Saturday 11 June 2022

Norfolk: Old Haunts with Old Mates

Norfolk, my much-missed former residence, was the location for a Wildlife Travel tour led by myself and old friend, James Lowen. The trip was all about the 'Bs', with a day in the Broads, a day in the Brecks and a day at the Beach! James organised moth trapping including at Weeting Heath - thanks to Joe the volunteer. This yielded a range of fantastic moths, including many that were new to me.

The Broads

Our first day started with a moth trap led by James, in the hotel garden. About 40 species trapped, including a lovely Lime Hawkmoth and a Beautiful Golden Y. 


Lime Hawk, Beautiful Golden Y and European Corn Borer

Next we headed for my old stomping ground of Hickling Broad. Swallowtails and Green-eyed Hawkers showed brilliantly, which was a relief as many of the clients were keen to see these iconic species. 

On the bird front, three Spoonbills were the highlight, along with good views of dragonfly-hunting Hobbies, multiple Marsh Harriers, Little Ringed Plover, Bearded Tits etc. Three Adders were a fine bonus as were my first Variable Damselflies.

After Hickling, we had an hour at Strumpshaw Fen, close to where we used to live. A Scarce Chaser posed for the group and we got brief views of a Balsam Carpet, a pretty scarce moth.


The moth trap at Weeting Heath was sublime, with loads of new species for me and some real Breckland specials, such as Lunar Yellow Underwing and Oblique Striped. The group marvelled at Poplar Hawkmoth, Clouded Buff and others. 

Clouded Buff, Oblique Striped and Lunar Yellow Underwing

We could have spend all morning with the moths, but the lure of Stone Curlews eventually drew us away, which we enjoyed from the hide for a while. We also had nice views of a Spotted Flycatcher near here. Time was getting on, so we headed off to a few local sites where we looked for scarce day-flying moths and some rare plants, adding Field Wormwood and Proliferous Pink to the list. We finished the day at Lakenheath Fen, reminiscing about the Golden Orioles we used to see here in the past.

The Beach

Kelling Heath was our first destination, where we found Silver-studded Blue, Green Hairstreak, July Belle, Woodlark, Stonechat and Red-banded Digger Wasp amongst other heathland species. The large wasp was superb, diligently filling in and covering up the hole it had dug to house it's egg and prey. Class.

Green Hairstreak, Red-banded Digger Wasp, Dodder ('strawberry laces') and July Belle (courtesy of Charles Waters).

Morston Quay and a cruise to see seals was next on the agenda, although the seals were miles away on a sandbank off Warham. We did however see a Spoonbill flying over, plus a few late migrant waders and great views of Little and Sandwich Terns. 

With a change to the itinerary, we decided to head to Titchwell where we delighted in dozens of Avocet chicks of various ages, Little Gulls, a range of waders and best of all a spotty Spotted Sandpiper, the first in Norfolk since the 90s! The whole group managed to get reasonable views of this little wader through the scope which was great. On the way back, one of the group found a smart Bee Orchid next to the path, a fine way to end a great trip. 

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