Norfolk hawker by Maurice Funnell 1/4
Swallowtail by Jessica Riederer 2/4
Great crested grebes by Barry Madden 3/4
Common tern by Dave Kilbey 4/4

Summer: Bure Valley

Summer sees life in the Bure Valley in full swing. At Ranworth and Barton, raucous nesting common terns – elegant gull-like summer visitors – entertain visitors with their acrobatic, fish-catching plunges. Out on the water, smart-plumaged great crested grebes give piggybacks to their stripey young, while pairs of marsh harriers make mid-air food-passes between each other.
Between late May and early July adult swallowtail butterflies emerge to provide one of Norfolk's most iconic wildlife spectacles. Their unmistakeable yellow and black wings have a span of around 9cm, making them easily the largest native British butterfly. In some years, a second brood occurs in late August to mid-September. The large caterpillars are lime green with black stripes.
At NWT Upton Broad and Marshes, one of the county’s greatest gatherings of dragonflies can be seen. Twenty species occur, with specialities including the broad-bodied chaser, hairy dragonfly, variable damselfly and red-eyed damselfly. Perhaps most evocative is the Norfolk hawker. One of only two brown-coloured species of hawker found in the UK (and restricted largely to the Broads), the best way to tell it from the similar brown hawker is by its bright green eyes and clear wings. It flies from late May to mid-July.
As summer progresses the Bure’s wild spaces come alive with plants. Some, like the fen orchid, are very rare, flowering only at a few select sites. Woodlands offer a real respite from the heat of the fen. Stinging nettles and ferns fill the understorey while the dense canopy shades out the sun. At night, bats busily hunt for insects along forest rides and at the edges of open spaces.
Soon though, it will be time for many species to move on; some, such as swifts, have already departed by the middle of August. Autumn is on the way.