Saturday, 2 May 2015

We hear a bittern and I buy a caravan sized tagine

We drove out yesterday intending to take a look at the famous Norfolk
Norfolk Wildlife Trust - Hickling Broad 
Broads. It turns out that they are actually quite tricky to spot from anything that is not a boat! Dave had plotted a triangular route on the map and we diverted off from that towards Hickling Broad which appeared from the atlas to be a village IN a staithe. And it had a blue bird symbol. The blue bird turned out to indicate a lovely nature reserve run by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, 'a haven for rare Broadland plants and animals'. Once through the little visitor centre, circular walks take in different habitats and there are strategically placed observation points and hides. One stretch was bordered with golden reed beds. We then spotted cut bundles of reeds which looked as though they were awaiting being used for thatch. Dave tried out the look!

Dave the thatcher? 

NWT Hickling Broad NNR is justly proud of its nesting site for bitterns
Memorial plaque in the observation hut
at NWT Hickling Broad NNR 
which were apparently rediscovered there by ornithologist Emma Louise Turner in 1911. She sounds like a fascinating woman and I would like to discover more about her life. If anyone knows of a good biography, please do let me know! We were lucky to hear a bittern booming - quite an eerie sound - and saw enough other birds to make me pleased we had detoured: little egret, lapwing pair, coot, black headed gulls, swallow, plenty of (loud) geese, pheasant and, finally, a chaffinch on the hanging feeder by the visitor centre. I was proud of Dave for recognising the lapwing's call. We definitely should have gone better prepared and probably would have done, had we known where we going! Dave's good camera would have been ideal. My mobile phone wasn't really up to the job so any bird more than about two metres away was just a fuzzy blur. Fortunately this coot agreed to pose:

Coot at Hickling Broad 
We also parked up near Potter Heigham and had a wander along Repps
Egyptian goose 
Riverback. There are two rows of little wooden houses, one each side of the water, which look like holiday homes but each has its own mooring so they are probably pricey. Some weren't much larger than Bailey and they are painted different colours. One was for sale but it consisted of just a grass plot with mooring and a couple of sheds. Nice for setting up a deckchair on a sunny day, but I think it could be bleak there for a lot of the year. There were lots of swans and an aloof Egyptian goose which let me get pretty close for this photo. There is also a large store called Lathams which sold a bit of everything at discount and not-so-discount prices - just like ESK in Eastbourne. We didn't find anything we wanted to buy but I liked this Dormobile outside.

Vintage Dormobile 
Our final visit was to Wroxham, now famous as the site of Roys, 'the largest village shop in the world'. I was amazed by Wroxham, but not in a good way. The village appears to be just one big department-store-come-supermarket and has lost all sense of its history and villageyness. We did manage to find melamine plates to replace then thin blue plastic ones we had been using, and I spotted this gorgeous caravan-sized tagine on special offer at just £4.99! I love the rich orange and red colours. By caravan-sized, I do mean a small version, obviously! It's just 22cm across and was the last in the store so don't bother dashing there to get your own. Sorry!

My new caravan tagine from Roys 

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