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CENTRAL NORFOLK: Whitwell Common

1st November 2015

On Sunday afternoon Cathy & I decided to go for a walk, but without a destination in mind I chose a site from my 'I should really go and have a look around there at some point' list. That site was Whitwell Common, a SSSI near Reepham. We parked up at the small pull in near one of the entrances to the common and had a look at the map on one of several professional-looking display boards. Despite being nominally a common we read that there was no specific public rights of way, but there was a permissive circular trail that was regularly cut. As it turned out, this was the most sensible route anyway as much of the site was quite wet.

There are quite a few fungus records for Whitwell Common, including Crimson Waxcap, but I didn't notice any grassland fungi, or indeed any dry grassland areas where they would normally grow. I did notice some Giant Horsetail growing in an area of wet woodland between a path and the road. This large version of the commoner horsetails is rather scarce in Norfolk - I had only seen it once before. As we emerged from the wooded area I raised my arm to shield my eyes from the sun, and within seconds a Common Darter dragonfly had landed on my hand. It flew up and returned briefly, before relocating to a nearby branch. This was a very satisfying feeling, somehow connecting with the landscape.

After walking through some wet reedbed areas we crossed a ditch into the woodland. On our left hand side was a small river (I'm not sure which one, but I think it is a tributary of the River Ainse). We saw some bright-pink seeded Spindle trees, but not much else of note until we were almost back at the road, where there was a flush of fungi. I heard a Treecreeper calling, and spotted it working its way up a nearby Oak. This was a nice site, and I'm sure in the spring there would be many more things of interest to look for.


  1. Glad you found it James; I didn't! According to their Facebook page this site holds Willow Tit. Who knows, clearly underwatched.

  2. You could easily drive past it. I had found it on a map and then google street-viewed the nearby roads before leaving, because I don't have access to the internet on my phone so I have to know where places are in advance or drive around aimlessly.

    Looks like the sort of place that held Willow Tit 20 years ago, but you never know, they could still be hanging on. There are other relatively close areas of reasonable WT habitat, could make for an interesting days surveying.

  3. I used to visit regularly when I lived in Reepham and never had Willow Tit!