James Lowen 



12 April 2019  Blackadder!

"Black Mamba! Err... There's a ++++ing Black Adder right here!" In recent years, I have been fortunate enough to have several wonderful Adder experiences: a Medusa of males writhing in the sun, sparring males and copulating pairs. But I've never seen a fully black Adder. All that changed at Minsmere this week. Will spotted an Adder slough. As he bent down to pick it up, the spanking serpent slithered away from within six inches of Will's hand... unseen. He was minty fresh. Ten seconds later, as we are looking for that disappeared snake, I spot a charcoal-burned gorse branch. I lean forward to pick it up, about to make a joke about how snake-like it looked. As I extend my arm downwards, I realise that its oiliness contains a beady black eye looking right at me. Fortunately the snake realises too and moves slowly past me into the undergrowth. Understandably, I hope, I was too shellshocked to draw my camera, so no photos exist. But, as Will can vouch, boy was it good!

Earlier in the day, Will and Durwyn Liley had spotted the thing above in a different part of the RSPB reserve. (Thanks to Will for the use of his photo; I failed photographically again...) It proved to be a Yellow-shouldered Nomad Bee. Ostensibly a Red Data Book species, this critter has spread rapidly in recent years after a couple of decades without any UK records at all. Although there appear to be only two modern Suffolk records, Tim Hodge found double figures at a site in east Norfolk last week - so they are clearly on the up. Adam Rowlands has confirmed that this is a first for Minsmere. The previous day, on our Adder jolly to north Norfolk, Will spotted another interesting insect, which proved to be Tachina ursina. There appear to be only a couple of North-Norfolk locations for this species, so it was another goodie. 

The next week is going to be busy with (mainly moth-related) travels to Suffolk, Lancashire, Essex and Deeside ahead... #MyMothYear really kicks off here.

Today's treat was a Chamomile Shark, trapped by Matt Casey in Hethersett and kindly couriered to Norwich by Keith Kerr, enabling a sextet of mothers to admire this splendid punk. How Matt even has the gumption to trap on such cold nights, I don't know. But I thank him for it.