Trip reports

Guided walk at NWT Thorpe Marshes, Monday 5 July

Guided walk at NWT Thorpe Marshes, Monday 5 July
Red-eyed damselfly at Thorpe Marshes (Doug Arkell)

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Including our guide Chris Durdin, myself and Ann Greenizan, there were seven in our party for the circuit of Thorpe Marshes. We were joined, for the second time, by Sally, Nina and Myrial, Americans studying at UEA. We welcomed Phil for the first time as a new local group member.

Arriving a few minutes before the rest of our party, I was lucky to see a cuckoo perched on a willow close to the railway bridge. Unfortunately it had left before anybody else arrived. We started our clockwise route along the gravel path. We could hear singing whitethroats, chiffchaffs, sedge and Cetti's warblers, wrens and reed buntings and got good views of some of these. We also saw green and great spotted woodpeckers.

Focusing on the plants along this part of the track, we noticed purple loosestrife, valerian, fen bedstraw and water forget-me-not in flower. There was some discussion of the problems caused by introduced purple loosestrife in parts of the N. America, where it is an invasive species.

Chris pointed out that though meadowsweet and meadow-rue are similar in appearance they are not closely related being in the rose and buttercup families respectively; a case of convergent evolution?

As it warmed up insects started to appear; red admiral and speckled wood butterflies, azure and common blue damselflies were numerous. Ann was able to share her knowledge of the different bumblebee species.

Looking up as we turned the corner onto the eastern part of the path we saw, high in the sky, a very tatty-looking red kite and lower over the marsh at least 60 swifts and a few house martins. A family of stonechats was seen in the reedbed to our left. Chris informed us that the adult birds had been present at least since early spring and had bred in a habitat to which they are usually only winter visitors. A pair of linnets perched on dead tree.

We turned onto the riverbank path. The vegetation here was very high leaving us unable to see across St Andrews Broad or the river. There were however, still interesting things to be seen and heard, for example, red-breasted carrion beetle and reed warbler. We reached the viewing point to look over the broad. In contrast to the group's last visit, there was little to be seen, only a few mute swans.

The path was now closer to the river. The riverside vegetation provided perches for common blue damselflies and banded demoiselles. Red-eyed damselflies could be seen on the lily pads out on the river. A moorhen called from the opposite bank. Further along, at the moorings, there were more 'red-eyes', one of which had clasped onto a fisherman's bright orange float. Chris pointed out three different geranium species growing close together on the concrete staithe.

Having almost completed our circuit and approaching the railway bridge, we spotted a Norfolk hawker dragonfly. It was however, to prove elusive. Alternately hiding amongst the reeds and flying at great speed, settling only very briefly; time to adjourn for coffee at Chris's.

Thanks, to all our party for their contributions to a very enjoyable and informative morning. Special thanks to Chris for his expertise and local knowledge.