Tyrrel's Wood, 17 April 2024

A bright but bitterly cold day with the northerly wind whipping around the edges of the wood. The wildflowers didn't seem to mind too much though and in the usual 2 spots I found a good number of Early Purple Orchids in full flower plus some nice patches of native Yellow Archangel (i.e. plants without the tell tale silver leaf markings of garden escapes) nearby. A single Sanicle plant was just starting to flower and of course the native Bluebells concentrated on the NE side of the wood were looking fabulous. 

2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were trading druming bursts and a Nuthatch was also 'pew pewing'.

For anyone visiting soon the NW section of the wood is a muddy quagmire making progress a bit of an obstacle course!

                                                                                                                             Early Purple Orchids
                                                                                                                                 Yellow Archangel


A Weekend out West, 12 - 14 April 2024

With warm temperatures forecast we took ourselves away for a long spring weekend in our motohome.

Our first port of call and overnight stop on Friday was West Acre, a favourite spot of ours. Pulling up on the carpark we were immediately greeted by a singing Willow Warbler, my first of the year and a few freshly emerged Orange Tips. Spending the afternoon walking West Acre Common, village and woods I clocked up a few more insects of note - personally I enjoyed a confiding White-spotted Fungus Weevil the most but 2 other weevils were also found - Small Nettle Weevil and Nettle Weevil plus the fly Bibio anglicus. Butterflies were much in evidence with Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Brimstone. In the early evening I ventured a little along the river valley to the east with my newly-aquired sweep net and was able to find the beetle Athous haemorrhoidalis, Woundwort Shieldbug, Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug, Hairy Shieldbug, Kentish Snail, Orange Rust Fly, Gorse Orbweaver, Red and Black Froghopper, Buffish Mining Bee and 24-Spot Ladybird.

                                                                                                                    White-spotted Fungus Weevil
                                                                                                                              Green-veined White
                                                                                                                                    Bibio anglicus
                                                                                                                                     Gorse Orbweaver
                                                                                                                             Woundwort Shieldbug
                                                                                                                           Athous haemorrhoidalis
                                                                                                                                  Orange Rust Fly
                                                                                                                              Small Nettle Weevil
                                                                                                                     Red and Black Froghopper
                                                                                                                             24-Spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                      Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug
                                                                                                                                Nettle Weevil

Saturday saw us visiting nearby Oxborough Hall where the best finds were a fortuitous Water Shrew, Ashy Mining Bee, the beetle Anisodactylus binotatus and both Creeping Comfrey and Hidcote Blue Comfrey. After that a quick pop in to Boughton Fen revealed Sedge Warbler, 2 Cetti's Warblers and a pair of Marsh Harriers. A further pop-in was a Cranwich Camp where I had a confrontation with a selfish dog owner who's dog kept jumping up at me and saw Early Forget-me-not, Rue-leaved Saxifrage and 14-Spot Ladybird but little else. That evening we 'camped' along Harling Drove, deep in the woods north of Brandon. a brief wander down a familiar side ride revealed Crucifer Shieldbug and Straw Barred Pearl moth.  

                                                                                                                               Ashy Mining Bee
                                                                                                                               Rue-leaved Saxifrage
                                                                                                                               Early Forget-me-not
                                                                                                                            14-Spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                            Crucifer Shieldbug
                                                                                                                            Straw Barred Pearl

On Sunday we moved the short distance through Brandon to Santon Downham for a long walk both ways along the river and adjacent rides. For once birds stole the show with c90 Lesser Redpolls, 3 Woodlarks, Willow Warblers, Mandarin, 2 Grey Wagtails, Siskins, Firecrest and the curious sight of an early singing Common Whitethroat sharing the same sallow with late-lingering Bramblings! 2 bees nectaring on dandelions proved to be Gwynne's Mining Bee and Red-tailed Mason Bee. The latter was new to be and seemingly a Brecks speciality locally. My first odonata of the season was a Large Red Damselfly on the church wall. 

                                                                                                                           Gwynne's Mining Bee

                                                                                                                           Red-tailed Mason Bee

Dickleburgh Moor, 7 April 2024

After a day out museum visiting in Yarmouth (just Jersey Cudweed growing at South Quay of interest) I popped down to the moor for a quick evening visit. 

Bumping into Ben Potterton he kindly drove me around the eastern side to see if the pair of Little Ringed Plovers were still about - and happily they were! Other highlights were fairly sparse but my first Swallow of the year was good as were 3 Pochard (including a pair), 3 lingering Wigeon, 2 Oystercatchers and several Lapwings. Shoveler numbers were impressive too and 2 Stock Doves also seen.

                                                                                                                   Jersey Cudweed

Thelnetham and Betty's Fens, 6 April 2024

A favourite walk of our is around the maze of footpaths through the fens around the headwaters of the Little Ouse. Normally this is an area we visit once the numerous marsh orchids are up so it was nice to visit at a different time.

With little in the way of birds or flora it was once again the insects that stole the show. Along the north bank of the fledgling Little Ouse I found numerous Alderflies had emerged with a couple of nice beetles - Mitten Blackclock and the diminutive Cereal Leaf Beetle. Also quite numerous were Nemoura cinerea which also goes by the slightly unfair english name of Small Dull Brown and the wetland-loving spider Pachygnatha clerki. Kentish Snail was another good find with several Brimstones out enjoying the watery sun. Awat from inverts I spotted some pretty large Eyelash Fungus on wet rotting logs. 

After our walk we retired to nearby Redgrave and Lopham Fen where we just managed to catch our regular coffee vendor before he shut and enjoyed our coffee sitting watching displaying Marsh Harriers over the fen.  

                                                                                                                                 Mitten Blackclock
                                                                                                                              Small Dull Brown
                                                                                                                              Cereal Leaf Beetle
                                                                                                                                Pachygnatha clerki
                                                                                                                                   Kentish Snail
                                                                                                                             Eyelash Fungus

Larch Ladybird at long last! 2 April 2024

Larch Ladybird has proven to be a bit of a nemesis for me so I was delighted to hear that Vanna had found one in Earlham Cemetery and had it 'in pot' for my viewing pleasure!

So, after work on Tuesday I ventured into Norwich to view said beast - and a nicely marked one it was too. Into the bargain Vanna also had another pseudoscorpion she'd found - Common Chthonid, Chthonius ischnoceles.

                                                                                                                            Larch Ladybird

Dunwich Forest and Westwood Marshes, 1 April 2024

An Easter Monday April Fools Day on the Suffolk coast.

Parking in Dunwich Forest we did a long walk through the frest to Dingle Hill and on over Westwood Marshes to Westwood Lodge and back via Newdelight Walks. Belinda was disappointed that most of the Wild Daffodils at Dingle Stone House were over but I was please with a few insects using the newly emerged Alexanders for nectar. I found Noon Fly, Face Fly and Phaonia valida all in the same clump in the forest and the lovely White-striped Darwin Wasp along the lane near Westwood Lodge.

Birdwise the walk had it's moments too with 2 singing Firecrests, Woodlark, Bearded Tits, Red Kite, Marsh Harriers and the now plentiful Blackcaps

After the walk Belinda wanted to look for snakes on Westleton Common and after a shrt search I managed to find her an Adder and a Slow Worm. She's started to call me the snake charmer!

                                                                                                                                   Noon Fly
                                                                                                                                         Face Fly
                                                                                                                                    Phaonia valida
                                                                                                                      White-striped Darwin Wasp
                                                                                                                                   Slow Worm
                                                                                                                                          Wild Daffodil


Shotesham Bioblitz! 30 March 2024

What started out a a field trip organised by Rob Yaxley to survey the churchyards of Shotesham for lichens quicky morphed into a bit of a bioblitz! 

After a few minutes concentrating on lichens on the church wall at All Saints I quickly realised that I have an enormous amount to learn about them and the lure of insects proved too much!

Shotesham has (or rather had) 4 churches. Only 2 are now in use, All Saints and St Mary's. St Martin's is a picturesque ruin next to St Mary's while the 4th, St Botolph's is a pile of rubble after it's demise in the Reformation. 

The majority of the day was spent at All Saints where invert finds included the small ladybird Scymnus interruptus, Cricket-bat Orbweb Spider, the ghostly white Ant Woodlouse, Bristly Millipede, Small Nettle Weevil, Pied Shieldbug, my first Holly Blue of the year, Green Parasitic Fly and Red-bellied Housefly. Andrena mining bees were much in evidence around a flowering shrub late in the morning when the sun came out. Star of the show was Ashy Mining Bee but I was personally very pleased with my first Common Mini-miner. We also recorded Buffish Mining Bee, Grey-patched Mining Bee and Tawny Mining Bee. The eagle-eyed Vanna found a microscopically small pseudoscorpion under a tile of the ground that has subsequently keyed-out to the scarce Dimple-clawed Chthonid.

Others were looking at micro fungi and I personally noted Arum Rust, Hollyhock Rust, Celandine Clustercup Rust, Firerug  Inkcap and Xylaria filiformis

The lichens I paid attention to were Lechanora sulphurea, Tephromela atra, Candelariella vitellina, Verucaria nigrescens and Dirina massiliensis that had the rare fungi Spiloma auratum growing on it. 

                                                                                                                              Scymnus interruptus
                                                                                                                              Cricket Bat Orbweaver

                                                                                                                                  Ashy Mining Bee
                                                                                                                                 Small Nettle Weevil
                                                                                                                                     Pied Shieldbug
                                                                                                                                 Ant Woodlouse
                                                                                                                                  Green Parasitic Fly
                                                                                                                        Common Mini-miner
                                                                                                                              Lecanora sulphurea
                                                                                                                                  Hollyhock Rust
                                                                                                                                Arum Rust
                                                                                                                     Celandine Clustercup Rust

After lunch we relocated a mile down the road to St Mary's where I was very pleased to find Shield Pinkgill (confirmed with microscopy by Jeremy), a new fungi for me. 10-spot Ladybird and 24-spot Ladybird followed and I managed to photograph Tawny Mining Bee at last. The main interest here was on the verge just outside the church were the Lesser Celandines and Primroses held Chocolate Mining Bee, Yellow-legged Mining Bee and best of all personally (as it was one I've been looking for) - Gwynne's Mining Bee. Two snails on gravestones proved to be Hairy Snail and Two-toothed Door Snail

Birds seen during the day included Grey Wagtail, Blackcap and Red Kite.

                                                                                                                                  10-spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                                    Tawny Mining Bee
                                                                                                                               Gwynne's Mining Bee
                                                                                                                       Yellow-legged Mining Bee
                                                                                                                            Two-toothed Door Snail
                                                                                                                                      24-spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                                     Hairy Snail
                                                                                                                                Shield Pinkgill