It is always exciting when you get a visit from a species specialist as you never know what new things they may turn up on the reserve.  Last week we had Pete Stron on the site from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) and he found two rare Breckland plants growing in the lawn in front of the visitor centre.  The first was perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis, a species which likes the dry, sandy acid soils so characteristic of the Brecks.  The plant in the lawn is tiny, less than 4cm tall (photo credit Dave Rogers).

Perennial knawel

As you can see it has little white and green flowers (photo:  Dave Rogers)

Perennial knawel flowers


The other plant in the lawn is smooth rupturewort Herniaria glabra.  This is another plant native to the Brecks and with a very limited distribution outside Breckland (photo: Dave Rogers)

Smooth rupturewort 

However you don't have to be a specialist to find something exciting and unusual.  On Saturday David White led the Lakenheath Wildlife Explorers Group out on a bug hunt around the reserve and spotted this beauty, a hornet clearwing moth Sesia apiformis.  Resting on a poplar tree trunk and probably waiting for a male to find her, she will have spent two to three years as a caterpillar feeding on the poplar tree (photo:  Dave Rogers)

Hornet clearwing moth 

In clearwing moths males find females by tracking the pheromone they produce.  As you can see they are pretty good mimics of hornets.  Indeed on Friday one of these moths flew in through the open passenger side window of the truck as we were driving through the reserve.  It landed briefly on the dashboard, gave the volunteer in the passenger seat a bit of a shock as they thought it was a hornet, before flying off through the drivers side window.  Unfortunately the driver (me) wasn't quick enough to catch it!

Elsewhere on the reserve there are plenty of dragonflies about.  Kingfishers, bearded tits and bitterns are still showing well and marsh harriers chicks are fledging from their reedbed nests.  You can tell the young harriers by their dark chocolatey body plumage and copper rather than golden heads.  There were also a pair of cranes visiting the reserve on Saturday.

Hope to see you soon.

Dave (Site Manager)

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