Lowestoft RSPB Group Visit Margaret Jay
Our Lowestoft RSPB Local Group visited Wheatfen with Peter Clayton – it was
a glorious warm, sunny day with just enough breeze to prevent us from getting
too hot. On arrival we were met by the Warden, David Nobbs, who had coffee all
ready for us. We then started our walk from Wheatfen Cottage which has been
the home of the Ellis family since 1946.
Our first stop was at Home Dyke, where David pointed out the very clear water.
It was tidal and could flood during the winter. Proceeding we passed a fen full
of Meadowsweet, which in the Spring was full of Flag Irises, and so on to Smee
LoopLoke. It was then we heard a Cetti warbler calling quite close. Smee Loop
Loke is known for its flora and insects and along the Loop Loke we saw marsh
pea (only found on the Norfolk Broads and Somerset Levels), purple loosestrife,
yellow loosestrife, meadowsweet, tufted vetch, skull cap, marsh thistles, marsh
woundwort, rosebay willowherb, the latter is also known as fire weed as it is the
first plant to appear after forest fires. We then came to the river where we looked
across to Strumpshaw on the other side. David then took us off the beaten track
to see the swallowtail caterpillar. He showed us one which was quite large and
which put out its yellow fork as protection also giving off a smell of pineapple.
Back on the main path we heard a sedge warbler, black cap, willow warbler,
stopping in a clearing overlooking the river by a crack willow, where we saw
a kestrel attacking a marsh harrier, continually sweeping down on to it, which
certainly was one of the highlights of the day. Also observed was a heron,
shelduck, and greylag geese. Earlier we had also seen an owla bittern flying
across the path just in front of us. Amongst the butterflies, we came across the
comma, gatekeeper, meadow brown, brimstone and ringlets, and on our return to
the cottage a white admiral. Along the paths we came across dust holes where
pheasants had taken dust baths.
After lunch David took us to Deep Water and Wheatfen Broads, stopping on the
way in Surlingham Woods where we were shown the spot which had featured in
the children’s film The Secret of Eel Island. He then showed us the spot where
the white admirals were most prolific and we saw four or five of them flitting
about. David also pointed out a giant marsh marigold which had leaves as big as
rhubarb leaves. Also seen was a common spotted orchid. We also came across
wild red currants in the woods, from which our cultivated red and black currants
It was an excellent day out. Many thanks to Peter Clayton and David Nobbs.
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