Thursday, 21 May 2015

May 21st Holt Country Park and Cley Marshes NWT

The Holt Giant wood sculpture
After seeing my first orchid of the year yesterday at Strumpshaw with that common twayblade, I am at Holt Country Park with my mum to find my second. I have read about this site being good for bird's-nest orchids. This is an orchid that has 'needle in a haystack' written all over it. It will be difficult to find as it is brown and looks dead and stick-like. This appearence is due to the fact it gets it's nutrients directly from the roots of beech trees and has no need for leaves to photosynthesis and that means no chlorophyll, the stuff that makes a plant green. The plant's name comes from the plant's roots that resembles a bird's nest. As interesting as this plant is, we had no luck finding any during today's visit.

The search for orchids may have failed, but there were other exciting things we encountered on the way round. At a pond, we saw a heron land on top of one of the pine trees for a few moments and we heard what I believe is a firecrest. In the video below, listen out for a loud, fast, high pitched trill. We also heard the songs of yellowhammer, reed bunting, chiffchaffs, linnet, blackcaps, stock doves, buzzards, coal tits, goldcrests, long-tailed tits and even a tawny owl making a series of territorial 'kewick' calls. While searching a bank beside a path, I disturbed a slow-worm, which slithered and wiggled to saftey in a mound of decaying foliage.

Spider-hunting Wasp Anoplius viaticus (I think)
Another wood sculpture
We came across a lot of other woodland plants including bluebells, red campion, ramsons, rhododendron and wild strawberry. There was an area fenced off for wild plants to grow and a lone lily of the valley was the best of the lot growing there. It's beautiful white bells totally made up for not finding an orchid.
Lily of the Valley
Wild Strawberry
Creeping Buttercup with beetles feeding on it

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
As we returned to the car park, I noticed a fast moving insect hovering by the red campions. At the time, I identified it as a hummingbird hawkmoth, but I later learned that it was something much rarer. I was told by the wardens that it was a broad-bordered bee hawkmoth, which like the hummingbird hawkmoth, are migratory moths from Europe and feeds while hovering. It is Europe's answer to the hummingbirds of the Americas. I was lucky to get one good shot of this very fast moving creature. There were a few butterflies today too, including brimstones and holly blues.

After lunch, Mum and I made our way to Cley. We were a bit disappointed with our views from the hides, as there were very few birds to see. A handful of avocets, shelducks, black-tailed godwits, a pied wagtail, a marsh harrier carrying nesting material and a few ducks, that was about it. The low numbers of birds made the landscape they were in seem very vast and empty than usual.

Pied Wagtail
Apparently, the action was had from the East Bank. There were several good birds around there including a couple of nice migrants. Of course we had to go check it out and we found that we weren't the only ones. A crowd formed on part of the bank with scopes pointing out onto the marsh below them. On the way, we noticed that there were more birds here than there were from the hides. Redshanks, lapwings, mute swans, oystercatchers, little egrets, shelducks and an enormous crèche of greylag goslings, with a family with even younger goslings following behind.

Greylags with goslings
Greylag crèche
Curlew Sandpiper and two Ringed Plovers
When we reached the crowd, an NWT (Norfolk Wildlife Trust) volunteer pointed out the migrants that everyone was looking at. A curlew sandpiper, which should be at it's breeding grounds in the Arctic by now, was hanging out with a couple of ringed plovers. It is slightly larger than a dunlin and has a slightly longer curved bill. These birds have came from North Africa and are here for a pit stop to help them continue their journey north.

Pectorial Sandpiper

Behind them and on the other side of a pool of water was a pectorial sandpiper. This bird is an American wader that has flown off course from across the Atlantic Ocean and has ended up here at Cley. Every year, a couple or more pectorial sandpipers turn up here, but will always fly back to the States after a quick refuel. They may not look exciting, but I guess the draw of seeing both these sandpipers is the long journeys they have made. Nature is always turning up new surprises.

1 comment:

  1. Love the hawkmoth - what a brilliant find and well done for getting a photo of it! I'm also on the lookout for bird's nest orchids, but haven't seen any so far. I think they're only just starting to flower though.