Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Trinity Broads Celebration

Eilish Rothney, Trinity Broads Warden

Sunday 3 August 2014 11am to 4pm
Location: Essex and Suffolk Water, Water Treatment Works, Ormesby, Norfolk, NR29 3LR

For the first time in over a decade we will be opening the Essex and Suffolk Water (ESW) Treatment Works at Ormesby with an event to celebrate both the wonderful area in which we live; its wildlife and viewing the complex processes that produce our drinking water from these local lakes. 

Norfolk Wildlife Trust and ESW will be showing how protecting the environment and water quality in the lakes both encourages the rich wildlife of this area and also ensures a good and reliable water supply for the villages around. 

There will be experts on hand and lots of activities for grown- ups and children alike; bug hunts, moth trapping, bird box making to name but a few. The Trinity Broads Singers Community Choir will serenade us with world music  and . . . . . . it’s all FREE.

Most displays and activities will be available throughout the day. Some of the guided activities such as the meadow minibeast and woodland bug hunts will occur at intervals throughout the day (no booking necessary). 

Bird box making will take place 11am-12.30pm, 1.15-2pm, 2.45-4pm or as materials allow. 

The Trinity Broads Singers will perform at 12.30pm and again at 2pm.

Tours of the water treatment process are self- guided with experts on hand to explain what happens and there will be demonstrations taking place of some of the treatment processes. 

Light refreshments will be available or bring a picnic to enjoy by the Broad.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Living Landscapes: practical tasks

Mark Webster, Project Assistant

It’s been a very busy first six months for me working in the Delivering Living Landscapes pilot project areas of the Gaywood Valley near Kings Lynn and in the Bure and Ant Valleys of the Broads.  Two contrasting areas in many ways, although both are packed with wildlife – we have had no problem finding plenty of places that we can improve for wildlife outside our nature reserves!

We have been seeking out places where wildlife can spread out into the wider landscape – buffer zones around sites which are already good for wildlife; corridors for species to disperse along; and stepping stones amidst areas that are currently not so wildlife-friendly.

My personal highlights so far include:

  • Planting 750 mixed native trees at the spectacular historic site of St Benet’s Abbey, which will provide nectar sources, berries, nesting sites and shelter along a 200m long section outside the boundary, linking existing small copses to form a liner corridor for wildlife.  Existing excessive growth of hawthorn was also cut back where it was at risk of damaging the heritage value of this 1,000 year old archaeological site.
  • Establishing a brand new wildflower area at Sutton Staithe in a popular recreation area, with over 20 species of native wildflower planted into a section of amenity grassland. Birdboxes were also installed, and we will continue to work with the parish council to advise them on how best to manage the area.
  • Digging new pond in a neglected wet area of Filby, with a pathway established alongside. The area is adjacent to the local school and it is expected that they will use this for environmental education work. 
  •  Planting poppies to commemorate WW1 at the Rookery, Kings Lynn, in an amenity area between the local schools and an ancient woodland
  • Helping to develop a new wildlife-themed garden being established at Kings Lynn Arts Centre, with bird-boxes, insect boxes, bird-feeders.  This is right in the town centre of urban Kings Lynn, surrounded by concrete, but already has a resident blackbird!
  • Making a new circular woodland path around Reffley Spring Wood, enabling local people to explore the site and enjoy all-year-round access to nature right on their doorsteps.
But as well as these, we have also been working to improve habitats in South Walsham, Stalham, Roydon, Wroxham... the list goes on.

Over 100 people have been involved so far, but we are still keen for more to join us.  So if you would like to get some free exercise in some of the most beautiful places in Norfolk, please contact Gemma and me via wild@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk or by calling 01603 598333. Or you can just turn up and join in – click here for Bure Valley tasks, and click here for the Gaywood Valley. See you soon!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Flora on NWT Weeting Heath

Matt Twydell, Weeting Heath Summer Warden

Spiked speedwell
NWT Weeting Heath is a prime example of a Breck Grass Heathland. Because of this we get a number of specialist Breckland plants that grow here. The main and rarest one is the Spiked Speedwell Veronica spicata (Eastern sup species). This plant flowers on the heath during July, some of the denser patches are fenced off at Weeting to protect the plants from grazing.

Spanish catchfly

A lot of the plants that grow at Weeting require ground disturbance for the successful establishment of new seedlings, this can be accomplished through turf stripping, rotivating or naturally through livestock or rabbits. One plant that benefits from disturbed ground is Spanish Catchfly Silene otites, these inconsequential flowers make this a hard to spot species in the long grass. 

One of the more vibrant flowers that grows here is the Maiden Pink Dianthus deltoides, which seems to have been spreading in recent years.

Maiden pink

Broad Leaved Hellborines, one of the few Orchids recorded at Weeting Heath are now in flower outside the Visitor Centre in small numbers.

Most of these plants grow in areas which are restricted to the public due to nesting stone curlews or woodlarks. You are only able to venture onto the heath when being accompanied by either the warden or a volunteer, but please do enquire at the visitor centre.

Stone Curlews
Over the last month we have had an increase in stone curlews at Weeting Heath, with a peak count of 17! Most of them are part of a post breeding flock which includes juvenile and adults. But we do have a couple of new pairs that have arrived. One of these went down on a nest a couple of weeks ago, so fingers crossed we shall have some more chicks by the end of the first week of August.

We also rang another chick several weeks ago, which has this type of flag on its leg, so keep an eye out for it.
Stone curlew chick


The upper right black (its ring combination) pair, who have fledged 1 chick already, hatched another 2 chicks last week as well. We will be hoping to go out and ring these as well in a few weeks.

Skipper on scabious plant
Other Wildlife News
Last week I found a juvenile redstart in the pines on the heath, which probably means that they bred on site or the surrounding woods, which is a first for a number of years here at Weeting.

Turtle doves, now a rare site in the countryside, continue to be seen on the woodland trail here at Weeting, with a total of three singing males being seen, young haven’t been seen so far but hopefully they have successfully fledged young this year.

Butterflies continue to be seen in good numbers. On my last butterfly transect I counted over 300 individual butterflies comprising 15 different species; the first painted lady of the year was also seen on the site last week.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How well do you know your butterflies - THE ANSWERS

David Fieldhouse, Seasonal Education Officer

1: Gatekeeper

The gatekeeper is also known as the hedge brown due to its penchant for frequenting country hedgerows edged with brambles and long grasses. The gatekeeper employs an unhurried dancing flight as it hunts for ragwort, brambles and other food sources. This species can easily be mistaken for the meadow brown; the two can be distinguished due to the duller appearance of the meadow brown and the single white pupil in the eye spots of its forewing.

2: Speckled Wood
In the 18th Century this butterfly became known as the Enfield eye when it was identified in rural Middlesex. Today it can usually be found patrolling dappled woodland glades. The speckled wood has a greater tolerance for shade than almost any other butterfly except perhaps the white admiral. Its preferred food source is aphid honeydew located high in the woodland canopy. However, it often descends to jostle with meadow browns, ringlets and skippers amongst the bramble blossoms in sunny woodland rides. 

3: Swallowtail
I already waxed lyrical about this wonderful creature in my previous blog post so I’ll keep it short. Go see this superb specimen if you get the chance. The early summer will hopefully lead to a good sized second brood between mid-August and mid-September.

4: Silver studded blue
Unfortunately, this beautiful blue has become a great rarity in most parts of the UK. Countless colonies have been destroyed or shaded out. Furthermore, a reduction in rabbit populations due to myxomatosis has reduced the availability of food plants. One of the few places populations still persist is amongst the heaths of Norfolk. This is an extremely sedentary butterfly that lives in discrete colonies. The male can be distinguished from the similar common blue thanks to the thicker black margins to the wings. 

5: Brimstone
The word butterfly was probably first used to describe this butter-coloured insect. The brimstone is a widespread countryside wanderer; it can regularly be seen in urban habitats too. This species never sits with its wings open; instead it presents a wonderful leaf mimic in its underside patterning. These butterflies are powerful flyers and can often be found miles away from their food source, perhaps migrating to fresh territories.

6: Peacock
The peacock is a favourite of both butterfly lovers and gardeners alike. Leave a patch of nettles to grow wild in your garden and there is a good possibility of seeing the black hairy caterpillars frequenting the leaves in June. In late summer and autumn buddleia plants can become swamped by this attractive specimen. This species has one of the largest ranges of any UK butterfly. It can be found throughout most of the UK. The peacock is one of our most easily recognized species thanks to its bright colouring and distinctive eye-spots.

7: Comma
The unique ragged outline of the comma distinguishes it from all other butterflies. This butterfly is an expert in disguise. Not only does its caterpillar look like a birds dropping but the butterfly hides so successfully during winter that few naturalists have seen its resting place. This butterfly delights in sunshine and will bask for hours with wings spread. The comma occupies a small territory, often consisting of just a few metres. It will patrol this territory, inspecting all intruders in the search for a female whilst sparring with rival males.

8: Small Copper
The small copper is the sole remaining member of the British coppers, as its relative the large copper became extinct in 1865. The small copper is relatively numerous in the UK thanks to the abundance of the caterpillars’ preferred food plants of sorrel and common dock. In good years, with lots of sunshine, three or even four broods can be produced. Despite its size the male small copper is a quarrelsome and restless little butterfly. 

Photographs courtesy of; Richard Porter, Bob Carpenter, Davis Rose, Annabelle Tipper, Paul Treloar & Elizabeth Dack.