Getting what you wish for

It’s not very often that I do, if you know what I mean. Perhaps my wishes are a bit unrealistic. I used to wish for a Jaguar XJ6 but that never happened and my secret desire to drive a double decker bus also never materialised.


From a photography point of view I decided this year that I would really like to photograph the elusive swallowtail butterfly. Some years ago I managed to see one at How Hill on the Norfolk Broads and I got a shot of it, but I had to do a lot of work in Photoshop to make it even vaguely respectable.


Imagine my delight when I was told that as part of our 30th wedding anniversary present we were off to Strumpshaw Fen RSPB Nature Reserve for a tour of the reserve with the Warden Ben Lewis. What is great about the “Rent a Warden Scheme” is that you get about 4 hours of his time and he asks “what would you like to do or see?” That is so much better than being put on a trailer and carted round with a crackly recorded commentary and no opportunity to stop and see things that really interest you.


Around 10am a couple of weeks ago off we went with Ben on to the reserve to find out if it was possible that day to see swallowtail butterflies. Obviously we had to pick the right time of year (late May was his suggestion) and there is no doubt that we were lucky with the weather. If it took him 15 minutes to find two of the desired Papilionidae family, I would be exaggerating. Terrific I was able to go to work with the camera.

Poor chap – I expect he thought I was never going to move again. The swallowtails were more than obliging and remained in the area for at least 30 minutes. A real treat.


Of course we progressed and saw numerous dragonflies, a Norfolk Hawker, a Black-tailed skimmer and at least five species of Damsel flies.

Then there were spiders, crickets and beetles.


Included are some of the shots – the more knowledgeable of my readers will have fun identifying them. I do have a check-list for anyone who wants a crack at what they are.


However I have a better suggestion – contact Strumpshaw Fen –it’s about 6 miles east of Norwich 01603 715191 and ask about their Rent a Warden Scheme. It is great value and a tremendous day out. As you can see from some of the pictures, they do their best to make your wishes come true.


Encouraged by this I reckon I’ll cross my fingers and have another crack at that XJ6.




Thanks Ben