Dingy skipper
  Erynnis tages
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Photograph by Peter Lindsley


Early May to late June


Narborough Nature Reserve is an embankment of a disused railway line consisting of exposed chalk sub-soil, making it almost unique in Norfolk. The embankment runs east-west and has steep south facing slopes and a level top that are of floristic interest, and where the rarer and more interesting butterfly species are found.

The reserve is entered from the car park at the western end by ascending onto the former track bed. The first 100m or so is enclosed by trees, then there is a stretch with a steep fairly open grassy slope on the right (south) with a narrow hedged field parallel to the embankment at the bottom. This slope, the field, and, to a lesser extent, the top of the embankment, are good sites for Grizzled and Dingy Skippers flying for a few weeks from early- or mid-May, and the latter species possible again from late July. Further along there are tall trees on the right and the embankment top becomes more sheltered. Then there is a bridge (500m from the start) where the track bed crosses a farm track; this is a good place to view Purple Hairstreaks, as you can look down on to the tops of oak trees.

A little further beyond the bridge, the embankment becomes open on the both sides. As before the south facing slope is a good area for Grizzled and Dingy Skippers. Beyond this open area the embankment is densely surrounded by trees and is of less butterfly interest, but after a few hundred metres more it opens out as the embankment peters out (1350m from the start).

This area is very good for summer grassland species, including the Essex Skipper.

Narborough is a good place to enjoy all the usual butterflies in good numbers. Of these, the Common Blue should be mentioned, as in most years it flies in very considerable numbers from mid-May and again from mid-July. It is found on the embankment top as well as on the south facing slopes, and during the second brood there is always an abundance of Marjoram where it and numerous other species nectar.

The Reserve is a SSSI and is owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. It is managed by them with the consultative involvement of Butterfly Conservation.

Directions: Reserve car park: TF 750 118, lies 0.6 miles S of Narborough, which is on the old A47, 10 miles ESE of King's Lynn.

Stoke Ferry Cut-Off Channel This man-made Channel was dug out in the 1960s, bringing the underlying chalk up to the surface and creating a chalkland habitat for both butterflies and flowers. Having reached the parking area, see directions below, access to the channel is straight ahead over the rise.

This is not designated a public footpath but there is public access north from here all the way to the B1160 road. Grizzled and Dingy Skippers can be found here during mid-May. Walk to the right along the bank track and search on the canal slopes (take care not to slip as the Channel is very deep). Best area is probably just after where the trees have encroached - about 300 metres.

Generally a good area for most common butterflies at the appropriate time of year (17 species have been recorded on one day in May). Supports both Green Hairstreak (on the high bank to the right) and Brown Argus.

Directions: At Stoke Ferry village, off A134 King's Lynn to Thetford road, take School Lane (just east of school on south side of village). Drive to the end of the road and park on the large grass area to the right at TL696 990.