“Streets full of water. Please advise.” It’s a famous telegram about Venice’s canals, certainly tongue-in-cheek, and though the wording and origin is disputed, the spirit of the quip came to mind as I walked around NWT Thorpe Marshes.
The path through the marshes was under water after recent high tides. Three mute swans were surprised to see me as I waded along the path while I took the usual circuit around the reserve. It was that way round – the swans being surprised, not me. When the reserve is covered with water the swans seem to choose the under water paths over the ditches and water-filled marshes. There was a half-hearted hiss as I went past the trio, as if to say, “This is our kind of place today, what are you doing here?”
NWT Thorpe Marshes gets inundated by the tidal River Yare at some point in most winters. It’s usually when there’s a combination of high river flows after rain and high tides. It may be inconvenient for a few days for visitors and dog walkers, but it underlines that this wetland nature reserve creates space for water instead of flooding the surrounding built environment.
The Yare here retains some elements of a naturally functioning river system,with an associated flood plain. On these occasions, the marshes act as a temporary water storage area, a kind of safety valve that contributes to protecting people and property elsewhere.
Anyone reading this ahead of the next guided walk at Thorpe Marshes on 15 January may be wondering if the walk will be affected. If paths across the marshes are under water, then the walk will simply stick to the higher riverside footpath that leads to the viewpoint over St Andrews Broad. But if the weather has been wet, do wear wellies!
Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of monthly walks and recent sightings at the nature reserve can be found here.
Header image by Chris Durdin