UK HOLIDAY - part 3 : EAST NORFOLK
After being chased by the rain all day, it was great to arrive at Andy’s place for a rest. However, we didn’t rest for too long as I still had new species to tick off and we went for a walk round the village. The sun came out and I enjoyed the splendour of rural Norfolk. One of the first things we saw was another new species of Odonata with a Willow Emerald Damselfly in the lane near Andy’s house. This species is a recent coloniser to the UK and is now apparently pretty widespread. Another invasive species we saw evidence of was the Elm Zig-zag Sawfly, which had made characteristic feeding patterns on many elm leaves round the village (although we never saw a live ‘un). This species has only been discovered in the last couple of years and has expanded its range exponentially in the last year or so. Coming to a tree near you! A search of the marshy areas of Shotesham Common found quite a few new plant species for me including Angelica, Fen Bedstraw, Meadowsweet and Spear Mint. I couldn’t stop smelling the leaves of the latter as they transported me right back to my childhood and unwrapping strips of ‘Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum’.
The next morning (11th August) we had planned to join a moth-trapping session at Strumpshaw Fen where I hoped to get some decent wetland species, but the overnight weather was peculiarly cold and the traps were practically empty, so it was cancelled. Andy’s moth trap was also pretty empty which was disappointing. We headed for Strumpshaw anyway and we had a lovely morning walking around in the sun. I saw lots of marshland plants I’d never seen before - 21 new species - some of which are quite range-restricted and don’t grow in many places away from the fens. The full list: Frog-bit, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Fern, Water Chickweed, Yellow Loosestrife, Water Dock, Marsh Pea, Cowbane, Milk Parsley, Great Fen-sedge, Marsh Cinquefoil, Guelder Rose, Yellow Water-lily, Common Hemp-nettle, Orange Balsam, Golden Dock, Water-soldier, Everlasting Pea, Aspen, Bullwort, Rigid Hornwort. We had a look around the Milk Parsley for Swallowtail caterpillars but we couldn’t find any, but there were lots of insects on the wing in the sun. We disturbed a Beautiful China-mark which was indeed pretty beautiful and no doubt very common here, but new for me. Many species were not identified but we had the common marsh-loving beetle Anthocomus rufus, a large leaf-cutting bee Megachile ligniseca as well as plenty of common butterflies and dragonflies. Perched on the lily pads along the edge of the slow-moving River Yare, we saw a few Small Red-eyed Damselflies - my 8th new dragonfly of the week. We saw a few birds but they were not really what we were looking for. Plenty of Marsh Harriers soaring about, a great Hobby circling above the car park and a few Marsh Tits in the large trees by the lanes. I took photos of some fish which were showing well in the sunlight and they turned out to be Rudd according to the internet. We had a fabulous morning’s walk round the reserve and could have stayed all day - a great place.
Around lunchtime we had to depart and I managed two more plant ticks - Hoary Mullein along the Norwich by-pass and Stinking Hellebore back in Shotesham. I then made my way south to Stansted to pick up the family from the airport to start our holiday proper. So many thanks to Andy for showing me lots of new stuff. In the 48 hours we had pan-listing in four counties, including a few post-trip identifications, I managed 92 new species which was superb.