Posted by: Ross Gardner | May 11, 2014

A Wonderful Grey Sping Day.

May is a wonderful month and for many reasons.  One in particular for me, is that this is the time that the spring really starts to show its irrepressible qualities.  When even on those somewhat less than vintage spring days, with as much wind and grey as there is sunshine and blue sky, there is still so much ‘stuff’ to be seen.

Last weekend at the RSPB’s  Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk, summed this up perfectly.  It was an afternoon with much grey cloud, something of a fresh breeze and the temperature really only edging into low double figures (centigrade).  I had, and not ungratefully, resigned myself to a day’s birdwatching and much less one to satisfy my entomological leanings.  This is far from a chore at a place such as Strumpshaw.  It does birds very well.  It has its reed-beds thronging with Reed Warbler, plus the likelihood of Marsh Harrier lifting themselves out of the same concealment.  The Bittern is far less likely to do so, but I was treated to a brief burst of that wonderful booming call.  There did seem to be quite a lot of skulking going on.  The Cetti’s Warbler – champion among skulkers – was predictably unobliging (although that loud, spluttering call is such an obvious clue to its location), while the Cuckoo teased me with the wind carrying his call from some distant thicket of willow.

I was delighted however, to also find the wider life of The Fen beginning that brimming towards the surface.  The wood still had its Bluebells, in fine, fine fettle and was twitching with small life – tiny moths, shield bugs and bumblebees preoccupied with nectar and nesting.  Out in the open there were even a few butterflies on the wing; Green-veined White and a Small Tortoiseshell skimming across the marsh.  A luxuriant stand of nettle, out of the way from the breeze, positively teemed with life.  A distinctive little micro-moth, the Nettle-tap, flew about their foodplant.  There were several species of hoverfly trying to absorb what warmth they could, tiny weevils and wolf spiders, optimistic or perhaps themselves relishing in this sheltered spot.

Ah yes, a wonderful grey spring day.

Nettle-tap (Anthophilia fabriciana): a rather small, but common nettle-feeding moth. 2014 Ross Gardner

Nettle-tap (Anthophilia fabriciana): a rather small, but common nettle-feeding moth. 2014 Ross Gardner

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