Blog

Mon 6th June 2011

Posted on June 19, 2011 at 6:40 AM

We survived. It was a long and busy, and sometimes rather stressful trip, but we managed to get through it unscathed. The journeys were very long and the kids were very good in the car considering. The demon that is Condor did not help matters, with delays both ways - getting back to Guernsey at 12:30 am last night was not ideal! Meeting up with the family was great and the kids got to visit places that they haven't been before, like the Zoo, or Tesco, or MacDonalds.

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Aidan perfects his famous Zebra-balancing skills at Banham Zoo

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As it was a family-based holiday, I did not spend a large amount of time searching for wildlife. I took the moth net and did a bit of 'dusking' along the riverbank at Palgrave and on the heathland just west of the village. In the half-light I watched a bat fly up and down the river, which may have been a Daubenton's Bat. There were a lot of moths along the river but I saw nothing new for me, although I have a few micros which need investigation.

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Silver-ground Carpet - Palgrave, Suffolk, June 2011

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Udea olivalis - Palgrave, Suffolk, June 2011

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I did manage two visits to a Suffolk Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve just down the road from Palgrave called LOPHAM FEN. I thought it was a super reserve and surprisingly large, one of the largest river valley fens in England apparently. The first visit was a quick visit with the family mid-afternoon, then I returned myself a couple of days later for an hour in the morning.

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Lopham Fen Nature Reserve 

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There were plenty of birds present, but since we were well into the breeding season, it was mainly the usual suspects in the reedbeds, with lots of Acros and Reed Buntings. There were Jays and Treecreepers in the wooded areas, but the highlight was the Hobby circling close above the visitor centre.

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male Reed Bunting, Lopham Fen, June 2011

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recording of a singing Reed Bunting

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The area seemed excellent for invertebrates, with plenty of common butterflies seen and lots of dragonflies - Large Red Damselflies, Four-spotted Chasers and Azure Damselfly all noted.

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Azure Damselfly - Lopham Fen, June 2011

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The top species for Lopham Fen though is the Fen Raft Spider, which only occurs in 3 small sites in the whole of the UK, this one being where it was first discovered. I thought that I would have less than no chance of seeing any in the massive network of pools and ponds, but we came across an area especially set aside for them. Small pools had been dug out of the peat and signs told you where to look. First pool, no sign - then straight away, on the edge of the second pool there one was! 

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Fen Raft Spider - Lopham Fen, June 2011

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It is quite a large species and easy to id with the bright stripes down the sides. It was difficult to get a clear photo, trying to stretch across the smelly pool, and the family were marching away in the distance. I came back on my second visit and I checked lots of pools in that area to no avail, so it seems I was rather lucky. A top rarity, and probably something I will never see again in Britain.

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Categories: 2011 Summer