Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 28 October 2016

Hockham, Norfolk (Ladybirds and Redpolls)

I visited Hockham around mid-afternoon today (my birthday) and was extremely delighted to see a very large flock of 250+ Redpolls, a spectacular sight, and sound.  These birds were attracted to a number of Birch trees within which they feed.  It has been a while since I saw this number of these small Finches...what a birthday treat.
Also seen was a couple of Grey Herons, 2 Mute Swans, and winter Thrushes.  Several Goldcrests were seen including a small flock moving through mixed woodland, one of these diminutive birds was seen foraging and hanging Tit-like on the finest outermost growths of twigs.

I am sure that many of my followers have noticed the large numbers of Ladybirds about at the moment, yes, there is an abundance, but who remembers the summer of 1976 when huge numbers carpeted window sills and cars, sometimes two or three Ladybirds deep in places.  This was certainly the case in my birth town of Beccles in Suffolk.
I am trying to improve upon my knowledge of the insect world, and indeed, at Hockham this afternoon, I saw a large insect which at that time I was unsure of its identity, however, research at home revealed this to be a Sabre Wasp - Rhyssa persuasoria.  I am sure I have the correct species here, but please correct me if I am wrong.  UPDATE 13/11/16: One of my followers has recently contacted me and corrected my original thoughts on this insect and advised me this is a Lissonota species, an insect I have not seen before.
Lissonota species at Hockham 28th October 2016
Ladybird species at Hockham 28th October 2016 (Unsure of its correct identity)


  1. Happy Birthday Paul! Sorry we did not get to meet up for some viz-migging this Autumn, but I hope we can look forward to a good spring session in The Brecks.
    Your ladybird is a Harlequin, an invasive species and quite variable as an image search will show. We found 4 nestled together just inside a window here yesterday.

  2. Thank you very much Jim. I hope you are getting on ok. A spring session would be great...would really look forward to that.
    Many thanks for your ladybird identification, so many of different species very abundant at the moment.
    I have been asked to conduct bird walks again in 2017 and I will be covering the same areas as in my previous tours. These walks start March 21st. I will never forget your valuable assistance when you took me around Surlingham Church Marsh and I will reflect upon your help when I take a party around next March.

  3. Great- let's get in touch nearer the time, hopefully you will be able to show your touring group some Bearded Tits after a good year at Church Marsh.

  4. Hi Paul... your Sabre Wasp isn't I'm afraid. It is more likely to be a Lissonota species... can't go further than that with one shot.
    You have captured a very interesting view of the Ichneumonidae... she is using her antennae to sense for a suitable grub to lay into.
    Your original thoughts require yellow markings down the abdomen, on the thorax and the head as well.
    Whichever Lissonota she may be, your picture is a great one!! Lovely to see... something I have only seen once... and then so briefly that I didn't realise what I'd seen until I was talking to someone else!!

    Your ladybird is, as Jim states, a Harlequin... in the dark-morph that seems to be everywhere at the moment... it can be told easily from the dark-morph of the Two-spot... the Two-spot has a black head/thorax... and the two larger red spots.... are further forward.
    While the Two-spot is smaller...slightly...than the Seven-spot or Harlequin... size is no differentiation... Harlequins are not only a ladybird of many coats, they come in a goodly variety of sizes depending on available diet.
    And the reason for so many species being around at the moment is the same for them all... looking for a good Winter dormitory!!
    I love the new header picture btw... cracker of a shot that!!

  5. Hi Tim
    I am glad you have corrected me with the identification of the Lissonota species, something I have never seen before. My knowledge of insect species is limited, therefore I am glad you have helped me with this beauty.
    I have not seen Ladybirds in such numbers since 1976, some spectacular species seen too.
    Many thanks for your comments Tim on the Water Rail shot, a difficult species to photograph.
    I hope all is well with you Tim and that you are looking forward to seeing what winter brings. We have what appears to be a large Waxwing arrival, mostly at coastal localities at the moment, however, once the berry crop has been stripped the Waxwings will then move inland....will be checking all suitable areas Tim.