Two new Sawflies

With grateful thanks to Andy Musgrove I have been able to put a name to 2 sawfly species that I photographed while out and about last weekend.

The first was quite a distinctive one with red hind femurs netted at Winks Meadow which has turned out to be Periclista pubescens which is an oak specialist.

The second was a small, all black one that was photographed on a laurel just outside the front door of Tacolneston Hall. This was Iris Sawfly, Rhadinoceraea micans which rather unsurprisingly is linked to irises (of which there were plenty in the hall moat).

                                                                                                                         Periclista pubescens
                                                                                                                              Iris Sawfly

Arctic Terns down at Dickleburgh Moor, 23 April 2024

With John Marchant having found an Arctic Tern at Dickleburgh Moor I was just about to hot-foot it down there after work when he announced it had flown off. Within about half an hour though he declared that 8 had suddenly put in an appearance so all was not lost! Postponing a shower I dashed there straight away and luckily they were still there - albeit for only about 10 minutes before they too disappeared! In all likelihood they represent the first ever record of the species in the Diss area.

Also over the water were 50+ Swallows and c15 House Martins with the pair of Little Ringed Plovers on the front shore and a drake Pochard still present.

Photos below courtesy of John M


Tacolneston Hall with the NFSG, 21 April 2024

A spring foray with the Norfolk Fungus Study Group at an interesting site not normally open to the public. 

About a dozen of us braved the continuing cold weather to explore the walled garden and woodland at Tacolneston Hall. We were joined by 'fungus royalty' in the form of Geoffrey Kibby who wrote and illustrated the marvellous 4 volume set of Mushroom and Toadstools which grace my bookshelf! 

The foray was slightly disappointing for me personally as most of the fungi about at this time of year are micro-fungi that leave me a little cold. Nevertheless Common Mazegill, Golden Crust, Chaetosphaerella phaeostroma, Beechmast Candlesnuff and Xylaria filiformis (the latter rare in the county) made their way into my notebook with a quite a few other specimens taken away for study/identification. Stop press - an eyelash fungus taken has been identified as Scutelina setosa, the third county record and first since 2016

To be honest I got more of a kick out of searching for insects finding an obligingly torpid Common Mourning Bee, Green Longhorn Moth, Green Parasitic Fly, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Green-veined White, Large Red Damselfly and Aglaostigma aucupariae.  

Our hosts from the hall joined us for the first hour or so and then very kindly supplied afternoon tea and biscuits in front of the hall - all very civilised!

                                                                                                                          Common Mourning Bee
                                                                                                                             Beechmast Candlesnuff
                                                                                                                               Common Mazegill
                                                                                                                      Golden Crust

                                                                                                                          Green Longhorn Moth

                                                                                                                           Scutelinia setosa
                                                                                                                           Xylaria filiformis


A quick visit to nearby Ashwellthorpe Wood afterwards revealed pretty poor numbers of Early Purple Orchid but a couple of new insects for me - Common Grammoptera and Lygus rugulipennis plus Yellow-legged Mining Bee

                                                                                                                                Lygus rugulipennis
                                                                                                                           Common Grammoptera

Winks Meadow, 20 April 2024

Another cold day and not ideal for looking for insects but I have a new sweep net that needs to be used! I headed to Winks Meadow SWT knowing that even if the insects didn't play ball there would be Green-winged Orchids to look at.

And there were plenty including the usual colour variations but it was maybe a week early to see them at their absolute best. A Lesser Whitethroat was singing regularly in the SW corner and later a Yellow Wagtail was flushed from the edge of arable. 

Although insects weren't exactly numerous I did manage to winkle out Knotgrass Leaf Beetle, Copper Greenclock and Common Nettle Aphid - all new to me.

A quick visit and walk to Target Hill near Mendham revealed a hill covered in Colour-changing Forget-me-nots and loads of Meadow Saxifrage but little else of interest.

                                                                                                                             Knotgrass Leaf Beetle
                                                                                                                               Copper Greenclock

                                                                                                                              Green-winged Orchids

                                                                                                                Colour-changing Forget-me-not

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