Stinking Fleabane - new to Norfolk, 23 September 2021

The rather unfairly named Stinking Fleabane (it actually smells like menthol) had never been recorded in our county before and a look at iRecord shows just 3 distribution dots for the whole country. It has a foothold in Hampshire. While on a bike ride last week to see the Whitlingham Ragweed I told him about Louis Parkerson stumbled across a big patch of c200 plants growing right beside the A47 Norwich southern bypass. He had the identification confirmed and quickly gave me the details of where to find them. 

So, on Thursday after work I popped along for an easy if slightly dangerous (traffic whizzing past my ear!) find. I wonder how long it's been flowering quietly there without being noticed? We shall never know but the numbers of plants stretching quite a way along the road suggests it's been a little while.



Whitlingham CP, 18 September 2021

A Saturday walk through the woods and a lap of Great Broad followed by a visit to the cafe!

James Emerson had found a clump of Ragweed growing beside Great Broad which I quickly found. It had matured nicely since his find with the 'flower' spikes now fully formed. How it got there is literally anybody's guess! Other than that it was a fairly uneventful if pleasant walk. It was a little too early and dry for many fungi but we did find a few including some fresh Dead Man's Fingers. And of course the usual load of unidentified ones. A nice Meadow Cranesbill was photographed, surprisingly enough in the meadow!

                                                                                                                              Meadow Cranesbill
                                                                                                                              Dead Man's Fingers


Never write a plant off - Fringed Gentian in the Chilterns, 17 September 2021

Fringed Gentian was feared to be extinct in the UK having failed to show it's head for 9 years. This year however the weather conditions seems to have benefitted many species (after a delayed spring!) and this enigmatic species has popped up again at it's old site! News has quickly spread in the botanic community and precise location details were obtained. 

Stuart Read and I planned a trip for Friday and were joined by Jeff Higgot who ended up driving. It proved to be a very good day indeed with several species seen at a relaxed pace. Obviously Fringed Gentian was our first port of call and 3 plants were seen, albeit one had well and truly gone over (brown!). The other 2 were in good nick though and we filled our boots. 

Next up it was onto another gentian Chiltern Gentian to complete what Stuart had dubbed a 'gentian double whammy'! We found hundreds at the site we visited, most had gone well past their best but it wasn't hard to find some nice ones that showed their subtle id features well. Also there we had Carline Thistle, Dwarf Thistle, Yellow Wort, Quaking Grass, Wild Marjoram and a 'gone to seed' Common Spotted Orchid. Into the bargain 30+ Red Kites circled overhead and we had a female Adonis Blue presumably one of the last of the year. 

Our third and final site before heading home was a lowland acid heath. Once again with directions we found an almost dried up pool and our other big target for the day - the mega rare Starfruit. Despite hearing they had finished flowering we would have been happy seeing the distinctive star-shaped seed capsules but as luck would have it one plant had a flower on it! Around the same pool were Lesser Spearwort, Water Purslane, Marsh Cudweed and Dwarf Gorse providing more than one more 'tick' for yours truly!

                                                                                                                                    Fringed Gentian

                                                                                                                                    Chiltern Gentian
                                                                                                                                          Adonis Blue
                                                                                                                                     Dwarf Thistle
                                                                                                                                     Carline Thistle

                                                                                                                                            Red Kites

                                                                                                                                       Water Purslane
                                                                                                                                      Lesser Spearwort

                                                                                                                               Dwarf Gorse

Summer Social at the Moor, 12 September 2021

Ben Potterton of the Otter Trust kindly put on a summer social event at Dickleburgh Moor on Sunday afternoon. Primarily as a thank you for 'biodiversity recording friends' it was a nice way to meet a few people and partake of some tea and cake too!

Needless to say Belinda and I had a wander around the reserve while we were there (and then I repeated part of it to show some ladies from our Wildflower East WhatsApp group some of the plants). Insects probably stole the show however with a lovely Roesel's Bush Cricket found on our walk and around the table with the days catch were Dark Sword Grass moth, Water Scorpion and Box Bug.

Both Little Stints were still present with 1 Greenshank, 1 Ruff, 1 Ringed Plover and a few Snipe but only having my bins meant I couldn't look more thoroughly.

Plants were pretty much the same as in recent days but I did find the other (non-rayed) form of Nodding Bur-marigold.

                                                                                                                                Roesel's Bush Cricket
                                                                                                                                  Dark Sword Grass
                                                                                                                                              Box Bug
                                                                                                                                         Corn Mint
                                                                                                                              Nodding Bur-marigold
                                                                                                                                   Marsh Woundwort
                                                                                                                                    Golden Dock


Long Melford, 11 September 2021

A bit of rare plants twitching down at Long Melford.

I'd been given the locations of a couple of plants a short walk outside Long Melford. On the way I detoured to a ditch by a footpath at Finningham to catch up with a plant I've been meaning to do for ages - Water Figwort. I quickly found several straggly plants despite one side of the ditch having been strimmed!

Then it was a drive down to Long Melford where I found both my targets within a few hundred yards of each other. Firstly the sinister (and highly poisonous) Henbane growing on the very edge of an arable field. Then the parasitic Greater Dodder under a willow by the River Stour twisting itself around it's favoured host Stinging Nettle. Also in that area I found Russian Comfrey and a curious pink Scarlet Pimpernel.    

I finished my day with a couple of hours in Bury with a Thai lunch from the ladies on the market and a visit to the modern art exhibition in the Moyse's Hall Museum. 

                                                                                                                                       Water Figwort

                                                                                                                             pink Scarlet Pimpernel

                                                                                                                                     Greater Dodder
                                                                                                                                 Russian Comfrey

Dickleburgh Moor again! 10 September 2021

A quick hour down at the moor with Meg on Friday evening. She wanted to see the Nodding Bur-marigolds which was the main aim but we also found some other plants of interest with Red Goosefoot, Treacle Mustard and Corn Mint being good additions to the reserve list. One Golden Dock plant was still in good nick and there was still plenty of Fine-leaved Water Dropwort.

A scan of the reserve also revealed 2 juv Little Stints, Dunlin, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, 4 Ruff, c15 Snipe and a juv Water Rail which was a new reserve species for me. Singles of Stock Dove and Little Egret were also seen.

                                                                                                                                         Red Goosefoot
                                                                                                                                Treacle Mustard

Dickleburgh Moor, 6 September 2021

A peaceful and very pleasant hour down at the moor on Monday evening.

It began with dipping Spotted Flys in Dickleburgh churchyard but the reserve made up for it with 2 Greenshank, Redshank, 5 Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpipers, 17 Snipe and 11 Golden Plover that circled in and headed straight off again. Non-waders included 2 Stock Doves, several Yellow Wagtails and a single Little Egret

The Nodding Bur-marigolds that I found there last year have spread and there are now several impressive clumps. They are also of the rare form 'radiata'. Fine-leaved Water Dropwort was also still flowering and there was the strange sight of a Sunflower growing in the middle of the marsh!

                                                                                                            Nodding Bur-marigold, var.radiata
                                                                                                                      Fine-leaved Water Dropwort



Mersea Island, Essex, 4 September 2021

After a night of wild camping in the moho at Fingringhoe we awoke early and drove onto Mersea Island for the day. Our plan was to park at East Mersea and walk the whole coastline of the island going anti-clockwise. 

Fortified with a good breakfast we headed off on the mammoth 27.5km walk in calm overcast conditions. Along the seawall on the north side of the island Yellow Wagtails were pretty obvious with c12 seen/heard. Then we had a surprise as I flushed a Quail from the path, apparantly the first island record since 1999! The only other birds of note were a couple of Lesser Whitethroats, c20 Ringed Plover and c80 Black-tailed Godwits but there was plenty of botanical interest with an abundance of Golden Samphire, Salsify, Sea Club Rush, Sea Aster, Annual Sea Blite, Shrubby Sea Blite, Common Glasswort, Perennial Glasswort, Grass-leaved Orache, Sea Wormwood, Prickly Lettuce and some confusing knotgrasses! Reaching the road close to the bridge I then found a good new plant by the roadside - Garden Asparagus, followed by some Lucerne as we neared the village of West Mersea. 

On the shingle beach as we turned the corner to the southern shore I found Frosted Orache which had been on my radar plus Sea Mayweed, Lesser Sea Spurrey and Sea Rocket

Apart from a very pale leucistic Starling in a flock the rather unispiring southern shore of the island had little to write home about. We finished the walk however and were pretty chuffed with ourselves! A Clouded Yellow at the far east end of the island was a great way to finish as were 2 Marsh Harriers in the same area that evening as we wandered down. 

                                                                                                                              Golden Samphire
                                                                                                                                  Prickly Lettuce
                                                                                                                               Grass-leaved Orache
                                                                                                                                      Annual Sea Blite
                                                                                                                                 Perennial Glasswort
                                                                                                                                         Sea Wormwood

                                                                                                                                    Garden Asparagus
                                                                                                                                       Sea Aster
                                                                                                                                 Sea Club Rush
                                                                                                                                   Sea Mayweed
                                                                                                                                Frosted Orache
                                                                                                                                        Sea Rocket

                                                                                                                                   Lesser Sea Spurrey