Green Hellebore in a Suffolk wood, 25 February 2022

After success in the Brecks with Mezereon the next of the early flowering plants on my wanted list was the rather enigmatic Green Hellebore.

A Flora of Suffolk records only 9 tetrads in the county where it has been found and I'd been doing some homework for a little while trying to pinpoint where would be the best place to look. It may not be a small plant but some of the ancient woodlands in Suffolk are pretty big! In the end a friend came to the rescue with some further details which enabled me to proceed with a bit of confidence. Ironically it was in an area I know quite well as Belinda used to live, as a child, in a cottage no more than 200 yards from the plants themselves! We've walked in the area several times. 

Needless to say I found a fair sized clump of plants nice and easily and set about trying out my camera and mini tripod on them. The results are below - what a lovely looking plant. 


Mezereon - the botanic year starts in earnest, 12 February 2022

One of the plants on my 'hit list' for the year is the early flowering Mezereon. This curious shrub flowers before the leaves emerge with the flowers arranged in rows along the twiggy stems. It is nationally scarce and despite having details of the single Suffolk site I was recently alerted to it's presence in the Norfolk part of the Brecks. Here I found it quickly today, indeed I wish all plants were as easy to find! A few snaps later and I went for a local wander - 2 Woodlarks were singing in different clearings and I also managed a pair of Marsh Tits, Redwings and Common Buzzard while 2 Lesser Redpolls buzzed over.


From the sublime to the ridiculous! 11 February 2022

Continuing the twitchy theme from yesterday there is a bird up on the North Norfolk coast of a species I haven't seen for many a long year. 

Red-breasted Goose has become very scarce in recent years but 2022 has seen 3 turn up with one amongst the Brent Goose flock wintering in the Cley/Blakeney area. With the bird having been reported on Blakeney Freshes I parked at Cley Sluice only to realise the flock was way off from the bank there and only partly in view. So I relocated to Friary Hills where I was able to get to higher ground. Here I located the flock of c400 Brent Geese and the star attraction nice and easily. I watched it at length before heading back down towards the quay where a captive bird of the same species was on the duck pond! A Cetti's Warbler sang from the edge of the marsh as I sought sustainance in the new 'Two Magpies Bakery'!

After that my plan had been to head west along the coast but news of the wintering Short-toed Lark having been seen again at West Runton I decided to head there. After all I had loads of time and it was another species I'd not seen for yonks. So, I did the whole circuit of the stubble field it favours checking flying Skylarks (c30) and Linnets (c120) because the stubble was too high to see anything on the deck. In 3 hours I managed 2-3 flight views which were better when I'd moved away from the clifftop so I wasn't looking directly in to the low sun. 3 Stock Doves and 2 Common Buzzards were the only other sightings. All rather underwhelming compared to the splendor of the goose! 

                                                                                           Red-breasted Goose (poor digiscoped effort!)

Unashamed twitching in East Suffolk! 10 February 2022

With Belinda away for a few days this is an opportunity for me to do some out and out dedicated birding!

There were some bits in coastal Suffolk I've been wanting to see so that was my direction of travel. I headed for Aldringham Walks just north of Thorpeness first. This is an area we know well from numerous walks there but completely unknown to me was a large irrigation 'reservoir' because it is completely invisible being surrounded by a high bank and barbed wire fences. That is unless you climb a tree to see a drake Ring-necked Duck which is what I did! I also availed myself of a large stepladder that another guy had brought and later found an area where the fence was flattened so I was able to sneak a bit closer! It was a smart bird amongst all the Tufted Duck, scattered Pochard and a couple of Little Grebes. A Dartford Warbler also burst into song when I was up the tree.

      Ring-necked Duck


After that I headed north a bit to Walberswick where, despite a long muddy walk along the seawall from the carpark I was unable to find the Glossy Ibis. After almost giving up and wandering around the harbour area and finding nothing I went back up onto the seawall for one last scan and found the bloody thing right in front of me! Bearded Tit and Stonechat were also clocked up there together with my first Sweet Violets of the year.   

                                                                                                                                          Glossy Ibis
                                                                                                                                       Sweet Violets

My next bit of luck was at Hen Reedbeds where I walked out to the Blyth Estuary to find the 1w Glaucous Gull within seconds! I scoped it nicely and then decided to try and phonescope it - only to find it completely vanished while I was lining up my phone to my eyepiece. It was very strange - I never saw it fly it just disappeared almost ghost-like! I guess you make your own luck as I'd missed it when I looked a few weeks ago.

After a sausage bap and probably the worst 'flat white' I've ever had in the Wrentham cafe I finished my day in the churchyard at Henstead which is renowned for it's Snowdrops. Here I found a lovely variety including Greater Snowdrop and Green Snowdrop

                                                                                                                                 Greater Snowdrops
                                                                                                       'double-flowered' Snowdrop cultivar
                                                                                                                                   Green Snowdrop

West Harling Woods, 5 February 2022

We'd not been to West Harling Woods for a long time so decided it was to be our Saturday walk destination. Parking up by the church as usual we embarrked on a long clockwise walk returning by the River Thet. The only birds of interest were a small flock of Siskins by the bridge over the river and noisy Rooks setting up territories around their rookeries but there were a few plants to see on the way round. A peculiar tall grass growing in clumps in a large clearing caught my eye and turned out to be Wood Small-reed which was a new one for me and according to Suffolk Flora the Brecks is it's local stronghold. Also seen were plenty of flowering Box, a nice clump of Spurge-laurel, several clumps of Stinking Hellebore near to the Dower House and a few patches of Snowdrops.  

                                                                                                                               Wood Small-reed

Local bits of interest in late January

The first tentative steps towards spring were noted locally in Pulham in the last few days with Winter Aconite, Lungwort and Snowdrop all in flower. 

While working out at Colegate End this week a curious partial albino Blackbird was in my customer's garden as were a pair of Bullfinches feeding on their budding fruit trees. Painting a window there I also found a small seed beetle overwintering in the window frame that has proved to be Bruchus rufimanus, also known as Broad Bean Weevil.

Meanwhile our garden Goldcrest continues to sing every day from our conifer at the front of the house.

                                                                                                  Bruchus rufimanus (Broad Bean Weevil)
                                                                                                                          Partial albino Blackbird
                                                                                                                                    Winter Aconite