27th May 2015
We hadn't been to Natural Surroundings since it had returned to the ownership of the Harraps, so we decided to pop in and have a look round. If you haven't been before, Natural Surroundings is near Glandford and is a mixture of a cafe/gift shop in the woods, a wild flower plant centre, landscaped gardens and river valley habitats. For birders it is notable for being the best place in the Cley square for seeing birds like Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker, both of which were present on feeders outside the cafe whilst we had lunch.
One of the recent developments is a length of boardwalk and a hide overlooking the river. We walked slowly along the boardwalk, checking out the damselflies that were landing in front of us. I had mixed feelings about the hide. It looks nice and well built, with windows all round allowing panoramic views of the area. However, as there is no shielding on the way up to it most birds would see you coming and fly off, rendering it a bit superfluous. I suppose once you are in it (and provided that few other people walk down to it) then you could get good views of Kingfishers along the river.
One of the results of the range of plants in the gardens is an excellent range of insect life. Some of the most interesting species evaded ID (notably a large sawfly with an orange abdomen and a smaller one with lime green markings), but I did manage to photograph my first Lacehopper, an interesting creature with highly patterned wings. A couple more new micro moths continued a recent purple patch for me.
The lacehopper Cixius nervosus
White-barred Gold Moth
After our walk we headed back to the cafe, where we enjoyed some huge bits of cheese on toast whilst watching the aforementioned woodpecker on the feeders. If any of this takes your fancy then the 'grand re-opening' is happening on Saturday 30th May, with free entry to the reserve and guided walks etc, so well worth a look. Details can be found here: http://www.naturalsurroundings.info/?page_id=23
We meandered back to Norwich, checking out two roadside nature reserves looking for Purple Broomrape and Knapweed Broomrape, although as expected it proved too early in the season for either.