Suffolk Wildlife: A summer weekend of wonder

Despite now living quite close, Suffolk is a county I have visited little but I have wanted to do so for a long time. This last weekend I got the opportunity when my husband and I decided to take a weekend break to celebrate our wedding anniversary. With Springwatch having just finished at Minsmere we knew we were in for a treat with the Suffolk wildlife and we were not disappointed. Today I thought I’d share with you just one part of our short break. The first afternoon in the area we headed out to a local nature reserve, Darsham Marshes which is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

We spent a very enjoyable hour or so walking around the reserves and it was a wonderful spot despite the overcast weather. The first thing we spotted having suited and booted for our walk was a Chiffchaff singing from the very top of a Hawthorn tree just beyond the carpark – always a good omen in my book! The first part of the reserve crossed Darsham Common which is a small plot of semi-heath with gorse and bracken giving way to mature trees as a small slope takes you down into the marshes themselves. After the recent rain we had chosen wellies over walking boots and were quite glad as it was a bit boggy underfoot in places.

Of course in typical fashion it wasn’t long before I had my camera out and put to good use. The first snaps were of a species I’d only seen in the Alps before so I was very pleased to find it on home soil. Adela croesella is a very pretty longhorn micro moth and I found it languishing on a bramble leaf in the hedgerow.

 

Adela-croesella

 

Before I had finished getting the shot I wanted of the first moth, another turned up. This species is new to me but apparently quite a common one: Celypha lacunana. It seems a shame that many of these beautiful creatures lack common names but I suspect that, partly because of their diminutive size, they are often overlooked.

 

Celypha lacunana

 

Walking further along the hedgerow we passed a small pond bordered by Ragged Robin amongst the rushes and beyond that the path turned into the open grassland a little. Here I stopped to photograph a familiar flower among the rushes, bejewelled in droplets after a recent rainstorm, Lesser Stitchwort. I love how dainty it is.

 

Lesser-Stitchwort-(Stellaria-graminea)

 

Only a few steps later I had spotted another micro moth, Glyphipterix thrassonella which has a beautiful bluish iridescence to the spots on its wings, though I’m not sure I’ve captured it too well. The angle of the piece of grass it was resting on was tricky too but I was fairly sure that if I tried to adjust it the moth would fly. I took a few shots and then attempted to improve the situation but my fears were proven and it disappeared into the distance.

 

Glyphipterix-thrasonella

 

I wasn’t too downhearted though as just next to me was yet another moth. I think this is Chilo phragmitella, the habitat certainly fits with its preferences for reeds as a food plant.

 

Chilo-phragmitella

 

Moving on, my dear husband was waiting for me to catch up at a small bridge over a dyke and wanted to show me something. There were glorious Southern Marsh Orchids in full bloom just beyond the bridge. You may well be aware that I adore orchids so was thrilled to see them here. Indeed, as we walked on down the path there were more and more with every step, there must have been hundreds!

 

Southern-Marsh-Orchid-(Dactylorhiza-praetermissa)

 

We soon came to a small gate into a separate field and our route took us through a herd of cattle which were grazing part of the reserve. They were young and inquisitive, playing Grandmother’s Footsteps with us all the way through the field. Emerging the other side my husband spotted a Barn Owl quartering low in front of us and we stopped by some trees to watch it. Unfortunately for us it had spotted us too and flew into a tree the other side of the reserve  We decided to move on and stop again by an old tree trunk half way across the open ground to see if it would reappear. It didn’t but in the meantime I found several other things to photograph so I was perfectly happy!

First was a stunning Yellow Flag Iris. These bright and blousy flowers had been blooming all over the reserve but mostly a little further from the path so to find one in perfect condition was lovely.

 

Yellow-Flag-Iris-(Iris-pseudacorus)

 

Next, an unusual fly caught my attention. It was resting on the tip of some Goose Grass or Cleavers and had rather pretty looking spots on its wings. I later identified it as a Black Snipe Fly (Chrysopilus cristatus), yet another new species for me.

 

Snipe-Fly-(Chrysopilus-cristatus)

 

There was also a lovely hairy caterpillar of the Dingy Footman moth creeping along a section of decaying wood, probably looking for a suitable place to pupate.

 

Dingy-Footman-Caterpillar-(Collita-griseola)

 

Finally, as we had given up on the Barn Owl we were crossing the last open patch before meeting the beginning of our circuit again, I noticed a little Seven Spot Ladybird larva clinging on to a rush and I couldn’t resist a snap.

 

Seven-Spot-Ladybird-larva-(Cocinella-septempunctata)

 

We returned to our B&B, Trustan’s Barn very content and the following morning over breakfast we were telling our hostess of all the lovely things we had seen. We particularly liked that they had their own little wildlife sightings board and that we could see their resident Little Owls from our bedroom window. It was a wonderful break from reality in a super location and the Suffolk wildlife exceeded our expectations. We will definitely be going back!

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