Oasis in the drought: Thorpe Marshes in July

Blog post by Chris Durdin on 23 Jul, 2018
A little egret flies away over the tree tops; a green sandpiper calls and circles around us; a distant grasshopper warbler reels; a heron stands on the edge of the gravel pit we call St Andrews Broad. Nice sightings, though none are great surprises on our July evening guided walk at NWT Thorpe Marshes.

What they have in common is that they are attracted to water and wetlands. In the face of this summer’s drought, the lushness of a wetland nature reserve is a stark and attractive contrast to the dry lawns and roadsides elsewhere, and even the dry as dust paths through the nature reserve itself.
Essex skipper on purple loosestrife

Essex skipper on purple loosestrife



It’s high summer and Thorpe Marshes is at its most colourful. Ditch levels are a little lower than they might be, but they are still green with frogbit and water soldier, or white with the flowers of lesser water-parsnip and fool’s watercress. There are sheets of creamy-white meadowsweet and purple spires of loosestrife and marsh woundwort.

Alarms have been sounded that though a warm summer is good butterflies, caterpillars will struggle to feed in drought conditions. That shouldn’t be an issue here on the marsh, and the wealth of flowers gives opportunities to find nectar not only for butterflies but also moths, red soldier beetles, hoverflies and other insects.

There is an opportunity to enjoy all this on the edge of Norwich soon at the NWT Thorpe Marshes Family Fun Day. This takes place on Sunday 29 July between 10.30am and 2.30pm. There will be guided walks, miraculous minibeasts and more. It’s free and there’s no need to book. As well as the usual local roads, there is parking available at Hillside Avenue School.

Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of monthly walks can be found here.
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