to do as I pleased so I headed to the North Norfolk coast.

En-route (ish!) I made an abortive attempt to find any helleborines at Lolly Moor near Dereham. Just a few common butterflies there of which I photographed Common Blue and Small White.

Small White

 Common Blue

It had to be Titchwell next for the long-staying adult Lesser Yellowlegs. Initially it wasn't on view but I found it without too much delay in the NE corner of the tidal pool. Although quite distant it was very nice indeed through the scope. 2 Curlew Sandpipers (moulting adults) and 1 Common Sandpiper were picked out amongst the numerous Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks and Ruff. 8 Spoonbills were also loafing on an island and a Whimbrel flew over. I wandered back and stopped by the freshwater lagoon adding 2 Spotted Redshank and a juv Mediterranean Gull amongst staggering numbers of Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff.

juv Mediterranean Gull


With plenty of afternoon/evening left I poodled along the coast to Cley. Spending a good while in Dawkes Hide I was treated to some great views of 3 Green Sandpipers, Wood Sandpiper, 3 Golden Plover in summer plumage, Spoonbill and a 3y Caspian Gull which dropped in for a pre-roost preen on Simmonds Scrape. Again there were plenty of the commoner waders, with my wader count for the day totalling 18 species. An inquisitive female Southern Hawker was along the boardwalk on the way back.

Yearlist = 230

Green Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper


  Caspian Gull

Green-flowered Helleborine and a suprise butterfly in Norwich. 22 July 2018

Green-flowered Helleborine is a rare plant in Norfolk and I'd only ever seen them at Santon Downham in the dim and distant past. Learning of a couple of plants on the edge of Norwich had me keen to go and this morning I got out there. Despite being the most mozzie-infested place I've been I did manage to find one plant quite quickly but the lack of any 'footprints' to it has me suspecting that it may be a different plant from the 2 that others have seen. I hastily took a few pics and retreated before I got bitten to death!

At Mum and Dad's at lunchtime my first Brown Hawker of the year was patrolling in front of the house.

Later in the afternoon I had a very pleasant surprise White-letter Hairstreak in the Castle Gardens, in a small Elm close to  the bridge to the castle. A Holly Blue was also there.

Yesterday I enjoyed the amazing sight and sound of 50+ Swifts screaming in a tight flock over the house in Pulham Market.

   Green-flowered Helleborine

The New Forest, 14 July 2018

A very long day trip down to the New Forest for some specials with Jus and Andy.

Meeting in Attleborough at 04.00 we were in position at Acres Down near Lyndhurst by 07.50. The walk from the carpark yielded 2 Common Crossbills overhead but in a 3 hour vigil there was no sign of any Honey Buzzards. Indeed, despite the perfect conditions raptors were thin on the ground with just 3 Common Buzzards and a 1s Hobby. The supporting cast however was excellent with 2 Woodlarks, 2 Common Redstarts, Tree Pipit, numerous Siskins. A Migrant Hawker was also my first of the year.


Following a cream tea in the tearoom/farmshop there we made the drive round to the other side of the A31 to Stoney Cross. Here, my no.1 target of the day was easily found in a wet flush - c15 Bog Orchids. This is my penultimate British orchid leaving me with just Irish Ladies Tresses (which may prove more challenging to get to!). Also at the site were loads of Keeled Skimmers and a Red Kite over the road.

Bog Orchids

Keeled Skimmer

 Stoney Cross site

With our main aim for the afternoon being odonata we drove back round to Mill Lawn Brook near Burley next. Walking east along the stream from near the carpark resulted in several diminutive Southern Damselflies, Small Red Damselflies, Beautiful Demoiselles, more Keeled Skimmers, Emperor Dragonfly, Azure Damselfly and a distant Raven. Our other main damselfly target eluded us though so we tried another stretch of the same stream just to the east of the A35 bridge. Walking here and we soon added Small Red-eyed Damselflies, White-legged Damselflies, Blue-tailed Damselflies and Common Blue Damselfly. Eventually, Jus got onto a perched male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly which promptly tangled with a female and then disappeared. Luckily the female began egg-laying but frustratingly too far away for a decent photo (although I did try but that nearly ended in a muddy disaster as my boots got stuck and the boys has to haul me out!). This species really is very unobtrusive and scarce as it's name suggests.

Southern Damselfly

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly

Beautiful Demoiselle

White-legged Damselfly

 Mill Lawn Brook, east of A35

Our final port of call in the day was Thursley Common in Surrey on a detour on the drive home. En-route 3 Mediterranean Gulls were over the M27 near Portsmouth Harbour. At Thursley we found the male Red-backed Shrike easily but it was impossible to get closer than about 300 yards. A Green Woodpecker, Stonechat and more Keeled Skimmers were also there before we decided to give 'The Moat' a look hoping for Brilliant Emerald. That wasn't to be but we did add Emerald Damselflies and Four-spotted Chaser to bring the odonata day count to 14 species.

Yearlist = 226

         Red-backed Shrike (honestly!)

Keeping it local - Dickleburgh Moor, 8 July 2018

After a hot day in Norwich shopping I was keen to nip the huge 3 miles down the road to Dickleburgh Moor this afternoon.
This Otter Trust owned site has huge potential and talking to the site warden Ben it seems there are some big plans for it so watch this space.
Ben was also kind enough to drive us onto the moor in his 4-wheel drive so we could get some lovely close views of the Cattle Egret! The Glossy Ibis wasn't quite so co-operative but we still had some nice scope views and I managed a record shot. Into the bargain there were 2 Green Sandpipers on the flood plus a Turtle Dove flew past. On an earlier attempt to get closer to the Cattle Egret field side flowers near Dickleburgh sewage works yielded 2 Brown Argus, Essex Skipper, Gatekeepers, Green-veined Whites, Small Whites and Large Whites.

All in all a very nice couple of hours out and now it's being managed and water levels being looked after I have a new local patch with a little potential.  It was also a nice social with Dave Russell and the Dereham boys.

Yearlist = 224

Cattle Egret

Glossy Ibis

Brown Argus