Rain Stopped Play: Ranworth guided walk, 30 April 2021

Reports about Honeyguide guided walks are partly a souvenir for those there, plus we hope the usual account of lovely wildlife sightings to encourage others to wish they were there.

But not today, I think. Using the long-range weather forecast to help choose dates is better than not looking at the forecast, and perhaps it’s best to appreciate how often it’s right.

We started well, it has to be said. Chilly, certainly, this exceptionally cold April, and when the sun came out on a couple of brief occasions, very pleasant. The group walked from the NWT’s car park along the quiet road alongside the Bure National Nature Reserve. On a meadow on the higher land to our right there were four hares.

To our left, muddy areas among rushes and reeds showed the impact of some serious flooding last winter, creating good habitat for displaying lapwings. A pair of Egyptian geese emerged from tall rushes with chicks that were so patterned and fluffy it was tricky to tell where one stopped and the next started; we think there were about eight of them. Greylags were plentiful, gadwalls and herons flew over and we had a good view of a male marsh harrier over the reeds. Sedge, reed and Cetti’s warblers were singing at various points.

Ground ivy.
Roadside verges were coming into flower, with patches of ground ivy, red dead-nettle and germander speedwell, on which we looked at the parallel lines of hairs on the stem. Two comfrey species, soft (aka white, oriental or Turkish comfrey) and tuberous comfrey were side by side, garden escapes that have become wild flowers.
Soft comfrey, left, tuberous comfrey, right.

Turning right, a hare ran down the grassy track towards Ann and me until it veered off when it saw us. There was another in the field, with red-legged partridges and lots of woodpigeons.

As we walked along the back of South Walsham Broad, that grey cloud looked more and more threatening. Then lumps of ice started to fall, something between frozen sleet and soft hail. We tried sheltering firstly under ivy then under holly in the hope it would blow over.

It became apparent that it was more than a passing April shower and it was wiser and warmer to keep walking, so we headed back to Ranworth and the car park. We were just agreeing to come again another day when my wife Julie joined us having cycled from Norwich, taking shelter in the old church at Panxworth on route. We returned to retrieve the locked-up bike during the afternoon.

Hail. Oh dear.

Chris Durdin

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