Buxton Heath, Cley and Felbrigg, 30 July 2019

Another warm day and with part of the day to spare (before normal life kicked in!) I ventured north of the city today.

I'm a big fan of the Marsh Gentians at Buxton Heath so, as I was heading up the Holt Road anyway I called in. I easily found 4 plants in the same general area as always with one in particular being a real monster with 16 flowers/buds on! It was also pleasing to note a number of freshly emerged Painted Ladies, the 'new' population resulting from the influx of a few weeks back. Willow Warbler and Yellowhammer were both singing.

Dawkes Hide at Cley was my next destination. I didn't spent too long there as time was pressing but in about 30 mins I had 6 Wood Sandpipers, 8 Common Sandpipers, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 juv Little Ringed Plover, 7 Dunlin and plenty of Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff. The drives to Cley and then east to Felbrigg were slow and frustrating. North Norfolk has become a victim of it's own success with so many people. I'm very glad I don't live up there any more and now know why I visit so infrequently!

Felbrigg Lake was, by contrast, nice and relaxed. Bumping into Simon Chidwick we found several male Red-veined Darters, one of which posed nicely in a bare hollow. It was blowing a bit of a gale so Lesser Emperor was a no-show. Nevertheless, Emperors, Brown Hawker, Four-spotted Chasers and Black-tailed Skimmers were patrolling. One large patch of knapweed held literally hundreds of fresh Painted Ladies plus a couple of Small Coppers amongst the commoner sp.

Marsh Gentians


Common Darter

Red-veined Darter

     Painted Lady

Violet Helleborine var. rosea, 29 July 2019

Some weeks ago someone found this plant and asked for id. Despite helping him and with no good reason he refused to reveal the location. So it is with great pleasure I can now stick 2 fingers up to him because it has been located! My huge thanks to my 'informant' who happened to stumble across it at the weekend. She knows who she is!
Violet Helleborine var. rosea is a very rare plant and also it's an absolute stunner. Completely lacking in chlorophyll it is entirely pale pink/lilac and almost glows in the dark wood it favours. Harrap lists it as rare and has no image whilst it gets no mention at all in Sanford's Orchids of Suffolk.

I also checked out the usual populations of Violet Helleborine finding 2 in one location and 6 in another. All were still in bud and some rather small. Also added to my botony list were Small-leaved Lime and Enchanter's Nightshade. Nuthatches were calling in every wood I visited!

Violet Helleborine var. rosea

Violet Helleborines

Enchanter's Nightshade 

 Small-leaved Lime

On a roadside pond in mid-Suffolk some odonata caught my eye while driving past. I stopped to find a large numbers of Small Red-eyed Damselflies, mostly pairs 'in cop' plus Ruddy Darters, Emerald Dragonflies, Blue-tailed and Azure Damselflies.

Small Red-eyed Damselflies

    Ruddy Darters

Broad-leaved Helleborines and a talk to GYBC, 22 July 2019

On Monday night I did my maiden talk to Great Yarmouth Bird Club. The subject was the first part of my South Africa trip last year and was entitled 'South Africa, Cape to Kruger, part one - The Western Cape'. Despite me not being used to public speaking it went well apart from an accident with spilling coke on my bird books! Many thanks to Mr & Mrs Baker for rescuing them and to everyone else for their kind words.

En route to Yarmouth I called in to Gunton Woods for Broad-leaved Helleborine. I found 9 plants but disappointingly only 1 was in flower. I also drew a blank in some spots where there were plants last year.

  Broad-leaved Helleborine

Butterfly and orchid blitz, 21 July 2019

A highly successful day at a variety of sites in north Norfolk where everything fell nicely in to place for a change!

I wanted to re-visit the Purple Emperors at the now not-so-secret site (Foxley Wood) to try and get some pictures. I easily saw c6 individuals including a male that actually landed for a while on an oak which was also within photographic range. This was thanks for a kindly shout from Andrew Chamberlain! Silver-washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak, Red Admiral, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Ruddy Darter and Brown Hawker were the other sightings of note before I relocated.

Next up was a wander at Warham Fort where c20 Chalkhill Blues were easily seen. These low numbers indicate that the main emergence is yet to come. Dwarf Thistles, Small Scabious and Harebells were out in profusion as were Small Skippers and the odd Essex Skipper. A few Pyramidal Orchids and Common Spotted Orchids were well past their best.

The main location for the afternoon was Holkham Meals so I parked in the village carpark, fought my way through the crowds along Lady Anne's Drive and hiked out to the west. En-route I checked a large patch of Hemp Agrimony and was delighted to find a single White-letter Hairstreak that posed for my camera. The first time I've ever been able to get a decent shot of one. Armed with good gps co-ordinates I zoomed in on them and quickly found several Creeping Ladies Tresses. A species I've struggled with there before but was obviously in the right area! Also in the vicinity I had 2 Dark Green Fritillaries, White Admiral, Small Copper and Brown Argus bringing the day's species count to an excellent 23.

Despite heavy traffic I detoured into Costessey on the way home and quickly found a single Green-flowered Helleborine in the same spot as last year. It remains a wimpy specimen but is showing signs that a flower or two may even open this year!


Purple Emperor

Silver-washed Fritillary

Chalkhill Blues

Dwarf Thistle

White-letter Hairstreak


Creeping Ladies Tresses

Green-flowered Helleborine

Pulham St Mary meadow, 15 July 2019

A brief after work wander around a meadow area at the rear of the maltings in Pulham St Mary.
The best record was an Essex Skipper that sat still for a photo with Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Small Whites also present. There was some nice botanical interest too with Spear Thistle, Perforate St John's Wort, Field Bindweed, Large Bindweed and a Melilot sp (Ribbed or Tall)

Essex Skipper

Field Bindweed

Large Bindweed

Melilot sp

Perforate St John's Wort

  Spear Thistle

Some coastal wildflowers, 13 July 2019

A Saturday out walking on the Suffolk coast.

We concentrated most of our walking along the edge of the Deben at Woodbridge where it was crammed full of some wildflowers favouring coastal areas - the nationally scarce Dittander, Sea Aster, Sea Lavender, Common Mugwort, Field Scabious, Fuller's Teasel, Lesser Sea Spurrey, Hairy St John's Wort and Golden Samphire amongst others. Small White butterflies were also everywhere and the odd Reed Warbler sang from rank vegetation.

After that we stocked up on provisions and headed to the beach at Shingle Street for an early evening picnic. The habitat of vegetated shingle here is really rare in itself and holds the nationally scarce Sea Pea, Yellow-horned Poppy, Sea Kale, Large-flowered Evening-primrose, Chicory and some odd looking mullein which I've since found out are the rare Hungarian Mullein. While on the beach having our picnic we were surrounded by Sand Martins and Swallows swooping low for insects.     


Sea Pea

Sea Aster

Common Mugwort

Field Scabious

Fuller's Teasel

 Lesser Sea Spurrey

Large-flowered Evening-primrose


Common Fleabane

Hairy St John's Wort

Travellers Joy