Norfolk Birds & Wildlife 4 Day Tour 3rd- 6th July

Day One 3rd July – Swanton Novers, Foxley Wood, High Kelling

We started the day with a visit to the nearby Swanton Novers watchpoint where we had amazing views of Honey Buzzards, a displaying ♂ Honey Buzzard, followed by a second ♂ Honey Buzzard.

© Male Honey Buzzard – Chris Mills
© Male Honey Buzzard – Chris Mills

Whilst enjoying the Honey Buzzard there was also Yellowhammer, Linnet, Chiff-chaff, Whitethroat around the car park area. The nearby hedgerow and rough grassland was also attracting plenty of butterflies with Gatekeepers, Meadow Brown, Green-veined White & a couple of nice Silver-washed Fritillary.

We then headed to Foxley Wood where there was a wonderful selection of butterflies, good numbers of the commoner species, but also really good numbers of Silver-washed Fritillary including the rarer valezina form and White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak, though these refused to come down low and scope views of a Purple Emperor. There were Common Spotted Orchid and also Enchanters Nightshade along the ride amongst many commoner wildflowers.

© Silver Washed Fritillary – Chris Mills
© Silver Washed Fritillary valezina form – Chris Mills
© White Admiral – Chris Mills

We then headed up to High Kelling and had more butterfly success – with more Silver Washed Fritillaries, but the main target was White-letter Hairstreak. Good numbers of Black & Yellow Longhorn beetles here too.

© White-letter hairstreak – Chris Mills

Day Two 4th July – Themelthorpe, Trimingham & Hickling Broad

We started the day with a look through a moth trap set in my garden overnight. It had been a clear cool evening, so the catch wasn’t a big one but still some lovely things to see!

© Engrailed Chris Mills
© Phycita roborella Chris Mills
© Poplar Hawk-moth Chris Mills
Moth List Themelthorpe
1Poplar Hawk moth
2Clouded Border
3Orange Footman
4Dwarf Cream Wave
5Buff Ermine
6Peppered Moth
8Swallow Prominent
9Willow Beauty
11Bird Cherry Ermine – micro
13Phycitta roborella
14Short-cloaked Moth
15Green Oak Tortrix
17Swallowtail Moth
18Uncertain/Rustic agg
19Scalloped Oak
20Celypha striana

We couldn’t miss the opportunity today to head over and see Norfolk’s first ever breeding Bee-eaters, so thats where we started, the birds were alighting on the telegraph wires and flying over the nesting area, so lovely views perched and in flight.

© Bee-eaters Chris Mills

Also Sand Martin, Yellowhammer & Linnet here plus Common Spotted Orchids.

We then headed to Hickling Broad where we had lunch then headed out on to the reserve, after a bit of effort we got some views of Norfolk Hawker and this was followed up with really good views of a group of young Bearded Tits. Out on the scrapes there was Avocets, Black-tailed godwit, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper.

We had reasonable views of an Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp coming to it’s burrows.

© Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp Chris Mills

The day was very neatly round off with much improved views, compared with yesterday of Purple Hairstreak.

© Purple Hairstreak Chris Mills

Day Three Day 5th July – Santon Downham and Weeting Heath

We started with a walk over Santon Warren, we eventually get really good views of Tree Pipit, this one feeding young. Also a family of Stonechat and good views of Treecreeper, Nuthatch was heard and also Marsh tit here as well.

© Adrian Roach Tree Pipit feeding young

We then headed to Weeting Heath, we had fine views of 4 Stone Curlew and then warden James Symonds opened up the moth trap for us, some cracking moths including some species that were very scarce.

Macro Micro
Barred hooktip  Ancylis Achatana
Black arches Bryotropha terrella
Bordered white  Agriphila geniculea 
Bright line brown eye Agriphila inquinatella
Brimstone  Anania coronata 
Brown scallop Catoptria pinella
Buff arches Celypha lacunana 
Buff ermine  Chrysoteuchia culmella 
Buff tip  Celypha striana
Cinnabar  Eucosma hohenwartiana
Clouded border  Eucosma Cana
Common carpet  Endo tricha flammealias
Common emerald  Eudonia pallida 
Common footman  Exoteleia dodecella
Common white wave  Lozotaeniodes formosana
Coronet  Hedya nubiferiana
Dark barred twin spot carpet  Sitochroa verticalis
Dark umber Coleophora artemisella
Dingy footman  Small magpie 
Double square spot  Yponomeuta envonymella
Double striped pug  Eucosma Campoliliana
Dwarf cream wave  Epiblema Foenella
Early thorn   
Four dotted footman   
Grass emerald   
Green silver lines   
Large yellow underwing   
Least carpet   
Oak nycteoline  
Oblique striped   
Peach blossom   
Peppered moth  
Pine carpet   
Pine hawk  
Heart and club   
Royal mantle   
Scarce footman   
Scalloped oak  
Short cloaked   
Small elephant hawk   
Small emerald   
Small rivulet   
Smoky wainscot   
Straw dot   
Swallow prominent   
Swallow tailed   
Tawny barred angle   
Willow beauty   
Yellow tail   
© Small Elephant Hawk-moth Chris Mills
© Eucosma hohenwartiana Bright Bell Chris Mills
© Green Silver-lines Chris Mills
© Peppered Moth – Chris Mills
© Coronet Chris Mills
One of the real specialities seen out on the reserve © Horehound Plume Chris Mills

Out on the reserve James treated us to a masterclass of knowledge showing and explaining the wonderful scarce and rare arable plants, plus the management required to maintain many of these almost lost species.

© Dark Mullein Chris Mills
© Purple Milk Vetch Chris Mills
© Spiked Speedwell Chris Mills
© Maiden Pink Chris Mills

Also as we wandered the reserve we had 3-4 Woodlarks, plus many grassland butterflies and added Small Skipper to out butterfly list.

© Small Skipper Chris Mills

Day Four 6th July – Cley & Buxton Heath

We started with a look offshore at Cley as there was a brisk NW wind, lots of Sandwich tern, plus several Common and Little Terns. Also a small group of Common Scoter passed by, as well as several Gannets. Most notable was the passage of Mediterranean Gulls with at least 20 passing West.

We then headed down the East bank, better birds were Ruff, Green Sandpiper, flock of Black-tailed Godwit but the real standout bird was a long flight of a Bittern as it flew from Cley reedbeds to Salthouse! We also managed to find a single Grayling sheltering in the dunes out of the wind.

© Grayling Adrian Roach

We then headed to Buxton Heath where there was really excellent numbers of Keeled Skimmers, also 4 Spotted Chaser, a plethora of Marsh Helleborine, quite a few Marsh Fragrant Orchid, plus still a few Silver-studded Blues.

© Marsh Fragrant Orchid Chris Mills
© Marsh Fragrant Orchid Chris Mills
© Silver-studded Blue Orchid Chris Mills
© Keeled Skimmer Chris Mills
Butterfly List Recorded on Tour
1Small Skipper
2Large Skipper
3Large White
4Small White
5Green-veined White
6Silver-studded Blue
7Painted Lady
8Small Tortoiseshell
9Red Admiral
10Silver-washed Fritillary
11White Admiral
12Purple Emperor
15Speckled Wood
18Meadow Brown
20Purple Hairstreak
21White Letter Hairstreak

Dragonfly List Recorded on Tour
1Large Red Damsel
2Banded Demoiselle
3Azure Damselfly
4Blue-tailed Damselfly
5Common Blue Damselfly
6Common Darter
7Keeled Skimmer
8Four spotted Chaser
9Norfolk Hawker