Norwich Nature Notes – July

Blog post by Roger and Jenny Jones on 04 Aug, 2020
Coming in where we left off in Nature Notes 3, with the partial lifting of lockdown, we were free to spread our wings somewhat and go beyond our immediate surroundings. It’s funny though that you become somewhat attached to the walks enjoyed so frequently over so many weeks. One of our regular walks was (and still is) along the River Wensum to the New Mills sluice. Almost without fail, we got used to seeing one or two kingfishers flying by and disappearing into vegetation by the river. We were usually alerted by excited peeping sounds from the birds. With the comings and goings, we got the impression that it was the adults feeding chicks. By walking the opposite way along the river, we got to NWT Thorpe Marshes. It is well recorded elsewhere that a grasshopper warbler was joined by a corncrake and a Savi’s warbler. It was a sad day when the last two of these seemed to disappear together in the middle of June.

Turning to our more usual preferences, our freedom to travel gave us the opportunity to go out orchid hunting. Success was variable. When viewing some of them it was difficult to establish whether the season was early or late. Southern marsh orchids in several places seemed to be having an early season when we arrived at some known sites, only to find them going over. We might put this down to the extremely dry weather at the start of the year. By contrast, other species confused the issue by coming late, fragrant orchids for example.

Common broomrape, by Bruce Shortland

Common broomrape, by Bruce Shortland

We have been following the fortunes of an unusual parasitic plant, the common broomrape, in the Rosary Cemetery this year. It is known to have numerous host plants but, in the Rosary, many of them have taken to using winter heliotrope as their favoured host. This was cut early in the season but, nevertheless, we have recently counted 56 spikes of the broomrape. There has appeared another patch of around 15 spikes which seem to host on red clover. The two lots of broomrape look different and we wonder if they are different variations, which are known to exist. The things one can start pondering when there is time to do it!

We have a final conundrum. Is 2020 a good season for butterflies or not? Around about home (near the Rosary) we have seen very few – both early broods and more recent summer ones. Yet people not too far away, Acle for example, are saying what a marvellous year for small tortoiseshells and peacocks. Even our buddleia in full flower seems to attract single numbers of peacock and red admiral. We are currently being visited by meadow browns, gatekeepers and a single small Copper.

By contrast, our garden is being visited by numerous bumble bees, hoverflies and grasshoppers which all seem to appreciate in particular the patches of marjoram on our lawn. Perhaps we should go for snakes instead. We have come close to stepping on both grass snakes and adders in the last couple of weeks. On both occasions, we stood back and watched as they quickly disappeared into the vegetation.

Jon and Angie Shutes report from their home in Aylsham that it seems such a short time since May when the swifts arrived. And, already they are setting off for Africa leaving behind the swallows and house martins who still have another brood to raise.

In early June our garden was full of fledged birds. The tit families have obviously done well. Not so the robins, dunnocks and song thrushes. A local nest of magpies had seen to that and had plundered every nest of its young. Our robin nest was only three feet from our front door, but it did not escape an early morning raid.

Now is the time to enjoy the butterflies, and a trip to NWT Foxley Wood was a delight with every ride mass of wild flowers and fluttering Aurelian delights. White admiral and silver-washed fritillary were numerous and, yes, we did see His Imperial Majesty, the purple emperor, sipping oak sap from a severed bough.

Now is the time to go to see them. The Northern Isles are already reporting the return of our wintering birds from the Arctic. But, hey, we still have 2 good months to get outside and retrieve our disrupted year, and there is so much still to see.


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 norwich@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk.

Header image: Wild marjoram by Finn O'Riordan
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

Secrets of the Water Vole Secrets of the Water Vole
by Kelly Hollings on 10 Jun, 2021
Wild Gardening for Small Budgets & Spaces Wild Gardening for Small Bu...
by Meg Watts on 03 Jun, 2021
Bishop's Garden May Update: A World of Wild Flowers Bishop's Garden May Update:...
by Barry Madden on 27 May, 2021
Walking the Eastern Coast Walking the Eastern Coast
by Katy Ellis on 20 May, 2021
Good for us, Good for Nature Good for us, Good for Nature
by Robert Morgan on 13 May, 2021
Take a stroll with us for National Walking Month Take a stroll with us for N...
by Chloe Webb on 06 May, 2021
International Dawn Chorus Day 2021 International Dawn Chorus D...
by Robert Morgan on 29 Apr, 2021
The Humble House Sparrow The Humble House Sparrow
by Tom Hibbert on 15 Apr, 2021
Bishop's Garden March Update: A Haven for Birds Bishop's Garden March Updat...
by Barry Madden on 01 Apr, 2021
Meet our Diversity Intern Meet our Diversity Intern
by Meg Watts on 25 Mar, 2021
Growing Wild in the City Growing Wild in the City
by Sam Garland on 11 Mar, 2021
International Women's Day 2021: Women in conservation International Women's Day 2...
by Meg Watts on 08 Mar, 2021
World Book Day 2021 World Book Day 2021
by Chloe Webb on 04 Mar, 2021
Identifying diving ducks Identifying diving ducks
by The Wildlife Trusts on 11 Jan, 2021
Remembering Richard Waddingham – farmer and pond conservationist Remembering Richard Wadding...
by Helen Baczkowska on 17 Dec, 2020
Wild verges Wild verges
by Sam Brown on 08 Dec, 2020
Thwaite Common bird box project Thwaite Common bird box pro...
by John Snape on 30 Nov, 2020
Jewels of the autumn Jewels of the autumn
by Ian Senior on 20 Nov, 2020
Walking again at Thorpe Marshes Walking again at Thorpe Mar...
by Chris Durdin on 06 Nov, 2020
Living with spiders Living with spiders
by Norfolk Wildlife Trust on 24 Oct, 2020
In praise of the humble briar In praise of the humble briar
by Robert Morgan on 30 Sep, 2020
Rockpooling at West Runton Rockpooling at West Runton
by Isabelle Mudge on 28 Sep, 2020
The secret world of fungi The secret world of fungi
by Norfolk Wildlife Trust on 18 Sep, 2020
White herons: A pleasure to see – a warning to heed White herons: A pleasure to...
by Robert Morgan on 17 Sep, 2020