Posts

Thorpe Marshes with Hickling Broad U3A group, 18 August 2022.

Image
This account is by  Chris Foster, who arranged a visit to NWT Thorpe Marshes for the University of the Third Age (U3A)  Hickling Broad group. This is for their  monthly newsletter and shared here as a guest blog. This month we had a guided walk around Thorpe Marshes with the brilliant and enthusiastic Chris Durdin as our leader.  Chris has intimate knowledge of this recently evolving reserve (established in 2011) and he visits so frequently he knows which leaf to turn over to reveal a rare bee or a mating damselfly.  He can hear a bird, identify it and locate it in his telescope before you have even established which tree it is in. His knowledge extends to all things wild. On our visit in August it was the plants that were the main headliners and the variety of marsh plants was dazzling.   Bee wolf on angelica. Personally I was especially interested in how the enthusiastic naturalists of Norfolk are recording the changes in species as a result of climate change.   Chris and others w

Holkham guided walk, 15 July 2022

Image
A select group of four Honeyguiders met at Lady Anne’s Drive on the Holkham estate on a warm and sunny July morning. Our target for the day was creeping lady's tresses, a diminutive white orchid which is scarce but widespread in the native pine forests of Scotland but with an odd out-lying population at Holkham in the pine woodlands that were planted to stabilise the sand dunes in the 19th century. The origin of the Holkham population is uncertain - some think they might have been inadvertently introduced on trees planted in the dunes that had been grown further north. We will never know for sure. 'Gatekeeper among thousands' (Jillian Macready). Walking out along the track running westwards behind the pines, it was obvious that it was peak emergence time for gatekeeper butterflies - they were everywhere. Also on the wing were speckled wood, green-veined whites, large and small skippers, peacock and red admiral.  Hoverfly Eristalis pertinax (Rob Lucking). Several great pied

Buxton Heath and Holt Lowes, 1 July 2022

Image
Today’s event was inspired partly by bringing some Honeyguiders together for Lyn, visiting from Cambridgeshire, and partly by happy memories of the same event a year ago [ Buxton Heath and Holt Lowes, 2 July 2021 ] . Same places, but a rather earlier summer this year with wildlife that was sometimes different as a result. The star species at Buxton Heath is silver-studded blue butterfly. On a day of rather changeable weather, would they be on show? In the end it was straightforward as there were several that were easy to see on the bell heather very near to the car park. The heatwave in June meant that they were towards the end of their season, and some were looking quite tatty. Happily, we did find one where the ‘silver studs’ showed well, especially looking though the telescope. Silver-studded blues: on the right hand butterfly above, you can just about make out the silvery-blue 'studs' in the dark spots above the orangey-brown marks. Yellowhammers are getting scarcer in

Guided walks, May 2022

Image
Who doesn’t love spring? May can be one of the loveliest months and it’s been a busy one for guided walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes and elsewhere. Spindle ermine moth caterpillars, NWT Thorpe Marshes, 19 May. The blog is a slightly lazy way to share sightings and photos with Honeyguiders, mostly from NWT Thorpe Marshes in May, where I led several guided walks. Elsewhere, the Honeyguide blog has two other reports of walks, namely from NWT Hickling , a Honeyguide event on 20 May, and a ‘guest blog’ after a nature ramble at Eaton Park , Norwich, on 23 May. Lady's smock (also called milk maid or cuckoo flower), with orange tip egg, 4 May. 14-spot ladybird, 4 May. The ‘official’ guided walk for May at Thorpe Marshes was on 4 May (Star Wars day – you can do the quote). Water voles are always present though rarely seen, so a good view for a group was a delight, and one group member was still raving about it a few days later, I hear. Identifying singing warblers is always a feature of walks th

Eaton Park Nature Ramble - 23 May 2022

Image
Eaton Park Nature Ramble - Monday 23 May 2022 6-8pm Guest blog by Sarah Scott, Friends of Eaton Park Thank you to Chris for leading another enjoyable walk in Eaton Park.   We very nearly cancelled ... it was raining heavily at 4pm but, after detailed scrutiny of every possible weather app and rain radar option, we decided to go ahead.   It was the right decision (phew!) and we ended up with a dry and pleasant evening. By the lily pond, looking for a damselflies: without sunshine, they were sitting tight. A dozen of us met in the rose garden and took a circular route around the park, taking in the lily pond, meadow area and Bluebell Woods. We were listening out for birdsong (a bit of a challenge as there was also a drum group practising in the park!) and we heard (or saw) swifts, woodpigeons, collared dove, blackbirds, dunnocks, goldfinches, greenfinches, blue tits, great tits, coal tit, starlings, wrens, chiffchaffs, robins, herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls.   Some new bir

Hickling guided walk, 20 May 2022

Image
The first local Honeyguide trip since overseas holidays resumed was planned with an eye on a sunny weather forecast, though as today approached that changed. It was cool at first then rain arrived for the four of us who met at NWT Hickling. On a recent visit to Hickling, Helen and Malcolm had encountered cranes and that persuaded us to return here, and to go in their direction when we arrived. That took us along the path by Brendan’s Marsh, where the mix of waders was very impressive. Avocets, redshank and lapwings were to be expected. Half a dozen dunlins were nice as was a single greenshank; a grey plover in full summer plumage showed why in North America they are known as black-bellied plover. A little ringer plover repeatedly flew around and there were three male ruffs with white, black and rufous breeding plumage. Two cranes beyond the gate; greylag & Canada geese, cormorants and gadwalls nearer. Looking down the open area just beyond the end of Brendan’s Marsh we struck luc

Three more records of hoof fungus gnats

Image
This Honeyguide blog is a copy of a short paper that was published in The Norfolk Natterjack, quarterly bulletin of the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists' Society. It seems apt to include it here as two of the new findings were on local (Norfolk) Honeyguide events, and previously reported on the Honeyguide blog (see links in the blog). The paper as published is here:  Natterjack 156, February 2022, pp3-5 ; it followed up   this article   about the third record of this species in England and second in Norfolk. The paper and this blog follows NNNS house style, with capital letters for species. Three more records of Hoof Fungus gnats Inspired by the account of Hoof Fungus Fomes fomentarius in Norfolk’s Wonderful 150 and knowing that the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists’ Society is studying the new Broadland Country Park, when I found Hoof Fungus in the country park I emailed Tony Leech to check that it was known from there. I also mentioned that Sarah Burston, the park’s manager, h