|Meadow Saxifrage on Shotesham Common, my extended garden for 2020|
Here's my 7th consecutive annual wildlife blogpost covering 2020. As so many others have said, this was really a year quite unlike any other in living memory, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of life. However, although my year was a little different to how I'd planned it, it was still full of variety and exciting finds. The beauty of pan-species recording is that there's really never any shortage of things to look for. Having said that, it was also a year where I realised more than ever how lucky I was to live in a nice house in a small village surrounded by miles of footpaths. Lockdown was not a personal hardship.
The year started quietly, with little to report in the first few months - hardly any trips anywhere and only a handful of new species noted. Everything changed mid-March when the country was requested to work from home and to avoid travelling. Along with almost all my colleagues I started working from home and this situation persisted for the whole year. I had actually been planning to focus heavily on sawfly recording in south-east Norfolk anyway, so this didn't really interfere too much with the plan. However, I had also resolved this year to spend more time joining groups of other naturalists to do more collective wildlife watching around the county. That plan went entirely out of the window - one to rekindle in 2021 hopefully.
|Our lockdown pond! Rectangular because that was the shape of an existing hole under the old shed|
Until mid-May I only recorded wildlife in places I could get to on foot from home. After then, as the first lockdown eased, we visited a few other nearby locations in East Anglia for a bit of variety (and to maintain sanity). A major difference to previous years was not going to work in Thetford, and I did virtually no Breckland recording at all. My only journeys outside Norfolk & Suffolk were a quick there/back trip to Coventry in June to pick up Duncan's stuff from uni, and a trip to Kew Gardens in August (our summer holiday). We finally had a longer break with a week in Speyside in October, and that was it for the year. My other resolution for the year had been to cut my carbon footprint significantly, which was something I achieved spectacularly. I hadn't been planning to fly anywhere, which was lucky as we mostly weren't allowed to anyway.
|Local recording in 2020 (1 km resolution). Not a lot of Brecks records!|
|All records 2020 (10 km resolution)|
Fortunately, our immediate family stayed healthy and reasonably sane throughout the year. My main health crisis was caused by excessive swinging of my insect net which resulted in a rotator cuff tendinopathy - basically, a shoulder that was out of action by September. At time of writing (Jan 2021) it's on the mend, so hopefully I'll be back chasing insects by spring.
Anyway, I did collect quite a lot of records in the year, particular sawflies but also a range of other things. Overall I collected 4,521 records involving at least 1,485 species; I didn't make a particular effort this year to record every plant etc, and indeed don't seem to have written down Meadow Brown either. (In fact, I also hadn't written down Mute Swan, Coot, and a number of other common waterbirds, but I could remember some of these to record retrospectively!)
To date it looks like I've added 206 new species to my personal all-time British tally, although I still have over 300 specimens to work through (mostly parasitic Hymenoptera). This is a bit of a slow-down in my rate of increase, but that's as expected given my change of focus (as well as the restrictions).
Thanks to information from other like-minded naturalists, I tracked down the Two-lipped Door Snail Laciniaria biplicata in London near Kew in August.
|Hydra viridissima, garden pond in July|
|Sitticus pubescens, on the house wall in June|
|Archarius salicivorus, on sallow catkins Shotesham Common in April|
|Polyporivora picta in garden moth-trap|
|Urocerus augur from Shotesham, new to Norfolk|
|Pristiphora testacea ovipoisiting on birch in Shotesham|
|Metallus lanceolatus mines in Geum urbanum, Shotesham |
|Phylloecus xanthostoma from Shotesham Common|
|Ibalia leucospoides, swept near Rushall in August|
|Lissonota cruentator, new for Norfolk, from Winterton in August|
|Nomada zonata from Shotesham, a rapidly spreading colonist|
|Chelostoma campanularum on bellflowers in the garden, a tiny bee that is surely hugely overlooked|
|Gypsy Moth, Millbank|
|Great Prominent in the garden|
|Marbled Clover in the garden|
|Willow Emerald at Potter Heigham|
Remaining 'small' insect orders
|Just imagine Salmon jumping through here a split second earlier...|
|Pine Marten in Speyside, wow!|
|Hypnum androi, Speybridge|
|Greater, Common and Ivy-leaved Duckweed in the garden pond|
|Sticky Groundsel, Shotesham farm tracks|
|Midland Hawthorn in flower at Woodton|
|Honey Garlic by a path near Alpington|
|Greater Quaking-grass in an alleyway in Earsham|
|Creeping Marshwort in Thetford - a lot smaller than it looks here!|
|Interrupted Clubmoss high on the slopes of Cairngorm|
|Urocystis eranthidis on Winter Aconite in the garden|
|Exobasidium juelianum on Cowberry at Loch Garten|
|Cetraria islandica on Cairngorm|
|Peronospora dipsaci on Teasel in Shotesham|