Eastbridge/Sizewell area, 30 August 2020

After a horrendously wet Saturday we were keen to get out walking on Sunday so headed east to the coast. Starting at Kenton Hills we did an anti-clockwise walk to the beach, north to Minsmere Sluice and inland again via the path to Eastbridge village. 

Through the woods I lifted a few of the corrugated covers layed on the ground and I revealed a young Grass Snake while another had Common Lizard. The main thing I wanted to look for was the locally rare Rock Samphire and a I found a few nice patches on the back of the beach c300 meters north of Sizewell power station. There was plenty of Common Restharrow, Sea Holly and Japanese (Sea) Rose too. A quick look at Minsmere sluice bushes revealed just a single Willow Warbler so we set off inland via a look at the old chapel ruins. Along the path I struck absolute gold (or should I say black) in the form of a mega Black Adder! This is one I'd dreamed of seeing for years and it was fantastic. Nearby was another botanical tick and one that I've had on my to-do list for a while - Marsh Mallow plus Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea.

I then made my 3rd visit to the RNR near Henham on the way home and found just one Orpine plant with a small flower on top. It looks like this shy-flowering plant is having an extra shy year!

                                                                                                                                     Rock Samphire
                                                                                                                                        Black Adder
                                                                                                                                  Marsh Mallow
                                                                                                               Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea


Curlew Sandpipers at Dickleburgh Moor, 29 August 2020

A wet and miserable Bank Holiday Saturday was livened up somewhat by finding 3 juv Curlew Sandpipers at Dickleburgh Moor before the rain set in this morning. They were even reasonably close in from the carpark enabling me to get a couple of phone-scoped record shots. Ben the warden was most excited when he turned up shortly after I'd found them!

Also around the pools were a record count of 14 Snipe, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Greenshank, 2 Ruff, 2 Green Sandpipers, 4 Common Sandpipers, 3 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plovers, 1 Little Ringed Plover and 200+ Lapwings. Just 2 Yellow Wagtails were seen and a single juv Great Crested Grebe.


Outney Common and Dickleburgh Moor, 27 August 2020

Belinda and I did one of our favourite walks yesterday - the Bigod Way round starting and ending in Earsham. As well as good exercise it was good in terms of 3 new plants I managed to find. In and around a dyke on Outney grazing marsh was some nice Frogbit and also Prostrate Knotgrass which I'd overlooked until now. On the main bit of Outney Common a little while later I was surprised to find some bramble with very distinctive leaves and they caught my eye immediately. They proved to be the rare Cut-leaved Bramble at what is thought to the be the only wild location of the species in the world! The entry in A Flora of Suffolk makes very interesting reading. There wasn't much else of note but 3 Swifts over Bungay town centre were still hanging on. 

In the late afternoon I spent a quick 45 minutes at Dickleburgh Moor before the rain set in. Wader numbers/variety were down a bit but 8 Golden Plover circling was my 14th wader species there this autumn. Other than those I had 1 Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Ruff, 5 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpipers and 2 Common Sandpipers plus 3 Yellow Wagtails, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, 4 Gadwall, c12 Little Grebes and 43 Little Egrets

                                                                                                                         Cut-leaved Bramble
                                                                                                                            Prostrate Knotgrass


A Few Sites in North Norfolk, 22 August 2020

We headed up to North Norfolk yesterday for a full day of walking and 'naturalising'

My main aim for the day was to see the gorgeous Grass-of-Parnasus and with some good directions from 'Mr Beeston Common' Mark Clements I was able to find plenty and easily on the common. Into the bargain I also located loads of Eyebright, Canadian Goldenrod, Goldenrod (a scarce Norfolk plant), Common Hop, Red Bartsia and Corn Mint as well as a plethora of Water Mint, Common Fleabane and Woodland Germander. We finished our visit of the site with a nice walk through Sheringwood where a calling Firecrest was noted.

Canadian Goldenrod
Corn Mint
Red Bartsia

A lunch stop at Walsey Hills and a look at Snipes Marsh was rewarding with the strange Whistling Duck hybrid thing, 2 Little Grebes, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Green Sandpipers and 1 Common Sandpiper. A pity I didn't have my big lens with me!

 Whistling Duck hybrid

With reports of 44 Spoonbills at Stiffkey Fen I persuaded Belinda our next was should be there and lo and behold I counted exactly 44! Apart from Black-tailed Godwits the waders were too distant for just bins but a short walk along the seawall gave me Sea Wormwood (a new plant for me), Sea Aster (of the yellow form), Sea Lavender and lots of Glasswort (aka Samphire)


Sea Wormwood

Warham Camp beckoned next and here I still found quite a few Chalkhill Blues including a very pleasing aberration 'obsoleta' completely lacking 3 hindwing spots. A single Painted Lady was along the entrance path, a Swift over and when I looked in the right place no shortage of Autumn Gentians amongst the Devils Bit Scabious, Dwarf Thistle, Field Scabious, Carline Thistle and Large Wild Thyme.

Chalkhill Blue ab 'obsoleta'

Chalkhill Blues
 Autumn Gentian

As we headed back towards Holt a brief stop was made in Binham. At the priory plenty of naturalised Wallflowers were on the ancient walls, as was Ladies Bedstraw and Pellitory-of-the-Wall and a pint in the Chequers also showed well - briefly!

We finished in Holt with just 3 Autumn Ladies Tresses surviving on the usual lawn at Greshams. I do wonder how much longer we will be able to call them a Norfolk orchid.

  Autumn Ladies Tresses


Dickleburgh Moor, 21 August 2020

An early morning visit to Dickleburgh Moor in blustery conditions.

On arrival Swifts were in evidence again with maximum count of 8 seen. There are still plenty of House Martins and Swallows while Yellow Wagtail numbers seem to have dropped with just 3 being seen. Due to disturbance at the back of the reserve the waders were closer today - 9 Snipe, 2 Greenshank, 1 Redshank, 1 Ruff, 4 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipiers and a count of 169 Lapwing. A pair of Gadwall was nice (and scarce here) and 4 Egyptian Geese have taken up residence. The Goldfinch 'charm' are still feeding on the thistles and numbers c18. As I was leaving a Hobby dashed low over the carpark and headed along the western edge of the reserve much to the consternation of the local Swallows!

This afternoon a local walk around Pulham Market gave me a surprise couple of new plants - Canadian Goldenrod and Black Nightshade whilst a Red Underwing moth graced the garage wall.

Canadian Goldenrod

Black Nightshade


Irish Ladies Tresses - my final extant British Orchid, 23 July 2020

Having 'completed' the British dragonflies in 2018 with Azure Hawker and the British butterflies earlier this year with Chequered Skipper it was the turn of orchids last month.

Unless, by some minor miracle somebody finds a Ghost Orchid (and we get to hear about it!) Irish Ladies Tresses was the last of the British orchids for me. In previous years this would have meant a lengthy and logistically tricky trip up to the Hebrides but in 2019 a small colony was discovered lurking in Wales. News of these was kept quiet until they had finished flowering last year but the hope was that we could all go and see them in 2020. Then covid-19 came along and our hopes were dashed for another year. Or were they..? 

I count myself as extremely priviledged to be one of the few who were able to gain access to them this year thanks to the kindness and willingness of others. Notably my friend James Lowen and Natural Resources Wales. 

It was with no small amount of excitement that we met at the allotted time and place on that wet July morning to be taken the short distance to see these beauties. They certainly didn't disappoint - 16 gorgeous twisting white pieces of perfection on the short turf. We filled our photographic boots!


Yours truly (with thanks to James Lowen for the pic!)


While everything else pales into insignificance a little compared to the ILTs we also saw Round-leaved Sundew, Intermediate Sundew, Bog Pimpernel, Bog Asphodel, Wild Angelica, Eyebright, Bog Myrtle and a female Black Darter that morning. A Grasshopper Warbler, several Willow Warblers and a pleasing number of Lesser Redpolls were the main avian highlights - together with plenty of Manx Shearwaters offshore nearby. 

Round-leaved Sundew

Wild Angelica

                                                                                                                                 Sea Spurge

Early Autumn Migrants, Shingle Street, 15 August 2020

Shingle Street has always been one of my favourite places - miles from anywhere, nothing much there for visitors and an atmosphere that I can only really compare with somewhere like Dungeness. 

We did find a few cars on the small carpark when we arrived but hardly anyone was about. I busied myself looking for migrants and plants while Belinda took her scenic photos. And there were actually a few migrants around in the murky conditions - 2 Whinchats, 3 Wheatears, a lemony juv Willow Warbler and a fly-over Crossbill were between the carpark and the south end. Then, further back along the access road a single Pied Flycatcher was showing well in roadside bushes and at the sluice area I had Lesser Whitethroat and Reed Warbler. Plants included Sea Pea, Spanish Broom, Common Toadflax, Viper's Bugloss and Yellow Horned Poppy

After some lunch we opted for a walk around Upper Hollesley Common which proved to be rather productive too with a splendid male Redstart in bracken plus 3 Dartford Warblers, 2 Stonechats and Green Woodpecker. Several Grayling were in evidence with one repeatedly landing on my shirt.

We finished the day with a walk along the River Deben from Melton towards Woodbridge. Here a Raven flew north being mobbed by gulls and several Black-tailed Godwits were on the mud. I was also delighted to find several clumps of Golden Samphire along the edge of the saltings having failed to find it last weekend. Dittander, Lesser Burdock, Sea Purslane and a curious record of a flowering Tomato plant (!) by the path were also seen.

Sea Pea

Spanish Broom



Bell Heather

Ling Heather

Golden Samphire