Wells guided walk, 1 April 2021

It may have been April Fool’s Day but no-one was fooled by the sudden drop in temperature after the late March heatwave. Rob Lucking met us in Wells-next-the-Sea and we walked to where a stiff northerly breeze was coming over the sea as we headed along East Quay. The nearest saltmarshes were covered by a high tide; there were brent geese but few waders.

Crab pots with house sparrows on the quay.

Alexanders was dominant along parts if the sea wall, as on much of the coast, though the plant we looked at closely was by the crab pots with house sparrows. The reason was to look at galls, like blisters on its leaves: often galls are from insects, but these are created by a rust fungus Puccinia smyrnii.

It was quite a relief to drop down out of the wind with some shelter from the sea wall as we reached North Point wetlands. Rob explained how this was arable land that the farm found difficult to crop and, with Natural England’s support, created the series of lagoons there now. Two marsh harriers flew past and the male settled on top of a hawthorn. Nearby there was a brown hare next to a heron and more hares on a more distant field.

From left to right: redshank, male shoveler, lapwing, two avocets, female shoveler.

Waders were everywhere: in the lagoons, on the islands, flying over. Avocets were especially showy, and some we saw mating. Oystercatchers and redshanks were noisy in their usual way, and lapwings showed why they are also called peewits. Teals and shovelers were the most numerous ducks, with a sprinkling of gadwalls and shelducks and a single wigeon. A group of gulls on the far lagoon included great black-backs.

As we moved back towards Wells, harriers were joined in the air by a buzzard and then a red kite. We watched a chiffchaff in the scrub as well, though this windy morning small birds were generally low in numbers; reed buntings and singing skylarks were nice to see or hear. The tide was dropping now, making it easier to see curlews.

North Point wetlands, one of the lagoons, Wells.
Honeyguider Dilys lives in Wells and it was a great pleasure to go to her lovely garden for coffee and to eat picnics. Her garden has ivy mining bees, though just holes in a grassy bank today. On disturbed ground below the holes were several plants of henbit deadnettle, which is quite a scarce flower of light arable or disturbed ground.

There are still vacancies on the Honeyguide break in North Norfolk that Rob Lucking is leading in May 2021.

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