Thorpe Marshes: A refuge in lockdown

Blog post by Chris Durdin on 06 May, 2020
It’s a spring we’ll never forget. You can imagine the conversations in years to come: “What did you do during lockdown?”

For a lot of people in Thorpe St Andrew, on the eastern edge of Norwich, the answer will be regular walks at Thorpe Marshes. In the period since lockdown started, the nature reserve has been the busiest I’ve ever seen it, boosted by a sustained period of good weather. Families, couples, individuals: sometimes naturalists, often not.

The reason for the reserve’s popularity is obvious: Thorpe Marshes is an ideal place for the daily exercise close to home that for many now forms part of a lockdown routine. Many nature reserves and other outside places are shut for familiar health & safety reasons, but Thorpe Marshes remains open and its paths – often under water in winter, but now dry – make an easy and safe circular walk.

There is space and fresh air here, and I have been impressed with how everyone follows social distancing advice when passing. That’s been made even easier by NWT’s reserves team cutting the paths recently, a two-metre width wherever practical.
Sedge warbler, by Derek Longe

Sedge warbler, by Derek Longe



The benefits – to our wellbeing, mental health or however you like to describe it – of seeing and hearing nature are becoming better known. With spring busting out all over, it’s a great time to get a good dose of that feelgood factor.

Above all, Thorpe Marshes in late April is alive with bird song. Nine species of warblers are singing here regularly. The dominant sound is the lively chattering of sedge warblers. Sometimes they leap into song flight – as do whitethroats. A willow warbler, with its liquid, descending song, has a regular spot halfway round the usual circuit.

Reed warblers are usually singing out of view in reedbeds and Cetti’s warblers are, as ever, loud but tricky to see. Blackcaps and chiffchaffs are, as you’d expect, in trees and scrub around the edge of the reserve. It helps to go early to hear grasshopper warblers: my neighbour is an early riser and has heard up to six birds ‘reeling’. The ninth species is garden warbler, like a softer and more sustained blackcap, in tall scrub near the River Yare.

As I’m wearing binoculars, that sometimes sparks a suitably socially-distanced conversation. Often that’s to put a name to the ‘little brown jobs’ that are singing. Others might be simply an exchange of news: “Just seen a kingfisher on the river” or “Heard a cuckoo!”

I am writing this on the first really wet day for several weeks, which somehow underlines how Thorpe Marshes, especially on a sunny day, is an asset for the local community.
Share this

Latest Blog Posts

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
Norwich Nature Notes – August Norwich Nature Notes – August
by Roger and Jenny Jones on 14 Sep, 2020
Help for hogs Help for hogs
by Helen Baczkowska on 31 Aug, 2020
The magic of Thompson Common The magic of Thompson Common
by Barry Madden on 29 Aug, 2020
The Great British Snake Off The Great British Snake Off
by Tom Hibbert on 24 Aug, 2020
Grazing goats Grazing goats
by Robert Morgan on 17 Aug, 2020
Norwich Nature Notes – July Norwich Nature Notes – July
by Roger and Jenny Jones on 04 Aug, 2020
Summer in the meadows Summer in the meadows
by Helen Baczkowska on 28 Jul, 2020
Search for the emperor Search for the emperor
by Barry Madden on 07 Jul, 2020