Breckland BSBI meet

A proper summer day, spent botanising with the BSBI in the Brecks, contributing to the 2020 Atlas project. We met in Thetford at 9.30am and then split into two groups - one went to the Stanford Training Area (lots of rare Breckland plants but a long Health and Safety induction) while we chose to visit the Shadwell Estate, an area of intensely private parkland owned by an Arab prince, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. 

There were acres of species-rich calcareous grassland as well as a lake, the River Thet and areas of planted woodland. It's the only place in Britain where I've seen fencing to keep the otters out! After lunch we assembled for a group photograph in front of the house, which is rather dilapidated and in need of restoration. We then tried to leave, but the sensor in front of the ornate but sturdy iron gates wasn't working. Our leader tried to ring a member of staff to sort it out, but nobody was answering their phones. For a while we thought we might be stuck there for the weekend! In the end we drove all the way through the estate to the Gamekeeper's Hut (a rather nice three bed-roomed property). Luckily he was in, but was rather grumpy about being disturbed and reluctantly opened the gate for us using an app on his mobile phone.

The afternoon was spent looking at an area of tumuli and arable field margins. I saw a couple of plant species new to me, as well as a stone curlew, three hares and three red deer, who were quietly grazing on the crops. By late afternoon, it was incredibly hot and sticky,  so we headed back to Thetford. A lot of people were staying for the whole weekend, but we headed back home, stopping at Cranwich Camp on the way where I photographed a few Breckland rarities, including Spanish catchfly, my extra photo for the day.

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