Thursday, 13 July 2017

July 13th Ranworth Broad

My youngest brother has brought his girlfriend from Birmingham back with him for a 2 week visit. It is her first visit to Norfolk and today, we have brought her along to Ranworth to see part of the Norfolk Broads. Before making our way to the nature reserve, my brother took her up to the top of Ranworth church, which provides great views of the Broadland landscape.
Swallowtail Caterpillar

Along the boardwalk of Ranworth Broad, I was showing everyone the plants and insects of the reed bed on either side of us. There were a few milk parsley dotted around and after a little bit of scanning around the plant's leaves, I managed to locate a couple of swallowtail caterpillars. They were still quite small in their black and white stage, though one of them was starting to become green and spotty.

Soldier Beetle

Marsh Valerian
Orange Balsam
Red Admiral
Black-headed Gull with chick

Out on the broad, common terns and black-headed gulls were busy finding food for their chicks on the floating nest platforms. Swallows were checking out the eaves of the visitor centre, as if thinking about starting another brood. Great crested grebes, a tufted duck, mallards, coots and greylag geese were also about and Mum spotted a marsh harrier soaring above the treeline on the far side of the broad.

Common Terns
Greylag Goose

Great Crested Grebe

Holding a Wasp nest!

Inside the visitor centre, there was a nature table, a collection of natural things such as bird wings and snake skins. I couldn't help myself in picking up this enormous wasp nest. Now, I am not a fan of wasps, in fact I have a phobia of them, but even I have to admit that they are amazing architects. To think that this creation is completely made of paper and constructed by an insect is absolutely mind blowing. The paper material is simply wood pulp, which the wasps have collected by chewing on trees, fences and other wooden structures. Inside this marvel of insect architecture are hundreds of hexagon-shaped nest chambers, where the young wasps develop in. Of course, this is an old nest as it would be extremely protected if it was, but as a queen will build a new one each year, the old ones are safe to collect by winter after all the workers have all died off. So, I am rather relieved that there are no angry wasps going to attack me while holding this.

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