When you walked along the west bank path, you may have heard bubbling water going under the path. Locally know as the ‘coffeepot’ because of the noise it makes, this pipe allows all the water that we don’t need to leave the site. As part of the improvement works, we are replacing the old pipe with a new efficient sluice.
The big part of the job was to dig down about fifteen feet to get the pipe through the existing bank. The new pipe can then be buried at the correct level and the bank re-built. At one end of the pipe, there is a flap to stop and saltwater from getting into the reserve and on the other end there is the metal sluice that controls the water level. A series of wooden boards allow us to set the water level depending on the time of year.
Progress on the west bank path construction continues to go well although the wet weather of the last week has slowed us down a bit. The path surface is nearly finished and the topsoil is being put in place so the grass seed can grow quickly. If all goes well, we should be able to open the path to the Island Hide by the middle of September.
Keep an eye of the blog for a progress report
On Friday 20th of August, a young boy out on a nature walk around the reserve with his Grandmother, found a large bright yellow caterpillar. Returning to the Family Area, they enquired as to what species of butterfly the caterpillar might turn into. The staff and volunteers were puzzled as it did not fit any of the common caterpillars.
After many hours researching as to what it could be, we began to suspect that it was the larvae of a sawfly. During the search for it’s identity and while our attention was distracted the caterpillar crawled out of it’s storage dish ..…we had lost this rare and as yet unidentified specimen! With the entire staff now helping to search the office, it was eventually found unharmed curled up sound asleep in Senior Site Manager Rob Coleman’s ’man-bag’ and was later released to it's original location.
With the help of the Ispot website and following correspondence with various experts in the field, it was eventually identified as Cimbex luteus, a very rare sawfly with only three modern records in the entire UK!
Paul Eele our warden said ‘It’s amazing! What else is out there?! Since the closure of the west bank path for the Coastal Change Project, people who normally visit to see birds are instead discovering species we didn’t even know we had. In the last couple of weeks, we have found three convolvulus hawkmoth caterpillars (a rare autumn migrant) and a reed dagger moth, the first record since 2001. The ‘icing on the cake’ has been the finding of this sawfly…a first for Norfolk’
Alice Calton, Field teacher.
The Fen and Meadow Trails are yielding a bountiful supply of wildflowers at the moment – some with colourful and fascinating histories, such as Perforate St John’s wort. This is a herbaceous perennial with pretty starry yellow flowers, with many medicinal uses. Historically it was burned in fires at midsummer to symbolically purify communities and crops. Hence it was named for the feast of St John, which coincided with Midsummer.
Common Fleabane has also recently started flowering amongst the rushes of the meadow. This is a pretty perennial with downy green leaves and compact yellow daisies. In past times, bunches where hung in rooms or dried and burned in order to repel fleas.
Possibly the most interesting history I have recently discovered is that of soft rush, Juncus effusus. It was used for hundreds of years and well into the 19th century to light country cottages in the form of rush lights. The rush was peeled to reveal the pith, which was soaked in fat, and would burn with a bright, clear flame for up to an hour.
There are wildflower information cards posted at intervals along the pathways, so you can come along and discover our wildflowers for yourself.
Ray Kimber has now reached 315 species whilst Rambling - join him every Monday morning (excluding Bank Holiday) until 27th September, as well as Sundays 29/08 and 05/09. Walks are free, but please call and book your place.