In 2000 when Jonathan Revett collected what he described as a ‘fleshy form of the Rayed Earthstar’ at Cockley Cley, Norfolk. He sent specimens to Kew and other places but was assured that it was a known variant.
It was only several years later that DNA analysis uncovered that Jonathan’s discovery was indeed a new species; and so Geastrum britannicum was named. So far it has no common English name. Since the initial discovery several other sites throughout the UK and in particular Norfolk have come to light.
We went to watch ‘Kong – Skull Island’ the other night at the cinema. Give it a miss; thin non-captivating plot, mediocre acting and CGI worthy of no more than a computer game. It was a late showing so we drove back home quite late at night. I like driving in the dark. We went by the scenic route. Country lanes, field edges, roadside copses and overhanging trees. It was mild too. I expected badgers, deer, rabbits, hares and the odd owl. What did we get? … a single, lonely moth. Just the one!
And yet … earlier in the week we had been for a walk along the dunes to see the Grey Seals hauled out on the beach. We didn’t count them all but it was plain to see there were a lot. We estimated there to be 3000 over a mile or so of beach. It wouldn’t have been far from the true number. This is more than I’ve ever seen before… anywhere. The tide was high and it was a weekday with few people and dogs around. Seals will have been pushed here from the sandbanks off Yarmouth and there was little disturbance to push them back into the sea here so numbers would be at a peak. 3000 equates to 1% of the world population. Even this weekend when things were much busier with people I did a more accurate count on a lower tide and there was 1426. Less than half the number than a few days earlier but that’s still a lot of seal flesh perched on the sand. Nothing less than a wildlife spectacular. A scene from an Attenborough episode.
What a juxtaposition of events.
When we have such spectacles and numbers it’s easy to think everything is ok. To think things are on track; that nature is in balance and our wildlife is safe.
The first recorded occurrence of Great White Egret in Norfolk was in 1979. Since then they have been regular visitors. On a tour this week we came across three together and another was reported less than a mile away. Do you think breeding is on the cards this year? I’ll be surprised if it’s not.