Thanks to my Nan for writing about her recent visit to Norfolk
After our recent camping trip to the Norfolk Broads Alex has once again asked us to do a guest blog. This trip during the June heatwave gave us the opportunity to not only go out on a boat on the Broads but also to visit two of the many nature reserves around the area.
On our first full day we went on a boat trip out of Wroxham and travelled up the river Bure to explore Wroxham Broad and Salhouse Broad. It was quite a big boat so we had to keep to the main route so we mainly saw lots of greylag geese, a heron or two, some grebes and lots of the more common ducks.
On our second day, after an abortive attempt to visit the north coast where the mist was swirling in off the sea and it was pretty cold. We headed back to the RSPB Reserve at Strumpshaw Fen. Just outside the Visitor Centre we saw a Bee Orchid but failed to take a photo. Deciding to do better we started off on one of the various walks available in search of the famous swallowtail butterfly. We stopped off at the first hide where we were intrigued by a long-legged bird standing in the mud, no-one could work out what it was until its mother came down next to it. It was a young black headed gull, looking nothing like its mother.
Further into our walk we did manage to see the swallowtail caterpillar but no luck with the butterfly. We did spot other birds, including a hobby, and lots of dragonflies and damselflies and a lizard sunning itself. Strumpshaw has 23 species of dragonfly including the Norfolk Hawker. Although someone did tell us where they had just seen one, we were not lucky enough to see it ourselves.
The follow day we visited the reserve at Hickling Broad where we were camping. Here our persistence was rewarded and we did see two different swallowtail butterflies and another caterpillar.
We spent a while in the Bittern Hide but were not lucky to either hear or see a bittern, perhaps next year. Although we didn’t have enough time to get to the Crane Hide we did see a number flying overhead. Walking back to the Visitor Centre we saw many more dragonflies and damselflies.
Norfolk and Suffolk are the only places in the UK where you can see Swallowtail Butterflies and they can only be seen from late May to mid July and perhaps again in August. They are the largest British butterfly with a wingspan of 8 to 10cms.