Saturday, 18 July 2020

14th July - Baconsthorpe woods

Situated behind the castle lies Baconsthorpe woods, a thin strip of mixed woodland made up of both deciduous and evergreen trees. Access to the wood is limited but two footpaths run through it allowing one the chance to revel in dappled sunlight breaking through the canopy. Either side of the wood lie arable fields and hedgerows. A recent walk there on a sunny afternoon produced a few good birds and other goodies. The fields to the south had many Swallows, House and Sand martins feeding over them. This in turn attracted the attention of a Hobby which I watched for a good 10 minutes trying to catch these birds. In the end it settled for a smaller snack. Swooping down it plucked an Emperor dragonfly out of the air with its talons. Raising its feet to its beak it gently plucked off the dragonfly's wings which spiralled down to the ground before snaffling the body. Three Red kites, six Common buzzards a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk completed what was a good tally of raptor species.
   The woods themselves produced both Green and Great spotted woodpeckers along with Goldcrests, Treecreeper, Marsh tit and Bullfinch. Below is a selection of the smaller creatures and plants that caught my eye.

White plume moth

Close up
Riband wave

A tiny toadlet

The skeletal remains of a decayed Ash tree key

Close up
Black and Yellow longhorn beetle

Thursday, 9 July 2020

4th July - A visit to Holkham NNR

Hearing that Holkham NNR had reopened after lockdown I was keen to pay the site a visit. After paying £6 for 4 hours parking at Lady Anne's Drive we began to explore. First thing to do was to check the trunks of the Poplar trees that line the drive in search of Hornet clearwing moths. We found many exit holes which adults had emerged from but no sign of the adults themselves.

Hornet clearwing moth (a superb mimic) stock photo

From the boardwalk we headed down the Western track with butterflies constantly flitting all around us. A good selection was seen. Peacock, Comma, Red admiral, Brown argus, Essex and Small skippers, Meadow brown, Ringlet, Speckled wood, Gatekeeper, Common and Holly blue and Small tortoiseshell were all abundant, while we saw 1 single Purple hairstreak high in an ancient Oak's canopy and 4 Dark-green fritillaries.


Mating Large whites

Dark green fritillary 

Other highlights in the woods included a spectacular Long-horned beetle and a lovely Mint leaf beetle.

Mint leaf beetle

Cinnabar moth caterpillar

Black and yellow longhorn beetle

29th June - The devil's darning needles

The slender bodies of damselflies have given rise to the old country name of devil's darning needles. Much slimmer and more delicate than their larger cousins the dragonflies, they are often overlooked. There are just 26 species of this insect in the UK some of which are extremely rare and endangered.
Local walks to the castle mere and around the local lanes have produced a good number of sightings. Here are a few that stayed still long enough for a photo:
Male Common blue damselfly

Side on shot of male Common blue damselfly

Poor record shot of a male Banded demoiselle

Male and female Blue-tailed damselflies mating 

Immature male Blue-tailed damselfly