It seems to be a very good year for Hummingbird Hawkmoths if what I have seen on social media is anything to go by. After one in our garden over the weekend I saw one briefly yesterday where I am working in Pulham St Mary just down the road. Today, in the same garden I was treated to prolonged views of 2 together nectaring on a big patch of valerian. Even with my phone I managed to capture a couple of videos and this rather pleasing shot. A Red Kite also glided low over the garden in the early afternoon.
With Stuart Read having found the mega rare Four-leaved Allseed growing in his road (!) in Great Cornard I duly popped down this morning to take a look. I found a few clumps of it growing in pavement cracks by the curb just 20 yards from his front door! Only really known from coastal sites in the SW it is a fantastic find albeit a rather insignificant looking 'micro-weed'.
While in the area I called in at a RNR near Long Melford to see Wild Liquorice and to my surprise I found a goodie of my own - Crested Cow-wheat. 3 or 4 plants were found at what looks like a new site for this very scarce and lovely plant. Along the same verge were Field Scabious, Common Restharrow, Agrimony and Wild Basil.
Having been tipped off about some Flowering Rush that is actually flowering (it often doesn't!) I headed into Norwich on a busy Friday evening to do some chores and also pop in to see it.
It was right where I expected but difficult to photograph as the river bank there is fenced off. Within a few yards of it was also a small patch of River Water Dropwort. Deciding to have a short walk along the riverbank heading towards the city centre I was surprised to find some naturalised garden escapes growing out of cracks in the pavement along the river wall - Garden Lobelia, Cape-jewels (aka Nemesia) and Passionflower. Best of all however was a plant that I initially thought was a spurge of some sort but actually turns out to be False Thorow-wax. Some people think it may be Thorow-wax so I await adjudication or possibly a return visit to examine the fruits in a few weeks time!
Whilst working in Pulham St Mary earlier in the day I'd also found Lesser Bulrush and Greater Spearwort making it an extremely productive botanical day. Not to mention 2 Turtle Doves on territory in Pulham St Mary too!
No spring/summer would be complete without at least one botany trip to the Brecks. Having been laid up with a bad back most of the week I relied on Belinda at chauffeur me around and luckily most of the plants were on or near to the roadside. One was barred by a 5-bar gate which was tricky to get over but I managed it! My 2 main targets were Flixweed and Twiggy Spurge and I found both nice and easily at 2 sites a couple of miles apart. Also seen between the 2 spots were the rare Small Alison and plenty of Sand Lucerne in a variety of colours. A stop while passing Ramparts Field resulted in loads of Maiden Pinks in great condition. I even managed a short walk in the Kings Forest clocking up the abundant Sand Sedge, Crested Hair-grass, a patch of gone-over Lily of the Valley plus Cuckoo and Willow Warbler.
At home later I discovered we have Creeping Jenny now in flower a stones throw from the house.
Sworn to secrecy while the RSPB and local volunteers sorted out wardening and access I'm now able to post about Norfolk's fisrt nesting European Bee-eaters which I had the privilege to see last Sunday. The announcement to the wider world was made on Springwatch last night.
The birds are frequenting a disused quarry just off the coast road at Trimingham and parking is in a field just off the side road to Gimingham at TG284384. Belinda and I popped along and had great views and a chat with the local landowner/farmer who is delighted to have these birds on his patch.
After a beach walk at Mundesley (where I found a nice naturalised bush of Shrubby Germander near the church and some Duke of Argyll's Tea Plant) we called in to a site in the Bure Valley that I used to know well from a former life. Here Louis Parkerson had spotted some Common Cotton Grass (itself a local scarcity) and sploshing over to investigate found the even better Marsh Cinquefoil! Lesser Spearwort and Ragged Robin were also in the same wet marsh.
On Saturday Belinda and I did a slightly different walk in an area we know well. Heading south from Thorpeness to The Haven and then inland over North Warren in a loop. It was nice varied walk on a sunny day with a few bits and bobs seen along the way. c5 Hobbies were hunting over North Warren where I was also able to show Belinda some showy Reed Warblers, 2 Marsh Harriers and Norfolk Hawker. Plantwise I still keep managing to find the odd new one for me and this walk was no exception with Reflexed Stonecrop along the back of the beach at The Haven. Tree Lupin, Rough Comfrey, Sea Holly and the usual shingle species were also seen along with a Common Cardinal Beetle and Painted Lady.
On the way home I called in to see the Suffolk Frog Orchids and after some searching (as usual!) found 5 plants plus loads of Pyramidal Orchids and a single Southern Marsh Orchid.
After seeing the aforementioned Carthusian Pinks in Norwich on Friday I decided to head on up to Titchwell and Snettisham for a twitchy double-header!
Calamity! I got to the Titchwell carpark only to realise I'd left my scope at home! Luckily I bumped into an old aquaintance with a scope so all was not lost and I got some lovely views of the spottiest Spotted Sandpiper you'll ever see on the freshmarsh. Only my 2nd in Norfolk and the 1st since 1994. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling away to the west of the path, 2 Red Kites were over the carpark/coast road and a Painted Lady also on brambles in the carpark.
So, on to Snettisham and a long walk out along the sea wall stopping to admire 6 Spoonbills on the way. Arriving at the kissing gate I could hear the Great Reed Warbler singing from some way away. With patience I got some great views as it sang almost non-stop for the hour and a half I was there. There were plenty of the scarce Grass Vetchling in the grass there too.
Last year I was tipped off about the amazing find of Small-flowered Tongue Orchid in deepest Suffolk. It was late in the season however and the 2 plants were almost over. Identification was thought to be almost certain but this year they have popped up again and their id is now thought to be Lax-flowered Tongue Orchid! Regardless of it's origin (they are native as close as Italy) it will constitute the first UK record of this species if and when it is 'officially' confirmed.
There are 2 plants again, one had sadly been nibbled and looks very sad. The other however is magnificent!