Posts

Breydon Water, Great Yarmouth and Buckenham Marshes, 3 November 2020 – Honeyguide local event.

Image
Using the long-range weather forecast to help set the next date of the weekly local Honeyguide outing – though now the last for at least a month on account of the new, imminent lockdown – was due to hit a set-back eventually, and it was raining as we assembled behind Great Yarmouth’s railway station by the sea wall in the Asda car park. The heavens opened and we retreated to cars, rain followed by hail. Happily, the downpour was sharp and short and we were soon out again, watching a flock of redshanks fly around both the flooded saltmarsh and over the car park. A rainy start: 09:37 on 3 November 2020. There were so many birds ahead we paused at first in the shelter of Breydon Bridge to scan the flocks of birds moving over and near the main high tide roost. These settled and we moved into the sunshine a little farther along the seawall. It was a brilliant spectacle. The largest numbers of birds in flight were wigeons, many of which settled either on the open water or in high tide pools

Thorpe St Andrew, 26 October 2020 – Honeyguide’s third local guided walk.

Image
Thorpe St Andrew was, perhaps, a surprising choice for a guided walk, but it proved popular – fully booked and enjoyed. Billed as ‘hidden’ Thorpe St Andrew it was essentially a walk around the Thorpe St Andrew Conservation Area set up to protect buildings, though for our walk with more of a focus on natural elements. We started from my home at 9:30 (just outside the Conservation Area) and, having watched a female sparrowhawk come over, we walked in the sunshine down to Yarmouth Road. It was unusual to be within sight of NWT Thorpe Marshes and not visit the nature reserve (one group member went there earlier and all have been other occasions). An early building to note was the former RSPB office at 97 Yarmouth Road, described in the conservation area’s character assessment as “a nineteenth century cottage though unpleasantly close to the busy road”. Thorn-apple, with fruits. On River Green we became the fifth Honeyguide group – following on from four ‘ Norfolk breaks ’ in September

Norfolk's Wonderful 150

Image
  This is a kind of book review … though it might be more honest to describe it as a plug for a splendid publication that dropped through my letterbox very recently. ‘Norfolk's Wonderful 150’ is a slim volume described as ‘A collection of special species from Norfolk to celebrate the 150 th anniversary of the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists’ Society’. The anniversary was actually 2019; various practical things delayed the project and it’s well worth the wait. Here’s the plug: it’s available by post – follow this link -   for just £10 including postage. As I'm a member of NNNS mine arrived free of charge, which is even better. Norfolk's Wonderful 150. I should declare an interest. I was asked (and I agreed) to write the account for common crane, then later for little tern as well. Honeyguide leader Tim Strudwick did rather more, namely five accounts for solitary bees and wasps, for which he is the county recorder. The outcome is accounts of 150 species that all h

Holt County Park, 19 October 2020 – Honeyguide’s second local guided walk.

Image
I chose Holt County Park as the second location for Honeyguide’s local guided walks as it had proved popular with those on our ‘ Norfolk breaks ’ in September, and to come here today as the weather forecast looked good and there was a good chance for autumn colours and late flowers. Holt Lowes SSSI in the sunshine. And so it proved, despite the uncertainties of a long-range weather forecast. Moving on from the attractions of the car park, loos and coffee as a meeting point, we walked steadily through the plantation woodland and onto the heath of Holt Lowes, taking an ant i-clockwise circuit with the boggy bits by the Glaven River to our right. Heather and bell heather were still in flower plus the paler pink blooms of cross-leaved heath in wetter areas. Other lingering flowers included marsh lousewort, ragged robin and lesser spearwort. Leaves on sundews proved harder to find than in September: there were a few, but mostly the plants were limited to tiny stalks. Marsh lousewort. West

Potter Heigham marshes, 12 October 2020 – Honeyguide’s first local guided walk.

Image
The switch from overseas holidays to UK activities continues, dictated by the constraints of coronavirus, and with four successful ‘ Norfolk breaks ’ in September to look back on it felt like a good time to offer some of the Norfolk break venues as a morning walk for local Honeyguiders. That was behind the gathering at 9:30 of five Honeyguiders, Julie Durdin and me in the big car park at Potter Heigham. The early arrivals had seen skeins of pink-footed geese fly over. We could all see the high water levels in the River Thurne after recent rainy days that had led to yesterday’s story on the Eastern Daily Press website about a hire boat trapped under the low bridge. Better news was that the long-range weather forecast checked when setting the date proved correct: there was sunshine, and it was dry. Honeyguiders at Potter Heigham Marshes. Progress was slow alongside the river and Julie left the birdwatchers to set off for a brisk walk. On the grazing marshes beyond the river were large

Perfoliate alexanders

Image
Early on in lockdown a lady phoned to ask if I could help to identify a plant from some photos. I recognised the odd-looking yellow-green umbellifers as perfoliate alexanders (spelled here with a low case A despite the name coming from the Egyptian port of Alexandria). Perfoliate alexanders, Norwich, 25 April 2020 (Roger Jones) Perfoliate alexanders is a flower I hadn’t seen in the form shown here, though it is similar to a flower I know from Crete. More of that later. The photos had been taken by Roger Jones, and I know Roger & Jenny well. They live not far away and often come on the guided walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes, contributing their knowledge and enthusiasm there and, like me, on the NWT’s blog and elsewhere. Roger had photographed the perfoliate alexanders near the River Wensum in central Norwich, not far from picturesque Pull’s Ferry. Armed with a name, he quickly tracked some other records by experience botanists in a national database. One of those no

Bee orchids bonus in lockdown

Image
I admit to being less optimistic than usual when I looked for bee orchids by Big Yellow Self Storage on Canary Way in central Norwich. This year is the 12 th   season that I’ve kept tabs on this at first sight rather unpromising piece of rough grassland opposite Norwich City FC’s football ground. Pessimism soon turned to delight. There they were, and after several attempts to count them I can confirm 19 flowering spikes of bee orchids showing on 11 th  June 2020. That’s not as many as last year but more than the year before. Bee orchid by Big Yellow Self Storage in Norwich My initial doubts were for two reasons. One is that I’d noticed that the grass and flowers had been cut around the end of April and again more recently. It turns out this was an oversight during lockdown. The second thing was this year’s unusual weather – the sunniest and driest May on record for England. Bee orchids can often be a bit hit and miss, and in dry conditions far fewer blooms are likely.