Black Terns at Dickleburgh, 28 April 2021

Very welcome news of 5 Black Terns at Dickleburgh Moor filtered through while I was at work today. So, still covered in paint I went straight after work to find them still present. What a gorgeous sight in the late afternoon sun! They alternated between feeding and resting on posts in the water. 12 Common Terns was also a good count. Also there was a single Greenshank, 2 Redshanks, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Little Egrets and an influx of House Martins, a pair of which were mud-collecting so hopefully are nesting locally. 

Scarce plant twitching in deepest Suffolk, 25 April 2021

I had a very kind offer from Stuart Read to meet on Sunday afternoon so he could show me a few special plants he has found in this neck of the woods.

Meeting at his house in Great Cornard near Sudbury we were soon walking the surprisingly hilly local field paths to a spot beside an arable field. Here we found target no.1, the scarce and rapidly declining umbellifer Shepherd's Needle. Being early in the season we were lucky to find a few plants in flower and some showing the distinctive needle-like seed pods. In that area we also had Thyme-leaved Speedwell and Germander Speedwell.

Target no.2 involved a short drive but when at the spot by a woodland stream it was another easy find with 6 plants of Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage only feet from the road. In the woods there Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage was also seen and allowed a handy comparison. The rarer ALGS being a larger brighter plant with the diagnostic alternate stem leaves. It also favours (as at this site) flowing water and also doesn't form mats of plants like OLGS. The woods were choc full of Bluebells, Wood Anenomes and Wood Sorrel

On to our last site - the huge expanse of Shalford Meadow. Stuart's local knowledge really paid off here with the diminutive Mousetail found straight away thanks to his sticks marking the plants! Around the edge of the meadow a stream held Reed Sweet Grass and a Grey Wagtail. Winter thrushes were also still about with c50 Fieldfares and an extremely late Redwing. A single Little Egret failed to give in to Stuarts's camera!

A great sunny late afternoon/early evening with good company and some fantastic plants. 

                                                                                                                                      Shepherd's Needle

                                                                                                            Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage
                                                                                                            Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage
                                                                                                                                               Wood Sorrel

Plants, plants, plants, a few birds - and a milestone!

For those who think of wildflowers as weeds - you may want to look away now!

On Monday 19th in the afternoon I ventured into Norwich to Earlham Cemetry. After much going backwards and forwards Ian Senior finally 'virtually' walked me to the spot for Henbit Dead Nettle only for me to find 2 plants both of which were still in bud! They have since been strimmed!

                                                                                                                                  Henbit Dead Nettle

On Tuesday 20th April, with a bit more time I headed to Winks Meadow only to find the Green-winged Orchids very much delayed with many in bud but just 2 plants fully out. The area around the meadow held a curious mix of naturalised plants - Spring Starflower, Bunch-flowered Daffodil, Pheasant's-eye Daffodil and an Almond-leaved Pear. Bluebells were just starting to emerge and Cowslips were everywhere including some monster ones in the wood. I then explored the arable area around the concrete pad finding Green Field Speedwell, Grey Field Speedwell and Field Pennycress. A stop at Weybread on the way home revealed a large patch of Springbeauty by the road plus Bugloss and Field Forget-me-not. My first Common Tern of the year was over Ocean Pit as were House Martin and Sand Martin.

                                                                                                                          Green-winged Orchids
                                                                                                                             Almond-leaved Pear
                                                                                                                    Bunch-flowered Daffodil
                                                                                                                          Pheasant's-eye Daffodil
                                                                                                                            Grey Field Speedwell
                                                                                                                            Green Field Speedwell

                                                                                                                                       Field Pennycress

                                                                                                                                Spring Starflower

On Thursday 22nd April I was busy decorating for my parents but before getting to theirs I had bagged both Perfoliate Alexanders and Eastern Rocket in the city! Both were found easily with directions from the finder Louis Parkerson. After my painting I did the circuit walk at Thorpe Marshes. Mainly for the gorgeous pink adult Little Gull but I also had 2 Common Whitethroats, several Sedge Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers, Cetti's Warbler, Sparrowhawk, all 3 hirundines and a flush of Marsh Marigolds.

                                                                                                                               Perfoliate Alexanders

                                                                                                                                          Eastern Rocket

Friday 23rd April was a day off so Belinda and I undertook a long 15km walk from Somerleyton to Oulton and back by a slightly different route. The undoubted highlight was finding 2 Ring Ouzels - both cracking males at Warren Carrs and a Hobby over Flixton Marshes. We also had Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler, Yellowhammer, Mistle Thrush and a single late Fieldfare. Several Orange-tips were seen together with my first Small Copper and Green-veined White of the year. After our walk we headed into Gorleston where Jeremy Gaskell had found the rare Musk Storksbill. It was straightforward to find and conclusively id (including a good sniff!). Black Spleenwort was growing on a nearbty wall too. It would have been a perfect day but for the sting I received on my finger from a Red-tailed Bumblebee while photographing the storksbills!

                                                                                                                                 Musk Storksbills

                                                                                                                                  Black Spleenwort

Today, Saturday 24th April was a day in Norwich doung various things - I just had to venture along to Palace Street though. It was here that Rue-leaved Saxifrage, a beautiful little miniature became my 700th UK plant. Some Oxford Ragwort was by the Jarrold Bridge and then no.701 was found along Earlham Road with Annual Wall Rocket growing out of the pavement!

                                                                                                                                Rue-leaved Saxifrage

                                                                                                                                        Oxford Ragwort
                                                                                                                                  Annual Wall Rocket


Where's Wally?! South Wales, 17 April 2021

Now that travel in and out of Wales is permitted Jus and I had the chance to make the pilgrimage to see a very rare and amazing mammal. It's not often that we make such a long trip for something that isn't a bird but this just had to be done!

Leaving mine at 06.45 we were playing it quite casually but a long drive later and we were in Tenby looking for somewhere to park. This was easier said than done with narrow streets on a sunny Saturday when most of South Wales appeared to be there. Eventually parking by south beach we walked a torturous route through the throngs to reach the lifeboat station. And within just a few minutes of arrival we were staring in disbelief at the Walrus as it surfaced from it's almost constant feeding. What a beast! We went on to spend a good 2.5 hours there during which time it flirted with the lifeboat station ramp several times. It didn't haul itself fully up onto the ramp but we were treated to it rolling on its back half-submerged and scratching itself on the side of the ramp in between protracted bouts of feeding underwater. It came 2/3 out of the water though and that was good enough for us. While we were there chatting to Stuart Read and Matthew Deans we also had a Purple Sandpiper with Turnstones on the rocks below us, a fly-by Sandwich Tern, Rock Pipit, plenty of flowering Wild Cabbage and my first Large White of the year.

                                                                                                                                        Wild Cabbage
                                                                                                                                 Purple Sandpiper

Leaving the site we walked north along the seafront (via a coffee and panini!) to a site for the curious Tenby Daffodil. We eventually found some good candidates for this local speciality in a garden above the beach along The Croft but we also had another site on the edge of town where we wanted to make doubly sure. This proved to be an even less 'wild' scenario with plenty of plants in good condition albeit in a raised flower bed! We also saw some other good candidates on a couple of roadside verges while driving but had had our fill of them by then!

                                                                                                                                      Tenby Daffodils

We had one more place to visit and one more main target. This was on the Gower Peninsular at the ruins of Pennard Castle. It also happened to be in the right direction for heading home. Parking up in the village near the golf clubhouse we struck out across the gold course to the castle. What a fabulous setting it was too and a really great place to see the very rare Yellow Whitlowgrass that grows on the ruined walls and is only known from this area. Most of it was over but we nonetheless still found several nice clumps. While examining the walls we also found loads of Navelwort, Portland Spurge, Rustyback Fern and Maidenhair Spleenwort into the bargain. It had become a 5-tick botanical day! The view down the valley towards the sea from here was a great place to finish the day as the sun sank.

                                                                                                                            Yellow Whitlowgrass
                                                                                                                                    Portland Spurge
                                                                                                                          Maidenhair Spleenwort
                                                                                                                                     Rustyback Fern