Rainbow birds

Although my music schedule is still pretty full on – I have a new violin concerto to premier on the 9th July and a performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” on 14th July! – I did manage to get over to just beyond Cromer today to see the bee-eaters which are trying to nest there. They were there last year, but are a relatively new bird for the UK, certainly in terms of breeding. Another effect of climate change!

The RSPB are charging £5 per person to park in an “official” car park in a field next to where the bee-eaters are, even if, like me, you are already a member. This seems a little exorbitant (I think last year it was £5 per vehicle) particularly since it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see the birds. To me it smacks of someone in upper management seeing an opportunity for the organisation to make a lot of money, perhaps forgetting that short term gains at the possible expense of goodwill are never going to be a good as long-term giving via new membership gained through not over-charging for a one-off! I spoke to an RSPB volunteer while I was there who had exactly the same viewpoint. (small rant over!)

On the bright side I did see three beautiful bee-eaters, only the second time I have ever seen them in the UK. But after a few minutes watching them the weather closed in, they flew into their nest hole, and I drove home!

I’ve yet to get a good photo of a bee-eater; this is the best I have so far (photo taken in 2015 in Spain)

Brenda writes: “Steady overnight rain dampened the enthusiasm of the moths although I still had a good selection and one new moth, scarce footman, which is much more slender than common footman and has a more orange head.

scarce footman

After cleaning the caravan I decided to have a walk to The Lookout at Lady Anne’s Drive in Holkham. The track at the far end of Pinewoods comes out opposite a meadow called the Dell. It’s a rich habitat and there just might be orchids. At ground level there was yellow rattle, eyebright and lady’s bedstraw. The long stalks of marsh thistle topped by a cluster of deep purple flowers towered above.

marsh thistle

I was pleased to see huge numbers of common spotted orchids but the biggest thrill was dozens of marsh helleborine.

common spotted orchid
marsh helleborine

Back on the path, there was a good selection of new species in flower: Scrambling through the vegetation was meadow vetchling, with wood sage, a heathy woodland specialist which gets its name because its leaves look like sage. There was also square-stalked St John’s wort, willow-leaved dock, lesser burdock and woody nightshade.

meadow vetchling
willow-leaved dock

Last week we had cinnabar moths in the trap. Today I saw some cinnabar caterpillars on their food plant, ragwort. That’s why, although it is poisonous and a killer for horses, we need to give ragwort a home.

ragwort with cinnabar moth caterpillars (and something else we haven’t identified yet!)

Having made it to The Lookout I had a sandwich and a cup of tea, sitting beside a bank of black knapweed with weld and common mallow beyond. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

A bank of wild flowers near The Lookout

New species for July 3rd:
Birds: European bee-eater
Moths: scarce footman
Flowers: marsh thistle, common spotted orchid, marsh helleborine, meadow vetchling, wood sage, square-stalked St John’s wort, willow-leaved dock, lesser burdock, woody nightshade

Birds = 204
Moths = 161
Wildflowers = 234