In praise of ivy

Blog post by Chris Durdin on 06 Nov, 2018
The normal circuit through NWT Thorpe Marshes and along the bank of the River Yare passes an area thick with ivy on a woodland edge close to the river. Nicknamed rather unimaginatively as ‘Ivy Corner’, it’s a regular place to pause, especially on a sunny autumn afternoon when the late-flowering ivy is often alive with insects, including late butterflies such as commas.

Most naturalists appreciate how autumn-flowering ivy is a great wildlife asset, especially when there aren’t many other sources of nectar. This corner is not necessarily much better than ivy anywhere else, though being next to the marshes quite often has a dragonfly or damselfly warming itself. Last autumn, for example, the latest willow emerald damselfly recorded in the UK by the British Dragonfly Society was here, on 6 November.

The ivy highlights on October’s Thorpe Marshes guided walk were a little different. West-facing ‘Ivy Corner’ was still in the shade. Instead, as the group gathered just before 10 o’clock, everyone clustered around a tower of ivy on willows by the railway bridge that acts as the reserve’s entrance. A migrant hawker, usually fast-flying, was perching near the top of the ivy, probably waiting to warm up after roosting overnight. The sweet-smelling flowers attracted the usual suspects: wasps, honey bees, hoverflies and a hornet. We’ve learnt not to be afraid of hornets, which are regularly seen on the ivy patches as they blunder in and out of view.
Ivy bee, by Derek Longe

Ivy bee, by Derek Longe



However the main focus was on ivy bees. Two of the group were alert to how this species has a range that is moving rapidly north, like so many species influenced by the changing climate. There was talk of many new records in Norfolk this year. Could we add NWT Thorpe Marshes to the list?

There was no certain sighting then but the search for ivy bees resumed after the walk around the marshes at around noon. A red admiral butterfly was easy to see and identify. Then, with some determination, the small, stripy, rather wasp-like Colletes hederae was found and photographed.

Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of monthly walks can be found here.
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

New wildlife information signs New wildlife information si...
by Steve Cox on 23 Oct, 2018
NWT's Visitor Centres NWT's Visitor Centres
by Steve Cox on 25 Sep, 2018
Seizing the moment Seizing the moment
by David North on 13 Sep, 2018
Red bartsia bee discovered at Thorpe Marshes Red bartsia bee discovered ...
by Chris Durdin on 06 Sep, 2018
Entranced by orchids Entranced by orchids
by David North on 07 Aug, 2018
Oasis in the drought: Thorpe Marshes in July Oasis in the drought: Thorp...
by Chris Durdin on 23 Jul, 2018
Volunteers Get Together at Weeting Heath Volunteers Get Together at ...
by Steve Cox on 20 Jul, 2018
Eye of the Shoal Eye of the Shoal
by Nick Morritt on 03 Jul, 2018
Norfolk hawkers at Thorpe Marshes Norfolk hawkers at Thorpe M...
by Chris Durdin on 26 Jun, 2018
10 reasons to love Norfolk 10 reasons to love Norfolk
by Jess French on 05 Jun, 2018
Lost Words for a Lost Generation Lost Words for a Lost Gener...
by Nick Morritt on 22 May, 2018
Bees in the reeds Bees in the reeds
by Robert Morgan on 15 May, 2018
Tour de Frank Tour de Frank
by Frank Ellis on 08 May, 2018
Otters in Norfolk Otters in Norfolk
by Ben Moore on 24 Apr, 2018
The hardest job in the world? The hardest job in the worl...
by David North on 10 Apr, 2018
Winter walk in the Claylands Winter walk in the Clayland...
by Helen Baczkowska on 12 Mar, 2018
Visiting ‘our’ seals in Norfolk Visiting ‘our’ seals in Nor...
by Ben Garrod on 16 Feb, 2018
Thorpe Marshes in the 1960s Thorpe Marshes in the 1960s
by Chris Durdin on 09 Jan, 2018
Answering the call: a year of wildlife festivals at Cley Answering the call: a year ...
by Bayley Wooldridge on 22 Dec, 2017
Orchards East in Norfolk Orchards East in Norfolk
by Rachel Savage on 25 Oct, 2017
Hedgehog season Hedgehog season
by Helen Baczkowska on 24 Oct, 2017
Wildlife going off the rails? Wildlife going off the rail...
by Mark Webster on 16 Oct, 2017