Norfolk Wildlife Tour – Orchids, Moths & Wildflowers

Day One – North & North East Norfolk

We couldn’t miss the opportunity today to start the trip to see Norfolk’s breeding Bee-eaters, so that’s where we started, the birds were alighting on the telegraph wires and flying over the nesting area, so lovely views perched and in flight. Also an amazing group of three Green Woodpeckers here all alighted on the same telegraph post. Also Sparrowhawk , Buzzard, Kestrel, Linnets, Sand Martins & Whitethroats.

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 Gatekeepers, Meadow Brown & Green-veined White. Plus a Painted Lady.

Above – White-letter Hairstreak, Silver Washed Fritillary & Painted Lady

We then headed to Cley had lunch and then went out to the hides, where there was a nice mix of waders, Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, several Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, a single Dunlin, a Greenshank, plus a nice group of Spoonbills. Brief views of Bearded Tits, better views of Reed & Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting, Marsh harriers appeared occasionally over the reedbed and a Water Rail called from near the hide.

Spoonbill – Cley above & Long-billed Dowitcher with Black-tailed Godwit

Little Ringed Plover- Cley

Day Two – Breckland and Lakenheath

Today we headed to Breckland and the Pingo pools at Thompson, these offer up a wide diverse of flora and fauna and we enjoyed lots of dragonfly activity around the pond. There was, good numbers of Common Emerald, though despite plenty of searching we couldn’t find Scarce Emerald, maybe a little too late in the season. There was good number of Emperor, Four Spotted Chaser, Azure Blue Damsel, Common Blue Damsel, Blue-tailed Damsel and some nice Southern Marsh Orchids.

Common Darter above and Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp below

We then had lunch at Lakenheath and walked out on to the reserve, we were soon watching a nicely perched Hobby in the trees, with several Marsh harriers parading over the reedbed.

From the hide, the Reed warblers were busy back and forth feeding young, plus a pair of Kingfishers flashed past us several times but refused to perch in front of us. A nice surprise was a juvenile Water Rail feeding quietly in the corner of the pool in and out of the reeds.

On the walk back Great Egret dropped into the reedbed but we ran out of luck today of Bitterns!

Day Three – Weeting Heath & Brecks

Today we headed to Weeting Heath and started the day with fine views of up to 7 Stone Curlew. 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. His enthusiasm and knowledge a joy to behold and the group were thoroughly engaged!

Maiden’s Pink – one of may rare and beautiful plants at Weeting

In the afternoon we visited one of the forestry clearings I regularly visit. Even in July we did rather well with multiple Tree Pipits, fine views of 2 Woodlark, Stonechats, Yellowhammers, Whitethroats all giving very nice views.

Day Four – Moth Trap & Buxton Heath

We started the day emptying my moth trap, it had been a dry but slightly cooler evening, so not perfect conditions but nevertheless there was still some lovely moths to see.

Themelthorpe Moth List

Eyed Hawk-mothSmerinthus ocellata
Poplar Hawk-mothLaothoe populi
Green Silver-linesPseudoips prasinana
Small MagpieAnania hortulata
Dwarf Cream WaveIdaea fuscovenosa
Ghost MothHepialus humuli
Marbled Orchard TortrixHedya nubiferana
Treble Brown SpotIdaea trigeminata
Rosy FootmanMiltochrista miniata
Common DrillDichrorampha petiverella
Common FootmanEilema lurideola
Buff FootmanEilema depressa
Willow BeautyPeribatodes rhomboidaria
Common MarbleCelypha lacunana
Clouded BorderLomaspilis marginata
Yellow Oak ButtonAleimma loeflingiana
Olive PearlUdea olivalis
Uncertain/Rustic agg.Hoplodrina octogenaria/blanda
Heart and DartAgrotis exclamationis
Bramble ShootNotocelia uddmanniana
Dwarf Cream WaveIdaea fuscovenosa
Black ArchesLymantria monacha
Barred StrawGandaritis pyraliata
Garden Grass-veneerChrysoteuchia culmella
Satin Grass-veneerCrambus perlella
Single-dotted WaveIdaea dimidiata
ClayMythimna ferrago
Dark ArchesApamea monoglypha
Smoky WainscotMythimna impura
Common Yellow ConchAgapeta hamana
Double Square-spotXestia triangulum
Mottled RusticCaradrina morpheus

Eyed-hawk Moth

We then headed to Buxton Heath where we had really excellent numbers of Keeled Skimmers, plus good numbers of Silver-studded Blues.  A lovely plethora of Marsh Helleborine, also Heath Spotted Orchid and Southern Marsh orchid. Commoner butterflies included Small Copper, Small Skipper, Small Heath, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Large White.

Keeled Skimmer

Silver-studded Blue