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Butterflies, Bees and Goat Willow Trees…

Welcome to Waterland base camp.  This is where we moor Grey Goose III and, in the finest naval tradition, we will be spending the day bringing provisions and supplies aboard so she will be ready to embark on many voyages on the Norfolk Broads this year.  On arrival we are greeted by a friendly Robin, who’s song is full of the promise of Spring.  Under blue skies and a warm sun we are encouraged to get everything loaded as soon as possible so we can start the really important work of getting the deckchairs out!

It’s so good to be here…

Monty enjoys a bit of sunbathing at Waterland base-camp

A Robin greets us with a cheerful song

‘Oh, thank you very much’ I mutter as Monty, who is looking rather smart in his new orange life jacket, decides he would like to sit in my deckchair.  While he takes in the sun, I amuse myself by unpacking my camera, just in time, as it happens, as a Peacock butterfly flutters right past my nose.  I manage to keep sight of it until it lands on the catkins of a Goat willow tree adjacent to our mooring.  I watch the butterfly skip from branch to branch and then also notice there are lots of bees buzzing around these catkins.  A quick glance at the Woodland Trust website reveals that Goat Willow catkins are an important early source of pollen and nectar for insects.

We should plant some pollinators here.  It would be wonderful to encourage more wildlife‘ I call out to Mrs Waterland, who is clambering onto the boat, laden with bags.

Do you think you might like to help get the rest of this stuff on the boat first, she asks, with a slight tone in her voice that suggests she thinks she is doing all the work.

Oh yes, I just need to photograph these bees, then I’ll be right there‘ I reply with a sheepish grin, adding ‘I thought I had got everything on board

Oh really… ‘ comes a muffled reply, as Mrs Waterland is now in the cabin, followed by another muffled comment that I can’t quite make out but I presume to mean she’s happy for me to photograph the bees…

There are several species of willow tree on the Norfolk Broads.  Crack willows are often seen along the river banks.  This is the first Goat willow I have noticed and it is closely related to the Grey willow.  They must be a welcome sight for wildlife, giving early food for bees, butterflies and other insects, and also shelter for birds, moth caterpillars and bats.

A Peacock butterfly displays it’s spectacular patterns

A Bee approaches the pollen rich catkins of a Goat Willow Tree

About to land…

Touch down…

Nectar and Pollen from the catkins

The enchanting ensemble of birdsong continues throughout the afternoon and into the early evening while Mabel and Monty play in the grass.  You can feel the irresistible force of life bursting forth, having waited patiently throughout the winter.

Mabel and Monty play at the mooring

We were lucky enough to be able to buy Waterland base-camp last year.  It has 49 feet of river bank, including a slipway, a shed, a small paved area and a lawn.  There is also water and electricity.  With Grey Goose III moored here, it is our beautiful spot on the Norfolk Broads.  I would like it to be very wildlife friendly and would be very grateful to receive any suggestions on what I native species I could plant here.

Welcome to Waterland base camp

Delicate leaves emerge towards the Spring sun

A Daisy reaches towards the warm sunlight of an early Spring day

Sing little Robin – Spring on the Norfolk Broads

We decide to stay onboard Grey Goose III for the night.  The clear skies continue after darkness falls, which gives me the perfect excuse to have another try at photographing the night sky.  This time I point the camera towards M51, the Orion Nebula.  New stars are born in those clouds of nebulosity.  The universe is busy creating…

The Orion Nebula

Good night, till next time…

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