Two new Breckland Sites, 23 June 2020

After work on Tuesday I took advantage of already being halfway to the Brecks and the promise of a warm balmy evening.

First up was Ramparts Field just outside West Stow Country Park. Just a short stroll from the carpark I found my main target there - the scarce and rather splendid Maiden Pink. I went on to find quite alot of them in beautiful condition but my other target of Breckland Thyme was curiously absent. Also there was  loads of Vipers Bugloss, Common (or possibly Small) Cudweed, Meadow Chickweed, Common Storksbill. Small Heath and Small Copper were also seen.

The other site was only a couple of miles away - Icklingham Triangle. I'd never even heard of this site but it came up trumps with a patch of legumes right by the entrance gate featuring Sickle Medick, Lucerne and the very variable hybrid of the two - Sand Lucerne. These are all classic sandy soil Breckland specialities. Sand Lucerne is extremely variable in colour and I found deep purple, pale lilac, pale creamy yellow and dark olive-yellow ones. The thyme eluded me again though! An Essex Skipper there was my first of the year.

Maiden Pink

 Sickle Medick

Sand Lucerne

   Common Cudweed (or possibly Small Cudweed)

Thorpeness, Sizewell and Westleton, 20 June 2020

Needing some exercise and sea air on Saturday we undertook a long walk from Thorpeness north to Sizewell and back inland via the heaths and golfcourse.
From a botanic viewpoint it was rather interesting too with many coastal species seen - Common Restharrow, Sand Spurrey, Common Eyebright, English Stonecrop and White Stonecrop were all new ones for me whilst the shingle was full of Yellow Horned Poppies, Sea Kale and Red Valerian (including white specimens). A pure white Common Storksbill was also very educational and had me stumped for ages. Common Centaury was in flower along the clifftop path and around the inland side of Thorpeness village near the cloud house were Duke of Argyll's Teaplant and Lesser Periwinkle. Plenty of Kittiwakes were around their nesting rig off Sizewell where I also had a single Mediterranean Gull. The walk also yielded my first Brown Hawker of the year.

I wanted to search for Sand Catchfly at the Haven but dipped again. However I did find some nice Wild Onion plants and a gawdy patch of naturalised Rose Campion.

A 30 minute stop and wander on Westleton Heath as we left the coast and I eventualy located 2 Silver-studded Blues (I was keen to see these at a new location for me) with plenty of Small Heaths, Small Coppers, a Clouded Buff moth and Woodlark and 2 Dartford Warblers still singing at 15.30 in the 3rd week of June so obviously not reading the script!

Common Restharrow

Yellow Horned Poppy

Common Eyebright

English Stonecrop

Common Centaury

Sand Spurrey

Common Storksbill (white form)

 Duke of Argyll's Teaplant

Wild Onion

 Rose Campion

     Silver-studded Blues

Wildflower field edge near Arminghall, 19 June 2020

Following a tip-off from Jeremy Barlett I popped out for a walk along Boudicca's Way near Arminghall. Jeremy had found a wildflower strip along the footpath along a field edge that contained some goodies. Doubtless sown as part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme it was nonetheless very nice indeed and I quickly found my main targets of Alsike Clover and Crimson Clover plus Sainfoin amongst the masses of Birdsfoot Trefoil. A Lesser Whitethroat was also singing in the hedge. On the walk back there were 3 Common Spotted Orchids by the path, 2 of which were growing side by side and had extremely dark blotchy leaves.

On the way home I called into the Pulham RNR to see the Dyers Greenweed is now in full flower as is the Sulphur Clover. That made it 5 species of clover in just a couple of hours!

Alsike Clover

Crimson Clover


Common Spotted Orchids (with very heavily marked leaves) 

Dyers Greenweed

   Sulphur Clover

A busy long weekend, 11 - 14 June 2020

It's been a rather hectic last few days - but luckily for all the right reasons!

Thursday 11 June

When I finished work at lunchtime I popped along to the Waveney/Little Ouse fens and did a proper count of the Early Marsh Orchids ssp ochroleuca. I found 34 at site A, 0 at site B and 1 at site C which is a very good year indeed for this rarest of British orchids. Despite some directions I couldn't find Prickly Poppy but there were some rather good looking Milk Thistles there. I also found a very strange campion/catchfly type plant in a wet fen that has defied identification even from the experts! There were Cuckoos calling at 2 different fens and a couple of Lesser Whitethroats also still singing strongly.

Milk Thistle

 Mystery campion, answers on a postcard!

Friday 12 June

Belinda and I headed for North Norfolk for a long walk in the West Runton/Sheringham area. I had a little botany target too and was delighted to find a really good colony c100 of the rare Yarrow Broomrape plus others scattered all along he coast. Common Storksbill was out in numbers, I found Long-headed Poppy in Water Lane, West Runton and both Fulmars and Sand Martins were around their nesting cliffs.

On the way back through Norwich I arranged a rendezvous with Jeremy and Vanna Bartlett at their house in the west of the city. I wanted to buy a copy of Vanna's excellent book 'Arthropedia' but also Jeremy has some rather special plants on his allotment nearby. The main attraction is some genuine wild Weasel's Snout plus some equally wild Common Cudweed (far from common!) but his 'translocated' Henbane and Night-flowering Catchfly from local seed were also rather lovely!

Yarrow Broomrape

Weasel's Snout


Night-flowering Catchfly

 Common Cudweed

Saturday 13 June

A warm and sunny day spent in Suffolk in the Stowmarket general area. Belinda wanted to visit her parents graves in Wetherden and then we explored the superb RNR at Haughley. This poppy and Cornflower strip is really spectacular and I was also rather chuffed to find the rapidly declining Prickly Poppy and Hairy Tare there amongst the masses of Common Poppies.

Next up was a lightening quick visit to another RNR near Stowupland where I found my target Wild Liquorice easily plus several Pyramidal Orchids. We then turned our hand to lunch and a nice walk along the River Gipping at Needham Market before heading home. A Grey Wagtail was a Needham Mill.

Prickly Poppy

Cornflowers and Common Poppies


Haughley RNR

Hairy Tare

Wild Liquorice

Sunday 14 June

I was left to my own devices for the day so after some shopping for work supplies in Norwich I explored the short stretch of the River Wensum at New Mills. James Emerson had found a umbellifer growing in the middle of the river and I offfered to get some close up photos to aid idenification. It has proven to be River Water-dropwort, a rare plant in these parts. There was plent of Water-cress and Blue Water Speedwell there and also some Kingfisher action that looked suspiciously like nesting behavoir.

Later in the day a quick visit to Thorpe Marshes in the middle of the afternoon was predictably the worst time of day for the Savi's Warbler there but plenty of Norfolk Hawkers, a Hairy Dragonfly and a couple of Variable Damselflies (7 sp of odonata altogether) kept me amused and I also found some of the rare Water Soldier in one of the dykes.

River Water-dropwort

Blue Water Speedwell


Norfolk Hawker

Variable Damselfly

Sedge Warbler

  Common Blue Damselfly