Norwich Nature Notes

Blog post by Roger and Jenny Jones on 21 Apr, 2020
As you will be aware Norfolk Wildlife Trust has had to cancel all events up to 31 July because of coronavirus. This includes the Norwich Local Members Group talk in April and our walk in May, hopefully we will be able to reschedule both of these in 2021. Our next scheduled meeting should be a talk in September.

Don’t give up on wildlife. The human race may have been severely affected by coronavirus but wildlife is still out and around us and largely unconcerned. As this is written, spring is in full flow with loads of wildflowers emerging, migrant birds coming in and early butterflies on the wing.

And you can get out and see/hear them. The idea of this blog post came before the country was put into lockdown. Even after lockdown you are allowed out for exercise. Our chosen form is walking. On the east side of Norwich, we are literally next door to the Rosary Cemetery, Lion Wood is across the road and Carys Meadow is at the bottom of the road. Slightly further away, NWT Thorpe Marshes and Mousehold Heath are just over a mile. Plenty of choice and if you think carefully, and look carefully at a map, there must be similar sites near to you.

Here is what we have seen since the lockdown:

24 March: Whilst we were walking down our close, two red-legged partridges ran out in front of us and flew off; we have never seen them here before, where did they come from? Another peacock butterfly in the Rosary Cemetary. Later three buzzards circling over Lion Wood mewing; thought, it’s very quiet and we can actually hear the birds.
Tufted duck, by David Thacker

Tufted duck, by David Thacker

25 March: Quite a few chiffchaffs calling over Mousehold Heath as well as a buzzard overhead. Very few flowers as yet but some frogspawn in the Vinegar Pond. Back home the garden was quite warm in the spring sunshine – two peacocks and a small tortoiseshell along with a beefly.

27 March: Lots of warblers calling around Whitlingham Great Broad – wish we could identify them beyond chiffchaff and blackcap. There was a large party of tufted ducks (possibly as many as 100) mainly at the east end though a few were dispersed elsewhere. The ducks were diving and coming up with something that looked like molluscs. Some of them got to eat the results of their effort but a party of gulls (mainly black-headed) were harassing them and got the results by theft.

28 March: A pair of swans have built a nest between the riverbank and the footpath near the Jarrold bridge over the River Wensum. There are 3 eggs in the nest.

30 March: Bluebells found in flower on the edge of Mousehold Heath – in March! They were not the native variety though.

31 March: Whilst taking some photos in the Rosary, I was serenaded by a blackcap. Actually, the birdsong generally was good. Partly one could attribute the latter to reduced traffic noise but, equally, the absence of planes flying over is very noticeable. Oh, and the early spring flowers in the Rosary were good too, particularly the primroses and wood anemones.

2 April: A return trip to Mousehold Heath. Unusually, two kestrels seen perched (not together) were probably the highlight. Otherwise flowering bluebells (see 30 March) were increasing rapidly. Sundry birds now singing including chiffchaff and multiple robins along with a great-spotted woodpecker.

3 April: A walk along the river produced a patch of butterbur in flower along the path.
Tufted duck, by David Thacker

Chiffchaff, by Nick Goodrum

4 April: A walk cityward revealed a significant increase in traffic even before 9am. Now lots of chiffchaffs in the Rosary Cemetary and, at least, two blackcaps (seen!). A squirrel seemed determined to throw debris at us out of an old woodpecker hole in a dead tree; making a nest? Four species of butterfly seen in the garden today – comma, brimstone, peacock and small tortoiseshell.

5 April: Birdsong everywhere; much more noticeable with reduced road noise in and around the city and very few planes passing overhead. Lots of butterflies about – mainly peacocks. And a new plant for us: rue-leaved saxifrage on top of a nearby wall – don’t get overexcited, it’s only about 5cm tall, with a small white flower but the red stem and leaves are covered in sticky glands.

We would like to keep in touch with Norwich Group members whilst we are all socially distancing so intend to produce another edition of Nature Notes in a few weeks. April should bring us the arrival of more migrant birds, spring flowers like bluebells appearing and the first orange-tip butterfly on the wing. If you have any observations or sightings or behaviour that you would like to share about nature in your area then please send them to [email protected].
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