Today Brenda and I both had a bit of free time in the afternoon and so we decided to head out for a walk together. I suggested that we take two vehicles so that we could do a one-way walk covering the part of the Norfolk coast path that I’ve been visiting for the past few days.
So we left one car at Thornham harbour and drove on together to Holme for the walk back east through Holme Dunes nature reserve and on, via a bit I hadn’t yet walked, to Thornham. It was another lovely late afternoon and evening and straight away on the dunes section of the walk Brenda was seeing several new plants in flower – more on those from her below. Whilst she was identifying plants I heard a lesser whitethroat. Having got to know the call for the first time in Otmoor last week I was really pleased to recognise it straight away and then see the bird reasonably well as it flitted between various bushes.
The other day I decided to buy a mirrorless camera, a Canon R7. It arrived today and so this was my first try out of it with my trusty Sigma 150 – 600mm lens. The three main reasons for changing camera (from my Canon 5DSR) were better picture quality at high ISO settings, much faster frame rate in burst mode (ie. it can take more photos per second than the old camera – by quite a lot!), and eye-tracking autofocus. All these things should help me with my wildlife photography, but of course any new modern camera takes some getting used to and so my success rate for in focus photos today was somewhat poor! But I reckon a little more practise and a bit of tweaking of the settings and things will get much better! (and I did get some good shots as shown below)
One of the successful photos was of a male stonechat: I’ve shown stonechats before but they are so lovely that it’s worth having another one today!
I also had good views of a dunnock: Common but rather nice birds.
On my favourite flooded field at Thornham there was still a wood sandpiper and I also got some good shots of a little ringed plover.
Brenda writes: “We continue to have low numbers of moths in the trap but again there were two new species, treble lines, a brown moth with three cross lines on its wing which I think is very pretty, and our second hawk-moth of the year, an eyed hawk-moth which, like the peacock butterfly, has an ‘eye’ on its hind wing. I love the black band down its head.
I have done virtually no gardening this year so far and so our garden has turned into a bit of a wild flower meadow. Before getting out the lawnmower I decided to do a flower survey and found that there are 23 species currently in flower. Not bad at all. There was a big patch of goosegrass by the compost bins. A member of the bedstraw family with whorls of pinnate (pointed) leaves along its stalks, it puts out runners that scramble over everything, and it has tiny white flowers. It spreads its seeds – which are little green balls – by sticking to animals (and humans) as they brush past.
Apart from dandelion itself the dandelion family are very difficult to identify, and I groan when I see them! Today, after poring over my various books, I am fairly happy that the tall yellow-flowered plant flourishing in our back lawn is rough hawksbeard.
I got cracking on the grass cutting and as I was weeding out the gravel by the summerhouse a moth crawled up onto my sleeve with what looked like vestigial wings on its back. Perhaps this was a species which has a flightless female and so I put it in a moth pot to identify later. One hour on I came back to find a beautiful angleshades moth in the pot! It must have just emerged from its pupa and hadn’t unfolded its wings when I disturbed it.
I got off to a very slow start on our walk because everywhere I looked there were flowers. The first was bugloss which is in the same family as forget-me-nots and green alkanet, with very hairy and wavy edged leaves. It likes growing in sandy places as does houndstongue with its greyish leaves and deep red flowers.
Other new species were yellow rattle, pink oxalis, weld, thrift, field mouse-ear, white clover and columbine. I’m slowly closing the gap in this race…”
New species for May 16th:
Moths: eyed hawk-moth, treble lines, angleshades
Flowers: rough hawksbeard, bugloss, houndstongue, yellow rattle, pink oxalis, weld, thrift, field mouse-ear, white clover, columbine